ETX USER FEEDBACK - JANUARY-MARCH 1997
Many ETX users have written to me; here are some of their comments from January-March 1997.
See the ETX Feedback Page for current comments.
Sent: 3/27/97 20:03 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jerry D. Gibson) Hi ! I was thinking about buying a used ETX , It will be my first 'scope. Can you give me an estimate of how much $$ I should pay for it ? It is in good condition . Thanx !! A.Gibson ( email@example.com )
Mike here: Given that the ETX is so new I would imagine that the seller feels it is still worth nearly its original cost ($495 in 1996 or $595 in 1997). If the seller wants almost the same as today's cost ($595) then I would opt for a new one instead of a used one. If the price is considerably less than $300 then check the optics VERY closely. If the price is $300-400 then you'll be in a reasonable ballpark. Of course, this is just me speaking; others may have different opinions.
Sent: 3/27/97 19:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sandy Hazlett) We have had an incredible string of clear nights here, I've had a chance to see Hale-Bopp at least five times, once with the ETX, but most naked eye, and it's tail is amazing. Cheers S
Sent: 3/26/97 05:33 From: email@example.com (Sandy Hazlett) Pretty good Sunday with the ETX, the eclipse in one direction and Hale Bopp in the other. Very clear skies, I was not able to get a clear view of the tail, but the point of light was very clearly defined. The moon going into shadow was excellent as well. I am sure at this point that the operator is not as good as the precision of the instrument. However the viewing here in Minnesota is still quite cold. Cheers Sandy
Sent: 3/24/97 13:04 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wallace N. Allen) I have an ETX and use it in my backyard in Utah. I would like some info on photography thru the 'scope and any input on what eyepiece(s) give the best detail for looking at the planets and other objects thanks
Mike here: Eyepieces that give around 100-200x will give you the best results on planets with the ETX. For other objects like nebulae generally the lower power the brighter the object will be. Since nebula are usually somewhat faint to begin with you don't want to lose any light from a high-power eyepiece. For photography, any camera that you can mount with the Basic Camera Adapter (almost any camera that has removable lens) will work. You can also hold the camera lens over the eyepiece and get good results of bright objects (like I did with the Casio digital camera). Long duration exposures will be more challenging than short duration ones.
Sent: 3/24/97 12:25 From: email@example.com (ernesto castro-mendivil fernandini) Dear MEADE: I own a telescope MEADE model 395, i'm from LIMA-PERU South America my telescope required an extra lenses, one to look close to the stars, and also required one parte that i lost, the part that i want to buy was the leg that stabilished the telescope the one who had a circular (plomo) the one the telescope needs to stay in posision. Please send me an e-mail with the price and how i can get that replacement and also i need the prices and how to get the diferent lenses (optional) to look closer to the stars and galaxis. Sorry for my english is not to expert one. Thank you, Ernesto Castro-Mendivil Fernandini Adress: Av. Reynaldo Vivanco # 335 Sta. Teresa Lima 33- PERU fax: (511) 4385577.
Mike here: As I've noted elsewhere in these comments, I don't work for Meade. But if anyone can help Ernesto, please write him.
Sent: 3/23/97 21:24 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sylvester La Blanc) I really enjoyed your ETX homepage. I'm looking into buying a Meade ETX. I really want to get a Meade/Celestron 8", but that because they are not as portable and more expensive, they will have to wait. I wanted to know if your happy with your ETX (you seem to be). I also wanted to buy a digital camera for a long time, but I waited because I didn't think they could be used for astro-photos (but I see that you did it). Is it easy? Are you happy with the results. Was there any special set-up or equipment (besides the basic camera adapt.) needed? I've been looking at the Olymp. D-200/300L. I noticed that you didn't seem too happy with the camera adapt., do you have any other recommendations? Thanks and keep up the great work! Sylvester mailto:email@example.com PS - I too love the Mac & BBEdit!
Mike here: The ETX is a nice scope if you don't need something larger. Its portability is very handy and the optics are excellent. As to astrophotography, digital cameras (as opposed to actual CCDs) can be trying since digital cameras are not set up to do anything but automatic exposures. For bright objects that may be OK but if you want to do long duration exposures real film (or a CCD) is the only way to go. Of course, the ETX is not really an ideal telescope for long duration photography so you have to trade off convenience vs functionality. As to camera adapters, if you can use a standard mount then you'll be OK. I'm almost ready to post some new information about my Casio digital camera mounting attempts. I hope to have something up here this weekend.
Sent: 3/22/97 08:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) I hope that you are getting some clears skies for Hale-Bopp. We have have had a few. At 49 degrees latitude it is now quite high in the sky and very visible. The 'concentric' details in the head are something else to see. I have now had a chance to test my new 40 mm Meade SP. It is a very good eyepiece. The three 'stars' in the sword of Orion will all fit in the field with space to spare. The trapezium is well resolved and stays resolved even if you move it right to the edge. No re-focusing at the edge is required at all and there are no 'seagulls' at the edges either. You do have to check that the tilt mirror is fully up as I did notice a very small, faint shadow at the 'bottom' edge of the field until I checked that the tilt mirror was up against its stops. I didn't see this possible vignetting again. Mars is now very high up and the details on the surface quite astonishing... especially with an orange filter. The image will now take quite high powers if you need to, but the 9.7 Meade SP without a 2x barlow is usually just fine. I hope that you got your camera mounts sorted out. Cheers.....Doug
Sent: 3/20/97 21:13 From: MAbraham1@aol.com I recently purchased a Meade ETX. I was thinking of buying the Meade 2x adapter based on your comments. However, the local nature company did not have it in stock. Rather, the store had a 2x to 3x adapter, which lets you pick the level of multiplier. It is a long lens. I haven't had the chance to try it out as it has been cloudy each night. Do you have any thoughts about this adapter? It is quite heavy and long. Accordingly, I am concerned as to how well it will work with the ETX. Is the 2x short focus a better adapter for the ETX? I look forward to your comments.
Sent: 3/18/97 05:47 From: email@example.com (Larry Janowicz) I have noticed the performance of my ETX to be a little erratic. I suspect in the cold weather that it's a cooling problem, especially with the thick corrector. What, in your experience and loads of e-mail reading, do you think adequate cool down time should be for a 40-50 degree temperature change from room temp? I don't really believe what the manuals always say (except for Televue and Questar!). Have any ETX users replaced the focus knob with something larger to get more sensitivity with the mechanism? If so, what replacement did they find? Larry Janowicz
Sent: 3/16/97 08:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Hank Trepp) Hi Mike, How about it! Why not give us all insight on how to photograph Hale-Bopp. Start from the beginning. There are alot of us "new people" out there. Also when viewing the comet what eye piece would you recommend. Thanks, Hank May your days be good..but your nights wonderful
Mike here: I'm still experimenting with HB and the ETX. Unfortunately, here in Los Angeles I don't have too many opportunities to experiment! I do have some film into the lab for PhotoCD processing; I'll post any good shots with info in the ETX Gallery. The automatic Casio digital pictures are hardly exciting (although I did post some as examples). The best advice I could give is dark skies, long exposures (minutes, not hours), and low-power eyepieces. As to eyepieces, the lower the power the better for a nice general view. If you want to see some "detail" in the head, go for higher (>100x) powers.
Sent: 3/13/97 22:02 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) Well today was a red letter day. Firstly my 40 mm SP Meade eyepiece arrived and secondly, I was able to test it on Comet Hale-Bopp !! The eyepiece is very good and gives me that extra bit of field that I needed. All of the Pleiades can be seen in the field and the image is good to the very edge. On the comet it was great...so was the comet. This is one bright comet and is very obvious in the twilight sky. Much brighter than what I was expecting. There is quite a bit of detail and activity visible in the two very distinct tails which are a right angles to each other..very nice to look at. In a nutshell, both the 40mm eyepiece and the comet were worth the wait. Hope you get to see the comet soon... Cheers...Doug
Sent: 3/13/97 09:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Not too much happening due to the weather. Have not seen the comet yet ie since last fall when it first appeared. Other ETX users may have noticed that after several evenings use, the telescope motion on RA sometimes gets a bit 'sticky' at higher powers. An easy cure is to hold the top part of the mount and rotate the main base at least one full turn in each direction ie don't use the RA knob to rotate around the polar axis. This simple method really seems to smooth things up for the next few evenings. I now do it automatically every second or third viewing session. Some ETX owners have indicated that their mounts are really stiff. This simple method will not fix those. For these, there is a screw under the circuit board which ultimately controls how tight the bearing is and this is a faily simple thing to cure if you are careful. Well, that's it for now. Clear skies and cheers.... Doug...
Just to clarify. The 'sticky' RA motion I was referring to, was only when using the RA knob manually when observing, not when the electric drive is on. The electric drive continues to perform flawlessly, even in sub zero temperatures. Thank you. Doug....
Sent: 3/12/97 21:35 From: email@example.com (Surapee Rujopakarn) Dear ETX user. I want to photograph comet Hale - Bopp by using ETX motor drive and my SLR camera with 35-200 mm. lens that weight 1.4 Kg. I just want to know if the motor drive can bear it.If it can't bear this weight how much can it bear?. Thank you very much. Wiphu Rujopakarn P.S. Please E-mail me back to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Sent: 3/10/97 11:20 From: ELDERJ@USNWC.EDU (LT JEFFREY ELDER) Mike, I was just browsing your user comments page and must report that I apparently stumbled across the "world's record" for ordering and receiving my ETX. I ordered from Focus Camera in NY at the end of Jan 97 and received my ETX complete, with no problems, at the end of Feb 97! Reading how others have waited for many months to receive theirs I feel very lucky. Unfortunately for me, ever since I received it we've had overcast skies. Darn winter weather! Eagerly anticipating a clear sky, Jeff Elder
Sent: 3/9/97 05:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Mike - I really enjoyed visiting your ETX website. I owned an ETX for a short while. It was my ninth telescope since becoming addicted (thanks Dad) to telescopes and astronomy over thirty years ago. I returned the ETX due to poor engagement of the motor drive. (I also bought mine from the Nature Company, good people.) Aside from the drive my experience with the telescope was enjoyable. The optics were impressive and my observations many. My last telescope was a Bausch & Lomb Criterion 4000. This was a 10 year-old unused telescope I found on consignemnt sale at Woodland Hills Camera in the San Fernando Valley. Good scope, 4" SCT with AC drive and hard shell carry case. (Meade modeled their 2045D after the Criterion. B & L also offered a 6" and a 8") I bought a Meade tripod and wedge for the 4000. It was a nice setup for back yard observing. The tripod/wedge worked nicely with the ETX as well. Although very similar in design the ETX is more attractive and certainly the optics are superior, the MCT offering more contrast. I was lucky. I sold the Criterion two months before the first ETX ad appeared. My intention was to exchange the ETX and hopefully get passed the drive problem. I did not. Just as I was returning the ETX, Meade announced its "new" 8" SCT LX10 for $995. After quick review I realized I wanted to get back to a larger aperature and the benefits that brings. I do miss the ETX though. Quick, easy setup and alignments and your there! - Art - Art Griggs (formally of Woodland Hills, now Monterey and Sonoma)
Sent: 3/9/97 03:32 From: email@example.com (John Atkinson) Hi Mike, I've really enjoyed this web site--you've done a really nice job with it. If you don't mind, I'd love to link over to it from my site http://www.slip.net/~jcamef/. In fact, this site helped me in my buying decision; I figured that any scope that has its own web site must be pretty darned good, so I bought one today! It cost me dear, as I not only paid the Meade-increased price, but also a "showroom surcharge" (a.k.a. the "I'mTooDangedImpatientToWaitEightMonths" fee). But I'm glad I got it now--I really wanted to get a closer look at Hale-Bopp. I just came in from my first few hours of observation, and I can't sleep from the excitement! We had beautiful skies tonight, with a minimum of city light--not bad for Berkeley, California. My backyard has a lot of trees, but I have a pretty good swath of sky directly overhead. I polar-aligned the scope, then did some Mars viewing. I was really impressed with the quality of the image! Then I did some experimenting, and looked at some deep sky objects (M3 & M53). I tried to look for some others, but I found I couldn't find anything lower than magnitude 8 or so. Maybe my eyes are going dim. I really like this scope, and I can't wait to get some more eyepieces and things (I just have the 28mm it came with and a Barlow). It was so much fun to work with a scope that could be properly aligned (the last scope I ever owned was a 6" relector I had as a teenager, some 15 years ago. Its mount was wobbly, and the adjustment knobs were stripped. I usually had to orient it by grabbing the tube and wrestling it into position. Needless to say, I was never able to align it, and I certainly never saw deep sky objects with it). It's so cool to dial-in the R.A. and the dec, and look into the eyepiece and see the object! Well, Hale-Bopp should be coming up soon, so I'm going to bundle up and head out there again! No sleep tonight... Nice to meet you! Take care, John Atkinson
Sent: 3/9/97 01:04 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Agust) Hello Mike! I have been following your excellent WWW page for quite a long time. I always come back when I receive an E-mail from the URL-minder. I got my ETX last November via my brother-in-law who lives in Atlanta. He ordered it from the Nature Company. Mine has excellent optics and I have no problems with the clock etc. even at minus 10 degrees C. I have my own astro page at www.rt.is/ahb/astro. This page is only in the Icelandic language and features some stuff about the ETX, light pollution, the Hubble Space telescope, a photograph I made with my crystal controlled barn door tracker, and a photograph of the moon which I made by holding my Pentax K1000 tight to the 26mm eyepiece. The page has of course a link to your ETX page. I even borrowed the layout from your page (The ETX picture in a frame) - I hope it will be forgiven! Best regards. Agust H. Bjarnason Iceland
Sent: 3/5/97 17:10 From: email@example.com (Hank Trepp) I just picked my ETX up today 3-5-97. I ordered it in June of 96. I was surprized that it came this soon I was told May of 97. Before I even do to much looking around I plan on reviewing your Mead etx feed back letters. Thats how important I value your info. I think I am on your mailing list looking forward to your up coming information. Thank You for spending the time to do this.... May our days be great... but our Nights be wonderful. Clear Skies.. Hank Trepp cedar Falls, Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 3/3/97 13:00 From: email@example.com ( Kenneth Sack) Hi, you have an excellent page on the ETX. Nice astrophotos! I just wanted to know, in the recent issues of astronomy magazine, the telescope is advertised at $595 NOT $495, although previously the telescope HAS been advertised at $495. What 's the deal on the price? Also, I am curious to see how star/nebula photos would come out through the telescope. Have you taken any? Please try to answer my question! Thanks, Kenny
Mike here: As noted elsewhere, Meade increased the ETX price in late 1996.
Sent: 2/28/97 09:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Well we had a very steady night last night so out came the ETX, the Meade filters and Mars. I think that it was one of the best nights for Mars that I have had for the past few oppositions. Firstly, I found the red (#25A) and green (#58) filters a bit too dark for a 3 1/2 inch telescope, so I switched to the orange (#21) and light green (#56) which transmit much more light. The orange filter provided the most detail concerning the dark areas on the surface. The light green one offered a similar view but not quite as distinct. I did not get a chance to really test the blue filters. I will wait until we get closer to the oposition. The image was very good with the 9.7 mm SP and not bad with a 7mm Ortho. Mars was not high enough to go to any higher powers. Besides, about 35x to the inch is usually a good magnification on Mars in order to avoid irridation effects around the image. Well that's my two cents worth for now. Cheers.......Doug
Sent: 2/25/97 08:37 From: email@example.com (Monty Lee) Here are my initial comments on the ETX, in case you might want to pass them on to other potential beginning astronmers. 1. The terrestial viewing is superb, and the image unsurpassed. Even at 200X, the image (on a bright day) is very clear. 2. The celestial viewing is good. The moon is outstanding. However, I find the planets somewhat disappointing so far (no I didn't expect to see the canals on Mars). In may be that my planet viewing is somewhat hindered by the brightness of the Moon, so I reserve final judgement until the moon is New. I basically have two problems while viewing the planets: - If you want to see anything other that a dot of white light, you need to be at least 100X (in my opinion). At 100X, the image moves fast, and the scope has to be very stable. - Using a tripod defeats the motor, and you have to manually move the scope. This obviously introduces vibration. Additionally, the scope is still not very stable on an average size tripod (inherent vibrations). I guess if I used a full-size tripod it would help. - Using the flat tripod mounting (so you can use the drive) is very incovenient. If you put it on the ground, using the viewfinder is akward. So far I haven't found a table sturdy enough to dampen out vibration. The result is a jittery image. I'm working on finding a stable base, however this may not always be available if the scope is truly portable. Even though you sacrifice portability with a regular size scope on a tripod, it seems you gain convenience. First, the finder scope is accesssible. Second, you always have a place to put the scope (on the tripod). Third, it seems you have added stability. I would guess that the ETX is relatively unsuitable for viewing nebulae and other deep space objects based upon my limited experience. On the flip side, a reflector (while good for deep space viewing) is unsuitable for terrestial viewing. So the only option to preserve both worlds is a refractor. Since the ETX seems to yield the highest quality for the lowest price (80mm and 105mm good quality refractors are around $1000), it may lead to its success. I will continue searching the heavens and learning more about the scope. I just thought you'd be interested in a true beginners comments. Monty
Sent: 2/25/97 13:10 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Hi Mike, Hope that all is well. Not much to report. Observed some 'vegetation' on Mars through the ETX for the first time the other night. Will try again on the next clear night and report on the images using different coloured filters. On the weekend I came across an old 4mm .965" orthoscopic eyepiece that I used to use with a small refractor and last night, although the haze was very thick, Castor was visible along with a few other 1st Mag. stars. You guessed it.....I added the 4mm to my 2x Barlow to get 625x or 179x to the inch !!!. I saw the airy disk and a ring around each of Castor's companion stars and a separation that was bigger than the diameter of the moon with the naked eye. (625 x 3.5 seconds/60 minutes = 36 minutes approx.) I don't think that this combination is recommended for normal observations but you have to try it once. My Meade 40mm SP is on its way and should be here next week. I have been up three days in a row to try to see Comet Hale-Bopp but the early morning haze has been too much, but I will keep trying. It's nice to see all the new comments that are appearing on your web site. Keep up the good work. Cheers for now.....Doug
Sent: 2/23/97 17:49 From: email@example.com (Kirk Taylor) Hi again, Mike-- I've been lurking on your page from time to time without comment, reading the mail... finally a couple of comments from here: For those who perhaps didn't catch the meaning of "apparent field of view" versus "actual field of view"... the actual field is the apparent field divided by the power. Don't mean to insult anybody's intelligence but I have rarely seen the formula in print. 'Course I go back to the days when "modified achromats" were called "Kellners" and nobody wanted you to know about field of view! Plossels, incidentally, were first known as Symmetricals or Symmetrical Ramsdens...the design isn't new but the mathematics of curvature were modified to allopw the 52 degree fields of today. The original Symmetricals resembled looking through a telescope the wrong way! I put an Orion EZ Finder on my ETX yesterday. What a difference! Those who wear glasses have learned to curse the short eye relief of the finder. Those who don't wear glasses merely curse its position too close to the tube. The EZ Finder will let you obtain an object in the field of the 26mm Plossel within seconds without straining either your neck or your vocabulary. You can use the supplied double-sided tape to stick the finder to the tube at the rear, opposite the standard finder. The raised edge of the rear ETX cell can be used to keep the EZ Finder mounting square to the main 'scope. I highly recommend the purchase of this finder or either of the ones offered by TeleVue. I think the Telrad may be a bit bulky for this little scope. Those who have mounting complaints: is the ETX table tripod on a truly stable object? I find that my mounting described earlier is VERY steady. Just keep in mind, guys, that vibration in the mounting system is multiplied by the power of the instrument. On polar mounting-- don't believe the latitude scale etched on the polar leg. Set dec to 90 and sight Polaris thru main scope using polar leg as height adjustment. Result is good enough to keep objects in field for extended time. I observe the Moon for an hour or more and rarely have to use the Dec adjustment -- even at 200 + power. More later. BTW, I'm no expert but have considerable experience in this subject. Feel free to E-mail questions or comments. Kirk
Sent: 2/23/97 17:28 From: TheDBarbee@aol.com (Don Barbee) Hi, Nice page, if I have your permission I will post it on my page. http://members.aol.com/TheDBarbee/index.htm I too love my ETX. It complements my 10" Starfinder perfectly. I ordered mine in June and finally received it the day after Thanksgiving! Mine arrived with no finder, no ep and the two main legs were missing! It turns out that when Astronomics (Where I bought it) got it in, they checked it out and found something wrong with it so they returned it to Meade. Meade left out the goods. Anyway Meade drop shipped the missing items to me in two days. I have to say my first sight was Saturn. I can't tell you how this scope can take your breath away. It is so good you can see the 'seeing' change from moment to moment. I can't understand some of the comments you've receive about the mount and the drive. Lets face it, Meade put the money where it really counted. I for one am glad the money went into the optics. If your commentors want drive perfection too then they should have shelled out the other two thousand dollars for a Questor! I also purchased 4000 series Plossl's 6.7mm and 9mm and the shorty 2x barlow as well. They also work fine with the 10". Anyway enough for now. I'm dreaming of an imager now... Regards, -Don TheDBarbee@aol.com
Sent: 2/19/97 11:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Familie-Watzke) Dear Colleagues. I'm very glad having received my personal ETX last Friday from Barifot Phot./Lake Tahoe, CA. It costed me a packet to get it within a week, but I don't care about that, since this little scope is a jewel. It really makes me longing for the big 7" Mak. A first class concept ! Can You tell me if the Meade 2" eyepieces (SP56mm and SWA40mm) will work impaccable on this, above all, -optical- preciousness ? Or has vignetting or loss of sharpness on the edge to be feared ? Another question is - how do You manage posting Your messages in the metxug-list? Do I need NTList? I've tried once to send a normal e-mail and it didn't work. I'm not experienced in systems, am a fervent user. With kind regards and Clear skies to You all- Harold<Beatnik Bob>Watzke Lower Austria
Sent: 2/12/97 16:00 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Hope all is well your way. The skies haven't been too special lately and not much viewing to be had. I have just ordered a Meade 4000 40mm Super Plossl to give me a lower power. Although I have a full set of the Meade Research Grade Ortho's, a #126 2x barlow and the 9.7mm and 26mm 4000 Super Plossls, the widest 'actual' field that I can get with the ETX and my eyepieces is 1.08 degrees. Although the 40mm has an apparent field of 44 degrees, at the lower power it provides, you end up with an actual field of 1.41 degrees. As you know, apparent field is one thing but that doesn't help if you don't end up with a wider actual field. The Meade 32mm with an apparent field of 52 degrees, only gives you an actual field of 1.33 degrees. I have been quite happy with the other Meade Plossls that I have and I thought that the 40mm would be a nice addition, besides, I cannot afford any of the SWA plossls that Meade has. I will let you know how it performs once I receive it. I hope that you have now sorted out your 'connection' problem. Cheers for now. Doug in B.C.
Sent: 2/11/97 15:45 From: ss@WPI.EDU (Scott Streeter) Hi, I found your Web page since I am considering the ETX as my first telescope. Your page is really nice. You mentioned a price of $495, which is much cheaper ($609) than a local store quoted me. Does the store where you bought if from do mail order? Thanks for any info you can send me... -- Scott Streeter email@example.com http://www.wpi.edu/~ss
Mike here: As noted elsewhere on these pages, the price went up from $495 to $595 in late 1996. I was lucky to purchase before the price increase.
Sent: 2/10/97 21:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (elrond) Clear skies this morning allowed me to get my first look at Hale-Bopp with my ETX, even with only my 26mm I got a great shot. Steve
Sent: 2/6/97 12:14 From: email@example.com (David Lang) My hat is off to you and your ETX page. I've been looking for my first telescope for three weeks and hopefully will pick up a brand new ETX this weekend from the Nature Company (I was fortunate, they were scheduled to receive on today, lets hope it comes in). I've searched the web for about 15 hours looking for info on the ETX and your site was the best and most complete. The only suggestions I would make concern the price and your explanation about setting polar alignment. First, meade raised the price $100.00 around Christmas and the ETX now costs $595.00 at the Nature Company. One catalogue house wanted around $650! I believe the problem you mention in the "Tripod" section of the accessories page concerning polar alignment is easily fixed. Polaris is not actually true north, but lies a small distance away. To set the telescope to true north requires a few more steps then simply polar aligning to Polaris. If you are aligning on Polaris then no matter how good you clock drive is the star your viewing will always move out of center. Keep up the great page!!! David Chicago, IL
Sent: 2/3/97 19:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim Westwood) I thought I would follow up on my original posting about vibration in the ETX mount. Based on the the comments by Kirk Taylor and the S & T review, my scope probably has the "normal" amount of vibration. I only notice vibration when I am actually touching something such as the RA or dec control or focus knobs or the mount itself. Certainly within a second or two of doing these operations the image is steady. I thought I would comment on Gary Dilliot's problem of the scope not tracking properly in very cold weather. I have not yet used my telescope at -20°, but I have used cameras at that temperature and colder, and batteries lose ouput when they get cold to the point where the device will often first work incorrectly and then not at all. All you have to do is bring everything inside and let it warm up and everything will work fine again. Of course you can't do that in the middle of an observation session. Nikon used to (and maybe still does) make external battery packs for precisely this purpose. You keep the battery pack inside a pocket underneath your coat and plug it into an external jack on the device. I noticed that Don Polzo has given some instructions on how to set up an external battery pack and I have also seen similar instructions on the ETX user group web site. You can use normal AA batteries in a holder for them, just remember to keep them warm. It might be worth contacting Duracell and/or Everyready to see if other batteries like lithium batteries or NiCads do better in the cold than alkalines do.
Sent: 2/1/97 11:58 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) Hope all is well. Just a further comment on the 'reversed' tube...I was using my ETX on the supplied three table top legs last night and the RA knobs are definitely much easier to 'get' at when they are at the front. Weather has warmed up a lot now but no good prospects for clear skies. Hopefully the spring will bring many clear nights to make up for the winter. Happy Ground Hog day........ Cheers...Doug
Sent: 1/28/97 05:52 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Janowicz) I obtained an ETX recently and would like to share some comments. I have had only one opportunity to use the instrument since it arrived thanks to mid-west winter/lake effect. However - I was pleasantly surprised to detect at least two diffraction rings dancing around the Airy disc under less than tranquil skies. This tells me I've got at least 1/4 wave optics and my "portable" instrument will probably be a keeper. The finder and mount (well, we know about them!) are at least adequate for the type of observing I'm planning with this instrument which will be planetary and double star viewing. I am using a Bogen tripod at present which seems borderline but ok. I'll build my own mount this summer. I am using a 4" ABS drain connector for a dew cap. The front is lined with felt and the back is lined with 2" Vecro patches (loop part only). This seems to provide a very good friction fit with the OTA. Having owned/built/used many telescopes over the years, I think the ETX is a decent value for the dough. Could I do better for $500-600? Sure, I can put together a great 8" (maybe even 10") Dob that could provide brighter images and better resolution for the same money, but I will not be able to pick up the mount and OTA in one hand and walk out my front door! I used to own a Questar. How, in my opinion, does the ETX compare? It seems to be in the ball park from the optics perspective but I don't dare go any further in my comparison lest I start laughing uncontrollably. Then again, compare the prices of these two and you get a different perspective. Larry Janowicz Ambulatory Support Services The MetroHealth System (216) 778-4053
Sent: 1/27/97 17:56 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) On Sunday night I had nearly three hours of the 'steadiest' sky that I have had since last summer. Granted, it was 5 degrees below zero centigrade !! Anyway, I had lots of time with the new tube configuration and it works so well that I am going to leave it that way. I see no problem for people who are left handed. Having the DEC lock and the adjustment knob on the left side makes a lot of sense. The only drawback may be for people who live south of about 44 degrees as the RA knobs tend get buried under the front of the tube !! The problem would only occur if you were looking way down low. As you know, for people who live in more southerly climes, the base already gets in the way of the tube if you try to go down too low. I still believe that even if you do live further south, that the convenience of having the clearance at the back when looking higher up in the sky outways the one possible negative aspect. Ultimately, I guess it depends on where you look the most and whether you need to lock the RA up. The clear skies have gone for now and there is supposed to be more snow on the way. Oh well, I enjoyed the clear sky that I had last night. I hear that you are having more than your fair share of the clouds and rain. I hope that you got your '37 mm' connection sorted out. It is so annoying when you know exactly what you need and cannot find it. Cheers Doug in B.C.
Sent: 1/23/97 22:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Well I have had a chance to test the 'new' reversed mount set up and it works very well. There is a lot of space under the optical tube to adjust the RA knob and while focusing, you can still manually move in RA and DEC without letting go. Less clutter at the back end and more room to get at the RA knob was my main goal and this has been achieved so easily with no apparent downside. The RA lock knob is still faily easy to reach and did not pose the problem that I thought that it might. The DEC lock knob does not clash with the finder scope either. Would anyone else care to try this and see what they think. The change over takes only about two minutes and therefore is just as easy to put back if you do not like it. Unfortunately it has now clouded over and it has begun to snow again !! Oh well, I will have to wait for another clear spell to test it again. Cheers from B.C. Doug........... (p.s. Someone who is left handed might not think the change so easy to use)
Sent: 1/22/97 11:34 From: 70367.2735@CompuServe.COM (Don Polzo) To: email@example.com (Mike Weasner) Mike, it was a pleasure to see your Meade ETX Page on the Net today. It certainly appears very thorough and professional. I can't help but think you have some financial interest in communicating this to the extent you do. Nevertheless, I appreciate it. I wanted to share with you a few modifications I made to my scope that has made its use more enjoyable. First, as you know, the finder scope is useless for polar alignment. In order to overcome this, I mounted an Orion "E Z Finder" to the base via velcro and in line with the main tube. Now, as I point to Polaris through the EZ Finder, it is within the field of the 26mm eyepiece. Second, the batteries may last for 50 hours, but as they slowly drain, so will my patience for the increased loss of tracking accuracy. You are certainly correct about the difficulty of battery changing. I have installed an external power jack to the base which accepts 4.5 volts through a step down adapter from either my car or a portable 12volt gel-cell battery. The adapter is fast acting fused at 3/4 amp to prevent damage. Everything was purchased at Radio Shack for a few bucks, except the gel-cell. That was about $50. I can now operate for days without power loss, never use internal batteries and recharge the gel-cell when necessary via house current. A little soldering is needed to the internal battery terminals to wire in the power jack. The jack is mounted via a 7/16th hole. And thirdly, I also recommend a very sturdy tripod to mount the scope. I purchased a Tiffen astronomical tripod for $179 which is entirely steel including the fluid head and legs. Height adjustment is by a screw mechanism, not the popular plastic press and clip found in photo/video tripods nowadays. I hope my experience is useful to you and others. Thanks again for your ETX page.
Mike here: No, I have no financial interest in Meade or any astronomical products mentioned on these web pages. I was just disappointed in the amount of ETX info available on the web so I decided to do these pages. Also, I am gaining lots of valuable information myself from you readers!
Sent: 1/19/97 09:41 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Now for a challenge. Most of my observing seems to be towards the east and higher up in the sky. Maybe its that feeling you get when you see old astronomy friends returning back to visibility !! Anyway, with the telescope up in this position, the back end controls get a bit busy and the the R A knob and lock get buried under the end of the tube. Now, what do you think would happen if you removed the optical tube by undoing the four screws as though you were going to put the telescope on a tripod without the astro forks. That part is in the manual. However, when you put the tube back into the mount, turn the support arms 180 degrees, not the main forks, just the small swinging arms, so that the telescope will point in the other direction relative to the base and RA controls. At this point, the Dec lock knob will be on the front of the left fork facing away from you. I don't think that would be a hassle. Both of the R A knobs will now be at the front and the Dec adjusting knob will also be on the left side, but as there is a knob on each side anyway that one will at least remain on 'your' side of the mount. Now if as I speculate, there will be lots of space under the tube at the fron of the base to get at the R A knobs and there will be only the focusing knob on the right side at the back i.e. not quite so busy at the back. The questions are....will the RA knobs and the one Dec knob be too difficult to operate even though there will be lots of room now....and will the drive have to be switched from 'north' to 'south'. I believe 'no' to each question. Anyway its food for thought on a rainy sunday with no prospects of a clear sky in sight. Cheers for now......Doug
The mounts are the same either way, i.e. identical hole and line-up and the tube assembly does go the other way as easy as the 'correct' way. Because I usually use my right hand to move the telescope in Dec, I now have a free hand to tighten the Dec lock. I can also move the RA knob without letting go. Also, there is lots of space at the front to adjust the RA knob and lock it. The locking may be the only slight change as you have to put your hand further around the left fork to get at it. The RA drive works okay, so I am going to leave it for now and see how it all works in the dark. At this point it seems 'better' if that is possible. The crazy thing is that I nearly put the telescope back this way by accident when I had it apart a couple of weeks ago. Maybe put both messages on your 'page' and see what we get. Thanks.......Doug
Sent: 1/15/97 11:08 From: email@example.com (Julian R Mullins) After using the Meade ETX for several months I am very impressed with the performance, especially considering it's very small aperture. As a reference I am comparing it to the other instruments I have(or have owned)including a 4" Flourite refractor, 6" Vixen ED refractor (custom built by Vixen), currently I am also using a Custom built 8" Simak Maksutov camera. I think what impresses me most is the suprisingly high contrast considering it's relatively large central obstruction; it's ability to focus 'sharply'; an general portability. However who ever designed the clutch mechanism of the drive should be 'shot'; when it 'locks in the drive is suprisingly accurate, unfortunately it sometimes need 3 attempts to work. Also on the down side I find that the mount dances around somewhat. All in all though a great portable scope. Regards, Julian Mullins Switzerland PS The moon tonight is great through the ETX.
Mike here: There have been a few comments here about the RA locking mechanism. I have noticed that when it locks properly the drive tracks almost flawlessly. But if the RA lock does not engage adequately, very obvious drifting will occur. I am still trying for a technique that works 100% of the time; right now I am averaging about an 80% success rate.
Sent: 1/13/97 08:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (lee wee kiong) Subject: ETX Observation in Singapore - 0 degree latitude Had to make our own 0-latitude adapter for the table tripod. Useful observation only for 65 degree and higher sky. Hence limited use equatorially. Unless of course detach and maybe put on the Meade 4500 eq mount.
Sent: 1/12/97 21:48 From: email@example.com (Gary Dilliott) I have been reading the comments on the ETX with a lot of interest. My wife bought me one for Xmas! I have never had a serious telescope before, so I was quite excited. I had to wait two weeks for a clear night! My first night was reasonably successful as I saw the Orion nebula for the first time. I agree with the comments about the finder as I found it very awkward to view through. The question I have is about the drive. Polar alignment seemed simple enough, but when I engaged the drive (I did give it time to engage) objects moved out of view fairly fast. I was quite certain I had done the alignment correctly. It was very cold that night, probably less than -20c. Could the temperature have been too cold for the drive to run at the correct speed? Indoors the next day I engaged the drive and set the RA circle to the correct time. Over a one hour period it gradually lost about 1 minute which would indicate to me the drive is working. I would appreciate any information on the subject. Gary
Sent: 1/1/97 20:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Happy New Year Mike, Hope all is well your way and that you are having better weather than we are. Now for some armchair astronomy !! On page 38 of the January 1997 Sky and Telescope magazine, there is a montage of out of focus star images ie, expanded diffraction disks. Other than the obvious, where else had I seen similar images ? You guessed it, the image of the sun or of a halogen tracklight bulb reflected off the silvered side of a compact disk. The reflection looks exactly like the out of focus stellar image from an 'obstructed' telescope. We should all be so lucky to see this type of 'image' on both sides of focus in all of our telescopes. Now to go one step further, put your index finger through the hole to hold the disk and then put your thumb, ring finger and little finger carefully at equal distances around the edge. You have now 'supported' your 'mirror'. By moving your index finger or other fingers and thumb ie. pushing and pulling very slightly to distort the reflection, you can create just about every optical error that can be found in a real telescope. Any wall or light coloured surface will do, but try to be at right angles to the reflection or you will introduce large amounts of astigmatism !! As of yet, I haven't 'tested' different types of music to see if I get better or worse diffraction rings !! Anyway, it is quite an interesting exercise and will roughly demonstrate what the image in a good telescope should look like on both sides of focus or what a bad one can look like. By the way, the write-up on the ETX in the same edition of Sky and Telescope will probably add to the already long waiting list that many people are facing. Nice review. Good luck in 1997 and may we all have better skies. I find that looking at the reflections off a compact disk can only provide a limited diversion !! Cheers to all, Doug..... in snowed-under B.C.
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