Last updated: 31 January 1998

If you have any comments, suggestions, or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	 Site feedback
Sent:	Friday, January 30, 1998 20:37:20
From:	emburns@ghg.net (Edward M. Burns)
This site has been very useful to me since I decided to buy an
ETX, particularly the various comments about the problems with
the RA drive. I tightened the sheet metal screw on mine and it
seems to be working again.

Subject:	 new etx
Sent:	Friday, January 30, 1998 20:06:17
From:	grega@wic.net (Achord, Greg)
I live in western Colorado and I recently purchased a new ETX
mail-order from Shutan Camera, (nice guys) due in no small part
to the information I found on this wonderful web site. What a
great little telescope, my son & I have been looking at the Orion
Nebula and have had some great views of Saturn over the last
couple of weeks.  We're looking forward to seeing the moon any
day now. (clouds permitting)
I purchased a Celestron barlow (at the salesman's suggestion), a
moon filter, and the 45 erecting prism, also ordered the Doskocil
seal-tight case from B&H; photo after reading about it from other
I'll let you know what I think of the moon filter as soon as we
try it out.

Thanx for a great web site and the ongoing information.


Subject:	 Re: ETX info/comments?
Sent:	Friday, January 30, 1998 17:52:46
From:	prinado@sprynet.com (Eric Twelker)
A million and one thanks for passing along your URL.  This is an
INCREDIBLE resource!  For my needs, I'm sold on the ETX. I plan
on testing it on the summit of Haleakala (10,100 ft.), Maui in
May.  Evening observations here in Seattle year-round should
prove spectacular as well.  I will certainly report on my
findings in your guest contribution section!
Thanks again and all the best, 

Eric Twelker

Subject:	 Great Site!
Sent:	Friday, January 30, 1998 09:11:05
From:	dloose@us.ibm.com (David Loose)
Thanks for your ETX site, it's a great resource, especially for
those making decisions and new to the scope.  I'm definitely new
to astronomy, so it's been a lot of help to me.  I thought I'd
share my experiences with the ETX as well.
I got my ETX for Christmas, and have loved it, every time I used
it.  My finderscope has sort of a double image in it, which is
not really a big problem, but a distraction.  Meade is sending me
a new one, so I'm not worried about it.  They are extremely
helpful, you can talk directly to people that now a lot about it,
and they are good about returning calls and such.  Glad to be
dealing with them.

Anyone buying a new scope, and finding your and other information
on the Web will be struggling with the decision between the ETX
and perhaps a 6" or 8" Dobsonian, which can be had for about the
same money.  For me, living in Austin near some poor lighting
conditions, I chose to go with quick and easy portability.  The
optics in the ETX are superb, it's as much scope as a 3.5" scope
can be.  At my location, I can see the north sky behind my house,
and the south sky in front, so it's not unusual for me to go back
and forth once or twice to see all the goodies I want to see.  I
also really appreciate the tracking, which can't be hand for this
price on any other scope I found..  It's nice to find an
interesting fuzzy thing, lock it in.. and then go get my wife t o
see it and still have it in the scope.  One other thing, the
setting circles have made finding objects easy, for lots of
things I couldn't have found any other way.

I have my ETX mounted on a Bogen 3011 (3001?) tripod that I've
had for years. It's a good, solid tripod, all metal, and supports
the ETX in polar alignment without any problems.  On a solid
surface, it's very steady.  On the tripod, I just use the head to
angle the scope to the right angle, not worrying about wedges or
any of that other stuff.  I can see Polaris, so alignment is
pretty straightforward.  I live at about 30 deg. latitude, so I
set the declination to 60 (90-30), and then lay the scope over on
the head until the top is level with the horizon, no bubble
levels or anything.  I then eyeball Polaris over it towards the
north.  I can usually then find Polaris through the eyepiece
pretty quickly and lock it in.  Aligning like this allows any
other object I find to stay in the finder far longer than I have
the patience to try... over an hour I bet.

The view with the 26 mm eyepiece is beautiful, stars resolve to a
pinpoint. I've never looked through other scopes, so I'm not
familiar with 'the airy disk, diffraction rings and such.'  Not
sure if I'm getting that or not!  I did buy the 9.7 mm and the
Barlow.  The Barlow with the 26 is pretty good, as is the 9.7 by
itself.  The Barlow and the 9.7 together seem to be really
pushing the limits.  If your going to do this, you need to allow
plenty of cool down time, have excellent seeing conditions and
good dark skies, at least in my opinion.  I thought that maybe
one of these eyepieces wasn't up to par, but talking with the
technician at Meade, he agreed that things had to be really right
for this to work well.  I'd like to hear other opinions about
this com bination.

Allright.. A quick list of my favorite sitings so far:  Jupiter
and 4 moons, Saturn and 1 moon, The Moon, a crescent Venus, Orion
Nebula (have to look every night!), Pleiades, the cluster in
Taurus, M41 (go to Sirius, then straight down!), and the
Andromeda Galaxy (need to get to a really dark place and check
this out again...)  I love finding the fuzzy things...  I'm
expecting the ETX to handle any of the Messier objects, since
they were all found with a very old 4" scope!

Thanks again, and dark skies!
       David Loose

Subject:	 question
Sent:	Thursday, January 29, 1998 17:18:43
From:	gartlantom@redrose.net (Tom)
Great information here, thank you very much.  
When the camera is installed through the T adapter and T mount
what is the magnification compared to viewing through the 26mm
eye piece?   I would like to view objects with high magnification
and can achieve this with a 9.7mm eye piece.  However it is here
I am confused.  How will the camera magnification result.  You
have presented some pictures with 126x  and have stated the eye
piece used in the caption.  What difference does this make to the
camera?  Photography will be 75% of the reason I purchase an ETX.

Best Regards,

Tom Gartlan

Mike here: Prime Focus photography gets you roughly the equivalent of a 1250mm telephoto lens. Depending upon distance, the moon will be full-frame on 35mm film. That is about what you see with a 26mm eyepiece. If you want to use different eyepieces with a T-mounted camera then you'll have to get the Basic Camera Adapter described on the Accessories - Astrophotography page.

Subject:	 Plastic Shim
Sent:	Thursday, January 29, 1998 09:44:01
From:	mmcgarve@fvcc.cc.mt.us (Michael McGarvey)
I've got a little problem - a little plastic shim has slipped out
of the base of my ETX drive.  Now I know I've seen this same
thing posted in the archives, but scanning through I haven't been
able to find it.  So if the person who encountered this before
could contact me it would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again, Mike, for the great resource,
Mike McGarvey

Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, January 28, 1998 17:42:58
From:	dendia@worldnet.att.net (dennis morphew)
Mike  I sent you an e-mail  on the 22nd about possibly buying a
filter, but I have a question  "will it filter out the brightness
of the moon or is that just the way you have to view it."  Thank
you Diane

Mike here: There are "moon filters" available. Personally I don't use one because normally I am not bothered by the brightness. That's because I don't use the 26mm with the moon visually when it is full. I find it more interesting to look at when there are shadows. Personal preference; yours may be different. The moon filters do reduce the amount of light coming through the eyepiece. You can accomplish a similar effect by reducing the aperture size by covering it with a piece of cardboard with a hole smaller than the 3.5" diameter of the correcting lens. Try a 1" hole, if that is too dim, enlarge it. Keep enlarging until you like it. Be certain it is not centered over the lens but off to one side. Let me know how it works for you if you try it.

Subject:	 Tripod mounting the ETX w/o equatorial wedge
Sent:	Tuesday, January 27, 1998 17:50:20
From:	e9226454@stud1.tuwien.ac.at (Michael Niemeck)
Since Christmas I have joined the growing community of ETX
owners. What really stunned me was the great price/performace
ratio this scope has in my opinion. Understandably I don't want
to spend twice the telescope's price for acessories now. I
already have the bag, since I travel a lot with the scope. Next,
I think, would be a tripod. I found a Bogen 3011 tripod with 3028
Panhead advertised for $104, which seems reasonable, and was
often recommended on your page.
BUT: Do I need an equatorial wedge? For my feeling, a tripod with
panhead is equivalent, and should allow perfect polar alignment.
Or is there some geometric fact that simply escapes me? Or is it
just about stability? If so, how unstable would such a mounting
be, when polar aligned for 40 deg. latitude?

And another thing: I know you recommend a Barlow lens as the
first addition to the eyepiece collection. But I have read that
introducing another optical element would, obviously, have a
negative effect on performance, however small. Is this true for
the Meade 2x Barlow lens advertised in the ETX user's manual? I
would be perfectly happy with three different magnifications, so
buying maybe 2 additional eyepieces might be fine in my case.


Mike here: Depending on the tripod, leg extension, orientation of the ETX over the legs, and pan head, the stability of the tilted ETX may or may not be an issue. You paid for the ETX so you will have to evaluate the risk. But if you are comfortable, then no, you don't need a wedge. As to the barlow, if the choice is between a barlow or one eyepiece, I'd go for the barlow for the reasons I've mentioned. Yes, you add more glass to the light path but then depending on the eyepiece you'd add instead, you may or may not add some deterioration in the quality. It comes down to personal choices no matter what.

Subject:	 Etx problem with drive is sometimes gear slippage
Sent:	Tuesday, January 27, 1998 07:17:45
From:	desanmiguel@p085.aone.net.au (George de San Miguel)
Mike, congratulations for your great site.
In regard to long discussed tracking problems I'm surprised no
one has highlighted that the small brass gear on the shaft from
the motor is only pressed on. My tracking didn't work at all
until I tried superglue then presto-I had tracking. Unfortunately
it only worked for a while. If anyone can suggest a good way to
key the gear to the shaft I'd appreciate it.
Subject:	 Question
Sent:	Sunday, January 25, 1998 16:27:53
From:	lang5@earthlink.net (Sarah Lang)
What ACCESSORIES would you suggest for the ETX telescope? You can
send to lang5@earthlink.net.

Subject:	 ETX Questions
Sent:	Sunday, January 25, 1998 09:07:14
From:	JolleyMan@compuserve.com (David A Jolley)
I am thinking about buying my first telescope and after reading
your web site, think I might like an ETX.  I have a couple of
basic questions: It appears that most telescopes require
additional eyepieces beyond what comes with the basic product. 
Is there anything else (eyepieces, necessary accesories) that you
recommend I buy in addition the basic outfit. I'm just trying to
get an idea what  the total cost will really be.  Is comparison
shopping for an ETX worth doing. It seems like they are in tight
supply and the few places I've checked all have them priced at
Thanks !

Mike here: Glad you have found the ETX site helpful. Yes, the costs can increase dramatically over the initial price (sort of like when you buy a computer!). I have recommended that most beginners, if they want additional eyepieces, start with the 2X Barlow Lens. That way you double your magnification immediately and then when you add more eyepieces later, you double their usefulness as well. If you don't plan on traveling, then I wouldn't worry about a case yet. And if you don't want to try astrophotography (which is a challenge, but doable, with the ETX) then don't worry any of those accessories (yet). If you have a flat place or a small moveable table to set up on, then you won't need a tripod. You might consider a replacement finderscope (see the various comments on the Accessories - Finderscope page) but try the included one first; if you don't like it then you can think about the replacement. As to supply, some dealers have lots, some few, some waiting for new shipments. Of the chain stores, The Nature Company seems to get a good supply of them; some mail order companies claim to have a good supply as well.

Subject:	 Interesting ETX Mount
Sent:	Sunday, January 25, 1998 13:50:35
From:	MajorHavoc@Earthling.net (Michael W.)
Great page!
In regards to the link in the following posting:
>Subject:  ETX Tripod TableSent: Wednesday, January 21, 1998 11:29:25
>From: virtual@ix.netcom.com (Mark Stratton)
>I came across this note in the MAPUG 
>mail. It might be very useful for ETX owners.

>Mark Strattonprathman@ttl.pactel.com 
 > > One possibility for the ETX is to just build a three-legged 
 > > table. One simple design with crutch legs is shown at:
 > > http://www.mindspring.com/~astro2/tripod.html
 > > I use a folding table with my 2045, but have been thinking 
 > > of making  one like that above so I wouldn't have to find a
 > > perfectly level spot (mine has four legs).
 > > Peter Rathmann

The table is quite interesting. However, I want to know what that
metal ETX mount is!  I have never seen anything like it!

Mike here: That's a Questar on the table not an ETX. Much more expensive than the ETX.

Subject:	 New owner
Sent:	Thursday, January 22, 1998 06:28:26
From:	dendia@worldnet.att.net (dennis morphew)
I'm a new owner of the Meade ETX and I'm just getting aquatinted.
I looked at the moon half full and full.  The full moon about
blinded me.  I was looking up filters and seen a Varity. What
would you suggested for my (SP) 26mm eyepiece.  I'm considering
upgrading my eyepiece.  I also noticed on you web site the
position of your telescope.  Is that how you generally use it?  I
also find the viewfinder difficult to see through due to the
position.  Thank you for your time I hope to hear from you soon. 

Mike here: There are "moon filters" available for 1.25" eyepieces. If you get one, feel free to drop me some comments for posting. There are many eyepieces available but you may want to see my reply in the Feedback pages about getting a Barlow vs an eyepiece as your first addition. Having a Barlow will double (or triple) your effective magnification and it can be used with future eyepieces. As to the position of the ETX in the photos, with the ETX legs attached, yes, that the angle for my latitude. The base is at a similar angle when mounted on the JMI tripod, again to allow for accurate tracking by the drive at my latitude.

Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, January 21, 1998 19:34:34
From:	wteague@kootenay.net (Wayne & Judy Teague)
Very interesting WEB. I have been trying to decide on a
telescope,especially one that is portable. Some of what I had
read so far on the ETX turned me off,especially in the
photographic department. Thanks to your WEB site it has opened my
eyes,I am very impressed,with site and ETX. It is far easier to
buy a sailboat I am finding than a telescope,the more info you
seem to get the more confused.
                                                 Thanks Wayne T

Subject:	 Tracking of the ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, January 21, 1998 14:54:41
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Regarding Gary Lyons and Jan.  With the short exposures required
for the sun, even during totality, it is unlikely that a 2 minute
error in one hour or the latitude adjustment will cause any
problems for their respective photography endeavors.
Cheers  Doug...

Subject:	 ETX Tripod Table
Sent:	Wednesday, January 21, 1998 11:29:25
From:	virtual@ix.netcom.com (Mark Stratton)
I came across this note in the MAPUG mail. It might be very
useful for ETX owners.
Mark Stratton

prathman@ttl.pactel.com wrote:
> One possibility for the ETX is to just build a three-legged table. One
> simple design with crutch legs is shown at:
> http://www.mindspring.com/~astro2/tripod.html> 
> I use a folding table with my 2045, but have been thinking of making 
> one like that above so I wouldn't have to find a perfectly level spot 
> (mine has four legs).
> Peter Rathmann
>> Anyone want to share a simple homemade tripod design, I would like to
>> use it with my ETX.
>> Thanks,
>> Art
>> rumgod@phoenix.net

Mike here: For future reference, this is mentioned on the ETX Guest Contributions page. And don't forget, you can now search for items on this site from the Home Page.

Subject:	 Asking for advice
Sent:	Wednesday, January 21, 1998 10:32:35
From:	restreaa@BP.com (Restrepo, Andres L)
I am locking forward to by an instrument that matches all my
requirements. Price, size, easy to transport etc. I have found
that the Meade ETX fits all my requirements but I have a little
How easy is to use this instrument in Colombia 45' North?.  Does
it have an special accessory to install the folk almost

Andres Restrepo
Bogota, Colombia

Mike here: Nothing from Meade nor any other vendors that I've heard from. You would have to make something yourself or use a camera tripod (a very sturdy one for this angle).

Subject:	 Response to Anthony Speca's Posting
Sent:	Monday, January 19, 1998 22:39:39
From:	filmdos@seanet.com (Paul S. Walsh)
Re: Anthony N. Speca's letter inquiring about an ETX Travel Case:
In October, my lady and I took out ETX to England (from Seattle)
and then by cab, taxi, subway and train to the French Pyrennes
and back home all nicely contained in the JMI hardcase (about
$90).  It fit well into the overhead luggage racks of the
airplanes and with a few minor modifications to the pre-cut foam
using a filet knife, our basic eyepiece set went into the case as
well.  NOTE: you will have to remove the Finderscope before
fitting the ETX into the case.
The keyed locks were a comfort and, though the case is of a
simple plastic construction, we were very pleased. The scope
travelled much better than the rest of our luggage, that's for
sure. (keep the 2 supplied keys separate, but put one in your
wallet so you'll have easy access to when airport security want
to inspect your "Device".  They Will... (can you imagine what
that thing looks like through an X-Ray machine?)  The security
people were tickled with the ETX and it was kind of fun showing
it off.

-Paul S. Walsh

P.S. If you check Mike Weasner's archives for 1997, you find some
further elucidations from me on this and other ETX questions.

Bon Voyage and the clearest of skies for the eclipse (it SNOWED
in the Pyrennes, but the food was out of this world!)

Mike here: In my look at the JMI case, I did not have to remove the ETX Finderscope before placing the ETX into the case. You can see more on the JMI case (and other cases) on the ETX Accessories - Cases page.

Sent:	Monday, January 19, 1998 18:41:54
From:	LUCKYCUSS@aol.com
I have the Meade ETX and I will taking it to the solar eclipes in
Feb.  However the leg adjustment only goes down to 28 degrees not
down to 16.  Any ideas on what I can do?  I would like and try to
get some photos.
                                             Thanks, Gary Lyons

Mike here: Someone near the equator wanted to set up the ETX at his latitude and so had the same problem. I think he ended up just making something from wood or mounting the ETX on a tripod.

Subject:	Meade ETX Clock Drive Problem
Sent:	Sunday, January 18, 1998 14:29:29
From:	JANBORKIN@aol.com
My husband and I just bought a Meade ETX. We find that the clock
drive gains 2 minutes per hour which makes tracking an object
difficult even when the scope is polar aligned. Is there a fix
for this problem?


Mike here: There are a couple of modifications you can make (which may void your warranty). They are shown shown on the Guest Contributions page. There have also been some comments in the Feedback pages about drive tracking.

Subject:	 Barlow lens for ETX
Sent:	Saturday, January 17, 1998 13:52:38
From:	robi@bgumail.bgu.ac.il (Robi Stark)
Now that I've decided that I'll buy the barlow instead of another
eyepiece I need your advice on which barlow to buy: the Meade
4000 series - #140 2X Apochromatic Barlow lens or the Meade 3000
series - #126 2x short-focus barlow lens or the #127 2x-3x
variable barlow lens. can you also provide me with their
approximate prices in the states.
Thank you
Robi Stark
Remote Sensing of Environment
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
P.O. Box 653
Beer-Sheva 84105

Emails: robi@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

work 972-7-6461288/9
home 972-7-6284740
fax 972-7-6472997

Mike here: I have a review of the 2x Short-Focus Multi-Coated Barlow Lens, Meade #126, $48, on the ETX Accessories - Eyepieces page. There is a brief comment on the #127 Barlow as well. As to the other prices: #127=$60, #140=$80.

Subject:	 Traveling with the ETX
Sent:	Saturday, January 17, 1998 05:59:21
From:	anspeca@pdq.net (Anthony N. Speca)
I will be viewing the Feb solar eclipse from the island of Aruba
(sailing on the Dawn Princess).  I am thinking about taking the
ETX and Thousand Oaks solar filter.  Does anyone have advice? I
recently bought the Dockosil case for storage but I think it is
too big for airline carry on. Has anyone travelled by air with
the ETX?  I would be happy to read comments posted to this NG or
sent privately.
Anthony N. Speca
4306 Hill Forest Dr
Kingwood, TX 77345-1423
(281) 360-6141

Mike here: I have some comments about flying with the ETX on my ETX Comments page.

Subject:	ETX Problem
Sent:	Friday, January 16, 1998 17:44:19
From:	WayneH7974@aol.com
Had a problem with the ETX and the Meade #932 45 degree
Erect-Image Roof Prism, especially with the Meade 2X barlow.  The
focus knob bottomed out just before the image would come into
focus.  I called Meade's 800 customer service number around 11am
local (10am CA).  Had to wait on hold for about five minutes but
it was their nickle.  For those calling, option #3 will get you
to the ETX support line without having to wait to hear all the
Explained the problem to a tech who was quit to admit that can be
a problem but the fix was very easy.  Simply use one of the
included allen wrenches and loosen the focus knob, slide it back
about 1/8 inch and retighten. He was correct, now can go through
the focus point with or without the Barlow and using the Vixen
8-24MM zoom, with or without the Barlow.

Apogee agreed to recut the threads on their RT Angle adapter tube
but want me to send the optics along to make sure the finder will
focus at infinity.  They seemed to indicate there was some
variation in focal lenghts for the Meade finder optics.  They said
they could turn do a turn around in a day but asked me to wait
for a couple of weeks as their tech was going to be at a winter
star party.

Anxiously awaiting warmer weather and clear skies but don't think
I'm going to see either for another few months.


Subject:	 Camcorder Use?
Sent:	Friday, January 16, 1998 12:49:55
My 3 year old somehow managed to get the telescope loose on a
tripod (I've been trying some old camera tripods - too wobbly!)
and the telescope fell off and hit the floor. It seems to have
survived - the only damage was the fixing that holds the finder
scope on, and one of the mounts onto the forks, which were
refixed with a hex wrench. I was relieved to say the lease. All
he wanted to do was to look through the scope - start 'em young!
Do you know of anybody who has managed to use a camcorder to
take pictures with the ETX? I've tried to no avail as yet. Seems
to me it should work, at least after a fashion!

Keep up the good work
Ian Carney 
Ian Carney 
Senior Principal Consultant 
Enterprise Scalable Solutions, Centre of Excellence 
visit our Website at scalable.us.oracle.com 
Voice Mail	(503)-525-8011	what you call soccer, we call football 
Cell Phone	(503)-201-8917	what you call football, we call pointless! 

Subject:	 ETX Right Angle Viewer Conversion
Sent:	Friday, January 16, 1998 11:52:47
From:	rshell01@sprynet.com (Richard Shell)
First of all, I would like to thank you for hosting this site
which is essential for all current and potential ETX owners.  We
do appreciate all the work you've put into it!
Second, like many other ETX owners I found myself frustrated with
the finder scope that comes stock with the ETX.  After a few
weeks of use, I upgraded to the right angle finder scope adapter
made by Apogee and this improved the situation a lot.  However,
even the placement of the adapter made viewing difficult since it
was right next to the main eyepiece.  In short, my nose always
got in the way! Having gotten tired of left-eye viewing only, I
put my mind to work for a solution to this problem which everyone
seems to be complaining about.

The solution was rolling around inside of my eyepiece box all
along. When one does the right angle finder conversion, the
original Meade 2" finder tube goes unused. The solution to the
nose-in-the-way problem was to attach the unused 2" tube to the
rear of the right angle converter assembly.  With this done, the
new rear part of the assembly using the original tube is inserted
in the finder bracket where the adjustment screws are located. 
In effect, this moves the whole converter about 2 1/4" forward. 
Since there is no longer a prism box in the way, my nose is now
free to wander.  With this approach the finder eyepiece is now
centered above the left declination setting circle in a more
usable and comfortable position.

The above is the basic idea, and there are several ways to
execute the attachment of the original unused finder tube to the
rear of the right angle converter.  One of the easiest is to
simply epoxy the unused locking ring that fit the original tube
to the rear of the converter and then screw in the tube when dry.
 If this approach is taken, users should make sure that they
mount the ring with threads up and not get any glue on them. 
Epoxy should only contact the unthreaded part of the ring. 1/8th"
of epoxy should be able to be fill the ring which will assure
stability and strength.  If the epoxying is done properly, the
final result will look like a manufactuered 6" finder scope with
the eyepiece projecting out of the middle. To finish things off,
the open end of the tube which now comes through the finder
bracket can be fitted with the black top off of a 35mm film
cannister (the bottom of the cannister also make a nice plug for
the main eyepiece opening to prevent dust from entering).

Words of advice:  Use epoxy only!  Do not use superglue which is
not nearly as strong in  this application and runs too easily. 
Remember that you are bonding metal to plastic here.  Another
approach for attaching is to make an insert that fits the
interior of the tube, attach this insert to the converter, and
then epoxy the tube to the insert.  For those considering using a
screw to attach the insert to the converter, you should be aware
that the screw cannot penetrate the rear of the converter more
than 1/8 " or you will risk cracking the mirror in the converter.

I sincerely hope that this solution helps others who are using
the right angle finder converter and finding it nosifyingly

Subject:	 Thanks for the ETX-camera focus fix...
Sent:	Friday, January 16, 1998 08:02:16
From:	denebobs@btigate.com (John Leppert)
Thanks to all of you who sent responses regarding my not being
able to focus a Minolta 7000 Maxxum camera at the prime focus of
a Meade ETX. The problem has been solved; details follow.
Rich Gay sent me the following information contained in a review
of the ETX that appeared in one of last year's SKY & TELESCOPE
issues (and which may be seen at www.skypub.com/testrept/etx.html.

"While our review unit met or exceeded specifications in all
tests, it exhibited one deficiency: our unit did not have enough
focus travel to allow a 35mm camera to reach focus at all, even
with the shortest tube of the ETX's optional camera adapter.
However, the easy fix suggested by Meade's technical service
representative worked fine: loosen the focus knob, and slide it
down the focus shaft by about 2 millimeters. This allowed the
focus control to make another turn clockwise, pushing the focal
point out far enough to the camera's film plane."

Accordingly, I followed those instructions, and the camera
immediately slid into focus. Meade really ought to mention that
adjustment in their manual, since apparently (given the article
review) it may be a rather common problem. Just to make it clear
--- as to the fix --- there are 3 Allen wrenches supplied with
the ETX. While using the smallest one, loosen (counterclockwise
turn) the one Allen screw on the focus knob and slide it outwards
(towards the rear of the ETX) ever so slightly on the focusing
shaft (just enough so that the camera will go JUST past focus),
and than re-tighten screw.

John Leppert (Bismarck ND) 46o48'N 100o47'W  16 Jan 1998 0957 CST

Subject:	Apogee response
Sent:	Wednesday, January 14, 1998 17:41:21
From:	WayneH7974@aol.com
Had a nice note from Jason at Apogee regarding the lack of
threads for the front objective on their right angle finder
adapter kit.  His comment was there appears to be different focal
length objectives and some seem to need longer thread lengths to
reach proper focus.  He did offer to correct the problem if I
return the unit to him.  I'm going to take him up on it as the
objective without the locking ring is very easy to move by just
brushing against it. I hesitate to try to force thread the barrel
by just using the locking ring by itself and hope it is tougher
than the plastic barrel.
I have the Vixen 8-24mm Zoom and at the shortest focal length,
seem to think it is not as sharp as it could be either.  I'm
hoping for clear skies tonight so I can check this out more
carefully.  Letting the scope adjust to the outside temp which is
about 25 degrees.


Subject:	 Disappointing image quality
Sent:	Tuesday, January 13, 1998 15:11:32
From:	uyehara@gfherald.infi.net (Vera L.Y. Uyehara)
I bought my ETX about 5 months ago and am generally pleased with
it. Certainly the convenience makes it the most used 'scope I've
ever had! But as I read occasional comments about how wonderful
the optics are I wonder if I have a slightly defective scope, or
if I have too high of expectations. I mostly view the Moon to
check out descriptions for a book I am finishing. The view with
the 26 mm eyepiece is fantastic! The entire Moon fits nicely
within the field of view and it has high contrast and excellent
definition. But when I slip in a Vixen 15 mm eyepiece the image
become soft and I am never convinced that it is completely in
focus. A 9 mm eyepiece is completely useless. Comparison with a
cheap 4.5" reflector and a 6" dob at a star party demonstrated
that those scopes were much sharper at 100 and 150 power than my
ETX. Although I have been observing sporadically for 40 years and
thus have some experience, I have not seen Cassini's Division
with the ETX, although it was clear with the other 'scopes at the
star party.
When I check the colimation and do the out of focus and inside
focus star tests everything looks fine. What do you other ETX
users think? Is there likely to be something wrong with my scope?
Or do I expect too much? Thanks for any opinions!
Chuck Wood
P.S. Mike - I greatly value your ETX site, but I wish there were an
option not to use the frames!

Mike here: I almost want to suspect the Vixen eyepieces. On the moon I have a nice crisp image most times even up to the 9.7mm eyepiece. Are you allowing sufficient time for the ETX to temperature stabilize? I've seen this take 20-30 minutes and I can see a dramatic difference in image quality once it has stabilized. As to the frames, there actually is a non-frames version but it only appears if the browser doesn't support frames. But I'll consider making a non-frames version more accessible. In the meantime you can just load the menu.html page.

Subject:	 some information
Sent:	Tuesday, January 13, 1998 07:31:33
From:	robi@bgumail.bgu.ac.il (Robi Stark)
I just got my ETX as a present and I spending a lot of time with
I enter your web site and liked it very much - i put it in my

maybe you can help me?

I want to buy some more eyepieces but I don't know what to buy
another eyepiece or the #126 2x barlow lens - what do you
recomend based on your experience? I understood you have both.

Where can I find shops that sell these accessories and are
willing to ship them overseas?

thank you

Robi Stark
Remote Sensing of Environment
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
P.O. Box 653
Beer-Sheva 84105

Emails: robi@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

work 972-7-6461288/9
home 972-7-6284740
fax 972-7-6472997

Mike here: As to eyepiece or Barlow, if you only want to get one or the other, get the Barlow. You can use that with the 26mm and double the magnification. Then when you eventually get another eyepiece you can use the Barlow with that one too. There is a newly posted Feedback item (below) on a dealer that ships overseas.

Subject:	 Re: Meade ETX
Sent:	Monday, January 12, 1998 20:22:44
From:	lofting@ix.netcom.com
Mike, Thank you very much for directing me to your fantastic
website about the meade ETX.  I'll be buying mine this Friday
from the Nature Company and already am prepared for some of the
problems thanks to your thorough description. This is a first for
me  - always been just a reader of astronomy mags and texts.
You'll undoubtedly be hearing from me soon - with raves and
My regards,

Subject:	Update on modem
Sent:	Monday, January 12, 1998 20:17:09
From:	WayneH7974@aol.com
Got the right angle finder adapter from Pocono, it seems to be
made by Apogee, had the same problem another contributor to your
site did, there aren't enough threads on the front of the barrel
to allow you to put the locking ring on behind the front
objective.  I'm going to write them and complain and see if they
have a fix.  Been foggy as all get out since yesterday, can't try
out my zoom eyepiece although it appears that by using the 45
degree angle adapter screwed into the rear of the tube and
flipping the mirror down is haywire using the barlow, the focus
knob seems to hit its stop just before the image comes into
focus.  I'll have to look at your comments section as I seem to
recall someone else having a similar problem.

Added later:

I'm using the Meade 126 Barlow, may call Mead tech support and
see if my focus assembly may be out of adjustment as it does want
to bottom out just as it comes into focus.  The zoom lense is
handy but it is so foggy I can't see much more than a few blocks
and the contrast is zip so hard to say how it is working.

As mentioned, will call Apogee and complain about the lack of
threads on their right angle adapter, I thought someone had that
problem with the JMI unit, maybe the same outfit makes both?  I
was afraid the eyepiece end was going to cross thread, the
plastic threads were pretty tight compared to how it fits the
Meade tube.  Finally got it to go on and so far so good.  Going to
be good fodder for your review pages or comments page.  I'll
spend a little more time and give you a better evaluation and
problems I ran into in a couple of days.

Subject:	 feedback
Sent:	Monday, January 12, 1998 10:39:10
From:	mh@macmh.rhein-main.de (Manfred Hunkel)
A Happy New Year and thanks a lot to you and all the other
contributors for an excellent effort in keeping this web-site as
informative as it is.
I've been following contributions since last October and finally
decided to buy an ETX.  As some already noted, I knew what to
expect, even the outrageous price tag over here in Europe in
general and Germany in particular (1,990 DEM).  So here's my ETX
story so far:

A mere four weeks after ordering from an excellent dealer in
Wiesbaden (http://www.ait-trading.com) and a week before
Christmas, my wife and I picked up our scope along with a 2x
Barlow, a 15mm Super Plossl (Series 4000 by Meade), and a 20mm
Plossl (no-name, but equivalent to the Meade Plossls). 
Needless to say that the weather was not impressed :-}.

I'd also ordered the right-angle finder conversion from Pocono
Mt. Optics which arrived a couple of days after we'd got the
scope.  This will answer a request by J. Burgos from Spain who's
been looking for dealers in the U.S. who would ship overseas.  My
advice regarding this is:  Think twice!  The guys at Pocono's
definitely provided an excellent service, and it took UPS less
than a week to deliver, but as a result I own (and wouldn't want
to misss) what I'd assume is one of the most expensive pieces of
plastic that ever made it across the Atlantic: $49,95 for the
conversion kit,  $50 for shipping (that was my choice, postal
service would have added a mere $20), $4.50 customs, $16 import
VAT, and $5.90 UPS-surcharge for handling customs...  Conclusion:
 Order something more expensive next time :-)

While still waiting for those clouds to go away and after having
successfully aligned my precious converted finder scope (which I
found somewhat tedious due to those _three_ pairs of screws) I
came across the "final fix" for the R.A. problem by Paul
Boudreaux (thanks, Paul, for that detailed description of yours)
and decided to implement that after noting that my drive proved
to be as reluctant as others in kicking in and tracking. The
puzzling part for us metric folks over here probably is how to
translate an "8-32 X 1 hanger bolt" into something you can buy,
or, to be more precise, to find an equivalent metric machine
thread. So after taking apart the drive assembly and taking a
closer look at that notorious sheet-metal screw (and wondering
who, at Meade's, came up with the idea of doing it _that_ way) I
decided  that "8-32" would best be replaced by "M5", i.e. a 5mm
machine thread.  After having bought the German equivalent of a
hanger bolt with an M5 machine thread plus matching washers and
an M5 lock nut, there were only two more obstacles to overcome:

1) An M5 machine thread is minimally thicker than the hole in the
bottom part of the drive assembly.  This I solved by carefully
applying a small file (circular cross-section) to widen the hole
just enough to let the machine thread half of the hanger bolt
pass without causing any additional friction or play.  I should
like to note here that plastic really is a nice material (as
someone else noted already) and that the kind used by Meade is
definitely more solid than you'd expect.

2) The sheet metal thread of the hanger bolt seemed to be quite a
bit thicker than the one in Paul's picture.  After noticing that
the good people at Meade's were wise enough to use a ring made of
a softer kind of plastic for the sheet-metal screw, I decided to
first try and thread in the sheet-metal half of the hanger bolt
without drilling out the hole.  The reason for this is that hole
created by the original sheet-metal screw is nicely
perpendicular, a fact you wouldn't want to jeopardize by using a
drill.  This procedure worked for me, but it's a _very_ tight
fit, and you'll have to be very careful in exerting a substantial
amount of force.  In particular, Paul's trick of using a nut
threaded all the way down to the end of the machine thread of the
hanger bolt will probably not work because you'd not be able to
remove that nut without loosening the hanger bolt as well.  In
short, if I had to do this a second time I'd probably first widen
the hole a little bit.

Having re-assembled the drive and given it a try, I noticed that
tracking was about 2 to 3 minutes fast over a period of 2 hours. 
This seems to be quite acceptable for visual observations and
might to some extent compensate for any additional load such as a
camera.  Also, there seemed to be no noticable delay after
engaging the drive.  Eventually, there's still the possibility of
applying Han Kleijn's modification to the drives electronics.

After Christmas my wife and I spent a few days on the lovely
touristless shores of Lake Constance in Southern Germany, and we
were finally able to take a look at Saturn (including Titan?),
Jupiter, M42, the Pleiades... We were very pleased with the
optical performance of the ETX, Saturn in particular appeared
crisp and sharp with the gap between the rings and the planet
itself clearly visible.  We're using a fairly solid Cullmann
video tripod as a mount, with a pan head equipped with a
declination setting circle, thus simplifying polar alignment. 
Tilting the pan head to our co-latitude works nicely, but I
wouldn't want to use it south of 40N.

Well, hope my 2 Pfenning worth of experience will be helpful to
some, and thanks for bearing with me!

Once more a Happy New Year, clear skies and all the best from
49;53N 8;30E


Manfred Hunkel - Darmstadt/Germany

Subject:	 Having trouble focusing using the T-Adapter...
Sent:	Monday, January 12, 1998 05:43:32
From:	denebobs@btigate.com (John Leppert)
I have just run into a problem this morning when first trying out
a coupling of my Minolta 7000 Maxxum to the ETX using Meade's
#07363 (#64) T-Adapter. I first acquired the lunar disk ("full"
phase this morning) and after focusing it using the 26 mm ocular,
I than attached the camera at the prime focus, fliped the mirror,
and found that I could not bring the disk into focus. I was
initially using the full length of the T-Apater, and than after
screwing off the long extension, I still found that even with the
very short extension, the image would still not come into focus.
I purchased the telescope last August and want to take it to the
Caribbean next month in order to use it to photograph the solar
eclipse. I also have a Meade 2080LX6 8-inch, and have used this
camera at the prime focus of that SCT without any focusing
problems for years. Has any one else run into my problem? Any
suggestions to solve this mess?
John Leppert  (Bismarck, ND)  12 Jan 1998   0744 CST

Mike here: I haven't seen this problem with my Pentax Spotmatic at Prime Focus. Can you tell how close you are getting to having a focus? That is, is it worse with or without the full extension? I'd be surprised if you needed more length but if you do you can always add some extension tubes (available at your local camera store). If you can't get it short enough (if the camera is too deep), I doubt there is much you can do.

Added later:

With the extension tube attached to the T-Adapter it is obvious
that the coupling with my Minolta Maxxum 7000 is MORE
out-of-focus than with the shorter tube. And this morning I tried
again to focus on the waning gibbous Moon, even screwing the
focus knob on the ETX all the way out, which of course made it
only worse. Finally, I simply held the camera at the rear of the
ETX and found that if held within about 3/4 or perhaps 7/8-inch
of that point, I could bring old Luna into focus. In other words,
the short tube is too long. So, I really don't know what to do;
whether I can locate a shorter tube or not seems doubtful.
Needless to say, the whole thing really pisses me off, since I've
used the camera on my 8-inch Meade 2080LX6 for 7 years ---
hundreds and hundreds of photographs taken. And the whole point
of buying the ETX last summer was for taking along to image solar
eclipses; the thought of having to spend additional sums for
another camera is really not what I want to think about.

However, Do you know off hand whether the ETX will couple with
the Olympus OM1 (the camera model that is often recommended for
astrophotography since one can lock the mirror up before
exposure, and as well the camera is completely mechanical,
lacking battery motor drive)? Shutan in Chicago (where I
purchased the ETX) advertises that they have them available ---
completely reconditioned. I guess if I knew that the OM1 would
focus on the ETX I'd consider ordering one from Shutan, since
I've been considering getting one and thus ending the hassle of
dead batteries when our winter temperatures plunge to our current
-25oF range >g<.

Subject:	Drive for ETX
Sent:	Sunday, January 11, 1998 21:31:22
From:	LTHUEDK@aol.com
I am wondering if you or any reader has looked into or had hands
on the new "multi-purpose fork mount" offered by Pocono Mountain
Optics.  My lunar photos and a few jovian shots are ok, but the
biggest limitation to taking exposures longer than ten seconds is
the ETX's native drive.
I believe my unit had had done to it about as much as can
presently be done: long shafted potentiometer (adjusts motor
speed for extra weight of camera), #10 bolt hangar triple washer
assembly, and dry graphite lubrication on the gearing.  You can
go so far.

Have you tried to track a guide star with the ETX controls?  You
could extract confessions with that degree of torture!

So, I am contemplating the prospects of Pocono's worm-gear-driven
mount for helping catch those elusive ETX deep sky photos.  It
may even help to add an LAR/ focal reducer too (could be used
down the road, if and when I step up to a 6 or 7 in Mak).  While
I'm dreaming, how about a small Byers or Losmandy mount?

Hope your getting out once in a while,

Stephen Pitt

Subject:	 camera counterbalancing
Sent:	Saturday, January 10, 1998 21:30:47
From:	nhluhr@eos.ncsu.edu (nhluhr)
You mention in your astrophotography section that the attachment
of an SLR camera pulls the rear down.  I was under the impression
that all meade scopes had little holes drilled for the addition
of specially made counter balances.  Is this not the case?

Mike here: Well, yes and no. There are lots of "holes" for attaching things like a tripod or a counterbalance. But they are all on the bottom of the ETX OTA. This is perfect for the JMI Piggyback Mount counterweight since the camera will be on top of the ETX and almost centered over the ETX center-of-gravity. But when a camera is placed at Prime Focus or even at the eyepiece, the weight is pretty far rearward. I suppose one could make a counterbalance for this positioning but Meade (nor anyone else that I'm aware of) makes it.

Subject:	 tech addition to LED 'On' Indicator for ETX
Sent:	Saturday, January 10, 1998 21:11:14
From:	nhluhr@eos.ncsu.edu (nhluhr)
First of all, Weasner, great site.  I have been thinking about
getting a telescope for astro photography and I saw an ad for the
ETX and I suddenly knew it was the 'one'.  I was glad to see your
page filled with honest opinions and fixes.
cut to the chase:

In your guest contributions area, you have an article titled
Adding a Drive ON indicator (11/9) written by Paul Edgecomb.  In
the body, the author says that the addition of the indicator (a
LE-diode and resistor as shown in the diagram) should not
decrease the voltage supplied to the motor.  In fact, it will NOT
change the voltage. This is how battery-powered electricity
works:  The chemicals in the batteries react in an
oxidation/reduction reaction.  The positive end is the chemical
that gets reduced.  The negative end gets oxidized.  Reduction is
the gain of electrons and Oxidation is the loss of electrons 
(LEO says GER).  Electrons flow from the negative end.  This end
is negative since electrons are negatively charged.  The rate at
which the electrons flow is called current.  The pressure which
is exerted on the electrons (making them go) is called voltage. 
Since the electrons are already present in the wires at a
constant density, and the density cannot be changed, pressure on
a circuit does not change with the addition of more wires and
components in parallel (like in the diagram).  If the components
are wired in series, the voltage drops after each successive
component.  The short of all this long is that this 'fix' will
not affect the motor drive at all.  The only thing that will
happen is the batteries will not last as long. This loss of
battery power can be avoided using a larger battery (eg a 6v
lantern battery) and stepping down the voltage via a voltage
regulator to the desired voltage (4.5V?).  This will have an
added benefit.  Since cold slows the reaction in the battery,
your drive batteries will often go 'dead' faster while observing
in cold climates.  The 'dead' is simply due to a loss of voltage.
 When your three AA's drop in voltage just a little, it is
already too low for your motor to function properly.  When the 6V
battery drops its voltage, it will be down towards your ideal
voltage.  The regulator will keep it right at 4.5V until it
really starts dropping (at which time your AA's would have been
long gone).

Thanks for the time,
Nicholas H. Luhr

If you had half as much fun reading this as I had writing it, I
had twice as much fun as you!

Subject:	 Cheap Mylar Filter?
Sent:	Friday, January 9, 1998 13:45:07
From:	alvesm@ucs.orst.edu (Mauro Alves)
First of all, your site is great. Very nice work.
While searching for solar filters for my ETX I found that a
company called Apogee (they advertise their product on S&T; and
Astronomy) sell mylar sheets (54 X 30 inches) for $5.00!!!! Much
less expensive than the one sold by Tuthill and etc.
Does anybody have any kind of information on this material. Can
it be used to make a SAFE solar filter.

Thanks for any input on this subject.

Mauro Alves
OSU - Dept. of Physics
Corvallis, OR

Subject:	 Selling My ETX
Sent:	Friday, January 9, 1998 10:43:26
From:	Matt_Gamez@CARDtools.com (Matt Gamez)
I'm thinking about selling my ETX telescope so that I may be able
to upgrade to a different one.  Do you know of any one who is
interested in by this particular telescope.  It is in perfect
condition; only two years old. I am grateful for any leads or
further information regarding the matter.
  Thank you,

Subject:	 Re: Letters from others
Sent:	Wednesday, January 7, 1998 09:35:54
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Re: Mark Leddingham's unfortunate 'scratch' situation - no you
cannot get just the corrector lens. The main mirror and corrector
are matched sets and optically aligned in the barrel as a unit. 
Even rotating the correcting lens a quarter of a turn relative to
the mirror can really upset the alignment. In setting up the ETX,
the lens and mirror are actully rotated relative to each other to
find the best position to reduce aberations and coma.
How did Mark's lens get dirty in the first place.  I've had my
ETX for a long time now and nothing has got inside yet. I did
block the gap in the slot at the base of the tube near to where
the two screws are when you attach the ETX tube directly to a
tripod. Regardless of how clean even a new telescope is, if you
shine a light down the tube and reflect it back up to the
corrector lens there will always be some 'dust' on the back of
the corrector. It seems that it is just not possible under normal
conditions to totaly remove all particles and a reflected light
is particularly cruel in showing it up.

Hopefully Mark's scratches are not too bad i.e. only show up when
they are 'backlit'. The effect of the scratches is probably less
than a dusty front surface. I can imagine how he feels though. I
did have to clean the front surface of my corrector lens in
November when my dog sniffed the lens !!! and put a small wet
spot on it. A cleaning mixture of distlled water-2 cups,
isoproponol-1/4 cup and a single drop of washing up liquid works
wonders and leaves no sleaks or marks.

Good luck to Mark.  I have found Meade to be very accomodating
(Paul McDaniels).

Clear skies to all.

P.S. After a really dismal December, December the 30th and
January 2nd were the clearest nights I have had in over 18 months
of owning an ETX. There was some high haze but the definition on
Saturn and Cassini's division was fantastic. So was the splitting
of some really close doubles even down to 1.2 seconds. The image
of a 1st or 2nd magnitude star in the ETX beats anything that I
have ever seen in over 30 years of using a telescope.  Castor in
Gemini is now rising quite high and although there is a bit of a
dazzle and a wide separation, it is a great 'ETX' object.

That's it for now....clear skies to all


Subject:	 ETX vs. C5+
Sent:	Tuesday, January 6, 1998 15:08:48
From:	djshope@ibm.net
I have had one of those department store reflectors from Tasco
sor several years and have always been disappointed using
anything other than the low power 20mm lens.  So my interest in
astronomy has not been too "hands-on".  This past summer,
however, I met a man in Fells Point, Md. who sets his scope up on
the square during the weekends and shows anyone interested the
rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.  My interest, and my
families, was greatly renewed, so we bought my father an ETX for
He has been extremely pleased, and is planning on using it with
his camera for terrestrial photos as well as stargazing.  I was
able to use it with him for a few days during his visit over the
holidays and was impressed.  So much so that I am thinking of

When we bought my father's ETX, very little research went into
it.  I was shopping at the Discovery Channel Store in Houston and
had a very good salesman who seemed very knowledgable.  Now that
I have read several books and scanned the Internet for more info,
it seems that the ETX and Celestron C5+ are fairly comparable in
features and not too far off in price ($600 vs. $1000).

I would imagine that you and others went through a similar
thought process and would like to get your views on these two
scopes.  Also, I can easily see that I could be overlooking other
options.  I like the ETX because of its ease of use and
portability, as well as what seem to be excellent optics.  The
negatives include angle of the finderscope, particularly when
attempting polar alignment, and the RA adjustment.  On the other
hand, the $400 difference could buy alot of eyepieces and a 90
degree conversion kit.  What intrigues me about the 5" scope is
that it boasts 100% more light gathering than a 3 1/2".  The
single fork on the C5+ seems like a functional feature.

Anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts.  I want my next scope to
be one that I wil be happy with for many years to come.  Thanks.

Don Shope
Sugar Land, TX

Subject:	 Web Site
Sent:	Saturday, January 3, 1998 16:47:43
From:	mcgraw@hawaii.edu (Park McGraw)
Nice site. I thought you might be interested in the site I have
on telescopes and astronomy.  The telescope site is divided into
refractors, reflectors, and mounts. The astronomy site has
astrophotos divided into galactic and solar neighbor. The address

Park's Astronomy Page
Park's Telescope Page
I'll be adding a link to your site from the telescope page.

Aloha and Clear Skies



  Park McGraw
  University of Hawaii at Manoa
  Dept. of Physics / High Energy Physics Group


Subject:	 Astronomy book
Sent:	Saturday, January 3, 1998 09:32:03
From:	katetom@znet.com (Kate and Tom Harnish)
Just bought a copy of "Turn Left at Orion" by Consolmagno and
Davis (Cambridge University Press 1989, 1995) and find it
especially useful for several reasons:
1. Written for readers with 2.5"-4" scopes

2. Arranged by season so you can easily find what you can see

3. Each object has drawing of what it looks like to naked eye to
help you find it, a finderscope view (inverted) to help you point
your scope, and a telescope view (erect by reversed) to help you
get your expectations in order...the drawings show what you'll
see in your scope (more or less) and not what Hubble sees in 4
hour exposure.

4. Each object has observing comments from the authors and a nice
description of what you're looking at.


Subject:	 Lens etc.
Sent:	Saturday, January 3, 1998 08:22:21
From:	greasetattoo@earthlink.net (Greg Lehman)
I have a couple of questions concerning, Lens. I have a new ETX,
new to the astromony world. You had recommended some lens for me.
I have been exploring different catalogs for lens, and a 2x
barlow. Theres so many different brands, prices, etc. What do you
think of the Zoom eyepieces, I'm looking at an Orion UltraZoom
eyepiece, are they any good. (the zoom part) or would you
recommend seperate eyepieces? Orion also has a Varipower Barlow,
again, any good?

There is so many brands to choose from. Should I stick to Meade?
I've seen Orion, Pentax ($$$), Celestron, Tele Vue, Vixen,
Sirius. I'm so confused. Prices range from 34.95 (Orion Explorer
II eyepieces) up to the hundreds. I realize the higher the mm the
more it cost. What would you recommend?

Thanks Mike,
Greg from St.Paul, Minnesota 2manycloudynites.......

P.S. I added the L.E.D. to my scope, I got the info from your web
page, works like a charm.....

Subject:	Book reviews
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 1998 11:21:00
From:	WayneH7974@aol.com
Link into my home page at
http://members.aol.com/wayneh7974/astropage.html for some book
I've spent most of the morning putting this together and am sure
I'll be polishing it up a little as I go along.  I did notice a
message on your site from someone asking for a recommendation for
a good beginners book, any of the three I feature are pretty
good, depending on what your desires are.  I'm sure I'll be
adding more books to my collection as I go along.


Subject:	 Beginner's Astronomy Book
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 1998 10:31:58
From:	filmdos@seanet.com (Paul S. Walsh)
Regarding the request for a good beginner's book from
pstolten@ci.phoenix.az.us, I can wholeheartedly recommend "Turn
Left at Orion" - the revised edition (updated to 2006).  MSRP is
about $24.00 and is available through many astro dealers and
bookstores.  It contains excellent star hopping instructions for
over 100 of the best objects for small telescopes (60mm through
4.5 inch) and includes beautifully accurate sketches of what you
can expect to see through the eyepiece.  Professional reviewers
have said that this book should be packaged with every first
telescope and I absolutely concur.  Finding planets on any given
night is a little tricker but any decent monthly astronomy
magazine can show you where to look.  There are some great
planetarium programs out there on the web to help you find the
planets and anything else you want to try for.  Many offer free
demos.  My favorite is the newly updated Skymap! available at
http://www.jasc.com in a good shareware version.  If you're a MAC
person, head to http://www.siennasoft.com and take a look at
Starry Nights! - soon to be available for PCs as well.

Subject:	 ETX: Tracking precision?
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 1998 10:15:37
From:	mueller@evotec.de (Juergen Mueller)
First of all, let me thank you for creating and maintaining the
great Web site on the ETX scope. I have been visiting your site
regularly for the past 2 months - ever since I began to wonder
about buying an ETX, after seeing one during a visit to the US. I
certainly appreciate your continuous effort - a great example of
the Web the way it's meant to be, in my opinion.
As mentioned, I'm still trying to decide whether I should buy an
ETX (as my first astronomic scope ever), and I was wondering
whether you or other ETX users could help me with that decision.
Apart from looking for a portable scope (Hamburg is both cloudy
and well-illuminated...), I would like to obtain a reasonable
instrument for astro-photography. While your site has lots of
quite impressive examples for photography with the ETX, you also
mention the limitations. Limited tracking accuracy seems to be
the main problem.

Hence, I would like to understand the source of the tracking
inaccuracies, and to get a better idea whether they can be
reduced. I can think of three possible causes for bad tracking:

1. The motor gets slowed down, perhaps intermittently, due to the
added weight of the camera body or due to friction in the
notorious RA bearing. This might be relatively easy to fix (as
discussed below), so my hope would be that this is the main
source of tracking problems.

2. The RA drive lock might not engage solidly, so it may slips
occasionally. I noticed repeated discussions of the problem of
initially locking the drive on your site. However, I also
remember your comments that with proper handling, reproducible
locking of the drive can be achieved. Do you feel that the drive
lock might still slip intermittently, causing tracking errors, or
would you rule this out? Has anybody suggested mechanical
improvements to the ETX drive lock that I may have overlooked?

3. The (cheap?) gearbox used in the ETX probably introduces
periodic positioning errors, due to imperfections/asymmetries of
the gears, even if the average tacking speed is perfect. I have
never seen this discussed in regard to the ETX, but would assume
that these errors are present. (In my understanding, even high
quality gearboxes show this effect to some extent, and only the
wormwheel drives used in massive mounts offer significant
improvements.) Have you ever noticed periodic tracking errors in
the ETX? If so, on what timescales? - An electronic correction of
these errors (as offered for Meade's large mounts) should be
feasible in principle, since they are reproducible and hence
predictable. However, since every gear introduces deviations on a
different timescale, it could be a *very* tedious exercise to
manually compensate the deviations over a full cycle during the
initial calibration.

4. Any other possible glitches that I overlooked? (Including
other limits for photography that are not caused by tracking
inaccuracies at all?)

As mentioned above, I think there should be a way around any
deviations that are caused by the motor running too slow (type 1
errors). I'm just tinkering with a little feedback circuit that's
supposed to count the actual revolutions of the motor, and adjust
the motor voltage accordingly. Manual "fast/slow" buttons for
fine tracking adjustments (to compensate for type 2&3; errors)
should be very easy to add; even periodic error correction should
be feasible with some more work and a beefed-up circuit, if it
turns out to be useful in the ETX.
So, the purpose of my questions is actually twofold - trying to
decide whether I should buy an ETX, and whether it makes sense to
put some more work into the regulated drive circuit. I would
appreciate any comments on the nature of the ETX's tracking
limitations. (Hallo - any ETX user near Hamburg, Germany,
listening? I'd love to get a chance to see an ETX hands-on, and
maybe have a close look at that motor!)

Best regards, and thanks for any comments!

Juergen Mueller
Gluckstr. 4a, 22081 Hamburg, Germany

Mike here: I think tracking errors come down to two possibilities: (1) The lock doesn't fully engage at times. When it has properly engaged, AND the ETX is properly polar aligned, then tracking is very accurate. I've seen no drift when observing the same object for over 30 minutes when all the setups were perfect. Of course, getting the perfect setup can be challenging! And of course, this assumes full batteries and no extra weight of a camera. (2) However, things change when a camera is attached. With the JMI piggyback camera mount, counterbalance, and camera attached I had no noticeable RA tracking errors (did have some dec errors due to a not-quite perfect polar alignment). But with the camera attached to either Prime Focus or with eyepiece projection, tracking was horrendously bad. Probably due to the change in load on the motor in this out-of-balance condition, especially at Prime Focus. Yes, a speed adjustment mechanism could help this (there is one mentioned on the ETX Guest Contributions page). You feedback mechanism could also help it.

Subject:	Loose RA Lock knob
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 1998 06:15:14
From:	AstroFrk69@aol.com
well, meade never got back to me.  I left a message to some guy
that i was referred to and he never got back to me.  I decided to
take the base off, and see what i was dealing with.  I took it
off, and boy, i thoguht it was going to be more complicated.  It
is really a very simple design.  I took the knob off, slid the
bar as far as it would go, put the knob back on, and it isn't as
loose now.  I'm happy now :-) I still feels loose tho.  I've
heard from other people tho that it has to be so when the motor
goes, it doesn't get jammed which is what would happen if it were
too tight.  Everything seems to be fine (for now) :-)   Keep up
the good work Mike.... Love the page

Subject:	 ETX corrector lens
Sent:	Friday, January 2, 1998 03:29:03
From:	mark.ledingham@ub.uit.no (Mark Ledingham)
Happy New Year from the far North! Living at nearly 70 degrees
North (Tromso, Norway), I would guess that I am one of the few
northernmost users of the ETX? And in that connection, Mike, I
can report that our little scope is not only a delight to use in
California, it is wonderful for arctic conditions, as well!
On another matter, I have been so unfortunate to attempt cleaning
the inside surface of the ETX's corrector lens. Unfortunate
because I have ended up with several minor scratches (due to
microscopic dust particles) on the lens. After having read both
the user's manual, and a review of the ETX in the January(?) '97
edition of Sky & Telescope, I was led to believe that cleaning
the lens would be a simple operation(!). However, after having
blown dust off the lens with canned air and having carefully
applied lens cleaner, the lens has ended up with several tiny
scratches (but not on the secondary mirror - which I have not
touched). These scratches cannot be removed - and I just do not
know what to do. I have owned my scope for five months, after
having bought it in Minnesota while visiting my parents, and
everything has been satisfactory with it up until now. But this
lens problem really breaks my heart! My guarantee is, of course,
still in effect but I can't imagine that helping much in this
case. Meade's Customer Service division has been contacted on
this, too, without my receiving a response thus far.

Can anyone offer some advice? Is it possible to purchase a new
collector lens cell without having to return the whole ETX? And
if this is possible, how would a new unit tackle collimation?

I am still hoping that these scratches will not result in
inferior optical output. After having tested my scope several
times it seems as though there is no optical abberation nor
difficulties with collimation. If I have any advice to others, I
would certainly not recommend cleaning the interior surface of
the corrector lens. Should you feel that this warrants doing so,
simply blow off the dust first with a photographic bulb blower
(without touching the surface) and if this doesn't help contact
the dealer from whom you bought your scope.

Love your site. Keep it going strong. 

Best wishes,
Mark Ledingham   
Mark Ledingham
Fagreferent i engelsk, kunsthistorie og allmennlitteratur
Avd. bibliotek for humaniora, samfunnsfag og jus
Universitetet i Troms
N-9037 Troms
telefon: 77 64 41 46
telefax: 77 64 45 90
e-mail: mark.ledingham@ub.uit.no

Subject:	Finder replacement
Sent:	Thursday, January 1, 1998 13:37:52
From:	mrleger@centuryinter.net (Mark Leger)
No offense, but I prefered the original, non-frame version of
your web page. I've had my ETX for about a year now, having
waited about 6 months for delivery. I've been a silent patron of
your site ever since. Didn't use the scope much at first - mainly
due to the poor finder scope and the fact that I had other, more
convenient scopes. Finally replaced the finder with a Daisy 1X
airgun sight, having fashioned a bracket out of some scrap
aluminum. Changed the entire nature of the beast. Meade really
should address the finder problem.

Subject:	Meade 800#
Sent:	Thursday, January 1, 1998 08:10:09
From:	AstroFrk69@aol.com
thanx, i appreciate you putting my comments on.  i always
recommend your page because it has helped me as well as other
people.  thank you very much
meade finally has an 800 number.  its...  1-800-626-3233 you
don't have to call california anymore...yippy! :-)
i'll keep u informed on what happens.
thanx again

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