ETX USER FEEDBACK - 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: email@example.com (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. Thanks.
Subject: new etx Sent: Friday, January 30, 1998 20:06:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 owners. 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. Greg
Subject: Re: ETX info/comments? Sent: Friday, January 30, 1998 17:52:46 From: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Thanks!!
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: email@example.com (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. Cheers
Subject: Question Sent: Sunday, January 25, 1998 16:27:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah Lang) What ACCESSORIES would you suggest for the ETX telescope? You can send to email@example.com. End
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 $595. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Stratton) >I came across this note in the MAPUG >mail. It might be very useful for ETX owners. >Mark Strattonprathman@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 The table is quite interesting. However, I want to know what that metal ETX mount is! I have never seen anything like it! Mike
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: email@example.com (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. Diane
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Stratton) I came across this note in the MAPUG mail. It might be very useful for ETX owners. Mark Stratton email@example.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 >> firstname.lastname@example.org
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 concern. How easy is to use this instrument in Colombia 45' North?. Does it have an special accessory to install the folk almost horizontally? Andres Restrepo Bogota, Colombia email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Subject: 16 DEGREES LATITUDE 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 Luckycuss@aol.com
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? Thanks, Jan
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: email@example.com (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 ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ 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 Israel Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Phones: 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 http://www.demon.co.uk/mace/kakt98.html
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 options. 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. Wayne
Subject: Camcorder Use? Sent: Friday, January 16, 1998 12:49:55 From: ICARNEY@us.oracle.com (ICARNEY.US.ORACLE.COM) 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 regards Ian -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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: email@example.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 frustrating!
Subject: Thanks for the ETX-camera focus fix... Sent: Friday, January 16, 1998 08:02:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Wayne
Subject: Disappointing image quality Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 1998 15:11:32 From: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robi Stark) I just got my ETX as a present and I spending a lot of time with it. I enter your web site and liked it very much - i put it in my bookmarks. 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 Israel Emails: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Phones: 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: email@example.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 questions. My regards, Max
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 -- Manfred Hunkel - Darmstadt/Germany email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Having trouble focusing using the T-Adapter... Sent: Monday, January 12, 1998 05:43:32 From: email@example.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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com 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, Matt
Subject: Re: Letters from others Sent: Wednesday, January 7, 1998 09:35:54 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Cheers.....Doug
Subject: ETX vs. C5+ Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 1998 15:08:48 From: email@example.com 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 Christmas. 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 upgrading. 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 DJSHOPE@ibm.net
Subject: Web Site Sent: Saturday, January 3, 1998 16:47:43 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Park McGraw) Aloha 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 are: Park's Astronomy Page www2.hawaii.edu/~mcgraw/Page-Astronomy/Astronomy-Page.html Park's Telescope Page www2.hawaii.edu/~mcgraw/Page-Telescopes/Telescope-Page.html I'll be adding a link to your site from the telescope page. Aloha and Clear Skies Park -- Park McGraw University of Hawaii at Manoa Dept. of Physics / High Energy Physics Group www2.hawaii.edu/~mcgraw/Page-Parks-Home-Page/Parks-Home-Page.html email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Subject: Astronomy book Sent: Saturday, January 3, 1998 09:32:03 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Tom
Subject: Lens etc. Sent: Saturday, January 3, 1998 08:22:21 From: email@example.com (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. (sizes) 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 reviews. 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. Wayne
Subject: Beginner's Astronomy Book Sent: Friday, January 2, 1998 10:31:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul S. Walsh) Regarding the request for a good beginner's book from email@example.com, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Juergen Mueller Gluckstr. 4a, 22081 Hamburg, Germany email@example.com
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 Dave
Subject: ETX corrector lens Sent: Friday, January 2, 1998 03:29:03 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Universitetsbiblioteket 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: email@example.com
Subject: Finder replacement Sent: Thursday, January 1, 1998 13:37:52 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Dave p.s. 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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