GENERAL FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 July 2004
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions 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.

Mike here: On the previous Site Update, I asked if anyone was using the RSS/XML newsfeed. Here's a response:

Subject:	RSS newsfeed
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 2004 00:37:06
From:	Rafael Falquina (rfalquina@yahoo.es)
I'm using it and find it quite convenient. I'm a new ETX-90EC user in
Spain and used to check your site every 3-4 days. Now I just wait for a
warning message to pop-up.
 
Thanks for a great site.
 
Rafael Falquina.

Subject:	Meade ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, July 31, 2004 04:08:40
From:	SPYKEMIKEW1@wmconnect.com (SPYKEMIKEW1@wmconnect.com)
Hope you have some answers to help me out. I just brought home my ETX125
did the normal set up and took the telescope out for a test. I trained
the Autostar and proceded to align the scope. Much to my dismay the
horoizontal drive would not engage....motor failure was all I read on
the autostar. Other than returning the unit is there a quick fix for
this problem?

Thanks, 

Mike Willis
Mike here: Could you have overtightened the axis lock? Could you have not tightened it enough? With the lock engaged can you use the arrow keys to slew (I gather you could since you indicated you did the TRAIN DRIVES step). Did you TRAIN on both axes? (It is easy to miss the second one.) In the HOME position set up did you do the rotation to the hard stop and back to North?

And:

I think the axis lock is ok...it did work when I trained the telescope.
Even with the axis lock engaged it will not slew...no noticable noise
coming from the motor...that  worries me. After the hard stop and back
to north the only thing that would slew were the fork motors. I did use
the Autostar to run a test on the motors only to get the same result's.
The same message "Motor Failure" It worked once for the setup and
quit...any others reporting this problem. This is a brand new scope.

Thanks again 

Mike Willis
Mike here: I gather that the slewing arrows will no longer slew the ETX in azimuth. That's a bad sign. Lets try a couple of things. Disconnect and reconnect the Autostar (with the power off) and then do a RESET on the Autostar. Re-enter everything and try slewing again.
Subject:	.965 filters
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 2004 15:59:26
From:	H L Keaton (rambler444@ellijay.com)
I just wanted to send you a quick update. I had inquired about the .965
filters a few months back with no luck. After searching for awhile and
after I converted to all 1.25 & 2" filters, I found the .965 filter on
Lumicons site.

Thank You Very Much for what you do for the amateur astronomer.  

Hulett Keaton From the Dawg Nation.

Subject:	Need Your input
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 2004 06:04:19
From:	shirley m feickert (sfeickert@earthlink.net)
I am now ready to go back to Meade after a bad time with Celestron
I have been looking at 3 choices,  SC-8  LX90  and a used Schmidt 10"
LX200 classic 1995 vintage in great cond. It comes from a Meade  dealer,
The price for any of these is right, and I am into deep sky stuff.
What is choice, I know you like the XLT.

                  Thank You

                          JIM
Mike here: Both are excellent choices. However, the LX200 is a more complicated setup vs the Autostar. But you will get the larger aperture. The LX200 is more suited to DSO astrophotography but the LX90 can do it as well.

And:

Thanks again Mike   I should never left Meade.

Subject:	Re: Overdue Thanks
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 2004 02:25:49
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@arksky.org)
Hello George and thank so much...delayed or not, this is very
appreciated!  Clear skies and bright discoveries...
 
Clay
--------------------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
http://www.arksky.org/

----- Original Message -----
From:  George
Hi, Dr. Sherrod !
   You serviced my Meade EC 90 some months ago and I never thanked you.
   Forgive me. The excitement of so many lovely nights made me forget my
   benefactor.You made her into a brand new scope! Wonderful. I feel
   like she had a heart transplant. You are all aces. Thanks.
                                       Sincerely,
                                             George

Subject:	125 EXT 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 2004 20:13:54
From:	Gerald Jenny (gjenn@earthlink.net)
I'am at a loss I loaded Astroplanner 1.3.2 and put in my 125 ETX and
some eyepices so I check the combinations screen and it tells me that my
6.4 MM eyepeice is to strong for the 125 and also the 7.MM .Ilook up the
Meade Sprcs. and they tell me that it's good for up to 500X what am I
missing if that is so then I cannot use my Meade LPI. Please enlighten
thsi dummy Jerry
 
Gerald Jenny
Mike here: For info on the theoretical maximum magnification calculation for any telescope see the FAQ page. And yes you can use the LPI with the ETX line.
Subject:	re: DEC mecanical delay
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 2004 19:46:56
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
From your excellent description and photographs,
it sounds like you have too much (excesive) end-play on the worm.

If you are seeing the worm (2) turn immediately upon pressing
the key, but the driven gear (3) is not moving, then the
worm is probably "climbing" the gear, along the worm's length.

Look in the Telescope Tips page on Mike's site,
many of the "tune up" articles in the right column discuss
adjusting the worm end play (it involves loosening and
tightening the nut at the top of the worm (2) in your photo).

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: Moon landing Proof
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 2004 19:19:23
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
What would you consider "solid proof"?

If it's the flag, then how about the laser retroreflectors (special
mirrors) they left behind?  

Those are still in use every day by astronomers and
lunar geologists to detect moonquakes, to test various theories
of gravitation and relativity... 
And they're there: shine a laser at the spot of the landing,
and a tiny spot of light bounces back.

Now, that's as "solid" as seeing a flag, but suffers from the
same -lack- of solidity, since both the flag and the laser retroreflectors
could have been dropped off by unmanned rockets.

have fun
--dick
And more:
Here are some quickly found (not checked) references 
(by asking Google:  moon laser retroreflector )

The first looks the best:
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/21jul_llr.htm
..which is titled: "the most important thing Armstrong left on the moon"

and there's:
http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/02144/moon/laser.htm
and
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/Apollo11/A11_Experiments_LRRR.html
and
http://www.spacetoday.org/SolSys/Moons/TheMoon/Retroreflectors.html
and
www.bga.com/~cfb/Using_Lunar_Retroreflectors.html


..oh, the guy in the office next to mine at work also uses the
retroreflector data, too (he's one of the team to most accurately
"weigh" the earth a couple of years ago).

have fun
--dick
And this:
From that last page i cited (which does the numbers of how bring the
reflected light is):
"These days, all too often, one runs across people who do not believe the
 Moon landings occurred. There were many Hams who received signals not
 only from the Apollo spacecraft, but from the ALSEP packages before
 they were shut down in the late 70's. They could face down most doubters
 with their compelling evidence. Sadly, these Hams are getting old, 
 with more and more becoming SK's. So it gets ever harder to convince the doubters."

"Hams" are shortwave radio amateurs.

have fun
--dick (really, i'll stop now)

Subject:	Moon landing Proof
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 2004 07:15:38
From:	michael_c_stefanavage@vanguard.com (michael_c_stefanavage@vanguard.com)
I'm searching for solid proof that we actually landed on the moon.  My
question is, if we know exactly where the flag was placed on the moon,
wouldn't we be able to see it with a powerful telescope?  If that is
true, how powerful of a scope would be needed and at how much
magnification.
Thanks!
Mike here: More than you can afford! Do the math; consider that you are likely looking almost straight down (not quite) at the end of the flag pole. I don't recall the exact dimensions but assume a 1" diameter spot at the Moon's distance. Of course, the flag's shadow will be larger at some times during the lunar day.
Subject:	DEC mecanical delay
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 2004 19:30:10
From:	Daniel (darnoff@yahoo.com)
Here me again...it seems the mechanical problems are chasing me...well,
that's the point now:

Each time I change the DEC direction movement in speed 4 and lower, I
have noted a four seconds delay where the scope is motionless, before
the scope take the opposite direction of movement.

After those 4 secs, the scope begins to move in the opposite direction,
as I expect.

I have identified the reason and I need to refer to the photo I have
sent: the delay is caused for a lack of communication of movement
between the metalic worm (2) and the worm wheel (3).

Still when the plastic axis (1) and the worm (2) are moving from the
first second I change the direction of movement, the worm wheel is still
motionless, and only after 4 secs it begins to move.

Do you know the reason of this behavior?

Do you know how can I solve this? For the training motors purposes, this
delay of movement are source of many errors, so I think is possible to
correct...

Thanks in advance for your advice
 
daniel
worm

Mike here: If not a mechanical issue, see the article "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.


Subject:	Gear box replacement
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 2004 15:51:09
From:	Jim.Beston@questintl.com (Jim.Beston@questintl.com)
Just when I thought things were O.K. I find that my ETX will not rotate
fully either by hand or by motor!

I have about 320 degrees of movement between stops I can't see anything
catching in the base.

Can you (or Dr Sherrod) help?
James
Mike here: Since I assume you could rotate nearly twice around in azimuth before the gearbox replacement we'll assume that something shifted. You will just need to find it. Could be a wire (bad if you cut it) or some debris that is catching, or something that is otherwise protruding into the path.

And:

Your Assumption is right Mike, Difficult to imagine something shifted,
because taking the gearbox out doesn't involve (I would think) getting
anwher near the hard stops, which I assume are on the other side of the
base plate. It is possible that the position of the worm relative to the
gear it engages is different than before but when rotating against the
stops the worm and the gear stay in the same relative position to each
other.

I'll take the box out again  and see what I can find, I don't want to
dissemble the base any more than I have already since I would imagine to
take the (Alloy) base right out is difficult.

I did note that one of the gearbox screws is longer than the other two -
I wonder if it can catch on anything on the other side of the base
plate?

I'll let you know how I get on.
James
And an update:
Problem solved Mike: The screw holding the gearbox/circuit board nearest
the back-end of the alt/z motor was catching an the rotating section of
the base above it. - I must have lost a spacer when I installed the new
box.

All I need to do now is resolder the batterybox wires I broke in the
process. Longer wires and a plug in connector, or at least a front panel
that could be removed would be nice MEADE!
James

Subject:	Polar vs Alt-Az alignment with Advanced Mead Tripod (887)
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:27:10
From:	Edelmann (edelmann@hcst.net)
Thought I'd pass along my recent experiences with using the 887 tripod
(and Autostar), with and without the wedge.

Initially, I was using it in the Alt-Az mode, since judging from the
directions, etc., it appeared that that was somewhat easier.  Alignments
using the easy mode seemed to bear fruit without frustration.  I would
be able to goto and track the ring nebula, for instance, without any
problems for about as long as I'd care to keep viewing it.

I used a level, and made sure the tripod was level, as well as the OTA
per the instructions for proper Home Position.  Leveling the tripod has
always seemed to be tricky... then, I read a post where there's no need
to really level the tripod perfectly... since the alignment process from
home position is capable of accomodating most error there.  I tried that
subsequent to...

... switching to polar mode.  I decided this past Spring, that real
astronomers, whether weekend or no, use polar mode. ( OR, perhaps the
"waste" of having such a fine wedge sitting in the closet collecting
dust got the better of me.)  With that in mind, I dragged my wedge out,
and installed it on the top of the tripod.

After carefully re-calibrating and retraining the drives, as well as
ensuring I was at the then most current Autostar build, I noted nearly
every viewing session thereafter, that the accuracy was a definate
problem.   I actually observed a definate regret for having left more
simpler times behind.

I realize, of course, that the polar alignment procedure can be tricky,
what with the celestial pole being none-to-obvious.  With the 26mm
ploessel, for example,  it would be handy to know exactly how much of
the FOV one needs to offset from Polaris in the direction of Kochab in
order to position the scope properly.

In the end, I have to say, that since the polar mount didn't appear to
have any particular advantages for casual viewing over the alt-az mode,
the ease of alignment TOTALLY wins out with the latter mode.  So, other
than for the cool look of using the wedge, I have recently returned to
the alt-az mode, and sure enough, my alignments are dead on... even
without leveling the tripod with a bubble level.  Plus, using the
controller to level the OTA for home position, rather than using the DEC
clamp, is also a great idea (per the aforereferenced posting), since it
has to save on wear and tear of the same.

Bottom line, I totally concur that it's best to use alt-az mode if you
have Autostar as well, (just as you have suggested elsewhere on your
site).

thanks,
 
John

Subject:	ETX125 Focus
Sent:	Saturday, July 24, 2004 00:50:24
From:	KvnFor9@aol.com (KvnFor9@aol.com)
Can you advise if it is normal when adjusting the focus, the object
moves to the left or the right of centre.  I have had the same
experience with cheaper scopes, however I was not expecting it with a
Mead.

Any tip or ideas with this, I have looked through the site but cannot
find anything to compare with.
 
Regards,
 
Kevin Ford
Mike here: Yes, it is normal for there to be some image shift. This is due to the design of the telescope, not some defect. Since focusing is done in a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope by moving the primary mirror, the position of the focal plane will also move. However, the image shift should NOT be excessive. If it is excessive then the optics may be out of collimation. By the way, if you search the site for "image shift" you will get lots of hits.
Subject:	barlow lens
Sent:	Friday, July 23, 2004 11:35:09
From:	Whitey Stewart (wwwstewart@msn.com)
I am purchasing a etx 90 uhtc from discovery web site. They offer a 3
lens pkg accessory that includes a #124 barlow.  Everything I have
researched says the  #124 is for the etx 70 or 60. The correct lens is
the # 126.  Wil the #124 work with the etx 90?  What is the difference
between the 124 and the 126?  Thanks Preston
Mike here: Yes, it should work for most eyepieces but the #126 is slightly higher quality and should work with more eyepieces (allow them to reach a focus with the ETX-90).
Mike here: I'm back home from my travel. You can read the 3rd Mighty ETX Star Party report here. Thanks to everyone who read and honored my request as posted on the Announcements: Site page.

Subject:	Illinois Dark Sky Star Party
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 2004 11:39:11
From:	Hardy, Larry (Larry.Hardy@morganstanley.com)
Mike,

We had an opportunity to meet when you attended the Illinois Dark Sky
Star Party outside of Springfield Illinois, I was the chairman of the
event.

I thought, after looking at your site, I would make a comment regarding
our  upcoming event in September, ( Sept 16-17-18)

Once again we will be hosting the event , but this year as a cooperative
effort with the St Louis Astronomical Society.

For registration fees, maps, speakers etc. please direct your readers to
our web site www.sas-sky.org

As you know, we really pride ourselves on having access to the darkest
skies in the state of Illinois ( thanks to the NASA Dark Sky Survey) at
the site of the star party.  Last weekend our club held an outing at the
park with a couple of Boy Scout Troops, and it once again took my breath
away.

We expect that we may have a vendor or two, but attendees would probably
serve themselves better by attending a vendor fair at another location. 
We look at our event as an opportunity to observe, and learn from others
, to date, vendors have been willing to provide us with some outstanding
door prizes, and are so noted on our links page to their web
sites...although we will be holding an " Ice Crme Social i.e., Swap Meet
on two of the days.

We invite individuals to contact us with any questions about the event.

Sincerely, 
 Larry A. Hardy 
 President 
 Sangamon Astronomical Association 
 Springfield, Illinois 

Subject:	View Finder
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 2004 09:03:15
From:	eric (eric@esmithonline.com)
Eric Smith here.  I've had my etx 90 almost three years now.  I dared to
clean the lense of my scope, eyepieces, and view finder using Clay's
mixture  worked great!

One problem though, apparently some of the grease from inside the view
finder got on my view finder lenses.  I've tried re-cleaning, it and all
I get is one clear spot in the middle.  Any ideas how to clear this up?

Thanks,

Eric  
Mike here: You can try a LensPen (see the Cleaning Tips article on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page).

And:

In an earlier message, I mentioned that after using Clay's mixture to
clean my view finder optics, the lense closet to the eye was fogged
over.  Originally, I though that some of the lubrication that was
plentiful inside the view finder had smeared on the surface of the
lense.

I figured I had nothing to  lose, so I disassembled my 45 degree view
finder.  Once I was able to remove the small cylinder that holds the
first optic element and the cross hairs (do this by removing the rubber
focus band and removing the set screw), I was able to tell that the
problem was condensation inside the cylinder.  So, I took the cylinder
and placed it on the warming plate on the kitchen stove.  I set the heat
to a level that was just uncomfortable to the touch.  After an hour, the
 condensation had evaporated and the cylinder optics were clear as a
church bell on a spring day.

If anyone else runs into this problem, I'll be happy to help them work
it out.

Eric

Dalton, GA

Subject:	ETX Electronic Controller Question
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 2004 01:10:52
From:	James Jefferson-Wilson James (james.jefferson@bbc.co.uk)
I understand that instead of Polar Aligning you can center the object in
the middle of the eyepiece and Use the Electronic Controller to simulate
the natural drift of an object, is this true ?

I read the manual and it saids you can, but I just wanted to make sure
and what speed it should be on Electronic Controller ? (ie: Lights 1 -
4) . Do you know anyone who has tried this for Astrophotography ?

Regards, 

James Jefferson (JJ)  
London
Mike here: With the standard handcontroller you must either polar align the mount or continuously slew the telescope to keep the object in view by using the slew arrow keys on the handcontroller. There is no automatic correction with the standard handcontroller.

And:

Thanks, so once I centre the object I can just keep holding the Arrow
key and this will keep it align as it would if it was polar Aligned ?

Do you know off hand what setting this should be ? There are 4 lights, I
would imagine it's the slowest setting ? Or do I have to do something
else For it to be "naturally aligned" ? I can't remember the proper term
for it.

Many Thanks again, 
Mike here: No, you can't just HOLD a key down. Depending upon the orientation of the mount, you would have to slew in directions to compensate for the Earth's rotation. With the standard controller, IF you mount the ETX in polar mode, then only one drive needs to run to compensate BUT again, depending upon the accuracy of the setup, you may have to do some corrections by using the arrow keys.

And:

I think I have identified the origin of my confusion. In the Meade
"Instruction Manual  ETX-90EC Astro Telescope with Electronic
Controller", on page 11, under the heading The Electronic Controller,
Modes of Operation, Alt/Az, it says: "...in this mode astronomical
tracking is not automatic and requires continuous key pushes."

This statement appears to conflict with the answer you gave to my
question.

I believe that the reason for my confusion is that the ability of the
ETX automatically to track celestial objects is a capability of the
telescope PLUS the Autostar controller and NOT a capability of the
telescope alone. Without the Autostar, the ETX cannot track celestial
objects continuously and automatically, in the Alt/Az mode. It seems to
me that the writers of the instruction manual for the telescope and for
the Autostar have failed to highlight this fact sufficiently. Of course,
real men don't RTFM anyway so for them it wouldn't have mattered.

Do you agree with my statements above?
Warm regards,
Dan Smith
Mike here: The manual was written pre-Autostar days and probably not updated. And both answers are correct; the controller won't automatically correct unless you press keys. There is no single speed that would be used to allow you to continuously hold down a slewing key.

And:

Ok, thanks mike ..... Soz for the bugging questions :-) 
Got myself a new ETX125 last weekend (still waiting for clear skies) but
Really wanted to get to grips with it as much as possible before I
start.
Your site has been so helpful the last 6 months.  Its very much
appreciated.

James.
Mike here: By the way, a NEW ETX-125AT is supposed to come with the Autostar, not the standard handcontroller.

And:

It came with Both :-) .... Result, don't want to part with my ETX90 but
The missus is on my case.

Also what do you reckon the Meade 4000 8-24mm zoom eyepiece ? I have a
lot Of meade 4000 eyepieces but don't want to keep takin of the adaptor
for My camera but also want to make sure the quality is still the
same...its A meade so I know its good, worth it ? On ebay at the moment
for 112.00
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page.
Subject:	The Ideal Mighty ETX Star Party
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 2004 18:41:45
From:	BtwdFritz@aol.com (BtwdFritz@aol.com)
I really love this website.

Any chance at all that a future ETX Star Party could be held in Hawaii,
at oh, I don't know...Mauna Kea?  I don't know how many people attend
the party, or from how far away---and I'm sure part of the appeal is
that it can be driven to if it's held in the continental U.S.---but I
bet many would weigh the options between driving for 20 hours or flying
for 5 to 8 hours, and conclude that maybe it's about time to make the
pilgrimage to astronomy's sacred site, ETX in tow.  Since there are
quite a few flights flying directly into Kona, maybe a travel agency
could work out some special deal if there are enough people, and I'm
sure we'd find the kind folks at Mauna Kea full of the welcoming aloha
spirit.  Also, prominent speakers and generous marketing executives from
big-time sponsors love this kind of excuse to go to Hawaii.  I believe
many people would be interested, and, given enough notice, will find a
way to get there.  (After all, didn't we all manage to find the money to
buy our 'scopes, and haven't we been dreaming of the ideal dark sky ever
since?)  To borrow rather shamelessly and loosely from the film Field of
Dreams: "Post this, and they will go."

My family is from the Big Island, and believe me, once you see the night
sky from Hawaii, it will stay with you forever.  It is an extremely
powerful experience, especially for kids.  We could bill this very
special trip as the "Starfield of Dreams"!

Just thought I'd throw this out there...er, up there.

Your thoughts, please!

Fritz
Mike here: Sounds like a nice idea! See the item "Visit to Hawaii Observatories" on the Other: Just for Fun! I'd love to go back to Mauna Kea! But I'd still like to get one on the East Coast as well. And Europe chimed in requesting one. Know how to clone me (and the necessary funds)?
Subject:	Does the ETX90-EC w/ Autostar Track Continuously?
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 2004 09:44:37
From:	Dan Smith (dmsmith@io.com)
I have searched the ETX90-EC User Manual  and your book on the ETX and
nowhere have I found definite, unmistakeable indication that the ETX has
the means with which to track an object continuously when it is in the
ALT/AZ mode. Can it do that? Can it remain accurately on target for
minutes, or for a half hour, say?

I realize that it will track continuously in the POLAR mode, requiring
only that the right ascension motor operate at a constant rate, with the
other drive motor not running. To track continuously in the ALT/AZ mode,
however, is a whole other ballgame, requiring that both the RA drive and
the DEC drive run continuously, and at carefully computed rates. Can you
comment?

I realize that this a fundamental question, central to the capabilities
of the ETX90-EC, but it seems to me that the instructions zoom right
over this question as if any fool ought to understand without being told
what the telescope can do in this regard. Your comments, please

Now, if the answer to the above question is "yes", the ETX can track an
object then another question arises: how does the ETX know where in the
sky it is pointed, to begin with.

Warm regards,
Dan Smith
dmsmith@io.com
Austin, TX
Mike here: Yes, it will track in Alt/Az mode. How long it will track accurately depends on many factors including how well you did the TRAIN DRIVES and alignment steps. Once you do the alignment steps correctly, the ETX knows the sky geometry for your location.

And:

Thanks very much for this reply, Mike. It sure makes sense. 
Regards,
Dan Smith 

Subject:	hi its about my etx if you can help
Sent:	Sunday, July 18, 2004 12:28:29
From:	Notscratcher@aol.com (Notscratcher@aol.com)
hi i wondered if you can help me . i have a etx 105 ec..   and would
like to now if there is a way of cleaning the mirror .. i now that you
should not clean it but it has got to a point now that it has to done,. 
the grease and dust / hair is too much..

or do you now of a place were i can buy a new mirror for the etx..
Mike here: See the article "Cleaning Optics" on the Buyer/New User Tips page. Alternatively you can contact either Meade or check out the ETX Tune-Up Service. If your mirror really needs replacing you would have to contact Meade or look for a used/refurbished system. But then you would have to re-collimate the optics; not something to be undertaken lightly.
Subject:	Meade DS-90
Sent:	Sunday, July 18, 2004 08:07:51
From:	H.C. Ward (hcward@bellsouth.net)
I discovered your website AFTER I returned a MEADE DS-90 to HSN. The
initialization procedure after seven hours of trying just got the best
of me. I won't bore you with the details except to say it was the
programming of the Autostar that finally did me in. A number of serious
of amateur astronomy friends described the telescope and controller
system as a "POS." I guess they were right. Or were they?

As a high school science teacher the promise of the DS-90 with it's low
price was too good to resist. Can you offer me any hope that an
affordable telescope with a user friendly telescope computer controller
is available?

Your thoughts please.

Thanks,

Hugh Ward
(DeLand, Florida)
Mike here: Well, first off, you need to define what YOU mean by USER FRIENDLY. All the GOTO systems require learning the system and some initialization. If you spend enough money (like for the LX200GPS models) then the initialization steps are all done by the system BUT you still have to learn the system. If you find the GOTO computer menus unfriendly you can connect a computer (Mac or PC) to the GOTO system and control the telescope via a starmap display on the computer screen. What I suspect may have happened in your case was the less than clear documentation that came with the telescope. Most users who have struggled with the documentation have been able to overcome that by the tips on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page on the ETX Site. Another tip that is helpful is contacting your telescope dealer or visiting a local astronomy group; they can provide assistance.

And:

Thanks for your quick reply.

The documentation was indeed very much confusing. In the initialization
procedure, I got as far as the alignment phase with no trouble, and then
I got some messages about the motors. Previously, the telescope moved
fine with the controller commands. Once I got the motors fault error,
the whole thing froze up and ultimately shut itself off. I tried a
numbers of fixes to no avail. Since there was no way to get to the
recalibrate menu manually I was stuck.

I thought for a long time, and said to myself "Should I have to work
this hard to get a telescope computer controller to work?" I have got
the point in my life that I will give a product a second and maybe a
third look, but not beyond that. I wonder if Meade field tested their
instructions with anyone outside their company and some technically
savvy group.

I have made a few products myself, ( www.hcwardco.com )  and I can
assure you field testing products with non-technical people really shows
up the weaknesses of a product and it's documentation.

Please don't take what I have said at all personal. It was not directed
at you or your comments.

It is just very frustrating. We have this low cost and "easy to use"
scope and I saw great potential for greatly widening the population who
love astronomy. I have taught astronomy on and off for nearly thirty
years and finally, I thought I had found a product that would hook a
bunch of students for life. If you go to star parties, who do you see
there? You see a lot of old white dudes who have engineering
backgrounds. (I am one of them!) Is it any wonder that space programs
are viewed as non-essential by so many voters.

Sadly the search goes on. You didn't recommend any scope that will come
close to filling my need as a teacher. Please give that some more
thought.

Thanks so much for even replying,

Hugh
Mike here: Motor faults can be due to many causes; weak batteries, locks that are overly tightened, bad connections, dirty encoders, not doing the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES steps, not putting the telescope in the proper HOME position, not setting the proper telescope/mounting mode, etc.
As to a recommendation, if you are willing to try again, the ETX line is a fine system, as evidenced by the comments and examples on the ETX Site. But there are other choices as well. I don't have any personal experience with the DS models but others who frequent my ETX site do.

And:

All your probable causes were thought of and determined not be the
problem. Really! That is why I took 7 hours to finally get to a wall of
frustration.

I noticed the ETX-90 can be found for around $450 on eBay and through
your website. Nice site! I will keep an eye out for one based on your
recommendation. If you know of someone who would like to get a tax
letter for a telescope donated, I can arrange it though the high school
where I teach. I would love to have a guidable scope by September.

My biggest concern is the AutoStar. The one I returned was Model 494. I
assume the 497 version is an upgrade. Is that true? I don't want to
repeat this process with another one.

Any more ideas?

Regards,

Hugh
Mike here: You could contact the sellers to see if they would be OK with the donation. The Autostar #497 has more capabilities and is somewhat easier to use since it has a full number keypad. By the way, if you are near Cape Coral, you might want to check out the Scopetronix retail store (www.scopetronix.com). They are an excellent source of telescopes, accessories, and information located in Florida.
Subject:	Re: ETX -90 Motor Fail?
Sent:	Saturday, July 17, 2004 19:55:38
From:	SS (vannmann@nycap.rr.com)
I am using the newest update, still no luck, tried to switch back to the
standard controller and same thing, up/down works fine on all
speeds...but when I try side to side things get bizarre, only goes one
speed (fast) and sometimes keeps slewing once the button is released.  I
just tried it with the autostar controller again and upon start up it
attempts a motor calibration and reads "motor fault", wont let me go
further, attempts another calibration and reads it again (motor fault).
Ahhhh, technology. The shame is that I have had the scope for two years
and of course no warranty. I have only used this particular scope a
total of ten times, so this is not from "over use".

* I guess my next question is, and hopefully you have some input, are
there any options for getting the scope fixed? this is my ultimate
source of worry, that I have this scope in optically pristine condition
but broken mechanically. I checked most of your great site for feedback
on repairs, but couldnt find any. ANY input on getting the scope
serviced would be appreciated. I live in Albany New York. Thanks again,
you have been a big help, I dont have any "telescope friendly" people to
converse with about this, although astromony is one of my biggest
hobbies.

Scott.
Mike here: Rats. You have two choices: the "ETX Tune-up Service" or contact Meade.

And:

OK, thanks. Does the ETX tune up also do repairs? 
thanks again.
Scott.
Mike here: You will need to contact Dr Clay for specifics on what he will repair.

And an update:

Although we were unsucessful in determining the problem with my ETX 90 a
few days ago I wanted to say thanks for attempting. I was able to call
meade and for 75.00 they will fix whatever is wrong and ship it back...I
guess that is the safest bet for now. Thanks again, I will let you know
how the service was so you can let others know...
Scott.

Subject:	Re: unable to see anything with meade etx-125
Sent:	Saturday, July 17, 2004 14:40:56
From:	Chad Springer (chad_h_springer@hotmail.com)
Thank you very much for helping me to get my scope to work.  What  I was
doing wrong was not turning the focus knob more than roughly 20
rotations, because I was trying to be extra careful not to turn it too
much for fear it would unscrew off.  After turning the focus knob more
than 40 rotations or so I did get the object in focus.  I think that
anyone who is extra careful with their first scope is prone to making
this same mistake.  Meade should probably put that in the instructions
as a heads up.  I just assumed that there something wrong with the
optical tube.  Thank you very much for helping me out with this and
saving me from returning a perfectly good telescope for service.

Sincerely,

Chad Springer

Subject:	re:  ETX 125 and 1247 Auto Focuser Problems, problems, problems.
Sent:	Saturday, July 17, 2004 11:38:35
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: 	  jobmw@directcon.net
Reading your descriptions, i can make one suggestion which may
help kill two birds...

Remove the telescope from the tripod.

When observing, simply place it on a low (enough) flat surface.
(i use a folding TV table, concrete blocks, picnic tables,
my -usual- mount is a sheet of plywood C-clamped to a railing
(fuzzy photos: http://rseymour.home.wolfenet.com/astro/etx.html )
the photos show my rarely-used plywood hinged wooden wedgie, too)

That should handle the "requires a step ladder" problem.

Removing the tripod also makes the scope much more portable for
dragging closer to your PC.

have fun
--dick

And:

Thank you Dick. I appreciate the suggestion. I'll look around and see
what I have.

Mike and Dick: Tried this weekend to view things - my nephew was
visiting (16 1/2 years old) and we did great with the 26mm on it's own.
Just saw stars and land objects that are at least 10 to 15 minute drive
away. I live on a cliff and have a spectacular view. Once we tried the
different lens combo using the 2x barlow, we couldn't find or rathar
"see"  anything. I tried using the lens 9mm with 2x barlow per "Clay's
proper eyepieces for your observing needs". It recommends for planets
using p3* = using 9.7mm lens w/2x  for planets or 6.4mm = p2. I just
have the 9mm or 6mm . The guided tour was recommending Jupiter. We tried
our 2x with the 9mm, 6mm, 4mm and ended up back to the 26mm by itself. I
was trying to get my nephew (who had been in trouble just prior and
parent couldn't deal with him since she was leaving for a Napa weekend,
she asked us to keep him, which we love having him - parents had a nasty
divorce and still don't get along) interested in a "hobby" and seems to
have caught the astrology fever with my telescope. (I know what he is
getting for Christmas - a 70 or 90 ETX from us).  My theory is if he
starts with the basics, and wants more lens etc, he will then have to
find a part time job to support his hobby. He latched onto my telescope
like glue to wood. I explained to him that I am sure it is something
"we're doing" wrong as we should be seeing things so much better
ie..compare to some of the pictures at your web site. (I showed him
some).  We loosend everything and conducted searches (easier to spin and
move up and down) on our own with the autostar etc. I am sure he is
still hooked as he stayed at it until 1am Sunday morning. We started at
10pm Saturday evening. It was so funny. We both looked at the clock and
he said, think it is clear and dark enough, and I said, oh yeah - then
we both got up and charged for the back door. We waited Friday night and
it was too cloudy so instead we did land viewing for quite some time. My
nephew does plan to come visit more often and sure would like to get
this right by then. Any suggestions or help is always appreciated.
Thanks!
Jo
Mike here: I'm confused by what you mean. If you had the object in the 26mm eyepiece then you should be able to "see" it with the Barlow Lens or other eyepiece. You might have to slightly move the field-of-view around if the object wasn't centered in the 26mm eyepiece. You will also have to refocus when you switch from the 26mm eyepiece.

And:

From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
For 95% of my viewing, i use either the 26mm or 26mm and 2x Barlow.
Going to 9mm is pushing it, and combining the 9mm -and- Barlow requires
very good seeing (atmospheric conditions) to yeild anything beyond a dim
blur.

And looking out over the ocean is frequently looking out over/through a
high humidity layer, which, although stable, can blur the targets.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: And viewing Jupiter right now is a problem since it is getting low in the sky, resulting in increased atmospheric distortion.

And:

Thanks for the reply. I was using Clay's lens help that he has posted in
your web site. I think I am over focusing. I will have an object with
the 26m but then put the barlow on, and cannot see the same object, no
matter how I focus? The lens with the tiny little holes for viewing, is
there a certain way to look through those so I am not seeing black?
Also, I am confused. Is the lower the number on a lens 4mm a greater
view than a larger number on a lens 32mm? Mr. Clay in his lens help
recommended using the 9mm (or 9.7mm) with the 2x barlow. Is not having a
9.7mm vs. having a 9mm going to make that big of a difference? Thanks
Mike. Still say if you are ever in Placerville, heading to South Lake
Tahoe, come on by! smile
Jo
Mike here: You need to place your eye directly over the opening in the eyepiece and look straight into the eyepiece. With the smaller field of view you need to be more careful when lining up over the eyepiece. As to the markings, see the FAQ page for info on how to calculate the magnification for any eyepiece (you'll see that smaller means greater). And I wouldn't worry about the 9mm vs 9.7mm difference.

And:

Thanks Mike. That helps me to understand the eyepieces better. I tried
to figure the calcs for magnification but I seem not to get the hang of
it. I will review again, maybe a light will go off in my head. smile
Jo
Mike here: Focal Length of the telescope divided by the focal length of the eyepiece. So for the ETX-125 with a 26mm eyepiece, that would be 1900 / 26 = 73X.
Subject:	ETX -90 Motor Fail?
Sent:	Friday, July 16, 2004 16:20:40
From:	SS (vannmann@nycap.rr.com)
I recently took my telescope out after not using it for a few months
(etx 90 ec). I put new batteries in, went through the usual set up
process and turned on the base, the sun message was displayed and it
began "testing" the motor drives, it moved a short distance up, then
moved a short distance to the side, then stopped and the message "MOTOR
UNIT FAIL" scrolled across the screen. It went on to say possible
reasons are low battery or overloaded scope? I tried to power it up
several times and got the same message. Can anyone help me continue with
this trouble? thanks, Scott Stas
Mike here: Couple of thoughts: 1) Could you be overtightening one or both of the axis locks? 2) If that isn't the case, try loosening up the lubrication by unlocking the axis locks, moving the tube back and forth, several times, from hard stop to hard stop, in all directions. Let me know.

And:

OK, tried both of those suggestions, same problem, it says "motor fault"
comes up again. I then detached the autostar and attached the simple
controller that the scope originally came with, the motor moves the
scope in both directions, BUT...when I go to fine (slow) moving side to
side it wont slew slow, it goes only the fast speed...then slows down to
a semi slow slew. I wonder why this is doing this? (up and down works
fine, slews slow as it is supposed to) any other suggestions would be
greatly appreciated.
Mike here: I don't like the changing speed with the standard controller. Have you tried a different set of batteries or perhaps AC (if you have an AC Adapter)? Did you leave the batteries in during the period of non-use? If so, check the battery compartment for battery leakage.

And:

No, I never leave the batteries in the scope when its not being used.
Even if I put it away for a few days, the batteries come out. I just
went to the store and tried fresh batteries, same problems.  I probably
need to start thinking about having this serviced, or am I jumping the
gun here? Having my ETX "broke" is worse than having car trouble!
scott.
Mike here: OK, lets get more drastic. Can you get to the RESET menu? If so, try that. If not, you could try updating the Autostar to the current version from Meade's site. You'll need Windows, a serial port, and a #505 cable for that.
Subject:	links
Sent:	Friday, July 16, 2004 11:26:04
From:	Gavin Vincent (gavwvin@hotmail.com)
Hello, My name is Gavin Vincent- I'm an ETX owner as well, and I think
your site is very useful as you've got such a comprehensive guide to the
scope. I have produced my own website
http://www.astronomyforbeginners.com, and I was wondering if you
would be kind enough to put a link to my site on your links page. It's
an ongoing project but most of the content's there now. I've put a link
to your mighty ETX site on the My Gear page and links page, because you
certainly seem to have pretty much everything covered to do with the
ETX.
Thankyou

Subject:	unable to see anything with meade etx-125
Sent:	Friday, July 16, 2004 04:56:36
From:	Chad Springer (chad_h_springer@hotmail.com)
I just purchased an etx-125at with UHTC and autostar and several other
accessories.  I read the manual and also before recieving the scope I
read the book on things you can see with the mighty etx.  Last night we
set up the scope and when I tried to calibrate the right angle
viewfinder I used a telephone pole to line up the cross hairs but as I
looked through the optical tube I could not focus anything even though a
small amount of light was coming through the eyepiece.  Since i was
unable to see anything during the sunset through the scope I waited
until it was dark and tried to observe anything in the sky before I set
up autostar and could not find anything.  I was even using the low power
26mm eyepice.  Assuming i was doing things correctly, what do you
suggest troubleshooting?  Thank you very much.  Chad
Mike here: Do you have the flip mirror set correctly (lever in the vertical position)? Have you removed the corrector lens cover? Do you see any change in the blurriness of a distant object when turning the focus knob?

And:

I did make sure the flip mirror was up because I even flipped it down to
see if that worked and it just made it completely black.  I removed the
dust cap.  What is the corrector lens cover?  I also did see some light
coming through but it was a big blur and I could not get any objects in
view at all even when it was light and I was trying to calibrate the
right angle viewfinder with the optical tube.  I was even using the low
power 26mm eyepiece.  What do you think?  Thanks alot for the quick
response.  I am pretty excited to get this working as I am sure you know
when you got your first good telescope.  Thank you very much.  I will be
trying to go out with it tonight.  Is there anything else I can try?  Chad
Mike here: Have you tried turning the focus knob from one end of its run to the other? Is there any change in the "blurriness"? The corrector lens cover is the screw-on cover over the objective lens at the end of the tube.
Subject:	beginner
Sent:	Thursday, July 15, 2004 17:43:59
From:	ngay sam (ngay_sam@hotmail.com)
hi i am a beginner and would like to start.

I have ask a lot for people on what they would recommend and they tald
me to go for the MEADE ETX 105 or the 125 and a Celestron C8-N.

i would like a scope that i don't have to do a lot of maintenance and do
a bit of deep sky.

what would u recommend?

what eye piece would u recommend with the scope?

and thank u for all ur help
Mike here: There is quite a bit of difference in the 8" Celestron and the smaller ETX models. For serious Deep Sky work you want aperture; for general observing, either the ETX models or the Celestron will work. As you can tell from the User Observations reports on my ETX Site, the -105 and -125 are fine telescopes. As to an eyepiece, start with the included eyepiece (26mm with the ETX models); once you better understand how your telescope compares to your expectations and purposes, you can then begin to consider which additional accessories you should purchase.

And:

thank u for ur help i have now chose the ETX 125 and the website is
really good

Subject:	Meade #1247 Electric Focuser - Problem?
Sent:	Wednesday, July 14, 2004 11:20:26
From:	A D Martin (a_d_martin@tiscali.co.uk)
I've just purchased and installed the Electric Focuser for the Meade ETX
125.  Every thing seemed to go well - I haven't lost the focusing rod. 
However when I first used the focuser after installation, I found that
when the focuser drives the rod fully clockwise so that the gear becomes
flush with the telescope body I could here a loud clicking noise - is
there some sort of simple clutch mechanism built into the system to cope
with reaching the limits of movement or is it simply the gears jumping
and potentially causing damage?  If the latter is the case is there an
adjustment that can be made to stop this happening?
 
Regards
 
Anthony
Mike here: There is no "clutch" so you do need to be somewhat careful. If you put the gear on withe shaft midway in its travel you should be OK.
Subject:	ETX-125 Base Plate Screws Not Accessible 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 14, 2004 06:27:33
From:	Larry A. Zielke (larryzielke@earthlink.net)
I sent the following to the ETX Yahoo Group but have not heard back from
anyone.  Can you help?

I'm considering checking my RA drive system per Mike Weasner's site
references. However, when turning my scope over, I find the three access
screws are sealed over with plastic discs, which are not shown in any
diagrams or close-up photos. So two questions.

1. Have people had RA clutch slippage, or other drive problems with this
newer model?

2. If so, do I just break thru the plastic discs or what to get to
screws to remove the base plate?

Thanks,

Larry
Mike here: Are these disks the rubber "feet"? If so, they can be removed and replaced easily.

And:

No, the rubber feet are there but do not cover the screws.  Comparing
pictures on your website to my ETX base, the separate screw locations
are in the same relative position.  Looks like Meade now seals the base
screws to avoid non-warranty entry. Makes it difficult to tune up the RA
drive as people have suggested.  Kinda frustrating.  I'll keep trying
the ETX yahoo user group.
Mike here: OK. I suspect these are just "pop-up" covers although they could be glued on.

And from our resident hardware expert, Dr. Clay Sherrod:

From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@arksky.org)
The access screws are indeed covered by the soft disks...remove them by
prying off with a small screwdriver; careful about the wires connecting
the battery box and make sure that the control panel is DOWN (like
facing your table) when removing the baseplate.

The newer ETX scopes are horribly prone for axial slippage....much more
than the older models.  Also note that unless something is actually
visibly loose in there, you will not be able to fix this yourself on the
newer models.  Best of luck and let us know how this turns out.
 
Clay
--------------------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 and 1247 Auto Focuser Problems, problems, problems.
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 2004 12:03:38
From:	jo carter (jobmw@directcon.net)
I have everything set up. The focus knob works. I can see quite a
distance away. I am not sure on the viewfinder. When I turn the
viewfinder to try to line up with the scope lens, the object seems to
turn upside down. The viewfinder is on one object and the scope is on an
object to the right.  Is this how it is suppose to be? Or should they
both be on the same object?  I cannot thank you enough for your time and
help. The LPI, does it go into the slot that is labled for Photo Port?
The LPI did not come with instructions. The only instruction is Quick
start for loading software guide.  It has several lines with it and not
idea what is what. What ever happend to diagram instructions?  I
remember when things used to have these. Meanwhile, I will search your
web to see if you have any imput on the LPI installation. I will also
call Meade. Look forward to hearing from you! Thank you thank you thank
you!
Jo
Mike here: The LPI manual is available on Meade's manuals page: http://www.meade.com/manuals/. Also, you can read more in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. The finderscope crosshairs should be centered (or nearly so) on the same object as you see in the eyepiece. And the image will be upside-down. That is normal.

And:

Thanks Mike, I found the manual and printed. I have a PC will your
article relate to a non-Mac computer system?

I also typed in LPI at your google search on website and found things to
read. So I will be reading for awhile. Thanks again for you wonderful
help. It is amazing. Becuase of you, I am actually viewing land objects
for a change! I cannot wait until tonight.

I did find I need a step ladder becuase when I tried out the 2x barlow
lens, with the 26mm, the view hole was too high for me to look at. I am
4'11. I am figuring the pictures that folks send in with the Etx's 70
and 90 and 105 are pretty darn good, so I anticipate a stronger view
with the 125 ec. You will hear from me if I have more problems (poor
you!) smile.

Jo
Mike here: I ran the Autostar Suite under Windows 2000 on my Mac so most of the article will be applicable; just ignore the VirtualPC setup info. Remember, learning to use your new telescope will be easy in the daytime. Play with the Autostar indoors until you understand its operation. It is less frustrating learning new things without the pressure of wanting to see stuff at night and the difficulties of using new equipment in the dark. Take things one step at a time; don't try to use the LPI until you are comfortable with using the ETX and Autostar.

And:

Thank you Mike, good advice that I shall follow. I have a lot to learn
before I get into cameras, LPI, etc. How often do I need to update the
autostar 497? Is there a way to update directly from computer without it
connected to the telescope and computer? As you can imagine, the height
of me trying to carry scope attached with tripod back and forth is quite
the chore. I am pretty strong but not graceful at all.

Almost forgot to ask Mike, I am reading your comments about the Shutan
WFA - is this something I should look into getting?

Jo

Ps. Are there any lens that I should have that I don't have? (My first
email listed what I had). Thanks Mike.
Mike here: You don't need to update the Autostar all the frequently. Meade just released a new version but you don't need that to start with (assuming it already has 3.1Ee). You can add an external power source to the Autostar and then just take that to your computer; there are several articles on this in the "Cable and Power Information" section on the Autostar Info page.
As to what other accessories you might want, LEARN the telescope first. Then you can decide how best to add to your enjoyment ONCE you really know what you want to use the telescope for.

And:

No real luck finding the power information. I tried your web site and
Meade, but they show the 497 attached to either a telescope or another
497 for cloning. I will continue with my search. I thinking I need
something that has a phone line adapter plug but at the same time plugs
in wall for power?  I have the 505 (connect to computer) com port plug.
Mike here: Helpful Information: Autostar Info page, "Cable and Power Information" section articles:
Autostar Power From Batteries
Another External Power Box
Autostar Power Box
External Power for Autostar
Subject:	ETX 125 and 1247 Auto Focuser Problems, problems, problems. 
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 2004 19:17:38
From:	jo carter (jobmw@directcon.net)
I wish I could tell you what I have been experiencing with my Meade ETX
125 EC telescope, but there isn't anything to report except for total
frustrations. And lots of black black sky through the scope. Even when
the sky is full of wonderful twinkling images. On a clear night (which
where I live is normally always).

I purchased this telescope off of ebay - uhmmm buyer beware...since it's
arrival, I have had to send it to Meade for repairwork. When it came
back, they removed the 1247 auto focuser (which was in the box - I did
get a new telescope box and all the packing materials for it which was a
nice surprise) from the telescope and replace it with the regular hand
nut. I had my son put the 1247 back on (he is quite good at figuring
things like that out).  Unfortunately, I do not have an owner's manual
for the 1247 (any idea where I can find one?) so not sure how to verify
it is on correctly.

Using a 26mm lens (only) and my Meade 497 autostar (purchased
seperately), I have tried and tried to "see" anything. Juipitar, Mars,
stars, deep sky...When I go to manually to a what appears to the nake
eye as a bright object  star, I line up the view scope and then look
through the lens...the viewer scope offers a superior view then the
lens...wait a minute, something is wrong here...shouldn't it be
reveresed? What I do see when manually looking and lining up with the
lens, is a round black dot, with a round halo of light around it and not
focused. I then press mode for a couple of seconds for the auto focus to
come up on the autostar (learned this by reading your postings) and I
hear whirrrrrr...when I press the up arrow.  Nothing clears up. Then I
hear whirrr when I press the down arrow. Nothing clears up. Ok, I call
Meade. Here is the conversation for you to enjoy:

Hi, I have a 1247 auto focuser and not sure how to work it.
Meade rep: ok, what are you doing.
Well, I try to focus using the autostar, and it seems to whirrrr so I am
thinking it is working but yet what I see is (I describe star).
Meade rep: You should see a pinprick of light since you are looking at a
star.  Sounds like your focuser isn't working. You need to take it off
and focus manually.
Well, I am not too sure how to do that. But you see, I sent the
telescope to Meade to have them go through it and fix anything wrong
with the scope for xxx amount of $. The auto focuser was on it but Meade
returned it off of it. Would Meade have looked at the focuser as well?
Meade rep: Well if it was on it when it arrived, they should have. but
you should take it off and try to focus manually.
Well again, I am not sure how to do this since my son was the one that
put it back on for me. Maybe there is something I can try to focus on
that might be better than the star to see if maybe it is just me vs.
auto focuser not working?
Meade rep: try jupiter. You should do the guided tour on your autostar.
Ok, but any idea how I can tell how long I should hold the up or down
arrow to focus?
Meade rep: Well, you should take it off and focus manually. The focus
knob will only go so far but the auto focuser will keep turning even
though it isn't really turning the focus. You should be able to tell if
it is focusing or not. Sounds like your focuser isn't working. Can I
help with anything else?
No,er thanks, you have been most um,  helpful (yeah right....). bye. End
of conversation.

I do the easy set up and hope I have the scope tripod with n pointing
north and the control area on the scope pointing west.
I bought your book and read it front to back and then again.
I have the owner's manual for the ETX. Read that front to back.
I have gone through your web site every day...
Can't conduct a manual seach at Meade Website. Does not have that
option.
Can't find the manual for the 1247, can't find stars, planets, deep sky,
anything on guided tour.  However, I can turn the scope on, alt set up,
and turn the scope off, put cover back on it. and go watch tv. I have
gone through all my lens, which include:
Meade Super Plossl  26mm LP (that's the lens I have been trying to see
through)
Meade 2X Telengative amplifier (airspaced triplet (whatever that
means...), multicoated model 140
Celestron 15mm Plossl fully multicoated
Celestron 6mm   "           "     "
Celestron 9mm   "           "     "
Celestron 32mm  "          "     "
Celestron 4mm    "          "     "
Celestron 2x Barlow Fully Multicoated
7 assorted lens filters and 2 moon
I have read and downloaded Codes to Identify Proper Eyepieces for your
observing needs.  Oh, and I have a LPI. Great gift but I had to buy a
laptop that will have enough memory to run the program (not that I will
know what I am doing..)
Have Starry Night which I can hook up to telescope. But that is it. I do
enjoy the robotic voice.
You have no idea how many times I wished you would all of a sudden be
ringing my doorbell!  Ever get to Placerville, CA? 1 Hour East of South
Lake Tahoe and 1 Hour west to Sacramento on Hwy 50. It is the only town
prior to SL Tahoe that there are stop lights on hwy 50. Get's the
tourist to stop in. It is called Hangtown (tourist love it) and I am
about to add myself to the rope. Just kidding. Could you please help in
any or all of the above. I know it is "user" issues (meaning me) as I
can see many folks get thier scopes, take it on outside and start having
the fun of viewing. Wish there was classes close by.
Thanks so much for any advice you might be able to help me with. Except
for giving up... that I won't do. Not that you would tell me to.
Jo
Placerville, CA 95667
Ps. I even know what my Lat and Long are.www.geocoder.us. Finds the
latitude and longitude of any US address  - Free!
Think I found this out from here in one of the write ins.
Mike here: Sorry you've had some problems. Meade hasn't posted the focuser manual. But they would have sent you for free if you had asked. As to solving the focus problem, do you still have the small silver focus knob? Lets start with that. Then once we know you are achieving a good focus we can continue with aligning the finderscope and working with the Autostar. We'll save the electric focuser for last.

And:

Wow! I am impressed! Quick response. Yes, I do have the small silver
focus knob.
Mike here: Good. There is a screw in the back of the electric focuser housing that holds it to the back of the ETX. Remove that screw; then slide the housing backward away from the ETX. You'll see the big gear (as seen in the photo on this page: http://www.weasner.com/etx/showcase/focuser/meade-focuser1247.html). Raise the ETX tube to about a 45 degree angle (lens end up). Then using a small hex key, loosen the setscrew on the side of the gear. Slide the gear backward along the focuser shaft (keep the tube pointed upwards). Then slide the silver focus knob onto the shaft and tighten its setscrew. Tomorrow during the daytime, pick a distance object (street sign, building, etc) and aim the telescope at it. Move the telescope around by hand until you have the object in the finderscope. Then look in the 26mm eyepiece; if the finderscope is not aligned to the telescope you will have to move the telescope around until you see the object in the eyepiece. It will probably be out of focus; turn the knob until it comes into focus. Once you have the object in focus and centered in the eyepiece you can then align the finderscope. Use the small setscrews on the finderscope bracket to move the finderscope.

And:

Thank you Mike
I was able to get the focuser off. I placed the silver knob back on. I
noticed that I can keep turning and turning the focus shaft making it
longer and longer or shorter and shorter. Is there a point that it will
stop or will I make it longer to longer and then out it falls?  Looking
into the lens, I see just black. Shouldn't I be able to see light since
I am in a well lite room with overhead lighting?  Wish you were a
neighbor...smile.
Jo
And:
Me again Mike. I am confused. I took the focuser off. It was on a rod
like things. Then I replaced the small screw that is above that rod like
things. Then I took the silver knob, stuck in on the end of rod and took
that tiny little screw like thing and screwed that in the hole on side
of silver focuser.  - doesn't really seem to want to snug up but will
leave it as is in.

I just did a triple check. That big brass gear (circle with teeth) was
stuck to the plastic housing on the inside. Maybe it wasn't turning at
all? It came off with the plastic housing when I took the focuser off.
By the below, I am thinking it should have been on that metal rod still
when I removed the plastic housing..  That gear in the picture...I
thought it was the camera reflection off of the silver focus knob.
Sometimes Mike, I really worry about my brains... Now I am with you.
Will I over turn that rod and have it fall out? Or will it come to a
dead stop at some point. It grows like Pinnochio's nose - up and down.
smile
Jo
Mike here: The focuser shaft will stop moving in and out at the end of its run. (Or, it should.) If you remove the eyepiece and look into the eyepiece hole you should be able to see the "flip mirror", which is directing light from the objective up to the eyepiece. If the flip mirror is in the wrong position, use the flip mirror level on the back of the ETX to rotate it into position. With the ETX tube horizontal, if the lever is vertical the mirror is (or should be) set correctly for eyepiece use. If it is horizontal it is removed from the light path and lets light exit through the rear port.
Subject:	hard stop problem etx 105
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 2004 05:34:50
From:	ianderca@@libero..it (ianderca@libero.it)
last week after some previous days of use , I had a problem with my etx
105ec . During my fisrt try alignment in polar mode I discovered that
the scope reached the hard stop during alignment. I discoverd that now
the scope is able to move onli less than one 360 degree  turn instead of
two and half as in the past. It seems that something in the hard stop
has changed / broken? After that I had a motor failure error message on
the autostar and  drivers doesen't seems functionn well. RA is turning a
bit and the dec motor doesen't move.

HAve you any idea of what can be happened?

best regards

Alessandro
Mike here: I doubt that a hardstop has shifted. Instead it sounds like something in obstructing the movement. That could be a piece of debris or a wire. If the later, forcing the ETX to move could result in a cut wire! You might want to open up the base and see if you can determine what the problem is. It could be something simple (like a wire that you just need to carefully reposition).
Subject:	Kiran Chakravarti Lunar Photographs
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 2004 05:15:01
From:	KIRAN chakravarti (kiranchak@yahoo.co.uk)
I sent you a photograph for your lunar gallery a couple of weeks ago and
have recently put more lunar photographs on it.  I am 16 years old and
now that I have finished my GCSEs I can finally do some more
astrophotography.  However we have recently had the coldest July day on
record! here in the UK.  Unfortuantely everyday this July it has rained!
Could you please ask viewers of your website if they could send some
astrophotographs to my website as well.  My email adresse is
Kiranchak@yahoo.co.uk

Thanks Mike

and Thank you for a great website with a wealth of information!!!

Kiran Chakravarti

Subject:	Power supplies
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 2004 03:56:04
From:	Frank Coulter (frank.coulter@xtra.co.nz)
I recently bought the Meade 25ft cable to run my ETX-90 from a car
cigarette lighter. Can I plug this in without removing the eight AA
batteries?  In other words, does the car plug-in cut out the battery
connection?  I don't want to try and run my ETX and Autostar on 24
volts.
Thanks and regards.
Frank Coulter
Mike here: The internal power source is cut-out when plugging the external power source in. So it is safe to leave the batteries in. However, if you do not expect to be using the internal batteries for a long period of time, it is best to remove them.
Subject:	question
Sent:	Saturday, July 10, 2004 15:32:50
From:	SS (vannmann@nycap.rr.com)
I was looking at your site for a review on University Optics KONIG
eyepieces, I dont think I found any. I was planning a purchase but was
wondering if you or someone you know has used these eyepieces in thier
ETX? thanks.
 Scott.
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject line.
If you will search the Site, you'll find lots of hits for "University Optics".
Subject:	ETX 90 EC
Sent:	Wednesday, July 7, 2004 20:12:16
From:	debrich (debrich@direcway.com)
We have a Meade ETX 90 EC which doesn't have 5 hrs of use.  We have the
electronic focuser and it has already had to be taken off to put the
gear back on. Well, we were using it again when the same thing happened
except this time the gear drive shaft was inside the scope and will not
come out!!!  Meade says we need to send it back at a cost of $75 and
more if that loose shaft causes damage to the optics!  We can't imagine
damage wouldn't occur with the way the delivery people throw the
packages around!!  I can see the end of the shaft...is there any way we
could get the shaft out???  Please advise!  Thanks in advance.  D&R Hovorka
Mike here: See the article "Focus Shaft Fix" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	webcam image upside down
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 2004 22:48:23
From:	marianne/patrick (vanpottelberge@easynet.be)
I have a rather odd question I think, but I don't know how to solve this
problem.

I used my ETX 125 now since  2 months observing moon and planets and, I
must say, to my entire satisfaction.  Two weeks ago I bought myself a
toucam webcam to try out some astrovideography (?).  All worked well,
and I have some good results, though not good enough (yet) for your
galery.

Now I come to my point : one of the reasons why I bought an ETX scope
was to take it along on some travel destinations to do some terrestrial
observation.

What I noticed is that with a webcam attached on the eyepiece port, the
image on the pc is upside down ! I wasn't aware of that when I was
filming the moon or Jupiter for example, but now whilst observing some
mountains this becomes painfully obvious.

So, my question is : what can be done about it ? How do I get the image
right side up, so I'm able to observe those mountainiers  with their
heads up high !

I'm sure the solution must be simple, but how ?

One other remark : Untill now, I haven't bee sure whether the optics on
my ETX were good.  On the films I made from the moon with the toucam, I
could resolve craters of 3 km diameter.  Would you say this is a sign of
good optics and good collimation ?

Thanks in advance for your good advice.
 
Best regards,
 
Patrick van Pottelberge
Mike here: The optics in the ETX Maksutov-Cassegrain models mirror reverses the image, meaning that the view is reversed left-to-right. But when viewing through an eyepiece it should still be right side up. Of course, that assumes the eyepiece is vertical when viewing terrestrial objects. If the image you are seeing with the webcam is upside down, just rotate the webcam in the eyepiece hole until the image has the orientation you want. As to the optics, there are many factors when measuring the size of craters but without doing the math (I'm on vacation so I'll leave this as an exercise for the student) I can't say how close you are to the theoretical resolution (0.9 arc sec).

And:

Thanks for your prompt reply !

Well, how easy can a solution be !? Sometimes, people make things too
complicated.  I'm now one of them.

Thanks for your help and efforts.

Patrick

Subject:	ASTRONOMY LINKS
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 2004 13:27:33
From:	Michael Morris (michaelmorris4@hotmail.com)
Please could you place a link to my excellent local Meade dealer on to
you web site.

His URL is www.livingstonetelescopes.co.uk and he is based in Worcester
in th UK.  Name is Chris Livingstone Telescopes.
 
Thanks
 
Michael Morris

Subject:	Sun
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 2004 12:57:03
From:	TruettNeathery (neatheryt@sbcglobal.net)
You might want to add to the admonishment to avoid pointing the scope at
the Sun, that the little scope on the side can burn up, too - I just
cover the front with aluminum foil.
TN

Subject:	Re: Fwd: jerky RA movement of ETX 125
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 2004 02:37:21
From:	Kaustav Bhattacharya (kaustav@kaustav.uk.com)
I sent my ETX105 back to Meade UK and they fixed it. Thanks for all your
advice on this problem. Meade UK said:

"The fault was  the gearbox not fully screwed down! It's now fully
secured and the engineer has thoroughly tested it. All ok and coming
back to you tomorrow."

Regards,
Kaustav Bhattacharya.

Subject:	ETX-125 question
Sent:	Monday, July 5, 2004 18:03:19
From:	Mdkddf@aol.com (Mdkddf@aol.com)
I have a question and ran into your website, While I've had my telescope
for a few years now i've had little chances to use it and am now much
more interested however, while using it I loosened/pulled off the focus
knob and could not get it to go back on, then pushed the metal rod it
was connected to back inside the telescope, I got inside to look around
and figured out how to feed it back in but am unable to get the rod to
come out far enough to allow me to reattach the knob, I know I'm
speaking gibberish here, but hopefully you understand what I'm getting
at, Any assistance you could throw at me would be appreciated, thank you

Justin 
Casual Observer.
Mike here: See the articles "Focus Shaft Fix" and "Doc Greiner's ETX Info page" on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Info there should help you.

And:

thanks ill try

Subject:	Orion scopes
Sent:	Sunday, July 4, 2004 12:50:09
From:	RMDKANE@aol.com (RMDKANE@aol.com)
Do you have any experiance with Orion scopes? Do you think they are good
quailty?
 
Rob.
Mike here: Personally, no. There is a Starmax review (in comparison to the ETX-125) linked from the top of the ETX-125 Feedback page. I do have an Orion 7x50 binoculars; very nice.

And:

Thanks Mike i will read it.

Rob

Subject:	Loose Photo Port
Sent:	Saturday, July 3, 2004 08:50:20
From:	MaxIPTer@aol.com (MaxIPTer@aol.com)
Didn't see anything on your website for how to open up the ETX-125 to
tighten a loose photo port screw adapter.  I received my Scopetronix
field doubler and a focal length reducer.  How can I fix this?

Thanks,
Max
And from our resident hardware expert:
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@arksky.org)
Since these pieces are press-fit into place, there is no quick and easy
fix for this. However, if you are very careful, the best solution is
merely to use RED Loctite, four drops at 90 degrees apart inside the
seam between the rear cell and the port.....once applied hold in place
firmly for about two minutes (...longer than you think....) and then do
NOT use the port for 24 hours.

This usually works excellently!  Best of luck....

Dr. Clay
--------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	Mead in the United Kingdom
Sent:	Friday, July 2, 2004 12:30:16
From:	KvnFor9@aol.com (KvnFor9@aol.com)
Sorry to trouble you, I recently wrote to you mentioning the condition
of my ETX125 which I purchased from a shop in the UK.  On registering my
purchase with Mead I mentioned in their comments column the condition of
the unit and quality of build.  Today a gentleman by the name of Steven
Collingwood called from Mead in the UK to talk about the telescopes
condition and was willing to come out to take a look and replace it if
necessary.  As the ETX125 is operating well and the optics are good I
suggested that it was not worth pursuing the matter further and I was
generally quite impressed that Mead had even bothered to take the time
to call which has certainly earned a good customer relations report from
me.  I asked for Steve's e-mail address which he gladly gave as
[deleted], however, when writing to them the address is returned as
unknown.  Would you happen to have a contact phone number or address for
Mead field representatives in the UK so I could make contact?

Regards,
 
Kevin Ford
Mike here: Thanks for the report on the Meade follow-up. Sorry, I don't have any email for them. You might check the Meade International web site.
Subject:	Eyepiece Holder Thumbscrew for ETX-70
Sent:	Friday, July 2, 2004 06:16:19
From:	Greg Fraker (gregfraker@hotmail.com)
The Eyepiece Holder Thumbscrew on my ETX-70 somehow came off and I can't
find it.  Do you know how I can get another one?  In the interim, is
there something I can purchase at a hardware store - for example, a
regular screw - that I can use until I receive a new Eyepiece Holder
Thumbscrew?

Thanks,

Greg Fraker

P.S. Great website, by the way!
Mike here: Contact Meade; they will send you some. Alternatively, if you have a computer cable that uses screws to hold it onto the connector, those screws should work.
Subject:	(no subject)
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 20:55:36
From:	Samdan89@aol.com (Samdan89@aol.com)
hello how do i get the light poultion out of the skies i know there is
nt a way but is there a fillter that litrley takes it out because i live
in the city L.A. and as you know there is alot of light polution and im
moving to vegas and there is more light pollution there please email me
back with an answer.
Mike here: First off, PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject entry. As to filters, see the Accessory Reviews: Filters page for info on narrowband, broadband, and light pollution filters.
Subject:	Wanted and other comments
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 20:01:53
From:	Lou (louw@prefer.net)
I presume that if anyone can help with my posting in the wanted area, I
would be contacted directly.

This has become quite frustrating for me.  I have already spent about
twice what I had planned.  My main goal at this time was to photograph
the planets and moon and get started with sky exploration.

Since I cannot keep a telescope outside in one position and really don't
want to spend $thousands, I don't see any way to buy a larger, heavier
scope to handle my Canon 10D.  Neither do I want to buy another camera
that will fit the ETX-90.

Since I cannot return it, I am seriously thinking of placing the whole
kit and caboodle and put it up on Ebay to cut my losses.  I may wait to
see Saturn myself, even with the Cassini photos on NASA. 

I do appreciate your help so far.  It has been interesting, exciting,
and frustrating.

Warm Regards,
Lou
Mike here: Yes, someone would contact you directly. Sorry you've had no luck.
Subject:	DEC fork broken
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 19:46:00
From:	Daniel (darnoff@yahoo.com)
After two years of work, the DEC fork of my ETX 90EC has finally broken.
Repair is not possible for the extension of the damage and I don't want
to replace with Meade replacement, because sooner or later I bet it will
happend the same broken thing.

Do you know where is possible to find a metalic replacement for DEC
fork? Until last year, Scopetronix has some units, but they had sold all
and they don't have plans to produce some other spare parts for this.

Do you have some idea where to buy this replacement?

Any help will be really appreciated, best regards
 
daniel
Mike here: Do you mean the fork arm actually broke or the DEC lock broke?

And:

Thanks for your fast response, I see you have noted this is a real 
emergency for me...

What has been broken  is the DEC lock, all the plastic around the
metalic piece was broken in small pieces, so is not possible to repair.
The first time it happened it was a year ago and I talk with Jordan in
Scopetronix for a metalic fork they used to sell, but he told me they
run out the stock and they haven't plans to poduce the replacement any
more. However, a month ago I found a Webpage with the same replacement
part sold by Scopetronix, but I didn't keep the URL and now I need it.

Do you know the site I'm talking about?
 
Thanks again, waiting for your help...
And more:
Thanks for all your support, I have found the URL i was looking for,
it's a company named Astrohut  and the webpage with the replacement is
in :

http://www.astrohut.com/etx-rta.htm

It cost $89.95, I will try it and I give you a full report after I have
installed and make some tests with my scope. I hope this info will
beuseful for all the guys of your great Website thanks again for your
kindly assistance
  
daniel
Mike here: Meade used to provide the RIght Tube Adapter (the lock part) for free; then I heard they were charging $75 for it. You might want to contact Meade first.
Subject:	a question about RSS.
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 17:18:51
From:	Yoshi-K (yoshi@galaxies.jp)
I am Yoshi-K.
Mr. Weasner good evening.

RSS distribution is very interesting.
http://www.weasner.com/etx/rss.xml 

It will become an error if it sees by the browser.
Is the part of a copyright normal?

Regards,
---------------------------------
Yoshikatsu Kida
http://starimpact.com/
http://etx.galaxies.jp/
Mike here: You need to use a RSS newsreader application to make full use of RSS newsfeeds.
Subject:	Using a #126 Barlow X2
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 04:32:15
From:	Hornsby, Graham (ghornsby@herefordshire.gov.uk)
Hello Mike - Graham here from the UK

I am encountering impaired viewing when I combine my 15mm Meade SP
eyepiece and a # 126 Barlow X2 on my ETX 105.

Viewing ( particularly of the moon ) is spoilt by blemishes which I can
best describe as appearing like 4 or 5 "sunspots" over the image.
Checking things in more detail -  when I use the 15 mm eyepiece on its
own I think I can detect very feint bubble like blemishes over the image
in the same position as the "sunspots" when using the Barlow.

The Barlow performs fine with other eyepieces and the 15 mm eyepiece
appears to have clean surfaces.

Any comments would be much appreciated and thanks for a great site.

Graham Hornsby
Mike here: Sounds like dust on the optics.
Subject:	TELEVUE Barlow to use on MEADE ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, June 30, 2004 23:20:41
From:	Paulo Rodrigues (paulorod@gold.com.br)
Does every TELEVUE barlow work on a MEADE ETX125? Even if using MEADE
4000 Plossl eyepieces?

Which one would fit better: Powermates or standard?
 
Thank you in advance for the help,
 
Paulo Rodrigues - BRAZIL
Mike here: For best results with the ETX, use a "shorty" style Barlow Lens. As to the Powermate, see the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page for some comments.
Subject:	Re: Etx-90 Motor problems
Sent:	Wednesday, June 30, 2004 23:01:52
From:	Cody (ataris121@yahoo.com)
-must have been hard to fix they sent me a new unit
cody

p.s great site Its been loads of help

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