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ETX USER FEEDBACK - JUNE 1998
Last updated: 30 June 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.


Mike here: For those who live in the Los Angeles area you might be interested to know that I will be giving a talk on the ETX and this web site at the July 10th meeting of the South Bay Astronomical Society in Torrance. The meeting starts at 7:30pm. Write if you need more details.


Subject:	 ETX R.A. drive question
Sent:	Tuesday, June 30, 1998 10:56:01
From:	jasonh@fa.disney.com (Jason Herschaft)
Hi there.  First of all, wonderful site.  I bought an ETX about
three weeks ago, and have found more information about it than I
could ever have hoped for on your site.  I'm one of those people
who had wanted a telescope for years, and for a L.A. apartment
dweller with minimal time to set up and observe, this scope is
ideal for me.  I love it.  Even better, I actually USE it (which
I'm sure wouldn't be the case if I had to spend most of my time
hauling a bigger scope onto my roof and setting it up).
So, I have a question about the R.A. drive.  Last night, when I
tried it for the first time, I noticed it wouldn't kick in.  So I
opened the cover to replace the batteries.  I guess I had left
the switch in the "on" position, because when I touched the
battery clips, the motor came on.  When I took my finger off the
clips, it turned back off.  Even stranger, I thought this may be
due to those new "life meter" things on the Duracells I was using
-- when I switched to normal batteries, I could get the motor to
run, and it would run as I put the baseplate back on.  Once the
plate was on, and I turned the switch off and then on again, it
would NOT come back on.   Open up the plate, and it would turn on
again no problem.

So, what, is my ETX possesed (at 4am these problems take on an
odd flavor)? I'm guessing there must be a short somewhere, but
can't figure it out.  Ever seen/heard of anything along these
lines?  I suppose I could try and return/exchange mine or send it
to Meade to get it repaired, but I don't want to miss any nights
of observing -- this thing is just too much fun...

	Thanks!
	  --Jason Herschaft

Mike here: That is an oddity! It sounds as though there is a short circuit someplace or a bad connection. Depending upon where you bought the ETX, you can take it back for an exchange. Places like The Nature Company and Natural Wonders will replace defective products.


Subject:	 Clear skies and warm nights, at last!, #2
Sent:	Sunday, June 28, 1998 19:20:55
From:	wayneh7974@earthlink.net (Wayne Hale)
Had a great time at the "Star Stare" put on by the Colorado
Springs astronomy club.  I had probably the smallest scope there
other than a few 60 mm refractors I saw some kids playing with. 
Saw lots of large DOB's, SCT's and regular Newtonian.
Quite a few people stopped by just before it got dark, the moon
was still up at dusk and a lot of people wanted to see how such a
small scope could do.  Everyone was amazed at the quality of the
image for such a small unit.  A lot of folks admitted to having
much larger scopes at home but they were more trouble than they
were worth to haul around.  I pointed out my Doksil case and
said, that's all I need, plus the tripod.

Seeing was pretty good, there were some high clouds off to the
west and even being 75 miles from Denver and 50 miles west of
Colorado Springs, there was a surprising amount of sky glow
present from both cities.  Looks like true dark skies are getting
harder and harder to find.

Was amazed at the numbers of stars visible from a pretty dark
spot.  After staring to only the south and west from my balcony,
with accompanying light pollution, I had a lot of problems
identifying what I was looking at because of all the other stars
cluttering up the skies.  The Milky Way was very prominent also. 
Unfortunately none of the easy to see planets were up until early
Sunday morning so had to satisfy myself looking at M4 and some
other easy to locate targets.

Guy camped next to me had a 17" dob with the Magellan computer
system, think that is my next toy to get, a scope with a
computerized way of finding things.  Not impressed with the dob
system though, expensive to put on any sort of drive that will
keep an image centered for more than a few seconds.  Think
serious astro photo through a Dob would be a real challenge
without some sort of guide system.

My ETX's clock drive is nothing to brag about, it will keep a
star in the field for about 10 minutes but it is definitely
moving at a slightly different rate than the earth.  I didn't
take the time to try and figure out what the error was.  If to
fast I could build the regulator from a previous contributor but
if to slow, I don't think it is worth the hassle to try and fix. 
Not sure the expense of a standalone computer system like the JMI
system is warranted for the ETX either.  Think if I was going to
spend that kind of money, I'd step up to at least a 5 or 8 inch
model and hope I could still lug it around without to much
trouble.

Other than problems of identifying and finding some of the
fainter objects, the quality of the images the ETX produced was
very good.  The Orion Telefinder is great unless the object is
really faint, in which case you can't see it at all.  There
appears to be a slight reflective coating on the front element of
the Orion unit and there is some light loss through the unit
making really dim objects very hard to see.  Could be my poor old
eyes are getting tired and just not as sensitive to dim objects
as they used to be.  One more rationalization for the
computerized scope!

Take care,
Wayne

Mike here: Regarding the tracking errors, you might want to recheck your latitude and polar alignment. Errors in either can affect tracking. Same for weak batteries.


Subject:	 Thanks for the great ETX site!
Sent:	Saturday, June 27, 1998 13:17:23
From:	wrightrc@mindspring.com (Rob Wright)
As a new ETX owner, and was very pleased to find your site to
help me understand some of the more sticky issues with using the
ETX.  Your site has been invaluable so far, keep up the great
work!
Additionally, having read your comments regarding the camera
adapters, I was wondering if you might help me understand the
"prime focus" option. As I understand this, you connect the
camera to the end of the ETX with the Meade adapter plus adapter
for your camera, but you get none of the magnification of the
various eye-pieces, therefore only getting about 1250/50=25x
magnification.  Is this correct from your perspective?  In order
to get the higher mags, you must use the other option described
on your site.

Thanks again for the great site!

Rob

Mike here: Glad you found and like my ETX site. I've learned a lot myself from the contributions of others! As to prime focus photography, you are essentially correct. You attach your camera to the rear port of the ETX with the adapters. This is like adding a 1250mm telephoto lens to your camera. So if you assume that a 50mm camera lens provides a magnification of 1x then the ETX provides 25x. To use eyepieces at the rear port you need something like the Shutan adapter (reviewed on the Showcase Products page).


Subject:	 Clear skies and warm nights, at last!
Sent:	Thursday, June 25, 1998 21:43:18
From:	wayneh7974@earthlink.net (Wayne Hale)
The summer afternoon thunderstorms have taken a rest for the last
few days and I've been able to get some viewing in from my
balcony.  Light pollution still a major problem plus the pesky
street lamp just a few feet to the west and slightly below by
balcony.  It has some sort of intermittant in it and is shuts
itself off for about 30 seconds every few minutes which is a big
help.
I've gotten pretty good at polar aligning the ETX and by using
Starry Night on the PC, can zip back and forth from the chart
view, get the coordinates of some stars that are lost in the sky
glow, dial in the RA and Dec and low and behold, in the finder is
the target.  I've spotted M5 and some other rather dim objects
through the light of a major city.

Woke up at 4:30 this morning and spotted Jupiter and 4 of its
moons. Saturn is to far to th east and I have to lean out over
the edge of my balcony railing to see it, looking forward to it
getting higher in the night sky.

The Colorado Springs Astronomical Society is having their annual
"Star Stare" this weekend so going to take that in.  They have a
good dark site about 40 miles west of Pikes Peak and it looks
like the weather may cooperate.

Wayne


 
Subject:	 ETX Discussion Group Announcement
Sent:	Thursday, June 25, 1998 14:00:52
From:	reecew@mindspring.com
Today, I created a forum at Deja News where we can discuss things
online.  It's our own forum and is called:
dejanews.members.tech.reecew.astronomy-etx

and I described it like this:

    Discussion about the Meade ETX telescope.

To join the discussion, go to:

www.dejanews.com/rg_enter.xp
Now, here's some stuff Deja News wants to tell you to help you
out.

By joining Reece's new discussion forum you will automatically
get a Free My Deja News account.  This means you will also be
able to read and participate in more than 50,000 other high
quality discussions on almost every conceivable topic, from
sports to parenting to java development.  We will also give you a
free email account you can use to participate in any discussion
on the Internet without worrying about people sending spam email
to your permanent account. You can even create your own free
discussion forum.

Deja News was recently named one of the Top 10 Essential Web
Sites by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Deja News Team     :-)

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Deja News - The Discussion Network          http://www.dejanews.com/


Subject:	 ETX repaired
Sent:	Wednesday, June 24, 1998 05:55:06
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
To:	daveharris@ndirect.co.uk (Dave Harris)
Dave,
That is truly GREAT news! I am so pleased that it all worked out.
It is too bad that you had to go thru so much trouble to get
things "right". Funny how time goes, I had a note to myself to
check up on your status.
I have not had much of an opportunity to get out myself. It seems
the summer has thunderstorms every evening here in Maryland and
often very overcast.

I have been following Mike's web site and am curious about the
teflon pads being discussed. My ETX does not (nor never appeared
to have had)teflon pads. What about the ETX you have? I bought
mine over a year and a half ago ~ Jan 1997.

It appears that Meade has made some  modifications to the initial
design. I think they recognize the original design had weak
points. I don't want to call them design flaws because it looked
to me that most have been due to a total lack of understanding of
the volume of production due to the demand. I think they
rushed(with sloppy production controls) to get the quantity
demanded by the market out to the vendors. They simply
underestimated the demand on their production facilities. I
understand that they now have a new production facility and an
expanded work force. What I don't understand is why the
steadfastly refuse to get connected to the web for their quality
control and customer satisfaction feed back. I am sure that they
use Mike's web site for that purpose!

Well, I am glad that you are as totaly satisfied with your ETX as
I am. Since I have had my ETX, I have lugged out my >200 pound 14
inch Celestron set up only twice. I have built a new equitorial
mount for it to lighten it up somewhat. However, I find that most
of my time is very valuable, and the ETX far exceeds my
requirements for a quick look at the often fleeting seeing
conditions here on the east coast of the US. I takes me over an
hour just to get the Celestron set up properly before I can do
any observing. At my age that is quite good! The ETX is also the
perfect scope for my wife, who is an avid sky watcher.

Good luck with your "new" ETX! Clear skys - Always!
Paul B.

At 11:03 PM 6/23/98 +0100, you wrote:
>Dear Paul,
>I have not written for a while - and I have some good news!
>I took your advice and phoned Meade in the US. They were very friendly and
>told me to contact their distributor here in London. Which I did. I took my
>scope in to them and they gave me a replacement gear cog (without crack!)
>with no questions asked. They actually told me to Loctite the cog onto the
>shaft (I wonder if that was Meade advice?). Which I did.
>And, hey presto, the ETX finally works.
>Since then, I've been out wherever possible, although London skies are truly
>diabolical for light pollution.
>The ETX tracks beautifully. In drifted a little bit on the moon over a
>period of about 30 minutes, and I thought there was still a problem until I
>realised that the moon actually moves! So I reckon the tracking is about
>perfect.
>Thanks for all your time and trouble, and e-mail me if you ever arrive in
>London.
>All the best, Dave
>daveharris@ndirect.co.uk
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Paul J. Boudreaux (boudreau@eng.umd.edu)
>To: Dave Harris (daveharris@ndirect.co.uk)
>Date: 18 May 1998 13:37
>Subject: Re: ETX
>
>
>>Dave,
>>
>>I checked and the gear is NOT supposed to have a crack in it  - for any
>>reason - certainly not to slip fit onto the shaft. This gear is assembled
>>hot onto the cold shaft. The relative expansion "sweats" the brass gear
>>onto the steel shaft. A certain percentage (due to tolerance variation in
>>gear ID and shaft OD) are just too much tension for the brass and it cracks.
>>That is probably what you have. I suggest you try to write Meade and tell
>>them. They may object to your attempts to fix the problem, then again, this
>>is certainly not a new problem to them - they may replace it with no
>>questions asked.
>>
>>Good luck - and keep me informed.
>>
>>Paul Boudraux
>>
>>
>>At 08:55 PM 5/16/98 +0100, you wrote:
>>>    Dear Paul, I have not e-mailed you for ages, and I don't  want to
>>>pester you about my ETX any more - you've been more than helpful  already.
>>>I do, however, have a question which I would be  more than grateful if you
>>>could answer for me. I wrote last time about the slipping of the  small
>>>brass gearwheel. Since then, I have tried cold soldering the gearwheel
>>>onto the spindle, but without success. It held for a while (and the scope
>>>tracked well), but it quickly came loose. And each time it came loose, and
>>>each  time I roughened the inside surface of the gearwheel, it became more
>>>free. And  now it is not even a push fit - it just falls down the spindle!
>>>I took it to an engineering shop to try and get  a small grub screw
>>>inserted. They looked at the gearwheel and noticed that there  was a crack
>>>in it. This is true - I noticed it when I first got the scope -  there is a
>>>small crack, nice and neat, right through, following the line of one  of
>>>the teeth. I thought that this was intentional - to allow slippage when the
>>>torque became too much.  So my question is...Does your gearwheel have a
>>>crack in it? If not, I can send it back to Meade, who should  be able to
>>>replace it. Then it just leaves the problem of getting it onto the spindle
>>>(perhaps heat). I hope you are getting lots of use from your  scope - mine
>>>seems to sit in bits on the dining room table! All the best. Dave


Subject:	 ETX grief
Sent:	Tuesday, June 23, 1998 19:10:30
From:	kbenicek@iname.com (K. Benicek)
I understand from the folks at MAPUG that your a very good source
for a solution to my ETX grief (I love the optics, but hate the
base!).
I'm wondering if there are home brew solutions for: 1. RA
rotation is sticky at certain points, I've tried various amounts
of tightening the cental bolt inside the base to no avail!

2. The base is wobbly, no matter how I adjust the central bolt in
the base it sloppy, unless it's too tight and binds RA rotation.

3. Despite various adjustments of the cental bolt inside the
base, when I lock down the RA knob I notice as much as a couple
of degrees of vertical shift in the visual field of view.

I've been told that there are "teflon pads" in the base that may
have fallen out. How would recognize them? Where are they? Where
can I get alternate replacements?

Thanks in advance.
Keith

Mike here: Search for "teflon". Check out the teflon comments on the recent Feedback pages. I think all your questions will find answers there.


Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Monday, June 22, 1998 10:30:41
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Three cheers to Raymond Gilmore...enough said !!
Cheers ... Doug


Subject:	 Re: Contemplating an ETX Comments
Sent:	Monday, June 22, 1998 08:48:53
From:	tkline@centraxgroup.com (Tim Kline)
Just thought I'd drop a quick line in response to Mike Lock's
comments regarding the 'engineering nightmares' that he inferred
from your user comments area.  I guess the best response for
people with this conclusion would be to have them tune in to
MAPUG or APML for a few weeks.  Any product no matter the cost is
going to have its quirks, problems, etc.  Not unlike MAPUG, the
core users that frequent this website are incurable 'tinkerers'
and want to see how far they can push this tenacious little
scope.  I kind of equate owning an ETX to an old '71 Super Beetle
I used to drive; it is not without its problems, but some of the
design, functionality and simplicity is simply brilliant.  A
quick review of any of the astronomical user lists will
enevitably find a thread such as this where a newcomer will
wonder why anyone would by this scope because all they interpret
are problems.  Please accept this email as the standard reply
from a frequent visitor that for the money, the ETX cannot be
beat for optics, portability and shear enjoyment of the hobby. 
The folks on MAPUG have the same things to say about their LX200s
when asked why they don't trade em' in and buy a Takahashi or
Astro Physics scope.
Here endeth the sermon for the day.

Happy skies,
Tim Kline

PS - Since I'm hoping to see this posted in the archive, I'll ask
if there are any users in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where the
nearest place they go to for 'dark skies' is.  I was in the Texas
hill country over the weekend with my family and was amazed at
the blanket of stars we could see...now I'm addicted.

And here is the reply from Greg Utz:

Ray,
Not a very convincing answer! Whether I buy a Lincoln continental
or an Escort, I do expect the wheels to stay on, the engine to
run and the windshield to stay in place. If Meade put the stuff
on the scope, it should stay where it belongs and function
properly. Cost should not be the issue. It seems to me that the
optics are always the most pricey part of a scope. So if the
ETX's optics are so great, the mechanics should be the easy part.
"Only" $600? I sure wish I could afford that much on something
that doesn't work! Maybe the Spotter version would be better to
avoid the drive problems, But then there is the flip mirror
issue. There is'nt much of a price difference so maybe that
explains things. I guess I'll wait for an improved version or
maybe a C-5 or Pronto.


Subject:	 Re: Contemplating an ETX
Sent:	Monday, June 22, 1998 07:31:34
From:	sevenmw@jorsm.com (Mike Lock and the Windy City)
Thanks for the reply! Let me clarify after reading your response:
Do you feel the problems are design related or quality control
issues? Has Meade made attempts to rectify them? My other choice
may be a C-5 or Pronto, but their costs are much higher.
Thanks again!
Greg Utz

Mike here: I doubt that they are strictly quality control problems. Most major companies are good at NOT shipping defective products; bad press and negative user responses are ultimately much more expensive. This is not to say that apparent quality problems do not surface. Sometimes a bad item slips through. And with the large quantities shipped, a number greater than zero can slip through. And shipment itself can damage or disturb the normal functioning of almost any highly complex product. Finally, product designers have target costs in mind so the components used and the overall design will reflect this cost target. Apparently Meade went for $500-600 US and that dictated some plastic and some other cost-saving compromises. But the end result is still a good choice for the money if you want the quality optics, portability, and functional drive, AND you can live with its shortcomings (drive, finderscope, RA Lock). Not once have I regretted my decision to get the ETX.


Subject:	 New ETX user
Sent:	Sunday, June 21, 1998 16:03:50
From:	Tom.Alderweireldt@ping.be (Tom Alderweireldt)
I just saw your very extensive and useful ETX page.
I just purchased an ETX as second (Travel) scope. I happened to
see through one during a star party on my 1 week trip to Curacao
for the Feb. 26 solar eclipse.

As a Celestron 8 user, I was impressed nevertheless by the
incredibly crisp view of the Omega Centauri globular cluster and
got bitten by the ETX-bug as a result of that. I don't know what
it has, it's not exceptional in focal length, it's not
particularly userfriendly, but  I couldn't prevent myself from
buying one.

My first evening out with it confirmed the Curacao impression.
With a 40 mm Celestron eyepiece, the view of a Cygnus starfield
with the bright little ring nebula was impressive.

A few questions:

1. Did you ever try to mount a focal reducer on the ETX ?

2. Do you have any CCD imaging experience with it ?

best regards, 

Tom Alderweireldt
's-Gravenwezel, Belgium
http://www.ping.be/~pin01622/index.shtml

Mike here: Glad you like the ETX and the web site. Check out the Showcase Products page; there are some comments about the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter (focal reducer). My "CCD" experience is limited to the Casio digital camera but others have delved into real CCD work with the ETX. Search on CCD.


Subject:	 New ETX Wedge
Sent:	Friday, June 19, 1998 20:41:25
From:	davidthi@lava.net (David Takamiya)
If you haven't seen the July issue of Sky & Telescope, there's a
blurb in the "New Products Showcase" about a wedge specifically
for the ETX. It's $139.95, made of anodized aluminum and mounts
to tripods with either 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 mounting posts. It's from
a company called Brite Sky Products [5B First St., Dover, NH 
03820-3332; (603) 743-4083]. It looks solid enough in the press
photo; more solid-looking than the JMI wedge, actually. Maybe one
of your readers will report on it soon, though I'm still waiting
to see Meade's own ETX wedge.
David T.

Mike here: I don't know if it is more solid than JMI's wedge but it does look somewhat less functional; no eyepiece holders, no obvious latitude scale. But it does claim to work on more tripods than JMI's.


Subject:	 JMI outside of USA
Sent:	Friday, June 19, 1998 10:22:49
From:	j.bosmans@ping.be (j.bosmans)
Hi I'm Jan Bosmans. I'm 15- years old and an ETX-user. I'm from
Belgium and I visited your website and I found it very
interesting. I have a question:could you tell me if I would be
able to purchase some of the JMI products here in Belgium or
Europe or can I only buy them in America. Does JMI have a website?
Please contact me at j.bosmans@ping.be.
Thank very much, bye.

Mike here: JMI doesn't currently have a web site so you'll have to contact them directly. I don't know if they have dealers where you live but I would suspect that they can ship products.


Subject:	 Contemplating an ETX
Sent:	Friday, June 19, 1998 08:54:44
From:	sevenmw@jorsm.com (Mike Lock and the Windy City)
The reviews and catalog cuts looked great and I was almost going
to buy one.....until I saw your web sight. I am having trouble
understanding the attraction to a $600 dollar engineering
nightmare. Perhaps I am just missing something. Please enlighten
me!!!!
Greg Utz

Mike here: The ETX is a wonderful scope. Yes, some people have some problems. Yes, the design _might_ have been better but that would probably have increased the cost. But looking at the complaints versus the positive comments in total you'll see that the good stuff FAR outweighs the bad. And I post both without reservation. Also, see Raymond Gilmore comments below. He puts it all in perspective.


Subject:	 Eyepiece Power
Sent:	Thursday, June 18, 1998 18:40:49
From:	termite@usit.net (Termite)
Greetings once again. I have a question. I just bought a 7.5mm
Plossl EP. Exactly what power does that give me with the ETX?
Also, how do I go about figuring out what power I am getting from
other EP's? Thanks. Take care.
Brad 

Mike here: The equation for eyepiece magnification with any telescope is:

    telescope focal length
    ----------------------   =   magnification
    eyepiece focal length

So, for the ETX:

    1250
    ---- = 167 (for the 7.5mm eyepiece)
    7.5

Just be certain to use the same units for the focal lengths.


Subject:	 ETX problems.
Sent:	Thursday, June 18, 1998 15:05:26
From:	jfoleyla@communique.net (James Foley)
I have puchased three ETX astro scopes and have had nothing but
problems. All three had clocks on the order of  3 to 5% fast. Two
had viewing scopes that were out of focus and could not be
adjusted. One had a flip up mirror that fell off its mount the
first time it was changed. What is it with Meade. Do they have
any quality control at all? I have considered upgrading to LX
scopes but am very gun shy.
Jim Foley


Subject:	 Great Expectations and a Lot More
Sent:	Wednesday, June 17, 1998 20:55:38
From:	rayreg@harbornet.com (Raymond Gilmore)
I see from the comments from many of the ETX owners that things
don't go perfectly with the ETX. The drive has some periodic
error, or it seems to skip, or the teflon pads fall out, or the
sheet metal screw needs to be replaced with a titanium hanger
bolt and beryllium washers (not realistic, of course) or the
finder scope is crap...
Geez, folks, it's a $600 scope from Meade, not an Astro Physics
7"!  Get real!  For what it does for the size and the optical
quality it delivers, its got very few rivals (except,
Questar...but would you pay $4,000 for a 4" Mak?). I made a few
adjustments on mine (very minor - like replacing the funky teflon
pads that dropped out..Meade was very gracious about that) and it
works well for what it does.  I wouldn't be surprised if Meade
came out with an "improved" version of the ETX. All it would be
is a higher priced version with a more advanced drive system (
and a less crappy finder).  But the heart - the optics- would be
the same, I'd bet.

So what did ya buy the ETX for?  The optics? The "look"?  The
drive? I still think its a great little scope, and it can't be
beat for portability. If you want to have a better mount and
drive system right now, you'd better shell out another $400, and
add another $250 for a Bogen or similar EHD tripod.  If you want
more light grasp and resolving power, better start looking at
Meade 8" LX-50's or Celestar -8's or Vixen VC 200
GP's...something around $1,700, to start.

For myself, I'd prefer five consecutive nights of dark sky, no
clouds, temps in the low 60's and the ETX with my favorite
eyepieces...and a nearby mountain pass around 4,000 feet
elevation.

Don't loose your perspective, folks.  This isn't a career.

RayG


Meade financial results posted on MAPUG:

Net sales for the three months ended May 31, 1998, were $14.8 million, a 16 percent increase over $12.7 million in the comparable period a year ago. "The 16 percent increase in net sales," said John C. Diebel, chairman and CEO of Meade Instruments, "is attributable to strong sales of our domestically produced products including the LX Series of Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and the ETX. Sales of the ETX were much improved in the quarter as we filled the distribution channels of several key distributors -- including both existing and new accounts -- that are selling the ETX for the first time. Increased sales of products manufactured in our new Irvine facility were offset in part by an expected year-to-year reduction in sales of less-expensive imported telescopes. During the first quarter of the prior year, sales of less-expensive imported telescopes were especially strong due to interest in the Hale-Bopp comet."


Subject:	 ETX--further impressions
Sent:	Wednesday, June 17, 1998 09:31:31
From:	kfisher@rim.net (Kevin Fisher)
I just spent a weekend in Northern Ontario and lucky me, CLEAR
SKIES!!! (a nice change from the perpetual cloud cover in
southern Ont, to be sure) I did some observing from my back yard
in Sault Ste. Marie and gave my ETX another workout.  Conditions
were clear, steady, mosquito free and t-shirt warm!  Light
pollution wasn't too bad...Sault Ste. Marie isn't a big town and
Northern Ontario is still pretty dark and unpolluted. :)
Again I'm finding that the ETX is pretty good even for small
deep-sky objects...the Ring Nebula stood out as a fuzzy smoke
ring in my scope. I had to stare at it a while before I could
make out that it was actually a ring, however  (in the 9.7mm
eyepiece).  Using this nebula I did some tests using the Lumicon
DeepSky filter.  The filter DID seem to increase the contrast
between background and nebula, but the increase was only slight.
This is the second planetary nebula I've tried with the DeepSky
filter and the results were disappointingly similar.  The Lumicon
site claims this filter excels for astrophotography, so once I
try that I'll post the results. I have my Pentax K1000 ready and
waiting, all I need is the T-connector for the ETX.

I finally had a chance to do some planetary observing with the
ETX.  Jupiter looked absolutely fantastic in the early morning
sky...I was able to see all 4 Galilean moons on this morning as
well.  Using the 9.7mm eyepiece plus 2x barlow, Jupiter was very
clearly defined.  The cloudbands were clearly visible and the
Galilean moons were sharply-defined points.  I could not see the
Red Spot.  THIS is the kind of stuff I bought my ETX for!

I've noticed lots of talk about tripods for the ETX lately...I 
use a Manfrotto tripod, recommended by my telescope dealer.  It
is rock-steady and sturdy...I recommend it myself!  It is fine
for polar alignment, as well.

Also, I purchased and set up the 'Dry Eye' complete optical
heating system for the ETX.  In general it seems like a nice
system, although one of the rubber attachments for the viewfinder
was too small.  The directions claim that the system should use a
12v gel battery, but I'm using 2 series-connected 6v lantern
batteries.  The dewcap for the main optics is made out of sturdy
foam rubber...you could probably make one of these yourself
without difficulty. The kit comes with heater elements for all
exposed optics, including eyepieces and even Telrad finders. 
However I have found it rather inconvenient to have the heater on
the eyepieces, since they are a bit of a pain to put on (it uses
tight-fitting bicycle tire rubber).  The kit came with a nice
manual plus some photographs of how the kit goes together on an
actual ETX (not sure who put the photos in there...either my
dealer or the guy who makes the kit.  It's a nice touch,
though...).

I also have a question....I'm already considering my next
telescope purchase, ideally a *-Cassegrain with 8-10 inches
aperture.  I've been looking at the LX200 series from Meade...do
you have any recommendations? (note: I'm not tired of my ETX by
any means...I'll still be keeping it and using it...it's a damn
nice portable scope!)


Subject:	 An idea for a solid table
Sent:	Tuesday, June 16, 1998 21:13:29
From:	bdsmith@seanet.com (Barry Smith)
Here's a cheap and very sturdy table for the ETX while its on its
tripod legs.  Start with a plastic garbage can, and cut a circle
of plywood to fit over the top.  For the trash cans I have, that
is a 22 to 24 inch diameter circle.  Attach four small square
cleats on the bottom of the disk (4 4-inch long pieces of a
2-by-4).  These cleats are on the bottom of the disk and fit
inside the garbage can rim to keep fthe disk centered and from
sliding around or sliding off.  The finial step to change this
shaky mounting in to strudy one is to fill the garbage can with
water (experiment for how much). Very study.  Won't get kicked
over in the dark.  Doesn't have legs sticking out the side. 
Damps vibrations in a couple of seconds.  Not quite portable
(unless there's a hose at your observing site).  But nice in the
back yard.  For portablity, leave the garbage can at home, but
take the disk. This same disk can be clamped into a WorkMate
table by having the WorkMate clamp onto two of the cleats.
(Thanks to one of Mike's earlier contributors for the WorkMate
idea).
The local big hardware store here even carries precut plywood
disks so you don't even need to cut that yourself.  If you wish
the disk-top to be even more sturdy, a couple of holes around the
edge so that short bungee cords can go through the garbage can
handles and hook to the holes would hold the lid tightly on.

Barry Smith
bdsmith@syzygysystems.com


Subject:	 On a personal note
Sent:	Monday, June 15, 1998 19:11:17
From:	filmdos@seanet.com (Paul S. Walsh)
This is a personal note of thanks for all you've done. We've
graduated to a Takahashi FS102 on an EM-10/USD mount (which we
adore) and are selling our ETX to a co-worker who is wheel chair
bound and the ETX is a perfect match for his disability and
viewing habits.  We will continue to return to your magnificent
site to follow the saga of the "Little Scope That Pretty Much
Could" for tips and pathos and to see what ingenious people are
pushing that little dickens into doing!
Again, thank you so much for your amazing efforts at maintaining
what we think is the very best "Scope User" site on the world
wide web (I've seen em all).  There's a dark sky site in heaven
somewhere with your name on it.

P.S.- I've accomplished my first Hand Held Casio QV-10A effort
with the Takahashi (remembering your very helpful tips).  I'm
holding off on getting a CCD to allow my "Sketching" abilities to
strengthen.  CCD's are great but I see a paucity of eyepiece
drawings, which I think are of tremendous beauty and value.  So
while the herds of human cattle run headlong into a foray with
pixels and Pentiums (like, what, we're going to compete with the
hubble?), I'm going to dawdle along with my doodling and see what
comes of it.

Take care and Dark Skies,

Paul S. Walsh and Valarie Keaton

Mike here: I applaud your efforts on eyepiece drawing. That seems to be a lost art. I was never very good at drawing anything so gave up astronomical drawing early on in my astronomy pursuits.


Subject:	 good page
Sent:	Monday, June 15, 1998 18:31:55
From:	muddler1@airmail.net (Alan Edwards)
I'm looking at getting a scope (my first) and have been
considering Meades ETX.    Your more than adequate supply of
information was a great help.  I was especially glad to see
actual photos taken with it.  Thanks for running a decent,
informative, non-annoying web site.
A.E.


Subject:	 Astrophotography
Sent:	Monday, June 15, 1998 01:29:13
From:	apolidor@suffolk.lib.ny.us (Anthony R. Polidoro)
I purchased the T-adapter and mount and constructed adapter to
work with the quickcam.  When I booted up the system and
accessed the camera, all I saw was a small circle.  How do I get
magnification?  If I use my 35mm camera will the pictures just
show a small circle?  This has been boggeling my mind.  It's a
little late so im a bit dazed and confused right now.  What's the
image suppose to look like with just the T-adapter and camera? 
I'm jealous, I see all these terrific shots of the moon and I'd
like some cake too! HELP!
Thanks

Anthony

PS  Thank you for responding so quickly to questions!

Mike here: It sounds like your QC lens may be too far away from the eyepiece (if using one). Or if you are mounting the QC at the rear port of the ETX with the camera adapter then you need to remove the QC lens to get the image to focus directly on the CCD. This is like what you are probably doing with your 35mm camera, assuming it has a removable lens and you've removed it. Let me know if this helps.


Subject:	 New ETX User in Venezuela
Sent:	Monday, June 15, 1998 11:39:00
From:	partidas@caracas.c-com.net (Oswaldo Partidas)
I recently purchased an ETX Astro Telescope from a US dealer
during a business trip there last month. My place of residence
however is Caracas, Venezuela which is located at an approximate
latitude of 11 degrees North.
After having thoroughly read the instructions manual, I have been
unable to polar align the ETX at such a low latitude. Contacting
Meade directly from here is difficult so I decided to look in
Internet and found your page which is I must say excellent.

This is my first experience with an astronomical telescope. Any
help regarding any polar alignment technique, wedge or any other
device which will allow me to align and track with the ETX will
be more thn welcome.

I appreciate your help.

SIncerely,

Oswaldo ®Partidas

Caracas, Venezuela


Subject:	JMI web site
Sent:	Sunday, June 14, 1998 14:49:43
From:	HARDTHOME@aol.com
Dear Weasner,
Do you know if JMI has a web site, if so will you email it to me
at Hardthome@aol.com. And if you happen to know any web sites
that have info on the NGC-MAX. Also I would like to tell you that
your web site is very helpful and easy to navigate. Thanks a lot
your web site is the best.
                     ETX owner
                       Nathan 

Mike here: JMI was planning a web site some months ago but I haven't heard that it has gone online.


Subject:	 ETX setting circles & tracking
Sent:	Sunday, June 14, 1998 07:41:15
From:	dragon@email.unc.edu (Ray Porter)
I finally figured out last night why I've had a problem getting
my setting circles to work.  The combination of my new Orion
EZFinder and my JMI Wedge finally allowed me to get a fairly
decently balanced and polar aligned platform.  Despite that, I
simply could not get the setting circles to work.  For a while,
with growing frustration, I simply assumed I was doing something
wrong.  Then I started examining the values on both setting
circles while trying to use them (using Arcturus as a calibration
star).  I soon discovered that while the decliniation circles
appear to be pretty accurate, the north-south RA circles are
reversed from what the manual says they should be, i.e., the 
circle the manual says should be used in the northern hemisphere
is actually the one for the southern hemisphere and vice versa. 
Once I made that discovery I very quickly was able to start using
the setting circles.  Is this mistake due to carelessness in
manufacturing or a misprint in the ETX manual?

I also noticed, for the first time, a jerking motion in my clock
drive. I used the setting circles to locate Albiero and engaged
the drive.  It seemed to be tracking fairly well but periodically
the drive lurched.  I suspect that the drive was hanging slightly
then jerking forward to catch up.  Have other ETX owners reported
this problem?  If the problem persist, is there anything that can
be done short of sending the scope back to Meade.

I've never seen this behavior before and I'm concerned that my
recent, initial attempts at prime focus photography with the T64
might have contributed to the problem (BTW, I was quite
successful photographing the 1st quarter moon,  I'm going to try
the full moon the next time the weather permits and, if results
warrant, I'll email you a copy).  Is it possible the weight of
the camera has damaged the drive?  The RA motion of the scope has
always been sticky and using the RA slow-motion control is
problematic at best.  Is the problem I started seeing last night
related to the general lack of smoothness in RA or do I have a
basic problem with my drive?  I did notice that loosening the
retightening the RA locking knob seemed to resolve the problem
last night.

-- 
*********************************
Ray Porter
dragon@email.unc.edu
http://www.adp.unc.edu/~allrp/

"Meddle not in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

Mike here: There have been some users who reported the RA circle reversed. You can see some evidence of the tracking errors by looking at the Astrophotography Gallery - Basics page; I have some example photos showing the error. I doubt that hanging the camera on the ETX would "damage" the drive over the short period that the drive is running in this condition. However, with all the teflon pad discussions recently I wonder if they could become warped???


Subject:	reddish color...
Sent:	Saturday, June 13, 1998 12:23:28
From:	Fishee9@aol.com
I have had my share of etx's with their problems, but i have
managed to get through them.  i haven't really been out observing
in a while but i took out my etx recently to observe some
deep-sky.  everything works fine on it...from the motor to the
knobs.  I also have a 10 inch dob that use mainly on deep-sky. 
what i have noticed is that when i look in the 10, even when it
hasnt cooled down, in the eyepiece, the stars are easily seen,
and the "background" is pure black.  this helps when viewing star
clusters and such.  in the etx however, the stars arent as
bright, which of course i know would happen because of the
aperture difference, but it seems as if the "background" color is
reddish.  this really annoys the hell out of me :-)  i'm in an
area of some light pollution, but wouldnt it have the same effect
on the 10?  if anyone has any reasons, suggestions, anything
about this "problem" email me or post it up.
thank you
dave
Fishee9@aol.com
ps
keep up the good work mike

Mike here: I've noticed some similar effects when switching from the naked eye (oops, did I just get an "XXX" rating on my site?) to binoculars to telescopes. But nothing too dramatic.

Added later:

i never really thought if it that way.  because whenever i use my
etx for deep-sky, i normally bring out my 10 as well to compare. 
but i have noticed it on nights where i just used the etx.


Subject:	 Tropical Wedge 
Sent:	Saturday, June 13, 1998 00:13:54
From:	pmeesook@ibm.net (Palachai Meesook)
I bought my ETX Astro from the Nature Company in early May this
year. Bringing it home to Thailand with LATitute of 13-14 degrees
is out of range of even the lower hole on the base for the
adjustable leg of the tripot.  Reading your pages on many wedges,
mostly on higher latitute make me wonder what should I do to get
correct polar align around this part of the world, without
risking tipping the scope all over the floor, and with ease of
viewing.
Your site is great.


Subject:	 
Sent:	Friday, June 12, 1998 19:20:39
From:	neuro@citynet.net (John Schmidt)
Thanks for the nice web page for the ETX..  I don't have one but
would consider one for the position of guide scope for the LX200.
Don't believe it will take photos of sig. resolution alone but
they say it might serve as the guide scope.  Thanks again for the
info.
John Schmidt
Charleston, WV

Mike here: There have been a lot of comments on the MAPUG Mailing List on using the ETX as a guidescope.


Subject:	 need help with PB1400 and B&W Quickcam
Sent:	Friday, June 12, 1998 12:58:47
From:	bnbailey@students.uiuc.edu (brian norris bailey)
After looking at the various ETX/Quickcam solutions, I have
decided to give it a try myself.  I ordered a refurbished B&W
quickcam from MacMall for $40, which came yesterday.  But now I
cannot seem to get the Quickcam to work on my Powerbook 1400.  I
took the camera to work and tried it on a couple of other
machines, and it works fine, so the problem is obviously at my
end.  I know that this is not strictly ETX related but I thought
I would ask you and perhaps the other readers lurking out there
if anyone has had any luck getting the quickcam to work on a
PB1400.  I am just looking at these lunar quickcam shots and
wanting to take a crack at it with my newly delivered ETX, but I
am stuck.  Any help is appreciated. Oh, BTW, I already tried the
version 2.1.2 beta3 that is on the Connectix web site for 1400's
and it does not work.  Maybe it is my system 8.1?
Thanks.
Brian


Subject:	 Deluxe ETX?
Sent:	Friday, June 12, 1998 10:00:58
From:	gilgamesh@earthling.net (Antonio_L._Gonzlez)
I heard in the MAPUG that Meade might be working on a new and
improved ETX Deluxe.  Have you heard anything from Meade on this
subject?
Antonio


Subject:	 Meade ETX
Sent:	Friday, June 12, 1998 03:10:24
From:	Yigal.Herstein@nieuwer-amstel.nl (Yigal.Herstein)
I will buy and Meade ETX in a few weeks, but I've got an
question, one that the seller could not tell me. I'm living in
Amsterdam (Latitude 52 degrees). The normal lattitude leg has has
only a latitude till 48 degrees. There is another leg inside that
box. A small leg, with no scale on it. You can pull the leg
somewhat out. Is this probably the high-latitude leg?? The leg
is, if you don't pull it out, about 5 a 10 centimeters long.
You regrets,

Yigal Herstein (Amsterdam, Holland)
my e-mail: Yigal.Herstein@nieuwer-amstel.nl

Mike here: There is a high latitude leg but I would have thought it would have had a scale on it. Maybe someone with the high latitude leg will respond. Search the Feedback pages for "latitude" and you'll find some recent comments on adjustments for high latitudes.


Subject:	 Setting Circles
Sent:	Thursday, June 11, 1998 23:26:53
From:	apolidor@suffolk.lib.ny.us (Anthony R. Polidoro)
I'm starting to familiarize myself with RA and Dec.  Will I
experience accurate destination of a star when setting the
circles to  positions as listed in charts?  say like.. Eta Ursae
Majoris h13 m47 s32.4  Dec. +49 18' 48"  How would I set this on
the ETX accurately?  Polar Alignment must be perfect?
Clear skies

Anthony

Mike here: The scales are not that accurate; certainly you can not position the ETX to within less than 10-15 minutes of RA or or a few degrees of DEC. But they do help get things within the Finderscope's field of view. Yes, polar alignment helps a lot as does setting the RA circle as accurately as possible based upon observing an object with a known RA and then setting that RA on the circle. This is how I was able to locate Venus in the daytime (see the Astrophotography - Planets page; I set the RA based upon the Sun (using a solar filter) and then just moved the ETX in RA and DEC until it was at the position where Venus was located. I used Voyager II 2.0 charting software to get their positions on the date I was observing.


Subject:	 Your Site!
Sent:	Thursday, June 11, 1998 20:42:55
From:	wayneas@concentric.net (Wayne A. Schwegel)
Thanks so much for providing a site with SO-O-O-O much valuable
information -- it is greatly appreciated. I known how much work 
it is to maintain and update this page on a regular basis -- just
know that it is appreciated!!!
Wayne (waynes) -- a brand new ETX owner


Mike here: The site search capability has been upgraded. By using the * operator, you can now use wildcards in your word searches. For instance, "s*ne" will match "shone", "shine", and "spine". The wildcards will match across word boundaries. Searching for "fun*y" will match on the string "fun sky". In addition I can now embed a search string when I link to the Search page. For example, if you click this link to the Search page, you will see that the word "clean" has been entered and the results of the search displayed. I hope you like these new capabilities.


Subject:	 Back from Shenandoah
Sent:	Tuesday, June 9, 1998 10:01:13
From:	hopewell@ctg.net (Meade Daffron)
Well, it looks like I accidentally packed Mr. Murphy along with
the ETX on last weekend's camping trip to Shenandoah National
Park. It rained the first night, and was overcast the second. Of
course, it was crystal-clear and sunny as we packed up to go home
Sunday.
Oh well, there will be other weekends this summer -- I can't wait
to try it out on Scorpio and Sagittarius from a Shenandoah
mountaintop! I'll post my experiences. One quick comment on
portability, in reference to a 6/7/98 posting about placing the
ETX on the hood of a truck -- I have a pickup truck, and the
folded-down tailgate makes a fine perch for the ETX, chart,
eyepieces, cold beer, etc.!!!

Dark, not-so-cloudy-next-time skies!

Meade Daffron
Richmond, VA
e-mail: hopewell@ctg.net


Subject:	 An update: bearings & wedges
Sent:	Tuesday, June 9, 1998 08:35:49
From:	mahlon.r.haunschild@ac.com
Well, some time has gone by (real and sidereal ; )  ) and I have
also read through some more of the archives on your site, and
found the posting from the gentleman who replaced the R.A. pivot
screw with a hanger bolt, spring, etc.  which gave me EVEN MORE
food for thought.  Here's what I did:
1.  Using my newly-acquired etched-back .030" sheet Teflon, I cut
six new bearing pads for the R.A. axis and secured them in place,
with double-sided Scotch tape, as I'm still a little bit
reluctant to make any permanent changes to the castings.

2.  I applied the hanger-bolt mod mentioned elsewhere, but
instead of a lock washer I used a short stack of flat washers, so
that the spring load is spread out more than a lock washer would.
The washer that is in contact with the base is faced with a bit
of my Teflon tape.  Reassembled, and tightened snugly so that
there is no wobble, shake, rattle, roll, etc.

The result:  The RA axis now turns VERY SMOOTHLY, with almost
no preload torque!  There is a very small amount of sticktion,
caused most probably by the Teflon pads molding themselves to the
underside of the fork skirt, but this is easily remedied by
giving the fork a turn or two by hand before beginning a session.
The Scotch tape, though, is inadequate to keep the little pads
corralled under the skirt, so I will have to find a more
aggressive adhesive or use bigger pads (more sticky suface).

Still no progress on the wedge, other than buying an oak 1 x 8, a
3/8 threaded insert, and a length of piano hinge.  I'm trying to
come up with a scheme for controlling and locking the wedge tilt.
Have looked at using boat hatch adjusters, but they are a bit
pricey and are too long (11" min.).

regards,

M.


Subject:	 tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, June 9, 1998 00:38:09
From:	apolidor@suffolk.lib.ny.us (Anthony R. Polidoro)
I was just wondering if it is possible to use a vivitar tri-pod
with the wedge? Or do I need the Bogen?
I would appreciate your response

Thank You!

Anthony

Mike here: I think I would be nervous about this. The JMI wedge has a tripod-mount hole (1/4" thread) just like on your camera. But if your tripod screw isn't real strong it might snap off. Plus you could have lots of vibrations from this single attach point.


Subject:	 Proud new ETX owner!
Sent:	Monday, June 8, 1998 20:21:59
From:	reecew@mindspring.com (Reece Watkins)
Thanks to your excellent site (and a well-timed fender-bender
settlement check), I am now the proud owner of a brand new ETX.
UNFORTUNATELY...  after a week of pristine skies, the clouds
decide to roll in right about 9:30!  (Stockbridge, GA, USA, just
southeast of Atlanta.) So, "first light" consisted entirely of
viewing Vega as it peeked through the clouds, and a brief view of
the Moon.  Due to a (probably) irreproducible bit of pointing
luck, I managed to get the scope nearly polar aligned as I set it
up before dark!  Setting the Dec circle to 89.2, Polaris was
about 1/4 of the way from the edge of the field.  The motor
showed very little drift on Vega.  It stayed in the field for
over half an hour.

I purchased the scope at The Nature Company in Lenox Square
because of the favorable reports from people here. 
Unfortunately, again, my experience was not quite as smooth as
others have reported.  The first scope they tried to sell me had
the RA adjustment knob completely loose--and they tried to pawn
that off as "normal".  "You have to tighten it up with these
Allen wrenches, and you can only use it when the motor's on." (a
lie)  I asked them to see the display scope, and the knob
functioned just like you'd expect--correctly.  The salesman then
said "I'll tighten it up for you here", then was completely
unable to do so. (I had checked it while he was getting the
display--the little Allen nut was missing.)  Only then did he
admit that it was defective.  He sent another person to get the
other ETX they had in stock, and let me open it myself.  This one
was "more like it", but the RA knob still has some strange "play"
to it.  It works ok, but I thought it would have had tighter
tolerances on the parts.  The wonderful return policy alluded to
by others wasn't offered at all.  "If anything goes wrong with
it, you have to return it to Meade yourself."  was the reply.

The guy said that they sell about six ETXs a week, and that The
Discovery Store across the mall had just sold a 12" LX200 that
day. (TDS and TNC are now affiliated.)  I sure hope they give
better service than the guy I talked to.  The price was standard
list - $595, but they charged $53 for the #126 Barlow, and wanted
$85 for the 9.7 Super Plossl.  I took the Barlow, and will get my
EPs elsewhere.

I guess I'm lucky I caught any photons at all with it on my first
night, but it sure does leave me hungry for more...  Except for
that LOUSY finderscope.

More to come,

Reece Watkins
New ETX fanatic
8 June 1998

Mike here: Sorry that you had a bad experience at a Nature Company. I hope that was just the local store person and not a new franchise policy!


Subject:	 Meade ETX Telescope
Sent:	Monday, June 8, 1998 19:09:31
From:	j_ullom@erinet.com (Jim Ullom)
Been looking on the web for this scope and ran across your page.
Great idea, Thanks!
The question is, who has the best deal on the ETX Astro? I've
been looking around, and most are in the same price range. Any
advice?

Thanks,

Jim	%{8*)

j_ullom@erinet.com

Mike here: Regarding best deals, no one seems to be doing much discounting. Service-wise, local dealers (The Nature Company, Natural Wonders, or your local photo/telescope shop) may be your best bet. Of course, checking the various dealers (Shutan, Oceanside, Pocano, etc.) listed on the Astro Links page would also be a good idea. Search the ETX for dealer names and you will find user comments about them.


Subject:	 'Automobile' tripod
Sent:	Monday, June 8, 1998 09:34:11
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Just a reminder to Brad and those that use a truck or car
hood/roof/trunk for a tripod, that the heat from the engine will
effect images for a couple of hours at least and therefore,
critical viewing at higher powers is probably out of the
question.
Cheers....Doug


Subject:	 Cleaning the ETX
Sent:	Sunday, June 7, 1998 18:09:11
From:	termite@usit.net (Termite)
What do you use to clean your ETX? Mine has aquired a lot of dust
since I bought it. I don't want to clean it unless it absolutely
needs it, but eventually it will need it. Thanks.
Brad

Mike here: Search the ETX site for "clean" and you'll find several tips.


Subject:	 New ETX owner w/ tripod comments / tips
Sent:	Sunday, June 7, 1998 10:12:15
From:	rayra@earthlink.net (Rich Ray)
Fantastic web page !
Huge amount of help, especially $$-saving tips about getting a
Barlow to double magnification ranges, really timely help before
I purchase additional eyepieces.

I am currently building my own wedge mount from oak and brass /
anodized fittings, will be glad to share results when it's
completed

A helpful tip:  have discovered some 1" glow-in-the-dark tape (at
Los Angeles-area sporting goods chain) that works great for
marking tripod legs to prevent tripping over them in the dark.  I
just tape a band circling the leg at each collet or clamp, and
what you get is 2-3 levels of glowing marks which show where the
legs are.

Another tripod aid, thought of hanging small maglite with red
lens from tripod center post, pointing at ground, illumination
cone DEFINITELY shows you where the tripod legs are.

Thanks again for your efforts, the web site is very helpful !

Rich Ray
--

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an
invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a
sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the
dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve
equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a
computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects."
-Lazarus Long
-as written by Robert A. Heinlein


Responses to:
rayra@earthlink.net
rayra@aol.com
rray@corlundelectronics.com
riray@dttus.com - NOT!!
http://home.earthlink.net/~rayra/rland.html


Subject:	 CCD
Sent:	Saturday, June 6, 1998 01:15:18
From:	apolidor@suffolk.lib.ny.us (Anthony R. Polidoro)
Do you know anyone who has converted the QuickCam Connectix
Camera to be used for CCD?  I know Lance Hill has done this with
his LX50 (Sky & Telescope, 1998 June) but has anyone tried it
using the ETX?  I will be experimenting very soon.  I just
received my T-adapter and mount and I am currenty waiting for the
Camera.  Wish me luck!  please respond
Thank you

Antonio

Mike here: Search the ETX site for "QuickCam"; you'll find LOTS of references.


Subject:	 Portability Issue
Sent:	Friday, June 5, 1998 22:35:31
From:	termite@usit.net (Termite)
Greetings once again. I have now had the chance view the moon on
many different occasions. So far, I think I am lucky in that I do
not have any of the problems other ETX users encounter. The only
problem I seem to have is the weather giving me a hard time. :)
The reason for this email is this. I've been reading the
newsgroups and have found that the reason some people are down on
the ETX is because they say it's not a very portable scope if you
have to drag along a table or a heavy tripod to use the
telescope. Well, I use neither! I drive to my viewing location
and just plop the ETX down on the hood of my truck. The legs have
rubber caps on them, so I know I am not going to scratch my
truck. I can lean on it, put my charts on it, my pencil,
whatever. If I need to, I can transfer the scope to the top of my
truck for a better angle. I will probably buy a tripod for it
soon, but in the mean time, the hood of a Nissan 4x4 works just
fine. So, if anyone says they *must* have a table or a tripod to
use the ETX, they're wrong. Keep up the great work.
Take care and clear skies.

Brad 

Mike here: Many times people forget that any reasonably flat surface will be suitable for the ETX legs, as long as the surface is large enough.


Subject:	Deep Sky Sights for Shenandoah Park
Sent:	Friday, June 5, 1998 11:56:25
From:	JaePbond@aol.com
I was in Napa, Ca earlier this year and found that there were a
number of objects that the ETX could capture.   Although if
you're talking about this weekend, you may have to get up in the
wee hours of early morning for dark skies, if it's at all
possible.  The moon is at the gibbous phase right now.
So the objects that are visible now during the evening will be
different from those in early morning.   Anyway - right now I
would go for M57 - Ring Nebula, M81/M82 galaxies, M51 Whirlpool
Gax. should be visible, Globulars - M13, M92, M5, M3.

If you are up at early morning, then I would say on the southern
sky you should get a great view of the best parts of the milky
way.   Low power views of M6/M7 should be nice, the Swan / Omega,
Lagoon nebulaes, M22 globular are all there.

I might have missed some but it's just off the top of my head.  
Look at the map of region and there should be some more.   Good
luck, but don't expect great views with the ETX like the Orion
Nebula.

Jae P


Subject:	 David and latitude
Sent:	Friday, June 5, 1998 10:18:26
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
I read 'David's' comments about the length of the legs and the
latitude that he can't reach accurately. There is a second hole
in the base at the bottom for the adjustable leg and between this
and the two different length legs available from Meade, you
should be able to get any latitude.  I have both legs and have
experimented, should I ever get to go south !! and I can reach
every angle except for the really southerly ones (22 north) cause
then it gets too tippy and would probably fall over.
Regards Doug.....

Added later:

This is an afterthought. Before I received the shorter adjustable
leg from Meade, I made up a set of legs from 1/4 inch #20  bolts
available from any hardware store.  They come in all sorts of
lengths and it is very easy to get the right combination
regardless of your latitude.  I used the ones that aren't
threaded all the way, just the last 1/2 an inch or so.  I put two
nuts on the treaded part to adjust the length and also act as a
'stop' for when you screw them in. I Put a piece of black shiny
vinyl tubing on before locking on the nuts and glued a small
black plastic cap on the bolt head to finish them off. They look
like they were supplied with the ETX !!!


Subject:	 Wide-field adapter blues
Sent:	Thursday, June 4, 1998 13:31:30
From:	hoy@istar.ca (Doug Hoy)
Given the recommendation here, I thought I'd try the Apogee
wide-field adapter for my ETX. Everything went on fine, but I
couldn't get the scope to reach focus at infinity (or the
vicinity of Vega, even). Took it into the dealer, where we
adjusted the focus knob, to no avail. My ETX just wouldn't focus.
Maybe it's too old? (bought in February) Other ETXii in the store
worked. We even took the tube off, pulled the mirror out (now,
that's a scary sight!), and checked the focus mechanism. No dice.
Phone calls to Meade and Apogee haven't resulted in any solutions
so far. So, before you buy the reducer, check to see that it
works on your scope. If it does, you'll be happy with the view,
I'm sure, cause it looked awfully nice on those other ETXs
(sigh). (To console myself, I bought some Orion 9x63 binos with
the refund. Now, that's wide field.)
*************************************************************
Doug Hoy              Evaluation           National Museum of
dhoy@nmstc.ca              &              Science & Technology
(613)998-6863v         Research       P.O.Box 9724, Station T
(613)990-3654f                          Ottawa K1G 5A3 CANADA
**Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the NMSTC**
*************************************************************


Subject:	 Teflon pads
Sent:	Wednesday, June 3, 1998 12:05:54
From:	brayburn@uab.edu (Barry K. Rayburn, MD)
The pads are actually on the outside of the scope along the
perimeter between the base and the scope itself.  They are about
1/4" long and a few mm wide.
Barry


Subject:	 Dark-sky observing suggestions?
Sent:	Wednesday, June 3, 1998 10:37:17
From:	hopewell@ctg.net (Meade Daffron)
Hi again! It's been several months since I posted anything to
your site. I've been reading the user comments in the meantime,
though! Again, great site!
My purpose for posting:

After putting up with the mediocre skies of suburban Richmond,
Virginia as my ETX observing location since I bought the
telescope last December, my wife and I are finally going camping
in Shenandoah National Park this weekend -- and OF COURSE, I'm
taking the ETX! I can't wait for this opportunity to do some REAL
dark-sky observing. Now, I've been into astronomy since I was a
kid, but it's been a few years since I've had a decent scope AND
a dark-sky location. So, what I'm asking for is some suggestions
from fellow ETX users who've been lucky enough to have experience
in this sort of environment. QUESTION: WHAT ARE SOME GOOD
DARK-SKY OBJECTS, OBSERVABLE THIS TIME OF YEAR IN THE NORTHERN
HEMISPHERE, FOR THE ETX? I've got some decent charts, so using
the circles won't hamper my enjoyment!

Thanks for allowing me to post this query to the brain trust.
I'll be sure to post the results of my viewing session when I
return to the Land of Light Pollution next week.

Meade (no relation!) Daffron
Richmond, Virginia
E-mail: hopewell@ctg.net

Mike here: Due to the short notice of this posting, please send any suggestions direct to Meade (the user!) with a copy to me (to post). Thanks.


Subject:	 Teflon pads
Sent:	Wednesday, June 3, 1998 09:40:40
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
My ETX was delivered July 5 1996 It was one of the first 300 run
off. The 'pads' are built in on mine, ie, part of the molding.
Three months ago i noticed a more recent model and which had the
teflon pads instead. Meade sent me a set of pads. I added them to
my built in pads...too high. I then spaced them equally around in
between the molded pads and seemed to even out the bearing load. 
They tend to fall out. I have used vaseline as a lubricant and it
seems to work for a while.  I too am concern about regular
greases.  I spoke to a Meade rep today and he says that Meade has
found that ANY grease or oil on this bearing will 'gum or stick'
it up.  He said to remove all traces of any oil or grease.
Hope that this helps out.

Doug....


Subject:	 Teflon pads - Meade initiated fix?
Sent:	Wednesday, June 3, 1998 03:56:36
From:	acl3@sprynet.com (Al)
After my first use of the new ETX, purchased May 98, I noticed
three or four teflon pads hanging by a thread of glue from the
drive base. My suspicion was that they were plastic casting
debris which had not been removed during the final inspection
process.  After reading the numerous posts on this issue, I now
know what they were, but can't understand why such a fragile
setup was used by Meade.
Since this seems to be a continuing problem with the scopes, how
about a Meade initiated fix?  I envision some sort of round
teflon gasket with installation instructions to be mailed to all
ETX owners.  Installing a round gasket would be much easier, and
more precise than placing and attaching the tiny pads.  Meade
could offer the fix free, or at a moderate cost to owners.

Many of us got our ETX as a first scope , and it is safe to say a
number of us will graduate to larger scopes in the future.  Meade
could give demonstrate some commitment to customer satisfaction
with this simple fix.


Subject:	Little problem with ETX lat. leg
Sent:	Tuesday, June 2, 1998 15:04:25
From:	Voriig@aol.com
I've just read your page and I found it very usefull.
I have an ETX since September 97 and I've used it a very little.
But the few things I've seen with it were great.

But I've never tried to put it in polar position. So I've taken
the manual and tried to apply it.

My Latitude position is about 43' 20, so if you take the
latitude leg you can see that the maximum is 42' 1/2. So for us
Meade have put a little leg for latitudes over 42' 1/2. But at
his maximum position there is a black hole for about 3 degrees.
In fact the little leg begin at about 45' and over.

So what can the users located between 42 1/2 and 45 do ?

If you have an idea... First I think I can cut from about 1
degree from the base of the big latitude leg, so the last
latitude will be 43' 1/2 and no more 42' 1/2.

Thanks for your help 

David.

Ps : Sorry for my english

Mike here: You could check out the various wedges that are now available for the ETX (search the site for "wedge") or make your own (see the Guest Contributions page for that).


Subject:	 New Meade ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, June 2, 1998 12:29:04
From:	wa7aco@owt.com (Russ Hughes)
I had been looking at the adds for the Meade ETX telescope for
some time and after I stumbled across this web site I decided to
take the plunge and buy my own ETX.
As usual, I had it out of the box and was viewing the moon long
before I felt like looking at the manual.  Yes, I actually had no
trouble getting it looking at first light for me.

The optics appeared to be good and I likes the 26 mm lense that
comes with the unit.  If I had any negative comments about the
ETX considering the very short time I have had it, it would be
these.

I have purchased many WW-II surplus radios years ago that had
smoother tuning knob adjustments than the ETX adjusting knobs.
This is not a good thing since the technology for making a smooth
acting knob adjustment is very old.

The supplied tripod mount is clumsey to use unless a tripod stand
is used.  A table top location is OK for terrestial viewing, but
gets in the way of any up in the sky viewing.

As was noted elsewhere, the viewing angle for the finder scope is
awful.  I will be getting the 90 deg adaptor for this thing. 
trying to align with Polaris through the finder scope is most
difficult to say the least.

Other than the cheap flimsey adjusting knobs, I think I will like
the ETX for the purposes it is designed for, that is portability
versus my 10" Mead reflector which is not suited for spur of the
moment excursions for viewing.

Russ Hughes
Richland Washington

Added later:

What I found is when the ETX is located on a table top using the
three legs to set the proper latitude, the table top gets in the
way of my head when trying to look up the view finder.  When I
mounted the ETX on a tripod with a wedge, I was able to get my
head down below the level where the table top would have been,
which was more comfortable.

I also found that at my latitude of 45 deg 30 min, that the
adjustable leg was beyond its limit according to the attached
scale.  I had an old tripod that I inherited from my Father that
he used as a small portable table top. Upon removing the attached
table top I discovered that the tripod had a top that was hinged
at one end and adjustable supports so that the top could be
tilted like an adjustable wedge.  The top also had a captive 1/4
inch threaded rod with a knob that would screw into one of the
threaded placed on the base of the ETX.

The end result was a tripod with a built in adjustable wedge. 
The tripod is adjustable in height and is usefull for both
standing and sitting positions. With this tripod, I can actually
look up through the auxilliary setting scope when aligning with
Polaris.  I consider the three little tripod legs to be useless
except that they are extremely portable and this might mitigate
their inclusion in the package.

The ETX seems to be a very nice small portable telescope except
for the cheap feel of the adjusting knobs , which while they do
function, do not instill confidence.  Meade needs to take a look
at this area so as to not seem to be an afterthought thrown in
for the heck of it.


Subject:	 My ETX
Sent:	Monday, June 1, 1998 23:20:37
From:	addison@aloha.net (MICHAEL ADDISON)
Aloha Mike,
I've enjoyed your web page, it's a great resource for those of us
with the "Mighty ETX."  I used a small Newtonian refractor when I
was a kid...the eyepiece was missing but luckily my Dad was a
photographer and sacrificed the focusing lens from his
photoenlarger.  Coupled with a 2X Barlow, it was "quite the
little scope."  It's been a long time since then, and my wife
bought me an ETX for Christmas.  I've compared it side by side
with larger scopes, and it does pretty well.  My first images
were Saturn and Jupiter.  M42 and Andromeda followed.

My ETX seems to work quite well.  I haven't had any of the
problems other users have described, nor have I had the urge to
take my scope apart and "fix" it.  My scope tracks great, now
that I learned how to use it.  I did notice the setting circles
seemed to be "upside down,"  where is the N circle supposed to
be?

Also, do you think the Meade Super Plossl 9.7mm is a good buy? 
Your review seemed less than glowing, to say the least.  What's a
good second lens, I'd like a bit more magnification, I think, but
a friend warned me against a Barlow as it puts more glass between
me and the object I'm observing (particularly on a small aperture
scope).

Mahalo from Hawaii,

Mickey

Mike here: Apparently some shipments had the RA setting circle tape upside-down. If yours goes the wrong way you can just reverse it per the procedures described in Bob Martin's comment in the March 1998 Feedback. I use my 9.7mm for bright objects, less so for dim, extended objects. Depending upon your goals, a 12 to 15mm eyepiece might be better.


Subject:	 ETX QUESTIONS
Sent:	Monday, June 1, 1998 11:14:20
From:	DOUSTA@SAFECO.com (DOUG STANGLER)
I live in the Seattle area (47 degrees) and the tripod leg
doesn't go that high.  I know the instructions say to put the leg
in one of the others holes and align with Polaris, but why didn't
Meade put a scale on the leg for those of us further north or at
least put in the instructions what number to set the leg at for
further north?  Laziness of Meade?  I have not been able to lug a
heavy table with the scope out where I can see Polaris in my
heavily light polluted area, and was wondering if anyone has
figured out a conversion for figuring out what setting to put the
tripod leg on in addition to the different hole it needs to go
in.

Added later:

I found a graph which appears it might be what I'm looking for? 
I'm not positive.  If I understand it correctly, I should set my
leg to 41.5 degrees for my 47 degree lattitude with the leg in
the upper hole?  I hope I'm not misunderstanding what that graph
is about.

And further:

I wrote to the guy who posted it and I am correct.  It is exactly
what I wanted and hoped it would be.  He did what Meade should
have done for us. I'm also following the advice of 2 other people
who posted info on your sight, regarding making your own dewcap
out of pvc and the hardcase from B&H photo.  I'm very glad I
discovered your sight.  Great info!


Subject:	 Ray Wartinger
Sent:	Monday, June 1, 1998 09:20:33
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Just reading Ray's comments about access to the RA knob. I was
also going to write and comment on my reversed mounting of the
ETX tube.  It is still working well and gives you that extra bit
of room for your hands and the RA knob. I don't know how far
south Ray is but the further south you are, the less effective
the reversed tube would be. Probably 35 to 40 degrees latitude
north unless you only observe 'high' up. My original comments are
archived in Jan. to Mar. 1997 and dated 1/19/97 and 1/23/97 for
anyone that is interested.
Regards Doug....


Subject:	 JMI Wedge Question
Sent:	Monday, June 1, 1998 07:59:20
From:	TheBurtts@worldnet.att.net (Tracy Burtt)
First of all, thank you so much for a wonderful resource of
information on my (well, my husband's really) ETX scope. 
Whenever I have questions or just want information, this is where
I go.
I have a question about the JMI wedge, tripod, and new wedgepod
combination.  We are both brand new astronomers and are basically
clueless. However, we are interested in getting one of these to
make life easier... it is just alot of trouble moving a table out
to the yard to use our telescope...  plus the height is a
problem.  The wedge sounds good, but my question is this...  if I
bought just the wedge, could I use it with my plain old regular
photo tripod (a cheap model) or do I need the JMI tripod? If I do
need the JMI tripod, would I be better off getting the new
wedgepod combination($199)?  Looks like that would save me $40
from buying the wedge and tripod separately($119 each), but is
there a reason why I would want them to be separate?

Please let me know your opinion...  I want to get this for
Father's Day, but want to get the correct kind.  Thank you in
advice for your attention to my little dilemma.

Sincerely, Tracy Burtt

Mike here: The wedge will mount on a Bogen tripod. It may or may not be stable or work well on other tripods. The JMI tripod doesn't have a pan head so using with it anything other than the JMI wedge is going to be difficult. So that leaves the wedgepod combination. At this point I can't think of any reason to purchase the tripod and wedge separately. Maybe you or someone will review the wedgepod!


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