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ETX USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 1 April 2000

This page is for user comments and information of a general nature and specific items applicable to the original ETX model (now known as the ETX-90RA). Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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: The April 2000 issue of Sky and Telescope discusses focal length, stated versus actual, of some popular telescopes. The article (page 136) by Dennis di Cicco provides a lot of explanations on why the focal length varies and what that means. Check it out.


Subject:	 ETX SPOTTER ZOOM
Sent:	Friday, March 31, 2000 16:08:15
From:	ron.taylor@cwcom.net (Ron Taylor)
Advice please!

I'm not  a serious astronomer, but I would like to be able to view the
planets and look at deeper space object purely for "awe" now again, (and
to put me in my place within the Universe!). I also live on top of a
ridge with views on clear days of up to 90 miles. I want a good
telescope that will provide satisfying casual star gazing and first rate
terrestrial performance. Reading through the experiences with the ETX my
impression is that the optics are good but the motor drive leaves
something to be desired. On this assumption I'm considering buying an
ETX90 Spotterscope, tripod, and a zoom eyepiece (Celestron?). Has anyone
tried this or a similar combination, if so does it work and will it meet
my needs? (If not can you recommend a better alternative for the same
price?)

Best Regards

Ron Taylor
G4GXO
Mike here: Some users have remounted the ETX Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) onto a different mount. If you want automatic tracking of the sky a motor-driven mount is required. Check the Accessories - Eyepieces page some eyepiece comments. Also chech the Buyer/New User Tips page for more info.

Subject:	 StudioOptix.com: Meade ETX Accessories
Sent:	Friday, March 31, 2000 10:50:11
From:	bcronber@mailbox1.tcfbank.com (Bob Cronberg)
decent price for the ETX, huh?  Never seen it this cheap before
www.studiooptix.com/scripts/shopplus.cgi?dn=studiooptix.com&CARTID=43102176820&file=/meade/telescopes/etx-90ec.htm
$549.00

Subject:	 New link
Sent:	Thursday, March 30, 2000 16:15:34
From:	rodrickse@mediaone.net
Was hoping you'd add the link to our site on your page.
www.geocities.com/eb_astronomy/home.html It is about our club,
but also has sections for general astronomy. Thanks Mike. Great Site!

Clear and warm skies,
                            Joe Rodricks, 16



Joe Rodricks
EBAS
PO Box 389
East Bridgewater, Ma. 02333
http://www.geocities.com/eb_astronomy/home.html
Mike here: Be happy to! When I was your age I was trying to set up an astronomy club in my hometown but it never got started.

Subject:	 Re: Viewing experience
Sent:	Thursday, March 30, 2000 08:38:41
From:	jh@brainiac.com (Joe Hartley)
Nebula filters are of very little help on clusters and galaxies because
they filter out a considerable amount of starlight.  Since these objects
are comprised of stars, you just end up with less light.

Light pollution filters would theoretically help more, but I have had
limited luck with them, probably because I was using them at a
relatively dark site.  The Filters section of Mike's site has more info
on the various filters and their use.
-- 
======================================================================
       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - jh@brainiac.com
     12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI  02882 - vox 401.782.9042
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa

Subject:	 foam for cases
Sent:	Thursday, March 30, 2000 06:51:33
From:	bcronber@mailbox1.tcfbank.com (Bob Cronberg)
Porters Camera Store    www.porters.com

has replacement foam for cases

1 sheet of pickable/pluckable foam
stock # 08-0294    $10.50

1 sheet of pickable/pluckable foam and one sheet of solid foam   
stock #08-0295     $11.95

I have been purchasing from Porters for awhile now and their service is
very very good.  This foam should be good for using in the Scopetronix
Eyepiece cases also.


Subject:	 Filter This
Sent:	Wednesday, March 29, 2000 14:29:18
From:	GSkoubis@ussco.com (Skoubis, George)
I live in a city suburb with some light pollution.  For whenever I can't
travel, I'm looking at buying a filter specifically for eliminating as
much city light pollution as possible in order to view galaxies. Is this
possible and if so, is there any filter you would recommend?

Do you have any other recommendation for viewing the following:
The Moon?
Saturn?
Jupiter?
Nebs?  

Thanks-Skouby
Mike here: Check the Accessories - Filters page for info on such filters. Also, check the Buyer/New User Tips page for info on observing.

Subject:	 Meade ETX90/EC as a first planetary telescope???
Sent:	Wednesday, March 29, 2000 12:13:39
From:	J.S.
I was wondering if you could help me, I'm a UK amateur (planetary)
astronomer thinking about purchasing a Meade ETX90/EC as a first
telescope, however I've heard a few comments going around about it being
only 90mm scope with a motor! Therefore my concern is that I won't be
able to see the planets (Mars/Jupitier/Saturn) with any detail. Is this
the concern and can you give any advice on purchasing a first time
(motored) telescope with sufficient planetary resolution?

Thanks in advance for any advice you offer.

J.S.

---------------------------------------------------
P.S: I'd also be greatful if you could forward this on to anyone you
know who might have more info.
Mike here: Well, yes, the ETX-90EC is a 90mm telescope with a motorized drive. It can be used to see some details on the planets as well as the Moon, and with proper protection, the Sun. Of course, don't expect to see Hubble Space Telescope like views. And yes, you can get nicer views from larger telescopes if you will actually use the larger telescope. The ETX-90 is nice in that it can be setup quickly on a moment's notice. See the Buyer/New User Tips page for more information.

Subject:	 TeleDome info
Sent:	Wednesday, March 29, 2000 10:08:41
From:	rprevost@sympatico.ca (Roland Prevost)
We read with interest your online ( 1999 ) review of the TeleDome
portable observatory.  Such user reviews are so helpful to others.  We
are not presently ETX users, but we were wondering if you might still
share with us any updated views on the TeleDome?  My wife and I are
seriously considering purchasing the product for use at home ( on the
lawn in our back yard ) and at the Manitoulin Island ( island in Lake
Huron, Ontario, Canada) star party as well as at future star parties.

If you decided to give us your views, there would be no need for you to
go over all the useful information you already have online, but we were
just interested to know if your opinions have changed at all regarding
the TeleDome product.  Your Web site did mention that you might be
testing it with astrophotography, for example.  Any additional
information would prove useful to use

Thanks for the Web Review,

Roland Prevost & Janice Tokar

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Ottawa Astronomy Observer's Group
Mike here: Nothing new to report. I think it is still a useful and well made product. Check with the vendor on availability however.

Subject:	 Error on your ETX Techtips site
Sent:	Wednesday, March 29, 2000 07:09:22
From:	dizneyguy@yahoo.com (Dean Walker)
I was skimming through your wonderful ETX site and came upon
what I'm sure is an error.

On the techtips/focusfix.html page, the end of step 5 in
all caps says, "and DO TOUCH THE PRIMARY MIRROR SURFACE"

Heheh - I don't think that's what you meant to say...

Dean Walker (aka Diz!)
Mike here: Oops. I'll correct that. Thanks.

Subject:	 Our move
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2000 20:27:32
From:	bob@shutan.com
Shutan Camera & Video's main store/Randolph Street warehouse has
relocated!

New warehouse and telescope showroom is located at:

100 Fairway Dr.
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061
Toll-Free 800-621-2248
Illinois 847-367-4600
Fax 847-367-6611

Subject:	 Cubed Foam
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2000 20:10:28
From:	phils11s@home.com (Phil Schauweker)
I am in the process of making a case for the ETX 90EC I just got, and I
am having a hard time finding cubed foam for the inside. Do you have any
suggestions on where to get it?  I tried several camera shops but they
don't carry it and show no interest in helping me find any.

I saw the Magic Cube on your site and got Erwin to email me his info on
it. That will be my second project.

Thank You for any info you can give.
Phil
Mike here: Contact Pelican. Their cases have this type of foam blocks (called "pick and pluck" I think).

Subject:	 Confusion and Ignorance (question)
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2000 07:56:00
From:	EdRouen@FairIsaac.com (Ed Rouen)
Extremely nice site. This is what the internet should be more of. I am
confused as well as being ignorant to the telescope biz, however I have
always dabbled with them as a kid and gaulked at the pictures of them in
Sky & Telescope circa late sixties. Any way I bought a Meade ETX-90/EC.
It is still in the box. I am fighting back and forth with thought of
returning it and buying the ETX-125/EC. I read lots of info on your site
(most of which I don't really understand but am learning). My question
is basically I could not determine whether the 125 Vs 90 was really a
better scope let alone a better deal. I will probably only buy one scope
in the next 20 yrs. so I was looking for a good "one liner" on deciding
which one to purchase.
 
Thanx in advance and sorry for the long mail.

Ed
Mike here: Whether the -90 or the -125 is the better scope for you, only you can answer that question. The -90 is slightly more portable than the -125 but the -125 can handle slightly more magnification and slightly fainter objects.

Subject:	 Viewing experience
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 20:44:05
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
A couple of nights ago had the best viewing experience of my
approximately 4 months with the ETX-90EC.  After the early cold problems
with the Autostar blanking out [Meade replaced the unit] and some bad
weather- I got a two good nights viewing in a row.  The Autostar worked
excellently with the target in the field each time [except,
interestingly, for the Moon, which needed a little help].  This was my
first experience with the late winter early spring skies.  Was sad to
see Orion, M-41 etc low on the light polluted horizon when I went out,
and Saturn and Jupiter are long gone by the time I get out, but I
decided to see what the little 90 would do with deep sky and double
stars.  I can't overemphasize how helpful Turn Left at Orion is with
this. Not only does it give suggestions of what to look at, but gives
you an idea of what it'll look like if you do see it.

A number of doubles were easy and fun to resolve including Castor, Iota
Cancri, Mizar, Cor Caroli, and Algeiba [still haven't figured out the
how the menues for the double stars are set up, I found the named stars
in that menu, but Iota was just found by scanning through at random].

The Beehive M-44 was lovely but a bit too big for the 26mm eyepiece- I
have a 40mm on order from Orion, but it isn't here yet.  Most rewarding
were clusters like M-3 and M-53, just smudges in my light polluted sky
[and I didn't find a nebula filter much help] but it was great to see
them.  My biggest surprise was that I was able to resolve a couple of
galaxies M 82 and M81 which I could verify because they are visible in
the same field in a very particular relationship with each other. Tried
to glimpse The Whirlpool Galaxy M51, but saw nothing.

Looking forward to nicer spring evenings. Looking forward to your
further comments on the 125.  Once again thanks for the excellent site.

Tom Brown

Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 19:22:13
From:	jahorsley@uswest.net (John A. Horsley)
I haven't e-mailed you for awhile, I've been busy with my LX200.

Well you'll be pleased again to know that I am once again a proud owner
of an ETX. I had just got a 4" refractor that I was going to use as a
guide scope but when it arrived I was shocked to see that it was a
monster!! Way too big to use as a guider. So I put it on astromart as a
trade for an ETX90 RA last night and with in 20 min. I had a guy that
wants to trade. I should have the ETX in a week! I'll be removing the
scope from the fork mount and then mounting it on top my LX200. I have
also just got a 201xt CCD Autoguider. I'll run the 201 guider in prime
focus of the ETX and my illuminated ep in the visual port. What a set
up!!!!

Clear Skies -n- Keep Lookin UP.... John

"The Church says the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I
have seen the shadow on the Moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than
in the Church." (Ferdinand Magellan) Support Science Not Superstitions!

Subject:	 Tighten the ETX base?
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 18:20:52
From:	Sukun.Tanticharoenkiat@shell.co.th (Tanticharoenkiat, Sukun S SHLTHAI-HMA/3)
Can you give me the link in you site on how to tighten up the base of
the ETX 90 RA.  Lately, the ETX base (where you move it in RA
directions) gets looser and it makes a lot of jiggle when focusing the
image.  I notice there is kind of  small circular plug in the middle of
the base between the forkarm and think it might be removable to access
to a screw or nut that tightens the base?
Thanks for your assistance.
Best regards,
Sukun T.
Bangkok, Thailand.
Mike here: Could be that your teflon pads are going (or are gone). Search the site for "teflon" and you'll find lots of references. Also, check out the ETX Tune-up Tips at the Scopetronix web site.

Added later:

Thanks for the advice. I'll search and hopefully  can fix it.

Subject:	Meade 16" LX200 vs. Celestron Nexstar 5 (is this fair!)
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 10:23:26
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
My wife and I just got back from a two-week stay in Hawaii, and we
stayed on the big island for one week. Having discovered that a guided
tour to the summit of Mauna Kea cost $135 per person (ouch! -- and you
really can't do much up there anyway except to say that you were there;
they won't let you in to the Keck observatory) we opted for the cheaper
route -- a free drive in the rental car up to the 9300' level to see the
visitor center (VIS) (above 9300' you MUST have a 4-wheel drive vehicle,
which we didn't have).

The VIS has a new policy as of a few weeks ago. They now have "star
parties" every night of the week (versus only on the weekends!) My call
to the VIS informed me that about 50 to 75 to 100 people show on any
given night -- with only 3 large scopes (16", 14", and 11"), that makes
for somewhat restricted viewing time per person -- but this being our
vacation and since we were there (and it might be our last chance?), WE
HAD TO GO!! Temperature predictions for the VIS were hovering around
freezing, and we had packed to go to Hawaii, not Antarctica. We gathered
up as many clothes as we could (I ended up wearing 2 tee-shirts, 3
long-sleeve shirts, and my GoreTex raincoat/windbreaker -- luckily, I
had packed a fleece ski-hat "just in case." -- with all that, I did
manage to stay relatively warm, keeping my hands in my pocket almost the
whole time).

We got up to the VIS at 5:30 pm and only a couple of people were there.
It wasn't that cold (yet!!!), but the wind was blowing. The "star party"
was expected to start at 6:00 and run until 10:00. We decided to have
our picnic dinner inside the center and one of the employees popped in a
video for us to watch as we ate (the two guys who were working there
were exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable). By 6:00, a couple more
people showed. Gary, the guy who was going to run the "party" needed
help rolling out the Meade 16" LX200, so a guy from England and myself
asked if he wanted any help, and he easily accepted our offer.

By about 6:30, a few more people had arrived, and a little after that a
few more. But for the entire evening, from 6:00 until around 9:30 (the
almost full moon was coming up and started to spoil everything around
9:00), we had AT MOST 12 people total!!!!!! What a pleasure that was
(and no young children that needed to be lifted to the eyepiece or would
bump the scope -- althought the wind did that on its own!). And everyone
was friendly and pretty well informed about the constellations and
galaxies and nebulae and such. The only drawback for the evening was the
cold, and the WIND!!!! We estimated about a 15 to 20 mile per hour wind
that kept jiggling the scope (and estimated temperature of about 26
degrees). Every once in a while I would be looking through the EP and
the wind would die for a second (WOW, what a view), and then it would
start to shake again. Ah, well -- it was still an incredible evening.

Someone had brought his own Nexstar 5, and having never seen one up
close and personal, I wanted to take a peek. I must say that the images
were superb. M42 was spectacular, and the dark bands and nebulosity were
very easy to make out. Needless to say though, through the 16" Meade,
everything was MUCH brighter!!! I did not spend much time with the
Nexstar (didn't delve into alignment problems, tracking, focusing, etc
-- just wanted to look through the eyepiece -- and the images were very
clear and sharp.)

I will say this. With the wind blowing, I thought the Nexstar, because
of its lighter weight, would be bouncing around a lot more. But that
wasn't the case. Because of its smaller size, it doesn't catch the wind
as much as the larger 16" scope did, and so the image was much more
stable (although, understandably, it jiggled also).

Despite all the little problems we've heard about Meade's small scopes
since their introduction, had the ETX125-EC come out at the same time as
the ETX90-EC, I might have gone for the 125. And had the Nexstar 5 come
out at the same time as the ETX125, I'm not sure which one I would have
opted for.

But I can say this -- do not look directly at Sirius through the EP of a
16" Meade LX200 without a sun filter!!!! Damn, it's bright!!!!  ;-)

Clear skies to everyone -- (Mauna Kea has absolutely clear,  cloudless,
and dry skies over 90% of the year!!!)

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com
Mike here: While Stan's message wasn't exactly ETX related I thought the Hawaii info and the scope comparisons would be useful to some.

Subject:	 New to ETX, and a question
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 07:16:31
From:	teggers@iwaynet.net (Tom Eggers)
I am new to your site, as I have yet to receive my ETX 125 (ordered in
August!).  Thanks so much for running this site...I for one greatly
appreciate it!

I am having trouble getting SkyChart Astro Software, as described in the
current Meade catalog.  Is it available?  I don't find any comments on
it in your software section.  Any other programs that work well with the
Autostar controller, and a portable pc?  Thanks.
Mike here: I'm surprised you haven't received your ETX-125EC. I thought most dealers had them by now. As to software, SkyMap Pro and I believe The Sky are mentioned as having ETX Autostar drivers. Don't know if SkyChart from Meade is available at all.

Added later:

Thanks for the reply to my questions.  I have received my 125 now, and I
love it.  I'm a real low-brow amateur, and not very dedicated at all.  I
just kind of like to go out and look at the stars whenever its a nice
night. I think this scope is going to work out just great.

By the way, I purchased one of the Pelican cases for my scope...I
believe the inside length dimension is 22", which is just sufficient for
the scope.  The case seems very well made, and should protect the scope
nicely.

Also, I happened to see a used studio tripod at a local camera shop that
was made to handle large view camera.  The brand name is "sampson", and
after the obligatory haggling, I bought it.  It is great.  I'll try to
get a few jpegs of it, and send them along.

Also, Pocono just sent me a copy of Meae's Skychart a few days ago!

Haven't had time to do anything with it yet.

Thanks again for the site.  In case no one have mentioned it to you for
a while, I'm sure that everyone out here very much appreciates the work
you put into this site.  We just don't say it very often....(busy
looking into eyepieces, you know).

Subject:	 opinion on an opinion
Sent:	Sunday, March 26, 2000 21:58:07
Jim Phelps wrote a complaint about Meade's catalog entry for the ETX. I
don't have a Meade catalog floating around, but there is the
specification page online for their ETX90/ec.
(http://www.meade.com/manuals/etx90ec/ch06.html#6)

His note keeps referring to  "(dia.;%)"  and "9.6%" What he doesn't do
is quote the *entire* line from the spec sheet. Here, by the magic of
cut-and-paste, it is:

Secondary mirror obstruction (dia.; %)       27.9mm (1.1"); 9.6%

Now, what do we see?  -two- (well, three) numbers a diameter (in English
and metric)  -a semicolon- and then the percentage. Relatively nearby we
have the lines:
   Primary mirror diameter                   96mm (3.78")
   Clear aperture                                   90mm (3.5")

Now, i agree they could have said "9.6% of area" But at least they give
you the numbers, and it's pretty obvious that  27.9 mm is NOT 10% of
96mm. It's not hidden.  They're admitting a 30% by-diameter obstruction.
Perhaps they're trying to provide too much information on one spec line,

but they're honest... (not counting the baffle) Perhaps the casual
fast-scanning reader will miss the nuance. But I don't think it's a
misstatement.

just an opinion.
--dick  (inflammatory writing should fully quote the sources)
(no, not a stockholder.. and i bought my ETX 2nd hand)
Added later:
Subject:	opinion on an opinion...
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 20:30:39
From:	User100995@aol.com
Dick (and Mike),
I appreciate your answers.  My concern is the following.  Listing specs
is useful for a variety of reasons.  The diameter of the obstruction has
always been a benchmark of measuring contrast in an obstructed optical
system.  The resolving power of an obstructed system for low contrast
objects such as planetary detail is less than that of an unobstructed
telescope.  The influence of the obstruction has always been expressed
in optical theory as the ratio of obstruction diameter to aperture.  Any
disagreements have always been expressed as this important ratio.  Not
as the ratio of area of obstruction to area of aperture.

Over the years many journals reviewing the effects of contrast have used
this particular ratio in evaluating contrast and its effects in
particular telescope types and models.  Never percent of area.  Amateurs
are increasingly aware of this particular ratio as a measurement and
even benchmark.

It's not unreasonable, then, to call to the attention of a particular
manufacturer a mistatement of this in their literature.

It's something easily identified and even rectified.  As a consumer of
Meade products who has sought to bring this to their attention, it's
been a little discouraging to receive, no response, no help in bringing
this to appropriate people's attention, etc.

It's not the end of the world, but I find it instructive that so many
who might understand the issue even when it's clearly explained, respond
initially in ways that illustrate they do not understand what I meant or
see the misleading mistatements of fact as in any way important for the
consumer, even if they are a merely a mistake or misprint. That's my
only point about this.

To say that "It's pretty obvious that 27.9 mm is NOT 10% of 96mm.  It's
not hidden.  They're admitting a 30% by diameter obstruction" is not, in
fact, true.  They are admitting a 9.6% obstruction, and in
print....that's false and misleading, even if it may be unintentional.

I almost feel like I should apologize for being a kind of stickler in
this, but that's the way it comes out.

  Sincerely,
     Jim Phelps
And:
From:	User100995@aol.com
Thanks for the response, Dick.   Well, I'll just send a note one more
time to John Piper and then give it up.

I highly recommend the book "Telescope Optics, Evaluation and Design" by
Harrie Rutten and Martin van Venrooij.   It covers the topic of %
diameter obstruction very nicely.  Though this is a technical book, I
have learned a great deal of optical theory from it.

You're right, many who buy the ETX won't notice the 9.6% anyway.  Let
alone see it as an issue.  But then I really don't have a clue as to
who's buying them anyway.

Compared to engineering problems, it would rank very low as something to
be concerned or upset about.

I agree with you, that any inference the wording in the specs may be
disingenuous might make someone reading it at Meade defensive and
unlikely to comment, but then, that's the breaks.

An acceptable alternative wording would  be the approximately 40% that
it actually is, rather than 9.6% figure stated.

I don't own an ETX 90, but they seem like a very portable option for
vacation viewing or smaller aperture, mid-power viewing on brighter
objects like double stars, moon and planets.

I like my 90mm "Shortube" F 5.5 refractor I picked up from Rex's Astro
Stuff for $300.  I get very acceptable planetary/lunar views at 130X
full aperture.  Masked to 80mm and they're color free at even higher
power.  Low power with my 35mm Rini eyepiece (I paid $30) the wide field
views are stunning.  I've got it on a tripod modified with a small pipe
mount head, so it's rock solid and portable.  That'll be my low end
scope for a long time.
   Take care.
    Jim Phelps

Subject:	 ETX optics cleaning ?
Sent:	Sunday, March 26, 2000 12:28:53
From:	blumando@earthlink.net (Glen Hietanen)
I purchased my ETX 90EC last Sunday. I noticed in manual for ETX that
you are not to use commercial lense cleaners on the ETX lense. But I did
not see any mention about eyepeices. I noticed on your web page in the "
Buyer/New user Tips" under optics cleaning, that people take much care
in there eyepiece cleaning as well. I guess what my questions
are........

Are the coatings on the eyepieces that fragile also that you cannot use
commercial lense cleaner on them ?

Can you use optical cloths to clean them ?  ( the washable kind )

Why is it ok to use these on camera lenses which also are multi-coated ?

I have a Meade 4000 9.7mm lense that the first night out I somehow got
very dirty. I used an optical cloth and  commercial lense cleaner on it.

Did I remove some of the coating by doing this ?

P.S. The first ETX90 I bought last Sunday was retuned. There was a piece
of black plastic about 1/16" or larger stuck on the back of secondary
mirror. They didnt want to open scope so they just exchanged it. After
taking the eyepiece holder cover off I suspect thats where it came from.
The cover was very ratty looking with burrs and little flaps of plastic
ready to fall off. So if a person is going to continue to use that cover
I would recommend deburring it good.

Mike you have a great site here. It is a great service to those who have
or are thinking of getting an ETX. Thank you for putting this site
together. Its what helped me make my descision in getting the ETX90. And
I am very pleased with it. I think Meade should put you on thier payroll
: )

             Glen Hietanen
              Hamel, Mn
Mike here: As to cleaning eyepieces and the optics in your telescope, only use cleaning materials intended for coated optics and then only in extreme moderation. Use an airbrush to gently blow lose material away. Then using essentially no pressure and a slightly damp cleaning cloth (lint free) clean the lens surface. Or get one of the LensPens devices (mentioned in the Cleaning tip in the Buyer/New User Tips section).

Subject:	 Pledge Drive - Great Idea
Sent:	Sunday, March 26, 2000 07:25:31
From:	acsuarez@home.net (Suarez & Echeverri)
I have been a very frequent (almost daily) visitor of your site for
nearly 2 years now.  Your information helped make my decision to
purchase an ETX-90EC and Autostar in May, 1999.   I have never had any
problems with it, except for the broken right tube adapter, for which I
was prepared, thanks to your sharing of experiences.

I have kept up to date with the Autostar software releases, and have
never had a problem downloading and using any of them, again thanks in
part to my studying the experiences posted in your site.  With my
wonderful ETX I have been able to see many Messier objects, track
satellites, show my children the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter,
etc... I cannot say I have been able to resolve the Cassini division
yet, although I *think* I have seen it with averted vision. I'll keep
trying.

Many times I have started writing you, knowing how much you appreciate
and need feedback.  I have not actually sent anything, thinking that I
am not adding anything new to the comments from you other faithful
readers.

However this time I am sending this note to let you know that I fully
support your decision to use the Pledge Drive format for obtaining funds
to continue running your site.  I believe it is a wise decision, fully
in line with your spirit of independence and quality.  I just made my
modest pledge, and I encourage all "weasnerians" to make their pledges
and support this excellent site, which is a primary source of
information and support for ETX users and learners like me.

Please keep the good work and the site up and running!

... and clear skies to all!

Andres Suarez
Midland, Michigan, USA
acsuarez@home.net
Mike here: Thanks for the kind words and your support! I know your comments reflect those of most site visitors.

Subject:	 Electric Focuser / Mirror Accedent
Sent:	Friday, March 24, 2000 22:42:15
From:	kevin_sterling@bigfoot.com (kevin sterling)
Help, I have had something of a disaster with my ETX125 and need advice.
I was trying to focus on a near object and after some time since it did
not come into focus I focussed back the other way. What appears to have
happened is that the focus gear diconnected and had no effect. I tried
to check this manully by removing the electronic focusser and with the
telescope pointing downwards, with the focus wheel removed as I was
going to place the focus knob back, the mirror actually fell forward
inside the scope and I now cannot access the focus rod as it is inside
the scope.  an I take the lens off the front and then remove the mirror
and reconnect the focussing system. I'm a bit surprised there was no
stop or retaing ring to prevent this.

Is there anywhere I can look for a procedure to do this repair?

Thanks for the help
Mike here: That's a problem that Scopetronix warns about with their FlexiFocus and that has been mentioned here a few times. For some possible help, see Doc Greiner's site.

Added later:

Don't if it is a good solution, easy to fix. I  removed the OTA then the
rear cover unscrewed the mirror and replaced the ring. Perhaps using
epoxy to glue the ring on would work to insure it does not happen in the
future. have not had a chance to use it and see if the collimation is
off, we are having a hell of a sand / dust storm here (Saudi Arabia) for
the past three days. Hope things clear up tomorrow night.

Thanks for the speedy reply

Subject:	 SLR Photography
Sent:	Friday, March 24, 2000 13:51:42
From:	rmarchionna@voyager.net (Ray Marchionna)
I keep reading that when using a digital camera for eyepiece
photography, you should set the camera focus to infinity. Does that
apply to SLR's as well ?  Just thought I'd ask before I waste a lot of
film. Keep up the good work on your excellent site.

Thanks

Ray
Mike here: When you shoot through an eyepiece, you want the camera to act just like your eye. So focus the camera lens to infinity, focus the eyepiece for your eye, and shoot away. You should still plan on wasting a lot of film. That, and patience, is one the costs of astrophotography.

Subject:	Re: Catalog specs... (User Opinion - March 2000 page)
Sent:	Friday, March 24, 2000 03:15:43
From:	User100995@aol.com
Oh, come on Mike.  One can tell when Meade doesn't WANT to answer
questions.  When the tech reps sluff off easily answered questions to
another department and all but come out and say you won't get an answer.
   But I thought you might take up the challenge and at least ASK someone there.
   Come on, help the public out and ask John Piper.
    Thanks,
      Jim Phelps
Mike here: We'll see what happens since I have been helping the ETX public out since 1996...

Added later:

You absolutely have.  But I would not expect that you or Jason Ware or
others who do such a good job helping the viewing public use Meade
equipment to actually attempt to answer that question.  It doesn't
involve tips on how to get the most from a product, but something else
indeed.  I probably would side step the issue myself if I were you.  But
I thought I'd just check and see.
   Jim

Subject:	 Etx tripod fix
Sent:	Thursday, March 23, 2000 05:01:36
From:	stjerome@uswest.net (Jeremy Vecoli)
After 10 months of dealing with my Meade field tripod, I disassembled it
for a peek. Kinda cheap. The thumbscrews had severely dented the
thin-walled leg that they press against, making it difficult to further
tighten. I drilled out the pop rivets holding the thumbscrew holder and
flipped it so the screw would engage on the left (undented) side of the
leg. I made an oak plug that fits inside the leg tubes to keep the screw
from collapsing it. I used sheet metal screws instead of pop rivets for
reassembly. Now I can crank down when I tighten the legs. I noticed the
outer leg sections were not parallell to the center section- they are
too far apart at the top. I removed the washers at the top, which
brought everything into alignment. This will cause a small amount of
wear at the hinge on top as the paint rubs off. So what. Everything is
much sturdier now! I also took an orbital sander & removed the paint
from the platform where the 'scope sits. This creates more seating area,
as the paint has substantial texture and lots of high & low spots. I
also noticed my attachment thumbscrews were hitting bottom before the
scope was tight on the tripod- a washer on each screw fixed this. I use
a 35mm film container to plug the eyepiece hole- this is a great spot to
keep the two attachment thumbscrews.

Jeremy Vecoli

Mpls, MN

Subject:	 Thank you for the web site ! Question
Sent:	Wednesday, March 22, 2000 04:51:02
From:	dmiller@jheng.com (Dan Miller)
First of all, thanks for the website, the information is great.  I am
currently researching information to purchase a telescope.  It has been
a long time since being a user and technology has improved greatly.  My
price range looks to be $1000-$1500.  I like what I have read so far on
both the ETX 90 and 125.  Do you have the experience to tell me how much
brighter or sharper the images are between these two scopes? Secondly,
after looking at the gallery of photo's, how much sharper are the images
when actually viewing in the scope relative to pictures I have seen? 
The pictures are great, but I know astrophotography is difficult.  Thank
you very much for time.
Dan Miller  dmiller@jheng.com
Mike here: Glad you like the site. Besides the price, the major differences in the two scopes are Size and Max Magnification. What you lose in portability you gain in the ability to use more magnification before the image deteriorates. For some, portability is more important. Yes, the -125 is portable, just NOT AS portable as the -90. As to the image quality, both scopes have excellent quality. Some objects look better visually whereas if you use a CCD and combine multiple images, the photos will look better and show more details.

Subject:	 FW: Meade Series 4000 Zoom Eyepiece doesn't fit in the 90 Eyepiece Holder
Sent:	Tuesday, March 21, 2000 12:38:13
From:	dirk.lenz@maconline.de (Dirk Lenz)
in early December I posted the following message:

the subject says it all. Is there any way to improve the fitting of the
Meade Zoom eyepiece in my ETX90/ECs 90 eyepiece holder? The eyepieces
metal tube is about 1 mm too long and doesnt move all the way into the
holders tube. With the thumbscrew firmly locked the eyepiece is still
flipping around. Would be nice to make it as tight as in the 45 Erecting
Prism.

Thanks for your help
Dirk

In a quick reply you said that this one is new on you and that you would
post it on your site. Unfortunately there was no response from any
reader. Meanwhile my girlfriend had the perfect solution for the
problem. She bought a 3mm thick rubber seal that perfectly fits on the
eyepieces metal tube. So it is effectively 3mm shorter and sits firmly
on the eyepieceholders edge. Well, can you tell me why a Meade eyepiece
does not fit into a Meade telescope out of the box? Or does my package
only lack the rubber seal ;-?

One more question regarding the zoom:
Is it a usual behaviour of zoom eyepieces, that their optical elements
inside feel somewhat loose when you shake the eyepiece?

Last not least a statement regarding the DEC lock problem:
Yesterday I removed the DEC knob and wondered why the small area that
should produce the grip to hold the telescope in the DEC position was
lubricated by Meade. I removed the lubrication and the grip improved
dramatically. No more need to overtighten the DEC knob.

Thank you Mike for working on the ETX website and reading my terrible
english!
Complaints to: babel.altavista.com/translate.dyn ;-)

Greetings from Cologne, Germany

Dirk 
Mike here: The ETX-90, due to its small size, may have problems with some add-ons. I guess that zoom eyepiece is just a touch too long unless modified. Thanks for the tip however. As to optical elements rattling around, I would think NO. However, are you sure it is the elements or could it be the zooming mechanism? That could be just as bad however but I don't have a zoom eyepiece so have no experience with them. But my camera zoom lens does not rattle.

Subject:	 Digital camera blues
Sent:	Tuesday, March 21, 2000 04:56:58
From:	betstom@home.com
Reply-to:	betstom@home.com
Greetings!

Hope you enjoyed the equinox.

RE: infinity on digital camera:  We have the Scopetronix arm to hold the
camera above the eyepiece.  Then  the focus should be set on Infinity?

Can you give a link at your site which rates digi cams????????

Thanks!

betsey lawrence
Mike here: Yep, focus the camera at infinity (just like your eye does) when shooting through an eyepiece. As to digital camera reviews, check the Digital Camera Resource site.

Subject:	 focal reducer question 
Sent:	Tuesday, March 21, 2000 03:44:03
From:	ALFA1@isla.net (JOSE SAAVEDRA)
hello my name is jose i have the etx90 the telescope works fine but i
need information-- how adapt focal reducer for ccd camera? is posible
use the shutan  sct adapter in the rear cell and use the mead focal
reducer ?or other please i need your help
my email alfa1@isla.net    thanks  3-21-00
Mike here: I don't know if you could do that. The SCT adapter allows any SCT device to be attached however.

Subject:	 Tripod mod
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2000 23:43:32
From:	wdcoll@pacbell.net (Bill Collins)
Just a note to confirm that Matt Curtis's tripod modification (Tech
Tips, 10 Sept 1999) works great. The legs of the "deluxe" ($200) Meade
tripod no longer collapse unexpectedly. I did it the easy way, slipping
the one-inch wide plates down into the clamp housings and then just
putting one rivet into the extra inch of plate that I allowed to stick
up above the housing. No disassembly of the tripod is required. I also
used 1/16th inch brass instead of steel to avoid any possibility of
rust. Most hardware stores sell 1/16th inch brass in one inch by one
foot strips for less than two bucks.

This is sure better than the alternative -- spending several hundred
dollars on another tripod. With this modification done, the Meade unit
seems quite capable of handling the ETX 125 , at least in Alt-Az
configuration.


Subject:	 Eyepiece collection
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2000 19:56:49
From:	rvsarch@earthlink.net (Robert Snow)
I put together a review of my collection of eyepieces at:

home.earthlink.net/~rvsarch/eyepieces.html

Bob Snow

Subject:	 Digital Camera ETX photog
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2000 09:29:29
From:	betstom@home.com
Greetings!

I love the energy you have put into your site.

We enjoy our ETX but would like your advice:  What digital camera(s) do
you use & recommend?

Have you used zoom cameras?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks,

betsey lawrence
Added later:
We use a Macintosh OS 8.6 computers.  Our ETX does not have the
AstroComputer feature.

We set up the Laptop and run Starry Night program simultaneously.

I have been looking at Kodak DC 240 or DC 290 digital cameras.  They do
not have MACRO mode, but do have Close Up features.

Thanks again for any suggestions.
Mike here: I currently use a Ricoh RDC-4200 with 3x zoom. I previously used a Casio QV-10 (which actually was better though older and less capable). Almost all makes and models have been or can be used with varying degrees of success. One thing to watch out for: the RDC-4200 _has_ to be zoomed to 3x to get its lens close to the eyepiece, otherwise there is terrible vignetting. So, a camera that has its lens close to the edge of its case is better. You want the lens focused at infinity so you don't use Macro or Close-up.

Subject:	 ETX 90EC Optics question
Sent:	Saturday, March 18, 2000 10:10:26
From:	steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
Can anyone help me with this little problem.

My ETX90EC has been running well since last July but now I have noticed
what appears to be a problem with the optics. I've attached a diagram
but I'll try to explain. With the standard 26mm Meade eyepiece, I point
at a bright star ie Sirius, de-focus and get the rings image I would
expect in both de-focus directions. With the image at the bottom of the
eyepiece it's fine, as I move the image towards the top of the eyepiece
I get what I can only call cut-off that is the circles start to become
semi-circles as the image approaches the centre and moves up to the top
of the eyepiece. Similar things happen right to left but not as obvious.
The missing part of the ring is towards the edge of the eyepiece as in
this diagram.

I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks,
Steve Southern,
mailto:steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
rings

Mike here: Depending upon how far out of focus you are, this may be normal; the obstruction being the mirror edge or the baffle. OR perhaps some portion of the optics has become slightly misaligned. I'm not home this weekend so can't check my scope.

Added later:

I'd be interested in how your ETX checks out. I can accept it being
normal if it was consistent all around the edges of the 26mm but it may
be that the baffle has moved slightly so obstructs more in one
direction. I can't tell and I don't want to open it up (not yet!).
Thanks for your info and prompt response
Mike here again: Now that I'm home (and looking at a possibly cloudy night; yes, again!), I removed the eyepiece and looked down into the scope. The mirror mount is rectangular and so a portion of the light will get cut off at the edge when way out of focus. I don't think I would worry about it unless you see some distortions.

Later: Had a brief chance to check this out on the -125 before the fog came in. Running in and out of focus with the 26mm showed no cutoffs at the edges.


Subject:	 Tip to Prevent Accidental Power On
Sent:	Saturday, March 18, 2000 08:11:50
From:	fgoldner@worldnet.att.net (Frank Goldner)
Recently, a writer to your great site noted accidentally turning on the
ETX power switch while packing the scope for field work.

I have made a simple, cheap backup switch by inserting a non-connected
plug (such as a Radio Shack Adaptaplug "O" - 5.5 mm o.d. x 2.5 mm i.d.)
into the 12 volt input on the control pannel.

When inserted, the plug interrupts the normal battery-switch connection
and must be removed before the normal ETX switch is operable.

Best regards to all.

Frank Goldner, Bethesda Md.
fgoldner@worldnet.att.net

Subject:	secondary baffle repair
Sent:	Saturday, March 18, 2000 04:03:21
From:	WML5992@aol.com
I corresponded with you some time ago concerning a loose secondary
baffle, took your advice and returned my scope to Meade. I waited untill
after the lunar eclipse in January and shipped it on 1/26/00. My scope
is a 3 yr old classic model and it had some slop in the RA drive also. I
have replaced the electronics with Jordan Blessings Microstar II so I
have voided  the warranty. Much to my suprise, I was told by the rep
that the baffle problem would be fixed no-charge and I could do a
complete "tune up" for  $75.00. Allthough it took 6 weeks to complete
repairs, when my scope was returned it was in better shape than when
new, baffle is fixed, perfect collimation and they replaced the entire 
base!!  All for $50.00, $25.00 less than the quoted price!!!!!!!!!!!
Again, thanks for the great advice AND this sweet site!!!!

Also, check out our group at www.foxobservatory.org
 
Mike Lewis

Subject:	 Re: ETX-90EC weight support
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 20:18:38
From:	vincent_ysc@hotmail.com (vincent chan)
Thanks for quick reply,I have confidence to get ETX because you have
good suggestions,comments and technical support from your site than
Meade.Thanks
Vincent
Hong Kong

Subject:	 reply to ETX-90EC weight support
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 19:01:15
From:	shiz@bellsouth.net (Shawn Rakestraw)
I have just started doing some prime focus photography with a Canon EOS
(not my camera of choice).  The motor drive does of my ETX90-EC does not
function properly at least once during every 1 and 1/2 hour session.
Normally this happens when I auto slew with the autostar to Jupiter,
which is low in the horizon and puts the scope in a sideways position.
This position seems to bind the Right Ascension motor because it is
actually controlling the verticle movement of the scope.  The motor
seems to be "slipping" and if I goto another object with the autostar
after this, the alignment is extremely off.  This means that everytime
this happens, the scope has to be put back in home position and
re-aligned to two stars.  Not a lengthy process, but a frustrating one.
Especially when the Meade field tripod legs are not locked down good,
because of bad design on Meade's part, and the tripod keeps going out of
level, etc. infinity.

Basically astrophotography is an extremely challenging project and there
are an infinite number of things that can go wrong or right to make your
experience heaven or hell.  With no other experience except with the
ETX90-EC, I can't say it's the same for all scopes or cameras, but my
educated guess would tell me that it is.  There is a lot more to it than
just setting up your scope and shooting pictures, you must have extreme
patience and have good skills at modifying your surroundings.

Please comment on this Mike and tell me I'm not crazy, or at least not
completely!

Shawn --- Trying to take pictures on a windy night is not very smart,
but I did it tonite!
Clear skies here, for a day or so.
shiz@bellsouth.net
Mike here: Astrophotography _is_ challenging, with _any_ telescope. Since the ETX is not an ideal astrophotographic platform, the challenge, and hence the rewards, are greater. And as you noted, the drives can slip in some orientations.

Subject:	 Re: Wish me luck/          update
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 14:43:29
From:	derekleath@colorassociates.com (Derek Leath)
UPS calls me and says we think your scope is lost and we are putting in
the clam. "Great" I thinking, now I have to start all over again and
hope my next scope is OK. I call Meade just to fine out if I can buy a
scope from them that has be checked out already, and William tells me my
scope has been there since the 7th of March and they are working on it
right now!, it might even be done sometime next week.
Hopefully  everthing will work out OK.
I'll keep you updated.
Thanks again for the great site.
Derek
St.Louis

Subject:	 ETX-90EC weight support
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 07:38:53
From:	vincent_ysc@hotmail.com (vincent chan)
Very great site, I learn many thing at your homepage,and after seeing
your site, I want to get the ETX-90EC or ETX-125EC, but I want to know
these two model can support the weight of SLR camera or digital
camera, about 1 Kg or more of my camera, attach on the T Adaptor.will
this weight of camera will affect the auto tracking or the balance of
telescope. Thanks Mike.
Vincent Chan(From Hong Kong)
Mike here: As you can see from the many astrophotographs on the site, attaching a camera is certainly doable. Adding weight to the rear (for Prime Focus) or the front (for piggyback) can create balance problems so adding a counterweight can be important. Piggyback adapters usually ship with a counterweight. If doing eyepiece projection or afocal photography through the top-mounted eyepiece, adding a counterweight is less of a concern. However, no matter where you mount a camera, use caution as the RA and DEC locks may not hold the scope in position or let the drives track in some orientations.

Subject:	 how to avoid batteries left on in the carry-case
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 20:57:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Simple:

Buy an extra one of the Radio Shack power adapter connectors ($1.99 plus
tax). Plug it into the "DC In" jack on the scope. It'll open the
battery-to-motors circuit, thereby serving as a second OFF switch (one
you can see).

have fun
--dick (what's that whirring from the box?)

Subject:	 etx
Sent:	Tuesday, March 14, 2000 18:17:48
From:	jwtscope@bellsouth.net (john white)
What a great site for us etx owners.  Just a little note of  what I have
done to mine.

I made a Lexon plastic plate that fit the bottom of the etx with
appropriately place holes for screws and to have access to the on/off
switch and then mated it to the equitorial wedge/tripod of my Meade 8"
scope.  Works great. Total cost $7.00

I did make my own case out of wood, and "fitted" the scope in it so it
would be "secure".   However I think that I may have made two mistakes.
I "think" that the on/off switch got left on or was bumped when placing
it in the case  and the rt assention drive lock was on.  The scope,
being "secure" in the case, unable to move and  bounce around in the
case, the motor drive kept "driving" and  stripped the gear in the
bottom of the scope.  I suggest that battteries not be in place when
stored and that the rt assention clutch not be engaged when storing.
Everyone has their ideas of "gadgets" and my dew shield is made of a car
window sun shield, cut to size and lined with black felt. Again cost was
under $6.00 and I made one for all three of my scopes out of one window
shield.

Thanks for listening, great web site.
jwtscope@bellsouth.net
Mike here: Excellent point about the ON switch!

Subject:	 finder
Sent:	Tuesday, March 14, 2000 17:30:15
From:	rllewis@earthlink.net (Robert L. Lewis)
Is it possible to mount the Meade right angle finder on the right side
of the eyepiece?  It gets in the way on the left since I view with my
right eye.

-- 
Robert Lloyd Lewis
Mike here: You could mount it there but you would have to make or attach the bracket yourself. Or you could add a 1x finder there. OR you could rotate the right angle finder eyepiece towards the left to have it not in the way. That's what I did with the ETX-125EC right angle finder.

Subject:	 hello from France.
Sent:	Tuesday, March 14, 2000 12:30:59
From:	f5opr@wanadoo.fr (Daniel)
Just a little hello and felicitation for your web site. I do not own
right now a telescope that you describe in your pages. But for shure
they will help for the choice.

Thank's a lot for all information I will jump on the new mead ds section
immediatly ;-)

by good continuation.

Subject:	 Lunar Occultations and the ETX
Sent:	Monday, March 13, 2000 23:08:26
From:	rayreg@harbornet.com (Ray and Jeanie)
I really enjoy reviewing your busy website and it has been very
informative and entertaining.  Just want your readers to know that while
they will most likely concentrate on trying to find the "elusive"
fuzzies and micro-details of Jupiter, there awaits another prize - lunar
occultations.  I would have never imagined that watching a star
disappear behind the dark limb of the moon would be such an intriguing
visual event.   That's because I have tried to view such events through
some larger scopes that didn't really make it that interesting.  The ETX
really changed that.  With it's high contrast images (and having the
right sky at the right time), it makes viewing lunar occultations a
pleasure.  Up until March 11, I have witnessed 5 lunar occultations
since purchasing my ETX in January of 98. Considering how much viewing
time we get in the cloudy, rainy NorthWest, that's pretty good.   On
this one night between 0350 and 0510 (UT) I viewed five lunar
occultations in the Hyades.  I let my wife view the first one
(occultation of 63 Taurus).  She had never seen one of these before, and
even preparing her for what she would see did not dim the excitement of
seeing a star suddenly "blink-out" behind the moon.  I am sure that I
could have viewed several more occultations as the moon's track was
right into a group or more 6 -7 magnitude stars.  Clouds cut that short
(of course).   For the visual "high", I like to use the Meade 26mm,
which shows most of the lunar disk and the principle star.   I use the
Orion Ultrascopic 15mm to increase the contrast for dimmer stars.  I
find the best opportunity for viewing relatively dim stars (up to 7th
magnitude) is a waxing moon around 3-6 days from new.

No, lunar occultations are not the Orion Nebula nor are they the spiral
of the Great Andromeda galaxy(ies).  But, an observer can actually
witness celestial mechanics in motion.  Besides, it is fun.

Uncloudy skies, Mike!
Mike here: Re-appearances are equally fun and challenging as well, especially if appearing from the dark side.

Subject:	 etx 90EC ra drive lag
Sent:	Monday, March 13, 2000 10:35:18
From:	jestem@home.com (joyce)
I sent an email a while back re a long lag in response to the ra drive.
The problem is due to the clutch lever not being tight enough even if
its (ra lock lever) up against the stop molded into the base. Solution
is to loosen set screw and reset the lever sso that you get a tight
lock.
Bob in
Rochester mn

Subject:	 ETX.questions..
Sent:	Monday, March 13, 2000 09:18:32
From:	ken@winograd.com (Ken Winograd)
Couple of questions for you, if you'd be so kind...

1 - Do you have the smaller or the larger of the Meade ETX's? Happy with
it? Wish you had the other one?

2 - Meade's site says "alignment of the telescope is easily achieved in
minutes in either altazimuth or Polar mode using guided instructions in
Autostar."  Is it really easy?

I ask the latter question, because once, way back when, I had a
motorized telescope...but, embarassingly enough, I could NEVER get it to
work right. I believe the problem might have been a combination of
factors.....first of all, ignorance, but also I could just never get the
initial alignment correct. Yes, I could find the north star ok (-:), but
that wasn't quite enough. Anyway, one of these days, that magical
computerized scope with the "plug in any site you want to see, and the
scope just goes there", is going to be too darn cool to pass up.  But,
I'll be damned if I'm going to get another scope that I can't even
align.

So, how's the alignment work? Is it really easy? Do you know take scope
alignment as purely routine thing?  Does it take you a minute or 5
minutes, half an hour, etc???

Tnx...

CU Ken
Mike here: Actually, I now have both my original ETX-90RA (90mm) and the new ETX-125EC (127mm). The -125 is on loan from Meade. The small one is easiest to take outside but the larger one presents better views (but not by much vs the smaller one). I still prefer my small one for those spur of the moment observing sessions. Yep, it is easy (when it works). After the initial, one-time setups, just enter the date and time. Even in altaz mode the alignment works work. The computer selects two stars and points the scope at them in turn. You center them in the eyepiece. Viola, the computer knows the necessary sky geometry and you're aligned. It does take some practice to get good at it and the computer doesn't always get it right (for various reasons, including operator error). And sometimes the alignment seems perfect (gets every object in the eyepiece) and other times less than perfect (objects just outside the eyepiece). Takes about 2 minutes to setup and align.

Subject:	 Free astro poster...
Sent:	Monday, March 13, 2000 06:53:18
From:	ken@winograd.com (Ken Winograd)
In case you missed it, I saw this in an ad in Sky&Telescope...

http://www.apogee-ccd.com

Look for the link for a free poster.  It's very nice looking indeed.
(I especially like the left side!)

CU Ken
Mike here: If you order one, in the questionnaire, say you were referred by this web site!

Subject:	 sub con telescopes
Sent:	Sunday, March 12, 2000 20:38:55
From:	Subcon@ionsys.com (Dave Robitaille)
Hi! Just to let you know that we refer a lot of people to your site for
the great information you provide on the etx. Good work!
Dave. Sub Con Telescopes.

Subject:	 Re: ETX finderscope and base modifications
Sent:	Sunday, March 12, 2000 19:45:31
From:	bobsnow@mac.com (Robert Snow)
I have been using a PowerBook 2400 outside as my Starchart running
StarryNight Backyard.  I am also trying three applications for my Palm
V.  I went out tonight and tried using my Fuji MX2700 handheld against
the eyepiece.  Worked pretty well.  See the photo on the Guest
Astrophotography - Moon page.  As I was watching Saturn tonight with the
26mm, something streaked through the frame.  I really don't know if it
was a meteor or satellite?  Definitely not an aircraft.  I've had the
ETX for about a week and am having lot's of fun.  I could see
significant "Nebulocity" in the Orion Nebula as well.  Aside from the
modifications I've made, I'm planning on getting the following
accessories:

SCOPETRONIX
Rigel Quikfinder - mounted up front on the right side
Rigel Systems Skylite, Red/White LED Flashlight
LPR Filter
Moon filter
Afocal Digital Camera Adapter

HANDS ON OPTICS
GTO 6mm Plssl-generic from Taiwan (should be fun for viewing the moon)
GTO 12.5mm Plssl

Some kind of wide field high quality 15mm?  any recommendations
40mm Rini or Plossl - I'm concerned about too much eye relief and
difficulty holding the image- I suspect the 1.25 tube will limit
apparent field of vision to about 42 degrees with a 40mm

Bob Snow

Subject:	 Taking Pictures
Sent:	Sunday, March 12, 2000 08:45:11
From:	ronmccafferty@email.msn.com (Ron McCafferty Jr)
To:	shiz@bellsouth.net
Shawn,

Please check out the book reviews.  I reviewed a book that does a pretty
good job of getting you started with taking pictures.

Ron McCafferty

Subject:	 A question from down under.
Sent:	Saturday, March 11, 2000 00:00:21
From:	timrose@ozemail.com.au (timrose)
The ETX is constantly tracking (slow motor working/grumbling and ETX
tracks anti-clockwise) even though the (standard) electronic controller
buttons are not depressed.  Motor stops tracking if I remove the RJ45
jack into the computer control panel. The ETX responds normally to all
tracking buttons at all speeds on control, then reverts back to slow
tracking.

I have cleaned (dusted off) the contacts inside the Electronic
controller with no success. It is very high humidity here currently,
but.....

What would you use to clean the pads inside the controller - alcohol?
water?, Any help on the problem appreciated.

Wishing you clear skys

Tim Rose
Mike here: The drive is working normally in the equatorial (polar) mode. It is running to compensate for the earth's rotation. In the Southern Hemisphere, that motion is anti-clockwise as you describe. You can disable it by following the instructions in the manual for altaz (or terrestrial use).

Subject:	 ETX finderscope and base modifications
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 15:54:35
From:	bobsnow@mac.com (Robert Snow)
I just bout an ETX-90 and would like to thank you for the great
information at your site.  Please take a look at the modifications I
have made to my ETX and use them on your site if you think they have
merit:

home.earthlink.net/~rvsarch/etxmods.html

Thanks
-- 
Robert V. Snow, Architect
903 South 47th Street - Philadelphia - PA 19143-3618
(215) 386-7496 (FAX 386-8318)

Subject:	 User Feedback Post--Telrad Question
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 15:25:41
From:	donjenlohman@worldnet.att.net (Jennifer Lohman)
I recently purchased a Telrad on ebay.  Unfortunately, it did not
include instructions.  So now I have a Telrad and absolutely no clue how
to use it. I searched for an instruction sheet online but came up with
nothing.  Can anyone help me???  I really need to get the Telrad working
because I cannot see a darn thing using the Meade-supplied equipment on
my ETX90-EC.
Thanks!!!  Jennifer Lohman (donjenlohman@worldnet.att.net)

Subject:	 Wish me luck
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 06:17:25
From:	derekleath@colorassociates.com (Derek Leath)
So, I had a couple of bad drive's and Meade say's "hey, Ship it back and
we will replace them do some other upgrades". O.k. fine. I ship them the
scope, Check my UPS tracking no.# still in transit, 3 days overdue to
meade. I call UPS, guess what? I think they lost it. So now I'm waiting
to see if UPS can fine my scope. "Yes" I insured it, so either way I
will get a scope, but what a hassle.
Derek
St.Louis

Subject:	 M51
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 06:03:28
From:	petevas@breathemail.net (Peter Vasey)
Here's a comment on one of your
correspondent's difficulties in observing M51 (Fiske Miles was the name,
from Kansas City).  With my 8" Celestar, I have great difficulty in
seeing it from my light polluted home, so I'm not surprised Fiske
couldn't find it.  But on a recent ski holiday in the Alps, I observed
it through 8 x 50 binoculars.  And could  j  u  s  t  make out M1 - it's
a bit tricky using averted vision with binoculars!  So with three times
the light gathering power of the ETX 90 over 50 mm binoculars, M51
should be easy from a dark site.   Keep trying, Fiske!

Subject:	 Question?
Sent:	Thursday, March 9, 2000 22:33:28
From:	darkroom2@juno.com (jesus santos)
My name is Jesus.I looking your home-page and this is a great tool I
like to know if I can see a nebula with my ETX-90EC. I new in the hobby.
Thank you for the site Mike.

Sincerely:Jesus Santos
Mike here: Yes, you can see nebulae (plural of "nebula"). Small, faint ones will appear as fuzzy blobs whereas large, bright ones like M42 in Orion will appear very nice. Just don't expect to see with your eye through the telescope the same images as you see in long duration photographs.

Subject:	 look closer
Sent:	Thursday, March 9, 2000 18:00:51
From:	xix@snowcrest.net (tim)
have you looked closely at the last image on your guest page?

you should ask bill exactly when he took that picture because i think
the smudge on the bottom of the image of jupiter is actually the impact
site of SL9 fragment A.

clear skies
                    xix@snowcrest.net
Added later:
I'm sure now but its not fragment A it's fragment C-a and b
And a response:
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 05:15:10
From:	wsnyder@gateway.net (wsnyder)
I went to the image and really studied it. I believe the image was taken
in December 99. But I could be off. I am to much of a beginner to say
that it is the impact site. Is it still visible? I mean at that time?
And can an ETX90 see it? If so it could be. Wish I could be more exact,
but at that time I didn't put date and time on every image. Have you
seen the recent images that we are getting at prime focus with the new
SACIV imaging system? Visit our new site at
members.xoom.com/sonfest/.  At $209 it's a great entry level
imaging camera.
Bill

Subject:	 ETX lover Tip..
Sent:	Thursday, March 9, 2000 13:50:33
From:	Karen_Gosline@email.msn.com (Karen_Gosline)
Hi Mike and the rest of this list,

Mike... great website, thank you for all that I have learned from it...

I have been observing and following this list for quite awhile now. I
first purchased the original ETX 2 years ago. I wish I had run across
this website then, but I played with it, learned from it, loved it. What
a beautiful instrument for the price. Last year when the EC came out I
traded my "classic" in and got an equally good optical system coupled
with a GOTO system, motored hand controller, and focuser for "field"
use. What a package. Great for Astronomical and Territorial observing. I
succumbed to "aperture fever" and went from a celestron G8 to a Losmandy
G11 with a C11 OTA on it, but I still "love" the ETX, which has become
my 9 year old daughter's and the family scope. It serves so well for
that quick gota look fix.. I guess I am just hooked on Astronomy folks..

True, the Autostar software is going thru a "maturing process", but
after updating to the current release ( 2.0i), I can say that it just
"feels" right. It is "close" to being a mature, solid software system,
being a software designer myself.  Folks..just be patient, and thankful
that meade made their "firmware" updateable by the end user.. "Well done
Meade"..

I have customized our ETX setup with some of the Ideas presented on your
website, and added a few of my own. I can send some pictures if you
want. Oak eyepiece tray and holder for the Autostar, recharable 12v
battery pack, custom travel case, ect. A beautiful and functional setup,
and ever so portable....

One tip that I would like to pass on.. concerns the Electric Focuser..
The problem people seem to be having is not knowing where in the focus
travel it is, causing the focuser to run off the shaft or potentially
damaging the focus mechanism.

What I did was cut a small rectangular hole in the focuser case blastemy
I know ).. to create a window to allow me to "see" where the focus gear
is. The hole should run from the "center line to half way" to the end of
the case half.  The case half with the hole for the focus gear to slip
into. I used a drill bit and exacto knife for this. ( ugly. I know)

This seems to be the limit for focus travel and will allow you to see
the gear position. Seems to work pretty good, when I startup the system,
I can run the focuser in for Astromical, or out for Terrestrial and know
where it is when I start.

I hope that meade listens to the input from this list...a factory made
window here would make everyone's life easier...wouldn't add much to the
cost and would prevent lots of potential headaches, and add a touch of 
well thought out "class" to the mechanism.

Clear sky's to all,
Tom and the Gosline family in  Eugene, OR

Subject:	 MESSIER MARATHON
Sent:	Thursday, March 9, 2000 11:16:53
From:	apose001@pophost.eunet.be (MT)
We organize a MESSIER MARATHON in Belgium, Europe. During the weekend
11/12 march and 1/2 april we hope for clear skies !!! But HOW WELL WILL
THE ETX DO THE JOB ?

Is there anyone who tried that already ?

Mr.Messier observed the night sky with a 8 cm scope !! Of course skies
were much much darker at that time. Nevertheless we will try the ETX on
the MESSIER RALLY this time. With our sky quality we think reaching 65
to 70 of the 110 objects.

Marc Trypsteen, ASTRO EVENT GROUP 
Belgium, Europe.
Mike here: The ETX does quite well. I believe there is someone who is participating in a Messier Marathon using the ETX.

Subject:	 Olympus OM1 Camera
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 23:39:20
From:	shiz@bellsouth.net (Shawn Rakestraw)
Hello fellow observers,

I just purchased an Olympus OM1 camera off of Ebay, but I don't have any
experience with 35mm cameras.  Does anyone have experience with the OM1?
I will be using it primarily with the ETX-90EC and a T-adapter.  I have
taken some shots with a friend's Canon EOS, but it doesn't have the
manual features of the OM1 (mirror lockup, etc.)  I am in desperate need
of advice.

Thanks in advance!

Shawn
shiz@bellsouth.net

Subject:	Re: advice
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 19:59:46
From:	BelikeJon@aol.com
well I live in philadelphia so I do have to contend with the city
lights. i live about 10 miles from downtown so a ten minute drive and
you can see a world of differnce. i want to take pictures of planets,
the moon, sun, and maybe if i am luckly a nebula. I dont know to much
about this area but i would like to get some pictures and have them
blown up. I recently purchase a nikon camera and i am still practicing
on still objects and starting to get really go shots.  i just read up on
an EXT 90 and i think thats the road I am going. later i might invest in
the autostar hook up. do you think i will be able to achive my goals
with this model.  any advice would be helpful thankyou for your time i
am sure you have better things to do     john
Mike here: You will be able to take pictures of some planets, the Moon, the Sun (with the proper protection), and some nebulae. Many examples are on my ETX site. Patience and trial-and-error (and lots of film) will be required. That's true even with larger telescopes. Be certain to use many different exposure times. Also, watch out for vibrations due to the shutter/mirror movements in the camera. You'll want to use the "hat trick" method (search for it on the site) for most shots.

Subject:	 Motor noise
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 10:16:07
From:	sietinto@inalfa.com (Todd Sieting)
I've just bought an ETX. I am a complete novice. I turn the unit on and
the scope moves, then when I locate a star etc. I still hear the motor
running, even though my finger is not touching the directional pad
(about 50% of the time). It does not seem to move the scope, however
somewhat annoying and I am planning to get an Autostar unit. Is
something wrong? Should I return it?

Paul Hargreaves MI

Great site
Mike here: Be certain to read the manual. The drive is ON so that it can track the sky's movement due to the rotation of the Earth. But it will only move the scope if the Right Ascension lock is engaged.

Subject:	 Eclipse video.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 08:54:57
From:	cphilg@ix.netcom.com (Grindle, Phil)
Here's a link to a Real Media file I made of the lunar eclipse:

Streaming: 	www.geocities.com/~cphilg/eclipse.ram

Regular:	www.geocities.com/~cphilg/eclipse.rm

I used my ETX90/RA and Quickcam Pro USB and shot a 640x480 time-lapse at
30 sec between frames. I used EP projection with a TeleVue 20mm Plossl.

My alignment was a little off and my corrections were a little rough,
but it was fun anyway (even if it WAS 28F by the time I gave up).

The RM file really doesn't do it justice, but the original .avi file is
~360 Meg so I won't be e-mailing THAT to anyone! Good thing I have a CD
burner!

Take a look if you have Real Media, and if you think it comes across
well enough feel free to post the link!

A free version of RealPlayer can be downloaded at www.real.com BTW...

Also, anyone that's interested can view my fledgling astronomy page at:

www.geocities.com/~cphilg/astro.html

Clear (Dark) Skies!

Phil G

Subject:	 Web Cam Driver
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 06:49:27
From:	petevas@breathemail.net (Peter Vasey)
I hope one of your readers can help me on this, Mike.  I'm not an ETX
user, but I recently started experimenting with a Web Camera (actually a
VCam from Trisys Europe, available here in England), with some promising
results (Jupiter (composite of 10 images) and Moon images attached),
tho' not up to the standard of the cracking images on Dave Berry's ETX
90 site, http://emmgraphics.com/pilot/astro/astroindex.html
Unfortunately the driver supplied with the camera is not very versatile,
the exposure (brightness) control being somewhat undependable, and not
able to be set for longer exposures (of a few seconds).  So I'm looking
for a driver which can give accurate exposures up to several seconds,
for a 640 x 480 (Sony chip) colour Web Camera operating via the USB
port.  Any help, either via your pages or direct e-mail contact most
welcome.

Thanks for the use of your excellent site.  Clear skies, Peter.
Moon Jupiter

Subject:	 FlowerPots&ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 06:01:38
From:	James Chambers
Hi British ETX owners.
A simple dew shield can be made with from a plastic flower pot available
from the British Company Sainsbury's Homebase.

What you need  
 1. A six inch flower pot model 010519 2083H. (70p)
 2. A junior hacksaw
 3. Strong scissors or small metal workers snips.
 4. Rough glasspaper
 5. Matt black paint or Blackboard paint.
 
Proceedure.
 Rest the pot on it's side on cloth as not to scratch the nice finish
 Cut off the base by cutting thru about 2mm up.
 Try out on the ETX OTA. It probably will not fit.
 With the scissors cut off about 2mm and try again.
 This time it will possibly go on quite tightly if not take more
     off, as narrow as you can cut because if you overdo it all is lost
 When you get near to size you might rub it on a flat sheet of glass
     paper so as to approach the right size slowly.
 Roughen up the inside well and paint black.
 
If Mike Weasner reads this he might like this low tech gadget in his
wonderful ETX site.   A jpg picture is attached. If you wonder what the
little black box is on the fork then I can tell you it is a  radio
receiver to move a model servo motor to give me remote focussing. (see
Mike's pages for details) Sorry about the Green colour, the actual
colour is a very dark green, not too bad, it was the only one in the
store.

      Clear Skies............Jim Chambers. North London UK.
dew shield

Subject:	 Eyepiece question
Sent:	Tuesday, March 7, 2000 15:09:42
From:	RWOODFORD@OPENGOVT.OPEN.ORG (Richard Woodford)
Has anybody tried using Orion Sirius Plossls with the ETX-90EC?
Mike here: See the Accessories - Eyepieces page for a report on the "Sirius Plossl 40mm".

Subject:	 USB cable lengths (Weasner's ETX site question)
Sent:	Tuesday, March 7, 2000 10:40:00
From:	Eric_Gregoire@ne.3com.com
To:	desertrat1@ctaz.com

I saw your question on Mike's site about the USB issue. I copied some
info from www.usb.org to answer your question:

Cables and Long-Haul Solutions

1. Why are the cable length limits what they are?
A: The full speed cable length was limited by a cable delay spec of 26ns
to allow for reflections to settle at the transmitter before the next
bit was sent. Since USB uses source termination and voltage-mode
drivers, this has to be the case, otherwise reflections can pile up and
blow the driver. This does not mean the line voltage has fully settled
by the end of the bit; with worst-case undertermination. However,
there's been enough damping by the end of the bit that the reflection
amplitude has been reduced to manageable levels. The low speed cable
length was limited to 18ns to keep transmission line effects from
impacting low speed signals.

2. But I want to build a cable longer than 5m and there's enough time in
the bit to do it. Why won't this work?
A: Even if you violated the spec, it literally wouldn't get you very
far. Assuming worst-case delay times, a full speed device at the bottom
of 5 hubs and cables has a timeout margin of 280ps. Reducing this margin
to 0ps would only give you an extra 5cm, which is hardly worth the
trouble.

3. What about using USB signal repeaters to make a cable longer than 5m?
A: Don't bother. The best solution is self-powered hub with a fixed 10m
cable that had a one-port bus powered hub in the middle. The maximum
range will still have to deal with the timeout, so any out of spec
tweaking of the terminations between the two hubs and the timing budget
still won't yield more than 5cm of extra distance. A better solution is
described in the following question.

4. But I really need to put a USB device more than 30m away from any PC.
What should I do?
A: Build a USB bridge that acts as a USB device on one side and has a
USB host controller at the other end. Use a long-haul signaling protocol
like Ethernet or RS-485 in the middle. Using cables or short-haul fiber,
you can get ranges upwards of a kilometer, though there's no reason why
the long-haul link in the middle of the bridge couldn't be a pair of
radio transcievers or satellite modems. Embedded host solutions capable
of doing this already exist. Also, two PCs connected via USB Ethernet
adapters are essentially a slave/slave version of this master/slave
bridge.


So, that is from "the source" of USB knowledge in the world...the people
who make the specs. I'm hoping to solve the issue by toting my laptop
out and trying my 3Com camera that way. I've seen some pretty creative
rigs on Mike's site for using digital cameras.

Tell me how you make out. (Glad to hear you like the camera!)

Eric Gregoire
Asst. Marketing Engineer
3Com

Subject:	Suggestions for best F.O.V.??
Sent:	Tuesday, March 7, 2000 08:01:04
From:	FlairSup@aol.com
What's the best and least costly way to increase the field of view on my
ETX90? Wide-field adapter? Lower power eyepiece? And do you have any
idea what the difference is between the wide-wield adapt. and a star
diagonal? Dumb questions, huh? I'm just trying to squeeze a little wider
view out of this wonderful scope, and I didn't want to sink any more $$$
into a rich-field refractor. I'm writing from work, so if you have time
please respond to me at RKroeppler@aol.com. Thanks for all your great
advice and an excellent web site. Sincerely, Scott A. Kroeppler
Mike here: Wide Field Adapters have optics that mess with the light; Star Diagonals don't change the light other than the direction. Wide Field Adapters can be handy since they can be used with many eyepieces. A Wide Field (or Ultra Wide Field) eyepiece is just one eyepiece. However, WFAs may reduce the image quality somewhat compared to a high quality eyepiece. And of course, the more glass you throw in the light path, the more image deterioration can occur. Search the site for "Wide Field" for more info.

Subject:	 ETX accessories and observation report
Sent:	Tuesday, March 7, 2000 06:37:26
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Greetings

While my Autostar was FINALLY making some headway with its very first
upgrade, I took the opportunity to install Meade's 8x25 Right Angle
finder, which I have had practically since it first appeared on the
market, and my recently obtained #1244 Electric Focuser. I waited on the
finder because I just did not want to hassle with aligning it, period,
and for the focuser until I upgraded the firmware so as to be able to
take advantage of the improved focuser functioning in the Autostar.

Installation of the focuser took a painless two minutes at best, and
while the upgrade continued, I tested it using its own handbox with a 9v
battery. All's well. It does, as others have reported, JUST barely rub
in the inner side of the right fork arm when in zenith position. Nothing
worth worrying about though, as it has no effect on the functioning of
the scope. Later that night, when I did get into the field, it
functioned as expected with the Autostar. In Micro-Fine speed mode, it
was definitely quite capable of finer control than practically anything
I could achieve by hand (using the Scopetronix Deluxe Knob, also a major
improvement over the stock unit), especially at higher magnifications.
As other report, the hands-off advantage is obvious in terms of avoiding
the shakes while focusing. I did, however, notice that I was getting
more image shift than when I focused by hand. I assume that is due to
the fact the focuser places some minor pressure on the focus shaft that
is not present with hand use. It is noticeable compared to before it was
installed, when my ETX exhibited surprisingly little image shift except
at very high powers, but not really objectionable. The advantages and
convenience definitely outweigh the slight increase in image shift in
terms of being a worthwhile add-on. I would, however, mention again my
earlier admonitions about this device. It is a blatant rip-off at $120
for what it is and what it does, though some users, I must note, have
felt the advantages are worth every penny paid for it.

The 8x25 Right Angle Finder installation was just as easy. I was
surprised, though, to see gouge marks on the tube of the original finder
from the six set screws. Call me finicky, but I like to keep my toys in
as close to original condition as possible, and little things like gouge
marks distress me. Anyway, I got the thing aligned with less trouble
than I expected. In use, I noticed a few things. First, the off-axis
image is pretty bad. I first noticed this with terrestrial subjects when
taking my very first looks through it. However, in the field I found
this to be much less of a problem. Star images were fairly good over
most of the field, with the problems visible mostly at the outer edges
of the field. It was certainly, at the very least, useable over most of
its 8 degree field of view (I believe that is the spec). The other thing
I noticed was that when I focused it for my eye(s) with my glasses off,
the rather thick crosshairs became blurry, but they still performed the
function they were intended to. With glasses on, it is not easy to see
much of the field of view, but it is still much better than the original
unit. With or without glasses, for initial star aligning, star aligning
in High Precision Mode, and most other purposes an ETX owner could use
it for, it functioned perfectly, and was VASTLY more practical and
user-friendly than the original straight-through finder. It is possible
that the height of eyepiece end might contact a user's face or head, but
I did not find even the occasional slight contact an issue at all. For
the most part it did its job and did not interfere with anything.
Considering how much of a pain the original finder is, this, or any
other replacement is highly recommended.

Freezing it up with the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens

Well, now we get into the meat of things...actually using the telescope
for some observing! I made it out into the northwest corner of Wharton
State Forest, in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, about 20 miles from
Phila., to a nice spot a friend and I found a little over a year ago,
around 12:15 AM, Sunday night/Monday morning. Temp started at 33
degrees, and dropped to 25 at 2:30, when I was packing it in and
dew/frost was just starting to form. Low humidity, decent seeing and
transparency. Skies there are typically mag 5.5, with best views from
the southwest to the northeast (basically looking into the barrens and
away from Camden/Phila) and zenith.

Got set up and aligned, and set off to do a mini-marathon of the spring
sky's Realm of the Galaxies. On to the observing...Well, what can I say
about most galaxies when viewed through a 90mm scope from mag 5.5 skies?
OK, OK, most are just faint fuzzies, gray smudges, but still, I enjoy a
challenge. Even from these skies, the varying sizes and shapes are
discernable, though no details at all can be detected in any but the
brightest among them. Unlike my similar marathon last spring, this time
there was, however, no question about seeing the subjects. Last year I
used a different location, with slightly more light pollution, and many
of the targets were at the very edge of detectability. Last night, every
target was easily detected, with no uncertainty and no need to use any
tricks such as averted vision. While I thought my other observing
location, near Bowman's Tower in Bucks County, was about the same as the
Barrens (but just with Philly's light dome in a different direction),
over the course of the year I have determined that there is no doubt
that the Pine Barrens is a moderately better, but MUCH colder, observing
site.

So, here's what I observed...

UMaj/CVn area:

M81/82 Always nice, even in small scopes
M108
M97 The Owl, faint but nice
M109 Probably the dimmest and toughest target of the night
M106
M101 Diffuse, low surface brightness
M51 Another one of the few galaxies that is nice even in small scopes
M63 Nice, size and shape easily seen
M94

Fit in globulars M3 and M53, both very nice

Leo area:

M105
M95/96 Nice seeing both in same fov
M65/66 Ditto
M68 Another globular

(for some reason I missed M104...accidentally skipped it from my list)

Took a look at:
NGC3242, the Ghost of Jupiter...this and many other bright planetaries
are nice subjects for a small scope, appearing as small, pale blue-ish
disks at around 90 to 120x
NGC3115 The Spindle Galaxy...yes, it was faint and, well, spindly

Coma/Virgo area:

(I basically covered every M object in this area, as well as the Leo and
UMaj/CVn areas)

M83
M64 Blackeye..hard to tell, but this is one of the brighter ones
M49
M61
M85
M100
M98
M99
M88
M84
M86
M87
M90
M89
M59
M58
M60

And then to wrap things up, a few favorite summer objects:

M4 and M80, globulars...I've seen better when they are not so close to
the horizon
M107
M10 and M12, both very nice
M13 A perennial favorite among globulars
M92 Ditto
and to finish things off, one of my all time classics, M57, the Ring
Nebula

Take care and enjoy, folks.

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'
http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN

Subject:	 digital camera question....
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 22:50:35
From:	logos77@optonline.net (Jonathan Weingarten)
I've been checking out your pics... awesome.  Especially the color in
those nebs.  Well... I happen to own an Olympus C-2500 digital camera. 
The lens is an awesome lens with 43mm threads.  The lens zooms from 36mm
- 110mm but I have a doubler for it pushing it up to 200mm.  Would the
JMI piggy back be my best bet for this or is there any way of hookin
that up to the back of the scope with some kind of t-adapter?  The lens
is not removable on this digital camera although it has many slr camera
capabilities.  Thanks.
Jonathan
Mike here: I doubt that you'll able to use the digital camera either piggyback for long duration astrophotos or prime focus astrophotography. Long duration photography is usually done with film cameras (or CCD imagers). Prime focus photography replaces the camera lens with the telescope optics (a long telephoto lens). So, you're left with eyepiece projection (more accurately called "afocal photography") with the camera lens viewing through an eyepiece.

Subject:	 ETX darker looking thru 35mm camera than thru eyepiece
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 19:16:40
From:	labradorz3@home.com (LM)
Why is the view looking thru a 35mm camera and T adapter so much darker
than looking thru the eyepiece?
Mike here: The camera's viewscreen absorbs a lot of light. There are replacement viewscreens available for some 35mm cameras.

Subject:	 J-Track Satellite Tracking
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 17:52:52
From:	Abner@MSN.COM (Abner Santiago)
Your Web Site is Great!!!

I was looking at the links area and may have missed it, But I really
like the J-Track Satellite Tracking site. If you don't already have it
there, it would be a great addition.

liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/RealTime/JTrack/

Your site has been very helpful. I just got an ETX 90-EC last Thursday
for my birthday.

Thanks for the great job you've done with your site!

Subject:	 information
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 13:45:44
From:	ve7cer@direct.ca
Hi Mich,name here is Charlie and I live in Van.BC.Do a lot of camping
and have a 4.5 In. Reflector but don't like it all that much on account
of size.Would like to get an ETX 90 RA but they don,t make them any
more,and the EC has to many motor problems I see on the Web pages.So
most likely will be getting a ETX 90 Spoting Scope.What I would like to
know is are the ETX 90 Spoting Scope the 90 EC or RA the same scope but
without the motor mounting housing.I am very new at this as you might
have seen at my question.Any help you can give me on this matter will
get me going in the right direction.Thanks Charlie
Mike here: The spotting scope model is the same telescope without the base. By the way, check Shutan Camera and Video (link on the Astronomy Links page) or eBay for used ETX-90RA scopes. That's the original model ETX and some people have traded in their old model or offered it for sale.

Subject:	 Interesting Prices
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 13:00:20
From:	scott.patten@eds.com (Patten, Scott D)
G'day Mike,

Just thought I would drop you a line to say hi and I checked out the
tutorial section. That guy went to alot of good work for the ETX'ers.
Like yourself.

We have a store out here in OZ called Australian Geographic.   They have
some interesting prices. Such as TASCO scopes are more expensive then
MEADE.
Meade DS114EC A$995 =US$602
Meade DS-60EC A$649=US$393.

The best price????? is the Autostar A$499 = US$301

Some one could make a killing being a forwarder of supplies and sending
it to OZ or globally. Stuff here is just ridiculously priced sometimes.
Even with a crappy exchange rate it can be cheaper getting it from the
USA and paying shipping. Some sites in OZ have free shipping locally at
times and even then it is still dearer then the stuff coming from the
USA.

Such is life...
Clears skies for May 5,.... Doomsday......

Scott Patten
* mailto:scott.patten@ieee.org

Subject:	 Crosshairs (SUN WARNING!)
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 06:24:24
From:	tompilot@zbzoom.net (Tom Surgalski)
Just wanted to let you and your readers know about Solar viewing. Last
week I had the ETX out for about an hour observing the Sun. It was one
of those few perfect days here in western PA with the cobalt blue skies.
The views were mezmerizing. Anyhow, I normally cover the finderscope
while observing the Sun, but this time I forgot. Apparently the heat got
to one of the crosshairs as it snapped. Any ideas as to fixing it? (I
know most people hate the finder and would consider it a blessing)

Just a headsup to everyone to cover the finder. Visit your site often,
thanks.

Tom Surgalski
Mike here: Fixing crosshairs is a pain. You may find this an excellent opportunity to get a replacement.

Subject:	 field trip
Sent:	Sunday, March 5, 2000 05:47:05
From:	emosser@gte.net (E Mosser)
Well, it has been awhile since the weather cooperated here in northwest
Indiana, but March 4th was very cooperative. I took the ETX90RA out to
the patio table and set up.  The sky has really changed since I was last
out in late December.

The first object was Sigma Orion, a great multiple star, just south of
the easternmost belt star.  There are six stars in a very tight
formation, easily resolved at 48x, but better at 96x.  Moved over to the
M42 and M43 area.  I used Paul Rini's 42mm "TV Screen" to view the area
north of M42, including the NGC1981 (bouncing ball cluster) and NCG
1975, another open cluster, just south of 1981.

There are two nice doubles south of M42.  Iota Orion has a primary at
3rd mag and the companion at 7mag and 44 Orion is about 7 arc minutes SW
of Iota and is a wider double of 4th and 5th mag stars. I tried, but
could not resolve 32 Orion.  Went up to the head of Orion to Lambda
Orion, also called Meissa to observe CR69.  I enjoy pursuing the lesser
known clusters and objects as they offer quite a challenge for the ETX. 
CR69 was not a challenge, but was a wide (65 arc minute) open cluster
which had a great trail of north-south running stars.  Meissa itself
turned out to be a double star with 4th and 6th mag stars with about 8
arc sec separation.  Overall for CR 69, I counted 31 stars.

From CR 69, I moved on to NCG 2169, following Betelgeuse north and east
about 6 degrees to an area with a swinging arc of starts below 70 Orion.
 NCG 2169 was in that area and had about 12 stars, with a distinctive
"V" shape about 6-8 arc minutes in size.

Could not find NGC 2194, but NGC 2264 was great, looking like an upside
down Christmas tree.  This is a great cluster, I counted about 35 stars
in a 40 arc minute area.  Next was NGC 2244, another bright cluster in
Monoceros.  The most interesting pattern was the formation of 2 right
triangles by five stars.

CR 107 and CR 106 were both in the area, easily star hopped off of NCG
2244.  Neither was very distinguishing, but were easily spotted.  Next
was CR 97, which was spotted by finding a great 45 degree right triangle
of 7mag stars and then observing the lesser stars.  CR 96 was a pretty
dim open cluster for the ETX.

Epsilon Monoceros is a great double for the ETX, easily resolved @ 48x,
with a 4th and 6th mag companion.  CR 91 had about 12 stars in 20 arc
minutes.  Beta Monoceros is another great multiple.  I saw only two
stars, everything says there is a third, but I only observed two, both
about 4th mag.

Next, I turned to Procyon in Canis Minor.  Wow, is that a yellow star! 
M35 provided great change from the dim open clusters earlier seen.  It
was truly a treat to look at.  I easily counted 50 stars in a 30 arc
minute area.   A bigger scope would be a treat on this one.  Finished up
with Propus and CR 89 in Gemini.  Propus is a brilliant yellow star.  I
couldn't resolve it's double.  CR 89 was a nice open cluster in which
four 6 mag stars form an upside down "Y" with another 10 or so stars in
the cluster.

Back inside to watch the girls basketball championship at 9:00. 
Afterall, it is Indiana!

Ed Mosser
emosser@gte.net
Added later:
I had even better luck Sunday night.  Used Paul Rini's 14mm with the 2x
barlow and started splitting some doubles I couldn't the night before. 
I'll write up another report for you.  Everytime I post a report I get a
couple of emails from people starting out and wanting to know how to
find things. Perhaps you could start a observers page with
reports.
Mike here: At first I just added user observation reports to the Feedback page, then I started adding them to the Buyer/New User Tips page. Things get confused when reports are included with other topics on the same email (same problem occurs in lots of other areas as well). Now I'm back (generally) to adding them on the Feedback page. But thanks for the suggestion; we'll see (no pun intended).

And another observation report:

Subject:	 more clear skys, more observations
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 17:53:32
From:	emosser@gte.net (E Mosser)
The weather continued to cast a favorable eye on Northwest Indiana and I
returned to the backyard Sunday night.  The skys were so clear and calm
that I used Paul Rini's 14mm with the 2x barlow for 178 power for quite
a while.

I used the power to resolve Zeta Orion, and then was able to resolve yet
another star in the multiple system of Sigma Orion.   I really suggest
that people take a look at it.  Shaped like an arrow, it contains seven
stars in a 10 arc minute area.  Not all of the stars are in the system,
but it is a great sight.

The high power was great for M42, M43, and the nebula area.  I resolved
delta Orion @ 178x. On Saturday, I could only resolve 2 stars in the
Beta Monoceros system, but Sunday @ 178 x I was able to view the third
star.  What a great system.  The 2nd and 3rd stars are separated by 2.8
arc seconds and I could barely see black between the two.  I think that
is just about the limit for my etx and my eyesight.

M50 was great, as was NGC 2353.  I used Sue French's column in Sky and
Telescope to track down 2353.  Her monthly column is great and is
similar to what is visable with the etx.  M41 came out from behind the
house and was a treat.  There is a nice double star in the east north
central part of the cluster with 8th and 9th mag stars.

The highlight of the night was locating M81 and M82.  I have not had
much luck with galaxies, it just isn't the ETX's strong suit.  Tonight
was the night and both were visable in the same FOV with the 26mm
eyepiece.

Perhaps, I will be able to view some of Leo and Virgo's galaxies now...

Clear and calm skys from Indiana,

Ed Mosser  emosser@gte.net
Mike here: The night started out clear for me. Took the ETX-90RA out to check a new product. As I was doing that, clouds started rolling in. Couldn't try out the ETX-125EC; maybe later tonight.

Subject:	Messier Objects from Urban Locations?
Sent:	Sunday, March 5, 2000 05:31:03
From:	FiskeM3@aol.com
I recently purchased a Mead ETX 90 (my first telescope) and have been
seeking various celestial objects -- specifically Messier objects.

Some, of course, are simple to find -- M42, M41, M44, M35. But I've had
considerable difficulty seeing galaxies. For the past several nights
I've been trying to see M51 in Ursa Major and M65/66 in Leo.

I should state that I'm observing from a mid-town location in Kansas
City and the visual limiting magnitude (without scope, that is) is
around 4 -4.5.

Several observing friends from our local astronomy club have assured me
that it is possible to see these under light-polluted skies, however,
they generally have much larger instruments. Is it possible to see M51
using the ETX 90 from an urban location?

Fiske Miles
Kansas City
Mike here: It _may_ be possible to see it from your location. Lots of variables, including your experience. M51 will appear as a small fuzzy spot that can be easily overlooked unless your eyes are fully dark-adapted, you have a good eyepiece (low power), and you are looking in the right location.

And an update:

My wife and I went to a dark location near KC last night and had a
splendid evening of star-gazing. I didn't locate M51, but did find M33
and M1. I was particularly proud of the last object, which was quite
difficult to see. The problem under dark skies with M51 is a matter of
positioning. I'm confident I had the object in the finder, but it
doesn't show up in the finder, of course, which means one must patiently
scan the area with a low power eyepiece (x50) to bring the object into
view.

I'm quite skeptical that M51 could be located with this scope from our
neighborhood. The skies are very washed out. Perhaps if one new the
precise location -- had found it under dark skies -- it would be
possible to see some vestige in an urban environment.

I expect various filters might also help -- one would still need to be
quite confident of the position.

Thanks for your reply. I enjoy your website.

Fiske Miles
Kansas City, MO

Subject:	 Dust on mirror
Sent:	Saturday, March 4, 2000 16:54:12
From:	drmoose@uswest.net (moose)
I know this subject has been discussed before, and it has been said that
a little dust won't hurt anything.  But I was wondering what is a normal
amount of dust to expect on the primary mirror for a BRAND NEW scope.
When I look down the tube, I see quite a bit of small specs (like
dozens), and two or three larger hairlike pieces (hard to tell how long,
but I'd estimate 2-3mm long). Is this normal? I would have expected to
see no dust at all. I mean, don't they try to eliminate dust in
assembly, and then it is pretty much sealed, isn't it? Should I try to
blow it out with some canned air? To do this do I just remove the big
black ring at the "top". Or should I return it for another/cleaning?
Thanks for any input.
g kinney
Mike here: I hope you are not shining a flashlight down the tube. If you are, what you are seeing is possibly NOT dust or debris. If you are using normal, available lighting, then you may be seeing some dust but it is probably not significant. Have you detected any artifacts while observing?

Subject:	 Re:  Re:  ETX 90 RA
Sent:	Saturday, March 4, 2000 12:01:40
From:	EIRIKANDDIXIE@webtv.net (Eirik Petersen)
So far, good news.
The Nature Source that I purchsed the scope from has agreed to take care
of the problem. They will have the unit repaired, or if shipping two
directions plus the repair costs are too high, they are going to replace
the unit with a new old stock unit.
Thanks again,
Eirik

Subject:	 Need more than the ETX?
Sent:	Friday, March 3, 2000 20:57:29
From:	bob@shutan.com
For those who want more GOTO-aperture than a 5-inch ETX... Meade has
just reduced LX200 prices! The 8" SCT is now only $2300, the 10" SCT is
only $2700, the 12" SCT is $4000, and the 7" Maksutov is down to $2800.

Sincerely,

Bob Shutan

Subject:	 Re: We're curious about prices
Sent:	Friday, March 3, 2000 18:48:00
From:	agarner@rtmc.net (Amy Woolf Garner)
What price range are the ETX-90EC and the ETX-125EC?
Mike here: ETX-90EC = $595 (US), ETX-125EC = $895 (US)

Subject:	 ETX 90RA vs. Binoculars
Sent:	Friday, March 3, 2000 13:33:50
From:	bobmac@kodak.com (Robert A MacDonald)
As a new comer to astronomy I wonder if anyone has any experience
comparing binoculars with a 90mm telescope like the ETX. I understand
that the lens aperature is directly related to how much light enters the
scope and along with other factors dictates what you can observe. My
question is do you get twice as much light gathering ability with 90mm
binoculars or is it the same as with a 90mm telescope? I know 90mm
binoculars are alot more expensive that a ETX but I have an opportunity
to buy a pair of used 90mm binoculars for about the price of a new ETX.I
see advantages to both and am trying to make a decision. I'm sorry for
asking here but I'm not sure where else to inquire.Thanks for any info,
Bob
Mike here: The light gathering capability of both are the same. With binoculars you get stereo vision (not too useful when looking at distance objects). But can you add different eyepieces to the binoculars? And what about the mount? Does it have a RA tracking drive? There are reasons to use binoculars and there are reasons to use a telescopes. You have to decide HOW you want to use them.

Subject:	 ETX-90 vs. ETX125
Sent:	Friday, March 3, 2000 10:11:20
From:	bartis@lucent.com (Bartis, Robert M (Bob))
I hope this question isn't to low level, but I have been looking into
purchasing a telescope for my daughter, 10 years of age, and hoped you
could help resolve a question in my mind.

To date I have determined through reading various material available
that the ETX90 or ETX125 would be my scope of choice. Although there is
a reasonable price difference my main concern is that of experience. I
want my daughters first experience, and if I'm being honest my own, to
be a good one.

I remember when I was younger and my mother purchased a telescope for me
how disappointed I was at images of even the moon. Although I never
stopped looking up I've never purchased one for myself. My daughter has
indicated a real desire over the years and so I starting seriously
looking into it recently.

Can you provide me with some suggestions on which scope to purchase or
possible some things to consider that might help me make a decision.

Thank you in advance for your help


	Robert M. Bartis
	Lucent Technologies *
	PVG Integration Testing
	Room HO 2B-337
	* 732.949.4565
	* 732.616.1411
  * bartis@lucent.com
Mike here: The short answer is "read through all the feedback pages"! The standard response is there many times over. A longer (but still short) answer is that the best telescope is the one you will actually use. You will find the -90 more portable than the -125. Depending upon your location and seeing conditions AND what you expect to see, you may or may not notice much difference in the visual use of either telescope.

Added later:

Thanks. I've already printed the feedback pages and plan to spend
sometime this weekend reading through them.

Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Friday, March 3, 2000 04:10:55
From:	paulkni@netconnect.com.au (Paul Knight)
I just stumbled on your impressive web page. I have owned and used an
ETX-90RA for a couple of years and have just become aware of the
Autostar setup. Do you know if Meade will sell the new base and drive
gear separately as my optical tube would no doubt fit the fork mount?
Regards,
Paul
Mike here: When the ETX-90EC was first released in January 1999, there was a lot of discussion about an upgrade from the original ETX. There is no upgrade available. Many people have traded-in their old one (Shutan Camera and Video) has a such a program) and others have sold their old ETX (like on eBay).

Subject:	 more on image sizes, focal lengths and t-adapters
Sent:	Thursday, March 2, 2000 22:36:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Quite possibly you know the following, but 'twas new to me:

(1) T-adapters seem to be specifically 35mm beasts.

(2) The standard distance from the front of a camera's T-adapter (where
it bottoms on the Meade threaded tube, for example) to the film plane is
55mm.   For all brands of 35mm cameras.

(3) The meade t-adapter for the ETX90 produces an effective 1250mm f/14
lens with the short tube (with some image vignetting).  Adding the
extension tube brings the FL to 1450 and the lens to f/16, but avoids
the vignetting.  (Vignetting is the cutting off of the edges of an
image)

My eyeball thru the viewfinder tests don't show the vignetting, but my
lights are too dim, or the room contrasts too high, to allow for
definitive statements about that.  We'll see what comes back from the
photo lab. (probably puzzled looks)

(4) for the self-machinists in the audience, the T-threads which screw
into the camera's adapter are: 42mm x 0.75mm pitch T-2 threads.

(5) the field of view is probably:  
  field size = 2*atan (film size / (2* focal length)) * 60
Where film size and focal length are in mm and field size is in
arcminutes.
For the ETX90 that's 1250mm (1450mm with extension tube), 35mm film.
Yielding 96 arcminutes. (or 83 with extension tube)

--dick (dimly)

Subject:	 ETX 90 RA
Sent:	Thursday, March 2, 2000 20:18:22
From:	EIRIKANDDIXIE@webtv.net (Eirik Petersen)
I found you on the web and I have a two part question for you.
I have the ETX 90 RA. I live in Alaska, that I tell you because of the
cold weather climate and the dew that forms on the corrector whenever I
bring the unit back inside from a viewing session.
Now for the question;
Today I noticed the corrector looked as though it had a off center ring
around the secondary mirror. This is looking at the light entrance end
of the telescope. Curiosity took over and I carefully unscrewed the
corrector assembly from the OTA. I did not however take apart the
corrector assembly. What I was seeing was the baffle the surrounds the
secondary on the back (inside) of the corrector had slid down! As though
the glue had loosened or something. There appeared to be a raised ring
(2-3cm?) that acted as a shelf upon which the baffle once sat. There
were streamers of adhesive from the ring to the baffle itself. Nothing
however was actually in contact with the reflective surface of the
secondary. All I did was to slip the baffle back in place and re-attach
the corrector assembly.
What would cause that to happen in the first place?
The adhesive feels like rubber cement, like the baffle was sitting on a
"gooey" base, is this how I should leave it?
What are the chances of the baffle coming completely (gulp) unattached
and dropping on the primary?
Could the dew situation have anything to do with this?
Thanks for any feedback,
Eirik
Mike here: See my "Meade Facility Tour" on the "Just for Fun" page on my ETX. If the photo shows what you are seeing, time to contact Meade for a repair. You really can't do the repair yourself. And no, the dew condensation didn't cause it. Some older model ETX scopes may experience the problem.

Added later:

That is what I am seeing, I will start with the nature Source here in
town. Does this condition cause the seeing quality to decay? Thanks
again for the help.
Mike here: It does but you may not notice it depending upon your seeing conditions and the extent of the slippage.

Subject:	 Stabilization of ETX-Deluxe Field Tripod #883
Sent:	Thursday, March 2, 2000 12:36:44
From:	christian-hanke@t-online.de (Christian Hanke)
Since two month I have the ETX125 and had mostly good experiences (only
software problems).

I like to propose a very simple, cheap and effective method to improve
the stability of the ETX tripod. It is very easy to put adjustable pipe
clamps aruond the upper part of the tripod legs. I really dont know the
correct english expression but I attach a picture of the clamp to
illustrate what I mean. (The tripod on the scanner was really funny!)
Between the clamp an the aluminium legs I put some strong strap to avoid
scratching the legs. With the srews loosened it is very easy to adjust
the legs. Only a few turns with a screwdriver fix the legs perfectly.
The costs are approximately 3 or 3 $.

I hope this fixture may help.

I really apprexiate your ETX page. Keep going on!

Regards

Christian Hanke

Munich, Germany

E-mail: christian-hanke@t-online.de
tripod leg clamp

Subject:	 Re: Need help with ETX RA
Sent:	Thursday, March 2, 2000 12:21:23
From:	lyonsden@value.net (James Lyon)
There is a failure to communicate here.
I have removed the bottom plastic plate but can not figure out how to
get at where the pads are.  Do I somehow loosen the big nut in the
middle of the works inside or what?
Although, I imagine, getting anything from Meade is a problem too.
Mike here: See the Scopetronix "ETX Hints & Tips" page.

Added later:

Thanks. I went there and read what it said. Maybe I am dense, but I
still do not see any instructions about how to get at the pads. When I
took the base plate off my ETX, I couldn't even see any good way to turn
the big nut without a special tool (there is too much "stuff" around it
for me to just jump into taking off the nut. Now, if that nut must be
loosened to get at where the pads are, I would be reasonably happy to
attempt it (maybe there is a crowfoot or some such tool that would work
well. I did try to loosen it by hand, but I couldn't and didn't feel
like REALLY TRYING.
Mike here: Well, I can't speak from experience since my original ETX has never experienced the problem. I'll let those who have done the pad replacement respond.

Subject:	 re: Terrestrial Photography
Sent:	Wednesday, March 1, 2000 21:29:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Harish asked about Terrestrial photography, and Mike answered.

I'd like to add (or subtract) from/to  Mike's answer.

You do not -really- need an image erector. (Harish did ask for "basic")

Through the eyepiece, up is up, but left and right are swapped. But, for
any target not containing Text, who is going to know? If the photo shows
the bird facing left instead of right, it's still a valid photo.

If you -must- have left-is-left, tell the processing lab to print the
picture -backwards-.
(they mount it in the carrier with the emulsion facing -away- from the
paper, instead of towards it).
(here in the USA, That's what the "Special Instructions:" box is for on
the processing envelope.)

It helps make the processor's day, er, "interesting".

There are two ways to shoot pictures:
(Mike's Photography pages go on at length)
(if you read other postings by me, you'll know i do, too)
One way is through the eyepiece.  Focus the Camera at "infinity" and
what you see in the eyepiece is what the camera sees, too.

If your camera does not have a removable lens, you might stop here. But
read on:

But the -best- way (maximum sharpness on film) is through the port at
the back of the scope. For that you should have the Meade "T-adapter"
and a T-adapter for your brand of camera. That turns the telescope into
an effective 1250mm telephoto lens, and the main mirror delivers the
image directly to the film without passing through many layers of glass
in the eyepiece and the camera's lens..

Buying the T-adapter may require two separate trips.. one to the
telescope store for the Meade part (~$50 in the US), one to the camera
store for the camera part (~$16 in the US). If your camera does not have
a removable lens, you might consider buying an old used 35mm SLR (single
lens reflex) camera "body" as a part of the "kit".  For sky photos the
camera can be very simple... you need to be able to hold the shutter
open for long periods. (The Bulb setting).  A "cable release" is a great
help... they usually have a locking mechanism to -hold- the shutter
open, and the cable minimizes vibration by the camera.

Another poster in Europe was trying to machine his own T-adapter on a
lathe at home. I'll send him a note to see how it went...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	 Image size with an ETX90
Sent:	Wednesday, March 1, 2000 20:48:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Andy (but signed "Dan") asked:
> I am looking to do some medium format eclipse photography.
> So I was wondering what the maximum image cirlce is for the
> 90mm and 125mm ETX's. I have not seen such info published anywhere.
>I would be using the scopes at prime focus. Any help along these lines
> would be appreciated.

What a fun question... since i -just- bought the T-adapter for my 35mm
camera, i tried measuring my ETX90's image sizes.

**all following numbers are arm-waves, were done in dim light, and after
a busy day!** (you've been warned)

My setup was simply aiming the scope at a carpenter's square about 15'
from the scope. I then looked at it with my Barlow'd 26mm (effective
13mm). The image i saw (which is -slightly- smaller than the Sun, so
about a half-degree) through the eyepiece spanned two inches on the
ruler. Looking naked-eye through the back port, it looks like five
inches of ruler is visible before being blocked by the collimating tube
or optical path. So about 1.3 degrees total angle. Then i put my 35mm
SLR camera on the Meade T-adapter. The Meade adapter has two tubes...
the short one on the locking ring, and an optional 1.9 inch extension.
The distance from the flat-back of the scope (-not- the top of the back
port's threaded assembly) to the film plane is about 3.5 inches with the
short tube, and about 5.5 inches with both tubes. In my 35mm viewfinder,
i saw (short tube) a 4.75 inches wide, 3 inches tall image. With the
long tube, i saw a 4-inch wide, 2.5 inch tall image. (remember dim
light... measurements aren't too accurate). Assuming an inch is a
quarter degree of arc, that's 0.75 and 0.6 degrees, respectively.

Next time there's Sun in Seattle (May?) i'll take some pictures.

OK, Mike.... you've been complaining about cloudy skies... grab a ruler
and try the above on your new ETX125...

--dick
Mike here: Well, I started to do this then realized that the ratio should probably be roughly the inverse of the focal length ratio: 1900/1250. And the prime focus position should be roughly the same since the same adapter is used.

And:

Theoretically, yes... but it might be vignetted by the baffle tube.

Something i forgot to do (and lighting made it difficult) was to simply
hold a white card (oh, for a ground glass) at the proper distance to see
what the -entire- image size is/was.

The original question concerned "medium format" photography (6 x 7 cm?
maybe?).. and my 35mm didn't -fully- answer that.
Or explicitly... my initial "could see 5 inches" and the short-tube's
"4.5 inches visible along the long axis" kinda equates to about 5 inches
visible diagonally across the frame... hence 35mm is about it. However,
a T-mount may place a 6x7 film plane further from the back of the scope,
giving a larger image.  I donno... i don't have a 6x7 camera.

But at some point the T-adapter's own tube is going to start cropping
the diverging light path.

So, theory's great, but *measuring* tells the sordid truth.
Mike here: Here are similar measurements for the ETX-125EC. I couldn't focus at 15 feet so the measurements were done at approximately 20 feet.

26mm EP W=3.2 inches H=3.2 inches
26mm EP + 2X Barlow Lens W=1.6 inches H=1.6 inches
35mm camera + short tube @ prime focus W=4.3 inches H=2.5 inches
35mm camera + long tube @ prime focus W=4.1 inches H=2.2 inches

All measurements were approximate. Conversions are left as an exercise for the reader.


Subject:	Re: Daytime Use
Sent:	Wednesday, March 1, 2000 10:43:02
From:	MRNevitt@aol.com
My e-mail is in response to an e-mail from David Colton.  The light
gathering capabilities of a telescope don't change with magnification. 
It is totally dependent upon the aperture.  What David is experiencing
is the change in the size of the exit pupil as he changed magnification.
 Exit pupil is determined by aperture/magnification.  If the exit pupil
is as large as your pupil the image will be as bright as the normal
view, but if smaller the brightness is decreased by the ratio of the
exit pupil to that of the eye.  In daytime the human pupil is 2 mm to 3
mm in size, and at night 5 mm to 7 mm in size.  The 7.5 mm eyepiece he
used yielded 0.54 mm of exit pupil, the 12.4 mm yielded 0.9 mm, and the
26 mm yielded 1.875 mm.  Therefore, it is easy to see why the view of
the hawk was the brightest with 26 mm and dimmest with the 7.5 mm.

Mark Nevitt	

Subject:	 Re: Dew Shield - Clear Night Products
Sent:	Wednesday, March 1, 2000 05:40:23
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
now that i'm considering jumping ship to the C models I'm a little
disappointed you won't be doing your supertremendoushumungousscopesite,
but i think you made the right decision - keep it "smaller" (still
pretty monstrous), and keep up the quality - now i'm waiting for your
125 review - now that i no longer have one i ALMOST wish there are bugs
in the 125 so i don't miss mine - i just had no patience after my
follies with the three prior 90s and autostar - i will keep my eyes open
(pun intended) for a cheapie 90EC on e-bay, etc. - i think it was a
great scope and i'm sorry i upgraded to a bulky 125 (and here i am
considering an 8"!!!) - the 90 is the perfect size for portability, and
if i DON'T use the autostar, i'll learn the sky, and avoid hours of
frustration!
warm regards,
gary

Subject:	 re: Maximum Image Circle for ETX's
Sent:	Tuesday, February 29, 2000 22:18:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
This isn't an answer to the exact question, but the April 2000 Sky &
Telescope page 136 has a short article about the effective focal lengths
we get when using the back port of the ETX (and other moving-main-mirror
SCT/MCTs).

They range from 1250 to 1450 mm for the ETX90, and 1900 to 2310 mm for
the ETX 125.

They also provide a bunch of information about how to calculate the
various effects differing T-mount back-set lengths will have.

The article was prompted by the flood of mail they got
complaining/questioning the focal lengths they reported in their
ETX/Nexstar review.

At this moment, the article is not available on their website
(www.skypub.com) although it's mentioned ("Notes on Focal Length") on
their "current issue" page  www.skypub.com/skytel/contents/current.html

--dick

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