Last updated: 31 March 2001

This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Mike here: If you have subscribed to site update notifications be certain you do so from a valid email address. The second time an update notification is rejected by an email address that address will be removed. If you wish to stop receiving notifications, do so from the email address used to initially subscribe. For more information on subscriptions, see the Subscription page.

Subject:	my 125etx
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 19:53:02
From:	hbeng@smartchat.net.au (HB CIVIL)
I'm from the Land Downunder and have just ordered my 125ec and Autostar
from the US (Natural Wonders Store) and expecting delivery just before
Easter. I had a loan of a 90ec with autostar recently and must admit I
was very impressed with it. Apart from some setup problems (Alt/Az) and
some slack in the Altitude axis, I reckon Meade have produced a little
gem!  I've had a couple of scopes in the past and always had an interest
in the stars above and our lovely new neighbours across the road (Just
kidding). I'm also new to your site, and very impressed with the public
interest generated by it. Well Done!  I have read most articles on yhour
site especially the tech reviews etc...... so I suppose I know what I
will be in for when it arrives!  I'II be biting my fingernails until
then and I will contact you again with the news. Until then clear skies!
Nick B from the Land Downunder.   

Subject:	SAC-IV CCD Connectivity
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 14:26:26
From:	awbriggs@pacbell.net (A. W. Briggs 2)
I am new at this ETX125 game. I'm a graphic designer so my computers are
Macs (as I believe yours are.) I had read your review in SHOWCASE
PRODUCTS on the SAC-IV CCD imager. Being a graphics person with
experience in Photoshop, etc., I went for it. For some reason I'm having
connectivity issues. I called and talked to Bill at SAC. He admitted he
wasnt very Mac savvy and unfortunately the instructions that were
provided with the SAC-IV werent either. He suggested I talk to you. Im
attempting to connect a Mac Powerbook G3 that is not USB equipped. I
purchased a Belkin USB adapter card for it and installed its appropriate
software. They both appear compatible. I placed the Mac files that I
found on Bills CD into their respective Extensions and Preferences
folders. It appeared from the PC instructions that Vi-Cam is the camera
driver. I found a vicam_215 installer in the Reel-Eyes folder and
installed it. Im having no success in either accessing the camera either
by Reel-Eyes or Photoshop. When trying through Reel-Eyes it tells me The
Video Digitizer is not responding properly (VIDG software not installed
or it had a Bad Day or maybe just re-starting will fix it). Tried that,
no dice. What would be helpful is if I could have written steps in there
proper order specially for Mac in front of me from a Mac person who was
successful with SAC-IV. What was your experience or procedure? I look
forward to your response... or from others with similar givens. Or if
this gets tricky via email, I would be glad to call you by phone if
youre open to that. Actually, Mike, you seem to be my last resort before
throwing in the towel and sending back the camera.

By the way, some people have had the motorized focuser for the EXT eat
batteries and had to remove them to preserve them. I have found simply
by disconnecting the coiled cord from the controller when not in use
solves the problem.

Al Briggs, awbriggs@pacbell.net
Mike here: I have not tried the SAC on a non-USB Mac. Everything went as expected (and documented) when installing and using on the USB-equipped iBook. I suspect you are having a problem going through the serial-USB converter. If the software can't see the camera through the converter box then you're out of luck. I read that some adapters work for some things and not other things. Sorry I can't be more help; you might try Belkin. Or you could (and probably should) upgrade to a G4 Mac!


Mike, wow are you fast. Thanks for the reply. The only thing I still
question in your response is "and documented." I'll let you know further
if I discover anything else or am finally successful. Thanks again, and
thanks for being the brain trust for all those ETXs out there.
Al Briggs
Mike here: About all I remember at this point is that I didn't do anything abnormal during the SAC software installation. It just did what I expected and worked (except for the bugs I noted in my initial report).

Subject:	Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 13:25:48
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
I hope you don't mind a couple of damn fool questions from a complete
novice. I am now the proud owner of a ETX-125, today is my first night
avec scope and unfortunately London is clouded over. Still - time to
read the manual and bone up in preparation for clearer nights.

My questions is about storage of the scope. When you pack up at night
and e.g. if you are transporting the scope back home in a car do you
normally remove the eyepiece? The only thing securing the lens to the
scope is a small screw - which seems a bit flimsy am I risking damage by
keeping this in in transit?  Ditto for the finder scope. With four
screws keeping it in place the finder scope des seem for secure, but is
it safe in transit. If I understand correctly , shoud I remove the
finderscope I will have to "retrain" it each time which seems a bit long

Would appreciate you advice.


Michael Owen
Mike here: I always remove the eyepiece when transporting (except from living room to backyard). Put the cover back in place or use an empty 35mm film can. If you have a carrying case that can handle the finderscope, leave it on. Same if you don't have one. Always check before use to verify it is still aligned.

Subject:	Auto Focuser
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 08:11:10
From:	jfritz1@home.com (Jeff Fritz)
I'm pleased with my ETX 90 EC but am shocked at the poor quality of the
auto focuser accessory.

First, it has no on off switch, but for some reason it draws power from
the battery even when it's not in use.  It took me a couple of batteries
to figure this out.

I decided to overcome this bizarre problem by simply removing the
battery after each use.  Unfortunately, the battery is so tightly wedged
into the compartment that it is difficult to remove.  In fact, when I
recently struggled to remove it, by the time I got it out I pulled the
two connecting wires right out of the unit with the battery!!!

I took it apart thinking I could solder the leads back on to the circuit
board and was disappointed to see that they weren't previously soldered
but rather were stuck on with some kind of clear goo.

I don't have the receipt but I suppose I can take it back to the
retailer or send it to Meade for a replacement.

Is my experience with the battery drain an abberation?  Or are they all
that way?

Thanks for this great site!

Mike here: The battery drain has been reported before. I don't have the focuser but is it possible to wrap a string or tape around the battery before inserting it? That could be used to help pull the battery out to remove it.

Subject:	electronic focuser
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 06:55:55
From:	adriance@swiftkenya.com (Dave Adriance)
I recently purchased the Meade electronic focuser.  I installed it and ran it 
using the electric focuser hand controller - it's made a tremendous difference. 
 I love it but would really prefer to run it off of the Autostar so that I don't have 
the additional controller to deal with.

However, I can't seem to get it to run off of the Autostar.  I've connected it as 
instructed. I press the Mode key for two seconds and the status screen 
appears.  However, despite pressing the down arrow key four times or the up 
arrow key twice, I don't seem to reach a focuser controller screen.

Any advice?

Thanks and regards,


Dave Adriance
Mike here: See the email "regarding the #1244 electric focuser" from Clay Sherrod further down this Feedback page. (By the way, I found this by searching for "electric focuser".)


Mike, forget about this question!  As I went through an unrelated
technical tip on your site, I came across a picture of Clay Sherrod's
ETX and noticed a cable connected to the Aux slot on the scope.  I
quickly realized that I had been connecting the focuser cable to the
Autostar by mistake.

Thanks anyways!

Subject:	Referals
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 01:30:17
From:	jgemmill@jps.net (John Gemmill)
Just wanted you guys to know Ive had a bunch of people write to me with
questions about my LX90 experiences, having read about my ETX Woes on
Mikes most excellent website.  Ive been touting the LX and referring
them on to the Yahoo! LX90 email group.  So far theyve all written back
later saying theyre sold on the LX  I know I am (and the OPT guys are
gonna be able to put their kids through college from my purchases)!

            -=> J <=-
John Gemmill

Subject:	More on loose baffle
Sent:	Friday, March 30, 2001 18:03:34
From:	jgettis81@earthlink.net (John J. Gettis)
I wrote you and told you of a problem I had with my ETX original ra
model in early February.  I checked out the page you suggested and that
was the problem.  I called Meade sometime later and finally got the
scope to them in early March. I told you that I would write and tell you
what it cost me. $0.00 not even for the return shipping to me!  I talked
to a customer service rep by the name of Andrew and mentioned your site
as the one that had helped me figure out what was wrong with it and he
told me if I had the original box and could prove I was the original
owner that there would probably be not charge for fixing it.  So here I
sit three weeks to the day waiting for dark.  Thanks for your help John

Subject:	RE: a great deal for the 125 focuser...maybe
Sent:	Friday, March 30, 2001 17:58:35
From:	Marc.Bernson@hickam.af.mil (Bernson Marc Capt 15 MDOS/SGOME)
A letter in your general feedback section a few days ago sounds familiar
to me, March 20 subj: Manual Focus Knob for Meade Electric Focuser from
a Ron Silver noted after first installing it he noted 'binding' which
seems to have worked it's way out with loosening the mounting
screw...hmmm.  I'll try that again.
Mike, it's so cool how your page helps so much. 
And BIG thanks to the master Clay, I've completed his Performance
Enhancements and am now really enjoying my ETX125.
Thanks for everything.

Subject:	Meade items for cheap www.naturalwonders.com
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 17:58:56
From:	wesleybarnes@outsourcedatacenter.com (Wesley Barnes)
They have may Meade items for 10 to 50 % off. I just ordered the Meade
hard case for 57.75 the right angle view finder for 28.35. Just a note
to let you know in case you want to let others know.

With the information from your site I was encouraged to get 90 ETX and
controller last November.

Thanks for all the information,


Imaging Systems, Data Warehousing, Data Entry, Media Conversions,
Software,Laser Printing, Overload Services and more.
Visit our affiliate www.e-courierexpress.com
And this:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
(you have to actually get to the item's descriptor page to see
the *real* price)  Free shipping over $100 (i think).

495 Autostar: $44.55
497 Autostar: $67.05

Nexstar-5 $863.05
ETX125/ec  $761.00
ETX90/ec  $428.00
ETX60/at  $242.19

the 10 inch LX200 for $2560.

the 14 inch LX200 for about $3600.

oh, my aching back (and wallet).


(am i glad they don't offer 10" Dobsonians....)

Subject:	Return Telescope to Meade!
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 16:55:51
From:	rodolfo_mier@yahoo.com.mx (Rodolfo Mier)
Today I went out early from work to test my telescope and the Vertical
Axis didn't respond.  I verified that the clamps were tight, tried the
electronic controller, tried the autostar (reset several times), tried
batteries, did the same several times and nothing.  The vertical
movement is DEAD. I definitely will return the telescope to Meade. I
made a phone call to Customer Service but they were out already.
Tomorrow I will call them earlier. I don't think it will be a problem
with the warranty(do you) since the telescope was bought in the U.S.
(Houston) and I have the sale receipt. Any comments on what should I do?
Any comments on what should I tell Meade? How to write the letter
describing the problem?

I'm in a bad mood, I really feel bad right know,
Rodolfo Mier.
Mike here: Bummer. Does the tube move up and down by hand easily? If so, the Right Tube Adapter is broken. It is an easy fix using a part from Meade or you can make a part yourself. There is a tip on the Scopetronix web site (linked from the "ETX Hints, Tips, Projects, & Products" page on the Telescopes Tech Tips page) about doing that as well as some others linked on the Telescopes Tech Tips page.


From:	Clay Sherrod (sherrodc@ipa.net) escribi:
Rodolfo -
boy, you have had some bad luck.  It sounds to me like a wire has come
loose that connects the power to the DEC axis; the wires travel across
the RA (azimuth) gear train (which is a bad idea in the first place) and
frequently get caught up in the azimuth motion and either pull loose or
get tangled into the gears themselves (as in Dick Seymour's case).  If
your latitude (DEC) is actually "dead" then it is definitely a

You should have no trouble with warranty, but how about the store where
you bought it? Can you not complain and ask for  a replacement since you
have had so much trouble with it?  It seems to me that they should make
right on this; you certainly have a valid claim.  Take a copy of this
letter with you (or send to them) and state that you would like a
replacement, that the telescope is faulty through no control of your

Good luck...let us know if we can help....if you can, please check the
wires under the lower base plate (careful removing as the battery wires
are very close when you remove; you must hold the plate in another hand
while looking around to keep from pulling them loose.

Does the Horizontal (azimuth) axis still work?  When you press the
Vertical (altitude) buttons do you HEAR any motor noise at all?  Please
describe in full before you pack it to send and I might be able to tell
you more....

Clay Sherrod
Clay I also think that a wire has come loose.

Answering the questions:
a) The horizontal axis works fine.
b) The when trying to move the vertical axis no even a
   sound of the motors is heard (that's why I think is
   an electronic problem).  Actually when trying to 
   CALIBRATE MOTORS the Autostar displays a message 
   indicating a problem with the motors.
c) The VERTICAL axis can indeed be locked (the 
   telescope can be held at any declination angle)and 
   when unlocked it can be moved easily. 

About claiming to the Discover Channel Store, I MIGHT
have a business trip to Houston in the next months, if
Meade doesn't solves me the problem I will definitely
go to them.  

Thanks for the added information.  It most definitely is a wire that has
come loose; tell Meade that I think it is the wire crossing over the
azimuth gear assembly that goes "UP" into the Declination fork arm; it
likely has just pulled loose from a soldered connection rather than
having been severed by the gear teeth; if the wire had gotten caught up
in the drive mechanism, as does happen, it would have adversely affected
your AZIMUTH movement as well, either something that  you could HEAR, or
merely a stoppage of the azimuth motion also.

The Discovery Store is EXCELLENT about warranty claims and scopes that
suddenly go bad while under warranty....why don't you give them a call
and see if they can send you a replacement or have one waiting upon your
trip to Houston.  I would go ahead and call so they would be AWARE of
the problem even before sending the scope in for repair to Meade....if
you send back, be sure and get a FIRM commitment regarding return time
to you.

Good luck, and call the store; I bet they can help you.  Tell them that
a major wire has disconnected and you would merely like a replacement.

Clay Sherrod
And an update:
From:	rodolfo_mier@yahoo.com.mx (Rodolfo Mier)
I just called the Discovery channel store. 
Employees named Alexandra and Marisela received the
call. I told them the problem with the telescope,
that I have the purchase receipt (dated on July 14,
2000), and I was sincere about me in Monterrey,
I asked merely for an exchange and they told me that
they would talk with their Manager if an exchange is
possible or talk with Meade for a replacement or a
I didn't liked something the employee told me:
"If the telescope is taken out of the country, the
warranty is voided (Mexican thinking), but we'll make
everything that is in our hands to help you (American
Of course this is not stated in the telescope's
warranty nor in the purchase receipt. 
I gave them my phone number and they called me back 
an hour later.
They told me to send them the telescope, and that they
will contact Meade for a replacement or a repair.
Any comments from you?
And from Clay:
Rodolfo, all I know is that they are a reputable company....Meade does
have an international warranty policy that does not cover but a few
international dealers - Discovery Store is not one of them.  I still
think if you push a bit, they will cover it....did you call Meade?  It's
time to be a little aggressive I think.
Right know I'm packing the telescope to have it send on Monday to the
Store.  I will call to Meade so that they are awared of the situation. 
I will push so that the telescope can be exchanged!

Clay do you think I shall sent also the Autostar? (I read Dick's problem
and I'm afraid that know my autostar is damaged also.)  The autostar
seems to work properly (it can be turned on and everything looks right
except when trying to calibrate the motors a message of Motor Failure is

Rodolfo Mier.
And from Clay:
Keep the AutoStar....it did not actually come with the scope so I would
hold onto it.  I do not think  this is an AutoStar problem nor anything
that AutoStar has any reason to go back with....hold onto to it; Meade
has their own AutoStars to test with.
And a further update:
From: Rodolfo Mier (rodolfo_mier@yahoo.com.mx)
Clay, I really appreciate all your support.

I call Meade, a person named Mark received my call and gave me good
attention.  He told me that it was the right decision to call them and
let them know about the problem.  I told him that the telescope will be
sent to the store the next week.  He asked about the kind of telescope I
bought, my name, and the store where I bought it. He told me that one
way or another I will receive a good telescope.  We talked about the
shipping and handling, and told him that I can pick it up at the store
on my next visit to Houston. He told me it's a deal.

This wasn't an advice from Meade but I will include with the telescope a
letter stating the nature of the problem (with the previous e-mails
attached), my name, address, phone, e-mail address. And I will include
the name and extension of this person so that the store is awared that
Meade already knows about my claim.
And final words from Clay:
Great, Rodolfo....sounds like things will be okay.  It is just sad that
you have to wait for your replacement....it will be worth it in the long

How about spending all that "down time" reading up on all the great
posts and advice on Mike's ETX site; it'll make a true "professional ETX
user" out of you!  Really, that is adviseable, and most likely a very
helpful way to pass the time!

Let us know when you get the replacement!
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Even though you are using it in Mexico,
and live in Mexico...

if you walk into a USA store with a product 
purchased there... it is fully covered by the US guarantee.

All that matters is where you, the store and the telescope
are at -that- moment.

I do not think you will have any problem.
If you -do- have a problem, -they- are
the ones making the error.
A telephone call (by you, from the store) to
either someone higher in the store's management,
or to the Meade representative who sells the telescopes
-to- the store, should clear up matters very quickly.

good luck
Thank you all for all your help.  I really appreciate
your feedbacks about the claim letter.  
Now I will dissappear for a while, I will contact you
again as soon as I receive an ETX (I hope soon).
I really appreciate everything you have done for me,
If there's something I can do for you, I'll gladly
help you.

Rodolfo Mier.

Subject:	Re: Advice
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 14:48:10
From:	jester@lcix.net (jester)
Thanks for the reply.  Im not lazy, Im just confused.  I closest "star
party" to me is 52 miles away from home.  So thats out.  I guess I will
just have to keep reading from your site as well as others and learn as
much as I can before I jump in.  I thank you for your time.

Subject:	a great deal for the 125 focuser...maybe
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 13:45:35
From:	Marc.Bernson@hickam.af.mil (Bernson Marc Capt 15 MDOS/SGOME)
So the Nature Company was closing down and I felt obliged to buy
SOMETHING! The focuser was offered at less then 100 bucks and I bought
it.  Installed in no time flat (used my own allen wrench) and took out
on a clear night.  I also note a little image shift but only in the
higher mag powers so not a big complaint. The problem is no matter what
speed I use or whether I use the 9 volt powered focuser paddle or stock
controller or autostar the darn thing comes out of gear and rattles
instead of focusing off and on the entire night! I've tried moving the
gear on the shaft and loosening and tightening the assembly with no
change. Has anyone else had this problem?
Marc in Hawaii

Subject:	used scopes
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 08:52:10
From:	James.D.McCambridge@usa.dupont.com (James D McCambridge)
A comment about a recent post:

I bought my ETX-90EC used from a shop in Canada (Khan Scope Center)
which I found by typing "used telescopes" on Yahoo!.  Use those search
engines! E-Bay *does* have used scopes, but I felt dealing with a
telescope shop was more reliable and faster (and in the end cheaper)
than anything I saw on E-Bay.

Jim McCambridge

Subject:	Mounting Plate
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 08:22:24
From:	ajthurston@bryancave.com (Adam J. Thurston)
To:	Henry8008@home.com
Henry:  I saw your post on Mike Weasner's site.  For what it's worth,
the scopetronix mounting plate does not make mounting the ETX any
easier.  That said, I have one and I like it for organizing the
eyepieces, etc.  To solve the mounting problem, I did a modified version
of Clay Sherrod's set up, directions for which are posted on Mike's site
at http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/tripod_mod5.html

I know you don't consider yourself mechanically inclined, but this is
REALLY easy, and a 10-32 drill/tap set only costs a few bucks.

Briefly, I secured both the scopetronix plate AND the standard Meade
ETX-125 stifferner plate to the tripod head with the thumbscrews and a
couple of nuts.  I then drilled holes through both plates and the tripod
head with the appropriate drill bit for the tap I would be using.  Then
I removed the plates, enlarged the holes through them for thread
clearance, and tapped the holes in the tripod head for flathead 10-32
screws.  Countersink the holes in the Meade stiffener, and then secure
the scopetronix plate and the Meade stiffener plate with stainless
flathead 10-32 screws.  With this setup, the Meade plate serves as an
alighment guide for the three rubber feet on the bottom of the ETX.  It
also improves stability by providing a larger bearing surface,
especially if you add some velcro pads per Sherrod's instructions
(without the Meade plate, the scope rests only on its three rubber feet
atop the scoptronix plate).  Works great.  Setup is a snap.  Remember,
you must be sure the Meade plate is properly oriented BEFORE you start
drilling.  The surest way to do this is to mount the scope with both
plates to the tripod, make sure that scope is in the home position and
that the OTA is pointing over the north leg of the tripod.  Note and
mark the orientation of the plates as you remove the telescope, then
secure them and start drilling.  Good luck, and I hope this helps.

Subject:	Advice
Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 17:17:47
From:	jester@lcix.net (jester)
I was wondering if you gave out advice to someone who is interested in
astrophotography but doesnt know a latitude from a longitude??  I just
sold my Meade LX10 because of this problem.  But Im still drawn to the
photography aspect.  The LX10 was way to much for me to just lug around
let alone understanding any of this star talk.  I need very portable and
light weight, (without a tri-pod would be even better)  yet I want to
take great pics of the Saturn Rings and such.  Oh Ive done the beginners
star trails & moon with my 35mm and a tri pod.  But Im so lost and cant
remember all of your lingo.  After selling the LX10, I was right back on
the web looking at portables, (Meade vs Nextstar).  This is all so Greek
to me, I just cant understand all of this nebulas talk,  I cant even
spell it.. Ha ha..    Now I see something great called an AutoStar, you
just punch in numbers and the telescope finds the planets for you. WOW
now thats for me.

But maybe I should just buy a spotting scope??  Do you see how confused
I am?   Do you think you can take the time to help me or point to the
"Dummies" version for kids?

I truly appreciate anything you can throw my way.   I love your site,
but its a very scary place for someone like me.  I want to read all of
your articles but Im so intimidated.  Not to mention wimpy.

Thanks  way in advance.  Mare

Mike here: Well, as with many hobbies, you have to invest some time to learn the "lingo" as well as some new skills if you want to be an "amateur astronomer". Yes, you can just point a telescope at something and look at it. That's fun and exciting, to a point. But for what you want to do (astrophotography) you really should invest that time. If you don't, you'll still be able to get nice shots of the Moon and perhaps the brighter planets, but that's it. Will a NexStar or ETX/Autostar do a lot of the work of finding objects for you? Yep. But it sounds like you think you want to go beyond that. And you want portability. You'll want a tripod (for stability and perhaps "polar mounting"; oops, there's some lingo that you'll have to learn). If you have an astronomy club near you, I suggest hooking up with them before you make another money investment.

Subject:	Re: Clay's Kochab Clock
Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 16:57:07
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
if the telescope is pointed directly overhead (to set your latitude onto
the DEC circle) in polar position as shown, then when the DEC clamp is
released the top (lens end) of the scope is allowed to drop northward
only in DEC, the scope will end up pointing north with the eyepiece and
find upside down. No motion is necessary in RA if the forks are already
parallel to the ground.

Thanks and good skies!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Stan
> In "Precise Portable Polar Alignment", March 20, 2001, step 3, figure 3
>from the polar home position, then step 4 figure 2, how does the finder
>scope and eyepeice get on the bottom of the OTA if you only move the scope
>in declination? It is not possible to get the scope in this position without
>moving in RA also (180 degrees to be exact). From the polar home position
>the dec stop will not let the OTA move in the direction required to get the
>scope in the position that you show in figure 2, if you only move in

Subject:	Newcomer
Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 10:52:32
From:	mvflores@jps.net (Michael Flores)
First, thanks for a wonderful resource. ( I recently sent an inquiry
about a used ETX-90 I purchased used through Astromart- you informed me
that i cannot use a "go-to).  I am happy with the scope, no problems

My question is: can you recommend a site, or two, where i might find a
deal on a used ETX-90 EC.  I'd be willing to sell the one I have and
upgrade to the go-to model? Yes, I got the cosmic bug!

Again, thanks for your time and effort, Mike Flores
Mike here: Sometimes eBay has used ETX-90EC models. I would recommend checking with Scopetronix and Shutan Camera and Video. They may have recent trade-ins available. Other dealers may also.

Subject:	Can you recommend
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 10:57:59
From:	ajthurston@bryancave.com (Adam J. Thurston)
any good (i.e., DARK) viewing locations in the LA area?  I live in
Pasadena and I'm beginning to feel motivated to test the limits of my
ETX-125.  (I think I read on your site that you are from the So.Cal.
area.)  I was thinking about taking it up to one of the picnic areas
near the Mt. Wilson Observatory, but I haven't really been up there
during the day to see where a good one might be.
--Thanks in advance for any help, and clear skies.

Adam Thurston

P.S.:  By the way, I took your (and Clay Sherrod's) advice and sent my
ETX-125 back to Meade for reassembly and collimation, etc.  It's been at
Meade for three weeks now, and it is very difficlut to get any info from
customer service on the status/ETA.
Mike here: If you have it, see the August 2000 issue of Sky&Telescope, pg 129, for dark sky locations. Otherwise, Lake Pyramid, Mt Pinos, and a few places to the east and south can work. Supposedly, the location for Nightfall (and perhaps the Mighty ETX Star Party) is good. However, my backyard is reasonably dark for most of my purposes (back side of the PV Peninsula) so I tend to stay put.

Subject:	re: Age of scope...
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 08:46:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
ronone's messages (about his focus shaft problems) included mention that
Meade tech support dated his scope by lack of numbers on the box. I had
a similar situation (serial number? what serial number?), but found the
date of manufacture... when i disassembled the scope to attempt
collimation.  It was grease-pencilled on the back of the optical tube,
amongst the painted-tight collimation screws. 4/13/99   if i remember

I am assuming (from this massive sample of one item) that they get dated
by the final collimator person.  So, if other ETX90's get opened that
far, they might also encounter cyptic messages from the past.

--dick (who, believe it or not, chickend out and didn't attempt the
actual collimation)

Subject:	 "Clay's Clock" polar alignment
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 08:22:37
From:	mangum@tstar.net (Murray  and  Jean Mangum)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Funny point of interest you may wish to share with other newbies: 
Originally I polar aligned the scope as the "Clock" stated BUT I did not
place the controls  on the west side but left them on the SE corner (the
normal ALT/AZ) and after great study. and believing that you would not
have the diagram say Dec at 90 degrees if  in fact the Dec arm was on
the other side of the scope, I finally figured out what you were
conveying all along.  And fortunately it seems to have been the right
thing to do.  Incidentally, the result of being 180 degrees off was a
wild slew right toward the ground and around (that will really get your
attention)   and the scope asked to center Sirius while pointing NNW.  I
just powered down and came back into the house--back to the drawing
board--discouraged but not dismayed.

You may sometimes forget or overlook the importance people such as
yourself, Mike, Clay and others like you have on the continuance of "new
starts" such as myself enjoying the hobby and encouraging others to
become interested. However, without all  the technical support but most
importantly, the concern and friendship given by all of you the " new
starts that continue" would be far fewer.

Clear Skies,


Subject:	link
Sent:	Sunday, March 25, 2001 23:46:59
From:	meindert@kuipers.to (Meindert Kuipers)
Thanks for your great site, it has been a real help!
I am currently building my own website, and could not help te put in a
link to the Mighty ETX Site! I hope to find the time to put some real
valuable things there. It is at www.kuipers.to.


Meindert Kuipers
The Netherlands

Subject:	Website Telescope Question 
Sent:	Sunday, March 25, 2001 16:52:28
From:	Adanv1@aol.com
We need some advice from the pros. We're a high school astronomy club
that owns several sizable scopes. We're looking for a couple of
portable, easy to set up and use scopes that could be carried onto a
plane, or maybe sent as luggage in proper cases.

We have in mind something like the ETX 90EC or 125EC, or the NexStar 4
or 5. What we'd like are some comparative evaluations by folks who have
tried both brands.

Is there enough to be gained in going with the larger aperature rather
than the smaller? What about the difference between the NexStar Mak 4 as
opposed to the SCT 5?

We're interested in all the bells and whistles (computer link, goto,
etc.). Any significant difference between Meade and Celestron there?
Also we would appreciate any advice on a dependable supplier that might
cut us a deal on a pair of identical scopes plus accessories, tripods,
cases, etc.

Thanks for any advice along these lines.

Adan Vielma,
Representing The Astronomy Club
Science Academy of South Texas
(a public magnet school in Mercedes, TX--one of the world's poorer
locations for amateur astronomy!)
Mike here: I hope you have posted your inquiry on the sci.astro.amateur newsgroup, as that would get you more good responses (amongst a lot of noise). I've only used compared the NexStar5 to the ETX-125EC. You can see my reports linked from the top of the ETX-125EC Feedback page on my ETX site. A lot of people have used the ETX-90 models for nearly five years with excellent results. It is a fine astronomical instrument for taking on trips (I've taken mine on flights to Indiana and Australia). There are pluses and minuses of a larger aperture. You get more light and there more magnification but you lose some portability and ease of setup with a larger aperture.

Subject:	Wireless Dew heater.
Sent:	Sunday, March 25, 2001 11:26:13
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
I have found out that a product called HotHands makes a pretty good dew
heater. I take one of the small ones and wedge it between my homemade
dew shield and the end of the scope. It keeps the corrector free of dew
and will last nearly all night. Best of all there are no wires to get
tangled. I laid another next to my eyepiece and that stayed dew free as
well. I have not had a problem with my autostar in cold weather, but
people in cooler latitudes could make a pouch and stick it to the back
of their autostars with Velcro and keep the display from freezing. Heck
you could even use them to keep you hands warm.

Wal-mart sell them in their camping section for $2 for a bag of 6, but
any camping store should have something similar.

clear skies
bob rose

Subject:	Hello
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 12:45:58
From:	keninlasvegas@lvcm.com (Ken Pruitt)
Your page is great, and has answered a lot of questions I have, but
maybe I can run a few things past you.

I have been looking into getting a telescope, and a friend of mine said
he had one that I should look at, so I did. He claims he paid $2000.00
of a Meade 8" Deep Space Reflector, on an EQ mount about 6 years ago,
and he is asking $450.00 for it now. The scope looks great, but when I
look around online, it looks like I can but the thing new for $599.99
just about anywhere. Am I looking at the same scope?...has the price
dropped that much in a few years?

Now to the good question. By everything I can tell, I may be wanting the
ETX-125EC. Is this a comparable scope to the one I mentioned above?

I know...what do I want to look at, right? Just stuff, stars, planets,
deep space, you know, STUFF. What I really want to see is the space
station, and the shuttle. I did see them last week cross over my house
in Las Vegas @ 5:03 a.m.. I got up for it. I would love to be able to
take photos of something like that.

I do know that I want to either use my laptop computer, of have
programmable tracking, and GO-TO on whatever I buy.

Anything you can tell me will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Ken Pruitt
Mike here: There are several differences in those two scopes, aperture and focal length being a couple. Certainly an 8" will let you see more details, fainter objects, and use higher magnifications. But you won't have the Autostar like you can with the ETX-125EC. By the way, when you add the price for the Autostar and a good tripod to the price of the ETX-125EC you might want to consider a little more money and get the 8" LX90. Just some thoughts.

And another question:

Thank you for the help. Here's one for you. How about the LX-200. Would
that be a better choice?
Mike here: Depends upon how you define "better choice". Better choice for what? But the LX200 line is a popular line with serious amateur astronomers and the systems are very capable. But they are not as portable as the ETX line. And they cost more.

Subject:	ETX-125EC/LX200
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 04:33:52
From:	stecaro@emirates.net.ae (Stephan CASTRIQUE)
I recently purchased "Starry Night Pro" and I am not able to use ACP
with my LX200. I always get the following message:
"ACP ASCOM Plugin: failed to start Astronomer's Control Panel. Is it
The software of my LX200 is Version 2.50-2.51L (Bought in 1992) Of
course ACP is installed and works well with my Meade ETX-125EC. The
cable between the LX200 and the PC is OK because I am able to control
the LX200 with Meade Epoch2000 software but not with ACP. Is it a
problem with the plugin (plugin for ETX different than the one for the
LX200)? The actual plugin is "lx200snv3.plug" located in the C:\Program
Files\Starry Night Pro\Starry Night Pro Data\Plug-ins directory. I wrote
the same message to Bob Denny but no answer yet.

Thank you for your answer and congratulation for your great site.


Subject:	sorry about the electric focuser problems
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 04:28:27
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	ronone@home.com
Ron - 
It was horrible to read about the problems you are having with the Meade
electric focuser; the problem getting the screw off is common and is in
no way your fault; the little Allen wrench that is put in the sack with
the focuser is apparently made of cheese.  IT SHOULD NEVER BE USED!! 
But how would you know, if that is what they send you??

The same one supplied with the ETX scope is much better and is actually
made of "denser cheese" than the one supplied with the focuser.  Always
use that one for both the focus knob and the RA (AZ) clamp knob, but
still be careful.

What I am actually writing about may not be good news. It is in
reference to your concern about image shift; as Mike advised, some image
shift is normal but you are describing quite a bit.

If too much pressure is applied to the focusing rod, whether it still
remains tight and secure, the rod can easily bend away from the
direction that force is applied; thus if you drilled off the stripped
screw and pushed hard to do so, then you may have well slightly bent the
focusing rod that extends to the primary mirror cell.

I would suggest that you take OFF the electric focuser and examine the
rod as follows:

1) carefully remove focuser and then appropriate gear (careful not to
   strip!) from focus rod; 
2) set a bright light on the RIGHT side of the read cell (if you are
   facing the focuser from the back) and align so that it shines across the
   focus shaft so that the SHAFT WILL CAST A THIN SHADOW onto some flat
   surface on the rear of the scope; if you cannot find an appropriate
   surface, merely tape a piece of GRAPH paper as flatly as possible
   against the back to act as a "screen;"
3) using needle-nose pliers applied at the FRONT end of the shaft,
   slowly rotate the focus shaft (without putting any pressure or torque)
   as far as you possibly can in one motion counterclockwise and WATCH THE
   SHADOW of the slim shaft; (I find that it is best to grab the shaft with
   your hand and plier handles at about a 12:00 position and then rotate to
   about a 6:00 position if possible;
4) rotate the shaft back to its original position again watching the
   shadow all the while.

Do this several times VERY SLOWLY, but fast enough that any direction
shift of the shadow can be detected; using THE GRAPH paper makes
detection of offset very easy against the grid lines.

If your shaft is bent from the pressure, then you will clearly see the
shadow "walk" back-and-forth from one side to the other as the shadow is
cast in a slightly different angle based on the bending.

If you see such shifting (also be sure and do a low power - 26mm is
great) test on the SKY and see how far the image shifts; like Mike said,
a little is to be expected, but even 1/8 of your field is WAY too much!)
then do NOT attempt to fix yourself; that is a job for Meade, and it is
possible that the shift was there BEFORE you even attempted to remove
the focus knob, as it is a common problem.  If it is still under
Warranty, I am sure they will fix for you; you can just send in the
Optical Tube Assembly and keep the fork mount to save shipping.

Check it out and les us know!

Clay Sherrod
Thanks so much for the reply.  You know, if it wasn't for the fact that
I have owned my share of computers and know how frustrating a computer
can be to a novice, I am actually having fun with the ETX 125.  The idea
that a tube with glass and mirrors hinged with plastic and metal gears
linked to a computer is suppose to follow a astronomical object millions
of miles away, flawlessly wasn't my expectation.  In fact, the first
week, I didn't even plug in the Autostar.  My wife , daughter and I just
had fun looking at the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn by pointing the ETX
towards them and moving the motor with the standard controller.  The
main reasons why I decided to buy the ETX 125 was the support and wealth
of info from your site, the idea of spending some evenings outside with
my family looking at the planets and stars, we are able to afford a good
quality telescope - In fact, Natural Wonder's Web price was 30% off of
the $895 retail , I couldn't refuse that??!!  I see they stopped that
and are now back to 10% off of retail.

Now, since my last email to Mike, I contacted Meade the next day
(Monday) and have had a very good conversation with their customer
service rep.  After explaining what happened with the knob and now the
image shifting.  He strongly recommended I send it in to them.  I also
mentioned that there is a delay in the slewing of the telescope (right
and left) after I have tighten the lock knob all the way to the left.  I
know from reading the tech tips that there is a fix for that but why not
have them check it out.  Oh, by the way, the rep knows about this site
very well.  The rep also said to include the Autostar and they will
upgrade the software.  I am not exactly sure what they are planning to
do about the image shift, he mentioned that what I described at 26mm is
a little excessive and they are going to check the collimation.  He also
told me based on the manufacturer and w/o numbers on the side of the
box, my ETX was built in 1999.  This sounds like one of the earlier
one's, correct?

Anyhow, the scope was shipped yesterday and should be there next week. 
I am told to expect it back in 3 weeks.   I will let you know if they
get all of the concerns resolved.  If not, well, you and Mike are there
and so is Meade (at least one year of free repairs).

Thanks again for the detail troubleshooting steps below.  I will be
optimistic and say, I know I won't need them when the telescope is back
because it will work perfectly from this point on (smile)!!!

And a response:
You have done the right thing and I wish you the best, particularly from
your description of how it has become a major source of enjoyment for
your family; I admire your direction very much.

Great idea have Meade go ahead and adjust the RA axis as well, and I
feel sure that they will take out the image shift; you are right, the
1999 model would be an early one and they characteristically were
plagued by horrible image shift.  Getting a good download on the new
A2.4 / v2.1ek firmware on the AutoStar is not a bad deal either.

Relax for the next three weeks and enjoy the updates on Mike's ETX
site....we'll let you know what you're missing!

Clay Sherrod
Mike here: A date of 1999 could be an early model date. Depends upon when in 1999.

Subject:	collimating a Maksutov
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 04:03:01
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	rwillihn@uvic.ca
I just read your inquiry regarding collimating the ETX Maksutov.  Mike's
response is right on target and should be taken seriously about
"consequences."  Attempt to align a Mak is not something for a person
without a complete computer generating alignment table, which Meade does
have and uses with every ETX that goes out the door.

In 32 years I have collimated (and built) telescopes of all types and
sizes and by far the worst to attempt alignment on its the Mak, because
it has only ONE possible alignment mode and THAT is with the primary
mirror; any indications you may have heard or read about being able to
"tweak" the meniscus lens (and hence the secondary which is attached to
it and CANNOT be collimated) are not accurate.

No matter how mechanically inclined you may be, consider the following: 
the Maksutov design, even with its crystal clear images and contrast did
NOT become popular (outside of the light-years ahead Questar) until VERY
recently....why?  Because the technology was not out there en mass to
provide adequate testing and optical alignment necessary for mass

As I have done so many times on Mike's helpful ETX site (and I am a
do-ot-yourselfer), I totally recommend simply detach the OTA from the
fork arms and send to Meade; they have complete optical field alignment
and axial collimators that can do what you cannot do:  dead-center
collimation of a Maksutov.  At my observatory I have an optical bench
that can be used to align ALL telescopes (even Maks).  I have - nor WILL
I - never attempted to collimate any of the Maksutovs on it.

Please consider sending the tube assembly to Meade; if nothing else,
attempting collimation has led MANY ETX (and Questar) users to
experience serious focusing problems, as collimation requires a
redirection of torque on the primary mirror holder (cell) which is
driven by the focuser drive rod.  Likely if you attempt, you will
experience (this has been reported by many) substantial increases in
"image shift" during focusing that you likely DID not have prior to your
attempt at alignment.

Good luck....just wanted to warn you, as I have "...been there, done

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	ETX125 focus problems
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 19:04:22
From:	rwhaley@email.com (Russ Whaley)
I just purchased an ETX125.  I have an ETX60.  The first use of the 125
I find that the focus knob is EXtremely sensitive.  So much so that I
find I have to do the final focus by moving my eye up and down slightly
to focus.  I am using the 26mm eyepiece and a 2X Ultima barlow from
Celestron.  The guy at the store said the Celestron barlow was better
than the Meade #140.  Any opinions on the focusing as well as the Meade
vs. Celestron barlows?  This guy is real high on the Ultima series. 
He's pushing a 35mm Ultima.  It does seem to have nice eye relief, but I
have my heart set on a 8mm-24mm Meade zoon (I think).  The 35-40 will
have to come later.

Also, I noticed when I unpacked my 125 that the two alignment bands (1
around on the declination knob and the other around the base) were
loose.  I was able to tighten the declination knob down to tighten one
(but certainly not align) and the one around the base moves freely.  Is
this normal?

Wonder site Mike.  It's because of your site that I returned to my
childhood love of astronomy.  I feel like a kid again.

Russ Whaley
Mike here: Focusing is sensitive but I wonder about your comment that you move your "eye up and down slightly to focus". The focus should not change as you change you eye position. You may find one of the focusing aids helpful (see Accessories - Miscellaneous and Telescope Tech Tips). If you turn the knob slowly a few degrees and let any vibrations dampen out between touching it, you can achieve perfect focus. The Right Ascension setting circle is supposed to be loose. See the article on Setting Circles use. update link and title of Clay's article.


Thanks for the reply.  One of the best features of your is the quasi
"msg-board."  What I don't like about other msg boards, however, is that
you have to weed through 99% of the stuff (people making noise), just to
get to the good stuff.  Due to your efforts, yours is all good.  I don't
know how many sites can claim that people read the entire site,
word-for-word.  With the quality of your site, you can make that claim. 
I know what kind of effort goes into maintaining sites of this caliber
(I have 3 sites I take care of myself).  Keep up the excellent work!

My wife purchased an ETX60 for my birthday a few weeks ago.  I found
your site, became enamored with the 125 and visited a local store every
day since.  I picked up the 125 on Thursday and it's been cloudy ever
since... although I did get a quick look at Jupiter and 4 moons between
clouds last night.  I live in Ohio... the guy at the store said we can
count on a cloudless night 1 out of 7 days on average.  I'm a pilot also
so I'm pretty clued into weather already... I used to think clouds were
pretty... now they are just in the way. 

I look forward to the setting circles article.

Russ Whaley

Subject:	New ETX User
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 18:39:49
From:	ktimmins@giant.net.au (Kent Timmins)
Hi Mike & everyone else. I've just purchased my fist EXT-90 RA. and
would like some advise on what eyepieces I should add to the existing
26mm supplied as standard.I expect to start with say two extras to begin
with and have already purchased a 2 x Barlow.
Thanks for this informative site, Kent from Ballarat Victoria Australia.
Mike here: There are eyepiece suggestions on the Buyer/New User Tips page; also see the Accessories - Eyepieces page.

Subject:	Re: RA setting circle upside down
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 18:34:27
From:	D_Otten@msn.com (Darrin Otten)
Wow! That was a fast reply, you truly are the man when it comes to the
ETX.  I have attached a jpg file of a close up of the telescope.
RA setting circle
Mike here: Wow! They are indeed upside down! I don't think you have to take the base apart; just pry the end of the setting circle tape apart (carefully; it is glued together) and slowly work it out of the track. Turn it rightside up and carefully work it back into the track. Then make it tight but no so tight that it doesn't slide. Glue the ends back together; the scale should more or less match at the taped end.


Thanks for the advise, I appreciate your time and web site very much.

Subject:	ETX Owner list?
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 15:48:59
From:	stjerome@uswest.net (Jeremy J. Vecoli)
Have you considered adding a state-by-state list for ETX owners who want
to meet with others in their area? I know I am wondering how many people
from MN are regular visitors to your site.  People could list their
name, location, type of scope and email on a voluntary basis. It could
lead to local ETX star parties...

Here's my info for anyone in MN:
Jeremy Vecoli
Mpls, MN
Mike here: Interesting idea. The Pledge Membership page has some of this info.

Subject:	Power supplies for the ETX
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 14:41:30
From:	larry@kruzan.com (Larry Kruzan)
I just received a AC/DC power supply for my ETX-125.  I ordered it from
Jameco Electronics.  Part No. 143722.  It will supply 12VDC at 2 AMP
with the correct connector for our scopes.  I know that the 2 AMP rating
is oversize by a lot but I figure it still is a bargain for $14.95. 
This unit has a 6' AC cord and a 6' DC cord giving a little room for

Larry Kruzan

Subject:	Mir now history :-(
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 00:06:11
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
On 03/22/01 at approximately 21:58 hours PST, I turned on my Autostar,
sadly and hesitantly scrolled to Objects -> Satellite -> Delete -> MIR,
and reluctantly pressed the ENTER key. It will be sorely missed.

Stan Glaser
Mike here: It is sort of like retiring an old car or computer (well, a Mac anyway). Sad to see it go but time to move on.

Subject:	help with the ETX site
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 21:54:58
From:	mdurkin@lodestarinternet.com (Mark Durkin)
I have recently become a regular visitor of your outstanding ETX site. 
I have been so caught up in all of the articles that I neglected to see
that you are trying to raise funds for maintaining the site and
developing new ideas for your site.

I would like to help you in your efforts if my services could ever be
needed.  I am an extreme novice in Astronomy only getting my first scope
around Christmas, (an ETX-90EC of course) so I'm not much help in that
department, but I could possibly help in your endeavor of aiding in site
design and programming.  I am Senior Partner and Managing Director of a
web development firm based in Boston.  I would help in any way I could
to keep your site fresh and possibly make maintenance easier on your end
so you can continue to provide a top notch site in amateur astronomy.

I have gained more knowledge on a subject from your site than any other
site around.  Your information is as accurate as can be and your
contributors are wonderful, providing excellent ideas in improving an
already great product.  I thank you for all of your hard work.  It is
much appreciated.  I also thank all of your contributors.  I hope
someday to be able to assist a novice learn as much as I have from some
of the experts who write on your site.

If there is anything I can do to help either on the consulting end or
the development end, feel free to contact me.  I hope to use my ETX more
now that the weather is getting better here in the East and I'm starting
to  see solid ground beneath all the white stuff.  I want to put all of
this good information and new accessories to use.

Best Regards,

Mark Durkin

Mark Durkin
Managing Director

Lodestar Internet Resources
1160 Boylston Street
Suite 3R
Chestnut Hill, MA  02467

p: 617.734.0100
f:  617.734.9340
m: 617.818.6636

Mike here: The pledges help offset the costs of providing the site and allow me to do some things that I would otherwise probably not do.

Mike here: Weasner's Mighty ETX Site has become a Supporting Member of the International Dark-Sky Association. I encourage everyone to consider supporting their important activities.

Subject:	RA setting circle upside down
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 20:08:31
From:	D_Otten@msn.com (Darrin Otten)
I purchased the RA 90 from Sam's as a Christmas gift for my two boys. 
We have had lots of fun with it since.  I only recently attemted to use
the RA and declination setting circles to locate an object.  I was
puzzled that the RA setting circle always tells me to rotate the
telescope in what I believed to be the wrong direction.  After closer
examination I noticed that the RA band around the scope was upside down.
It looks like a simple thing to fix, but I want to be sure before I
disassemble the thing.  Murphys Law tends to strike when I least expect
it.  Am I correct that if I remove the bottom plate, then unscrew the
one screw in the middle, that I can seperate the scope and turn the
setting circle around?
Thanks for the fantastic web site!
Darrin Otten
Mike here: Are you sure there aren't TWO sets of numbers on the RA setting circle? There should be. You use the one appropriate to your hemisphere (as you move the ETX OTA (optical tube assembly) to the east the numbers should increase.

Subject:	Polar Alignment
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 13:13:13
From:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)
I downloaded and read, a few times, P. Clay's Precise Polar Alignment
procedure.  This is the first one that I was able to follow and to
understand.  It has allot of information and helpful illustrations. 
Thanks allot.

David Rosenthal
Software Engineering Manager
Senior Systems Engineer
15 Thornton Road,
Oakland, NJ  07436-3115

    voice:  (201) 651-1111
      fax:  (201) 651-1794
    email:  David.Rosenthal@IE-Ate.com
web pages:  www.ie-ATE.com

Subject:	ETX 90 Eyepieces
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 11:38:05
From:	lvwhitlow@kerrlake.com
I was wondering if you knew anything about the Super Plossl Eyepieces
from GTO? They are sold at Hands On Optics. Here is a link to there
site. I was told they have a 10 Day money back return if you don't like
them for any reason. I just bought a ETX 90RA and need a few eyepieces.
Would you post or answer this question. I really have enjoyed your site
and use it often.
Thanks Vance

Mike here: Have you searched the site for "GTO"? There are some user comments on the pages that come up from the search.

Subject:	The Question?
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 05:51:32
From:	mcgrath3@mindspring.com (Thomas McGrath III)
I really have needed your site to learn as much as possible about
telescopes and CCDs I wish there were more sites like this for all the
rest of my hobbies!!!

I have Three Macintosh Computers (G4 Titanium usb/firewire, PB1400 w/G3
Sonnet serial, PowerMac8600 w/Serial,and USB,Firewire cards) the 8600
has two video in/out cards which I have 4 wireless color cameras from
X-10 and 1 b&w quickcam plus two monitors hooked up to it.

I also have a Meade ETX90ec w/autostar and found the new cables (soon to
order) at scopetronix and am looking for  the adapters to 8pin, usb,
firewire etc.?

For software I have looked at Observer, SkyChart III, Voyager III, and
Starry Night Backyard. I liked Starry Night and Voyager for their
interfaces and ease of use at first look. Starry Night said they have no
support for my ETX. Observer is supposed to work smoothly with the etx.
I think Skychart is supposed to also work with the ETX.

Also is cabling an issue ie. usb, firewire, serial mac, rs232, etc.... I
plan on trying out my palm rs232 to mac serial cable with the rs232 for
the telescope.

I have a straight forward question and need a straight forward answer.
Which is the best software for all of my Macintoshes for a relative
beginner with control of my ETX90ec telescope being the most important

Thomas J McGrath III
807 Killarney Dr.
Pgh, PA 15234
Mike here: See the Software Feedback page about a plug-in that works with the Mac version of Starry Night. As to adapters, I'm still waiting for Keyspan to send me one (they promised to do that). Their USB-serial is probably your best choice. It will be nice when the Autostar gets upgraded, if ever, to support more modern architectures like USB and FireWire.

Subject:	Polar or Alt-Azimuth?
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 00:19:27
From:	Michael.Teige@webvangroup.com (Teige, Michael)
The ETX-90EC paperwork & Autostar seem to lean away from polar
alignment. I see on your site that many of the hard-core folks prefer
polar. What's the main difference between the two? I am a simple
backyard observer with the occasional trek to the nearest mountain pass
on warm clear nights. I do no photography and do not track objects for
hours on end nor do I do any comet or asteroid hunting. Should I bother
with the added complexity of polar?


Michael Teige
WebVan Group Inc.
TOC (Kirkland)
Mike here: Many people prefer AltAz for its simplicity. Tripod mountings are typically more stable with the center of gravity of the scope directly over the center of support of the tripod. However, some users have reported better Autostar performance in Polar. I use the ETX-125EC in AltAz and my ETX-90RA in Polar. Depending upon what you are observing and the position in the sky, one or other mode may work better in regards to clearance of various parts of the scope with respect to the base.

Subject:	 Clay's Pier and the Meade 887
Sent:	Wednesday, March 21, 2001 21:09:23
From:	marbla@naisp.net (Blais Klucznik)
I noticed a very recent  comment pertaining to the matter of trying to
stabilize the Meade 883 "Deluxe' Field Tripod.  As a proud? owner of the
883 I simply think that this tripod is simply not designed for the 125
and the best thing one can do with, once purchased, is to convert it to
a stand for an outdoor vase of flowers or something similar.

I read Clay's description of his pier and am in the process of
constructing one based on his article.  I also read his comments on the
Meade 887 tripod and although I hated to spend more cash on the 887 I
bit the bullet and am extremely satisfied with it.  There is a world of
difference between the 887 and what Meade calls their Deluxe Field
Tripod better know as the 883.

I do not often comment on these matters because I am aware of the
subjectiveness of anyone's personal comment on an item.  Yet, if my
message can have any influence on readers, I strongly suggest DO NOT
purchase the 883 for the 125.  Delay the purchase if you must but save
for the 887.  I do not think you will be disappointed with it.

As an aside, my wife wants me to take her to the gardening center.  She
claims to be able to use the 883 as a pot holder.


Subject:	About your update.....
Sent:	Wednesday, March 21, 2001 10:09:08
From:	beruberu@freesurf.ch (Philippe HAAKE)
Like always I would like to thank you for your GREAT site....

I have a proposal...

Would it be possible for your, every times you update your site, to live
your annotation "End of today's update" in the old update. Even better
would be "End of today's update" with the date. Why? Because if you
don't have time to read all the update you make before the new one... it
is quite difficult to know up where you have to go....to read the old
one....  I'm not sure I make my mind clear... if not just tell it me...

Thanks if you can do it.....So we'll not loose anything in future...

Read you soon..

Best greetings from Switzerland. 

Best Greetings From SWITZERLAND
ICQ 3128404
Mike here: Good idea. I've implemented it with today's site update.

Subject:	Collimation
Sent:	Wednesday, March 21, 2001 09:28:52
From:	rwillihn@uvic.ca (Robert Willihnganz)
Hi, Your site is great! I have gotten a lot of useful information and
help off of it. Question: I believe my EXT 90/EC is not collimated
correctly. I wasn't able to find any info on how to do it on the site.
Is that because it is too tricky? I have a fair amount of mechanical
ability and have collimated my Newtonin sucessfully. Can you or one of
your many site users help me out? Any suggestions or advice (including
"Take it back to Meade.") would be appreciated. Regards.
Dr. Bob Willihnganz
(250) 592-7798
Mike here: Actually, there is a collimation tip on the Telescope Tech Tips page (where it belongs). See "Collimating an ETX Mak". Also see "Collimation Test" on the same page. However, it is not something to be undertaken unless you are prepared to accept that you might make things worse than they are.

Subject:	EXT 90 EC Manual??
Sent:	Wednesday, March 21, 2001 07:22:34
From:	Seanhite1@aol.com
i purchased an ext 90 ec and was wondering if there was an online manual
somewhere. i want to read up on it a little before it arrives. any help
is appreciated. thanks, sean.
Mike here: Meade has several manuals online on their web site: http://www.meade.com/manuals/index.html.

Subject:	etx90ec
Sent:	Wednesday, March 21, 2001 02:54:29
From:	davekelleyuk@hotmail.com (david kelley)
i love the site, i am very excited about getting one of these lovely
scopes. I can't beleive the price of the tripod, could i use a camera
tripod, is the table top tripod really any use?

its a lot of money for a 3 1/2 inch scope, and adding a tripod really
gets a bit much.  i need something i can hide in the cupboard away from
my two year old son who breaks things and i want motor drive, is there
any better alternative, perhaps with tripod included?

i realise you are a very busy man, i would really appreciate if you
could help.

Mike here: I used the tabletop tripod legs on my original ETX for a long time. It works for some purposes. As to other tripods, yes, you can mount the ETX-90EC on a camera tripod. But as I've noted before, you will want a heavy duty one and will want an adapter plate. Otherwise, you will have stability and vibration problems.

Subject:	Meade products in Europe
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 23:52:33
From:	SchafeWe@ch.sibt.com (Schfer Werner)
I'm from Switzerland (so please excuse possible faults in my English -
it's not my mothertongue) and I'm trying to buy an ETX 90 EC. The
problem is, that it's very difficult to get one here in Europe. At first
there only very few shops who are selling Meade products and and at
second the prices are 3 times as prices in USA !!!

My questionis now: do you think it would be a good way to buy an ETX via
a friend of mine in the USA. Do you know something about possible
problems ?

Thank you and clear skies.

Werner Schaefer
Mike here: There could be problems if your scope needed warranty work.

Subject:	Re: Dick's system
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 21:48:12
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
> I haven't heard how your refurbished (refried?) Autostar is working.
Peachy keen.... the guts were completely replaced, but the outside
(with a large velcro pad) was retained.
And, in honor of this message, i finally pulled the bottom off,
and looked at the cut wires themselves...
Meade put heat-shrink on -3- of the 4 wires (so this is evidently
the same wire set that had been damaged).
I'm glad i looked, because now the RA clutch disk was abrading a
-different- spot on the wires.  I'll add some black electrical tape.

> I know you were kind of high and dry during the 2.4/2.3Ek release.
"safely isolated"?  "frustrated"? yep.

> Any new revelations?
My first attempt yielded a near-perfect satellite tracking tonight...
40 measured seconds of the ETX keeping it within a 13mm's hald-degree
field of view all by its lonesome... no key pressing required.
But... during the 5 minute pass, the patented Seattle Instant
Overcast (tm) arrived.  So much for pre-loading 6 sets of current TLEs.

have fun.

Subject:	Re: Hat Island
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 21:42:12
From:	Kplblange@aol.com
IN 1953 when I worked there, the Island was known as Chinaman's Hat.
Guess this is not politically correct any more. You folks have an
interesting web site.

Ken Lange

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 Electric Focuser Installation Stripped Screw
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 20:53:14
From:	ronone@home.com (Ron Millstein)

Wow!  Thanks for the fast reply.

I definitely know I stripped the screw.  Okay, it sounds like a straight
forward process of drilling out the screw.  I do have the tools to do
that, but is the screw only pressing on the focusing rod or does it
actually go into the rod.  Any suggestions here?

If you were me, would you try this yourself our contact Meade to see
what they suggest?
Mike here: The setscrew only touches the rod. If you feel you can handle it, go for it. Otherwise contact Meade. Let me know what you decide and the results.

And this result:

Well, after 35 minutes the knob is off!!!  I decided to go after
drilling out the setscrew and it worked.  Of course, I will need to
contact Meade to order myself another Knob (smile).  The rod suffered
little damage from the drilling and everything works just fine.

Thanks so much for your fast reply and for the accurate information
about the setscrew.

And an update:
I think I spoke to soon about everything is fine.  I looked through the
telescope just now and noticed when I focus with the knob (which still
works), the image moves left and right slightly when I get close to
focus. I also can't be sure but I think the image is not as shape as it
was prior to my evening project.  Is the shifting normal?  If not, looks
like I may have caused the problem.  Perhaps Meade is going to get the
telescope after all.

What do you think?

Mike here: Some image shift is normal but it is should be small. Certainly not across half the field of view of the 26mm eyepiece.

And more:

Let me clarify that my viewing was limited to street lamps last night
and this morning, I checked the image again.  It doesn't shift across
half the field of view in a 26mm, just slightly.  I  also purchased a
Meade 8-24mm with the electric focuser and noticed at 8mm the image
wasn't as shape at 24mm. (daytime street light). Perhaps I am looking
for problems and imagining that the sharpness has changed after my
project.  Since I don't have any experience at 8mm, I just assumed that
my project last night caused some damage.  The focusing rod is solid
(doesn't wiggle) and appears to turn smoothly, can't feel anything
wrong.  I need to wait for a clear night to see how the planets look.

I will let you know.  Thanks for everything.  Ron

Subject:	ETX 125 Electric Focuser Installation Stripped Screw
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 20:22:41
From:	ronone@home.com (Ron Millstein)
I hope to avoid sending my 1 week old ETX 125 back to Meade for this
repair.  But, I just bought a Meade Electric Focuser and started to
install it tonight only to find that the supplied small hex wrench I
used to remove the screw on the focus knob started to strip the screw. 
I immediately stopped and tried another wrench I own.  Well, that
started to strip it more.  After examining the screw, I can tell that it
is almost round inside and I am so frustrated.  I didn't do anything
wrong!!!  I can only suspect that the screw was tighten down to much or
the metal is too soft.

So, any creative ideas up our sleves?  I though about trying to make
some cuts in the screw to allow me to fit a small flat head screw driver
but I know I will probably damage something and will still have to send
it back to Meade.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

thanks...Ron (Seattle)
Mike here: There have been reports of users not putting the hex wrench ALL THE WAY inside the setscrew and so thinking they have stripped the setscrew. However, one other person did have to drill the setscrew out.

Subject:	Quick and dirty replacement for lost eyepiece screw on ETC-90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 20:11:36
From:	Michael.Teige@webvangroup.com (Teige, Michael)
I recently read the plight of a user on your site who lost the screw
that holds down the eyepiece on the ETX-90EC. Having just recently lost
it myself I was hit with a flash of inspiration for a replacement. I was
unscrewing a serial mouse from an old computer here at work and one of
the screw posts came off with the mouse. I was about to replace it when
it struck me how similar the post was to the lost eyepiece screw. I
pocketed the post and lo and behold it fits the scope perfectly. It may
not be the best replacement (as it's a little harsh on the fingers due
to it's hex shaped head) but in a pinch it comes in handy and will save
you a trip to the hardware store. I'm sure everyone out there reading
this can liberate one of those screw posts from the back of their
computers without causing the unit too much grief.

-Michael Teige
 Monroe WA

Subject:	Celestron vs Meade
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 16:28:37
From:	dturner@sgidal.dallas.sgi.com (Dan Turner)
Thanks for the great site! (you never tire of that, do ya!)

I'm a novice owner of the ETX-90EC and a friend has now decided to
purchase a telescope. Our local dealer has discontinued the Meade line
and my buddy is looking at the Celestron NexStar 5.

Is there a comparison source of the 2 that you could recommend? I'm not
smart enuff yet to guide his buying strategy. The two seem very similar,
but thats from my vantage point...

I love the tribute to your brother Paul. Ya done good! As did he.

Thanks for your time,

Mike here: As to a NexStar comparison, see the links at the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.



That sir, was precisely what we needed. The comparison was a bit buried.
Maybe you could levitate it a bit under a "comparison" heading on your
home page? Like, you have time...?

You sir, are phenomenal! As they say here in Texas...Get A Job!

Subject:	ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 12:28:40
From:	manedge@btinternet.com (W Edge)
I hope you can help me with some advice.

I need a tripod for my ETX-90 but they are horrendously expensive from
the (very few) retailers I have found around here. I have been quoted
200.00+ but I feel sure (or hope) that they may be cheaper elsewhere.
Alternatively, I would not mind a second-hand one if I knew where to
look for it!

Similarly, I want to buy an Ultra Wide Angle lens to give me a wide
field of view with the best possible magnification and believe that the
Series 4000 6.7 mm is the best for this purpose. the problem is the same
as with the tripod however, expensive locally and I'm hoping for a
similar solution.

Can you give me some idea if there are any suppliers where I can get a
better deal or how I could communicate with enthusiasts that could help?

Thank you in anticipation.

Bill Edge
Mike here: Keep in mind that cheap mounts may be unstable and prone to vibrations which can ruin the views through your telescope. If you are so inclined, you can make your own tripod. See the descriptions on the Telescope Tech Tips page. As to eyepieces, see the various reports on the Accessories - Eyepieces page; you may get some ideas on alternatives.

Subject:	Manual Focus Knob for Meade Electric Focuser
Sent:	Tuesday, March 20, 2001 00:17:45
From:	ronsilver@erols.com (Ron Silver)
I recently purchased Meade's electric Focuser for my ETX-125.  I
installed it per directions, and it operated correctly, except that it
originally was "binding" unless I attached it with very little torque
with it's single mounting screw.  It operates well now.  Only complaint
is that I wish it's "slowest" focusing speeds (1, 2, 3) were "slower".

I too use my ETX for Terrestrial viewing  [similar to Michael Wrobel
(mikewrobel@oh.verio.com) ].  Before attaching the electric focuser, for
terrestrial (quicker) viewing I usually focused, and moved (aimed) the
ETX manually, with the power "off".  I can not do that now because the
electric focuser has no "manual focus knob" sticking out the back!

I have thought of connecting an extension-shaft to the new brass-gear
which is now added to the original focus-shaft, and extending the new
shaft through the back of the new electric-focuser-case, and attaching
the original focus knob to it.

- Has anyone tried this yet ?
- Might there be a "torque" problem from trying to turn the focus shaft,
  and focus motor manually via it's high-ratio gearing ?

Interested in your, and reader's thought & experiences.

Thanks for running the best of ETX websites,

Ron Silver,  (ronsilver@erols.com) 

Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 11:37:29
From:	norm2@btinternet.com (Graeme Harrison)
As a keen amateur astronomer and ETX user, I'd firstly like to
congratulate you on your excellent website. It has provided me with a
tremendous source of useful tips and suggestions over the last few

I am putting together a book on astronomy and have serialised a few
chapters from it on to my own website at www.norm2.btinternet.co.uk.
Please feel free to peruse the site. The book is aimed more at the
beginner's end of astronomy but I hope my website gives a flavour of my
passion for astronomy. I am currently attempting to publicise my site on
the web which is proving a difficulty, and I was wondering whether you'd
consider adding it to the links on your site? I hope to have it
publicised sufficiently within the next couple of months but you could
really help me out in the meantime.

Once again, excellent work on your site which is a 'must see' for any
ETX user.

Best regards
Graeme Harrison 

Subject:	JMI Megapod, Planetarium 2.0 for Palm
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 05:53:49
From:	mike-hadley@att.net
To:	rick@pinefields.com (RIck)
>Now if they do NexStar, too... [g] 

Actually there is a NextStar plug-in for Planetarium. Go to
http://www.aho.ch/pilotplanets/ and click on "Download" on the menu
at the left and scroll down to "Telescope plug-ins".

>*seems* to tilt the scope (ETX or NS) back past the center of the
>tripod, putting a lot of weight on one leg and taking it off the other
>two.  All in all, this sounds like a receipe for giving the system the
>shakes.  For comparison, the Meade tripod does much the same thing in
>it's equitorial mount mode.  Comments?

On the Megapod, the wedge actually tips so that the scope points between
two legs. Although this is not what I expected (seems natural to have a
leg pointing North), I like this arrangement better since I normally
view to the South and can stand between the legs (on the North side) and
don't have to straddle one now.  It does move the weight off-center but
the tripod is so sturdy that it is not at all unstable and has no
noticeable affect on vibration  relative to the Alt/Az position (I tried
it that way first).  One downside to the Megapod that I forgot to
mention is that you can't rotate the head in Az.  You have to rotate the
whole tripod.  It is really the only thing that I have found that I
don't like about it.  I don't know if this is the case if you just by
the JMI Wedge.

Mike H.
From:	rick@pinefields.com (Richard B. Emerson)
Between the legs?  Even odder.  Oh, well, given Celestron doesn't seem
to be producing a wedge for the NexStar 5/8 series (they seem to be
relying on a new tripod with a tiltable top which is ...ah... less than
desirable) I guess it's either DIY or JMI.


Subject:	DC power requirements for ETX 90 EC
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 04:44:25
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	kglasson@one.net.au
Your ETX 90 will actually work better, unfortunately, on the best unit
you can invest in regarding DC power.  I have experimented with both AC
and DC requirements; for example, your scope will definitely run better
off your car battery or an external 12V DC power station than off the
internal batteries; the slewing, GO TO, speed, everything will be
improved.  Also, when the power drops too low there appears to be some
failures in memory by the AutoStar when attempting to access objects.

Even using AC I have found a big difference in power sources:  my Meade
#541 AC/DC adapter puts out about 15.2V and does a great job with my ETX
125; on the other hand, I have a small Magnovox adjustable-voltage unit
that can ONLY put out a max of 10.7 volts, even though it "says" 12V DC.
 This unit gives me all kinds of problems with my scope, particularly in
GO TO's and very slow slewing speeds.  Sometimes it actually seems to
cause the AutoStar to "forget" information.  I have given up on that
unit, with a cost difference of only $17 U.S. in the better Meade unit.

I prefer "too much" over too little regarding amps; you need to be only
concerned about a total requirement of less than 900 mA with the ETX 90
when fully operational; thus almost all units will work; any one
designed for laptop computer use is a good choice; I would be sure to
find one that has a line fuse however as some are not reliable for
so-expensive of an instrument.

The DC car plug is standard and you can get one with a coiled cord and
matching (use the WHITE END) plug at radio shack for little money; you
should take in either a plug you already know fits or take the scope in
with you to find the right size.

Polarity:  center plug is positive for all application on the ETX 90.

Good luck, but please don't "under-invest" on this one.  Sometimes it
pays to spend a little more!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX125EC
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 01:48:47
From:	pete.williams@selvinfluidpower.com (Pete Williams)
Having just last week purchased the Meade EXT125EC telescope along with
the "Autostar" control with the wedge mount, i seem to be having
problems in setting it up correctly. I have spoken to the Meade retail
outlet in Aldermaston, Berkshire U.K. where the goods were purchased
last week to little avail, the gentleman there did not seem to know to
much about this specific scope. After finding your website i couldn't
believe how informative and helpfull it is, but looking at some of the
FAQ's, there seems to be different ways of doing the same thing, which
is confusing for newcomers like myself. I just need a few questions
answered an hope that you are able to help ? I know little, if none, of
the technical speak, so i would very much appreciate answers for idiots
please, Ie. not in declination or alt / az Etc. please tell me in north
or south & up & down if possible, you can see that i'm very new to this.
I Live about 25 miles due West of London, U.K.

1). Please find attached a drawing of what i  percieve to be the
telescopes "home" position, could you please confirm this is correct.

2).When i select the Polaris from the "goto" feature on the autostar,
the scope slews vertically upward and points to the pole star, it does
not slew any other direction which i presume is correct as it is very
close to the pole star. All well & good.

3). I then select "Saturn" and it then slews on both axies, and then one
or two things happen, a) it hits a stop usually on the east / west
direction, or b) it finds Saturn and after a few seconds of tracking it,
i get a motor fault message on the autostar controller ? and i then have
to re-set it.

So in a nutshell, what i would like is an "idiots" explanation of the
initial setup procedure, and whether i am doing anything wrong, or is
there a fault within the controller / telescope ?

Thank you for you help.


Pete "frustrated" Williams

e-mai:- pete.williams@selvinfluidpower.com
or. p.m.williams@btinternet.com
photo Mike here: In the Feedback for February 2001 (in the Feedback Archives) there is a photo from Eduardo Memub. The photo on the right shows the proper Polar Home Position. With the wedge set for your latitude, the fork arms should be pointed towards Polaris in the Northern sky. In your drawing you have the tube level rather than at 90 degrees declination (parallel to the fork arms). The other thing you need to do is to rotate the telescope on its base to the stop and then back to the North. See the Polar Alignment Tips on the Autostar Information page for more. It is a simple process once you get used to it. I suspect you have not done the rotation before beginning the alignment process and that is why the scope is reaching the stops.

Subject:	Re: Polar aligning
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 23:00:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)

> Second set the tripod's elevation to 41 degrees leaving the barrel
> where it is.
> Third, point the scope north, with a compass, by adjusting the az of
>  the tripod, not the scope.
> Now I assume I am polar aligned.
No... no yet...

> Do I need to swing the barrel parallel to the forks after setting the
> tripod's elevation angle to 41 degrees?  I have not been doing that.  
> Maybe thats the problem?

Yes, that's the problem.  Your "third" above should be followed by:
fourth: lift barrel to point at Polaris (90 degrees on its Dec scale).

..and even -that's a little wrong..  you should point the barrel
at the "north celestial pole", which is 3/4ths of a degree away
from Polaris.

But the first step of a Polar One Star align is that the telescope
will spin the Az/RA axis, and then ask you to center... Polaris!
But -only by adjusting your tripod-, NOT by using the keypad.
Then (after you do so, and press [enter]), it'll swing to  that
"one star" to finish the job.

better luck

Subject:	Claasy award
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 22:26:52
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
Congratulations Mike,

If there ever was a personal web site that deserved the accolades it is
yours. You and your elves have brought more satisfaction to more amateur
astronomers than any web site in the world. I don't write as much as I
first did, because everything a person needs to know is locked away on
your site.

I remember a year ago I was trying to describe the merits of the Meade
#887 Heavy Duty Tripod, and I know there were many blank stares. And
wouldn't you know but Clay Sherrod just recently gave his rave reviews
on this piece of equipment. Between you,Clay and Richard I don't need
any more help. I wish I did because it was fun to converse with you and
get smarter on the ETX, but you truly have a handle on the subject.

Don't get me wrong, us old A-7 drivers are unique and way ahead of the
curve when it came to avionics in a single seat,single engine fighter.
It took years for the F-15 and F-16 communities to incorporate a moving
map display. They were all waiting to go digital,as well as the F-117A.
Oh well, what's 20yrs. down the tubes?

Again, thanks for the help for me and all the other peons out there.
Without this site,Meade would probably be a non-player in today's
market. They really should be paying you homage, or big bucks for the
service. You really are a true emissary of the product. Keep up the fine
work and check 6!

Tony (Silver) Bulat

Subject:	#3200 Filter Set
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 21:22:42
From:	kjm96@attglobal.net (Ken Martin)
I purchased the #3200 Lunar and Planetary Color Filter Set for my
ETX-70. I see many references to "numbered" filters, like #58 Green or
#12 Yellow. Do the filters in this Meade set have specific numbers?
There is nothing in the Meade literature or catalogs indicating this.
Mike here: Are there numbers along the ring of the filter?


No ... on each of the 4 filters it just reads: "MEADE Lunar & Planetary

Mike here: Can you come close to matching the colors with the color filters on the Accessories - Filters page or perhaps the filter descriptions on Orion Telescopes & Binoculars web site?

And this:

I guess my filters are about the same as the Orion Color Planetary
Filter Sets on the telescope.com web site. Mine are (as described by
Meade) light blue (actually looks like royal blue), light yellow, light
red (actually looks like orange), and neutral (actually looks like very
light gray). Anyway, as my initial question asked, I'm just wondering if
these basic Meade filters correspond to the often noted color filter
numbers I've seen in some posts (like #58 green, or whatever). Perhaps
this is a question Clay Sherrod would have an answer to?
Mike here: I would suspect that they are the standard filter colors and numbers. The numbers shown on Orion's site are probably what you have.

Subject:	JMI Megapod
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 07:08:04
From:	rick@pinefields.com (Richard B. Emerson)
Mike Hadey writes (on the Accessories - Tripods page):
 > I promised feedback on my new JMI Magapod.  I like it.  Very easy to set up
 > and use, very sturdy, vibrations damp out very quickly. I like the eyepiece
 > holder with room to stick the Autostar on using Velcro.  Well worth it in my
 > opinion. I have been trying to use a modified quickcam express to try my
 > hand at photo capture.  With the ETX-90 the resulting image has a huge
 > magnification factor and is thus subject to even the smallest amount of
 > vibration.  The Megapod has really improved this.

I've looked at the JMI wedge in connection with the NexStar. (Celestron
is, according to Jordan Blessing at ScopeTronix, heavily backordered and
not delivering) I'm bothered by the fact that it *seems* to tilt the
scope (ETX or NS) back past the center of the tripod, putting a lot of
weight on one leg and taking it off the other two.  All in all, this
sounds like a receipe for giving the system the shakes.  For comparison,
the Meade tripod does much the same thing in it's equitorial mount mode.


Subject:	ETX hardcase
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 01:47:12
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
First of all congratulations on a great site . I'm new to the world of
the ETX and I've been able to glean a wealth of information from your

I have a question about a hardcase mentioned on your site. Do you know
if the Shutan Camera and Video delux hardcase at 21.7" x 13.5" x 9" is
big enough for the ETX 125. It look like a good case but I wasn't sure
whether the reviewer had the ETX 90 or ETX 125 in mind.

Thanks alot


Michael Owen
Mike here: As noted at the top of the Accessories - Cases page, many of the reviews pre-date the ETX-125EC, ETX-60AT, and ETX-70AT. Checking the date on the Shutan case item (2/16/98) you can see that it pre-dates the ETX-125EC. So that particular case model will not work.

Subject:	ETX90EC Power
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 22:31:44
From:	kglasson@one.net.au (Ken Glasson)
I've just purchased an ETX90EC here in Australia, and with our dollar
currently worth a bit under 50c U.S. I'd rather not have to purchase
genuine Meade accessories at the moment. I'd like to be able to run my
ETX from the car cig. lighter, and also from a power pack.

I can't find any reference to the polarity of the power plug on the
control panel nor any reference to what sort of pwer would be needed in
a plug pack. (300ma, 500ma - how much?) and again I need to know what
the correct polarity is. Is the cig lighter lead a straight through
lead, or are there components of some sort in the plug?

Can someone help please?
Mike here: Actually there are lots of references on the center pin polarity. I just did a search on "polarity" and noted that in a previous email reply I stated: "According to reports, the center is positive." But I don't know about the cigarette lighter plug socket itself. If you search for "power supply" (using an "exact match" setting) you'll find lots of references. Also if check the Telescope Tech Tips page you'll see several items on power supplies.

Subject:	congrats...
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 20:57:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
on the Classy award

well deserved... forging yet a new path/tradition

Subject:	re: Polar aligning
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 20:25:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com

> Here's what I am doing.  I set the dec angle to 41 degrees on the
> tripod.
Do you mean that you tilt the ETX -base- 41 degrees, (via the Tripod's
Latitude adjustment)  or that you have the ETX level (as if it was on
a table) and lift the -barrel- to 41 degrees?

The former (tilt base so that RA clamp axle is pointed at Polaris)
is Polar mounting.  Then lift the barrel so it is pointing straight
 up -from the ETX base- (or "parallel to the forks").
*now* the telescope should be pointing at Polaris.

If you have the base flat (as if on a table) and lift the barrel,
that's -neither- proper Polar -or- proper Alt/Az setup.

> Then I roughly point north with a compass.  Then I center Polaris
> in a 26mm plossl.  I guess I am now roughly polar aligned.  Good
> enough for tracking purposes.  My problem is, from this position I can
> not swing the scope to Jupiter.  It won't let me get enough elevation. 
> Am I doing something wrong.

If, as i suspect, you had the barrel at 41 degrees (relative to the
 base), -and- told the Autostar that you were in "Polar" mode,
then the Autostar thinks that it -cannot- lift the barrel any higher.
That's because the Autostar thought you started with the barrel at
90 degrees (maximum  "up") declination, not 41 degrees.

> Please help.  Thanks.
we're trying...
good luck
From:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)
I tried again tonight to polar align with no luck.  First off I have an
ETX-90EC with out the AutoStar controller.

Here is what I have been doing.

First lock the tripod to 90 degrees and level the scope barrel and
adjust the setting circle. Second set the tripod's elevation to 41
degrees leaving the barrel where it is. Third, point the scope north,
with a compass, by adjusting the az of the tripod, not the scope. Now I
assume I am polar aligned.

Do I need to swing the barrel parallel to the forks after setting the
tripod's elevation angle to 41 degrees?  I have not been doing that. 
Maybe thats the problem?
Mike here: Leveling the scope barrel (OTA) before you set the tripod for your latitude is unnecessary. Leveling the tripod base is helpful. After you set the tripod for your elevation you should raise the ETX declination to 90 degrees (which is parallel to the fork arms). Now you can point the telescope at Polaris (which is about a degree from the True North Pole). Now you have an approximate polar alignment. I'll be posting a nice article on polar aligning in another few days.

Subject:	Re: Answer to my questions
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 10:30:30
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
Thanks so much for your kind response and comments;  yes, I do very much
enjoy it.  Being retired from astronomy my "gift back" is to help
everyone that I can who has a liking for it as a hobby....that is where
the true love of the sky really is: in your own backyard.  So I'll keep
writing as long as good folks like you keep reading.

By the way....did you notice the wonderful honor that Mike's ETX site
has received?  The "Claasy Website" award for astronomy?  It truly IS
the best info source on not just ETX's but amateur astronomy and
techniques anywhere to be found....it is designed with the actual USER
in mind.

Thanks for logging on!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dennis Persyk 
    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. As soon as I
    read your Email I ran through the snow out to my hangar (scope and
    planes housed there)  and tried it out.  It works!

    Your knowledge of astronomy is awesome and you know your way around
    microcomputer operating systems to boot!  I'm impressed.  I cannot
    find the method you outlined for checking battery level anywhere in
    my documentation.  If you could make up a flow chart for Mike's site
    showing all these undocumented features it would be a worthwhile

    I enjoy all of your submissions to Mike's site.  You clearly know
    the material, but, more importantly, you have the gift of concise
    writing.  From the volume of your contributions I feel you enjoy
    writing them.  They are certainly appreciated by the readers.

    Keep up the good work.

Subject:	astroSite 
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 08:25:02
From:	gaprofit@tin.it (Gabriele)
I've visited your site and I found it cool and interesting. I also
visited your guest gallery, and thought I've took fine pictures of
Venus, Sun and Moon, comparable to those in your gallery. I would like
you add a link to my site www.gabriele.astrofili.org where you can find
some of my pictures. Please let me know what do you think of them, I'll
appreciate your sign in my Guestbook.
Thank a lot

Gabriele Profita

Bye from Gabriele gaprofit@tin.it

internet addresses :  http://utenti.tripod.it/Davidep

redirecting sites :      www.gabriele.astrofili.org

 member of : G.A.R.      Gruppo Astrofili Romani
                   G.I.G.A.     Gruppo Italiano Giovani Astrofili
                   United Graphic Artists

Subject:	Photographing through a ETX
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 07:46:48
From:	yigalherstein@hotmail.com (Yigal Herstein)
I am planning to start photographing tru my Mietje (See under why I call
my ETX "Mietje"). Which piggyback mount would you recommend me, the
Scopetronix one or the JMI one. I couldn't menage to see the
advantages/disadvantages of each.

The reason why I call my telescope Mietje, is because I'm Dutch. In the
Dutch language Mietje has two meanings: First it is the word for
sissy-boy. Second it is exactly the same pronounciation as the word for
little Meade.


p.s. Keep up your great site...
Mike here: As to which piggyback, the Scopetronix one is more flexible than the JMI one since it could act as a counterweight. If you haven't already, see the Accessories - Showcase Products for reviews of both.

Subject:	the claasy award
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 06:35:45
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Well....here I go again...."ARE YOU LISTENING S & T?"  Mike
congratulations.  It IS a pretty darned good and informative site.  You
are to be commended for maintaining its integrity for over five years. 
It is tough to do in this age of commercializtion and splinter

Go Weasner's Mighty ETX Site and its team of contributors and users

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Mike here: I have slightly redesigned the Home Page to put some items into better categorizations. I hope everyone isn't too confused by the changes.

Subject:	Filters, Eyepieces, etc.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 14, 2001 14:54:23
From:	bryan@softdisk.com (Bryan)
I have recently bought lots of nice stuff from William Vorce of
Telescope Warehouse

"William Vorce" (scopehed@pdai.com)

He has a great deal of "Overstocks" from Meade-- at great prices!!

He is knowledgable and is a pleasure to do business with.

I purchased the following from him: (New or Like-new)

Meade Series 4000:
Filters = $10 each

Series 4000 Eyepieces
15mm $50
26mm $40

Shorty barlow #126 $25
Apochromat barlow #140 $50

He also has cases and other goodies..

Just passing the word-
I don't get anything from this but a warm feeling in my heart ;)

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
You are absolutely right...he has great merchandise at super prices, if
you can just get it when he has it in stock!  It pays to check his site
routinely and get in touch immediately if you see something you
like...by the way, if you want to sell the APO #140 barlow I will take
it....I am looking for one right now!

Thanks for passing of the good information; we all need to save money on
quality stuff for our scopes!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Re:  Cable internet
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 23:06:42
From:	t-caplis@home.com (Tom Caplis)
Just wanted to say that I recently got AT&T@home, cable internet service
about three months ago.  The difference in speed in surfing the net and
especially sites with a lot of detailed pictures (i.e., yours and NASA,
etc.) is incredible. A comparison would be riding a bike around the
block or going across the U.S. in a jet fighter in the same amount of
time.  I did have to get a second, bigger harddrive to hold all of the
stuff everyone seems to be downloading now.

I would highly recommend this service to anyone who uses the web a lot.

Hopefully, we'll start getting some clear nights soon up here in the
northwest.  Until then, I'm grateful for sites like yours.

Tom Caplis

Subject:	Re: Your "fix" and the flat gear
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 20:00:13
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Terry -
Yes, you must "walk" the flat drive gear in tiny, tiny increments; at
first it will not give, but try positioning your fingers ( do NOT use a
tool of any type to pry loose!) on opposite sides and walk it back and
forth; then move 90 degrees and do the same thing; repeat over and over
and it will eventually come loose.  It is probably VERY tight against
the worm driver (the cylindrical gear) and that is what is holding it;
you might try to activate the motor and get the worm to turn slightly as
you attempt to dislodge the big gear.  That should work.

Regarding the washers; the inner hole diameter really does not matter;
you want the smaller washer (Nylon) to be 1/2" diameter (that is for the
ETX 125 - if it is smaller for the -90, just get one that will fit
INSIDE the small extruded "ring" in which the trunion hole is located;
this "ring" sticks out slightly against the setting circle; the nylon
washer should be a little thicker than the recess to the flat end of the
trunion, thereby "sticking out" against the larger stainless gear which
in turn rests against the inside surface of the dec. circle.

The small washer is the key....it MUST fit inside the ring to work and
stick out far enough to rest against the larger washer TO KEEP THE

I hope you cleaned all your clutch surfaces well with mineral spirits;
some of the ETX 90's DID NOT have dimpled clutch plates on the RA axis,
so that is okay; be sure you used the steel wool to allow for a good
friction fit between the clutch and the flat drive gear.  If you cannot
ultimately (safely) get the large gear off, that is also okay; the main
slipping point is between the CLUTCH plate and the gear, and you have
already taken care of that.  You should see a remarkable improvement
just from that.

Now regarding the moving setting circle and the grip on the knob; you
must use a rubber jar lid gripper or rubber gloves to get the knob both
loose and again tight enough; be sure and hold the circle by pinching
between your index finger and thumb on one hand while tightening the
stubborn knob with the other.  The circle will attempt to move....it is
up to YOU to keep it where you want it set!

Good luck; just follow the diagram I sent on the DEC fix and you should
see some improvement; I checked mine out again tonight and it is just

Let me know if you need help!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Terry
    I utilized your "rocking" solution tonight, unfortunately to no
    avail.  I still had the same amount of rock as before.  I'm thinking
    that part of the problem may be that my washers are too thick.  I
    will try again with thinner washers.  Also, could you clarify the
    washer size with the interior washer hole size?

    I also found that each time I attempted to really tighten the smooth
    setting knob, the dec circle would inevitably move, despite my best
    efforts to hold it.  I'm sure your solution is a good one, a little
    more trial and error on my part is probably required.

    On a better note, I cleaned  a pound of grease out of the scope
    tonight (I must have drawn the trainee technician!) and as
    suspected, I found a good bit underneath the clutch (which by the
    way is not dimpled).  For some reason though, I can not get the
    large flat gear to budge.  Is there a trick here?  I did not want to
    use too much force until I could confirm what I was dealing with
    here.  All reports seem to suggest that it should come loose, but
    trust me, it is not going anywhere at the moment.
    Hope all is well!

Subject:	Stacking?
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 09:35:07
From:	c.douglas@mindspring.com (C. Douglas Sedlak)
As a novice astrophotographer, I've seen a number of photos that have
been enhanced through a procedure called "stacking".  What is stacking,
and what software programs will allow me to do this for a reasonable
price for both film and digital images? 
Thanks for your reply - clear skies!

C. Douglas
Mike here: Stacking is the combining of multiple photos of the same object into a single frame. You can do it (with difficulty in Photoshop) or use software such as "Astrostack". I did a "Sherlock" search of the net and found an incredibly useful link, which includes a link to the Astrostack site. Check "Dan's Astronomy Software Collection".

Subject:	Polar Aligning
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 06:23:13
From:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)
Maybe you can help me with Polar Alignment.  I checked out all of the
info on your site and I am still having problems.  I guess the reason my
pics are fuzzy is because it is quite difficult to focus a moving

Here's what I am doing.  I set the dec angle to 41 degrees on the
tripod. Then I roughly point north with a compass.  Then I center
Polaris in a 26mm plossl.  I guess I am now roughly polar aligned.  Good
enough for tracking purposes.  My problem is, from this position I can
not swing the scope to Jupiter.  It won't let me get enough elevation. 
Am I doing something wrong.
Please help.  Thanks.
Mike here: When you polar align a telescope like the ETX, the base will get in the way when trying to view objects at low altitudes above the Southern horizon (or Northern in the Southern hemisphere). The higher your latitude the less the problem becomes. Mounting in Alt/Az mode eliminates that problem but if you don't have the Autostar, you can't easily track objects.

Subject:	Manual for ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 03:43:25
From:	rudinski@monmouth.com (RJ)
I'm expecting an ETX-90/EC soon that I bought slightly used. 
Unfortunately the seller doesn't have the manual.  I was hoping to find
one on-line and to that end I've been looking at you ETX site.  Lots of
interesting things there that I'll try to absorb as I go along with this
instrument. Do you know of an online version of the manual?


Mike here: Meade has some manuals online. The ETX-90EC manual is at: http://www.meade.com/manuals/etx90ec/index.html.

Subject:	Alternate Power Supply
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 21:10:09
From:	kentoliver@mindspring.com (Ken Toliver)
Just a follow up on a posting from Steve Brightman
(LotusSteve@worldnet.att.net) dated November 1, 2000.

Steve suggested an alternate power supply available from the local
Target. I followed his recommendation and am happy to report that the
setup works great!  The power supply was exactly where he stated and is
currently still available at Target for around $15.00.  I didn't bother
to "make" a power connector cord; instead just pick-up a "radar detector
power cord" from radio shack (5.5mm OD x 2.5mm ID - $6.99) and you're in
business.  I would highly recommend this for any user; the power supply
is only about 2" x 2" x 4" and is easy to sit on your wedge or mount
with Velcro.

I've copied the section from his email and included it below for your

    3. I'd like to let you know about the power source I discovered for
    my telescope which may also be of interest to ETX-90 owners. It's
    called the "Pocket Power Junior" and is made by Vector. I found it
    at Target for about $15 (look in the automotive section, it's sold
    as a backup power supply for cell phones). Basically it consists of
    a 1.2AH gel cell in a nylon case with an integral cigarette lighter
    socket. The capacity should make it good for the same lifetime as 2
    - 3 sets of AA cells. Better yet, included in the price is a wall
    charger with a cigarette lighter plug attached, and another cable
    with cigarette lighter plugs at each end. Physically it is quite
    small (see attached photo). Originally I'd planned to use a 7AH gel
    cell I had lying around (I'm that sort of guy) but this is so small
    and convenient that it has become my power supply of choice. I also
    made up my own cable to connect to the 'scope using a cigarette
    lighter plug with cable from Radio Shack along with a suitable sized
    plug to fit the ETX power panel (also from Radio Shack).

Anyway, I thought that you would be interested to know how well it
works; it runs really well and provides a good life between charges. 
Keep the batteries for when you run this puppy down instead!

Thanks again Steve!
From:	LotusSteve@worldnet.att.net (Steve Brightman)
I've not gone to the trouble of putting a sope on it and looking for
spikes etc when the motors kick in, but there's no doubt that gel cell
has much less source impedance than a stick of AA batteries! I've been
using it for a while and have never experienced the motor problems
others have reported when using marginal power supllies.

BTW, originally I left the AA batteries in place in case the gel cell
ran out of juice, but that has never happened. What did happen was that
the batteries leaked after just a couple of months so now I leave that
compartment empty. (the leakage was coincidental, NOT caused by using
the external battery pack)

Subject:	Re: ETX 90 electric focuser eratic behavior
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 20:40:18
From:	racer521@pacbell.net (Sam)
I ended up changing my Autostar and the problem was 99% resolved. When I
say 99% I got to act up once but only by rapid pressing of the keys
which you would not do under normal use. Thanks for the info...great


Ps sorry for not updating you--it just seemed like I was the only one
with the problem.

Subject:	Lombry Eyepiece spreadsheet
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 18:09:54
From:	LotusSteve@worldnet.att.net (Steve Brightman)
Is the spreadsheet I downloaded in Mac format? After unzipping I get a
file ending in ".xls.bin" which makes me wonder. Has anyone saved the
file in a format that can open on 'doze machines?
Mike here: For some reason, some of the ZIP files I've uploaded were encoded as MacBinary, hence the ".bin". I think I have resolved that (I'll find out soon). But for the Excel files, which have the same file format for Macs and Windows, just delete the ".bin" from the filename and you should be OK.

Subject:	Filters
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 16:36:13
From:	bryan@softdisk.com (Bryan)
A question:

I am thinking about nebulae / moon filters..

Which do you recommend?  I have looked at the meade, and lumicon

Narrowband is better for nebulae, what is broadband better for??

Mike here: Short answer: see the Accessories - Filters page on my ETX site. There are some of the filters you asked about discussed there.


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The broadband and narrowband filters primarily are LIGHT BLOCKERS, made
mostly for light pollution; the broadband filters are ideal in a
suburban environment where you have some light pollution but not
substantial; on the other hand, the narrowband filters are if you are
observing with severe light problems very close by, like in a very urban
area or near shopping centers, etc.

Because both cut down on light pollution, they will increase the affect
of deep sky objects, but with the loss of some brightness.

As for the moon, I recommend highly the Wratten #58 green filter over
ANY moon filter made; it also is great for Jupiter.

Clay Sherrod
And this:
From:	Bryan (bryan@softdisk.com)
I'll look for the wratten filter.  I am tempted but slightly
apprehensive about solar filters and what they allow you to look at. 
Any comments on that?

I don't think I would risk my scope (and my fovea) doing something like
that but I am curious how many people are doing it..

What about any other filters you find useful?
And from Clay:
The solar filters, the GOOD ones, are fine and there is no risk.  Invest
in a good optical glass one...either Orion or Thousand Oaks is good. 
Make sure that you properly shim with felt for a snug fit onto your
telescope to keep from accidentally losing.  There will be no harm to
the scope at all since the light is blocked BEFORE entering the tube.

Remember that only photospheric features (sunspots, some larger
granulation) can be seen with common filters; you will be seeing the sun
in a "yellow" light and not able to see flares or prominences as you
have seen in photographs.

As to other filters, with Mars coming up soon, you might consider the
Wratten #21 Orange for it; it really brings out faint detail that you
otherwise would not see.  Saturn is excellent with either the #12 yellow
or the #80A light blue.  All screw onto the threaded bottom end of your
standard eyepieces.

Have fun and clear skies!
Mike here: I use the Thousand Oaks Solar Filter a lot with my ETX-90RA. Love it. I feel perfectly comfortable with it.

Subject:	Thanks for the link
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 10:46:14
From:	jesales@calweb.com (Jack Sales)
Nice web site.  Wonderful resource for our ETX friends. I keep hoping to
win one some day.

I would like to thank you for adding the IDA Members Logo to your site.
We encourage all members to add the logo to their sites.

Also thanks for being a member of IDA.

Clear and Dark Skies to ya
Jack E. Sales "Mr. Cutoff" 

Subject:	Natural Wonders (Meade Dealer) Going out of Business 
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 10:16:55
From:	Clayton.hornbuckle@3cc.co.wayne.mi.us (Clayton hornbuckle)
BIG F. Y. I.       Natural Wonders (Meade Dealer)is going out of
Business and having a heck of a sale!  I thought I'd send this to you
and let you announce it if you wish on your board.

I just picked up the hard case for $35!   The soft case for $10!   I saw
the AutoStar go for $89 bucks and it is still dropping until all is


Clay (out the door on the way to the mall!)

Subject:	Re: ETX90EC wire
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 19:06:47
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Terry

Sounds like you've got a little mess on your hands!  If you can clearly
discern where the red wire has become detached from (there should be a
small bead of solder at the point where it was attached - you are right,
the connections are very frail at best), then by all means re-solder IF
you have a small enough soldering tip to reach it without any metallic
carry-over to the other connections; if you do not feel comfortable,
take it to a computer repair shop and explain the situation to them (and
have them put on a LONGER wire to replace it with!) OR send back to

Regarding warranty, if the scope is that full of grease (which I believe
it probably is) then you only have two choices:  1) send back to Meade
for a clean-up, at which time they will apply more grease, or; 2) clean
it up as per the ETX Tune Up referenced on my Enhancement Guide... and
blow the warranty off.

Regarding the rocking, I am not sure from what you describe, but 1/8"
sounds about normal.  What most people don't realize about these
telescopes is that ONCE THEY ARE PROPERLY TRAINED and calibrated, the
motors actually "load-up" and take a lot of this slop out.  For example,
I can be working on my scope, say pointing straight up, with the motors
off, and I will see an inordinate amount of slop (yes, that is what you
have!).  Even still sometimes it bothers me.  HOWEVER, once I have
aligned and initiated the motor drives, then the slop virtually
disappears because the entire drive train is "loaded" or torqued and
pulling against the looseness.

Keep in mind that VERY ACCURATE training is the key to eliminate this
backlash (slop) problem;  you might try getting into the DEC drive arm
and assuring yourself that the worm driver (the cylindrical gear) is not
"playing back-and-forth" against the main DEC drive gear; if so, then
you need to adjust per the "Tune Up" procedure.

The 1/8" does not sound all that bad; be sure to not overtighten either
axis as this can crack or strip out the threaded connector that allows
firm clamping; then you will not be able to clamp at all.  Give me some
more details regarding the slop if you can and I will help you out....

....HOWEVER:  note that until you get all that grease off BOTH RA AND
DEC clutches and main drive gears (don't worry about the small white
nylon ones), you are going to have slop, regardless, and you are going
to have tremendous trouble clamp firmly enough for good slews, GO TOs
and tracking.

That is why I said what I did about warranty; if you send it back for
repairs you are likely to get the same tech who smeared all the grease
on it in the first place and STILL have to take it back apart when you
get it returned!

By the way....anytime you get "into the guts" of the scope, always go
very, very slowly and precisely.  Not only are there many little wires
and delicate electronic connections, but there are also optical encoders
that can be damaged.  If the grease that you describe gets on one of the
encoders in either axis, you are sunk and sometimes they can be
cleaned....sometimes they cannot.

Let's get your wire fixed first and then talk about the DEC slop; you
definitely have it, but it does not sound all that bad; but the
de-greasing is something you really need to take care of.

Get back in touch as you proceed!  Good Luck!
Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Terry
    you're rapidly becoming renowned as the true ETX expert out there! 
    I enjoy your postings to Mike's site, and I keep a notebook of your
    tips and viewing discussions.

    Think I may need some real help here-  I was following your
    instructions for the mechanical tune-up and now have a dilemma. 
    Despite using the utmost care in removing and handling the battery
    case, the thin red wire decided to detach itself from the circuit
    board, right at the point of solder near the on/off switch.  I am
    almost certain that it was never firmly attached and in fact it
    appeared twisted; one small movement and there it went.  It's a
    difficult area to reach, but in your opinion, can I simply resolder
    the wire to the board, or is this a task for Meade?  (Scope was new
    in November 2000).

    Also, I have been getting a lot of "rocking" movement (up/down) even
    when the dec clamp is firmly tight.  Interesting to note however, is
    that the slight movement "rocks" both the dec clamps (each side) in
    tandem.  They both "rock" up/down perhaps an 1/8 inch- as if the
    space through which the trunions, brass thread, bushing etc were
    simply not tight enough for a good fit.  This is hard  to describe,
    and I'm not sure it is the issue often described as slop.  Maybe it
    is?  I have utilized your teflon tape solution but to no avail for
    this particular problem.  Any thoughts?

    By the way, the inside of the scope base looks like someone went
    nuts with a grease gun!  Grease is everywhere-  on the wires, the
    plastic, the gears, a virtual grease party!!  I have yet to clean it
    prefering to deal with the wire problem first.  (And trying to make
    sure that the warranty would be honored if sent back for repairs).

    Again, many thanks for the info you share.  You can't imagine to how
    many friends I have mentioned Mike's site and your contributions!
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the broken wire. I wouldn't attempt it unless you are experienced at soldering in confined spaces. Unless you are very, very careful you could end up damaging other components.

And a reminder to all: many of the technical tips on this site will invalidate your warranty. They may also make Meade unhappy if they see a lot of returns to fix problems that started with something you read here. So be certain you are comfortable with possibly destroying the functioning of your telescope before even thinking about following some tune-up or modification discussed here. If everything goes well you will end up with what the originator of the tip or mod intended. If things go badly you could end up with a serious problem. To reiterate the cautions noted elsewhere, "tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips."

Subject:	Re: JPG files
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 10:55:10
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Paul
Thanks for your comments and you are absolutely right....many of the
graphics turn out too large to print.  I attempt to "downsize" them
prior to sending them to Mike's ETX site, but some still get by too
large.  In some cases, if you can right click on the image and store as
a temporary JPG on your computer, you can pull up and re-size for your
personal printing.  I am working on it, but some still fall through the
cracks (or spill over them in this case!)   Thanks for reading!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
>Mr. Sherrod -
>I've been watching for, and reading with interest, your articles that are
>being posted on Mike Weasner's Mighty ETX Site.
>The articles are very informative and very easy to read and understand.
>However, I have just one 'negative' observation, and it may already have
>been brought to your attention by others. However...
>The JPG images that you provide in the articles, especially the ones that
>you suggest we 'blow up' to full image size and print for field use. Many of
>them are larger than can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11 printer paper, even
>if oriented in landscape mode.
>Can the images be sized before being posted, so that they will fit on
>standard printer paper, either in portrait or landscape?
>With kind regards,
>Wasilla, Alaska
Mike here: The graphics software I use most often has an automatic selection to shrink or enlarge an image when printing. So I hadn't found this to be a problem. The software ($35 US) is called GraphicConverter from Lemke Software and is Mac only. It is extremely powerful and useful in many respects. Even though I have Photoshop 6.0 I tend to use GraphicConverter more. There may be a similar printing capability in some Windows-based software.


From:	paul.loughman@ak.ngb.army.mil (Loughman, Paul Civ)
Clay too, suggested saving the images that are too large, and resizing
them with an appropriate image software program. I use Windows, and the
software that I am familiar with, is LView Pro. So, I will save when
required and resize before printing.

Thank you for the response.

Subject:	Re: Cleaning
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 09:46:45
From:	divenuts@gte.net (divenuts)
I used Glenn Dunlap's method for cleaning and found it extremely effective and
pretty easy. I might add a few tips. First, I was able to 'hang' the
telescope over the sink by leaving the scope on the Deluxe tripod and
shortening one leg and putting the shortened leg under the sink with the
cabinet door open. Beware of ALL tension knobs on the tripod and scope
to hold positions. After cleaning, I used pressurized air to dry the
corrector plate(this completely eliminated steps 9 and 10), leaving it
spot free. I did not need any paper towels. I found the 90% alcohol at
Walgreens(about $1.25). Cheap, efficient and safe, if you take your

Thanks again for your interest,


Subject:	ETX 90 electric focuser eratic behavior
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 09:01:05
From:	gjmoore@fcsl.edu (Dooner Moore)
To:	racer521@pacbell.net
Mike, Sam, et. al.,

I recently purchased an electric focuser for my ETX 90 and I love it. 
However, I have found that when using the Autostar to control it I
sometimes encounter problems.  I did a search through the site to find
some information on the problem and found only the following post by Sam
describing the exact symptoms I am having but did not find any responses
for possible resolution of the problem.  As Sam's post was made some
months ago I thought I would ask the question again and see if anyone
else is having the problem and/or has a solution.

Sam's original post is included below, and as always, thanks for your
help and the killer site that you make available for all of us!!!


---- original posting ----
Subject:	 ETX 90 electric focuser
Sent:	Sunday, December 3, 2000 12:49:42
From:	racer521@pacbell.net (Sam)
I was wondering if you could help me with another problem I am having.
When using the Autostar to operate the electric focuser at its slowest
(button 1 or 2) speed it sticks and keeps running. I have to hit the
opposite button to stop it. It works fine with the hand controller or
focus controller. It seems to only happen when using the Autostar in
Microfine speed. Any ideas?.
Mike here: There have been some reports of sticking keys on the Autostar keypad. That's why there is a cleaning tip for it on the Autostar Information pad. I suspect that is what is happening to you. The only other problem at slow speeds as been it was still too fast. There is a mod for that on the Telescope Tech Tips page.


Thanks Mike...........I will give that a try!

Subject:	New LX90 Discussion Group URL
Sent:	Saturday, March 10, 2001 06:43:14
From:	wayne.powell@aerowood.com (Wayne Powell)
Egroups.com got sold to yahoo.com, so now the new URL for the link to
the LX90 Users Group is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lx90

There are many postings of pictures taken with the LX90 and we have
grown to over 300 members.   Many of our members point back to your site
for articles on set-up and other helpful hints.

Thank you!

Wayne A. Powell  (Owner, LX90 Users Group)
AeroWood Media Inc.
t 905.690.9974  | f 905.690.6170

Subject:	Digital Cameras and Zooming
Sent:	Saturday, March 10, 2001 01:12:10
From:	drounds@jvlnet.com (David R. Rounds)
One comment regarding zooming digital cameras--make sure that you DO NOT
use digital zoom (just use the optical zoom) because the digital zoom
does not increase the optical resolution of the image.  The manual for
my Canon S100 digital camera even hints at this fact. The 2x digital
zoom simply takes the center 1/2 of the pixels and adds an extra pixel
between each one. The color of the inserted pixel is the average of the
color of the pixels surrounding it.  This results in a larger view of
the center of the picture but with no real increase in resolution of the
original image.

I proved this to myself by photographing the resolution patches on a
photocopier test card and noting that resolution improved as I zoomed in
with the optical zoom but did not change when I turned on the 2x or 4x
digital zoom.
Dave Rounds

Mike here: I have decided to award Clay Sherrod a limited edition "Mighty ETX Site" cap for his valuable contributions to this site and observational astronomy. Please join me in thanking Clay for his devotion and efforts on behalf of amateur astronomers, whether they have an ETX or other telescope.

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
What a wonderful thing!  I've been bestowed a lot of stuff in my career,
but this might be one of the nicest, and I mean that.  There is not a
better bunch of folks around than you and Dick and all the great ETX-ers
who make "our" site the greatest!  (ARE YOU READING S & T??).

Thanks again!  I'll definitely wear it with much, much pride and a rosey

Clay Sherrod / Arkansas Sky Observatory
c/o 794 Drake Drive
Conway, Arkansas  72032

Subject:	Travelling....
Sent:	Friday, March 9, 2001 08:05:58
From:	ggrainger@prang.com (Garrett Grainger)
We (my wife and son) are heading to Hawaii the end of March..... Since
you are all knowing, do you know any spots on Oahu the are good for
viewing, or parks that allow after dark entrance. I figure the north
shore ought to be really dark.... (maybe I'm wrong)

Garrett Grainger
Dixon Ticonderoga Company
Mike here: Don't know about Oahu locations but there are several ETX users in Hawaii who visit the site. Maybe they can help.

Subject:	URL Link
Sent:	Thursday, March 8, 2001 21:12:36
From:	art50@mindspring.com (Art Freeman)
Been some time since I last wrote you.  This time the topic is not on my
ETX, rather it is about some new web pages I have placed on one of my
sites.  As you already know, if you remember me, I have an ETX-125EC.  I
also have a Meade 16" Starfinder on a Dob. mount of which the new site
pages are about.  Due to problems with the Meade large tube Dob.'s, I
have created a "Modifications" site for the Meade 16" Starfinder to help
new owners overcome some MFG. problems with the telescope as well as
some good modifications to assist ease of usage of the large telescope.

Art Freeman


Art Freeman
Civil War Historical Sites, 14th MSM, Cavalry & 5th TN Reg.
http://art50.home.mindspring.com/5thTN.htm  {OR's Being Transcribed)
My New Astronomy Site:

Subject:	Re: Advice for a Beginner
Sent:	Thursday, March 8, 2001 16:58:15
From:	bgash2@home.com (Bill Gash)
Thank You for responding to my E-mail. I have 1 last question for you
(for now). I can probably come up with the extra 400 for the 125. Is it
worth it, or should I get the 90 and a few more accessories? This my
first scope. I respect your opinion.

Bill Gash
Mike here: You will be able to use higher magnifications and see somewhat fainter objects with the ETX-125EC versus the -90EC. But it is a larger and heavier telescope so that might be a consideration. Depends upon how you want to use it.

Subject:	Astrophotography with a ETX-70 and Kodak DC3200
Sent:	Thursday, March 8, 2001 08:04:49
From:	ehm4m@forbes2.comm.virginia.edu (Mikell, Eddie)
I tried taking my ETX 70 out last night to take a picture of the moon.

I have a Kodak DC3200 digital camera, which I held up to the lens to
take a picture.

All I got was some pictures of bright blobs.

Any hints?

Thanks, and great web site!

Eddie Mikell
Mike here: First insert a low power eyepiece. Focus on the Moon using your eye. Next focus the camera for infinity (distance). If the camera has a macro mode select that. If not but if it has a zoom lens, zoom in to the maximum magnification. Now hold the camera lens as close as possible to the eyepiece without actually touching the eyepiece. Move it around until you see the Moon's image on the LCD display (assuming the camera has an LCD display). Trip the shutter while holding the camera VERY steady. After you gain experience at low powers you can progress to using higher magnifications.


I was checking my set up through the day to see if I had things set up
right, and it was set up correctly.

I got some great shots of birds, trees, etc.  Apparently the moon image
was so bright, that it over-exposed the camera.  I'm going to increase
the magnification tonight to see if that cuts down on the brightness,
and lets the camera set the correct exposure.  I'll send the results if
I am successful.
Mike here: Yes, it is easy for an auto-exposure camera to overexpose on the Moon and even Jupiter and Venus.

Subject:	Polar Alignment
Sent:	Thursday, March 8, 2001 08:02:27
From:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)
I was wondering if you had a detailed / easy to follow Polar Alignment
procedure I could use.  I have not tried this yet, but need to. 
Anything you could provide would be useful.  Thanks

David Rosenthal
Software Engineering Manager
Senior Systems Engineer
15 Thornton Road,
Oakland, NJ  07436-3115

    voice:  (201) 651-1111
      fax:  (201) 651-1794
    email:  David.Rosenthal@IE-Ate.com
web pages:  www.ie-ATE.com
Mike here: See the Buyer/New User Tips page. If you have an Autostar you might also want to check the Autostar Information page. There are polar aligning tips in both places.

Subject:	no variation...
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 20:30:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

Clay continues his stellar performance with that Variable Star
viewer's guide...

Mike, you'll soon have to investigate co-publishing a compendium book 
of Clay's articles... 
today a chapter.. tomorrow the volume!

Great stuff!

Subject:	the "sleepless night flashlight syndrome" and how to avoid it
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 15:20:04
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Michael
Huh-oh.  You have fallen prey to the "sleepless night flashlight
syndrome." Really.

My advice to everyone with a good catadioptic telescope:  NEVER look
down the barrel of the scope at night....no matter how clean you think
your optics are.  It is the stuff that bad dreams are made of.

It is a scary thing to look down into the precious optical tube and see
all that "stuff" at night with a flashlight.  No matter how clean you
get it, or think it is, you will STILL always see it.  My solution: 
don't look.  It really does not mean a thing, and certainly does not
affect performance in any way.  I am sure you do to, but I keep my scope
immaculately clean and know never to go near the front with my
flashlight because I will fret, just as you did.

There is nothing wrong, and nothing unclear.  Just keep on enjoying the
telescope and keep the flashlight on the maps and books and AutoStar. 
It's one of those "...what you can't see can't hurt you" things.  And it
is really true here.

In large professional observatories that routinely operate Schmidt
cameras on every clear night, one thing you NEVER do is to shine a light
and look at the optics after dark.  Otherwise, instead of tracking you
photo plate, you "worry" all night long about the crud that you remember
seeing.  Every scope has it....and it hasn't hurt anyone yet!

Good skies, and dark optical tubes...

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Michael
Dear Clay --

You and I have corresponded in the past, and I have very much
appreciated your knowledge and advice.  I was wondering if I might run a
question by you regarding dust/contamination on the ETX's optical

I have a new ETX-90EC (got it this past Christmas), which I of course
always keep with the lens cover on when not in use.  In normal sunlight,
the objective lens looks very clean (maybe a little speck of dust here
and there, but essentially clean), and additionally, when I look inside
the OTA at the primary mirror, it ALSO seems spotless (as one would
expect).  HOWEVER, the other night I happened to shine a flashlight into
the OTA, onto the primary mirror, and was quite surprised to see a
noticeable buildup of what appears to be dust/grit reflected back at me!

As I say, IN SUNLIGHT, everything looks spotless when I look at both the
objective lens and peer inside at the primary mirror.  BUT, in the dark,
when I specifically shine a flashlight at the primary mirror, this
apparent layer of dust/grit suddenly becomes visible.

What I'm wondering is -- is it possible that this dust is actually on
the OUTSIDE surface of the objective lens, and it just "looks" like it's
on the primary mirror when I shine the flashlight into the OTA?  I'd
hate to think that this stuff is REALLY on my primary mirror, and if
fact, as I said before, the primary mirror looks SPOTLESS when I just
look at it by the bright light of day (i.e. using no flashlight).

I seem to get normal optical performance as far as viewing
objects/planets, etc.  So is this perhaps a mirror-magnified "illusion"
of a little dust that may be on the outside of the objective lens, or is
there potentially really some stuff on my primary mirror?  And if so,
what do I do about it??

Thanks in advance for any thought you could share on this --

- Mike
I thoroughly enjoyed your very enlightening (and amusing) response!  I
guess I'll take your advice and not worry about it.

It is curious, though -- if the catadioptic design is by definition a
sealed tube (unlike a Newtonian, which is known for requiring periodic
mirror maintenance and cleaning), then how does that crud get in there??
 And is it really there, or, as I wondered, is it just the "clean"
mirror reflecting back (and in the process greatly magnifying) specks of
normal dust on the outer surface of the primary lens?

Anyway, thanks very much for your reassuring response.  I will now
resume sleeping at night...


Mike Riesco.
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
thanks for the reply and a resounding "yes" to all your questions.  The
intensity and quantity of "crud" in the tube assembly is, indeed,
greatly exaggerated by the optical design, intensification and
magnification (as well as reflective multiples of images!).

Regarding how the stuff gets in there in the first place, you probably
don't want to hear:  it"s ALWAYS been in there...nothing you did, and
nothing you can do about it.  Meade, and other quality scope
manufacturers work in - literally - hermetically sealed envirnoments;
the technicians look like they are doing pancreas surgery.

Even with such control and assembly rooms for the optical tubes that are
as clean as surgical rooms on ER, the dust is clinging to the surfaces
(usually the metal and internal plastic components) via static
electricity.  There is a great effort to get all of this off before
assembly, but - just like polishing your car - the more they work at it,
the greater the "static cling."

Now....if we begin to see spiders nest their offspring in there, I'll
take another approach.

Clear skies!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	battery power on the ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 14:31:30
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	guest@unm.ed
Thanks for your inquiry on the ETX site!  Glad you like your scope and
get years of enjoyment out of it.

First, as Mike Weasner warned, there is a REAL problem with the focuser
draining the 9V battery when the battery is left connected.  ALWAYS
unplug the battery from the control box when not in use; many people
experience overnight total drains, even when the focuser is not being
used....it is a true design flaw.

1)  When your internal batteries get low (about 67%) erratic behavior
becomes common in all ETX scopes; you can check your battery power by
holding down the MODE key for 3 seconds and then scrolling down to your
power rating.  Because the batteries draing according to load use, the
more you GO TO and slew (and use the electric focuser), the quicker they
will drain.  I finally gave up on mine and bought a Wal Mart "EverStart"
(made by EverReady) portable DC power station for only $69; I figured it
will save on batteries in the long run.

2)  Rechargeables are a good thing to invest in - provided you have a
good trickle charger.  However, if you don't and invest in good Lithium
or Akalines as well as a charger, you are going to spend what the
aforementioned portable DC source would cost.  I just could not see
doing it!

IN ADDITION, the ETX likes a little more juice than the purported "12V"
battery output; my DC units puts out about 14.2 V, and my AC adapter
15.6 to 15.8 Volts, both of which operated the scope considerably more
dependably with more drive and slewing accuracy.

Cold weather will also play havoc on you internal batteries; I found
this winter that my internal batteries on the ETX 125 went crazy after
use in 18 - 24 degree nights for about three or more hours.

Hope this answers some of your questions....consider the battery pack. 
They last forever and one charge can power the ETX for about 6 months
with not even checking; then just plug in to recharge and your are ready
to go again!

P. Clay Sherrod

Subject:	regarding the #1244 electric focuser
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 14:23:15
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	b16orin@bellsouth.net
Your are experiencing a common mistake with the Meade electronic
focusers when plugged into the base operating off AutoStar....rather
than using the "Scroll" keys to focus, you MUST use the "UP" and "DOWN"
"Arrow" keys (those that use use for North-South slewing and centering
of your telescope motors;  only be sure AFTER using the keys and getting
a sharp focus, to hit "Mode" to return the arrow keys to slewing. 
Otherwise, you will be focuising the scope when - what you really want -
you should be moving the scope!

Actually ALL FOUR arrow keys will control the focuser, it just makes for
easier use if you routinely use the same keys for rote memory.

Good luck and great skies!
Clay Sherrod

Thanks alot.  I thought I may have done something wrong when I
initialized the autostar.  However, what I now realized is that the
instructions that came with the #1244 focuser are misleading and wrong.

Thanks again,

Orin Eleuterius
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
You are right, there are several indications in the Meade instructions
that come with the electric focuser that indicates - or at least is not
clear enough - that the "scroll" keys should be used to focus rather
than the "arrow" keys.  Remember, if you now have the NEW v2.1ek
firmware loaded onto your AutoStar (available over
www.meade.com/autostar_update ) you can access your focuser in TWO ways:
1) hold the "Mode" key down for three (3) seconds and the first option
that appears is your focus; select your speed, focus and "mode" back
out; and 2) tap the "0" key and the focus mode appears, focus and hit
either "0" or "mode" to get back to your main viewing screen.  If using
BATTERY POWER, always disconnect the unit after use to be sure that
batteries are not drained; there is a propensity in "some" units, even
with power OFF, for the focuser to pull current out of the internal

Good luck!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	SALE!
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 08:30:22
From:	c.douglas@mindspring.com (C. Douglas Sedlak)
I enjoy your site immensely and appreciate your time and effort to
school the neophytes of astronomy & astrophotography.  FYI: the "Natural
Wonders" store chain (web
address:http://www.naturalwonders.com/) is
having a HUGE going out of business sale.

I just bought a new Meade ETX-125EC, complete with AutoStar Controller,
Deluxe Field Tripod, AC adapter, 45" erecting prism, ND Moon Filter, #64
T-adapter and Nikon T-ring.................all for UNDER $1,000!!!

I'm sure that your readers will benefit by this information, but the
sale will not last long.  It's really worth checking out!  I will
forward pictures of how well the ETX-125 performs in planetary and lunar
scapes as soon as I get all the "bugs" worked out.

Thanks again for a truly top notch site!

C. Douglas

Subject:	night vision
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 05:00:14
From:	pedroja@terra.com.br (Pedro Junior Ashidani)
 >Subject:       ETX and night vision
 >Sent:  Sunday, March 4, 2001 06:11:09
 >From:  FAIC0N25@aol.com
 >Pat here
 >Some time ago I found a web link off of your sight that showed an ETX
 >coupled to a night owl monocular Would you be able to point me in the
 >right direction to find it agin ? I just  picked up such a scope and I
 >am wanting to really play with it
 >Thank you
 >P.S.  My screen name is spelled with a capitol I ( i ) and the number
 >zero ( 0 ) thanks agin


                     Pedro Junior Ashidani
                  e-mail: pedroja@terra.com.br
            Visite Araxa: http://www.aax.terra.com.br
Mike here: Well, "Moonlight" is close to "Night Owl"!

Subject:	ETX: e-mail group
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 01:10:21
From:	G.YEATES@CABI.ORG (Guy Yeates (CABI))
Has the ETX e mail discussion list been particularly quiet of late as
I've not recieved anything for the last 3-4 days ?

While I'm here I'd like to say that having owned an EXT-125 for almost a
year now (and therefore still finding out what's possible with it) I
have found your site to have been an invaluable source of information
and advice..  so keep up the excellent work it is most appreciated.

Guy Yeates

Home e-mail = guy_yeates@talk21.com
Mike here: Volume goes up and down.

Subject:	Pledge
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 14:56:17
From:	Steve
I hadn't noticed the pledge area before because I don't usually scroll
down that far on your ETX page. Maybe you should highlight this nearer
the top of the page? You may be missing some potential contributors.
Mike here: Good point about the pledge location. I wasn't trying to hit people in the face with it but if they never scroll down, like you, they will not see it.

Subject:	Advice for a Beginner
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 16:52:06
From:	bgash2@home.com (Bill Gash)
First of all, I want to thank you for having such a helpful web site.
The astrophotography galleries are great. Many sites tell you what their
scopes can see and do but not many show you.

As for your advice, I think something major would have to happen to
change my mind from purchasing the ETX-90 but I would respect and
appreciate your opinion. I have asked 30 people questions about which
scope to buy and have got 30 different answers.

This is my first scope but I do not consider myself a beginner. I am 35
years old and have had an interest in astronomy for years. I have done
the binocular thing for a long time and always wanted a scope. Seeing
the ETX-60 in a Discover magazine really stirred me up and I decided to
do some reasearch and buy a scope. At first, I liked the Dobsonian
models. they seem great if you just want to look but I think as time
goes buy, I will like to experiment with astrophotography. This is where
your web site and the photos taken with the ETX amazed me. I know it
takes time and effort learning but I do not want to have to buy another
scope in a few years.

Thanks again for putting together such an informative site. Do you think
I am making the right decision in purchasing the ETX-90 EC?

Bill Gash
Mike here: The ETX-90EC is an amazing, might I say "Mighty", telescope. As you can tell from the items on the site, lots of people get a lot of enjoy out of it. If the size works for you (great portability vs the small aperture), then it could be the perfect telescope for you and you will get years of enjoyment from it.

Subject:	ETX125ec
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 07:39:59
From:	mangum@tstar.net (Murray  and  Jean Mangum)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Just another note to say without yourself and people like Mike and the
web site, these little scopes would be a nightmare and sales would be as
extinct as the dinosaur.  Hopefully not all of Meade's products are this
cheaply made.

When we started our correspondence, I had the information that the 125
was a "bad" scope.  But thanks to you, I have every confidence that the
Sexy little scope  will perform as good as it looks.  Anything
worthwhile is worth a little effort!.

Counting down

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Murray - you got it.  That's why I stuck with my little ETX 125.  Sure,
like you said, it needs a LOT of work when you get it, which is
terrible, for the price we have to pay.  Nonetheless, the optics are the
best made bar none and once the scope gets tweaked properly it is an
absolute joy to own and operate!  Honestly I think people would keep
buying them anyway, but I am really happy I am here to help and I think
that can be said on behalf of both Mike Weasner and Dick Seymour.....we
sort-of feel like a "Baywatch Team for ETX Swimmers!"

Keep in touch....hope it all goes well....and, yes:  I get about four
hours sleep a night maximum; usually to bed about 11p.m. to midnight and
up around or before 4 am.


Subject:	Startest with the ETX90
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 05:20:55
From:	mikaelr@hotmail.com (Mikael R)
I want to thanks for the help I got fom you all the last time I had a

Now I've got a new one ;/...

Ok, last night I took out the ETX90EC for a quicky peek. While I was out
i decided to make a startest. The scope had been out in the -2 deg
Celsius outdoor temperature for maby 45-50 minutes when did the test.

I choosed a bright star (maby mag 1,5 - 0) and did the in/out focus. The
rings that appered looked very circular and didn't show any deformation.
But the thing that suprised me was the diffirence between the in/out
focus images. One of them showed me the outer ring very nicely and
bright (looked really good), and the other showed a much dimmer outer
ring. I thougt the ETX had excelent optics, but if it suffers from
spherical aberration it ain't that perfect...

The eyepice that I used under the test was a Soligor HP LER Lanthanum
Zoom eyepice. Could it be the eyepice or does my etx suffer from
spherical aberration? Could it be something else? I don't belive there's
anything wrong with my eyes (hope not :)).. But I do wear glasses becase
I have problem to see things in a distance.

Thakns for you're help!

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Your optics are good; you will see a "reversal" of pattern (actually not
and "exact reverse") when you reverse in-out focus, just as you
describe, in a Maksutov.  The Primary mirror of a Mak IS spherical, not
parabolic; it is the meniscus lens that corrects the resulting spherical
aberration.  All telescopes will show a clear pattern change in and out
of focus and too much has been said about spherical aberration laterly.

In the computer-generated optical systems - particularly Meade's and
Celestron's - spherical aberration within a Schmidt-Cass or Mak is
nearly unheard of AT THE FOCAL PLANE of the image (where your eyepiece
intercepts it).  The visual test (star in focus with even-concentric
diffraction rings that do not touch - skyies must be perfectly steady!!
- and a clear Airy star disk in the middle) is still the best test;  for
all of us with no laser collimators, the out-of-focus star image is more
suited for checking the COLLIMATION (i.e., the centering of the
secondary - that dark shadow in the out-of-focus image - to the bright
"disk" of the star).

Rest assured, I think you have fine optics....mine (both -90 and -125)
demonstrate the same patterns in intra- and extra- focus (as do two very
large scopes that I have had for 24 years with 1/22 wave optics).

Wait for a very steady night and check Pollux or some bright star
overhead in focus and look for those faint rings with that good eyepiece
you are using!

Good luck!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Lat/Long Coordinates
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 21:29:50
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
The info on how to find your exact Lat/Longs from Ron Sauer was very
good and timely. I have a way that uses the same site but may be a bit
quicker and easier to use since it uses cities and familiar landmarks to
get you where you want to go quicker.

The site is www.terraserver.com
When the home page comes up,select "search" The next page will ask for:
        City or Place name
        Place Type (select any)    
        Press go
        Click on USGS Aerial Photographs.

A date will be included for the time frame when your choice of locations
was last photographed or mapped. Chose the most recent!

When the image appears, click on the image as close to your location as
possible and continue doing so ( each click magnifies the image) to
enhance the image until you know that's your house or cabin or whatever
you can recognize!

The resolution reaches a point where you can't improve or zoom in any
closer. Now click on "Image Info" in the upper left corner and a grid
will appear with Lat/Long overlayed your image so you can interpolate
your coordinates to with- in 5" (or 500 ft) which should suffice.
        Tony Bulat

Subject:	Meade telescopes
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 18:30:36
From:	Rivercasa@aol.com
I am looking for a scope for spotting birds, wildlfe etc from my table
top at home.  There may be some terrestrial viewing as well. I
understand Meade makes one that will fill the bill for me. Can you tell
me which one that is?

Thanks very much, I enjoy reading your Meade page.
Mike here:Actually, there are many models that may fill your need. But I suspect what you have heard about are the "spotting scope" versions of the ETX-90 and ETX-125. These are just the telescope minus the base and fork mount. But the ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT can make fine spotting scopes as well and can also be used for some astronomical viewing. The same applies to the ETX-90EC and ETX-125EC. If you search my ETX site for "birding" you will get some hits from other users of the ETX for this purpose.

Subject:	Battery power for ETX 90 and accessories
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 15:38:26
From:	guest@unm.edu (Law School)
I'd like to hear from some other ETX 90 users about their experiences
with battery power for the scope and its accessories, including the
Autostar and the electric focuser.  During the last couple of
observation sessions my AA batteries were pretty low, and I noticed that
my scope was slewing somewhat slower than previously and that it was not
tracking very accurately.  First question:  when batteries are on their
last legs, does the scope act eratically? or does it simply die a sudden
death with no warning?  I suspect that when it starts acting sluggish
and fails to track, that's the time to replace the batteries, but I'd
like some confirmation on that point.

Second question:  should my electric focuser be gobbling its 9 volt
battery at such a prodigious rate?  Is it necessary to unplug the jack
-- even when the switch is off --  in order to save the battery?  If so,
this seems like a rather clumsy arrangement; but if that's the way it
works, I guess I can live with it.

Third question:  Is anyone out there using rechargeable AA batteries? 
If so, do they discharge faster than regular alakalines?  Do they work
as well?

Incidentally, the views up here in the high New Mexico desert --
especially when one gets away from Albuquerque's light pollution -- are
fabulous.  This little ETX is terrific, as is your most helpful website.

    Thanks, Dick
Mike here: Meade does recommend replacing batteries when they get down to about 75% (I think that's the right value) on the Autostar display of battery state. That is to avoid oddities. There have been reports published on my site that the focuser does drain the battery even in the OFF state.

Subject:	Thanks for all the info. on Mike's page
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 13:01:46
From:	Woodbaits@aol.com
I'm new to the hobby, and very excited with what I've been able to see
in the night sky with my ETX 125. I owe much of my enjoyment to you and
your extremely informative web site. Your work in maintaining the site,
along with it's constant updates, is truly an incredible feat.    It is
very much appreciated. Thank You. In most cases your site is the only
place to find the very valuable information one needs to overcome the
shortcomings of Meade's non existent quality control. The info. has
surely helped myself and many other ETX owners to realize the awesome
potential of their telescopes.


I see you have an entire chapter in the book "Astronomy with small
telescopes" I'm looking forward to it's press release.

Again, Many Thanks Mike.
Wayne A. Rude

Subject:	etx 90 question
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 11:51:48
From:	svo88@prodigy.net
I would like to max out the capabilities of my ETX-90EC. Money is not
object.  What would be the best eye piece to purchase as far as seeing
deep space objects or any other equipment to help me observe everything
within the realm of the scope?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Scott Van Ornum
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Mike here: Well, it depends upon how you define "max out". If you consider that the maximum usable magnification is about 200X, then an eyepiece which would give that is a 6-7mm one. But that is too much for dim objects like most deep space objects. So, lower power is better. So maybe a wider field eyepiece is what you would find most useful. Or light pollution filters. Or both. See the Accessories - Eyepieces and Accessories - Filters page for more on these.


Hi Mike thank you for the reply.  I guess I'm interested in seeing
galaxies and better resolution of the planets then with the current
stock ETX.  I've had it over a year now and havent' used it as much but
want to get into again.  I'll go through your website and get additional
Take care

Subject:	ScopeTronix Tripod
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 11:30:51
From:	rajones19@peoplepc.com (Richard Jones)
Thanks TONS for all your hard work on the web site. Wow, what a pile o'
great information. Been digging through all the data for about a week;
bought my ETX125 yesterday, and I figure about the time the clouds over
Michigan disperse (several months from now) I'll have finished reading
most of it.

I'm stuck trying to make a tripod decision. Looking at the MegaPod;
considered a HEAVY DUTY Bogen with a custom mount plate; also looked at
the "Astro 300 Field Tripod" on the ScopeTronix site. Have you received
any feedback from anybody who's using that tripod?

Thanks in advance,

Rick Jones
Rochester Hills, MI
Mike here: Don't recall any comments on the Scopetronix tripod. Scopetronix does sell quality products though.

Subject:	Re: ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 05:29:39
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Tommy Norton
thanks for the kind words.  the reason I have time to do all this is so
that I CAN make astronomy and this hobby the exciting environment that
it is for you and those who keep on coming.  it is a most rewarding
experience and worth every minute of time that I can muster!

good to hear from you...keep in touch!
P. Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Tommy
>Thanks very much for your prompt reply.  I don't know how you are able to
>answer all of your email and do everything else I'm sure you have to do, but
>THANK YOU for your commitment to help make this exciting hobby more
>understandable to those who are "mechanically challenged," like myself!

Subject:	Electric Focuser (#1244) use with Autostar (#497)
Sent:	Monday, March 5, 2001 03:55:43
From:	b16orin@bellsouth.net (L. Orin Eleuterius)
I am having a problem with the use of the electric focuser (#1244) and
the Autostar (#497).  After I hold down the mode and  scroll to the
focuser menu the screen is saying "USE UP/DOWN."  I am know it means to
use the scroll up and down keys.  However, it does not work with these
keys, it will only work with the arrow keys.  This   seems like it would
be a problem, because when you are focusing the scope you can't move it
and when you are moving the scope you can't focus it.  Can anyone offer
any suggestions?

Thanks for your site,

Mike here: I believe that is normal operation. I don't have the Meade Focuser so can't say from experience but it does use the same keypad on the Autostar and you have to be in the focus vs slewing mode. JMI has a device that lets you focus separate from the Autostar.

Subject:	Re: Thanks for all the info. on Mike's page
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 19:23:06
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Wayne
Thank you so much for your kind words....all this is certainly worth it
if I am helping folks like you!  And welcome to the wonderful world of
ETX 125; (and Saturn).  Being your first scope, you have many years and
nights ahead of exciting discovery and literal amazement as you find
more and more of what is out there.

Keep reading my tips....they are supposed to make your experiences fun
and rewarding, like any hobby is intended.  Keep in touch with all of us
regularly and post occasionally on the ETX site!

Glad you're reading my guides.....it helps to know, and always makes me
want to write another!

Good skies and fortune with your new astronomical endeavor!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>Hi Mr. Sherrod.
>I saw your ad on Astromart and just thought I would take the opportunity to
> Thank you.
>My wife bought me the proverbial Christmas scope. Fortunately for me it was
>an ETX 125. Believe it or not 49 year of age and this is my first scope.
> And, Yes, I danced at my fiist view of Saturn.
> Without your help with tips and fixes, and your excellent articles, myself
>and many others would truly be left in the dark.
> Keep writing and we'll keep reading!
>Again Many Thanks.

Subject:	Astronomy Club
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 13:56:43
From:	deleow@datasys.com (De Leo)
I just love your site and have been a frequent visitor for about a year
now.  I bought a ETX 125 EC on December 2000, and it is a great
telescope for most observations.

I wanted to start an astromy club.

My question is:  have you heard of any other astronomy club that has as
it's main observing device a ETX 125 telescope, or am I just making too
much of a fuzz for such a small telescope?


Mike here: Well, I haven't heard of a specific club for the ETX-125EC but that's sort of what we have with our online ETX community and what I'm hoping to get going with the ETX Star Party.

Subject:	great site
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 09:49:03
From:	wechsler@atlasdsl.net (Keith & Stephanie Wechsler)
I am about 3 weeks heavy with my 125 telescope.  I have found your site
to be very helpful to me regarding what I can realistically see.

Hopefully there will be some added recommendations on what accessories
every beginner should get.


Keith Wechsler
Mike here: There are some recommendations on the Buyer/New User Tips page.

Subject:	Your Website
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 09:07:08
From:	joerodricks@mediaone.net (Joe Rodricks)
I like the new look to your site, the navigation is much easier. I
thought I'd off this to you though. If you ever get tired of working on
the site/updating it, let me know, I'd be more than happy to help with
the work. I've made several sights for myself and my astronomy club
before. Let me know.

Clear Skies and happy HTMLing,

Joe Rodricks

Subject:	ETX and night vision 
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 06:11:09
From:	FAIC0N25@aol.com
Pat here
Some time ago I found a web link off of your sight that showed an ETX
coupled to a night owl monocular Would you be able to point me in the
right direction to find it agin ? I just  picked up such a scope and I
am wanting to really play with it
Thank you
P.S.  My screen name is spelled with a capitol I ( i ) and the number
zero ( 0 ) thanks agin
Mike here: I searched all the site files for something containing "owl" and no monoculars came up. You sure that's the right name?

Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 03:42:52
From:	acedrill@ozonline.com.au (Ace Drilling)
Just found your site........fantastic.....but haven't yet looked through

I bought an etx 90 ec back in late november 2000.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and I'm currently thinking of joining an
astronomy club or something so that I call meet people with an astronomy
background (that way I will not have to annoy you with my problems).

I had never used a telescope before but have been keen in astronomy for
some time. I have never meet anyone with a similar interest and
purchased the scope without much research. This is just what most books
were saying not to do! I have had some great success using the scope,
and believe I have made a great choice.

Looking at your feedback pages, I dont understand what all the fuss is
with the so-called problems.  Maybe I've just been lucky and not
expected to high-a-standard of the scope.

I have not had a single prolem with my scope...even polar aligning and

I have taken some good photographs of the moon....both piggyback and
through-the-scope(prime focus?) I had the end of the standard 26mm
eyepiece machined so that I could mount it inside the t-adapter and got
some good close-up photographs of the moon. I tried the same with a
7.5mm lens, however the lenses tube wasn't long long enough to be able
to focus it.....need to make up another longer tube for this lens.

I have tried taken some photographs of the planets, nebulas, etc, in
prime focus, however I have now encountered the problem with

What I am asking is whether you can help me with this problem, or can
give me an email address of someone who can. My setup: I'm using is a
35mm SLR camera mounted using the t-adapter, but the camera's viewfinder
makes it very difficult (impossible) to focus correctly on the planets
for instance. I have thought of using the moon to focus the scope and
then maybe purchasing another cheap scope to use to located the planets
in a piggyback arrangement.  Is there an easier way without going to the
trouble of getting another small scope and then making up a mount for
it? Can you remove the viewfinder from the camera and replace it with a
different type of viewfinder?  I am really stuck on this problem.

I dont wish to mount another scope to the ext as my carrycase is not big
enough to house the additional scope, and I don't really want to have to
align the smaller scope with the etx everytime I want to do some
photography.  I have thought of purchasing the auto-focuser, but I may
still have the same problems....anyway, my financial situation is not
the best, and an auto-focuser and/or CCD is out of the question given
the current exchange rates.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this matter....and wont be
able to sleep properly until this problem is overcome.  Also, bo you
recommend any books on astrophotography, especially for a beginner.

Sorry about the long message.


John Robinson.
Mike here: Focusing with some viewfinders is a challenge. Some SLR cameras have interchangeable viewfinders. If your does you might to want to get one designed for low-light. If you can't swap the viewfinder then focusing on a bright object is a good technique. Also, you can mark the infocus position so that you can repeat it with some accuracy. One technique is to count the revolutions of the focus knob from a full out-of-focus position to infocus and then align the mark. For example (and this is just an example), turn 5 full revolutions and then align a mark on the knob with a mark on the back of the ETX next to the knob.


Thanks Mike for the tip.....nice and easy!....should have thought of
that myself.

Subject:	my compliments to the chef
Sent:	Saturday, March 3, 2001 21:02:35
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
MIKE!  congratulations!  What a great deal to have your chapter in the
book!  Man, I am dying to read it and see what you and the rest have to
say.....I am sure you didn't show any partiality toward the Meade ETX
did you?  I'm going to books-a-million tomorrow and reserve a couple of
copies; I will send one to you right away when they deliver; please
autograph and return (I will include return postage...)  Be looking for
it as soon as the book comes out.

This is super.  April is a long time to wait...any pre-release editions
available anywhere??

Congratulations, Mike.  You deserve it; you have put a lot of effort and
patience into the ETX site and given a lot of enthusiasm, fun and
education to thousands of budding astronomers worldwide....but I think
you already knew that!

Your buddy and contributor to the fine Mighty ETX site (the only game in

Clay Sherrod

Subject: Phantom AutoStar Slewing Sydrome (PASS)

Recently, we asked all of our loyal ETX, LX-90 and DS observers to try a simple test involving "powering up" their telescope with the AutoStar OR the "standard hand controller" NOT attached.

Reports had been trickling in during past months regarding initiating power inadvertently to the telescope when neither controller was plugged into the HBX port found at the control panel in the base of the ETX and similarly located with the motors on the LX-90 and DS scopes. Without the controller(s) attached, some telescopes demonstrated sudden and extremed slewing, most commonly in the ALTITUDE axis and some showing such motion in both axes.

The test, asking for ETX, LX and DS users to start power to their telescopes without a controller installed, realized a lot of response, yet there appears to be no pattern and the situation seems to not be a critical problem as first thought it could be (i.e., related in some way to "random slewing" during observing with AutoStar attached). ---------------------------------

It is felt that more people who actually have experienced the "phantom AutoStar slew syndrome" (PASS) are the ones who responded to our questionnaire. As many times is the case....if there's no problem, then don't worry about it!

Total number of respondents: 82
Telescope Type:
ETX 60 / 70 - 4
DS 114 EC - 4
LX-90 - 12
ETX 90 EC - 24
ETX 125 EC - 36

Thus, if my hypothesis is right regarding people remaining silent who experience no problems then it appears that the ETX 125 is the clear "winner" when it comes to having the curious PASS.

The following results do not always total 100% of the respondents. In some cases, an observer would report results with AC power, but not DC; some reported the internal battery packs as DC while others were using DC power stations. All of the comments were carefully sorted and there does seem to be a correlation between the actual DC input (i.e. low voltage compared to high voltage) in nearly every case.

Again, it appears that if your telescope demonstrates this PASS motion, do not worry; simply do not go off and leave the telescope unattended with the power on and no hand controller in the HBX port! Indeed, ALL respondents noted that - if they did not shut off the power after the sudden slewing would begin - the telescope would CONTINUE until hitting either a hard stop or the base of the telescope (in Altitude).


The odd PASS motion consists of sudden bursts of movement, usually 7 to 10 degrees, followed by about a 2 second pause then more slewing in the same direction; in Altitude, the slewing is ALWAYS UP; in Azimuth, the reported slewing in all cases is TO THE RIGHT (looking from the back of the telescope. The Azimuth slew, in all reported cases, is LESS than the slewing in Altitude, and in MOST CASES non-existent with Altitude motion only.

As mentioned, this pattern will continue until:

1) the scope is turned off manually;
2) the OTA hits the base or a hard stop; or
3) the power to the telescope has been on for a while.

The latter case is interesting and is reported by ALL who left their units powered up. NOTE that the only way to do this was to UNCLAMP both axes and let the motors and gears turn, but not the telescope.

Hence, the motion does eventually go away. This could be due to: 1) warming of the circuitry; or/and 2) backing off from noise or a surge.

To that point, Dick Seymour is attributing this motion to electronic and electrical "noise" that is being picked up in the ETX circuitry. He wisely reminds us that the motion has nothing to do with AutoStar since the unit is not connected, and there is no such thing as a "residual memory" or residual influence of the unit once disconnected.

At this time, there seems to be NO correlation to "random slew," "rubber band" effect or any other troublesome aspect of ETX motion and GO TO performance.

Here is the reported pattern (or lack of) in each of the respective models of Meade telescopes USING AC (ALL without Autostar or standard hand controller attached - patterns and directions match those described above):

ETX 60 / 70 - No reports on AC
DS 114 - 100% reported the PASS slewing
LX-90 - 100% reported NO PASS slewing
ETX 90 - 55% reported slewing
ETX 125 - 28% reported slewing

The breakdown of telescope models USING ONLY DC power (either internal batteries or battery power packs):

ETX 60 / 70 - 100% reported NO slewing
DS 114 - no reports on DC
LX-90 - no reports on DC
ETX-90 - 20% reported slewing
ETX 125 - 10% reported slewing

Note that not everyone tested in both AC and DC power. Those who checked DC power indicate that the motion AND the degree of it are much less and from their reports the less outputed voltage, the less the amount of noted slewing.

Nearly all AC users reported using the Meade #541 AC/DC adapter, which puts out from 15.2 to 15.8 volts DC according to my measurements.

An odd note concerning age of the telescopes: more recent models appear to have MORE of the P.A.S.S. motion than older models, with the exception of the LX-90.

Neither Dick Seymour, Mike Weasner nor myself have come up with any explanation other than Dick's "noise" theory which appears to be right on the money. At any rate, whatever the culprit may be does not seem to have any bearing on either GOOD nor BAD tracking, slewing, GO TO or random creeping in AutoStar-driven telescopes.

More later if it warrants. Good skies....keep those AutoStars plugged in!

Clay Sherrod
Dick Seymour
Mike Weasner

Subject:	Autoguiding an ETX
Sent:	Saturday, March 3, 2001 17:00:16
From:	thebrills@zebra.net (The Brills)
After both Meade and SBIG told me that Autoguiding an ETX was not a
reasonable proposition, I decided to develop my own system.  Now, I am
pleased to be able to announce the introduction of my new Black Cat
Technology's CCD/Video Imager and Autoguider.  It will fully autoguide
both the LX-200 and the ETX -90 telescopes, and provide astounding
images of Deep-Space and Planetary objects with ease.

It is similar to the Astrovideo 2000, but is 112 times more sensitive,
and has the Autoguiding Capabilities.  I posted the Web-page a few weeks
ago, and have already sold several complete systems.  My customers have
started sending me images which I have posted in a "Gallery".

You might be interested in looking at the Web-page, and posting a link
to it.  It can be found at www.BlackCatTechnology.com and at

We will be advertising this Spring in "Sky and Telescope" and Astronomy
Magazine. Since you guys inspired the entire thing, I thought you might
be interested in seeing the Web-page.

Dave Brill

Subject:	Web Page
Sent:	Saturday, March 3, 2001 16:23:33
From:	tex@airmail.net (Tex Frossard)
First Off Thanks for all the great advise and information. I just got a
LX90, love it, and your pages have been a great help.

Niko Deleu made this quote

- Part 3 (Fig 3.E) on this web site."

I am looking for these pages and can't find them. Could you redirect me
to them.


Mike here: The info you seek is on the Tech Tips page.

Subject:	Re: OTA Removal
Sent:	Saturday, March 3, 2001 12:56:17
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ron
Ron - no bother whatsoever.  Glad you are starting on your
"enhancement." The wrench size you need is  a 7-64" so if you can find
it, that will work. The allen head bolts are the same size for BOTH the
ETX 90 and ETX 125.  Be sure to be careful when re-tightening these
after you are done; overtightening can crack the OTA support arms around
the small holes.

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Ron
>Sorry to bother you with such a trivial matter, but...
>In attempting the tune-up tips in your 3-part series, I'm trying to remove
>the OTA from my ETX-90EC and can't seem to find the correct size Allen key.
>I have a 2.5mm and a 3/32in, which are both just too small.  The next size
>up (3.0mm and 1/8in) is too big.  I'm going to try to find a 7/64in and see
>if that works.  I realize you have an ETX-125 but was curious as to what
>size worked for you.

Subject:	Re: 125 field-test
Sent:	Saturday, March 3, 2001 09:44:36
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ian
Ian - that is a great point, and you are absolutely right about this on
both counts:

1) it is truly one of the greatest advantages of the Polar mode; and, 2)
comfort is VERY important.

On the latter note, we conducted a test years ago at the University that
determined comfort, stress, and lack of sleep as factors in visual
acuity and mental awareness; by far, comfort ranked top in actual image
perception of fine detail.

I very much thank you for pointing out something that should have been a
key factor to stress when promoting the Polar mode.  I always use it, as
my tracking and electronic functions are all much better this way.

I am sure Mike Weasner will want to pick up on this fine, but often
overlooked, attribute of the sometimes-ornery Polar mounting mode!

Clear skies!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Ian
>Hi Clay,
>I just finished reading your field-test of the EXT-125, posted on Mike
>Weasner's site.  You did a terrific job!  I do have one comment however.
>Like you, I also favour using my ETX in the polar mode, for all of the
>reasons that you mentioned in your review, plus one.  With the telescope in
>polar mode I have found it much easier to look through the eyepiece sitting
>down.  The importance of comfort at the eyepiece, and the ease of holding
>one's head steady, can not be overemphasized.  Before I made this setup a
>habit, I found it impossible to view any object for the long periods of
>required to tease out the most difficult detail.
>Just thought that I would throw in my 2 cents worth. Take care, and thanks
>again for the great job on the review!
Mike here: Of course, the eyepiece position in Polar Mode is only different from that in Alt/Az in certain orientations. For a given altitude above the horizon, the eyepiece may be in the same position in either mode. Eyepiece height as well as orientation are the factors here hence the need for a comfortable and adjustable observing chair.

Subject:	Lat/Lon Coordinates
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2001 16:41:57
From:	RBSAUER@aol.com
As always, great site!

I stumbled upon a neat way to obtain precise Latitude/Longitude
coordinates for nearly any location.  For those of us without a GPS this
can only help Autostar accuracy. The following website is part of the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

Use this search form to find a landmark or feature near your observing
site (I used a reservoir nearby).  The search results will show details
of the location, including latitude and longitude, however you can get
even more precise.   When satisfied with the search results, click on
the link to "View USGS Digital Raster Graphic (DRG)".  You will then be
presented with a graphic of your location.  Use the arrows, located
around the graphic, and the zoom feature to find your exact location. 
Then select "Image" next to the "Style" selection above the graphic. 
You will see a photo of the area in question.  Zoom in as close as
possible (I found my rooftop in suburban Denver!).  Then in the upper
left corner, select "Image Info" and it will show the photo with a grid
indicating Lat/Lon. Wow! Is Big Brother watching or what?

There may be an easier way, although I obviously am not aware of it, but
it works!  Hope it helps!

Ron Sauer

Subject:	Field reports
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2001 10:58:37
From:	edmosser@home.com (Edward Mosser)
I have not been issuing field reports for quite sometime due to lack of
time to pursue the hobby.  My wife of 17 years passed away last August
and since then most of my free time has been devoted to my two sons. 
However, the urge to get outside with the ETX is starting to come back
to me.

We are travelling to Phoenix area on spring break later this month and I
remember S&T mag had an article on bed and breakfast lodging with
telescopes?  Can anyone help me with a) the issue the article was
contained in or b) a recommendation in that area for such a facility
that is friendly to kids.

Thanks to all.

Ed Mosser

Mike here: Sorry to hear about your wife. Condolences from all us on the ETX site. I found the issue you may be remembering (Aug 99) and there is a bed & breakfast in Benson, AZ (50mi east of Tucson) called Skywatcher's Inn. Nothing is the article about one near Phoenix.


Thanks Mike:

I found the issue also.  Was hoping there would be one between Phoenix
and the Grand Canyon.

My 6 year old and me went to Valpo University tonight to their telescope
open house - they have a 16 inch scope.  Too bad the clouds rolled in. 
Was able to see the moon and Jupiter.  Size matters!!!
Mike here: But try to carry that 16" in a backpack!

Subject:	Very sturdy, very cheap etx scope stand!
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 22:48:47
From	bryangm@excite.com (Bryan Morris)
I was walking through a Sam Ash music store looking for a new guitar
when I walked by the DJ area... I couldn't believe what I found!   I
sturdy metal stand with a sturdy metal plate with holes in it.  My
wheels got turning and I grabbed one and proceeded to try and push it
around and beat on it.  A perfect (for me anyway) stand for my ETX90 !! 
Ready to go!   It was only $49.99    Its very stong (made for holding
very heavy speakers).  I grabbed it (didn't get my guitar though...oh
well...I've got too many anyway)

Got home and set the ETX up there.  The holes lined up perfectly!  Ran
down to the garage and I just happened to have a few short bolts and
washers that fit the ETX base.   Bolted it up and its as sturdy as I
could have hoped for.  The only concern is that its a little tall. 
Almost feet by itself.  About 5 feet with the ETX on it.  The eyepiece
on the ETX lines up with my eye perfectly when I'm standing (I'm short,
about 5'4").  It can raise higher but not any lower than that so it
wouldn't work for sitting...unless you have a tall stool or something.
The model was a GroovePak Pro Gear  GSS50.  Tag said "Black speaker
stand with adaptor.  Heavy Duty."  I would imagine that there are
smaller ones for smaller speakers... heck they are cheap and made to
support alot of weight (and the movement/vibration of speaker cabinets)
and made of steel.

Just thought maybe you could pass this on for people that are viewin' on
a budget.  Thanks!


Subject:	Aligning the view finder on the ETX125
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 16:48:52
From:	saber@dircon.co.uk (Sam)
1. I have been having a lot of trouble aligning the viewfinder. I don't
seem to be able to get it to align with the scope. I can't even do it
using a low power eyepiece.

Do you have any tips or procedure I can follow to accurately align it
with the scope.

2. I generally observe through the eyepiece with my right eye and find
that I am hitting the viewfinder all the time with the left side of my
face because of the close proximity of the eyepiece to the finder. Any
tips on this problem? Can the finder be moved further away.

3. Can a totally seperate finder, say a 7X50, be attached to the scope
e.g. with a piggy back (this would preclude piggybacking a camera, so
would not be ideal), or any other type of secure bracket/mount.

Thanks for your time!



P.S. Weather has been terrible here, though had a break in clouds
tonight for about 2 hours with chrystal clear skies. Moon, Jupiter and
Saturn were closely grouped and managed to get all 3 in a single frame
using a 300mm zoom on my EOS 300. I am new to astro photography so I
hope the pictures will come out.
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The finder problems are common; I always align mine in the daytime at a
very distant object, scope at high power and finder, well....it's a
finder.  Always in the morning because I am not so cranky then.  It
takes a LOT of patience; the small nylon bolts can really hold it tight
if you get it centered;  you can cinch down on them tightly (but they
will break if too tight) and they hold forever.

START BY TIGHTENING (barely tight) the FRONT screws first.  This allows
the finder to "pivot" within them as you actually align with the rear
(closest to you) screws; once you get it aligned, start again at the
front and slowly and gently work the front screws tighter until all are
tight and the image is still centered (it will take a couple of
attempts).  Then go to the back ones and repeat; then back to the front,
etc., etc.

I actually LIKE the 8 x 21 finder.  It has great optics and a good wide
field.  It is terribly difficult to align, but patience will pay off. 
Use the aforementioned technique over and over until you get it right.

Regarding a large finder, sure you can attach an 8 x 50 and many people
do just that.  Go ahead and use the piggyback mount and simply remove
the finder (you won't need it anyway) during astrophotography and
replace when done.  If I were to do that, I would drill and tap two
holes to accept the finder MOUNT into the ring itself and not touch the
camera mounting plate.  Countersinking the screws will get them out of
the way.  I would drill from the outside and attach screws that way to
ensure not having them in so far as to hit the pretty blue tube!

Why don't you think about one of the Celestron "Red Dot" finders....I
mounted one on my scope and LOVE it; it allows you to aim like a rifle,
with no magnification, and can be VERY accurate; see my post on Mike's
site under "TECH TIPS" on how to properly mount one.  They are very
inexpensive and supplement the 8 x 21 very well!

Let me know how the tripod works out....if you need help, you know where
to turn!

Good skies!
Clay Sherrod
Mike here: Clay's comments are valid. You might also consider the Rigel Systems QuikFinder. As to the Meade finder, I have it rotated 45 degrees away from the ETX eyepiece. This avoids the "nose problem".

Subject:	eye piece question
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 13:22:14
From:	Nick_Biondi@fac.com
long time reader here, first time writer.  first let me say that your
site is great.  it was instrumental in my choice of the etx 125 to get
back into a hobby i hadn't pursued since childhood.  i've had the scope
since december and have been thrilled with it.  i haven't had any real
problems with it at all, other than a little slack in the r.a. drive,
but it doesn't bother me much.  views have been pretty good, but that is
more of a function of the skies i view than the etx.

in my efforts to tweak as much out of this scope as possible with the
skies available to me, i have purchased several eyepieces over the last
month or two.  i'm looking for a wider view of the sky and i didn't know
if a larger 2 in. eyepiece, say the celestron 55mm plossl, would even
work with the etx.  i read the post in the eyepiece section about the
guy using the scastro 50mm erfle, but i was not convinced i would have a
similar experience based on what i have been told from the outfit i've
been buying eyepieces from (great prices, not very happy to offer
advice).   what do you think?  thanks again for the great site, nick
Mike here: To use a 2" eyepiece with the 1.25" eyepiece holder on the ETX you'll need an adapter. But I don't think you'll gain much from a 2" and might even lose some width. And then there is the extra weight of 2" eyepieces. So, you might want to get one of the Wide Angle or Ultra Wide Angle eyepieces in 1.25" size. There are some reviewed on the Accessories - Eyepieces page or you can search the site for these.


thanks for getting back to me so quickly!

i was afraid that your answer would be an actual loss of field with a 2
inch e.p.   i did search your site for a high mm ultrwide e.p., but
didn't really come up with anything.  has anybody got any experience
with trying a 2 inch e.p. on the 125 that you are aware of?  as for your
concerns about the weight, i am currently using pentax xl e.p.s and
i.m.h.o. they are pretty heavy, and i have had no problems.  as an aside
if found an interesting link:   www.klhess.com/telecalc.htm  by entering
the specs of your scope it will tell you the performance of various
e.p.s specifically for your scope.  based on these calculations, with
the etx 125, it looks like the widest true field i can achieve in a 1.25
ep is .955 degrees, based on the calculation for the e.p.s on the site,
the best e.p. for me to get closest to the max true field is the meade
4000 40mm plossl at .923 degrees true field.

hmmm, i'm re-reading this message, and it either sounds like i'm know
what i'm talking about or i'm completely nuts.  make no mistake, i'm
wandering blind here.  just curious to know what you think, or your
experience with this.  thanks again for your timely response and the
site in general.  when all this is done, there is truly a place in
astronomy valhalla for you.  thanks,  nick

Subject:	ETX125-EC Prime focus photography
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 08:28:19
From:	RLPCLI@aol.com
Thanks for your past advice. After two months with the ETX60, I have
ordered my 125 with the industrial-grade tripod, Autostar and Autofocus.
Can't wait to get it. Your information on the 125 vs. the LX90 was a big
help. The 60 will make a nice Christmas present for my precocious 8 year
old grandson.

I have a firm grasp on magnification as a factor of focal length/lens
diameter, but can't seem to find anything on the web (at least in
language that I understand) about the magnification of prime focus
photography through the (alleged) 1900mm focal length of the 125. It
can't be 1900 (1900/1), or can it?

In my search, I found an interesting site in which you and some of your
advanced contributors, if you haven't already seen it, may have an
interest:   http://www.stargraham.com/math.html

As usual, thanks for your contributions to "ETXing for Dummies."  :-)

Bob Parke
Monticello, FL EXT Dummy

Fides super omnia praeter honorem.
Mike here: One way to think of magnification at prime focus is like using the telescope as a telephoto lens on a 35mm camera. If a "normal" lens of 50-55mm yields a "magnification of 1x" then a 1900mm focal length telescope will yield a magnification on film of about 36x.


Makes sense. Thanks.


Subject:	meade 8 x 21 finderscope
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 05:57:20
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The Meade 8 x 21 finderscope field depends on which one you are using;
Meade says "7.5 degrees" for both the straight through and the right
angle.  By the way, I have star tested the little finders and
-regardless of the negative publicity they have received because of
their size, are great optically!.

The straight-through finder gets about 6.8 degrees clear field;  the
right angle field is right at 6.5 degrees.  I have both styles and have
check the numbers myself.

Hope this helps.
Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Feedback Archives

Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Feedback page.

Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.

Copyright © 2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2001 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackMar01.html