GENERAL FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 May 2003
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.

Subject:	884 Tripod Problems
Sent:	Saturday, May 31, 2003 09:16:32
From:	MICROFAB@aol.com
I wonder if this problem has been encountered and solved.  I just
received my tripod and I notice that when my compass is anywhere near
it, the north indication is way off.  It appears that the nuts holding
the legs are magnetic.  Am I crazy or what?  I considered trying a
cassette tape demagnitizer...

Jim
Mike here: Metal can distort magnetic fields. Also the motors in the drives can affect it. So it should not be surprising that this occurs. Be surprised when the compass is accurate! Keep in mind that when using Magnetic North you need to correct for your local Magnetic Variation to determine True North, which is what a properly aligned telescope mount needs.
Subject:	zzzzzzzzCRACK!zzzzzzzzz...
Sent:	Friday, May 30, 2003 14:44:05
From:	patlejch@volny.cz (Goran & Vera)
Few weeks ago I bought ETX-90EC. I am pretty familiar with user comments
on your website so I knew what to expect: excellent optics and 
(possibly) some problems with mechanics or autostar. So, I was not
surprised when I tried it for the first starry night: during vertical
(up or down) movement of the OTA, pretty loud CRACK-sounds could be
heard - two or three during rotation from 0- to 90 degrees (Alt-Az). I
found that one of ETX-125 users had similar problem but he was told that
125 is notorious for making weird noise and that problem will go away
when system lossens. No error messages on autostar display. Careful
observation detected barely visible jerk when CRACK-sound is heard. I
use a third-party 12V/1500mA adapter. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks in advance. Best wishes from Prague.
Goran 
Mike here: If there is no jerking in movement when the sound occurs then it may not be serious. I've never heard one make that sound so can't comment from experience. But it does sound like something is catching someplace. Definitely worth watching. Be certain you are not overtightening the axis lock.
Subject:	ETX sales
Sent:	Friday, May 30, 2003 08:55:53
From:	Steven.Chavez@dot.state.co.us (Chavez, Steven A)
Harvard Camera is selling out 105Ec's with autostar and a 884 tripod for
$595.
Steve Chavez

Subject:	a solar filter "adapter"?
Sent:	Friday, May 30, 2003 06:56:41
From:	kyle@barks.org (Kyle Barger)
I wonder if anybody has any ideas for making a filter adapter for my
ETX90 (which I decided to buy, and which arrived damaged, so I'm waiting
for a replacement, but that's another story).  I have a Thousand Oaks
solar filter which was custom sized for my home built 4.5" dob.  The
outside diameter of the dob's tube is just a bit over 6".  And I still
have some of the tube I used to make it.  So I thought, rather than buy
a filter for the ETX90, maybe I could cut a couple inches length of the
tube and line it on the inside with something about an inch thick, so it
could fit over the ETX90 tube and then accept the solar filter.  Any
suggestions for how I might line the tube?  Thanks!
Mike here: You could get some styrofoam and paint it black. Glue some blocks of it around the inner circumference to hold the tube in place. Just a thought.
Subject:	New addition to ASO site: AstroWire News
Sent:	Thursday, May 29, 2003 13:20:03
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
We have just added a very quick and easy real-time astronomy NEWS update
service (AstroWire [tm]) to the Arkansas Sky Observatory website.  This
great source is updated when events warrant throughout the day, 24-7.

This is a wonderful and very rapid way to gain access to the most
current news in astronomy as it happens as well as updates on other
current events.

The link can be found on the home page of ASO at:
http://www.arksky.org/

Hope this can be of use to you....

Clay
----------------------------------------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	ETX 90EC - Hunk of Junk?
Sent:	Thursday, May 29, 2003 13:14:38
From:	mteige@yahoo.com (Michael Teige)
I have had it with this P.O.S. of mine. Last night was the last straw.
After fighting it for over an hour in the cold trying to train the
drives I found out why I was having so much pain. Both the RA & DEC
locks have failed! With both locks engaged I am able to move the scope
in either direction with only gentle pressure. I took the advice of
Jordan Blessing and others and make sure that the clamps were not broken
in any way and about a month ago I took the thing apart and looked. The
clamps were not busted and no repair seemed necessary other than
cleaning up all the grease. Well none of the minor stuff I did helped
any. I don't see why I need to spend money on a scope I paid almost
$1000 on in 2000 to make it work. This thing should just work as
advertised right out of the box. Were do I begin?

1. One night it almost came crashing down onto the concrete because one
of the legs failed on the #883 Field Tripod.  If I had not been right by
it (I had wandered away and returned just moments earlier) it would have
hit the deck and become really damaged. All 3 tripod legs have since
failed and I had to stick shims into the clamps to make the legs stiff.
Consequently the tripod legs are not adjustable this way.

2. I have never been able to get GoTo to work with the Autostar no
matter what I have tried. I have tried Polar alignment and non-polar to
no avail. I have spent more time training the drives and calibrating the
motors than I have spent viewing (no exaggeration there, really). Giving
up on GoTo I tried just having the sidereal tracking work but that
failed miserably as well. Things drift away from center much faster with
the sidereal tracking turned on.

3. There is a smudge on the front of the optics and what appears to be a
fingerprint but since they were way to one side I didn't make a big deal
of it, but it's rather telling.  And no, it's not my doing.  I have
never touched the front lens and my kids are not tall enough or have
nimble enough hands to unscrew the dust cap and go to town on the optics
with their sticky hands.

4. The failure of both clamps to adequately hold the OTA in place makes
the scope useless for what I purchased it for.  GoTo does not work and
the sidereal tracking does not work.

So here I am stuck with a tripod that I cannot adjust in height and a
telescope that is nothing more than an OTA mounted to a tabletop that I
must manually move on both axes by hand. This is what I paid a grand
for? And I don't factor the Autostar or the #883 tripod into the cost.
Those were freebies and the fact that they would cost $300 separately is
irrelevant. I could buy a 90mm "MAK" scope from Orion that includes a
Tripod (a nice one at that) with an optional tracking motor (that I'm
sure would actually work) for around $350 with a free carrying bag to
boot! To add insult to injury I can buy an ETC 125EC with UHTC and a
free #884 tripod and AutoStar for about what I paid for this hunk 'o
junk 2 years ago. I see that the 125EC forks are internal aluminum
structure with high-impact ABS and the bearings are Dec: ball bearings;
R.A.: ball bearings. The ETX 90 EC forks are steel-reinforced
high-impact ABS and the bearings are Nylon, both axes. Is this why it's
so weak? Do the real ball bearings and the more solid forks make the 125
any better? Or do 125 owners have this same grief? Either way I left an
angry voicemail with some supervisor at Meade. The regular phone-drone I
got when I called did not want to deal with me after I said how do they
have the gall to ask me to pay $75.00 on top of the packing and shipping
costs to have them inspect a scope I paid almost $1000 for that never
worked in the first place. He was real quick to transfer me. Of course
the thing went to voicemail. I am convinced that supervisors have 2
phones on their desk, one for angry customers and another for everyone
else. If the red one rings, let it go to voicemail so the supervisor is
not caught off guard and can prepare a response. Well let's see what
sort of offer Meade makes in an attempt to please me. My guess is that
I'll be speaking to the supervisors manager before this saga ends.
Lets hope I dont have to go too high up the food chain to get some
satisfaction.

-Michael Teige
And:
Already I got a voice mail from the supervisor at Meade and all he did
was quote regulations at me. Paraphrasing a bit: "We can't possibly
offer free repairs on an out of warranty scope and we offer the #884
tripod that is built by a different vendor that does not have the
problems of the other model.  Feel free to buy one."

Gee thanks!
I left him another voicemail (these guys are never at their desks eh?)
telling him these non-options of his are not acceptable.

I can tell this is going to be a long uphill battle. I better find out
who the CEO of Meade is because I think I'll need to go that high ;-)

Later,
-Michael

Subject:	Meade email...
Sent:	Thursday, May 29, 2003 06:17:20
From:	steinirey@simnet.is (Sigursteinn Haukur)
My name is Sigursteinn Haukur Reynisson and I live in Iceland. yes I'm
going to see the solar eclipse on friday :o) if it is not raining, that
is!!! I recently bought ETX-125 UHTC telescope from Amazon.com. I
haven't actually tried it because it is newer dark in the summer in
Iceland. I'm pleased with the equipment but I've had two kinds of
problems.

I get the "popular"  motor drive failure when the autostar has been
tracking any star (or the ceiling of my apartment :o) for a while
(2-5min). I was wandering if the pressure on the coupling for Ra or
horizontal (what ever it is called) movement, could be causing this. I
can only move the handle to the middle not all the way. I'm a little
afraid of destroying the drive if I tighten it to much. How far should I
be able to rotate it and how hard should I tighten it to make sure the
coupling doesn't slip? I am using brand new batteries and no
obstructions are in the way of the scope.

The other problem is the $99 eyepiece deal at meade.com I can't find any
email addresses that I could use on their website.

When I bought the telescope I had to get myself an address in the US. I
would now like to use the same address to get the eyepieces. It would be
a lot easier for me to pay with credit card and then send the invoice as
an attachment via e-mail and I've already registered online so I
shouldn't have to send them that form. BUT I HAVE NO EMAIL ADDRESS FROM
MEADE and that's where you come in :o)

You should be getting payed from Meade for all the advertisement you
give them. I really enjoy browsing your site and it seems to be endless
informattion on it. In a small town in Iceland there aren't so many
interested in Astronomy that you and your website replace my starparty.
Reading about people that think like I do is not so common for me :o) I
am an electronic technician and therefore I enjoy even more to read
about all the little modifications that you can do on your telescope or
even better. everything around it to begin with ;o)
 
Keep up the good work and you will probably be hearing from me again !!!

Best regards
      Sigursteinn Haukur Reynisson   (I'm called Steini)
      steinirey@simnet.is
      Iceland
Mike here: Meade has only one public email address: engineer@meade.com and that is for reporting software bugs and other problems. They don't use it for technical or sales support. They prefer to use the phone or fax for customer support. So, you would have to mail or fax in the order information for the $99 eyepiece deal. As to the MUFs, you could be overlocking the azimuth axis. It should be just tight enough to allow slewing to occur. Most times that puts the locking lever midway in the groove. But do check the proper HOME position (including the rotations to/from the hardstop) and the connections on the Autostar cable. Doing a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES may help. Lastly, a RESET may cure it.

And:

That was fast!!!

Thanks, I'll try this!!! 

Steini

Subject:	Re[2]: Flip mirror and star diagonal
Sent:	Thursday, May 29, 2003 01:34:05
From:	Rich Cutler
Many thanks for your speedy reply.

On 29 May 2003, 1:23:55 AM, you wrote:

Mac> The only problem with trying to replace [the flip mirror] will be
Mac> ensuring collimation, or in this case, that the mirror is not
Mac> tilted side-to-side.

Probably   not   too  difficult  ...  Meade's way of mounting the flip
mirror   assembly   isn't   exactly   high  precision  anyway with its
somewhat   wobbly  steel  pin  through plastic bushes, and spring that
doesn't  quite  lock and allows a few degrees of up and down movement!
So, I may have a go...

Regarding  sideways  mirror  tilt, if this is out it should be visible
when  viewing  through  the  eyepiece,  so  hopefully I can correct it
through trial and error.

Looking  through  the eyepiece I can't see any obvious artefacts owing
to  the  minor  scratches (two, lengthways down the centre of the flip
mirror), so I'm actually wondering if the scratches have any impact in
practice, so just leave the mirror alone! What do you think?

Regards

Rich
Mike here: The effect of the scratches would be to create extra reflections and flares, reducing contrast or reducing image quality. HOWEVER, you may not be able to notice any problems depending upon the exact nature of the scratches. So, yes, try it before assuming the worse.
Subject:	ETX-125 focus vibrations
Sent:	Wednesday, May 28, 2003 20:07:16
From:	sam-nan@juno.com (Sam Nothman)
I would like to thank you for your web site on the ETX scopes. It has
proved most useful.

I have had my ETX-125 for about a month and have used it numerous times.
It has worked very well each time. With proper setup in alt-az mode with
two star alignment I have had excellent success as all objects I have
located have appeared almost dead center in the FOV of a 26mm eyepiece.
The optics are excellent. Its tracking is very good as I let it track on
various objects for 30 minutes.

One problem I find annoying is focusing- the knob is not located in the
most accessible place and there is much vibration that occurs-afterwhich
the object being viewed needs to be recentered in the FOV. I have seen a
flexable shaft cable that Scopetronix makes to replace the focus knob.
They claim that it significantly reduces vibrations and improves
focusing. Have you heard or used one of these? If so, what are your
thoughts?

I know that an electric focuser would probably work well too, but I
didnt want to spend that much to correct the problem.

Thank you for your time,

Sam Nothman
Mike here: I have the Scopetronix Flexifocus (see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page).
Subject:	Older ETX 125 Broken Dec drive mounts
Sent:	Wednesday, May 28, 2003 18:14:10
From:	mrwizard@flash.net (Keith T. Johnson)
I was on vacation in remote northern Wisconsin last September, I
noticed excess play in the Dec. drive of my ETX 125.

When I dissembled the forks to investigate, the dec. drive mounting
bosses and broken parts literally fell out on the table.
    I never expected a state of the art scope for $895,
but I have seen better designed plastic Chinese toys at Wal-Mart.  

By using a handful of 2-56 screws, washers and nuts, I jury-rigged the
mess well enough to last for 2 weeks!

This scope is out of warrantee (2000), and has only been out of the box
6 times in 3 years.

    I called Mead and asked for help?

Specifically can they convert, or remount the tube on a newer
aluminum forks, or can I purchase the parts to do it myself?

( I am a machinist for the Department of Energy).

Mead said NO!. with no other explanation.

As a person that owns an 12" LX200, with  416 camera, eyepieces,
and about

Do you, or anyone  of the fine folks on your site have any
suggestions for my dilemma, or do I now own a spotting scope?<

Keith Johnson
Chicago IL
Mike here: If the Right Tube Adapter failed you could get a replacement RTA from Meade.
Subject:	Flip mirror and star diagonal
Sent:	Wednesday, May 28, 2003 13:51:43
From:	Rich Cutler
Greetings from England!

I bought a second-hand ETX-105 with UHTC optics for a good price that
has minor damage. The OTA and its optics are in excellent condition, as
are the electronics.

I've fixed the damage to the mount, but would like to know what to do
about the flip mirror, which has a few light scratches (straight down
the middle naturally!).

I was thinking about buying a star diagonal, removing its mirror and
using this to replace the one in my ETX. Is this feasible? If so, should
I use the mirror from a basic star diagonal (e.g. from Celestron or
Helios) or go a bit more up market?

(NB: I rebuild classic motorcycles, so I'm not worried about my ability
to operate on my scope - just whether it's possible).

Alternatively, do Meade sell spare parts, such as flip mirrors...?

Best regards

Rich Cutler
Mike here: Meade doesn't sell parts but may send you a replacement mirror (couldn't hurt to ask). The only problem with trying to replace it will be ensuring collimation, or in this case, that the mirror is not tilted side-to-side. Yes, you could add a high quality star diagonal at the rear; you will likely need a SCT adapter (see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page).
Subject:	Great night of observing!
Sent:	Wednesday, May 28, 2003 08:17:35
From:	electra188@comcast.net (electra188@comcast.net)
Thought I would send a positive report on two ETX scopes, my ETX-70AT
and ETX-105EC.

I set up the 70 for evening viewing of Jupiter, Vesta, M13, and the Coma
Bernice cluster. I enjoyed fantastic views of all, with eyepiece' 9.7
through 26mm.

I set up the 105 for this mornings planet parade. I viewed Neptune,
Mars, Uranus, the moon, Venus, and Mercury. In addition to M57 "ring
nebula", and M27 "dumbbell nebula". The seeing conditions were average
on a clear night with medium to moderate suburban light pollution in the
evening, slightly better viewing conditions this morning.

Everything that I "go to'd" BULLSEYED in the eyepiece (20mm), not the
finder...the eyepiece. And of course the optics on these scopes are top
notch.

Both scopes perform great and I'm thrilled with both of them.

Thanks for all of your work on the web site, advice in the past and
helpful information.

Warmest regards,

electra188...Tim Haller

Subject:	ETX 105 loose screw
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 21:36:47
From:	javao@singnet.com.sg (christopher shaw)
Last night, I was plagued by 'Motor failure' notices again. What was
worse is that while it was slewing around on the tripod, suddenly there
was a 'click click' sound - like some metal rolling inside the base'. I
immediately stopped the scope and removed the battery compartment,
thinking that maybe something in the battery compartment fell off. But
when I tilted the scope, something seemed to be ROLLING around loose
INSIDE the base. I removed all the batteries and tilted the scope gently
when all of a sudden, a screw rolled out of one of the gaps in the
battery compartment!

Obviously, a screw had come loose in the motor! Maybe that is what is
causing the motor failure notices to be so frequent the last three days!
This is amazing - since the scope is hardly four months old - to have
something actually come loose from the INSIDE. Note that I have treated
the scope with care and have not bumped it. How can this happen??

What do I do? Its still under warranty but I don't want to risk shipping
it back.
 
Best regards
Chris
Mike here: Yes, not supposed to happen but it could either be a screw that came loose (for lots of reasons) or one that was not supposed to be there (errors happen). In either case it needs to be dealt with. If you purchased from a local dealer, contact them. Even if not from a local dealer, I would suggest contacting the dealer anyway. They may be able to exchange it. The alternative is for you to go inside and see if you can determine where it came from. You could end up causing more problems and invalidating the warranty.
Subject:	Question 4U re: solar observing
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 20:04:13
From:	skywatcher@satx.rr.com (Eric Juhr)
I was surfing last nite and saw your webarticle on solar observing, and
had a question about this:

"Today we have specialized filters of all types for our telescopes that
are entirely safe for both the observer and the equipment. Regarding
equipment, you should NEVER allow sunlight to pass into a closed tube
such as a Maksutov, Schmidt-Cass or refractor telescope; the heat will
accumulate until eventually something is going to melt or pop."

I know that "never" means "never", but were you saying  that one should
never let sunlight pass WITHOUT A FILTER into a Schmidt tube?  Is using
a full-aperture filter (mine's a Baader film unit) safe in terms of
accumulating heat?

Thanx for taking time out to reply!

Eric Juhr
Mount Mesquite Observatory
San Antonio
Mike here: Any good full aperture solar filter (where the full aperture is covered, by either the filter or a solid surface) is safe to use. Be certain to always inspect the filter for damage before each use. DO NOT USE a damaged solar filter. Permanent eye and/or telescope damage can occur.
Subject:	Thinking of buying an ETX.
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 16:39:22
From:	aries339@attbi.com (Ty Benjamin)
Hey there - great site!

I figure you're the guy to ask - 

I'm thinking of getting an ETX.  I'm on a fixed budget, but I need good
quality.  I was thinking the 105 or the 125. I live in a near-suburb of
Chicago, where light polution is absolutely horrible.  Being in such a
bright area, would I notice a quality jump beween the 105 and the 125?

Also, I prefer the "au natural" method of photography - just a 35mm
camera and a t-adapter.  How have the ETX's stacked up with 35mm
implementation?  How is the drive system?  Good for piggybacking?

Any insight is appreciated!

~Ty
Mike here: Well, keep in mind that increased light gathering power of a larger aperture also means increased sky brightness from the light pollution. But if you plan to try out light pollution filters, then a large aperture is a must. If portability becomes a factor to get away from the lights, then you might go for the smaller telescope. Decisions, decisions, decisions... As to 35mm astrophotography, you can see many examples of that in the galleries as well as the Helpful Information -- Astrophotography pages. There are examples of piggyback and through the telescope. For through the telescope photography, short exposures will be required since you can not guide during the exposure (unless you add an off-axis camera attachment, and even then you can have problems with long exposures). For piggyback photography (which typically have long exposures) you will need to mount in Polar mode to avoid field rotation. This also applies to through the telescope astrophotography if you want to attempt long exposures.

And:

Your first response was quite informative.  Thanks a lot!

I had almost forgotten about the portability factor...  I do indeed want
to bring the scope on trips on my vacations to (very dark) rural
Arizona...

So, how long do you think I could take exposures with an off-axis
guider? How often do I have to realign it?

Also - how sensitive is the motor on the ETX series?  Is it acceptible
for making those tiny adjustments that are necessary with off-axis
aligned exposures?  Does the added weight and center-of-gravity
difference decrease the motor or guidance system's effectiveness?

Thanks again!

~Ty
Mike here: Added weight without a good counterweight system will cause drags on the telescope drives, affecting tracking. If you tune up the drive/Autostar you can get reasonable guiding at prime focus for as long as you stay with the guiding.

And:

Again - thanks so much for your time!

I have ordered my ETX 90, as well as some photographic supplies.  I
decided on the 90 for portability...

I already own a Canon AE-1  35mm Camera, with a 50mm and a 300mm lens.
I'm going to perfect my "technique" with the 50mm piggyback for a while,
but then I'd like to start doing 300mm piggyback.

What would you say is the best way to counterweight that heavy lens?

Or, can I just make minor adjustments through the telescope eyepiece
throughout the exposure?

Eventually I'll do through-the-telescope 35mm.  However I have been
unable to locate an off-axis guider for the ETX.  It seems all I can
find are for the LX series.  Any advice?

Thanks!

~Ty
Mike here: Making minor tracking adjustments through the eyepiece works fine for piggyback photography. Pick a bright star and use a high power eyepiece. As to counterweights, see the articles on the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page. I haven't tried any off-axis guiders for the ETX (yet).

And:

thankee!!

Subject:	New ETX "AT" Rumor at OPT?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 13:10:27
From:	jackdmail@yahoo.com (jack)
I put a deposit to get on a waiting list for a ETX-125 at Oceanside
Photo & Telescope on May 24th, 2003 and Craig Weatherwax my very helpful
salesman mentioned that Meade is changing the model designation to "AT"
(Automatic Telescope), replacing the ETX designation.  Craig said it was
just so they could have a new SKU number and that the telescope would be
the same.

I was wondering what you might have heard thru the grapevine on Meade's
plan for the ETX line after May 31st? Is it going to be a revolutionary
change and will my ETX which I should receive in mid to late June be an
updated "AT" version or an older ETX version. Is there an advantage to
waiting for an "AT" model.

By the way I just ordered your book on the EXT from Amazon.com and an
looking forward to reading it and trying out my new scope.
 
Sincerely;  Jack Dugan
Mike here: I suspect the AT designation goes at the end: ETX-125AT. That would match the ETX-70AT, which includes the Autostar. Since, according to rumors, Meade apparently is going to make the Autostar standard, switching from EC to AT makes sense.
Subject:	Question about parts dimensions; screw on adapters for ETX90EC and the electric focuser.
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 12:09:59
From:	thejll@mail.dk (Peter Thejll)
I have a question about electric focusers and the Meade ETX90EC. I have
obtained a screw-on adapter for the rear port of the ETX90EC, which
allows the use of optical parts intended for the SC telescope - such as
a focal reducer which has a thread intended for a larger port than the
one at the back of the ETX90. The screw-on adapter is so large however,
that it  blocks for the mounting of the Meade electric focuser. The
screw-on adapter simply juts into the space that the focuser needs. The
focuser is 3.4 cm 'deep' while the recess on the ETX, where the focus
knob sits, is less than that, leaving about 11 mm of the focuser to
stick out where the adapter wants to be. Electronic parts inside the
housing of the focuser prevents carving a suitable chunk out of that to
allow the adapter space.

My question is whether anyone knows of a smaller electric focuser for
the ETX90EC? The Meade company only makes the one sort, I think - the
#1244. Is there another brand to choose from? If so, how big is it?

Best wishes,

Peter Thejll
Denmark
Mike here: JMI has (or had) their MotoFocus; see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products for info on it.
Subject:	ETX 125 Manual  - Mike Weasner's website - 
Sent:	Tuesday, May 27, 2003 10:51:54
From:	frank.tomaras@cgi.com (Frank Tomaras)
Just visited your site .. awesome !!
 
I just bought a used ETX 125 but unfortunately the previous owners dog
took care of whatever manual (s) came with the scope.  Is there anyone
who may have a ETX 125 manual in PDF or other format ?? Perhaps you
already have this on your site but I was not able to find it.

I have not yet figured out how to align the scope. I was able to find
the "planets" but how do you key in eg: NGC4565 ??  ... I suspect the
manual will be very helpful indeed.
   
Thank you in advance.
-Frank
Mike here: See the FAQ page for the manual. Also, check out the LX90 manual for a good description of using the Autostar, including entering object numbers.

And:

OK Thanks.

Subject:	Re: Viewfinder
Sent:	Monday, May 26, 2003 22:52:00
From:	rene34@pacbell.net (Rene Rivas)
Thanks for the reply - I figured it out.  The viewfinder barrel
should have an aluminum threaded ring bonded to it in order to screw it
into the prism assembly.  My bond apparently failed and the ring
was screwed into the plastic prism assembly.  I just unscrewed the
ring, epoxied it to the tube, then screwed the two parts back together.

BTW -I used my telescope for the first time tonight, not much to see in
West LA but I practiced my setup 5-6 times.  Worked like a charm.
Not nearly as hard as it sounded.  Just takes careful reading of
the instructions.

Subject:	Viewfinder
Sent:	Friday, May 23, 2003 23:01:24
From:	rene34@pacbell.net (Rene Rivas)
I just received my new ETX-125EC with UHTC and is looks very nice.

One question, the right angle viewfinder tube and prism assembly don't
have any obvious method for attaching to each other.  No threads or
set screws.  The two pieces just fit loosely together and the prism
assembly falls off at the slightest touch.

Have I missed something?

Can I epoxy the two pieces together?
Mike here: It has been awhile since I received my ETX-125EC (1999) but I don't recall any problems with the right-angle finderscope. The tube should have threads at the end opposite the lens; the rear right-angle should have threads inside it. If not, I'd contact the dealer to get another #825 finderscope.
Subject:	Next Star Party
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 15:37:14
From:	gombe@msn.com (earl gomberg)
Any information on the next star party.  How about another one at Botaga
Springs.

Earl Gomberg
Mike here: Hope to do a "call for interest" soon. It will be announced on the ETX Site.
Subject:	Re: ETX 125
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 10:18:06
From:	DAdriance@engenderhealth.org (David Adriance)
To:	orion2k60@msn.com
I bought my ETX 125 through Amazon 3 years ago and it came through
without a hitch and is still working beautifully (although admittedly
with the assistance of a Dr. Clay Supercharge a couple of years back -
highly recommended also!).

Happy viewing,

D.

Subject:	transit level
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 08:04:03
From:	S.Sudak@Gwathmey-Siegel.com
I've got a really sturdy aluminum David White flat head transit level
tripod with a nice hefty 5/8-11 bolt that screws upwards directly into
the base of the transit level.

I periodically scan the internet and your site to see if anyone makes a
5/8-11 to ETX type interface plate assembly [alt-az or equatorial] but
so far I've come up empty. I don't have the skill, knowledge or
facilities at home to do my own serious metalworking, [thought I did
take a metals course long ago while studying Industrial Design in
college] and am reluctant to render the construction in hardwood or
plexi as I don't trust the bolt holding in those materials. I did try
experimenting with the metal plate that came with the ETX, and may still
find a way to use it - but so far, nothing quite works.

These transit level tripods are lightweight and built like tanks and
virtually all transit level tripods sport the 5/8-11 bolt. I'm surprised
I've found no one who has adapted them for use with the ETX  [though I
suppose not everyone who owns an ETX also owns a transit level]. I
wonder if you have ever seen such an adaptation in your travels?

Regards

S.Sudak

PS: By the way, I've taken a look at the Meade ETX tripod and mount. I
have to say, for the amount of good design poured into the ETX concept,
it is hard to believe the same folks came up with the design of that
tripod connection. That looks like nothing short of a disaster waiting
to happen - especially in the equatorial position. Yikes, I get the
willies just thinking about it!

Subject:	Handbox on Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 14:11:09
From:	jistaeheli@bluewin.ch (Joerg & Irmtraud Staeheli)
I am very sorry to bother you with a rather simple question and I tried
to find the answer on your website.I am a very happy owner of an
ETX-90EC (with Autostar Controller and Tripod) since two days and I just
wonder how people are fixing the handbox on the tripod as it shows on
all the Meade pictures.
Thank you very much in advance.

Best regards,
Joerg Staeheli
Basel / Switzerland
Mike here: The magic solution is.... Velcro! Put the "prickly" side on the legs and the soft side on the back of the Autostar.
Subject:	Eclipse Photos
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 13:41:36
From:	fishonkevin@sbcglobal.net (kevin keyes)
I love your site and read all the updates. I just got done looking at
your eclipse photos, do you know that if you move the up/down bar
quickly enough that you get a video. Interesting.

I also have a tip for your readers. As a temporary lens cap for short
breaks, I use a "Grandma's Plastic Shower Cap". The type with the
elastic around the opening. It slips on and off in a jiffy. Dew, frost,
dust anything is kept clear, it's easier than screwing on the lens cap
if your going inside for coffe. You can pick them up for a $1.00 at any
Dollar Store. My cameras on loan so I couldn't send a picture.

Thanks for a GREAT site, Kevin Keyes

Subject:	Illinois Dark Skies Star Party
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 11:03:22
From:	Luis.Perez@AIG.com (Perez, Luis)
Just wanted to let your group know that registration for the Illinois
Dark Skies Star Party is now open.  Those that attended last year will
be getting a registration packet via snail mail.  Other should down load
the registration form from the club site at http://www.sas-sky.org

Sincerely,

Luis Perez
IDSSP Registrar

Subject:	which ETX  model
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 06:45:28
From:	mjkutzner@earthlink.net (Michael Kutzner)
Could you tell me which ETX is good for starting out with, since I never
had a telescope before.

With the differance of what $400 between the etx-90ec and the
etx-125ec.  I guess you can see more items with the 125 compare to
the 90, or do you see the same things, only maybe more clearer with the
125 since it has a 5inch lens, rather than 3 inch.

Thanks for your input.

Regards,
Mike
Mike here: The larger the aperture, the brighter and more detailed the objects will be. The smaller, the more portable. Look through the various articles on the User Observations page for some indications of what you can see with each of the ETX models.
Subject:	Collimation
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 04:19:57
From:	Jean.Harding@sainsburys.co.uk (Jean Harding)
I have an ETX-125 spotting scope.  " a friend " releasd the catch on the
tripod and it fell overand cracked the base i glued it back together but
the focus is out of columation. please help im desparate .
many thanks for even replying james
Mike here: If the telescope is out of collimation, this is really something you may not want to try to correct yourself. Ideally you would have an "optical bench" to use. There are alternatives but they require a LOT of patience and you may end up with things even worse. The best bet is to contact either Meade for a repair or Dr. Clay Sherrod for his Supercharge tuneup. If you do want to try it yourself, see the collimation articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	ETX situation in Germany
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 03:25:57
From:	Rendelius@rpgdot.com
maybe this is interesting for you: The ETX models seem to sell extremely
well in Europe - at the time being, the 90's and 125's are backordered
for a month, the 105 even for 6-8 weeks. Meade Germany blames it on
incredible demand do to the special offer with the tripod and the
autostar and the eyepiece offer.

Just to let you know .-)

Bernhard Rems

Subject:	UHTC vs. non UHTC
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 15:39:39
From:	bc568@lafn.org (Lynn)
Hi, I'm planning to buy the Meade ETX 125 from Amazon.com.  Currently
they have the ETX 125 without the UHTC for about $ 850.00.  The ETX 125
with the UHTC is about $940.

Is there a major difference between the two?  Meads website only gives
you the technical specs.  Does it significantly improve the images you
see?

Do you think it would be well worth it to wait and get the ETX 125 with
UHTC since Amazon is currently waiting for its shipment to arrive?

Lynn
Mike here: Yep, the difference is very noticeable. I've looked through an ETX-90 with UHTC and one with the standard coatings. Objects were obviously brighter with the UHTC. You can read Dr. Clay Sherrod's UHTC test report by going to the Announcements --> Meade page.
Subject:	Obtaining an ETX 125 EC Power panel
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 14:59:30
From:	S.Sudak@Gwathmey-Siegel.com
Steve here. I bought my ETX 125EC in late December 2001. I discovered
your [excellent] site at some point last year. I wonder if you can help
me out with a problem that's come up.

We were holding an observing session up at my Scout camp in the
Adirondacks. We had lots of scopes and accessories running off a few
long extension cords we ran out onto the field in front of the Dining
Hall. At some point, either a cord got tugged, or my scope became
unplugged, and possibly in an effort to re-plug it in [in the pitch
dark], the 12V connector port became damaged. I didn't realize till days
later when I had the scope home and unplugged. I switched it on, and got
no power.  A few hours puzzling it out revealed that the damage is
infuriatingly simple. Like most 12V power connectors, this one has a
leaf switch that disengages the battery power when the 12V transformer
plug is inserted. That leaf switch has become deformed in such a way
that when unplugged, the leaf switch stays open. A little judicious
fiddling with a toothpick gets the switch closed, but  it doesn't stay
closed. By the way - the scope has worked flawlessly for almost a year-
running exclusively off the 12v transformer. All that I have lost is
convenience and mobility. The actual damaged part might cost -at best- 
60 cents, but a little poking around inside the unit revealed that the
12v switch is quite integrated into the so-called "power panel* ". Now
I'm no electrical engineer, [though I did build a cookbook CCD Camera]
but I [probably?] know how to get a power panel out, and back into the
ETX assuming its got reasonably simple connections and assuming I could
get one.

I called Meade and was met with a rather startlingly brief conversation.
They would not sell me a power panel, in spite of the warranty being
expired. "The repair is $75" - end of conversation. Now I don't mind the
75 dollar repair, [if you don't count knowing that it is to replace a 60
cent part]. What I mind most, is the idea of parting with -and shipping
both ways across the country - an otherwise perfectly functioning, well
collimated ETX. So tell me, what can I do to break the log jam and get a
power panel. Or, please tell me I am being unreasonable [and far too
risky] in thinking can do this repair myself - and just ship it off to
Meade and call it a day. Thanks for anything you might be able to offer
in the way of advice.

Regards

S. Sudak
Dobbs Ferry, NY

* I learned the name of the part from a letter I read on your site. 
Mike here: There are some user replaceable parts and some that are not. The power panel comes under the latter category (possibly for safety/legal reasons?).

And:

Indeed, in a correspondence to you, V.A. van Wulfen  makes reference to
Dr. Sherrod. I thought he might have been possibly the retailer to Mr
van Wulfen, so I never considered contacting him myself. Now after a
little internet surfing, I see who he is. I appreciate your passing my
message along to him.

I will await his comments. Thanks again.

Regards

S.Sudak 
And:
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
To:	etx@me.com
I will look and see if I have a spare control panel board; actually the
$75 price tag is quite a bargain when you consider that they will do
whatever you specify needs to be addressed when sending in the scope! 
They also pay return shipping....

Clay
----------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/
And:
Have received this message form Dr. Sherrod, and will take his sage
advice under consideration.

Perhaps I'll stick to tinkering with my own cookbook camera, and leave
the power panel to the good folks at Meade.

Thanks again. And thank you Dr. Sherrod.

S.Sudak
And this:
Best of luck on all....I will look for a spare power panel (likely I do
not have at this time since that is the main electronic failure on these
scopes....); let me know if you decide to send into Meade....which I
highly recommend.  The worst part is the one-month wait for return,
which can be sped up slightly if you "push" from time to time via Ma
Bell.....

Clay

Subject:	Re:  Meade Field Tripod #884
Sent:	Tuesday, May 20, 2003 04:02:17
From:	nhonohan@woa.com (Noel Honohan)
Thanks.  But is there a way to adapt an EQ mount to the Meade tripod?

Noel
Mike here: Probably. But you might have to make an adapter.
Subject:	Hard Cases
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 22:01:19
From:	BSieg2@aol.com
I recently purchased an ETX-105EC to replace my ETX-90EC, which was
stolen a couple of months ago.  The 90 was in an extra-large hard case
by Doskocil, which I bought based on recommendations I saw on your site.
 The Dosko was outstanding, but just barely large enough for the 90, in
my opinion, and I wish they made something large enough for the 105.

I have searched the web for other cases, and based on reviews from your
site, have decided not to get the Meade case.  When I looked at the
Meade case in the dealer's shop, the case felt rather flimsy (compared
to the Dosko), even though it had convenient cut-outs in the foam for
the components.  I'm glad I read your review page!

I have tentatively decided to get a Pelican 1610 case with Pick'n'Pluck
foam, which weighs over 23 pounds all by itself, but at least has wheels
& a lifetime warranty.  Online prices were all over the map; the best
deal I found was from Case Club in Anaheim at $151 (plus $11.70 tax,
since I'm in California) and $15.38 shipping, for a total of $178.08. 
The rep at Case Club (Raeanne Ramos) was very responsive and answered
all my questions online.

I also looked at cases by Underwater Kinetics, along the same lines as
Pelican.  I didn't do much comparison shopping, as the closest size in
their line appeared to weigh a few pounds more even without foam.

Are there any other good cases worth looking into before I commit this
kind of money?

Thanks,
Barbara Sieg
Mike here: What I know about cases is on the Accessory Reviews - Cases page.
Subject:	problems with etx 125 drive
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 21:58:35
From:	dingeuwen@hotmail.com (ding euwen)
thanks for your great website.. helped me make the final decision to buy
an etx.

however, i just tried out my scope with some terrestrial viewing for a
start and discovered that i've got a major problem with the scopes
drive.. it works fine for the up and down motion but for the side to
side it just makes the slewing noise but there is zero motion. could you
help me out? i'm quite at a loss at what to do cause i'm a beginner and
really scared at screwing something up with the scope.... oh and i cant
send it back to meade cause i live in singapore and had it shipped over.

thanks!

eu-wen
Mike here: Does the horizontal axis lock lever move all the way to locked position without engaging the lock? If so, you can adjust the position of the lever (see the FAQ page). Let me know if that's it.

And an update (eu-wen isn't alone in making this mistake):

i wrote an e-mail to you just now about my scope's horizontal drive
failur. so sorry but i just made a silly mistake.. didnt turn the
horizontal lock.. anyway it seems to be working fine now.. cant wait to
try it out tonight on the night sky..
thanks!

eu-wen

Subject:	Meade Field Tripod #884
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 10:47:33
From:	nhonohan@woa.com (Noel Honohan)
I was having so much trouble with my ETX-105EC, last week when we the
DEC drive began making LOUD CLUNKING sounds, out of frustration, I
junked the mount and Autostar.  Now, the OTA and tripod are sitting in a
closet wating to be mated on what I hope could be a MANUAL EQ-3  or
EQ-4.  I really have no use that I', aware of for this tripod unless it
can be adapted.  I'm a novice, so maybe I'm wrong here.  Anyway . . .

Any ideas would be very much appreciated.  Maybe I can still salvage
some of my investment?

Noel Honohan
World Airways
Peachtree City, GA
Mike here: Without attempting to troubleshoot what might be wrong with the drive (hard stop, overlocked axis lock, other), it is hard to say how you should proceed. But if you want to sell it, I will post your ad on the FOR SALE page.
Subject:	ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 10:21:53
From:	orion2k60@msn.com (RONALD OSTROMECKI)
I am in the process  of ordering a new ETX 125.   I found that if I
ordered from Amazon.com I would save about $75 over any other outlet
(lower unit cost and free shipping).  Are there any pitfalls in ordering
from Amazon (eg old vs. new models) that would be of concern?  Thanks
for your response.

Ron Ostromecki
Wausau, WI
Mike here: Amazon.com is an authorized Meade dealer so there should be no problem. I've ordered many products from Amazon (but not telescopes...) and have always been pleased. Be certain you are getting the current deal (Autostar, #884 tripod). Also, don't pass up the $99 eyepiece deal from Meade.

And:

Thank You Mike.

Yes the Amazon price of $850 includes both accessories - a sweetheart
deal.  Also they pay the shipping!!  I was concerned when I read the
"old vs. new" controversy on your excellent web page.  That was dated
4/02 however, so I hope only "new" scopes are in the supply system.

I also plan to take advantage of the outstanding deal on eyepieces.

Thanks again Mike; I will stay glued to your website after I get the
scope.

Ron Ostromecki
Wausau, WI  

Subject:	ETX DEC Drive Failure
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 14:48:51
From:	manningb213@earthlink.net (Manning Butterworth)
Perhaps you can help me.  Thursday I took my ETX 125 out to try to
photograph the lunar eclipse.  The Dec motor would not run.  I noticed
after power was turned off that when I released the Dec lock, I heard a
sound like a loaded spring unwinding.  I am mystified what that might
have been since there is no spring in the Dec drive unit, but it
suggests that perhaps the DEC drive had attempted to operate at least
briefly (but unsuccessfully).  I don't know if it has any connection to
the DEC drive failure, but I mention it because it involved the DEC
drive lock and happened at the time of the DEC failure.

Investigation since, reveals that voltage is being supplied (more about
this in a minute) to the PC board connected to the DEC motor.  However,
the PC board is supplying zero (0) volts to the motor via the red and
black wires running from the PC board to the DEC motor.  If I supply the
DEC motor with 3 volts, it runs fine so I believe the motor would run if
it received power. Do you have any suggestions on why the PC board might
be delivering zero volts output to the motor?  Are there things I can
check to diagnose the problem?

Using a digital multi-meter, I found that the voltages at the connection
points of the four wires to the DEC PC board were (assuming black to be
ground):

Red  - (minus) 14.2 volts
Yellow - (minus) 11.6 volts
Blue - (minus) 9.2 volts.

Is it normal (for the ETX) that the red wire would be at a negative
potential relative to the black wire?  This is opposite of what I
expected since normally I expect red to signify a positive potential
relative to black.

Yes, the scope had previously worked although I had not used it for some
time.  To simplify the problem solving I also used the standard
(non-Autostar) controller during my investigation.  And, yes, the RA
drive continues to operate.

Finally, thank you for any information you can provide.
Manning Butterworth
Mike here: At first as I began reading your email I thought maybe the Right Tube Adapter had failed but from your troubleshooting it sounds like either a broken wire or solder connection.

And:

You might be right about the connections, but it is not obvious to me
which might be at fault.  There are many and most are tiny.
Thank you,
Manning Butterworth
And from our resident hardware expert:
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
When you indicate that it "would not run" does this mean that you heard
NO response whatsoever from the motor?  Did you hear any indication that
the motor was laboring?

The sounds like a spring unwinding sound suspiciously like the small
nylon reducer gears being wound up by torque in one direction, but the
worm gear unable to turn.   This very well could be the problem. 
However, if it is the problem then the resulting fact that voltage
applied direct to the motor will run it....if there is binding, the
motor should at least attempt to work, or load up where you can hear it.
I would try to see what happens with the DEC arm cover off, and see if
there is power attempting to be transferred to the worm gear; it is
possible that the motor is attempting to work and you cannot hear
it....but the spring unloading sound is a clear indication of severe
binding in either the worm or the worm driver (main flat) gear.

Dr. Clay
----------
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/
And:
Thank you for the quick reply.  Since I new to this site, I am not sure
of the protocol for my replies.  I have included Dr. Sherrod on this
reply.  If I am not following the correct procedure, please forgive me.

The motor does not run, because there is no voltage being applied to it
by the DEC PC board.  The nylon gears are all in good shape.  I could
not tell if the motor was running when I first powered up the scope
because it was slewing in RA to the first alignment star.  I did notice,
however, that there was no movement in DEC whatsoever.

I do have the DEC arm cover off and that is how I can determine that no
voltage is being sent to the motor (at any speed setting).  However, the
voltages do change on the yellow and blue wires coming in to the DEC PC
board when the DEC slew buttons are pressed.

Is there a way to check individual components to determine if they are
still operational?  Are there output voltages, for example, that would
help isolate where the problem is?

Thank you,
Manning Butterworth

Subject:	ASO & Griffith Obs. award.....
Sent:	Friday, May 16, 2003 13:49:20
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
We are pleased that the Arkansas Sky Observatory has been awarded the
Griffith Observatory Star Award for its ASO website which many of you
are familiar with....thanks to all of you for your support; you can
learn more about this prestigious award from ASO at:

http://www.arksky.org/

Clay
----------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	ETX-90EC Broken knob 
Sent:	Thursday, May 15, 2003 22:22:23
From:	goof2233@yahoo.com (yadhu g)
Great site. I hv used it a lot.
I have an ETX-90EC and someone here over-tightened the rightside knob
and it broke. Now scope wouldnt stand straight. Is this something that
can be fixed by me. If not where can this be fixed. I live in san jose,
ca.

Thanks in advance

regds
Yad
Mike here: Call Meade. They will send you a Right Tube Adapter, possibly for free. Installation is easy; see the my ETX-90EC comments at http://www.weasner.com/etx/90ec_comments.html; near the end of the page is my description and photos.

Thanks for the lighting response !! :) I'll call meade. best regds yad


Subject:	quick cam
Sent:	Thursday, May 15, 2003 16:58:16
From:	poweredandre@msn.com (Andre Marques)
hi man how u doing?
im from brasil! i want to know if u know some website that talk abou how
to do a quick cam!
take photos with a webcam!!!
help me!
or a web site that say how to tke photos with digital camera!


Obrigado
Abraos
Andr
Santos-SP Lat.2357.39S Long.4620.01 O
www.astroweb.kit.net
Mike here: If you mean astrophotographs, check the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for the Quickcam section.
Subject:	ETXpert Tripod Plate
Sent:	Thursday, May 15, 2003 09:48:25
From:	JetTek2003@aol.com
Is the ETXpert tripod plate still available?  I've had no luck with the
provided phone number.  Your assistance is appreciated.  Thanks for the
great site! - JetTek2003@aol.com.
Mike here: All I know is what is posted.
Subject:	Batteries and power supplies
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 10:58:53
From:	hikerjj@hotmail.com (J Anderson)
Thanks for the great site.  I found some of the articles of great value. 

I've found some interesting things at All Electronics:

1) two 6 volt 4 amp hour batteries are cheaper than one 12 volt.
www.allelectronics.com/pdf/rbat.pdf  is a good place to buy them.
This particular cell is actually a 4.5 amp hour and is cheap because
they are made in huge quantity.

2) A good switching power supply.  It puts out 12.6 volts with under .01
volt ripple and runs my DS-114 just fine, even for full dual axis
slewing.  It's a "new surplus" item so the price is very good, and won't
be available forever.
www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=search&item=
PS-1215&type=store It has the usual dry location warning, but the case
is not ventilated. You must change the power plug to a size "N".   I got
mine from Radio Shack for about $2.50/pair.

3) For dedicated scope-mount builders, here's an interesting item
supposedly with a high quality axis and drive.  I'm guessing that an
encoder could be added to the motor shaft after removing the turns
sensor and/or brake.
www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=400400&item=
DCM-178&type=store Apparently the turns sensor is a Hall effect device,
and they are usually very fast devices, so it could possibly be
converted to an adequate encoder by installing a steel gear with the
correct number of teeth for an encoder.  This is all speculation on my
part... I haven't seen this device.

Best regards,
Joe Anderson

Subject:	Re:  Tune Up to New Scope
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 08:45:32
From:	gery.j.kissel@gm.com
Thanks for the feedback.

Last night, the third night out with my ETX was a perfect GOTO night!  I
found most of my problem was in telescope leveling.  I thought I had the
silly thing level.  But I rotated the scope 360 degrees and found it was
not (level facing north, east and west, not level facing south.)  I
adjusted the tripod to have the scope level in 360 degrees of rotation.
As for training...

I used Polaris and a 12mm illuminated reticle to do my training.  I
can't remember which was which but one of the training values was about
250 and the other was about 570.  I even took things a step further and
used the reticle during the 2 star alignment.

I was using my 32mm eyepiece which I think has a field of 0.8 degrees. 
All the targets were within 3/4 of the center of the eyepiece.  That
made me feel REAL good!  Conclusion, this baby is tuned up!

Great Site!
Regards,
Gery
Mike here: Aren't you glad you followed my recommendation to NOT make mods unless you know they are needed!!!!
Subject:	Dec motor buzzing
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 04:32:27
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
I too suffer from the dreaded motor vibrations (or rather my ETX does),
and I am very interested in John Welch's dampening mods. Any chance of a
more detailed 'how to', or some pictures? It's really annoying when
trying to split a double at high magnification, when you see a dumbell
rather than black sky between two pinpricks.
TIA 
DD
And:
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
Hi Damian,
For years I thought Mother Nature was trying to tell me something with
each of those dumbells in my view!

After many experiments over time, the end achievement is to reduce the
dec. motor's resistance and reduce the dec. arm housing's ability to
ring (transfer) the micro second pulsations of the dec. motor to it's
driven gear (the white gear housed in the dec. motor housing).

It's useful to remove the dec. motor housing along with the worm gear;
install the autostar and run the dec. motor on speed position #2.
Lightly vary the resistance of the white driven gear with your
fingertips to see the dramatic effect the "micro start/stop" of the
motor. This is the heavy up and down inertia of the motor that transfers
through the dec. motor housing into the dec. arm and into the optical
tube.

You may find several ways to dampen since you're most likely more clever
than I. Here are the steps that improved my scope:

a) Check worm gear resistance. Remove worm assembly; turn the worm by
hand. It should be perfectly free to rotate with no hint of axial play.
Hold the brass shaft (not the worm teeth) with small locking pliers
while adjusting the nut at the end of the worm housing. Adjust in tiny
increments until free. do not allow 'play' to creep in.

b) Purchase at any local hardware store, eight tiny "O" rings that
barely fit onto the dec. motor housing screws. When you reinstall these
screws, run a ring up to the head of each screw and on the tip of each
screw after pushing the screws through the dec. housing bracket holes.
Then seat the screws in their molded nut towers of the dec. arm housing.

c) Use foam tape (common for sealing pickup truck to camper tops) to
take up any clearance between the dec. motor housing and the dec. arm
housing exterior plate. I was able to reduce the transfered vibration by
allowing the plate to apply pressure through two layers of foam tape to
the 'lower end' of the dec. motor housing (the open faced part of the
motor housing). Cut to fit and avoid any white gear resistance. There
will be more difficulty (slight) installing the dec. arm face plate.

d) Work in a quiet place so you can hear the motor when testing
thoughout this process.

e) Remove any accessories that might add to dec. motor resistance i.e.
heavy finder scopes, etc.

f) As a last resort, reduce loaded volts (I finally arrived at 8.5v) at
the power source to reduce actual amperage to the motor, thus reducing
it's violent "micro inertia".

Thanks for enduring this memo. Clear skies and no micro inertia!
John
And more:
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
Hey Damian,
I guess something got started with the buzzy thing. An old friend (Bill)
saw the mike W. info and brought his 90 over to repair. It didn't
respond well to the fast and easy method I described to you yesterday.

I decided the dec. motor housing just can't be rigidly attached to the
fork arm housing with the two screws that transfer vibration through
themselves and into their respective nut towers.

a) Apply silicone adhesive generously to the two nut towers and a small
amount to the inboard screw interfaces of the motor/transmission housing
to form a 'flexible' bond of the trans. housing to the arm housing.
Obviously take care that the adhesive doesn't reach any gears and future
removal will require some exacto knife blade surgery.

Locate the trans. housing to the towers by attaching the original screws
but do not tighten to 'bottom'. Oh yes, lightly grease the screw shafts
to lessen their adherance to the silicone.

Once the silicone cures you can remove the screws or leave them
installed. Just make sure they are loose to prevent transfer. I'm
momentarily allowing the silicone to cure so the final result isn't in,
but, if the uncured result is retained, it has reduced the vibration
transfer substantially.

b) Another point: It seems the worm shaft nut tightens as it runs! I
found this on both scopes. Once you've adjusted the shaft, apply a small
drop of thread locker to the nut and screw.

Like life, it's a work in progress.
John

Subject:	focus damaged
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 00:54:43
From:	Jean.Harding@sainsburys.co.uk (Jean Harding)
last week i dropped my etx 125 and damaged the fous on it. i cannot seem
to focus it properley . what can i do ?

kind regards james
Mike here: Can you explain how it was dropped, that is where it might have been damaged?
Subject:	re:  No optical coating on ETX 125?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 23:05:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	exousia112@adelphia.net
Dr. Clay could answer this better than i could,
but since it's an open box. perhaps it's not in its original box?

The UHTC scopes -look- like they're uncoated in the right light
(looking into a 10"LX200gps is frightening... the corrector just 
"isn't there")

The coatings reduce -reflections-.  How well does the corrector
-reflect- light?  If it seems to do a poor job of it, they're
probably coated.. compare with a clean chunk of window glass.
(shine a laser pointer or flashlight at a 30 degee angle,
make a comparative analysis of how much light bounces from the
front surface and shines on the wall or ceiling.

good luck
==dick

Subject:	Re: Barlow lens #126 and #127
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 22:24:39
From:	homidans@hotmail.com (Saleh Homidan)
Thanks for your quick reply,
What is the best eyepiece to catch the new crescent for ETX90-EC?
Mike here: Low power, even the supplied 26mm will do.
Subject:	etx's limitation?
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 21:01:05
From:	debharit@hotmail.com (debharit)
do you have any idea to simply adapt etx in polar mode for observing
wider sourthern hemisphere from the latitude degree of 13. the
problematic point is that the ota will get stuck with the RA base
itself. pls suggest.

many thanks for any ideas,
B. Thepparit
Mike here: If you have an EC model with an Autostar you can mount in Alt/Az and see the whole visible sky.
Subject:	taking your etx on walkabout
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 15:24:15
From:	GHENDRI@aol.com
Is there a preferred (safest) orientation for carrying your ETX in a
car...moped..camel...pack mule?...Yes, in a hard case I know, but
parking the mirror was news to me so it made me think a little more. I
have the Meade hard case. I am guessing laying flat with my brass
"Supercharged" label facing the sky. I have hauled my 125 many times in
the last  year and hope I did'nt damage anything. I will be parking the
mirror from now on.

God bless our troops and Dr Clay

Regards,
Geoff Hendrickson
Mike here: Personally I have never "parked" the mirror on my ETX-90; Meade does recommend using the shipping supports at the rear with the ETX-125. But in general, being flat is better than being vertical if there is a chance of dropping or bumping. if you can remove the finderscope, good, as it will likely get out of alignment anyway.

And:

Ok now I am on the fence about parking!  I defer to the good Dr. Is it
worth it?

Subject:	Tune Up to New Scope
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 05:35:37
From:	gery.j.kissel@gm.com
I just purchased a 125 last month.  I have had it out twice (bad
weather.) The first night I was very disappointed in the goto accuracy
but found the optics to be outstanding.  The second time I took more
time to level the tripod and scope and point it north (used Polaris
centered in the eyepiece for north).  I also used Polaris and an
illuminated reticle (unfortunately with dead batteries) to train the
drive.  I used a 32mm eyepiece instead of the standard one and got much
better results with the goto.  Perhaps 70% success. I did notice that
the more south objects were, Regulus for example, or planetary (Jupiter
or Saturn) the worse the performance (out of the eyepiece in the
finder).

Time, date, daylight savings and location were exact.  I will try again
tonight with the same process and see if I get better results.  Now my
questions. Your site lists a number of fixes to the scope.  While I do
have backlash in both Alt and Az I would hope a good drive training
would correct of this.  I cannot detect any clutch slipping (yet.)  Do
you feel removing the backlash would help?  That seem to be the easiest
fix to do.

The information on your site seems to be relevant to the old version of
the ETX.  How does the new design compare to the old?

I have downloaded and installed the Autostar patch that allows editing
of the training values and will try in the future to use the spreadsheet
available to optimize the values.  Do you think this will help?

Last question (for now), this one regarding the Alt and Az percentages.
Are these values used during a goto or only when one is doing a manual
slew?  I would imaging removing the backlash would really help here.

Thanks in advance for your comments!
Gery
Mike here: In general, I do not recommend making ANY mods or adjustments to ANY telescope or its GOTO system until you absolutely positively without-a-doubt know that you need to make them. After only a couple of uses I doubt that you are there yet. Get to know your telescope and its specific quirks. Then if you need to make the performance enhancements you can feel more confident that they will make a needed difference. GOTOs will normally improve with experience; remember, the better the HOME position placement and the centering of the alignment stars, the better the GOTOs will be. The same applies to training; the more accurate you center the object the better the training will be. Editing values directly may or may not make things better. Backlash is that affect that you see when changing slewing directions; again get to know your telescope first. The percentage values apply to all movements done by the Autostar. And yes, many of the tips on the Site applied to older models and are not needed/applicable to newer models.
Subject:	Barlow lens #126 and #127
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2003 21:34:51
From:	homidans@hotmail.com (Saleh Homidan)
Which is better Barlow lens for ETX90-EC Telescope, Meade #126 2X
Barlow lens or Meade #127 2X-3X variable Barlow . What is the best
Barlow lens in the market  for a novice astronomer.
Regards
Saleh Alhomidan
Mike here: I only have experience with the #126. It works acceptably well with the ETX-90 but is a lower quality Barlow Lens than the #140.
Subject:	Expanse Eyepieces
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2003 21:15:43
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
I found some exceptional eyepieces for ETX's.
It's the "expanse" eyepieces from China (Orion, and others). The are
exceptionally bright...Huge difference from plossls and Naglers. Much
needed for ETX's. At the mac focal lengths, the eyepieces are flat
across the field. The views are as sharp and clean as any of my orthos
with a generous field of view. They're also small and lightweight. I
know, it sounds like a commercial.
John

Subject:	Durability of the ETX-90EC
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2003 19:35:48
From:	adrian-ion@attbi.com (Adrian Ion)
Thank you for the advice on the UHTC! My new ETX-90EC recently arrived
(with the UHTC option); the views of our moon have been simply
spectacular!

I have the following questions:

How durable is the ETX-90EC, according to your experience with it?
Obviously, the lenses and mirrors inside are very fragile, but a
computerized telescope also has complex motors inside that could
malfunction. Have you had any problems with the motors of the ETX-90EC
wearing down in less than 5 or 6 years, after regular usage?

What about the optics? If I dropped the telescope on concrete, I imagine
that the optics might definitely be thrown out of alignment, but would
they actually crack? My friend, who has been an avid amateur astronomer
for several years, explained that when he accidentally knocked his
5-year old, 6-inch reflector to the ground, he found several minute
cracks in the objective mirror. Is the ETX-90EC a telescope built for
durability?

Thank you,

Adrian Ion
Mike here: You paid for a precision instrument so you need to treat it as such. If you dropped a water glass would you be surprised if it shattered? The same applies to the optical components of any telescope. If all that happens is some small chips get broken off the edges, then you are lucky. As to wearing down with use, yes, it is possible but again with care, you should get many years of wonderment. The ETX-90EC has been around for a little over 4 years now and I don't recall any mention of components wearing out.
Subject:	ETX125 & focal reducers
Sent:	Monday, May 12, 2003 12:57:40
From:	mathieu.chauveau@groupecat.com (CHAUVEAU Mathieu)
I'm contemplating the purchase of an ETX125 as a second scope (after a
16" dob). However I'm a little worried by its 1900mm f.l., which is as
much as the dob, and I'd like to be able to use it for wide field views.
Do you know of any observers (including yourself) who used
telecompressors on an ETX? I've read that they cause some light loss for
photography, but how about visually?

thanks in advance if you can help. Thanks also for providing all this
info on your website.

Matt
Mike here: See my comments on the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. Yes, extra glass will cause some reduction in overall image quality.
Subject:	Dec. motor buzzing
Sent:	Sunday, May 11, 2003 20:30:03
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
Is there a solution for damping dec. motor buzzing that transfers to the
image at all mags...ETX 90 EC Autostar.
THANKS,
John
Mike here: You could try some of the performance enhancement tips on the Telescope Tech Tips page.

And:

I've done em all mike, including some'inventive' dapming. The motor has
a frequency, occilation, harmonic vibration that seems to defy a remedy.
Just thought the actual problem might have surfaced.
Thanks anyway,
John
Mike here: Have you tried adding some weight or vibration suppression pads to the tripod? Do you have the tripod height fully extended? If so, reducing the height can reduce the vibrations.

And:

Yes. I also use a "custom" permanent pier. I've replaced the motor four
years ago (I was the repair tech during the entire era of the Astronomy
Shoppe) Meade couldn't help at the time so after many mechanical and
electrical 'tricks' I left the scope in the closet. ALL ETX macs have
this problem. Some are of course more noticeable than others. Some
require examining a close double at high mag to see it.

Just like most owners, I love the optical tube's potential (on average
3% smaller airy disk  on dozens of 90mm's I tested than my old Questar).
We even spend countless hours and money fooling around with a
mount/drive system that is mechanically and electrically 'short' of the
mark. Any other small purchase would wind up in a yard sale.

Thanks for the shoulder to cry on!
John
And an update:
I removed a fair amount of vibration in the dec. motor by reinspecting
some of the motor housing/dec.arm housing dampening that I did some time
back using 3/8" foam stick tape. Also added tiny rubber 'o' rings to the
"bottom and "top" of the motor housing screws. Added foam tape to the
removable arm housing to add pressure to the lower end of the dec. motor
bracket. Loosened (slightly) the worm nut to remove any resistance for
the motor. Finally, runing the mount on 8.5v instead of 12v removed the
last really objectionable high-power dec. vibration. Fairly tight
doubles and Jupiter details finally do not visibly merge during the dec.
motor cycles.
Thanks for your patience,
John

Subject:	Tripod quandry
Sent:	Sunday, May 11, 2003 11:20:43
From:	TAdam74811@aol.com
I am a new ETX 125 (UHTC) owner, and have read a lot of the information
on the site concerning tripods and piers. I intend to build a pier for
home, but would like to buy a tripod for use away from home. Can the
Meade #884 be modified and made usable for polar setup of the ETX 125,
or is there any other moderately priced tripod out there that is
suitable?
Thanks,

Tom Adamski
Mike here: The mounting plate of the #884 will tilt to match a wide range of latitudes.
Subject:	Follow up on previous
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 19:51:32
From:	dhester@ec.rr.com (dan hester)
You were absolutely right. I took my ETX 125 to the local astronomy
clubs Astronomy Day Public event and it was the hit of the night!

Not only were the members impressed with the scope...so were the
families who came by.

People marveled as it picked out their favorite objects like Saturn,
Jupiter and the Moon...and I heard things from interested parents and
kids like "Thats the one I like"..."let's get one of these..."I felt
like a Meade salesman...telling so many people where they can get one.

It was a lot of fun...with a lot of good folks..and the trusty ETX
125..,.it worked like a champ!

Dan

Subject:	ETX Question/Comment
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 11:42:32
From:	aburkefl@comcast.net (Art Burke)
Just visited your site (for the umpteenth time!) and read the lastest
bitch about how many scopes "failed" from Meade. Here's my personal
experience:

I recently ordered an ETX-125 for my girlfriend. I went the whole route
- got her the scope, deluxe field tripod, hard case, dew shield... - and
I also bought the "check-'em-out" service from OPT. According to what
the technician noted when we received the scope, the first scope he
selected to send us "failed" the optics test. Apparently the second
scope he selected was just fine. We are very happy with the resultant
scope.

Next question/comment - the ETX has a threaded rear cell/cap. Apparently
one can either place a camera on there, or an erecting image diagonal. I
have an erecting image diagonal, but it doesn't have threads. This is
the first I was aware of another "specialized" diagonal. When/if we
order such a diagonal from our favorite telescope vendor, do we need to
specify this prism is specifically for the ETX? Will something else fit
with an adapter of some sort?

Thanks.
Art Burke
Leesburg, FL
Mike here: Yes, the rear port is a specific thread BUT you can get an "SCT Accessory Adapter". See the Accessory Reviews - Miscellanous page for more info on this. But Meade has an erecting prism and camera adapters for this port.
Subject:	No optical coating on ETX 125?
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 08:34:38
From:	exousia112@adelphia.net (David Puffer)
I just purchased an ETX 125 from Retail Surplus as an open box item. 
There doesn't seem to be any coating on the 5" corrector lens.  I called
Meade about this and was told that there should be a violet hue to the
lens.  That is certainly true of my ETX 90 but I cannot see any color at
all on the 125.  The tech at Meade said that the UHT coating doesn't
have any color but when he looked up the model # that's on the box, he
assured me that it should have the standard coatings.

Can you tell me if he was correct about the color or lack of color with
UHTC? I wonder if this instrument was boxed incorrectly or if it left
the factory without coated optics.

David P
Mike here: I doubt it left the factory without the coating. My older (non-UHTC) ETX-125EC has "violet" look on the correcting lens. If it was an "open box" item, could a previous owner have "cleaned" the lens and removed the coating?

And:

Thanks for the response Mike.
It's difficult to believe that anybody who would purchase a scope beyond
entry level would be so dense; but I guess that anything is possibe.
Anyway, an uncoated optic is useless to me so I will return it and
reduce my loss to shipping.

Thanks again.

David P

Subject:	Re: questions on compass attachment to ETX-90ra
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 08:27:13
From:	jbowers1@mindspring.com (CVL)
Thanks for your response.  I have made up a cardboard  triangle with
each side the length of the tripod leg distances.  By drawing a line
right down the center, which should also be the exact center of the ETX,
I can lay the compass right on the line, compensate for magnetic
deviation and mark the ends of the triangle.  Then, the leg ends can be
placed right on the marks. Should be quite accurate, but haven't yet
tested it due to bad weather.  If successful, I'll let you know as it
will be another way to get close polar alignment without seeing Polaris.
 Of course, it won't beat the drift method but should be a very close
normal alignment and easy to repeat each time.

Thanks,
John

Subject:	Adam Briscoe's ETX90 'scratches'......
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 04:17:56
From:	vampirelestatsoulreaver@msn.com (Vampire Le Stat)
I have used 'Starry Nights' to set up the conditions for 9pm, 8th May
2003 in Washington DC and can confirm that Jupiter was in position
directly below the moon, so was the likely culprit. Planetary discovery
by accident!

Vamp
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	briscoe@fas.harvard.edu
I saw your note on Mike's site...

Yes, that was most likely Jupiter and its moons... look up tonight,
and you'll see that our moon has moved eastward, but Jupiter is
still about where you were looking at it.
Now use your telescope again... 
"dollars to doughnuts", the 4 moons have moved.  
Most likely quite a bit...
In fact, if you just keep watching them over the course of a couple of
hours, you'll see them shifting slightly with relationship to each other.

You're seeing what are called the 4 "Galilean Moons"... the same ones
Galileo saw with his first telescope in the early 1600's, and which
convinced him that the Universe didn't rotate around the earth,
since here were 4 bodies "obviously" spending their lives moving
 around Jupiter.

Watch them over an evening, and over a month (you can even do this
on mostly-cloudy night, since Jupiter's bright enough to find through
light haze, and, with an Autostar, the ETX90 can point to pretty close
to where Jupiter will be, once that hole in the clouds blows over ther).
(Seattle was -made- for automatic telescopes, or vice-versa)

The innermost moon, Io, goes around huge Jupiter every two days.
Next out is Europa, roughly every 4 days,
Then Ganymede, 7 days, and finally Callisto, 17 days.

Sometimes you'll only see two or three... as they're hidden by Jupiter's
bulk, or eclipsed by its shadow.  
If your skies are steady, you may see a intense black dot on Jupiter's face...
 that's a moon's shadow crossing it... 

IF you pick up a copy of Sky& Telescope, there's a monthly chart of
the dance of Jupiter's moons, as a column of curves running down the edge
of the page.  Squint hard, and you'll the litte gaps showing the eclipsed
portions.

My wife (and many others) prefers Saturn (also up these evenings,
westward of Jupiter by 2 or 3 fist-widths at arm's length, just
point the scope at whatever bright objects you can see, and one 
will be big and oval, or, depending upon your local sky conditions,
it'll have distinct rings)

Myself? I can stare at Jupiter's moons for hours... they are all
on one plane, like peas on a plate, and we're seeing that truly
edge-on these days (it doesn't tilt -much-, at worst), but it's
particularly well arranged these days for the moons to eclipse
themselves-- one moon's shadow will cause another moon to disappear
for a few minutes.  You're watching bodies millions of miles
away, a planet far huger than Earth, moons with orbits larger
than our moon's, and they're -visibly- moving.  
On a scale appreciable to someone with only a few minutes to spare
to look up and -watch-.

Welcome to astronomy...

I work with physicists... i'm (unfortunately) not surprised he 
thought it was "a reflection".. (too much looking down, not enough
looking up) .  Next time you see them, just casually ask:
 "what can you tell me about Galileo?"

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re:  Mercury transit
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 03:21:53
From:	geheniau@xs4all.nl
Go to www.xs4all.nl/~geheniau and then to astronomy. I have added a new
page (Downloads) and there you can download the transit. Also other nice
stuff. Maybe handy to tell more people.

Thanks

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands

Subject:	rayovac 3 in 1 LED Head Lite
Sent:	Saturday, May 10, 2003 02:39:35
From:	GHENDRI@aol.com
I just found a cool item at Loews that seems right up our alley...Its a
head mounted light from Rayovac. It has a single white LED bulb and a
duel red LED and a normal long range bulb. The red LED's are just the
ticket for late night scope set up. One problem is the switching as the
white LED is first to come on with the 3 position switch. The red ones
come on second so it is advisable to close your eyes before turning it
on. I have also upgraded to the newest Starry Night Pro 4.0 and it is
very different. With this version you can make a photo mosaic of your
yard and see the sky as if you were really standing out in the backyard.

Keep up the great work. Just for the record you are going to have to pry
my ETX125 from my cold dead hands!

One question. I have been looking at the SAC pics and am wondering what
the current draw is on the Peltier cooled types. I often head into the
bowels of the Pine Barrens of NJ by canoe and spend the weekend with my
scope I have a 17amp hr portable power source. Can I power that eyepiece
a few hours a night like that?

God Bless our troops and Dr Clay!!!

Geoff Hendrickson
Mike here: I suspect you should be able to power your telescope for some time but keep in mind that the SAC gets its power from the computer via the USB connection.
Subject:	Mirror parking
Sent:	Friday, May 9, 2003 18:20:38
From:	marv.sumner@juno.com (Marvin C. Sumner)
Mike & Dr. Clay,
I understand that it's a good idea to use the focus knob to park the
main mirror all the way back against the rear of the OTA when shipping a
'scope, or any time extra vibration is likely.  Question: Which
direction of knob rotation moves the mirror to the rear?  CW? CCW? Is it
the same direction for all ETX and other Meade products?  (I have also
an LX-200/GPS)
Marv Sumner
And:
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
Turn the knob clockwise until you feel resistance...warning; do NOT pull
too tightly or you will most certainly disengage the mirror from the pin
and rod.

Clay
----------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	Council for the Protection of Rural England - Night Blight! Campaign
Sent:	Friday, May 9, 2003 13:14:56
From:	vampirelestatsoulreaver@msn.com (Vampire Le Stat)
Just drawing your (and your sites readers) attention to a campaign
launched today by the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

To launch its new Night Blight! campaign, CPRE obtained data from US Air
Force weather satellites.  This data has been used to make striking
national and regional colour maps showing people how the starry night
sky is disappearing in their own community, and how countryside with
truly dark skies is shrinking fast.

Scientists have estimated that more than half the UK population will
never see the Milky Way - our own galaxy - in the night sky around their
homes because electric light is blotting it out. Of the 12
constellations featured in horoscopes, five have become entirely
invisible in the most light-polluted skies - and the seven remaining
ones are all missing some stars.

Information about the campaign (including VERY useful pollution maps of
the UK) can be found at:

www.cpre.org.uk/new-design-tree/campaigns/landscape/night-blight/index.htm

Details of the launch can be found at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3012463.stm

Many Thanks,

Vamp

Subject:	Scratches in the glass lens ETX-90 
Sent:	Friday, May 9, 2003 06:38:54
From:	briscoe@fas.harvard.edu (Adam Briscoe)
After reading a great deal of the comments on your web page I decided to
buy the ETX-90 with Auto Star and tripod. I live in Washington DC and
haven't had a clear enough sky to set up the Autostar. But last night it
was clear enough to see the moon and it looked amazing through the ETX.
The one issue that I've had, and I'm hoping that you can advise me on,
is that I noticed a bright object directly below the moon last night,
(May 8), and when I pointed the telescope at the object, it appeared to
be a planet, but there where four tiny light dots in perfect alignment
(three to the right and one to the left) around what seemed to be a
planet. There happen to be a physicist here with me who commented that
is could be some sort of light reflection or something. So I took a
flashlight to the front of the telescope and found that around the
mirrored circle in the front glass lens, there seemed to be two distinct
scratch marks etched into the the interior side of the glass lens! One
is about 1/8 of and inch, and the other about 1/4 of an inch! Is this
going to effect the telescope?? Should I be concerned? I plan on
contacting Meade but I wanted your opinion first. This is my first
telescope since I was  little kid and I want it to work perfectly.

                            Thanks for your assistance,
                                Adam Briscoe
Mike here: From your description of the "object" it sounds like you were observing the planet Jupiter and its four brightest moons. Using a flashlight to illuminate the optical surfaces will show all sorts of "bad things" and is not a way to determine the state of the surfaces. I'm not saying that you are not seeing real scratches but they may also NOT be scratches. If you can not see the "scratches" under ambient light then they may not be a problem.

And:

Thanks for the help! Just one last thing....the four lights around
Jupiter seemed to be in an almost perfect line. Do these moons have the
same orbit?

Thanks again for your help!   Adam Briscoe
Mike here: Not exactly the same orbit, just in similar orbital planes.
Subject:	Sidereal rate motor noise
Sent:	Thursday, May 8, 2003 20:53:33
From:	mlewicki@ozemail.com.au (Martin Lewicki)
When I first got my ETX-90EC in June last year (and missing the birthday
eyepiece deal- sob) I noticed that when it runs at sidereal rate you can
hear the motor noise - sounding like a periodic grinding sound. Took it
back to the shop. They tried another scope with the same noise. Is this
normal for this scope? Otherwise the scope tracks fine though I do
notice that the vibration slightly deteriorates the image quality at
high powers like 100x.

Martin Lewicki
Mike here: Well, some sound is normal and in Alt/Az mode you will hear both motors running. But the image should not vibrate from the drives. Mount stability has a lot of due with dampening out these vibrations. If you are using a tripod, try lowering the leg extensions to reduce the height of the tripod. Also, placing the tripod on a soft surface (I use a small carpet; also helps if an eyepiece is dropped!). You can also buy (or make) vibration suppression pads that go under each tripod leg. Or you can add weight to the tripod. Some people have even put sand into the tripod legs to increase their rigidity.
Subject:	Telescope Clinic
Sent:	Thursday, May 8, 2003 15:07:06
From:	dhester@ec.rr.com (dan hester)
I just got news of a Public Telescope Clinic being put on this weekend
at a local school by the Wilmington Astronomical Society.

I e mailed the group, since it was the first time I had heard they
existed, and they invited me to come and "bring a Scope".

Maybe this sounds silly, but do I need to be embarrased about bringing
my ETX 125?

I read somewhere that LX200'S weren't welcome at these events because
they make so much noise.  Is the scope considered a "toy" by these
groups.  Thanks, Dan
Mike here: If they look down on ANY telescope then the problem is theirs not yours. Any worthwhile group should accept amateurs with ANY telescope. Let me know how it goes.
Subject:	I got a great deal
Sent:	Wednesday, May 7, 2003 19:41:12
From:	maglib@optonline.net (Barbara Magliozzi)
I love your site.  My son is very much wanting to learn astronomy and
has been asking for a telescope for years but, I couldn't afford one.
Miraculously, I was in Macy's and found on clearance a Meade ETX-70AT
with bonus tripod and carry bag for only $84.  A bit of a stretch for us
but, from what I see, I got a great deal.

I would like to try to find some great web sites for the beginning
astronomer and I did find yours but, I think it may be too advanced for
my 9 year old.  He has been going to NASA.com for over 2 years now. Can
you recomend any other great sites for his age?  I want to support his
goals as much as I can.  There are so many sites when I searched and I
don't have enough knowledge to pick and choose for him.  I don't allow
him access to the web except for preapproved sites that I have set up
for him.

Thank you so much.
B. Magliozzi
Mike here: I started at age 6. There were no web sites back then (and the few computers in the world filled rooms...) but I did have a brother who got me going! So, a good teacher is still the best! But you might check into astronomy.com and skyandtelescope.com. Both are associated with the popular magazines of the same names and have excellent resources for all levels of amateur astronomers.
Subject:	Lens Cleaning
Sent:	Tuesday, May 6, 2003 21:30:58
From:	KlaraColli@aol.com
The lens on my ETX-125 UHTC is getting dirty.  I have never touched it
for fear of damaging the UHTC.  Eventually it will need to be cleaned to
maintain image quality.  Is there a procedure for this?
Mike here: See the Cleaning Tips article on the Buyer/New User Tips page. Use extra caution with the UHTC.
Subject:	eyepieces
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 14:07:24
From:	hunterk@m.ogden.k12.ut.us (Kit Hunter)
I just ordered three new eyepieces for my etx90, I got the Plossl and
not the super plossl, is there a big difference?

kitnatalie@hotmail.com
Mike here: "Big difference"? Not so you'd probably notice on the ETX-90. "Difference"? Yes but don't lose sleep over it. Depending on the manufacturer, there can be only minor differences, but larger differences manufacturer to manufacturer.
Subject:	questions on compass attachment to ETX-90ra
Sent:	Monday, May 5, 2003 09:06:46
From:	jbowers1@mindspring.com (CVL)
Well, I have a few quick questions for you.  For weeks, I've been trying
to use the ETX-90RA basically without an accurate polar alignment
because I can't see Polaris.  I can still take some decent shots at
fairly low power (as evidenced by the Jupiter/sun pics I sent you), but
high power, better images are scratching at my head!  So, I'd like to
try a magnetic compass alignment.  I think I know how to proceed from
the wonderful instructions both on your site and Meade's, but just where
do I attach the compass on the 90ra?  Everything I'm reading suggests
the wedge base, but using the 3 screw-in legs leaves no wedge base
except the table top.  So, I'm guessing on the base of the 90 itself and
magnetic adjustments are made before I attach the latitude leg.  If this
is correct, what is the best way to line up the N of the compass with
the tube?  I can eyeball it, but will that be accurate enough?

Thanks,
John
Mike here: Just sit the compass off to the side of the North leg. Then eyeball the pointing to be parallel to where True North is located after correcting for your local Magnetic Variation. Most small compass dials won't show you the accuracy you'd want so eyeballing should be OK. For best results, use the "drift method" of polar alignment.
Subject:	The scopes are all right.
Sent:	Saturday, May 3, 2003 17:10:03
From:	dcanard@cswnet.com (doug canard)
My ETX RA is doing fine,so far.

I just received the June,2003 issue of Sky & Telescope.Coronado has an
ad for new eyepieces{including a 2X Barlow}-" low index Plossl eyepieces
fully optimized at H-alpha",according to the script-that caught my
attention.It's all on page 65. They are supposed to enhance the contrast
compared to a normal eyepiece.The photos sure look nice.I've never heard
of this before.Have you?

Regards
Mike here: Just got mine too but haven't opened it up yet. Since H-alpha is the source of the "redness" you see in some photos of DSOs, it could help those I guess.
Subject:	New address
Sent:	Friday, May 2, 2003 03:57:34
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
As an update to all, I am posting my new address at the residence for
ASO on Petit Jean Mountain.  From here forward, all telescopes for
Supercharge (see 
http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/tuneup_service.html  for full
details here on the Mighty ETX site....) AND correspondence should be
sent to:

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
41 Pines Circle, Petit Jean Mt.
    Morrilton, AR  72110

My e-mail address and website addresses (below) will remain unchanged. 
The observatory is completed now on Petit Jean and we look forward to
hosting a major Astro-Symposium very soon here on the mountain.

Clay
----------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	ETX Rules of Thumb
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 09:15:12
From:	kevin.berg@mci.com (Berg, Kevin M.)
It's been a while since I've written, and just wanted to suggest that
after reading the following excerpt from one of your responses to
another reader's question...

Anytime the Autostar acts up, doing a TRAIN is a troubleshooting step
that can clear up the problem. If that doesn't help, do a CALIBRATE and
TRAIN. And if that doesn't clear any problems, then a RESET, CALIBRATE,
TRAIN can usually resolve it. One time that you do need to TRAIN is
after updating the Autostar ROM. Otherwise you'll get the odd
"rubberbanding" behavior, where the Autostar attempts to re-center an
object after you center the object following a GOTO.

...perhaps it would be helpful to newbies (and even us "veterans") to
have a "ETX Rules of Thumb" link on your website? This might make it
easier for readers to quickly access responses to ETX "functional"
questions repeatedly asked of you, so you could refer them to this
section instead of typing the same response each time. You could also
add tidbits such as "NEVER do this..." or "Always do this...", or
somewhere in between like "It's a good idea to do/not do this...". I
realize you could get carried away in deciding what to add to this
section, but I'm really only referring to those questions you get asked
most by readers.

Just an idea,

Kevin
Mike here: Thanks. That's one of the reasons I did the FAQ page. Now I just need to find the time to do as you suggest!

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