Last updated: 27 November 1997

Many ETX users have written to me with comments or questions. If you have any comments, suggestions, or answers to questions posed here, please e-mail them to me and I'll post them.

See the ETX Feedback Page for current comments.

Sent:	Tuesday, November 25, 1997 05:22:04
From:	KIESCHEF@COWEN.COM (Kiesche III, Fred)
Greetings All:
Every now and then it's worth it.

Weeks of cloudy nights. Weekends of rain. Cold, clear but very
windy. Ever since I got my ETX, I've gotten about a half dozen
worthy nights of viewing. Even when it was clear, it was either
hazy from air pollution or unsettled from winds.

Last night I was walking home from taking class and commuting on
the "local" bus (and taking class after work, and taking class in
NYC, which triples the "fun") when I looked up. It seemed pretty
clear. As I got further and further away from the county road
that the bus goes down, more and more stars popped into view.
Then, almost simultaneously, two shooting stars, originating in
the area of Pegasus. Hmmm, I thinks, maybe it's a good night to
view the stars.

I got home, and put the ETX on the back deck to allow the mirror
to cool. After 15 minutes or so, I bundled into a warm jacket and
joined the ETX outside. I gave myself a few minutes to start my
eyes to dark adjusting, and started viewing.

First up was Saturn. I still have the original ETX EP (although a
few more are coming, thanks to great advice from Todd G., in fact
they should be waiting for me tonight or tomorrow), so I was
working with 48x. Good, but not great, usually. I focused in and
got the view I had been getting for the past few viewing
sessions: Titan hanging to one side, Saturn a yellow disk, the
rings around the planet. Not much detail.

Then: BOOM!

The view suddenly utterly solidified. Saturn's rings became 3D in
appearance. I could see that they projected **away** from the
planet. I could see gaps between the planet and the rings. I
could see--at the edge of the clarity--some banding on the
planet. I spoke out loud to the backyard, expressing my

After watching Saturn for a few minutes, I took a tour of some
stars. Unfortunately I could not really get M31 or the Pleiades
(too high in the sky and I'm working with the wacky straight-line
finderscope and the micro-sized tripod legs--two situations that
I hope my "Christmas List" to my wife and in-laws will rectify!).
However, I tooled around Orion and others for a while before
settling on the Orion Nebula.

As with other views, it was a patch of haziness, pretty faint and
unedefined. I knew that I would not see a "Hubble-like" view when
I bought the ETX, so was not disappointed when I first saw it.
But, given the success of the Saturn view, I settled on the
Nebula to see what would come up.

BOOM! I was able to resolve the Trapezium.

BOOM! The nebula itself resolved more detail several times.

BOOM! The "dark clouds" of portions of the nebula resolved.

This time I was speechless. My fingers were numb. My eyes were
freezing. But it was worth it.

Given the level of technical discussion on the MAPUG list, and
the fact that most of the writers seem to have larger scopes
(aperture envy?), this may seem simplistic to most of you. But,
despite a fifteen year gap in observing with a scope, I never
lost my love of eyeballing. I'm sure someday I'll move up in the
world to larger aperture, dabble with photography, try CCDing.
But until then, the sheer joy of seeing something with your
eyeballs that has travelled "halfway across the universe" is
enough to keep me going.

Dark Skies!

Fred Kiesche

Mike here: The above comments were posted on the MAPUG mailing list. While the list concentrates on larger Meade scopes, occasionally there are some good tidbits of info about the ETX.

Sent:	Monday, November 24, 1997 10:38:04
From:	dan@clockwork.net
Just a quick note. I haven't owned a telescope since I was an
adolescent. I decided nearly 10 months ago that I wanted a
telescope for my birthday this year (my wife liked the idea).
Having read as many magazines and books I could get my hands on,
and reading user comments on your page, I went and bought an ETX
from my local Nature Company. My experience was similar to other
customers - fantastic. Since then two of my friends have bought
the ETX from the Nature Company on my recommendation.
So now that I have my scope, I have experienced it as a total
novice, without any previous telescope experience. Since most of
the opinions that get posted come from users with some astronomy
experience, here is an opinion from one who doesn't.

The ETX has totally exceeded my expectations for a $600 scope.
The night I brought it home saw clear skies for Minnesota. I read
the short manual, set it up, and started blindly pointing it "at
stuff." First, the moon. I stared for nearly and hour. Then I
pointed it at the brightest "star" I could find. Of course, I
realized I was staring at Jupiter, with 4 moons very clear, and
man, those colors! After jumping from star to star I was looking
at Saturn. They're not kidding when they say "you'll never forget
the first time you see Saturn." Even with the 26mm eyepiece it
was a sight to behold. A week later I was looking at it with a
9.7mm - the rings were bright, clear, and crisp.

Again, I don't have anything to compare my views to. But my
"newbie" expectations were completely surpassed. Also, the day
after I bought the scope I called Meade technical support to ask
if the R.A. knob was meant to be as loose as it was. My call was
returned with the hour, by a very friendly and knowledgable
representative who assured me that the knob was meant to be
loose, and proceeded to recommend some eyepieces and techniques
to me. I was very pleased.

Now I'm able to polar align the scope, and have taken some
(albeit mediocre) photos too. Not even the brisk Minnesota nights
can keep me inside now. Damn, this is fun!


Dan Brian

Sent:	Sunday, November 23, 1997 15:45:44
From:	JaePbond@aol.com
Mike, I just posted this question on the Observer's Outpost on
AOL, thought you might be interested:
My earlier findings that by using a focal reducer and a 2 inch
eyepiece will be affected by what I just noticed.
Hello folks, we have continuous cloudy weather in the NE.

I have a question that probably should be in the Equipment Advice
section but here it is:

If you move the eyepiece out further on a Mak or SCT, then bring
it to focus by moving the primary mirror as is the case with most
Maks and SCT's do you effectively increase the focal length of
the telescope?   How would you calculate the amount of the

I ask because in talking about the ETX....I've played around with
the ETX in the past by using a LAR to fit a 2" SCT adapter and
then used a 2inch diagonal.   Now the 2" adapter is about  2 1/2
inches long and so I think that the focal point was moved back as
much as 3 1/2 inches on the ETX (from the flip mirror).   Now I
focus to accomodate this increase in the eyepiece placement by
effectively moving the primary.   Well, I was surprised to find
that the image was bigger and the actual field reduced by about a

This may explain another question I always had and that was when
comparing the ETX to the C5, I was using the flip mirror on the
ETX and a 2inch adapter on the C5.  The focal lengths of these
two instruments are stated as roughly the same.  But the image
was always noticeably bigger on the C5 (I don't have the C5
anymore to check it now).

It seems to be true that the image gets bigger, any comments?

Then the question of optimal primary mirror placement comes to
mind.  I've read that there is only one optimal point for the
primary mirror.  So by moving the primary around like this is
bound to take you away from optimal.  How much deterioration of
the image can one expect?

Anyway, this may be old hat to a lot of you but I was surprised
by the amount of the difference.


Sent:	Friday, November 21, 1997 20:28:16
From:	RSmith2980@aol.com
After fighting one of the tracking problems with the ETX
(built-in friction between the rotating part of the ETX and the
base assembly), I experimented with reducing friction between
plastic to plastic bearing surfaces. The top of the plastic post
where the single screw enters from the base seemed very rough.
After taking off the burrs and polishing the post, I installed a
thin, polished and lubricated stainless steel washer between the
post and base. No more plastic to plastic "bearing" surface.
Along with cleaning up the post I used 600 grit wet or dry sand
paper to polish the mating tube surfaces that fits down over the
bearing sleeve which forms the rotation bearing for R.A. I coated
the mating tube surfaces with a small amount of  Lithium based
grease. I used the same Lithium based grease (sparingly) to
lubricate the large gears that are used in the R.A. drive.
After reassembling the base and fork I adjusted the single screw
holding the two together just so there is no play between the two
sections.( I found that if the fork assembly is rotated clockwise
on the base, it tends to tighten the single sheet metal screw ! )
After about the sixth "adjustment" of the base and fork sections,
I inserted a polished, flat washer between the sheet metal screw
head and plastic base, plus putting a single drop of Loc-Tight on
the screw thread where it enters the plastic post. ( Isn't
plastic wonderful ? )

I had been toying with the idea of making the Adjustible R.A.
Speed circuit mod. of Han Kleijn (4/17/97) in the Feedback
Section, but didn't want to void the warranty. With all the
built-in friction in the drive, I knew that "More Power" was the
answer !  ( I watch Tool Time every week. )

When Paul Edgecomb's article on adding a drive "ON" LED (11/9/97)
appeared I knew that while I had the circuit board out to install
the LED, I might just as well do both the LED and the Adjustible
R.A. Speed mods.

I now have a neat little red LED and an Adjustible R.A. Speed
knob mounted external where I can see the red glow when the drive
is on and also adjust the clock motor speed to suit. Both changes
to me were worth the effort. I know, my warranty is voided, but
boy does my scope track !.  I was embarassed more than once after
focusing on a planet, telling someone to "Look at this !" and by
the time they looked, the image had fallen off the edge of the

These changes are probably not for everyone, but if you follow
the articles and do the changes step by step as I did, no major
problems should occur. ( Except your warranty is void )

Bob Smith

Sent:	Friday, November 21, 1997 19:32:04
From:	Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C)
I got the following reply to my grease inquiry.  May be of
interest to others so I'm forwarding it for your web page.  I
plan on trying this lubricant this weekend and I'll let you know
how it works.
- - Ray
From: Sumi, Randy
To: 'Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com'
Subject: RA Grease for ETX
Date: Thursday, November 20, 1997 11:13AM

Hello Ray,

Saw your note on Mike Weasner's ETX page, and can tell you what
grease I used on my ETX.  It's a teflon base grease as used by
another ETX user I found earlier in the ETX page.

I bought mine at Radio Shack for about 4 dollars.  It's in a
clear tube, about 3 inched long with a thin steel tube nozzle.  
Maybe it can also clean up the prior grease.

So far, the teflon grease seems to have help my RA stiction
problem. It still skips, but not nearly as much before.

Good luck.

Sent:	Friday, November 21, 1997 14:07:17
From:	jtocco@tir.com (Joseph Tocco)
I purchased my ETX from the Nature Store as well as (it seems)
half the people posting to your site. I decided to buy it for my
daughters as a Christmas gift. I contacted Meades web page for a
list of dealers here in Michigan. My search for the best price
turned into a search for the telescope itself. Most of the
dealers were asking around $50 over list price and when I
questioned that, they said, the actual list was $850. How odd I
thought, the manufacturer publishes $595 everywhere, but hey,
what do I know. The last place I called was a huge mall in the
most affluent area in the state. Why bother calling a store in a
mall surrounded by Gucci, Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus and the like.
I figured this place would have been the most expensive around. I
called the Nature Store expecting to be disappointed, I was
wrong. Not only did they actually have one in stock but they only
wanted $595. I arrived at the store within acouple of hours and
was plesantly greeted by the store clerk. He answered all my
questions and when I asked what the difference in image quality
was between the ETX and the LX200 he quickly grabbed his
co-worker and lugged both scopes into the middle of the mall.
Within minutes we had a crowd of 20-25 people surrounding us. He
continued to run into the store over the next several minutes,
each time returning with another eyepiece to check out. I joked
with him that after comparing the two scopes it would be
difficult to leave the LX200 behind. What he told me next I found
alittle far fetched but was reassured by the store manager to be
true. If I take good care of the ETX and return it with the
original box and receipt. The store will return every penny of
the original purchase price toward the upgrade purchase of a
larger telescope. This is like a risk free purchase. I figure
that I get the use of a $600 down payment of a LX200 over the
next couple years.
By the way, my daughters will get this scope during our holiday
vacation to Nevada. Cool winter desert skies coinciding with the
December new moon. This is going to be GREAT!!!

My hats off to "The Nature Store" for what I call "Customer
Service Excellence."

Kindest regards and Clear Skies,

Joe Tocco

Mike here: Sounds like a super shopping experience. I'm not surprised; I and many others have had similar experiences.

Sent:	Wednesday, November 19, 1997 21:24:07
From:	paulm@ultranet.com (Paul MacDonald)
I recently purchased an ETX from The Nature Store, as well as a
#126 Barlow, a 9.7mm Plossl, and an erecting prism. After
straining my neck a couple times, I broke down and also ordered
the finder scope conversion kit from Pocono Mt Optics.
I remember buying a 2045 back during the last pass of Halley's
Comet. Now wasn't that return a big disappointment! For $100 less
than the $595 ETX, the 2045 came with a nice sturdy carrying
case. It took another $100 last week for a large Tundra photo
case with two layers of customizable foam.

So right now, I'm up to about an $850 investment for a modestly
comfortable scope!

On the seeing side, I caught the moon/Saturn close encounter, and
took a peak at M31, Orion nebula, Pleiedes, and of course
Jupiter. Needless to say, everyone's been cranking up their wood
stoves lately, making the seeing marginal at best. But, still
having some fun.

Sent:	Wed, 19 Nov 1997 19:22:48 (posted on MAPUG)
From:	Chuck Faranda (chuckfa@ix.netcom.com)
I'd like to hear from ETX owner who are using a focal reducer
with their scope.  I'm interested in reducing the f\ to around
f\7 or 8.  Thanks in advance.
- --
Chuck Faranda
Visit my page at: http://www.netcom.com/~chuckfa/

Sent:	Monday, November 17, 1997 23:34:03
From:	mmcgarve@fvcc.cc.mt.us (Michael McGarvey)
Thought I'd pass on the latest.  I finally got my collimation
problem figured out.  Removing the optical tube assembly is quite
simple: just remove the three 5/64 hex nuts on the back and
remove the focus knob with a .050 allen wrench.  The tube just
slides out.  It is helpful to put an alignment mark with chalk
where the tube emerges from the ABS to help align the focusing
rod with its hole through the rear assembly.  It is also wise to
flip the diagonal down so as to preclude any possibility of
scratching it as you replace the optical tube.  Once the screws
are removed you can remove and replace the OTA as needed to check
the image and make adjustments.  As described in the feedback
sections there are three sets of push-pull screws.  You first
loosen the push screws then adjust the pull screws and re-tighten
the push screws until they just make contact.  All the
descriptions on collimation I could find pertained to Newtonians
but it is simple to make an adjustment, observe the result and
then interpret what you need to do to correct the image.  The in
and out of focus images are particularly sensitive; observe which
part of the ring is most brightly illuminated. Very small
adjustments are all that are required  (about a 1/4 to an 1/8
turn), nail polish is used to lock the setting aand serves as a
reference to how far you've adjusted the screws. It also is a
pretty good indicator you've voided you're warranty.  Anyway my
star images are textbook perfect now.  I can't really see any
difference in planetary images, but I feel better about it
anyhow. Removing the OTA was quite illuminating and the
simplicity of the assembly is elegant engineering.
A quick note for the workmate or tripod crowd: While saving up
for a Doskocil case I've found a rather handy case for the
interim.  I bought (for $7.99 at K-mart) a hunter's seat/storage
combination.  It looks basically like a large plaster bucket (a
little taller) with a padded seat.  I've seen several variations
on this, some of which are too small, and I can't remember what
this model's name was exactly, so measure for size. I've added
the foam. The ETX stores in it upright. It is handy to carry the
case out in one hand and tripod in the other, pull out the scope
and attach to the tripod, sit on the case and start observing.
Its shape and lack of secure latches make it a poor choice for
travel but its great for getting set up in one trip.

The review of the Nighthawk LED light is right on.  It is bright
without diminishing night vision and the attachment to the finger
is very convenient.

I plan on getting a solar filter and can't spring for a DayStar
or equivalent but I've read that you can observe prominences on
the limb with an interference filter with a 3-4 angstrom
bandwidth in conjunction with a front aperture full spectrum
filter.  Has anybody tried this and with what filter?

Clear skies,

Sent:	Monday, November 17, 1997 22:33:51
From:	mkramer@servenet-gmbh.com (Martin Kramer)
I hope you can help me bying an ETX-Telescope. All I need is the
adress of a dealer in Florida, cause friends of mine are there in
december for holiday.
Here in Germany is it a little bit difficult to buy an ETX.

I would thank you for a short message.

Martin Kramer

Sent:	Thursday, November 13, 1997 12:17:59
From:	Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C)
What kind of grease would work for the RA rotating surfaces?  I
tried graphite but it didn't really help too much.  Then I tried
lubriplate which is a molybdenum-based grease thats supposed to
be good at low temps.  This made the RA movement kind of sticky. 
I know, I know, I should've left well enough alone.  Now it
doesn't seem like I can get all the grease off so the movement is
still not smooth.  Any advice for an intrepid meddler?
- - Ray

Sent:	Wednesday, November 12, 1997 15:39:46
From:	KIESCHEF@COWEN.COM (Kiesche III, Fred)
Cute picture of you and your first scope. Guess what? Another
Kiesche/Weasner parallel proving that we must be related through
hyperdimensional links or some such rot. I had the same exact
telescope when I was in my teens...and like you...my second scope
was a ETX.

(cue eerie music)

Anyway, things have been non-stop cloudy on the East Coast since
I wrote you that note for the archives. Last night I was able to
observe the moon with Saturn making a close approach for a while
until things got too thick. Oh well, glad I haven't bought any
more eyepieces and such yet! I'd really feel bad about the
weather then!

Take care!

Fred Kiesche

Sent:	Wednesday, November 12, 1997 09:58:08
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Well what a treat the triple transit on Jupiter was. By about
8.15 pm PST two shadows were evident then a bit later the third
fainter one was just visible. A 10.5 mm Ortho at 119x showed the
best detail. The planet was low in the sky and the turbulence
prevented better views at any higher powers. Hope that you had
clear skies, although the satelite pictures for your area showed
some cloud cover.
Cheers,   Doug.

PS  The fellow with the drive problem... I know it's a bit
obvious, but has he tried the North/South switch ??  I have heard
that some units went out with the coonections crossed and that
you have to put this switch opposite to what you would
think...just a thought.


Mike here: I got clouded out! The first real rain of the season hit that day! Fooey. Glad you got to see it. And yes, there has been some comments here about the N-S switch being reversed.

Sent:	Monday, November 10, 1997 19:30:42
From:	JaePbond@aol.com
I really think you are helping and enhancing many peoples lives
by running this great site.
This is my first letter to your site and I hope I can contribute
something as I've read through the entire archive and have
enjoyed and benefitted from have done so.   I have been searching
for the ideal portable telescope and have owned or still own
several telescopes that may be competing for the same crown.   In
looking back at all the archived correspondence I see some
interest in comparing performance to other small scopes so I
thought I'd share some of it with you.

I bought the ETX in Jan '97 and have been very happy with it, 
especially the optics.  I compared it to an 80mm Brandon F6.3
semi-apo refractor of the '85 vintage and found that for high
power luner and planetary, the ETX was better.  The ETX has a
compact tracking system that the 80mm didn't.  The 80mm was best
for wide field scans of the sky.

In  reading a review of spotting scopes in the Better View
Desired, I was intrigued by the newer white tube C5 that was
tested to be superior to the Questar.  This publication for
birders is well written and may be of interest for some for tests
of binoculars and spotting scopes.  In contrast and in
resolution, the C5 was considered better.   I bought a C5+ with
that expectation, although I had an old C8 (I sold that one) that
really didn't seem anywhere near as crisp as the ETX.

Well my sample was not as contrasty or as sharp during the day
and when looking at the moon the ETX was superior in contrast and
about the same in resolution.  I attributed the equal resolution
to seeing conditions that would affect the C5 more than the ETX. 
After several different evenings, I can't say that my C5 resolved
any better.   I tweaked the collimation over and over to get it
just right.   But the ETX was still better.

As for deep sky objects, it was clear that the C5 was better as
it collected much more light and the resolution was comparable. 
Where it makes a big difference is in globulars like M13 where
the stars are nicely resolved in the C5. I sold my C5 but I am
still convinced that the best sample of the C5 will outperform an
ETX.  One of the  letters by NEBM42 said that his 2045 had better
contrast and resolution than the ETX.  He is lucky to have a good
2045 and should make sure to keep it.   Because I see that Mike
McGarvey had the opposite experience with a Meade 4inch SCT that
his school had.

I've come to think that after reading various astro buffs
writings to the AOL's astro-club that SCT are harder to make due
to their non-spherical surfaces.  The mak seems to be easier to
manufacture to high tolerances.   So the fact that so many ETX
owners are very happy with their optics (including me) seems to
me that "on average" an "average" ETX will outperform the
"average" larger mass produced SCT's.  But I would watch out for
the good ones that pop out every now and then.

So if one is willing to buy several SCT's then after a while one
may get one that will "blow away" the ETX as in theory a larger
aperture with same optical tolerances and transmission should.  
I've not seen it yet but recent tests of 8inch SCT in S&T that
had higher contrast and resolution than a 5" APO refractor seem
to indicate that it is possible.

On a another topic I posted this on the AOL's Meade section:

"Would anyone be interested in an eyepiece for the ETX that
would provide a 2 degree field of view?"  (ViewsN) (This was
from JMI by the way)

"it doesn't look like this system will take 2" eyepieces.  If 
that's the case, then the widest field would be about 1.25
degrees with a 32 mm Plossl." (SiriusGuy)

"There's no way to get a 2 degree field out of an ETX wihout
massive vignetting. The light path is just too constricted."  

Since we didn't get a response from ViewsN yet, I thought I would
try out a few things on the ETX to get more field of view.

Keep in mind that I did these adjustments without the base
tracking unit.  I used it as a spotting scope ( If you have wide
field, you probably won't be as concerned with tracking anyway). 
So here's what I found.

Contrary to what I thought you CAN get a wider field than even 2

I used an adapter that converts the back of the ETX to a SCT type
(Orion sells it), then I used a Meade focal reducer (6.3 on F10
SCT's) to get F8.8? (I assumed that if you get 63% of F10  then
you will get 63% of F14).  A 2 inch accessory adapter and a 2
inch diagonal was attached,    I imagine a SCT diagonal would
work but I don't have one of these..

So now just using an Ultima 35 mm with 49 deg AFOV gets you 2.2
degrees without vignetting!  The opening in the back of the ETX
is larger than 1 1/4 inch diameter.   Without the reducer I was
getting 1.4 degrees.

I tried a Panoptic 35, but got some vignetting but still can see
way more than the 35mm Ultima so effectively getting more than
2.5 degrees.

When using WITHOUT the reducer,  a 2inch adapter lets you use the
Panoptic 35 with no problem (1.9 degrees).  This was during
daylight so things may be more noticeable at night if faint stars
fade away on the edges.

If a 2 inch diagonal is not used but just a visual back
attachment and a focal reducer, then there is no problem with
22mm Panoptics used in 1 1/4 diagonal.   The 35 Ultima may work
in some scopes but in my particular ETX, I found the baffling
tube to be slighting off-axis, cutting off part of the light on
one side.  So I get vignetting on one side only.  It looks like
if I had a perfectly on-axis baffling tube, I could get almost
the complete field of view.

Reaching FOCUS can be a problem but you can take the little knob
off and use it without it or slide it back a little and reattach.

The ETX looks kind of ridiculous with all this stuff attached to
the back of it that costs more than the scope itself but my
conclusion would be if you really want a wider field of view and
you can get it without a reducer by using a visual back adapter
and a 2 inch system with a low power eyepiece like 35 Panoptic or
something like it.

If you don't have a 2 inch system, then a focal reducer with a
standard 1.25 inch diagonal can allow you to use 20 something
eyepieces with widefield field of view like 22 panoptic or erfle.
 If your ETX's baffling is perfectly aligned then maybe 32 or
higher can be used.

So my guess would be that if someone wants to comeup with a
product that just combines all these things into a neat simple
attachment or "eyepiece", it can be done.

....so thats it for now.....JaeP

Sent:	Monday, November 10, 1997 15:40:56
From:	JSlowik@imsisoft.com (John Slowik)
When I stare down the front of the scope, if I tilt it to catch
the light I see what looks like pock marks around the outer edge
of the primary mirror.  Am I just seeing the reflection of the
that black plastic unfinished tube that runs down the middle?
As a general rule is there a sure fire way to test optics, to
make sure you didn't get a bunk unit?

Mike here: About all you can do in the store is check the optical surfaces and reflections for cleanliness. You can also do a rough check on the collimation; if images are not centered when looking through the eyepiece hole there may be a problem. But if you discover a problem after using the scope in actual operations, reputable dealers will take the scope back or fix the problem.

Sent:	Monday, November 10, 1997 12:36:52
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
Gregory Shelton asked about the Observatory Techniques magazine.
Ray Wartinger summarized nicely a response on those articles.
However, when I managed to get a copy of them through the
inter-library loan service (US Naval Observatory library in
Washington, DC has copies), I saw that they were also verbatum
copies of email messages that were posted on your site from Chris
Pedersen and Jean-Francois Theoret. I can't remember the exact
dates of the emails, but I do remember reading them in your ETX
users feedback. In my opinion, they are not worth trying to get
copies of the magazine articles. Anyone interested in the RA
problem and the "sticky" dec can use "fixes" suggested by going
through your feedback archives.
Paul Boudreaux

Sent:	Monday, November 10, 1997 05:14:08
From:	paulm@ultranet.com (Paul MacDonald)
Just checking out your page. I purchased an ETX and noticed that
the RA slow motion control is a bit "wobbly." Is this normal? The
knob works and I noted the statement in the manual about waiting
a minute for the drive to take up the backlash. However, the knob
- probably the shaft - has play in it from side to side, similar
to what the RA Lock knob has when it is fully unlocked.
Looks like clear skies tonight is southern NH for the Jupiter
show tonight!


Mike here: My RA knob is fully locked when the RA Lock is engaged. There is no play. Anyone else seen the problem Paul is having? (I got rained out of the Jupiter 3 moon transit.)

Sent:	Monday, November 10, 1997 03:34:21
From:	filmdos@seanet.com (Paul S. Walsh)
The rain finally stopped here in Seattle and we just had one of
the most exciting experiences of our short (since May 97) foray
into amateur astronomy.  M42 through the ETX, with the nebulosity
amost on a par with our 6 inch Meade Dobsonian and an even BETTER
resolution of the 4 main cradle stars!  Val and I are still
breathless.  An out-of-focus star image testing with a Nagler 7mm
on Sirius revealed a dead on match with the "Perfect" images in
Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer's "The Backyard Astronomer"
(pages 272-273).  I didn't waste much time with further testing
after that - Val was fightin' me for another look at M42. This
little scope may not have the light gathering power of its bigger
brothers and sisters but what the ETX can do with the photons it
DOES gather is pretty darn impressive to us. We're going to stick
with simple observing for a while and maybe some sketches.  I've
done a few while nudging the larger Dob but with the motor on the
ETX I will be able to better focus on the drawing.
One minor complaint: Assembling the 90 degree finder conversion
kit from JMI was a major nightmare.  Their idea about doing away
with the lock ring and making the threads tighter than a
bullfrog's behind is just plain stupid, not ready for prime time
engineering. They should simply design a whole new viewfinder and
new detachable bracket.  I got it to work, finally, but it took
the strength of GORT ON STEROIDS to get the darn thing into focus
and then I had to UNDO it to get it through the bracket and then
REDO it using just my fingertips. I'm 6'4'' and a pretty strong
235 lbs and it had me swearing a blue streak.  Maybe, like
Microsoft, their version 2.0 will be the real winner but version
1.0 is just a happy meal toy.  In the final analysis, I'm not
absolutely sure the ETX needs a finder scope. I had already
gotten pretty used to just slipping in the 26mm or our 40mm and
lining things up like a pool shot, then dropping down to the
higher powers. Megastar printouts of our targets help too. I'll
keep using both finder methods for a while and, if I remember,
I'll let you know what I finally end up using the most.

Dark Skies and Light Spirits to all - Paul & Val

Sent:	Sunday, November 9, 1997 04:23:31
From:	Paul_W_Blackman@enterprise.canberra.edu.au (Paul W Blackman)
I'm a beginner looking into amateur astronomy and while looking
for info found your page on the ETX. I'm really tempted to just
go out and get one, but something keeps telling me to just be
patient and look at some others first. :^)
I've not got my eyes on many scopes yet, but have looked through
a nice (14"?) scope that was as tall as/taller than I was...
Saturn looked excellent, but couldn't really make out different

While not necessarily wanting to look at planets only, what would
I be missing out on in buying the ETX? ie. how much (more) detail
would I get if I got an 8" scope? (I don't mention any specific
scope types, as I don't really know the pros/cons/difference) I
talked to a local amateur astro buff, and he mention not getting
anything smaller than an 8", but then when asked later about the
ETX, said it had excellent optical quallity.??

From what I've looked at so far, I think I'd like to be able to
do some astrophotography, and (probably) wouldn't want to buy
something that may limit my ability to use tracking
hardware/software... does the ETX do this? I can also get my
hands on a Canon Powershot 600 digital camera, do you know if you
can fit these to the ETX or other scopes?

And this might sound like a silly question, but do you ever find
that you get bored looking or there is nothing left to look
at/do?  My flatmate thinks i'm a bit silly wanting to spend the
money on a scope when all you can do is look!


Mike here: What scope you want/need is a rather personal decision. If you really want to do serious astrophotography, you'll want something significantly larger than an ETX with a better mount and drive (read: more $$$). If you want something easy to set up and observe, then the ETX is an excellent choice. Yes, you can see more with a larger scope. If you get a larger scope and find it too much trouble to set up so it stays in the closet, then the larger scope is a waste. When I purchased the ETX I knew I wanted a larger scope but money was going into the house purchase fund so I had limited funds for a scope. But I also knew I wanted something better than my 35 year old Edmund 3" reflector. And I wanted a portable scope to take on a trip to Australia in 2 years. So the ETX was an excellent choice for me at this time.

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 13:35:36
From:	ppastore@ziplink.net (Peter Pastore)
Include me as an ETX user. I purchased the scope about  a month
ago.  I found your comments concerning solar filters very
helpful.  I have a backyard observatory which houses a 10" f/7
Cave Newtonian.  I love my ETX.  I found it to be optically superb.
I am also interested in doing astrophotography.  I have a camera
and the T-Adapter from Meade. My e-mail is ppastore@ziplink.Net
				Thank you
				Peter Pastore

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 12:28:32
From:	Paul.Edgecomb@ummed.edu (Paul S. Edgecomb)
Thanks so much for maintaining this site; it is an invaluable
resource. I have a couple comments and two questions to pose to
the general public.
(1) I am very happy, in general, with the ETX; the optics are
excellent and the scope is so portable and easy to set up. As
nearly everyone points out however, the finder is poorly situated
and, for polar alignment purposes, useless.

(2) RE: ADDING AN INDICATOR LED. In Steve Edberg's review of the
ETX in the 9/97 issue of ASTRONOMY, he mentioned that an LED
indicator light to tell you when the equatorial drive is ON or
OFF would be a nice feature that MEADE should have included on
the scope. Well, it turns out that adding that feature is VERY
easy and inexpensive; in fact, MEADE did include contacts on the
IC breadboard for insertion of an LED and a resistor for just
this purpose. If anyone is interested in making this
modification, e-mail me and I will post detailed instructions to
this site.

(3) RE: ADJUSTING DRIVE SPEED. My biggest complaint with the ETX,
and the source of my first question is this: does anyone else
have the problems with the equatorial drive that I have? Its
tracking is abominable; in fact when I compare the speed at which
an object drifts out of range with the drive ON, versus OFF,
there's not much improvement. I've polar-aligned the scope as
best I can, despite the poorly-located finderscope, and still no
improvement. Does anyone know any details of the contents of the
"black-box" drive motor - is it a stepper motor or a regular
variable speed motor? Is there a quick and easy way of adjusting
its speed?

(4) RE: ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY. My first few experiments with
astrophotography on the ETX have gone poorly; of course, the
faulty drive has caused some trouble, but even with short
exposures, I cannot get a clear picture through the ETX. I think
the problem may be that the shutter release on my camera
introduces enough of a jolt to the scope to blur the image; is
this a common problem and does anyone have any suggestions for
eliminating it?

Thanks very much,
    -- Paul

|                        Paul S. Edgecomb                        |
|                E-mail: Paul.Edgecomb@ummed.edu                 |
|    Homepage: http://www.ummed.edu/pub/p/pedgecom/index.html    |

Mike here: Thanks for the comments. I'm glad to be doing this site because I learn a lot from other users too! Paul's instructions on adding an LED drive ON indicator is available on the Guest Contributions page. There is a Guest Contributions on making the RA drive speed adjustable. And yes, astrophotography is not easy with the ETX (as can be seen from my Gallery pages) but it can be done. In fact, I'm getting my best photos from hand-holding the camera (short duration obviously). When attaching a camera to the ETX, like you, I suspect that vibration from the mirror/shutter jiggles the ETX just enough to blur images. I've placed a piece of cardboard infront of the objective while opening the shutter but then I've run into the problem that I can't make a short enough exposure that way (for bright objects) or drive tracking isn't that good (for faint objects). If the ETX was mounted on a STURDY tripod I think the first problem (vibration) might go away.

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 11:43:00
From:	community@smtp.exotice-o.com (Communtiy; Exotic Electro Optics)
My ETX displayed a large flare on stars. I tested it on a Zygo
inteferometer and found 3/8 of a wave of coma and an additional
1/2 wave of edge roll. It was so bad I wasn't interested in
sorting the good from the bad and just returned it. I can't say
what the ratio of good to bad is but my 10" LX200 and 4" 2045 are
actually pretty good. I've seen uneven results on other Meade

Mike here: Sounds like a bad unit. Most users report excellent optical quality, with an occasional problem of unknown origin. Sometimes it seems something might have been damaged/slipped in shipment; other times perhaps a helpful store person tried to rectify a problem and only made it worse or never finished.

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 09:06:21
From:	Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C)
Gregory Shelton wrote:
We are trying to locate two articles on the Meade ETX.
     "Meade ETX declination control fix."
     "ETX ra drive improvement."
     The first article, "New Meade ETX telescope,"  appeared in Issue
     no. 19 of Observatory Techniques.
     Please let us know if these other two articles appeared in
     Observatory Techniques (we have a complete set).
I believe all three of the articles you mention are in issue 19. 
I don't have it with me but I remember that the main ETX article
was accompanied by two articles on improving the ETX.  In my
opinion, both of these articles were very poorly written and
difficult to understand.  Neither one had any kind of drawing
with it to help you figure out what the heck the author was
trying to do.  Especially the one on RA improvement.  I read it
several times and it never did make any sense.  It was also
obvious that the editors of the magazine had not spent any time
at all proofing or correcting the articles - it looked like they
just plunked them in.   I also picked up #22 mainly because of
the article on CCD imaging.  While it has some pretty nice images
(all B&W), the quality of the articles was pretty poor.  Is this
typical of the quality of the other issues?
- - Ray

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 06:00:10
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
To answer some questions about opening the QuickCam: some
versions have a pedestal latch and hook, others just a latch
hook. Once you have released the latch near the cable strain
release, use a butter knife or similar dull flat blade to wedge
in-between the opening halves and gently pry them apart. The
force will open the two remaining pressure latches. Once apart,
you can easily see the internal make up of how the QuickCam is
Paul Boudreaux

Sent:	Friday, November 7, 1997 03:35:55
From:	filmdos@seanet.com (Paul S. Walsh)
Well, our ETX just returned to us after a mere 4 days in the
Meade Shop and ALL of the corrections have been  beyond my
expectations.  When we first took possession of the scope, a
close inspection revealed a sizeable anomaly on the primary
mirror along with what appeared to be brush sleeks, as though a
crude attempt had been made to clean off the blemish.  There was
also an inordinate amount of dust adhering to the baffle tube and
the lens cap threads seamed less than true which yielded a nerve
tingling noise upon removal.  After a couple rounds of answering
machine tag, I finally had what I consider to be an excellent
communication with a service rep at Meade who issued an RGA and
said to return the scope after our return from the Pyrennes. 
I've written before about how well the scope traveled and the
weather limitations that plagued us.  I can also now report that
Meade rates a full 5 stars for service.  This morning the scope
arrived in pristine condition with a cream-perfect primary, a
dust free baffle tube and a gearbox smooth lens cap.  The
exterior of the scope was surgically spotless and I look forward
now to attaching the 90 degree finder kit and putting her to
work.  As undeniably pleased as I am with Meade, I (and they,
along with Astronomics, my dealer) are still mystified as to why
the problems existed in the first place.  The blame game seams
futile at this point but my suspicion is that at some point along
the original route from Meade to Astronomics to me, someone DID
notice the anomoly and set the scope aside with the meniscus off
where it remained collecting dust until someone else came by the
bench in a desperate attempt to "Fill an order" said, "Hey! I
Found One!"  A believable enough scenario given the unbelievable
demand for the ETX.
Whatever the cause, the problem is now solved and between our
refurbished ETX and our trusty Meade 6 inch Dob, which was
perfect from day one, we've got the sky AND the globe pretty much
covered.  Now all we need is for the rain to stop!

-Paul and Valarie in Seattle J J

Sent:	Thursday, November 6, 1997 23:43:52
From:	peter_thorpe@adc.com (Peter Thorpe)
Thought your readers might take advantage of this . . . Galyan's
Trading Co. has the Doskocil extra large pistol case on sale for
$40.  It is the bright orange color (item#10810) but highway
department orange and $30 saved is ok with me.  The case exceeds
all expectations for fit and ease of set up and is a real steal
at $40.  The little "cubes" are very easy to remove for a
precition fit of the ETX and 4-5 small items.  The four latches
seal it water tight in a very durable (life time warranty) case. 
I don't see how you could do better.
November in Minnesota is a drag . . . not ONE clear night this
month yet!!! Your page keeps things interesting till the next
clear night, thanks for your effort to support the ETX community.

ETX . . . Extraordinary Telescope eXperience

Good seeing


Sent:	Thursday, November 6, 1997 12:44:40
From:	COMMAAJC@aol.com
Many thanks for your time and effort to provide us "ETXer's" with
useful info. I bought my ETX last Aug. 96 from Nature Co. and
have really had a great time using it. (I find the optics
One small tip when using the 90-degree erecting prism. I keep the
dust and grime from entering the opening of my 90-degree eyepiece
holder by inserting an empty   35 mm film holder and locking it
in place. (Meade should provide a cap for this, cost would be

Clear Skies to all.

Sent:	Thursday, November 6, 1997 11:53:43
From:	BirdoB@aol.com
Hi Mike,
Still enjoying your Website and and our ETX. Keep up the great


Sent:	Wednesday, November 5, 1997 09:04:32
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Hope all is well and that the skies are clear.
Just a reminder to 'watch' the triple shadow transit on Jupiter
on Monday night, November 10th...around 8.00pm PST.  Should be an
astronomical treat.

I am still enjoying the SP 6.4mm plossl, although the eye relief
is really short. The field of view is slightly larger (52 degrees
compared to about 45) than in my 7mm Meade research ortho but,
unless you really push your eye up close to the eye lens of the
plossl, you don't see the wider field. ie. the ortho is just as
good but more comfortable to use. The definition, even with a 2x
barlow is the same on either planet detail, or close doubles such
as pi Aquila at 1.3 seconds. I find that all of my plossls have
shorter eye relief when compared to the orthos which is a pity
because you tend to lose the advantage of the wider field in the

That's my two cents worth for today !!

Enjoy the triple transit......regards  Doug

Sent:	Wednesday, November 5, 1997 02:32:29
From:	pbstrom@cwo.com (palle strom)
Thanks for this great web page Mike, you are doing all us ETX
owners a great service.
I installed the Auto-Focus from JMI, what a difference it makes,
I recommend it without reservations. I am new to this and am
experimenting with a little astrophotography. I have my Nikon
coupled to the ETX and am using the 1600 ASA Fuji color film.
Now, my question is, what should my exposure times be? Is it a
matter of experimentation, trials and errors or are there some
guiding rules? Any help will be appreciated.
Palle Strom - E-Mail: pbstrom@cwo.com

Mike here: Thanks! As to exposure times, yes, they are pretty much trial-n-error. But check out the Excel exposure times worksheet available from the ETX Guest Contributions page.

Sent:	Tuesday, November 4, 1997 18:04:18
From:	vrios1@ix.netcom.com (Vincent Rios)
Well, after doing all kind of research and inquiry I came across
your pages on the ETX. Actually I was at a Star Part with the OCA
and someone mentioned the ETX. A couple of others mumbled some
affirmations. So the next time I was on the net I asked myself.
What was that scope they mentioned?ETX or something. So, I did a
search. Voila, ended up on your page. Next thing I know I'm
picking up the ETX at my local Nature Co. (they were very helpful
and even had 2 people "trained" on the product wheo were fairly
At this point I just want to say THANKS. I've only gone out once
(weather here in Newport Beach) but was able to align the scope
no prob. Saw Jupiter and her moons, oh and those cloud bands!,
Saturn, and it was as clear as I had seen it on a 13" Dob, saw
Mars go down... It was great. What an awesome first

I'll write more later. Thanks again, oh and the Star2000 program
is great!!! Very helpful
Vincent Ros


Sent:	Tuesday, November 4, 1997 10:11:35
From:	gas@lake.usno.navy.mil (Gregory Shelton)
We are trying to locate two articles on the Meade ETX.
"Meade ETX declination control fix."

"ETX ra drive improvement."

The first article, "New Meade ETX telescope,"  appeared in Issue
no. 19 of Observatory Techniques.

Please let us know if these other two articles appeared in
Observatory Techniques (we have a complete set).

Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.

Gregory Shelton        EBSCO Account no. 62250          OCLC Symbol: DNO
U.S. Naval Observatory Library    Phone: 202/762-1463  Fax: 202/762-1083
3450 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.           E-mail: gas@lake.usno.navy.mil
Washington, D.C. 20392-5420    http://www.usno.navy.mil/library/lib.html
For our online catalog, telnet urania.usno.navy.mil (
For your user name, type the word "urania" (the Muse of Astronomy)

Sent:	Tuesday, November 4, 1997 00:43:01
From:	elrond@miracle.net (elrond)
Pocono Mountain Optics has 4 new products offered for the ETX.
An LAR adapter for ETX-allows SCT's accessories to be used.

ETX to 1.25" adaptor allows 1.25" accessories to be used $29.95

ETX mini tele-extender allows eyepiece projection photography.
Must be used with ETX to 1.25" $29.95
muilti purpose fork mount $399

All Items can be found on page 66 of the December 1997 issue of

Sent:	Monday, November 3, 1997 02:28:31
From:	ianodwyer@crisscross.com (Ian O'Dwyer)
Hi,  I am new to Astronomy and just bought a Meade ETX - I hace
really enjoyed using it - it is perfect for me because living in
the middle of Tokyo I really need something I can easily move
around.  The views of Jupiter were incredible!  Your web page is
really useful and has some great info for ETX users - thanks.
Ian O'Dwyer

Sent:	Sunday, November 2, 1997 06:16:34
From:	katetom@znet.com (Kate and Tom Harnish)
1. Bought one of Pocono's right angle finders and it's terrific.
A snap to assemble and install. Best of all, it makes using the
ETX much much easier and thus more fun and less frustrating.
Besides finding things easier I find I'm using the scope more
2. Previously had a an EZ Finder, and tried to send it back but
they wouldn't take it because the 30 days had expired (so what?).
Lacking 90 deg. view it still made finding things tough, and when
attached with sticky tape it was forever getting knocked out of
alognment by foam in JMI's far too expensive but ok case. Still,
the large field helped find things, and since I'm stuck with it
I'll probably get the bayonet mount and see if that helps.



Sent:	Saturday, November 1, 1997 18:47:33
From:	elrond@miracle.net (elrond)
I just thought some of those who frequent your page might like to
know that the MacMall is selling refurbished color quickcams for
$99. They come with a 2 year warranty. Thats half of what they go
for new. You can reach the MacMall at 1-800-222-2808 ask foritem
#84084. Also I saw some new items for the ETX in Sky and
telescope. Including a part the screws on the the photo port on
the back of the ETX and can accept 1 1/4 eye pieces and a new eye
piece projection mount. Will get more info.

Sent:	Friday, October 31, 1997 21:36:48
From:	rhappold@inreach.com (Rick S Happoldt)
Your web site is very informative.  You may want to put up a
total review of the ETX looking at various objects from planets
to bright deep sky and double stars.  Letting people know exactly
what they should see with this telescope would be of great help. 
Based on what I did see, I have decided to purchase an ETX.  What
is the maximum PRACTICAL magnification I should buy eye pieces
for in Super Plossls? (viewing planets and the moon)
Thanks again for all the advise!  I will send you an e-mail
regarding my findings with the comparisons to the 80mm refractor!

Rick Happoldt

Mike here: Great suggestion about the TOTAL review. All the pieces are available on various web pages here but not in a consolidated place. Anyone want to volunteer to do a consolidated report on ETX capabilities? I'm so busy right now maintaining (and getting ready to redesign, I hope, the site) that I'm hard pressed just to get online what I do!

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