ETX USER FEEDBACK - 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 amazement. 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 (KiescheF@cowen.com) (FKiesche@aol.com)
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: email@example.com 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! Regards, 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. So...... 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 increase? 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 1/3! 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. Jae
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 lens. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. - -- Regards, Chuck Faranda Visit my page at: http://www.netcom.com/~chuckfa/
Sent: Monday, November 17, 1997 23:34:03 From: email@example.com (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, Mike
Sent: Monday, November 17, 1997 22:33:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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) Mike: 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 (KiescheF@cowen.com--work) (FKiesche@aol.com--home)
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 1997 09:58:08 From: email@example.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. Doug....
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." (Joe) 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 degrees! 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.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! Paul
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 rings. 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! Cheers, Paul.
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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 products.
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: email@example.com (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 assembled. Paul Boudreaux
Sent: Friday, November 7, 1997 03:35:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.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 Peter
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 excellent.) 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 minimal). Clear Skies to all. Bert
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 work. BirdoB
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 1997 09:04:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 plossls. That's my two cents worth for today !! Enjoy the triple transit......regards Doug
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 1997 02:32:29 From: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.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 knowledgeable!) 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 experience.... I'll write more later. Thanks again, oh and the Star2000 program is great!!! Very helpful -- Vincent Ros http://www.bev.net/education/SeaWorld/GrayWhale/jcam.html Pax.
Sent: Tuesday, November 4, 1997 10:11:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com Washington, D.C. 20392-5420 http://www.usno.navy.mil/library/lib.html For our online catalog, telnet urania.usno.navy.mil (184.108.40.206) For your user name, type the word "urania" (the Muse of Astronomy)
Sent: Tuesday, November 4, 1997 00:43:01 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (elrond) Pocono Mountain Optics has 4 new products offered for the ETX. An LAR adapter for ETX-allows SCT's accessories to be used. $29.95 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 SKY+Telescope.
Sent: Monday, November 3, 1997 02:28:31 From: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 too. 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. -- Tom http://www.barnstorming.com http://www.findingmoney.com
Sent: Saturday, November 1, 1997 18:47:33 From: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com
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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