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DS MODELS USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 October 2001

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade DS telescope models. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to the ETX models are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	DS-114AT or 130MM from WalMart - Opinion?
Sent:	Tuesday, October 30, 2001 14:05:48
From:	john.j.logan@verizon.com (John Logan)
I was over at WalMart the other day and noticed that they have several
Meade telescopes for sale.  Everything from 60mm refractors to 130mm
reflectors. My question is, are these any good and has anyone tried the
114mm or the 130mm?

I have looked at www.meade.com and other websites and have seen the
DS-114EC but not the AT.  The AT is black (instead of white) and comes
with the Autostar 495 so I'm thinking its pretty good.  (plus its only
$250)  But then again its from WalMart! :)  The 130mm really confuses me
though. (priced at $350)  The Meade website doesn't list it and normally
I see posts for the DS-127 (not 130).  Is this 130mm new?  Is it good?

John

Subject:	Review Meade DS-2130 ATE
Sent:	Tuesday, October 30, 2001 0:35:12
From:	Gorbyrun@stargate.net (Gorbyrun)
I cannot find any mention of this particular telescope anywhere on the
internet.  It seems to be a Wal-Mart only product and is different than
the DS Series telescopes pictured on their web site.  (It is not on the
Wal-Mart web site either).

It has some quirks but for the money, it's amazing.  For $350 bucks I
got a nice tripod (I work in video and this tripod is sturdier than any
consumer camcorder tripod I've ever seen.)  There are no bubble levels
on it (which you can add for less than 2 bucks) which is a shame because
it works great on a level tripod.  Once aligned it really does an
amazing job tracking objects.  The movement as slow speeds is very
smooth and you can fine tune the tracking well.  I was able to move
through eye-piece magnifications easily.

The telescope has a 5' mirror and a 1020mm focal length.  It came with 3
eye-pieces and a 3x barlow lense. It came with Starry Night software and
software to enable direct computer control of the Autostar system.  It
also came with a b/w ccd camera.  This eyepiece shaped camera can be
used to send video from the telescope to a TV or VCR.

The camera works great on the moon.  You can't change it's magnification
but a small battery operated TV lets everyone see at the same time.  I
had hoped to be able to see dimmer objects but, the moon is what it's
good for.  I tried plugging it into a Sony Digital Handycam, hoping to
be able to snap digital pictures but the output from the eyepiece is
rejected by the camcorder.  The CCD camera output may be sized
incorrectly... I am not sure but all things considered It makes a great
free gift. (as billed on the package).

The tripod is sturdy and the mounting system sound except the screw knob
on the base is too short.  When loosened (to allow manual movement of
the scope) it only hangs on by a couple threads.  Unscrew a little too
far and the whole thing can fall off the tripod or you may accidentally
strip the bottom threads.  I fixed this problem with a new bolt from
Lowe's.  (make sure to bring it with you and match the very fine
threads)  Now the scope can't fall off and can be loosened without fear.

There is a trick to aiming it.  The degree rings on the scope are
worthless.  The ring around the base is glued very weakly and unless you
reinforce it first thing out of the box you won't have it for long.

Likewise the ring on the side has play in it.  Long story short, to aim
the scope, you have to move it to the 0' 0' position with it pointing
north.  With no way to tell where this was I was frustrated for a while.
 However, there is an option in the Utilities Menu called Park Scope. 
This seems to move the motors to the 0' position.  Next you loosen the
knobs, point the scope north with the tube level and you are ready to
start alignment.

I pick my stars before setup and choose them manually from the
controller.  This is the best way because the Autostar does not know
which stars are obstructed by trees ect.  It goes to where it thinks the
star is automatically (which it usually overshoots) but once you line
them up you are ready to go.

I have found that once I am through the alignment the rest is gravy.  If
you are carefully tracking an object for a few minutes at a high power
the autostar really gets into the groove and you can move around the sky
with confidence.

Even with it's quirks, this scope is infinitely easier to work than a
manual mount.  I can see more in 10min than I have been able to see with
a standard mount in a year.  I love the identify feature, you point the
scope at something and it tells you what it is.

This is my second DS-2130 ATE.  The first one came out of the box
defective.  It wouldn't turn left.  In all fairness I should note that
this may not have been a factory defect.  When they exchanged the scope
(no questions asked) it was obvious that the first scope had been opened
and repackaged.  I believe that if you assembled this scope without
reading the directions carefully you could accidentally break it.  I
would blame the problem on moving the scope with the base knob
tightened, thereby stripping the gear.  (The degree rings on this scope
where loose as well).

The focus adjustment knob is not smooth at high power, but, I understand
that this can be fixed with an optional electric focuser.  I should
point out that this shaking does not change the scopes position, which
it returns to quickly.

I like the Starry Night Software a lot, I don't have the optional cable
for direct computer control.

Make sure you put fresh batteries in at the beginning of the night and
keep extras on hand if it's really cold or you plan a long night.  It
takes 8 AA so the car or AC adapter may be a good idea if you plan on
using it a lot.

Even with its quirks, for the money I don't think you can beat this
scope.  Tripod ($100), 4 eyepieces (These are not the best available,
but they are easily upgradeable--good eyepieces range from $50-200+
each)-- these at least get you started.  The CCD camera (easy $100
value), software ($50) the telescope tube, mirror, finderscope... but
having the autostar is priceless.

Though I can't find this exact scope, the DS series mirrors have gotten
high marks in reviews I have read.  I think with an autofocuser and some
nicer eyepieces there is little this scope won't do.

Rings of Saturn, clouds on Jupiter, the Orion nebula, galaxies and
more--a thousand times easier to see than with a manual mount.

I'm having a great time with this scope, I have studied the sky for
years and this product has really been educational.  You can be sure
that you are really looking at the right thing.

No matter what scope you get, there is always a nicer more expensive
model but I would say the next scope up from this will cost at least a
couple hundred more dollars.  Four and a half stars.

Subject:	Pinched mirror on my DS-127
Sent:	Monday, October 29, 2001 22:07:04
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com (Raymond Barbour (ZA))
I used to have an elongated, almost double image that was particularly
noticeable on bright objects like the planets. I took my 'scope to the
local astronomical society's telescope making group to have the mirror
tested. We removed the mirror cell from the back of the 'scope and it
had a bad shape in the one side. We then removed the mirror from the
cell and tested it again and it was fine. The person who had assembled
the mirror in the cell had tighten one on the clips too tight. We then
reassembled the 'scope and collimated it. I am now getting crisp images.
I'd not be surprised if there are not more DS-127 and DS 114 'scope out
there with the same problems.
Regards,
Raymond Barbour

Subject:	505 cable
Sent:	Monday, October 29, 2001 21:27:57
From:	neil@wci.ab.ca (N.Armstrong)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Hi Dick.

I made a 505 data cable from the instructions from your diagram. Bit of
soldering and voila!

Perfect cable and saved a bundle. Thanks for the excellent diagram.
Works perfectly for the DS-127.

P.S. When I bought the 506 cable for the ETX it cost 99.98 from Toronto
and 20.00 GST. Meade really likes to gouge on cables but the scopes they
come out with make up for it. Perhaps someday they will learn.
And:
It's not just Meade...

> P.S. When I bought the 506 cable for the ETX it cost 99.98 from
> Toronto and 20.00 GST.
Here in the states, the cable is us$50 (including StarryNight). Since
the usual exchange rate is about 0.67usd=1.0ca your vendor is either
suffering duty on the way up, or something... (and then there's VAT...
did the vendor A any V?) The 20% GST is almost triple any US state's
sales tax (i pay 8.8%).. but you DO have national health care, vast
amounts of relatively sparsely populated areas to support/care for,
etc.etc.

> Meade really likes to gouge on cables but the scopes they come out
> with make up for it. Perhaps someday they will learn.
It's the us$50 price of the APM which floors me... they could'a charged
$100 and 90% of the buyers wouldn't have squeaked (much). If they'd sell
the 506 for $30, they'd sell many many more... and the software is
frequently packaged with the telescopes...

..opinions only...
--dick

Subject:	Meade DS-70EC - Opinion?
Sent:	Monday, October 29, 2001 7:52:31
From:	heytracy@adelphia.net (Tracy)
Just linked to your site.  I wondered if you might know whether this is
a decent telescope for a first-time family purchase.  I wanted to get
something for a Xmas gift that we could all use & enjoy.  Also, does the
auto-controller really work as described?

Thank you for any help you can give & also for your time,

Tracy Fortune

Subject:	any suggestions for?
Sent:	Wednesday, October 24, 2001 0:00:45
From:	ohdonna70@yahoo.com (ohdonna gonyer)
I have a Meade DS-70EC telescope that I cant seem to find a case for do
you have any suggestions?

i am looking for either a soft or a hardsided case...

OHDonna
Mike here: Many cases have foam cubes that let you design your own layout.

Subject:	autostar 495
Sent:	Saturday, October 20, 2001 14:07:24
From:	john_komninos@hotmail.com (John Komninos)
Hello Mr.My name is John Komninos and I come from Greece.I have the DS
127 MEADE  telescope.

I have the Autostar 495. I have connected it with my PC with the
connection cable 505.I downloaded the programme ASU from MEADEs
internet site and I tried to update the Autostars database.When I
started downloading the Autostar had the sign:Downloading... for an
hour and I thought something went wrong.Then I disconnected the cable
from the Autostar and I turned off the PC.Now the Autostar is not
responding and it is only shows this indication:(c)  01 Meade [22E]

AUTOSTAR

Could you please tell me what to do to restore my Autostars
database? I'm waiting for your reply.Thank you.
Mike here: Try the SAFE LOAD procedure. See the "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" article on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Autostar Update 495
Sent:	Saturday, October 20, 2001 6:58:59
From:	ron@homebrew.com (Ron Mariotti)
I have been out of the hobby for a few months, but now that the clear
fall/winter skies are coming back, I wanted to dust off the DS-90 and
fire it up again. Since then, I've changed job roles, got a new
laptop... what I'm getting at is that I went to the Meade site to
download Autostar Update and grab any new software they had for the 495
controller. I'm confused! I saw a new version of the update utility but
it says that there are only files for the 497 controller. I searched
your site high and low for answers, but came up empty. Would you be able
to shed some light on what I'm supposed to do to get this thing updated?

Greatly appreciative,
Ron Mariotti
Mike here: You can update the #495; when you do it becomes just like a #497. At least that's true when used with the ETX models.

Subject:	New DS series, Mount has changed?
Sent:	Friday, October 19, 2001 23:18:47
From:	memoryman@directcon.net (Bill)
I just saw this picture on an Ebay auction for a DS-114EC. It seems the
Fork Mounts have been replaced with this SIDE Mount.  Not sure if this
is BETTER or WORSE than the Fork mount.  Does anyone have input from
Meade (or first-hand)? See this link for the picture

http://jjmaden.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/ds-2130-first0016.jpg

As you can see the mount has 'drastically' changed.  It's more like the
type Celestron uses for it's series 4 and 5 scopes. There seems to be a
lot of discussions about the 'new/ DS series scopes on the Yahoo site. 
(they start with DS-2xxx) I was just thinking that you had some 'inside
info' or someone looking at your website might have more info.  :-)

I just checked the MEADE site to see if the new mounts were also show
They ARE in the group picture, but no mention is made of the change. One
would have assumed if the mount was IMPROVED, then Meade would have made
some marketing pitch about it. :-/

Thanks
Bill Chandler
EDH, Ca

Subject:	RE: RE: Problem with autostar 495
Sent:	Thursday, October 11, 2001 15:13:02
From:	subradistro@arnet.com.ar (Philippe Subra)
Mike, did you mean by "train the autostar for the drives" : use the
calibration of motors option? If it is that, I did it after the reset.
Although, I will look for this option in the telescope menu of the
autostar.

Thanks, and I will report to you.

If it does not work, somebody in the DS egroup told me to verify the
optic system of the motors that can be dirty with grease.

Beeing busy in those days , I'll do it next WE, with the loading of the
last software.

Thanks again,

Philippe.
Mike here: Calibration (which is really just a motor/Autostar communication test) and Training are different.

Subject:	Problem with autostar 495
Sent:	Tuesday, October 9, 2001 15:55:37
From:	subradistro@arnet.com.ar (Philippe Subra)
I bought recently a DS114EC in France during my last holidays, and only
brought the mount, with its motors and autostar to Mendoza, in Argentina
where I am living.

I use it with a chinese 102mm f5 refractor. I did no modification at
this moment, just put some little bath towells around the scope to
compensate the difference of diameters, and fix it inside the original
sistem. It is not very elegant, but worked fine (until I had this
problem), with more stability than the original OTA, and too with
significant blacklash to mantain the gears almost smooth, but one can
live with it. The short fcal length helps much, and this allows to get a
nice system to see many deep sky objects.

So all worked fine until last week end I had in the " Cordillera Andina"
at 2000m high, with fantastic clear skies. Surely have I not the
experience of many of your readers, but I am always surprised how it is
possible to see his way and all around, without the moon, just with the
light of the stars!! It is really fantastic.

But this time I did not enjoy as in other opportunities, because for the
first time, I had serious problems with the Autostar:

When proceeding to the alignement process, I got every time "motor
errors" after some seconds of movement, for instance when I was aligning
on Altair. Or sometimes, in particular when aligning on Archenar or
ACruz, the scope began to move, doing a complete 360 deg, and following,
so for the doubts, I stopped it.

I have tested the motors, verified the tighteness of the gears of the
mount, all seems normal, and this phenomen occurs also sometimes, when I
give a manual order to the motors, after some 10 or 20 seconds.

I had a complete reset of the autostar yesterday, but that did not
resolve the problem. I must say you that I have a 1999 - 2.0 version of
the autostar as indicated when I start it.

Do you have any idea of what ist is occuring, and would you know how I
could fix it?

Thank you very much, and congratulations for following with the very
high quality of your site and its maitenance.

Very best regards, and sorry for my very poor english.

Philippe Subra.
Mike here: Some points come to mind: low batteries or you need to retrain for the DS drives or you need to reset/retrain.

And:

Thak you Mike. Sorry, but I am french.

Please, what do you mean for "retrain"?. I have yet done a reset.

About low batteries, I have changed them by new ones, but the problem is
still occurring.

I forgot to say that when I move the scope manually, the scope stops
after some seconds, and I have this message : " en construction", that
does mean : "building", I think.

Thank you for your help,
Mike here: There is an option under the Setup-->Telescope menu of the Autostar to TRAIN the Autostar for the drives. This basically configures the Autostar for the actual movement of the gear train. Each telescope can be slightly different. Just follow the prompts. (I'm assuming here that it can be done with the DS drives). The "under construction" error is a bug. If you can upgrade to the current version of the Autostar ROMs (2.2Er) it should not occur but this version is English only.

Subject:	re: Tracking problem with Ds 127...
Sent:	Monday, October 8, 2001 16:32:13
From:	jjacobso@lainet.com (James Jacobson)
Thought I might put my $.02 in after seeing this...

As an owner of a DS-90EC, I can vouch for the tracking capability of the
DS scopes.  I have successfully tracked objects for over an hour.  If I
ever have problems, it seems to be a training issue.  There are
documented problems, however, with some of the DS reflectors (this
includes the DS127) - particularly regarding the mounts.

Apparently there can be some sloppiness in some of the mounts that can
cause poor tracking problems.  The easiest fix for this is the
"leather-washer" fix which has been well documented on your site, as
well as in the Yahoo! DS group.

There are a couple of folks out there who have also taken their mounts
apart and re-seated the bearings in order to eliminate some of the slop
in the mounts.  This also has apparently proved effective.

For either of these methods, the scope has to be reset and retrained
after the modification.

Hope this helps...

-Jake J.

Subject:	Tracking problem with Ds 127...
Sent:	Sunday, October 7, 2001 11:47:42
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
I worked with Guido previously with his upgrade of the 495 to 497. I am
sure he is calibrating and retraining his autostar for the two different
scopes he has. I think the problem lies with the mount on the DS127.
These scopes have good optics but terrible mounts. Just as example,
using Dick's latest patches
(http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/as_3patches.html ) to edit
and retrieve training values, my DS114 has an AZ of 5744 and an ALT of
7389. Compare this to my LX90, which has AZ of 78 and ALT of 28.  Dont
get me wrong, the DS can be adjusted to have to have good gotos and
track for hours and keep the abject in FOV for hours. This requires
getting the manual out and adjusting the backlash in the gears. Page 10
under #492 Dual-Motor Electronic Control System, in the English version
has the procedure. I don t what page in the Italian version. Also
replace the grease that Meade uses with white lithium base grease. This
alone made the DS114 quieter and smoother. Some of Dr Clays tune up
procedure can be applied to the DS scopes as well. See
http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx_tuneup1.html . The scope
structure is different but the principles are the same.

Guido should upgrade to 2.2Er with Dicks patches for training editing.
This would enable training values to copied to from the autostar and
retraining when switching scopes would be eliminated. Just edit the
values that work best for the scope being used. Remember that calibrate
motors is still required. Experiment with training values on the DS127.
This can be done on the fly with Dicks patches. Adjust the percentages
on both AZ and ALT. I would start with 5%, but dont get carried away.

Hope this helps
Bob rose

Subject:	re: DS and poor tracking
Sent:	Saturday, October 6, 2001 22:04:13
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	lp75@libero.it
Visit 
http://www.egroups.com/messages/meade-ds

which is an "electronic group" of DS- owners, who specialize in solving
each other's problems.  You will find many hints and tips on improving
your telescope's operation.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Tracking problem with Ds 127...
Sent:	Friday, October 5, 2001 13:34:53
From:	lp75@libero.it (Ritchie Blackmore)
I'm Guido from Pescara, Italy. Your site is the best that I see and is
very complete. I've 2 telescope: a Meade Ds 127 Ec and a Meade etx 90
Ec. The best on moon and planet is the etx, but with deep sky object the
major diameter of Ds is best.

The problem is that the tracking and the pointing with etx (in polar
mode) is very good but with the ds 127 is very poor! For example Mars
after centering on eyepiece is tracked by etx for more of 30 minutes on
the filed of view of an Or 5 mm, but only 30 sec. with Ds!! Why?
Naturally this difference is the same on the other object, such as moon,
galaxy, etc.

Maybe the Ds, with altazimutal mount (the ds 127 has a very bad
mounting!) is not precise? Also the etx, when tracking in altazimutal
mode, lose the objects in the filed of view in 30 sec. - 1 minute.

Is possible to found a system that increase the quality of the tracking
of the Ds 127? For the etx there's no problem because I use this scope
alwais in polar mode. Naturally, before using this 2 scope I setting
autostar with the train drive, the correct date and time, etc.

Thank for your attention and sorry for mi english!

Bye

Guido - Italy
Mike here: If you can upgrade the Autostar to the current version from Meade's site, then you may be able to improve your DS performance. But perhaps the only thing you need to do is to TRAIN the drives (assuming you need to do that for DS series). With the ETX models, RETRAINING cures many glitches that can arise in the Autostar. If you do upgrade the Autostar, be certain to do a RESET and RETRAIN following the upgrade.

And:

Thank you for your answer Mike but I have upgraded the autostar at
latest version (I use autostar 495 on Ds and Etx!) and naturally I'm
training the scopes and autostar before using... For my opinion the Ds
not have the necessary mechanical precision, what do you think about
this?
Mike here: Since I have no experience with the DS models I can't comment on its drives.

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