Last updated: 27 October 2005
This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX PE (Premier Edition). Feedback on the specific PE technologies (Automatic Alignment + SmartFinder, Level North Technology) will be covered here. Feedback on the Autostar Suite AE (Astronomer Edition) will be posted on the regular Autostar Suite feedback page. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (EC, AT, PE) will continue to be posted on the other appropriate feedback pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject: Re LST Query Friday 21 Oct 05 (ETX Premier Edition Feedback) Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2005 12:24:32 From: Arthur Rees (firstname.lastname@example.org) When running version 33Ef I had problems with Autostar displaying incorrect LST. I have since upgraded to version 40Eb as you suggested. There is still a problem. The Autostar display of LST is now exactly 1 hour behind that computed by Skymap Pro #11 and http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/sidereal.html The date and time are correct and DST is on. My longitude is 00 h : 07 m : 00 s East. (England->Greenwich on Autostar) Will an error in LST affect the positional accuracy of the scope? I'm guessing it will. In all other respects the ETX 105 PE works 100%. I upgraded with the new ASU Version 4.3 with no problems. 4000 series super Plossls are a bit difficult to find over in the UK but apart from that no complaints. Thanks for a great site Arthur Rees Sussex - UKMike here: Dick Seymour had no LST problems with 4.0Eb as seen in his comments from October 21 (further down this page). Check all your settings. As to whether an error in the displayed LST will affect GO-TOs, that will depend on whether the error is just a display error, an error in your settings, or some math error.
Subject: ETX125 PE, off centre base Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 01:04:22 From: Steven Collingwood (Steven.Collingwood@meade.uk.com) I noticed whist reading your ETX general section the thread from David Haigh regarding a faulty ETX125. I was sorry to hear about David's instrument (which will no doubt be on my bench this week). The U.K importer for Meade Telescopes is Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller Ltd and not Telescope House. Whilst it is true that BC&F own Telescope House, they are kept separate. Telescope House is purely a retail outlet, whereas BC&F look after over 200 dealers and have a service department (which also looks after 200+ dealers). There are no 'official' recurring problems with ETX bases at this stage, however I would say that the knowledge base from sites such as yours I find very useful, as it gives us an idea of what issues are arising worldwide as we don't hear about everything Any service issues should always be referred to the original dealer first, who will arrange for BCF to deal with it as quickly as possible if they are unable to. I hope this is helpful, and I am happy for you to publish this email as it may serve to speed up and improve customer service for Meade users in the U.K. Kind Regards Steve Collingwood FRAS Service Manager Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller Ltd
Subject: Your Misinformation Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 02:48:26 From: Telescope House (email@example.com) On October 16th a thread on your General forum (re ETX 125PE Base Off Center) was posted claiming Telescope House as the Meade importer for the UK. Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller are in fact the Meade importers in the UK. The email that Telescope House sent to your poster advising that he returned the ETX to his dealer was the correct action to take to resolve the issue. I hope this will go some way towards clarifying the situation should this question arise in the future. Regards, Ted Harrison FRAS Retail Manager Telescope House, Telescope Specialists Since 1785 www.telescopehouse.co.uk 01892 550100 OPEN SIX DAYS A WEEK FOR VISITORS AS WELL AS TELEPHONE AND ONLINE SALES Join us for Astronomy Now day Sat OCT 29th Telescope House. UNIT 6 Tunbridge Wells Trade Park Longfield Road Tunbridge Wells Kent TN2 3QF
Subject: Re: New Meade ETX-125PE a lemon and getting run-around from Meade and Astronomics Sent: Saturday, October 22, 2005 23:09:37 From: Allen Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) Astronomics discovered the replacement they had saved me back at the end of July was also defective. I finally got a replacement around the end of September. After several problems with the Autostar "forgetting" I had set the daylight savings to "on" - I finally seem to have a working ETX-125PE - 6 months after I should have. Astronomics was great - went above and beyond. Meade support still needs to get their act together and Meade needs to fix their quality problems with the PE line before the holiday sales rush begins - I don't see most people putting up with what I went through to get a working telescope.... Anyway - your site was of great help and I go to it often - thanks for providing such a great site. Allen Jensen
Subject: re: ETX 105PE: Local Sidereal Time Query Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 23:04:56 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) What version of firmware are you running? (The -complete- answer is under Setup/Statistics/[scroll up] ) Meade does have a history of dropping various balls in the vicinity of Greenwich.. are you slightly east, or slightly west? (i saw the south bit, but that doesn't count as much). Please supply the approximate time, date and time situation (summer or standard time?) of your test, plus your site as the Autostar knows it. I'll try to duplicate the issue on my 40Eb Autostar. (and if i can, then we all pester Meade...) The Lunar calculations -can- be off by at least a lunar diameter... it's a function of the limited number of terms (only 7) that MEade uses in calculating the moon's orbit (it's very erratic). have fun --dick
From: Arthur Rees (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'm running version 33Ef I set Greenwhich as the site from the Autostar list, but I have since updated site and time from Skymap #11 when under computer control. My Lat is 50 degrees 57 mins north My long is 00 degrees 7 mins east My local time is 08:50:00 (24 hour clock). Daylight saving is in operation until 30 October in UK. My LST (from Skymap and US Navy site) is 09:54:00 Looking at the Mode menu on Autostar: Local time, site lat/long and date agrees with above, but LST is 11:43:00 I have ignored the 'second' entries for all the above times. Hope this helps All the best Arthur
In v40Eb, the LST now agrees with SkyMap: LST=9:54:00 at 8:50 AM. GDT So the 'fix' is to update the firmware.... As a fall-back check, the Autostar predicts the moon to be at RA= 5:48.8 Dec=27 d 59' which is fairly close to my StarryNight's prediction of 5:55 28d 03' (and i didn't move my site, so there's a little bit of parallax error there)(although 6 RA minutes is almost a full moon's width) have fun --dick
Subject: ETX 105PE: Local Sidereal Time Query Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 02:56:11 From: Arthur Rees (email@example.com) I have just purchased an ETX-105PE and everything seems to work fine. I have yet to thoroughly test the 'Goto' accuracy as we are in the British Winter now. However the Autostar seems to find planets and starts just fine, but there are massive errors when trying to locate the Moon. I think it may be due to errors in Sidereal Time. In the Telescope Status Display (Press 'Mode' for 2 secs), the local time and LST time is displayed. My local time is fine, but the Local Sidereal Time (I assume that's what LST stands for) is way off. I have carefully checked the Time and Site settings and they are OK. I am located a few miles south of Greenwich, England. I use the http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/sidereal.html site to compute LST. Any ideas? Keep up the good work Arthur ReesMike here: Do you have your correct location entered? I presume you are letting the LNT set the date and time.
Subject: Smartfinder Removal Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 06:43:33 From: Bruce Nethery (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hope this gets there and I'll be redundant by saying great site and thank you very much. Just got the 105PE. My first scope and, when weather clears, will be the first time I have ever looked through a quality scope. But to my problem. Thanks to your picture, I can see that my Smartfinder lens is on the wrong side of the cam lock in the LNT module. My question: how to remove the lens without scratching or breaking it or the LNT? As the LNT seems so fragile, I am worried about pressure on it. Will saran wrap be O.K. to use to grip the Lens? Will appreciate your comments.Mike here: I was able to just slide mine back out. Handle the lens with a soft cloth or glove or by the edges. You may have to gently "wiggle it".
I got the problem solved. One tip, I slid a mirror underneath the LNT and could easily see how it was supposed to go as I re-inserted. Red dot is on and aligned. Bruce
Subject: LNT Battery Question Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 05:18:45 From: Kevin.K.Blankenheim@rolls-royce.com My ETX125PE was giving me a "motor fault' periodically and every 30 minutes would slew, uncommanded, vertically for about 50 degrees, with Autostar 34Ec. I just upgraded to Autostar version 40Eb. Now, during initialization, Autostar thinks the time is always 8:00pm. When I plug my time update module into the LNT, the utility menu does not give me the option to update the time automatically using time module. The Autostar only gives me the choice of 2 star alignment. I think Autostar doesn't know I have a PE version ETX scope. I assume all these indicate the LNT battery is dead. The telescope is only 5 months old, but I tend to leave the red dot on for long periods of time, so maybe that runs the battery down. I hope replacing the battery fixes my problems. Do you agree?? Also, I installed the MEADE electronic focuser, but I can't seem to use the Autostar controller to change the focuser. It works with the separate focus controller, but why have 2 controllers to use the scope. I think the focuser can be controlled through the Autostar controller. Do you know how to do this? Thanks for the help/advice, KevinMike here: It could be a dead battery. And yes the Autostar can be used to focus; its under the MODE display.
I just replaced the LNT battery, but it didn't help. The time is always 8:00pm, the red dot doesn't turn on, and it always asks for a 2 start alignment. This doesn't sound like it finds the LNT module. It there a connection that falls off and do you know where it could be and how to get to it? Thanks, KevinMike here: I haven't removed the LNT to check for its connection but it could be that something has come loose somewhere.
After replacing the battery, I still had no luck. The LNT wasn't being recognized by the Autostar software, calibrate sensors was not even selectable like it was when the LNT worked, and no red dot. I even reloaded Autostar with build 34Ec, but it did the same thing, so I loaded 40Eb back in. I disassembled the telescope and followed the wire harness, but it was connected in the base and I didn't see any signs of exposed wires. I think the LNT module needs to be replaced. I'll call MEADE and hopefully get a replaced. I'm just worried I won't get the replacement very soon. I've recently bought a CCD Camera, ATK2C, and am trying to take some Mars pictures since it's close to earth. Is there a way to permanently replace the LNT module with a good old view finder scope, like a non PE edition? I will look for the focus option under the MODE display, Thanks. KevinMike here: Yes, you could remove the LNT but you'll have to make your own finderscope mounting points or use "glue".
Subject: ETX-90PE Problem Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 23:56:02 From: John Zimmerman (email@example.com) Can you post this so I can get some ideas? My supercharged ETX-90PE suddenly failed after a few weeks of reliable operation. When I do an auto align, it can't find level, and will continue to move the tube down - I have to cut the power before it hits a hard stop. At the same time, the azimuth motor does not run when I press a directional key. I've tried different autostar units with the same result. I've removed the base and the cover to the LNT unit but do not see any obvious loose wires. Has anyone had this happen? John ZMike here: Since it is still under warranty I wold suggest contacting Meade for a replacement LNT module.
Subject: ETX125PE setup experiences Sent: Friday, October 7, 2005 12:06:54 From: Gary Ogilvie (firstname.lastname@example.org) I wanted to add my experiences with setting up a new ETX125PE to those already on your great site. I ordered my 125 from Astronomics, but had to wait for several weeks because the UHTC model was on backorder. Astronomics shipped it on Sept. 26, 2005, and I had it a few days after. I set it up according to the user manual directions. First I tried to align the red dot finder before dark, but all I could see was several red slashes on the viewing lens. After looking closer, I could see the fiber optic line hanging out of the hole in the side of the LNT. The end of it appeared to be split into several directions - each giving a red slash on the lens. I clipped it off and pushed it back in, and now I have a single red cauliflower shaped smudge. Not acceptable so I called Meade and ordered a new LNT. $45, since I violated the warranty by snipping the fiber optic. Fair I guess, since I though about the warranty before I did it. But I was eager to try the 125, so I used double stick tape and stuck a spare red dot finder on it. I might leave it there. It doesn't stick up as far as the lens on the LNT, and isn't as prone to damage as the end-only mounted LNT is. And it works! I think the end of the LNT (the lens end without any support that hangs out over the ota) needs some support under it to help it stay level with the ota and strengthen it. I'm still thinking about the best way to do that. I set the 125 up in "home position" for an Alt/Az auto align and plugged in an AC adaptor for the power. The 125 saved all the location, time information, etc. with no problems. On checking to see if it saved my zip code, I noticed it had the wrong coordinates, so I put the correct ones in. It started to slew around to determine north and level and stopped. Autostar read a motor fault and advised me to call Meade. I turned it off and started over several times. It faulted each time, but it did save the correct location and time information. I was pretty disappointed. As a last effort I reset everything back to factory settings. I put everything back in and it has not "faulted" since. It was off about 5-10 degrees on both alignment stars, but after receiving the "alignment successful" message, it put every object in the fov of a 14mm eyepiece the rest of the evening. My 8" Celestron NexStar can't do that. I noticed a few more little problems. The focus has some slight mirror slop, and after using a slow speed slew to center the object, the motors continue to move it out of the fov. I have to stop up in the corner in order to get the object centered. I will continue to test this last problem. It might be a backlash % problem, or a clutch problem. I did train the drives after this, and that may have fixed it already. The weather and working out of town has prevented me from further testing. I also needed to tighten the flip mirror knobs with an allen wrench. One fell off. My first night star testing shows the optics and collimation are excellent. I'm impressed with the ease of Autostar, and I have upgraded to the latest version. I am very pleased with the sharp focus and contrast. Colored doubles are great. All in all, I am happy. The few small problems can be fixed or worked around. I would only recommend this scope to those who can overlook and/or fix the little stuff in order to enjoy the big stuff.Mike here: Keep in mind that you need to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES for first use out of the box. Then you need to CALIBRATE MOTORS whenever the power source changes (AC to battery, and vice versa).
Subject: re: Meade Autostar serial trouble Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 09:16:02 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) I use a Keyspan on my laptop... it's happy. Have you downloaded the -update- to Autostar Suite from Meade's site? Accessible from http://www.meade.com/autostar/update/ The Meade programs are not very agressive about COM port ownership. Be sure that -other- programs aren't occasionally grabbing it (such as PalmPilotHotSync or MS's IntelliSync). Verify that the COM port is what number you think it is. My guide to using Hyperterminal as a diagnostic is at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html have fun --dick
Subject: re: First session with ETX-90PE Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 09:10:16 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) You wrote: >The only problem I experienced was half way though the session > with AutoStar refusing to slew to anything despite saying SLEWING. That's a symptom of simply forgetting to press [enter] before pressing [goto]. By not pressing [enter], the -previous- target is still selected as the GoTo target. Therefore all it did was "Slew" to your -current- position (so it didn't have to move). have fun --dick
Subject: ETX-125PE/UHTC Sent: Monday, October 3, 2005 17:41:36 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am considering purchasing the relatively new 125 PE/UHTC, but have been reading many adverse reports on the alignment and go to features. Do you know if they have corrected the problems and are there other sites other than your that are giving feedback on the scope. Sincerely, Dick GoebelMike here: Keep in mind that most people write when having problems. Rarely do people write to just say that all is OK. But there are reports on the Helpful Information: User Observations page; I'll be posting a new PE report tonight. There is an ETXASTRO Yahoo Group. And:
Thanks for the prompt reply. Looking forward to your post. Have a great day, Dick & Marva Goebel
Subject: Smart Finder Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 22:20:39 From: Kevin Conde (KevinC@sutter.k12.ca.us) Per your last E-Mail I updated the 105 PE Wednesday night. Did not get it out until tonight was at my part time job driving a police car. My fellow cops wonder why on the night shifts I often stand in the middle of the street after calls looking up and muttering: "Cassiopeia, Orion, Pleiades .." I never get tired of the sky at 0300-0400 in the morning. Right now you get a stunning bare eye view of Orion around that time. Orion has always been my favorite constellation. It's kinda funny. About 3 years ago a misunderstood citizen named Orion (His actual first name) tried to seriously hurt me. He lost the fight, but the DA was not amused any more than I was. He's a guest of the state of California right now. Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking about how important the constellation Orion has always been to me. Life is weird sometimes. Anyway back to the subject. The update did solve a lot of problems. I had a good night using polar alignment I'm not a fan of the Meade tripod. I have a JMI with a wedge that I bought for the original ETX that works with the new scope after minor modifications. Once I figured out the obtuse Meade instructions and did the two star alignment polar style, it was a lot of fun. The scope finds the objects that are visible through the light polluted skies I don't have all the multiple eyepieces I have, organized yet in the new box I'm building, so kept it simple, using the eyepiece that came with it. Once the wonderful bionic box is done the plan is to get away from town and all the obstructions. Your site has been invaluable in dealing with the less than accurate Meade instructions. I run a large network as my day job, and have some idea of the time it must take for you to maintain your site. I honor you. If Meade ain't paying you they ought to. I have one challenge still to solve. The Smartfinder will not align. I checked the installation per your PE105 Experience (I was prepared for that before I even got the scope thanks to your article) The finder lines up with the object right to left, but will not align up and down relative to the scope. The dot is well below the object when all the adjustment screw is bottomed out. After the last experience with Meade tech support, if I can't find a simple solution I will strap on the reflex sight I used on the original ETX. Any suggestions? Thanks very much. Kevin CondeMike here: There have been some reports of red-dot cable problems with the LNT module; perhaps that is what is wrong with yours. Might be worth a call to Meade; they might send a replacement LNT. And:
Thanks, I'll call them in the morning. KevinAnd an update:
That was a surreal experience. They didn't quibble at all. I said "Smartfinder Problem" and they said "We'll ship you a new one." Nothing like the last call. Thanks Kevin
Subject: First session with ETX-90PE Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 11:25:38 From: Payam M I thought I send in my experience with my new ETX-90PE last night. I basically took the scope out of the box, upgraded the AutoStar to latest version 3.4Ef, aligned the SmartFinder (which I found much more attractive and easy to use than the finder scope on my older ETX-90AT), trained drives, calibrated sensors and centered Polaris at my observing site and did an Auto Alignment. The first star was VEGA which easily appeared in FOV of the 26mm. Next was ALTAIR which was closer to the center than VEGA. After that I did a GOTO Venus and AutoStar had it right in the middle of the 26mm Eyepiece. Andromeda appeared a little to the right and top but still completely in the FOV. The only problem I experienced was half way though the session with AutoStar refusing to slew to anything despite saying SLEWING. So I turned it OFF and then ON and it appeared to be fine but I had to do an alignment again. I have to add that I used my atomic clock to set the clock for the LNT module and also entered the GPS coordinates for my observing site so this all contributed to a perfect night of observing. Just though I share my positive experience with the LNT and SmartFinder on the ETX-90PE. Thank you.
Subject: Meade Autostar serial trouble Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 08:29:00 From: Kevin Conde (KevinC@sutter.k12.ca.us) Thanks for the Web site. I bought one of the original ETX scopes years ago, and computerized it with the JMI NGC system. I just received my new ETX 105 PE. Though you like to hear about a couple of issues and perhaps can give me a little help. 1st: During original set up the scope would not initialize, giving a motor fault. Scope would slew up and down, but not side-to-side. At first was hesitant to take the thing apart 10 minutes after unpacking it, but gave in to my base nature and pulled the bottom plate. The base motor plug was adrift plugged it in and everything worked. Kinda cheap plug connections expect it will come adrift again. Next issue was the well known auto alignment woes scope would point 45 degrees away from Arcturus or Vega. I fiddled with the site information swapping between using the zip code or the Lat/Lon from my hand held GPS. Late in the evening I got it fairly close although still to far off to feel comfortable. I suspect this will take some fiddling and rereading of posts on your site to fine tune. Next issue was when I tried to connect the Autostar Suite to the PC. I run a large network, so computers don't frighten me. I could not get the software to open the comm. Port. I'm using a Keyspan USA-19HS USB to serial converter. I've had this converter for years and consider it bullet proof. I use it almost daily to telnet into routers and switches, so I know it works. I have the The Sky as well, and it would also not open the comm port. I have the most current driver for the Keyspan. I suspected the cable, so I pulled it apart, checked the diagrams on your site, and am confident that the cable is wired correctly and working. I could make a new cable, having all the parts, pieces and tools, but doubt that is the issue in a little while I'll break out the multi-meter and check each connection end to end to verify it works, but would be surprised if that has anything to do with it. I've searched your site for the error message I get " Just for giggles I tried connecting the scope to a desktop computer with a hard serial port I have a couple of machines I use to do forensic computer exams. The scope was controllable from that system with no issues that means the cable is OK, it's some kinda issue with the Keyspan adapter or Windows XP Pro on my laptop. I will look into getting a different USB serial adapter today, but would appreciate any suggestions. Overall I'm happy with the fit and finish of the scope, but disappointed with Meade's quality control the serial cable they provided works, but is not what I'd call a quality product. My ultimate goal is to connect my Canon Digital Rebel to the 105 for astrophotography which was in my mind when I bought it. Any suggestions would be appreciated thanks for the site. Kevin CondeMike here: Download the latest Autostar ROM from Meade's site. That may resolve the site problem you have. I don't recall any problem reports recently with Keyspan USB-serial converters (but several on other manufacturers); I use a Keyspan myself but on Mac OS X, not Windows. Check for a port conflict, typically fax software. And:
I tried a second USB Converter, with no joy. So..., I contacted Meade figuring what the heck. I can't say that they politely told me to go pound sand, because they weren't polite. I decided to reinstall the Keyspan - I'd already done that, and it started working. Go figure. I was just rereading Dr. Clay's tune up and check list on aligning, and found a difference between his instructions and the manual when doing the alignment. The manual - I think, its at home not here in the office - says to unlock the scope and rotate it fully counter clockwise, then clamp and leave it. Dr. Clay's said to rotate it fully clockwise then back till it points roughly north, then lock. I'm tempted to believe him over Meade? I will investigate the download - I suspect I simply need to take more time and get more familiar with the scope. Thanks Kevin CondeMike here: Glad you solved the USB problem. As to Dr. Clay's article, check the date; it predates the PE model. It discusses the HOME position for a non-LNT system. The LNT Home position is as you (and the manual) describe for the Automatic Alignment. If you decide to do a non-Automatic Alignment (ie, Easy Alignment) then you do as Dr. Clay (and non-LNT models) describe.
Subject: re: Stuck with ETX 105 PE Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 21:52:25 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) LST is Local Sidereal Time.. it's the RA value of the stars passing straight overhead right -now-. Its relationship to local (or GMT) time changes throughout the year. Don't worry about LST. If you choose your site from the City list, use your wristwatch's (local, civil) time when setting the Autostar. If your wristwatch is advanced an hour due to "summer time", then answer "Yes" to "Daylight Savings?". If your wristwatch is -not- advanced an hour, then answer "No". When being flummoxed, i do not attempt to enter a custom site, i use a city. You -can- operate in GMT... use Site/Edit, and set the Time Zone value to zero. If you are trying to enter a time zone east of Greenwich, then use positive numbers for the zone. Another factor is AM/PM time vs. 24 hour time... if the display is not showing "AM" or "PM", then remember to use 20:00 as 8 pm. Which -firmware- version do you have? (the number shows at power-up, and under Setup/Statistics[enter][scroll up] If it is not 34Ec, then there are bugs involving the Autostar (with LNT) remembering the City name. The Fix is to update... (a half megabyte download...). Vega is at DEC=+38, so it should only be 5 degrees south of your position at its highest... and will appear to be north of that as it rises and sets from directly overhead (on the central meridian). good luck --dickAnd:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) In the Telescope Status Display (what you get after pressing Mode for 2-3 seconds) the "LST" stands for "Local Sidereal Time". If you are actually at 0.0 longitude, then a good way to start is: Setup your Site with actual lat/lon and Time Zone = 0; Set Daylight Saving to NO; Enter the Time as GMT (UTC); This effectively sets up as Western European Time (WET) without the complication of Daylight Saving added in. Although this might disagree with local time, it should make your alignment work. I don't understand why a location at 0 deg longitude would be on CEST instead of WEST, but I'm not too familiar with European methodology. Hope this helps get you started. Mike Hogan
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