ETX USER FEEDBACK - SEPTEMBER 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: Monday, September 29, 1997 17:46:54 From: email@example.com (Steve Jaynes) I last visited your site about six months ago. It still looks great. I find it to be on the the most consistant high-quality personal site around. Congradulations! Steve Jaynes firstname.lastname@example.org ps. IF I decide to break down and buy my own ETX, who's got the best price on the base unit and the accessories. Our local Nature Company has them for $595 right now.
Mike here: Thanks for the comments. Most places charge the list price ($595) or higher. I have had excellent experiences with my local The Nature Company store.
Sent: Monday, September 29, 1997 16:19:56 From: DerWurm2@aol.com Wow, great page. I'm highly impressed. I especially enjoyed the photo gallery. Once again, great job. Anyway, I'm an amateur astronomer and I'm just looking for people like myself to talk (write) to. I have some pretty small stuff (a Meade 4500 and a 70mm refractor), but I'm hoping to get some better equipment in the near future. The Meade Equatorial 16" (of course, with the tracking system) caught my eye, but at around $3000, I'm wondering about an ETX or similar Schmidt-Cassegrain. Most people would think that size is what counts, but I know better. However, I'm still not sure of what an ETX would give me that a larger Newtonian reflector wouldn't. What do you like about your ETX? Do you have any other telescopes that you can compare and contrast with your ETX? What are the differences between a small ETX and a larger 10" or 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain? I hope I'm not overwhelming you, but I'm really excited about astronomy. If you can help me in anyway, please feel free to reply with as little or as much e-mail as you'd like. Well, I'm off to look at Jupiter! Thanks! Sincerely, Chris Brooks
Mike here: There are some significant differences between the ETX and larger scopes and that is aperture size. As you know, the larger the opening the better the light gathering power and the higher magnifications you can use effectively. And as you can imagine, the larger the opening the larger the overall scope size and hence weight and inconvenience go up. I like the ETX because it is very portable and yet of high optical quality for its size. Larger scopes are nice but you either need a permanent location for them or are willing to deal with the difficulty of moving them around. I hope to get something around 8-12" in a year or so but until then the ETX works wonderfully for me.
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 1997 13:08:21 Yes, I've read that Newtonian reflectors are great for low light stars, nebulae, etc. and that the larger the aperture of the telescope, the more light collectoing ability it has. How does an ETX's ability to collect light match up to a reflector of the same aperture? Chris
Mike here: I have an old (circa 1961) Edmund Scientific 3" reflector (cost $29.95 back then!). It is an f/10 system (30" focal length divided by the 3" aperture). The ETX is an f/13.8 system (but is actually higher than this due to the central mirror obstruction). The lower the f/number the brighter the same image will appear. From my memory, I think the ETX is at least comparable to the straight Newtonian Edmund 3" at least as far as seeing dim objects go. But the ETX is much better optically.
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 1997 21:46:47 From: email@example.com (Rashad Al-Mansour) Mike you created an excellent page us ETX lovers and I will continue to plug your page as long as you have it up on the web. By the way I highly recomend the Bogen slow motion pan head model # 3275 and a *good* tripod, with it I can be polar aligned in under 30 sec. and this combo setup is great for doing drift aligning for the best alignment, I've kept Jupiter in view through a 10mm lens for more than 20 min. My next accessories will be camera and adapters, I alredy have a barlow and 5 lenes. Clear Skies Rashad P.S. I have only had this scope less than 3 months, I am a newbie and started out with the Orion 80mm Short Tub. I got sick of trying to keep a object in view. Then I discovered your page, read every line of text and viewed all the photos. 3 days later I took the 80mm back and got the ETX, my life has not been the same since!
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 1997 12:23:00 From: Fishee9@aol.com Recently I went out to connecticut, and I brought my etx. I looked at a whole lot of things. I looked at M11, (the wild duck cluster), M56, M15, Venus, Jupiter, M57, and the most impressive was the Dumbbell Nebula. I put my Olll filter on my 26mm eyepiece, and looked at m27......after about 20 minutes of observing, I was able to spot the central star. I then looked at m57, and with the filter on a 12mm......the central star was also visible (about 20 minutes). the etx has not only impressed me, but my friends as well. When I tell them about what I've seen with it, they say, "With the etx?" For some reason, everyone thinks that the only thing it's good for is jupiter. Well from my own experience of using it for two years, the etx can not only see the planets, but almost all messier and ngc objects. if you have a good enough eye, and you know where to point the scope, you will be impressed. dave
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 1997 10:39:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (al winger) loved yr new saturn occ pics. they were great. need yr advice. bought my etx and the 26 mm plossl has some spots on it. i returned to the dealer who cleaned it but it still has 2 small specs. am i nitpicking if i ask for a replacement lens? appreciate yr advice rgds al winger
Mike here: If you are not satisfied, the dealer should not be satisfied. However, there comes a point of diminishing returns. Small flaws (1 or 2) are probably not even noticeable optically. What I would worry about is the cleaning the dealer did. I'm not saying they did anything wrong but what if they did. Would you notice? What if the coating deteriorated over time as a result of the cleaning solution they used? Just something to think (worry?) about. Glad you liked the Saturn Occultation photos. I wish I hadn't had to go to Indiana last week. It was two hours brighter than in California for the reappearance.
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 1997 09:51:51 From: email@example.com (Douglas Cann) Just received my 6.4 mm SP Plossl from my local dealer and had a chance to test it last night. I have a Meade Research Grade orthoscopic as a comparison. The 6.4 is clearer and darker in the back ground and has a wider field, nearly 25% more. However, the eye relief is less so you end up with about the same field unless you push your eye right up to the eye lens. The 6.4 provides 195x on its own and 390x with the #126 barlow. On Pi Aquila (1.4 Seconds separation) the images were great and space seen between the two stars. Even at 390x the image was good to the edge of the field of view. This eyepiece really compliments all my other SP's and provides the rest of the range that I was needing for double stars. The 9.4 mm SP is great with the barlow as well. The fellow that was having some difficulties with his 9.4 mm must have something wrong some where because the 9.4 lens is a very clear lens to use and will easily handle the 2x barlow with no loss of detail in the image. I tried the 'peg' focuser. It works well. When you switch from the 26 mm SP you have to remove the peg as this eyepiece is not parfocal with the others. Also, when you go to the barlow you have to remove it temporarily, but it works well. I also found a small rubber plumbing bushing or seal at a hardware store that fits over the focus knob and increases its diameter and improves the 'feel' of it. It's amazing what innovations one can find at the local hardware store. What I am really looking for is an aluminum knob with a rubber ring around it, say off of a stereo or other highend piece of equipment that is a bit larger in diameter than the existing knob and will attach onto the focus shaft in place of the existing knob. I am sure that I will find the right one soon !! Keep up the good site. A reminder to all, a review of your past months archived notes would answer alot of the questions that continue to come up. Cheers, Doug in SW BC
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 1997 08:23:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul J. Boudreaux) More feedback on items from your readers: I have used Ray Wartinger's clothes pin focuser very effectively to fine focus on the transit of Jupiter's moon the other night. I highly recommend it! Paul J. Boudreaux Technical Director Laboratory for Physical Sciences
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 1997 04:39:26 From: Greg_Randall@classic.msn.com (Gregory Randall) Last week I was able to see the GRS with the ETX and it matched the S&T; table time right on the button. I tracked it for about 2 hours. It's not impressive - more of a bump in the symmetry of the SEB, but it's there!! I was using 9mm and 5mm Vixen Lanthenum eyepieces (138X and 250X). Seeing wasn't really good enough for the 5mm most of the time, but the 9mm worked great. I also discovered a problem with using the 90 degree finder on colder fall evenings: it is very close to your nose, so fogs up very easily. I just stuck a 1 1/4" eyepiece cap over the finder when I wasn't using it and that solved the fogging problem.
Sent: Monday, September 22, 1997 22:26:49 From: Doug@teleteam.net ('Doug@teleteam.net') Howdy! I bought the Meade ETX Astro a couple of months back and I love it. It is my first scope I am having alot of fun with it and turning alot of my friends on to it as well. I am just now starting to tinker with astrophotography and some moon shot are starting to turn out nicely. I just went through several sections of your webpage and I just wanted to say thanks. You touched on or covered several area's I have been trying to get better info on, like the drive motors inability to track after 30 sec. I have a better solution for a carrying case that I came up with. I will send that first chance I get with some photos of how it looks and where to get the parts. It will hold all you eyepieces and most accessories with room to spare. And it is cheap under 45.00 total with a little work involved. Well I have computers to bang on so I had beter get back to work. Thanks again, awesome webpage Doug
Sent: Monday, September 22, 1997 05:15:45 From: email@example.com (Jame Foks) I had a small refractor telescope as a child, but lost it somewhere along the way... finally had the $ to buy another. I've been trying to decide which Meade to purchase and after checking out several websites and physically checking out several models I settled on the etx. For the price it's by far the best buy. It only came with one lens, but I immediately purchased a Barlow lense and I'm really glad I did. What a huge difference in viewing for such a small investment. The Barlow is a handy little gadget. After figuring out how to use my new etx, I took a friend of mine and drove 45 miles west of here (I live just outside Washington, D.C.) so I could get to dark sky. After driving around an hour and a half, we settled on a school yard that was out in the boonies. I must say we were both so amazed! A police lady stopped by to tell us we were trespassing, but she let us stay because we were so enthused and she didn't want to spoil our fun... a security guard came by and reluctently looked through the lens at the moon, and ended up really enjoying the view! After he was finished he wished us well. We finally packed up around 1am and called it night... much satisfied and much gratified. Thanks to your website, I was able to learn more about the etx, link to other incredible websites and make not only an informed decision to purchase my etx, but I'm making and sharing fun discoveries! Next up, a quick trip to rural, inland Florida for night viewing at my mom and dad's home waaaay out in the middle of nowhere! Then next month, it's a backpacking telescopic adventure into the high sierra of Utah! I hope to learn as much as I can about my etx before my Utah trip and would really love to learn how to take pictures with it. Do you have any information you can share regarding this topic? What kind of camera do I need? Does it require a special adapter? Will I use a special lense or is the scope the lense? Any tips are appreciated. Thanks for the website. Keep up the good work! Best regards, Jame Foks :)
Mike here: Check out the ETX Gallery pages. You'll find a TON of information there about how I take pictures. Also, check out the Accessories pages for information about adapters.
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 1997 10:23:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert E. Bell) Am interested in how other people have mounted the ETX or what kind of table they use. Nature Company has Italian made tripod for $189. Any suggestions would be appreciated. New User. Thanks. Mark Hanrahan
Sent: Saturday, September 20, 1997 10:03:13 From: Jonyqest22@aol.com Hi there! first great site, its good to know there is a place I can go with question about my NEW ETX to a group who truely knows what they are talking about. With that said I need some of your/everyone's help is setting me straight with a problem that I have,...the FOCUS KNOB. I've had my ETX for a couple of weeks now and its been great, it came intacked from the Nature Company, optics were fine, just a perfect, compact and portable scope. Until a few days ago no trouble, still haven't been able to polar align quit yet but with reading the info on this site I'm bound to get it right soon! My night started with the moon, great views, then Saturn, first time I've seen THE RINGS (awesome) then a quick view of Jupiter. This is where the ETX gets fuzzy and so don't I. I thought it was just dew, temp. was in the mid 50's, but I removed the eyepiece and a clear in focus image (so it seemed)of the moon appeared on a white sheet of paper that I placed over the eyepiece holder. To double check I brought it out the next morning and tried to aim and focus in on a tree top, same result, a continuouse blurry mess. The focus knob doesn't seem to have any effect when turned. I am an amateur in the truest sense so I have been extremely careful how I handle and where I place my ETX, is my scope broken, or is there something oh so simple that I can adjust seeing that I don't want to comprimise my warranty. hoping eagerly for a higher authority to help me out!! Still looking up though jon
Mike here: It sounds like the focus knob is lose. There is a small set screw in the side of the knob. You'll need a small allen wrench (hex) to tighten the screw.
Sent: Friday, September 19, 1997 16:01:19 From: email@example.com (al winger) Dear Mike: Thks for your prompt and kind note re the ETX. I just got mine yesterday and my wife and I were awestruck by the moon, jupiter and the other sites. Having a little prob getting my finderscope aligned, and just ordered the 90 deg from JMI. Best rgds Al Winger
Sent: Friday, September 19, 1997 13:49:43 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Would you buy a 9 mm(138 power) or a 7 mm(178 power) Tele Vue Nagler eyepiece for the ETX? So far, I have a mixed opinion on spending about $250 for one of these 82 degree field eyepieces.
Sent: Friday, September 19, 1997 04:58:16 From: email@example.com (Steven G. Turner) Hi Mike, I thank you for creating your ETX page. I thought that the scope looked pretty good and the reviews were good, but I needed to here comments from the everyday user to help me with my decision. My ETX arrived today. The skys are poor tonight (lots of haze, the big dipper is just barely visable), but I had to try it out. Even with the terrible seeing, I was amazed at the quality of this scope. Jupiter was amazing...better that I have ever seen before (I used to own an 8" f7 Newtonian) I can't wait for a good night. The information that I obtained from your page solidified my decision to buy an ETX, and I thank you for it. I plan on making some small, hopefully inexpensive modifications to my ETX, and if all works out well I wiil be sure to share the information with you and others. Thanks again and I will keep you posted and please keep adding to your ETX page. Steve
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 1997 21:26:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (al winger) I came across yr web site last night as I was contemplating an ETX or an 8" SCT. You have made up my mind to go with the ETX. It must have been divine guidance. I'll report back from my home in Tucson later when I get set up. Thks again Best Rgds Al Winger
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 1997 07:55:53 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) Last nite would've been the nite for the GRS, but it wasn't due to make its appearance until after about 1:30AM and gone are the days when I can stay up half the nite for astronomy's sake -- not to mention the fact that the dew was getting pretty heavy by about midnight anyway. Even with the full moon, the sky was crystal clear and the views of Jupiter and Saturn were fantastic. If the GRS had been there, I think I'd have seen it. As it was, I could make out several cloud bands as well as the darker polar regions. On Saturn, I could see a hint of cloud detail as well as Cassini's division to some extent. I really have to fix my dew problem though. I'll look forward to reviews of any of JMI's accessories. - - Ray
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 1997 08:46:35 From: Mike_Heinz@lotus.ssw.com (Mike_Heinz) I thought this tip might be useful to your readers. This weekend, my brand new ETX collected a giant thumbprint on the front glass, courtesy of an 8 year old. I tried for quite some time to clean the fingerprint with photographic fluid and Kodak lens paper and only succeeded in moving the oil around on the glass. Finally, in a fit of frustration I read the manual, which recommended a clean facial tissue. This works a lot better than real lens paper, because the tissue absorbs the fingerprint oils. However, there are a few caveats you should observe: 1. Dust the glass with a good quality photographer's lens brush. Try to remove anything that might scratch the glass when you clean it. Be very light, or you might scratch the glass while dusting it! 2. Use good quality, extra soft tissues that have NO LOTION OR SCENT - in the past, I've tried to use brands like "Puffs" to clean my eyeglasses and ended up with hand lotion all over the lenses. You have to use plain tissues. 3. Bunch up the tissue loosely so that it becomes a thick, soft puff. Place a drop of lens cleaning fluid on the puff. Hold it so that the puff completely covers your fingers, so you don't get more oil on the glass. 4. Using short strokes, and no downward pressure, apply the lens cleaner to the finger printed area. Start your strokes towards the middle and end at the outer edge, so that the finger print oils are pushed to the edge of the glass. 5. Get another tissue, bunch it up, and use it to absorb some of the lens cleaner and (hopefully) the fingerprint. There will still be a bright "oil slick" on the glass at this point. Don't worry, it's the ammonia in the lens cleaner. 6. Wait for a minute, while the lens cleaner evaporates. The fingerprint should be gone, or at least pushed to the outer edge of the glass. If any smudges remain, go back to #2 bunch up a new tissue (don't reuse the old ones) and repeat. 7. The tissues will probably leave some lint behind. This can be ignored, it won't hurt anything. If you're really twitchy it can be lightly brushed off with the lens brush. But remember, everytime you touch the glass, even with a lens brush or tissue, you risk scratching the coatings. The scratches occur when a hard piece of dust gets dragged across the glass. This has already happened to me! - probably because the 8 year old's fingerprints had dirt in them. Finally, if you do put a single small scratch in the glass, go have a good cry, down a few shots and remind yourself that one scratch won't make a detectable difference in the optics. The big danger is that you might repeatedly scratch the glass, introducing abberations in the image.
Mike here: One comment: a good idea for some types of dirt is to remove the lens needing cleaning, remove it from any mounting (if possible), and soak in light solution of soapy water. Rinse and rinse. Then if necessary do the more detailed cleaning you mention. This is the safest way (optically) to clean a dirty surface but is more risky physically since you run the risk of damaging mounting rings, etc. Remember: you may be violating the warranty if you disassemble components not meant to be disassembled by the user.
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 1997 07:16:55 From: email@example.com (Steve Goodma) A few weeks ago you gave me some advice on buying an ETX, and I finally took the plunge! It arrived on Saturday. I had also ordered a 2x Barlow and a prism for terrestrial viewing. Everything was there apart from the Barlow which should come in a week or so. I have managed to set it up ok - although I haven't tried out the motor yet. The finder was a bit of a pain to rig up - I don't think I have it properly aligned, which doesn't matter too much as I can't seem to get my eye close enough to it to see anything! As I told you, I live in London, at one of its highest points, and views through the ETX have been spectacular. I was aiming it out of a closed window and views of the moon were not as good as I would have expected. (It says in the manual not too do that out of a closed - or open window - but I can't really understand why) Tried it outside on my roof last night (which involves clambering up an awkward stepladder- putting the portability of the ETX to the test), and views were much better. The Moon was almost full - and so bright it almost hurts to look at it! - Any filter I should get? Jupiter was also quite clear - I could make out two little lines across it and some moons to the side - how much better does it get with the Barlow or stronger lenses? Also is it likely to be clearer when the Moon is not out? I can't find much else yet - but I don't really know where to look - Jupiter is the brightest point of light here at the moment. Views over London were equally spectacular - I could clearly make out the windows on the top floor of our Telecomms Tower and would have been able to see people walking around in it if they would have been up at that time - its about 5 miles from me. Also Tower Bridge, St. Pauls etc. I am interested in what detail I might see with more powerful lenses. Any tips on other things to buy - you have mentioned the 9.7mm lens. Is it worth buying the carrying case? - I read somewhere it was just an empty bag with no foam supports. Also what filters? and do you need to take them off each time you replace the lens cover? At the moment I haven't added the small legs - do I really need them for the knid of viewing I am doing? I have left the erecting prism on, and keep switching the lens from the top to the back and just flipping the mirror, according to whether I am looking at the sky or the land. Is that OK or will I damage it? Finally - I didnt really check it over to see if there are any faults - is there anything I should particularly check? Anyway, I hope to take it with me to a darker location to see if it makes much difference - I will let you know what I think then. Best regards Steve
Mike here: Viewing through a closed window is a problem due to irregularities in the window glass. It distorts objects. Through an open window you have to deal with air turbulence of air moving into or out of the window. At higher magnifications, both problems get worse. Higher magnifications (up to about 60x per inch of objective diameter; 3.5" for the ETX) will usually work out OK, especially on bright objects. Going above that "recommended limit" is possible (I do it all the time) but the images get darker and fuzzier. You will really need excellent "seeing" (no air turbulence or smog or clouds) at the higher magnifications. There are some "moon" filters available but any filter will help decrease the brightness. Just don't get any really dark ones if you also want to use them on the planets. By the way, filters attach to the eyepiece tube or the Barlow tube at the opposite end from your eye. You can leave them attached when you remove the eyepiece although I don't. Attaching the legs helps if you want to observe the same object for a long time. The R.A. drive motor will compensate for the earth's rotation. No problem flipping the mirror to choose between the two observation ports. As to looking for faults, take a look into the objective end. You should not see any blemishes or spots. All optical surfaces should be clean. I would also look for any cracked plastic.
Sent: Monday, September 15, 1997 13:38:23 From: (ID deleted at sender's request) Thanks for the great site. I consider the site and contributions from other users very helpful in making my telescope selection. Having already benefited from your sight let me return the favor and offer my initial contribution. Scope Selection: I'd been reviewing getting a new scope for the last few months and making myself and my family pretty nuts in the process. I evaluated everything from base 5" Celestron Schmidts to 7" Meade Maks. I'm sure you've seen it before. You start with the "well this cost this ............... but if you want that ............ its' only adds another XYZ$'s more" until you're contemplating a 7" Mak LX200. At that point I was struck with a moment of clarity and reality and "stopped the madness". I went back to where I started and spoke to Steve at the Nature Company here in NY. He was the most helpful resource I found after surfing the Web for vendors ( some are pretty shady ), and visiting local camera stores that sideline telescopes ( a pretty arrogant bunch ). Their price was competitive i.e. Mead list $595 and no shipping charges of $15. Their no questions asked policy on returns are second to none, and away we went. Initial Observations: My wife was a saint through all this and was pleased to see me come home with a reasonably priced, reasonably sized piece of equipment for a change. The first night we parked the scope on the hood of my car in the driveway and had great success with the standard 26mm plossl. Our home is located on the water and has virtually no light pollution, about 160 degree undisrupted panorama of the south sky, and about 140 degree panorama of the north sky. The first target tuned out to be Jupiter with the bands; and with 4, then 5 moons as the innermost appeared from the backside. We were able to pull in Saturn with one moon later the same night. We were surprised that the scope continued to collect an object even when high Cirrus clouds obscured the planet from eyesight. 45 degree Erecting Prism Terrestrial viewing with the optional 45 degree prism was great. With the 26mm plossl we were able to take in the boats on the bay at anchor 3 miles away. When using the prism for celestial viewing found no significant loss of image brightness or clarity. When using a 9mm series 4000 Plossl with the prism we were able to read registration numbers on boats at over a mile. 9.7 mm Super Plossl 4000 and #140 Barlow Using the 9mm on celestial objects was unspectacular. The 9mm focus was incredibly soft with no clear resolution in celestial application at 128x and was virtually useless when combined with the #140 barlow yielding 256x. At 128x, it yielded little addition size or detail on Jupiter and Saturn when compared to the 26mm and the barlow delivering 96x. Unfortunately the 9.7mm will have to be returned/exchanged. We found a large dot that was annoying in the center of the field during normal 128x use and when combined with the #140 Barlow looked like a chunck of coal in the lens. No Cost Fix: Covering the Celestial Port when Using the 45 degree prism: Using the 45 degree erecting prism left the celestial viewing port on the top of the scope and the internal assembly exposed to dust and moisture as previous writers had detailed. I came up with a no cost fix for this situation. I took the dust case from the 26mm plossl and discovered that the wide hex top fit nicely over the celestial port on top. The only catch was the eyepiece finger tightening screw blocked it from going all the way onto the scope. I backed out the screw and seated the hex cover onto the top of the scope. Because the cover is transparent you can see the screw hole. I took a pen and marked the location. I then removed the case and with a small awl pierced the plastic, and then threaded the eyepiece screw into the plastic. This assembly then went back onto the scope and the eyepiece screw threaded into the scope securing the cover. I used the smaller part of the case and placed it onto the 26mm mounted to the erecting prism to keep the lens clean when the scope is not in use. When the scope is packed away the 26mm cover can be used for conventional lens storage. Thanks Dave
Sent: Monday, September 15, 1997 09:48:36 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) Is anyone using any of the JMI accessories? I'm wondering if the moto-focus/moto-dec devices are worthwhile. As I was panning around the surface of the moon last nite at 300x (between clouds, mind you) I was wishing I had a single handheld device that would allow me to move in both directions and focus too. Since touching the scope (or even breathing) at that magnification is a shaky proposition at best. I realize that JMI doesn't make anything for moving in RA but I have my own ideas about how to do that. If I could get just the dec and focus motors I'd build my own controller to do all three. While I'm on the subject, has anyone tried using any of the JMI computers on the ETX? Not that I'm ready to spend the bread they're asking for one but I'm just curious as to how well they work. They sent me a couple of hand-drawn (scribbled actually) diagrams showing how the encoders are installed which didn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling about it. Anyway, I'm just sort of rambling. We're having quite a bit of cloudy weather here (Rochester, NY - aka Blah-chester) so all I can do astronomy wise is talk about it. If anyone feels like rambling back I'd appreciate it. - - Ray Ray_Wartinger@WB.Xerox.Com
Sent: Monday, September 15, 1997 09:32:38 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) What should I expect to be able to see of Jupiter's great red spot? I tried (and tried and tried) last nite but to no avail. According to Sky & Telescope's table in the Sept. issue, it should have crossed the central meridian at 4:49 UT on 9/15 (11:49 PM EDT last nite). I looked from about 10:30PM til about 12:30AM and really couldn't see anything happening. Of course, since I really didn't know what to expect to see with the ETX, maybe I did see it but didn't know it. There's also the possibility that I'm reading the table wrong or messing up the time computation. I guess what I'm looking for is: 1) what should I expect?, 2) did I look at the right time?, and 3) has anyone else been successful seeing the GRS with the ETX? Thanks for your help. - - Ray Ray_Wartinger@WB.Xerox.Com
Mike here: I haven't seen it yet with the ETX myself. Whether that was because it was not in position to be visible or because it is too faint to be visible, I don't know. I recall seeing it through my Edmund 3" reflector back in the 60s but it has faded since then.
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 1997 23:13:11 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul S. Walsh) Here's an Update on the objective mirror blemish situation with my new ETX: After a few rounds of phone tag, I finally got in touch with a terrific guy at Meade who understood that this particular goober definitely exceeded "acceptable" limits. Meade is moving, however, and so I won't be able to follow through on the RA# exchange until after our trip to the French Pyrennes. We still, of course, fully intend to file a report on the sky there and whether or not we're able to cadge a visit to Pic du Midi Observatoire. In the mean time, both the ETX and our Dob await the passing of some "normal" Northwest weather (clouds and rain) :) - Paul and Val
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 1997 17:02:02 From: MORRISR@RJRT.com (Morrison, Bob A.) A little information for the ongoing finder struggle. Rob Morrison ---------- From: Mauro Alves To: Morrison, Bob A. Subject: Re: ETX finder Date: Wednesday, September 10, 1997 12:56PM Rob, In a conversation I had by the phone with someone from Pocono Mountain I was told that both kits are essentially the same thing. They even recommended the kit from Apogee even though its cheaper. Go figure! The only problem I have with this kind of recommendation was that it was given by a salesperson.. Mauro
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 1997 13:15:28 From: Frank.Depizzo@MCI.Com (Frank Depizzo) I viewed Jupiter last night with the 26mm lens and the Barlow I purchased. I was able to see some of the cloud lines. What type of lens would you recommend for deep space viewing. I had been told by Meade that the Series 4000 9.7mm lens would make a good investment. Any comments? Thanks, Frank
Mike here: I have the 9.7mm EP and it is a nice EP for bright objects but a little too much for most deep sky objects. It is certainly a good EP to have. With the 26mm, 9.7mm, and 2X Barlow (the same set that I have), you get 48x, 96x, 128, and 256x. A pretty good sequence. What you (and I!) really need is a Wide Angle or perhaps an Ultra Wide Angle. These present really magnificent views of starfields. Keep watching the Accessories-Eyepieces and Feedback pages for info on WA and UWA eyepieces.
Sent: Monday, September 8, 1997 11:10:26 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) Keeping in mind that improvements are in the eye of the beholder and that not everyone is willing to hack a product while it's still under warranty, here are a couple of things I've done to improve the operation of my ETX. Mod 1: Attached a lever to the RA lock knob to make it easier to lock and unlock the drive. This consists of a 3" long piece of 1/8" metal rod threaded into the RA lock knob. I had to drill and tap the knob to match the threads on the rod. I happened to have had a short piece of chrome plated rod that already had threads on one end but you could do the same with a piece of threaded rod or a long screw, perhaps covered with some heat shrink tubing. In order to get enough range of motion I had to pull out the little pin that is on the knob. As I have it, the rod swings all the way over to the RA slo-mo knob when locked, and back to the right hand fork when unlocked. If you don't want to modify the knob, see if you can find a replacement knob that'll fit and attach the lever to that. Mod 2: Installed a pushbutton to the drive motor to momentarily drive it at a higher speed. The main reason for this is to get the slack out of the gears faster. The pushbutton connects +4.5v directly to the red lead on the motor. CAUTION: this will only work if the N/S switch is in the N position. If you are in the southern hemisphere, use the black lead instead. This actually works quite well. Once you center the image manually and lock the RA, press the button until the image just starts to move backwards (i.e., to the right), then release it. Now the drive will continue to track without having to readjust it. Again, I'm not recommending that you make this modification - I'm just reporting what I did. I am fairly confident that applying 4.5v to the motor for very short times will not damage it, but if someone reading this knows of a reason why I shouldn't be doing this to the motor please let me know. Saw some awesome images of Jupiter this past weekend. Watched Calypso's shadow slowly make its way across the planet's "surface". Really cool! - - Ray Ray_Wartinger@WB.Xerox.Com
Mike here: I'll throw in my standard disclaimer that making any modification to your ETX will most likely invalidate any warranty. Neither the contributor nor myself are responsible for any problems that any non-Meade approved modifications may cause.
Sent: Sunday, September 7, 1997 13:18:05 From: email@example.com (otm) I saw your spectacular web site. I'm a great fan of the Meade 3.5" ETX telescope and I greatly enjoyed seeing your web site. Great job and well done! You're welcome to put my ETX lunar images in your guest section if you wish and if you have room. You can easily get these images at my ETX astrophotography page: www.midco.net/~otm/ASTRPHO.HTML I used a Macintosh 4-bit Connectix QuickCam camera, ETX, Macintosh IIsi computer, a card table, and eyepiece projection for all lunar images. Based on the ETX, I have invented the Otis Robotic Cyber Space Telescope. It's free. It's also the world's 1st virtual telescope on the web! You can take the telescope for a test run and image any of 110 Messier objects. www.midco.net/~otm/telescope.html If you're interested, check out my magazine web site at www.midco.net/~otm/ There you'll find Observatory Techniques Magazine: of/by/for amateur astronomers. A quarterly magazine published by amateur astronomers about observatories, fantastic astronomy projects, CCDs & imaging. Also, check out my links site where I have you linked under Tiny Telescopes (Meade ETX). Look at the URL www.midco.net/~otm/LINKS.HTML Thanks sincerely, Mike Otis firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, September 7, 1997 00:55:33 From: MichaelHeinz@worldnet.att.net (Michael Heinz) I just got an ETX to complement my homebuilt 8" dob. I'm quickly learning about the awkward finder, but the optics are top notch. I tried it out first on the double-double in Usra Major, which the ETX split more cleanly than my 8" can (probably the ETX's excellent eye piece) and then went on to the Hercules Cluster. From my light polluted skies, the 8" _might_ have shown more nebulosity, but not a lot. Moving to the Ring Nebula The ETX was again comparable to my 8". Very impressive. But now, my questions: my old 35mm died a ways back and I replaced it with a Minolta S-1 APS SLR - a completely wonderful camera, but not something for which you can get a "T-Mount". So, the question is - can I reasonably find a way to adapt the camera to the ETX? I'm thinking something like you do with your Casio - eyepiece projection through the S-1's main lens - perhaps by screwing the S-1's lens onto a holder, using the lens' filter threads. Can this be done? ------------------------ Mike Heinz : MichaelHeinz@worldnet.att.net : http://www.geocities.com/~michaelheinz ------------------------ In a lecture, Werner von Braun once said, "Ve haf alvays been aiming for zer stars," and a little voice at the back replied, "But ve keep hittink London."
Mike here: Thanks for the comments. Nice to see the comparison of the ETX with an 8". As to mounting the Minolta, good luck. I searched for a good way to attach the Casio to the ETX for eyepiece projection and I describe what I finally managed to do on the Gallery page. Unfortunately, the results of that mount were less satisfactory than hand holding the Casio! I have now taken some hand-held eyepiece projection shots using the Pentax with its 55mm lens attached to the camera. Results will be posted as soon as I get them back from PhotoCD processing (a couple of weeks). Depending on how well these work out I may go out to the local camera stores and try to find some adapter that will attach to the lens via the filter threads and to the ETX via the T-mount adapter. I don't know if any some animal exists. I do have a reverser attachment for macro photography. It allows you to reverse the lens; the adapter goes into the filter threads and then into the camera body. But then I'd need a T-ring to T-ring adapter. Challenges, challenges, challenges. Of course, one could always make a mounting bracket that would hold the camera over the eyepiece. I tried that using a device a friend made for my Casio. Again, the results were unsatisfactory.
Sent: Saturday, September 6, 1997 23:29:26 From: email@example.com (Wayne A. Powell) I too purchased the EZ Finder and had them throw in the Schmidt-Cassegrain for the extra $5. It's original purpose is to mount to the standard pre-drilled finder threads on most SC scopes. The reason someone has suggested to use this for the ETX is simply to move the 1x EZ Finder further from the tube than the standard mount provided by Orion. As you sight Polaris for alignment, having the finder further from the scope's tube makes it easier to get your head in there and see beyond the scope's base. There is no magic to having the SC mount. Caveat: Watch where you mount it, I did some tests with the double sided tapes and found that I had mounted it so that it hit up against the forks the first time. In the end, I decided not to use the SC mount as it was cumbersome and I found that I did not need to raise the finder that far from the tube (anyone want a slightly used SC bracket?). I attached the EZ Finder mount to the tube using epoxy and it seems to be holding fast (and is less messy and infinetly more stable than the double sided tapes). I mounted my EZ Finder on the right side of the eyepiece and flush with the back of the tube's plastic back end (others have suggested mounting it closer to the front lens) and it works fine for me. I have left the mount screws only tight enough so that I can remove the new finder when I put the scope to bed in its 1550 Pelican hard case because there isn't enough room for the added width while mounted. Eventually I plan to replace the Philips screws with the ones with little knobs (sorry I don't know the name) so that I can tighten and loosen them by hand or Allen key. I haven't had any good seeing (that is a night without cloud or rain) since mounting it the first time so I haven't tested whether this mounting and unmounting procedure changes the collimation of the finder significantly. The EZ Finder seems like a great small accessory for the ETX, less cumbersome than a right-angle finder (I still use the standard finderscope that came with the ETX), and the perfect "fix" for those of us who wish it were practical to mount a Telrad on an ETX. It's low profile is in keeping with the design and ergonomics that Meade intended for the ETX and doesn't detract from it's "sleekness". This kind of finder allows the user to keep your head back from the scope and still use the finder at slightly off-axis angles. Having a 1x finder also helps beginners, like me, navigate the stars more effectively because I tended to get "lost" in the sky when using the Meade finderscope's narrow field of view. Being able to use both eyes and orient myself by the view of a major constellation is a big bonus for the begining "star-hopper". Hope this helps.
Sent: Saturday, September 6, 1997 12:40:01 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul S. Walsh) Have noticed a small blemish on the objective. Is this what they call a dog biscuit? We haven't star tested yet (hopefully tonight) and I understand that "some" degree of imperfection is "acceptable" in mass produced optics, but this is a pretty sizable lookin goober. I can also detect a slightly "brushed" haze on the mirror as though it had been wiped. I'd value your opinion re: a possible return vs. the risk of getting a worse fault on the replacement.
Mike here: I had a smaller black spot on my original ETX's objective lens. The technician at The Nature Company store where I bought attempted to clean it off. He did get it off but a "ghost" was left in the coating where it had been. So, he ordered me a replacement. That was last year when I first got the ETX. The new one was perfect. The swiping you see might be from the dealer trying to clean off the blemish and failing. I'd suggest getting it replaced.
Sent: Saturday, September 6, 1997 12:11:55 From: email@example.com (Jeff Crilly) Last night I took some video of saturn through the eyepiece at about 150x. By using the zoom feature of the video camera I was able to get a bit more enlargment. Image quality was the pits, but one can easily see the rings when playing back the tape.I did the same with jupiter and could see the bands on the playback. Not much color.
Sent: Saturday, September 6, 1997 09:26:50 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Holcombe) I took Ray Wartinger's advice and clipped a clothes pin on the focus knob of my ETX and it works perfectly for fine focus. No more jerky motion when focusing. A proud user of the "Wartinger Focuser". Don Holcombe
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 23:47:21 From: email@example.com (Paul S. Walsh) Our ETX arrived this morning just as we were heading out the door to work, along with the 90 degree finderscope conversion kit and hard case from JMI - all via Astronomics (so far, our heros). Since your tremendous site has properly adjusted our expectations, there was nothing left to do but enjoy the goodies. My, what a nice little scope! A thorough check revealed everything to be in good shape. This evening after dinner we saw a break in the racing cloud cover (we live in Redmond, WA) and set up on the front deck and in, oh, about 2 minutes, we were swappin' places at the eyepiece gazin' at an exceedingly crisp Jupiter through the 26mm SP, and a Celestron 18mm Ultra. I haven't even had time to install the findersope, though I did perform the "Conversion and back again" routine just to see if THAT all works and it does. Sighting this scope on a planet can be done just like shooting pool. After setting the base on a small round stool, I just bore-sighted from above and tweaked the slo-mos until a glint flicked up at me from the eyepiece ( I hate findersopes altogether and pool is a lot more fun). The sky is UGLY tonight, so the 7mm and 4.8mm Naglers brought her close but a tad fuzzy. We really enjoy the point and shoot aspect of our 6 inch Dob and the slo-mo controls on the ETX were a true thrill. We got our fill of a sweet beige, nicely striped Jupiter and the galilean moons were 4 clean little ball bearings against a matte black sky. Val is jazzed bigtime about this scope. As she say's, "It's cute AND sexy!" .... Guy translation: "Well designed AND functional". This fall, we're heading for the French Pyrennees with this little bugger for some Dark Sky Hunting. We'll be staying with friends about 20 miles from Pic du Midi Observatoire, which we hope to be able to visit. We'll deliver a full report opon our return. In the mean time, on the next clear night, we'll maybe fire up the Casio 10A and fudge a foto or 2, but Val and I are primarily into just Spacing Out at the Eyepiece, so no promises on pictures - yet..
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 21:31:41 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael & Lori Nicholas) Received this reply to my question about filters and lenses for the ETX. Thought you might be interested. Clear skies, Michael A. Nicholas Paducah, Kentucky -------------- Date: Fri, 05 Sep 1997 20:36:15 -0500 From: murray cragin (email@example.com) Subject: Filters & Eyepieces Alan Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) has forwarded your message to me for whatever help I might give you. You've asked about what should come next in the way of a wide angle eyepiece for your Meade EXT, what if any filters might be of benefit to you; and lastly, you've expressed an interest in seeing the North American and California nebulae. I'll try my best to give you the benefits of my experience, and personal opinions. First, I looked in the Meade ads and found your scope. A very nice looking and quite compact 90mm (3.5 inch) Maksutov-Cassegrain with a focal length of 1250mm @ f13.8. You also say that you have a 26mm Plossl. I am hindered by not knowing how much experience you have with telescopes, observing, and telescope math. So, I'll proceed under the assumption that you're a beginner and lean towards over explaining things, especially the math. This way I hope to be able to answer your questions fully to your satisfaction. If I over simplify, please excuse me. Lets start with the filters, as that might have a bearing on my suggestions for eyepieces. You already have the Lumicon Deep Sky filter. This is pretty much an all around general purpose filter. That leaves three Lumicon filters, the UHC, Oxygen III (O-III), and the H-Beta. The UHC is just slightly stronger than your present Deep Sky, so you probably wouldn't want to pay another $99.00 for it. The O-III is basically a much stronger filter than the UHC, and is use primarily for planetary nebulae. It give very high contrast, but a great deal of light loss. With your smaller 90mm aperture, all but the biggest and brightest planetary nebulae would be impossible, and for the biggest and brightest, you wouldn't need the O-III. So, lets scratch the O-III. That leaves the H-Beta. And here again, this is a highly specialized filter with a very narrow band pass. It is used primarily for the California Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula. Since the Horse Head, even with the H-Beta filter, requires something around a 10 inch or greater aperture, for you the Horse head is out. That just leaves the CA Nebula, and $99.00 to possibly glimpse one very large, very faint nebula is a bit pricey! The CA nebula requires a very wide angle, in fact, there have been reports of seeing it with the naked eye looking through an H-Beta filter! My point is, with your ETX scope, I think your present Deep Sky filter is all you'll need. Now we come to the eyepieces. In choosing an eyepiece, the usual considerations are, with your scope, what will be the resulting magnification and field of view (FOV). The field of view of an eyepiece represents how much sky you'll see with your scope expressed as a circle with a diameter of "x" degrees or arcminutes. Assuming you don't know how to compute this data,forgie me if you do, lets use your ETX and 26mm Plossl (PL) as an example. First, magnification is computed by dividing the focal length (FL) of the scope by the focal length of the eyepiece. Your scope has an FL of 1250mm according to the ads. Your Plossl has an FL of 26mm; 26 into 1250 gives us a magnification of 48 power, or 48X. The Field of view (FOV) is a bit more complicated. Here we divide the apparent field of an eyepiece by the magnification of that eyepiece when used in your scope. Apparent field is an artifact of the design of the eyepiece and has nothing to do with the amount of sky seen. If you look at a Meade eyepiece ad or brochure, you'll see that the Meade Plossls (Series 4000 Super Plossls) have a figure in parentheses with a degree symbol after them, this is the apparent field of that particular eyepiece. For your 26mm PL, and most other Meade PL, the apparent field is 52 degrees. To find your true field of view, the amount of actual sky you'll see, you divide the apparent field by the magnification of the eyepiece as used in your scope. We already know that your 26mm PL gives you 48X. So, divide 48X into 52 degrees and we get a figure of 1.08. This represent 1.08 degrees of sky. 1.08 times 60 would gives us a figure of 64.8 arcminutes (lets round it to 65 arcminutes),a degree being 60 arcminutes. Now, if your eyepiece gave you a magnification greater that the apparent field, then there would be one more step. Lets take a 15mm Plossl as an example. 15mm divided into 1250mm gives us 83.3X, lets just call it 83X. That's your magnification, 83X with a 15mm Plossl. Okay, the apparent field for the 15mm PL is the same, 52d. So 52 divided by 83 gives us 0.62650. That figure represents degrees. But normally, when an FOV is smaller than one degree, arcminutes are used. So, to convert 0.62650d to arcminutes, multiply it by 60. That gives us 37.59 arcminutes. Lets round it off in our favor and call it 38 arcminutes, or 38'. So, with your 26mm PL your getting 48X with an FOV of 65'. If you used a 15mm PL, you'd get 83X and an FOV of 38'. But you asked about a another lower power eyepiece. Well, in the Meade Plossl series, they make a 32mm and a 40mm. Note that the 32mm has the same apparent field of 52d while the 40mm has an apparent field of 44 degrees. So, lets show the rounded numbers for most of Mead's Super Plossl eyepieces: 15mm PL, 83X, 38' FOV 20mm PL, 63X, 50' FOV 26mm PL, 48X, 65' FOV 32mm PL, 39X, 78' FOV (1.3 degrees) 40mm PL, 31X, 84' FOV (1.4 degrees) As for eyepieces, my suggestion would be this, since I suggest you not buy another filter, you might be able to use that money to buy TWO eyepieces. One a lower power, wider field, the other higher power and a narrower field. The lower power, wider field would give you very large sky vistas indeed while the higher power would be ideal for the Moon, planets, and deep sky objects like open star clusters or globular clusters. Which two would I recommend? Well, a general rule of thumb is to either double what you have now, or halve it. You now have 48X, double that and you get 96X, the closest to that is the 15mm Plossl at 84X, which has a wide enough field of 38 arcminutes. If you halve your present 48X, you get 24X, and the closest you can come to that is the 40mm Plossl at 31X, and a very generous (1.4 degree) 84 arcminute field of view. This is message getting long now, so I'll stop. If you have any questions, or just want to chat, please feel free to email me. Again, these are my personal opinions. They may not reflect your needs. Again, feel free to email if you wish to discuss it further. I would like to hear what you think of my analysis either way. Sincerely Murray Cragin
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 12:05:02 From: MORRISR@RJRT.com (Morrison, Bob A.) Your Web site is really great, helpful, candid, useful. Your efforts are very much appreciated. I am interested in getting a Meade ETX, but the finder scope is troublesome. The JMI right angle kit doesn't sound like a good one from the comments in the accessories section. Pocono Mountain Optics has an ETX Right Angle Finder Conversion from Apogee for $49.95. I have not read all the archived notes yet (just found it yesterday). Is there any info on this item? Thanks, Rob Morrison email@example.com for my personal home address or reply to this message
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 10:21:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) Hope all is well. Did you have a chance to see the shadow transit of Callisto on the surface of Jupiter last night ??. (Thursday 5, 1997 at about 10.15 pm PST). At first I thought that there was something on the field lens of my eyepiece. The image of the shadow was so sharp and pin-point in appearence and very tiny. My handbook confirmed that the 'event' began at about 6.10 pm PST and would end at about 11.01 pm PST. It did. Maybe you were lucky enough to record it on your CCD camera. I must admit that I was quite surprised to 'stumble' across this transit. It is usually much easier to see something if you are expecting it. The black shadow was so small and crisp. Well done ETX !! Will write again soon. Cheers....Doug...
Mike here: Missed it. Was at a science fiction club meeting all evening. I was thinking about looking for such an event tonight when I was out looking at the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter. Guess I'll have to check my Sky&Telescope issue for the Jupiter moons info.
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 08:47:29 From: email@example.com (Mel Martin) Your Web page has been a big help and guided my purchasing decsisons. I used to have an 8" reflector in the dim past, but have now settled on the ETX. Imaging is really excellent, even in the Light Polluted London skies. I am now wondering about CCD photography. Short duration, lunar and planetary. Has anyone used any of the less costly CCD cameras from Meade or SBIG with the ETX? Is it worth it? I know the cameras can cost more than the scrope itself, but the short exposure time and computer enhancement are tempting. Thanks Mel
Sent: Friday, September 5, 1997 06:48:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Janowicz) Here's a tip for a quick inexpensive dewshield. I am using a 4" ABS plastic pipe connector. The inner diameter of these connectors is slightly larger than the diameter of the ETX tube. To take advantage of the size difference and allow for a nice friction fit, I placed a few pieces of one inch wide self-adhesive black velcro on the inside of one end of the connector. You should use the "fuzzy" loop piece, not the hook piece. I lined the other end of the connector with self adhesive black felt. The inside could also be painted flat black if you choose. Krylon Ultra Flat has been a popular choice among amateur telescope makers because it gives a good flat surface and is easily obtained. Larry Janowicz Systems Analyst The MetroHealth System Cleveland, Oh. 44109 (216) 778-4053 email@example.com
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 1997 18:01:29 From: Serge.Soudoplatoff@wanadoo.fr (Serge Soudoplatoff) I bought an ETX, and tested it in the french Alps, and french countryside. A superb instrument. May I give a very simple trick : people complain that there is no cover against dust in the eyepiece location. Well, the standard box that goes with any 24x36mm film (Kodak, Fuji, or whatever) fits perfectly into it (via the bottom, slightly smaller than the top). Simple and basic, but it works !!! --- ______________________________________________________ Serge Soudoplatoff Serge.Soudoplatoff@francetelecom.fr (prof.) Serge.Soudoplatoff@wanadoo.fr (joyeux, grincheux, dormeur, etc...) http://perso.wanadoo.fr/soudoplatoff/ (pour la beauté) http://perso.wanadoo.fr/soudo/ (pour le fun) ______________________________________________________
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 1997 16:37:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Fex) I've had my ETX since March and went crazy locating a #140 2x Barlow and a 9.7 mm eyepiece to go with it. I've found that using the barlow with the standard eyepiece gives me crisp views of bright and dim objects. But using the 9.7 mm eyepiece with the barlow yields a softer, just about unuseable image - even on Jupiter, Saturn and the moon. I wonder if you have had any other reports like mine.... The 9.7 mm eyepiece alone gives me good views of Saturn and Jupiter. After reading the feedback on the website about using a 5.5 mm eyepiece I am wondering how soft the image gets since the amount of light gathering of the scope remains fixed.... With the price of eyepieces the way they are, it would be nice to view a few objects before plunking down a couple of hundred for a UWA eyepiece Nice to see a website dedicated to this fine instrument - keep up the great work! See you... Mark.
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 1997 16:10:54 From: email@example.com (Michael & Lori Nicholas) Appreciate the ongoing discussion on eyepieces. Can anyone recommend a suitable low power eyepiece for objects that cover large amounts of sky like the North American Nebula? What are people's experience with nebular filters and the ETX? Mike Nicholas Paducah, KY.
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 1997 11:04:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I got the Orion EZ finder and the Schmidt-Cassegrain mounting bracket for my ETX telescope. But I am confused how the additional mounting bracket helps in allowing you to use the finder for polar alignment. It looks just like a bent piece of metal. I didn't come with any directions. I was wondering if you have tried using this bracket and have suggestions. Thanks for any help.
Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 1997 12:28:12 From: email@example.com (Jerome Schroeder) Many thanks for your Web site. It contains much valuable information and is appreciated. I bought my ETX about a year ago, and am quite pleased with it. The mechanics are adequate, and the optics are excellent. My 8" Celestron is my main instrument, but the ETX is a good secondary scope. I was considering a carrying case when I ran across a MacIntosh computer case at a garage sale. It turned out to be perfect. It is just the right size, can include a few books and is heavily padded with shoulder and hand straps. I've since found several and they now encase several other smaller scopes. They typically run anywhere from 5 to 10 bucks at Seattle garage sales. Thanks again, Jerry Schroeder Seattle, WA
Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 1997 09:46:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul S. Walsh) You have done an excellent job in maintaining this superb site on the ETX. I bought one, not just for the exquisite optics, but also because I knew that with the info available at your site, I would never be lacking for hints and tips on faults and repairs - the sort that come with EVERY consumer item. Thanks - and I hope you keep it up. You and Paul Rini (eyepieces) are in my Hall of Fame for the benefit you bring to amateur astronomers and newbies (we should always welcome newcomers to astronomy; we NEED them in our fight against light pollution.) From the virtual desk of Paul S. Walsh, Consultant/Director of Internet Services, Brain Injury Association of Washington. Your head is your Homepage, If you ride a Harley, wear a Firewall. Paul S. Walsh's Telescope page www.seanet.com/~filmdos/m111
Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 1997 09:32:09 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) Hi Mike, Hope that your skies are clear. No sign yet of my 6.4 mm SP Meade eyepiece. Saturn is now appearing low over my trees by 11.00 pm at night. Nice, reasonably clear sky last night so at about 11.15 pm decided to visit Saturn when it cleared the trees. Even though still quite low there was band detail and the shadow of the rings visible at lower powers (74x and 129x). Cassini's division could be seen at 258x and at 358x. 258x was the clearest for the division. Understandably, being low in the sky, the image showed some turbulence. Zeta Aquarious is a nice double at 2.1 seconds and about a magnitude brighter than one of the double-doubles in Lyra. Gamma Andromeda is now riding high and at 258x is as spectacular as ever. I don't know whether I prefer this one or Albeiro in Cygnus. They are both really special doubles. As someone said about Lady Diana the other day, 'we have lost the brightest star in one of our constellations. Perhaps a star will be named in her honour. Hopefully my new eyepiece will arrive this week and I will tell you all about it. Clear skies Cheers Doug.
Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 1997 08:05:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (hidta) I purchased an ETX two weeks ago and so far I can't say I am all too happy. This is my first telescope and I guess I just expected more. The RA and DEC controls are VERY jerky and the little legs are wobbly. The finder scope is useless in certain positions but I didn't have a problem aligning it. I live at 26 degrees latitude and in the city (miami) so witht the light pollution it is impossible to align with polaris. Without proper alignment, everything disapears from view in a few seconds. I took the base apart and lubricated the gears with graphite. That helped a little with the jerkyness, but not too much. For a base I modified an old Sears video tripod. First I removed the head and then attached a 1/2" plywood plank to the center tripod leg support. This was done using a 1/4" bolt, metal washer, and some fiberglass resin for additional sturdiness. The perimeter of the plywood plank was reinforced with 1" square pine attached with countersunk drywall screws and epoxy resin. This makes a good adjustable support for the 'scope and is very solid. I was thinking of adding lead shot inside the legs of the tripod or maybe hanging a concrete brick from the center of the tripod to lower the center of gravity. I think one of the main causes of jerkiness may be the rubber tips on the short legs. Maybe somehow they vould be converted into metal spikes. I think optically the 'scope is very good. I can clearly and distinctly see the colored bands of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. It has been very cloudy here so I haven't had the opprotunity to do much more viewing, but I certainly plan too. I haven't seen much said about the motodec and motofocus by JM, has anyone purchased those? How about the wedge? What is the difference between the SWA and UWA eyepieces? Are they worth the extra $$$? Any other hints or tips to improve the performance? Thanks for such an excellent web page, much more informative then magazines or the users manual!
Mike here: Glad you've found the ETX web pages useful. There are some comments about the JMI accessories on the Accessories pages. There are also comments about polar aligning techniques and drive tracking. Everyone pretty much agrees that Meade slighted the ETX in the mechanical area but that they got it pretty much perfect in the optical area. I suppose it was a cost trade-off versus a target price. Thanks for the tips regarding stability. I haven't had any stability problems like what you are experiencing. Don't know why.
Sent: Tuesday, September 2, 1997 00:48:38 From: email@example.com (Michael Rochfort) The weather has been very clear here in Sydney, Australia, and I have been getting to know my ETX by observing Jupiter and Saturn. It is great to watch Jupiter's moons, and I can often see some of their shadows on the planet as they move in front. I have developed the following method of polar alignment. It may re-hash some info already on your page, but if it is of any use, use it in your feedback. I usually mount my ETX on a tripod, and the method I use for polar aligning here in the Southern Hemisphere (where there is no bright pole star) is as follows: First, a bit of preparation which is only necessary the first time: Place the ETX on a level table with the tube in a horizontal position and, using a square and spirit level, draw a pencil line vertically through the centre of the lens cap. This gives a line which will later be parallel to the polar axis. Add an index mark to enable the re-attachment of the cap in the exact same position after use. It might also be prudent to index the optical tube to the front corrector, which is able to be unscrewed. If you use your ETX on a tripod, draw a line on the base of the scope through the 3 holes used for various positions of the centre leg. On your tripod's mounting plate, mark the centre line of the track in which the mounting screw runs, and carry this line around to the underside of the plate. This will enable you to mount the ETX on the tripod the same way every time. Now to polar align: Level your table or the mounting plate of your tripod in both directions. Now set your latitude on the DEC setting circle and place the ETX on your tripod or table. Use the centre leg if table mounted, or the pan/tilt tripod head adjustments, and the RA slow motion to level the ETX in both the E-W and N-S directions. Use a spirit level accross the lens cap to do this. Now use the line previously drawn on the lens cap (check the index marks), a compass and the direction adjustment of the tripod to point the scope South (North for the Northern Hemisphere). I use a Branxton compass, which enables the presetting of the local magnetic deviation (check a local map for this figure), and has a transparent base which enables me to see through to the pencil line. If you are using your ETX table mounted, simply turn the whole scope, legs and all. I have actually taped the compass to the lens cap in the correct position semi-permanently. The ETX has mostly aluminium parts, and the heavy steel base seems to be far enough away from the top/front of the scope not to effect the compass. If all the lines and levels are accurately measured and drawn, you should be able to look through the scope and see Polaris from the Northern hemisphere, or here down under, a 6th magnitude star called Sigma Octans, which lies a similar distance from the South Celestial Pole as Polaris does up there. In both cases, the stars are not exactly at the pole, but within one degree, so make minor adjustments now using the tripod's direction adjustment and tilt axis. This method is more than adequate for visual use and for piggy-back photography. Use the drift method to refine the alignment further if necessary. I usually start the motor while mounting the scope on the tripod, and in use revolve the scope on the tripod mount to make small corrections to centre the view once the motor has cut in. This will not effect alignment, as the polar axis runs through the tripod mounting screw. You may also be interested in my modest new astronomy web page at http://www.netro.com.au/~michael/astro/astro.htm Michael Rochfort
Sent: Monday, September 1, 1997 13:36:16 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) Exigency is the progenitor of innovation. I was tired of the focus wiggles on my ETX but wasn't ready to spend $100 on a moto-focus. My first thought was that what was needed was a larger focus knob so that it would be easier to make minute focus adjustments. Then it struck me...what about a lever? But, how to make one that would work over a large range? Here's what I came up with: a spring-type clothespin! You set the focus knob for the nominal correct focus for the eyepiece you're using, clip the clothespin over the focus knob, and make small adjustments by simply moving the end of the clothespin up or down. Result: the equivalent of a 6" diameter focus knob and almost no vibration transmitted to the scope. Need to make a gross focus adjustment? Just unclip the clothespin, turn the knob to the new position, and clip it back on. As a bonus, the lever gives you a frame of reference so you can see and feel exactly how much you're changing the focus. If you have parfocal, or nearly parfocal, eyepieces, you can actually return to the correct focus automatically after changing lenses. I use a Vixen Lanthanum 8 - 24 mm zoom eyepiece (a great eyepiece by the way) and can fine tune the focus over the whole range of the zoom lens by just moving the lever an inch or so up or down. Also, if I remove my glasses, I can similarly reset the focus for my un-aided eye very easily and quickly. Try it, you'll like it... - - Ray Ray_Wartinger@WB.Xerox.Com
Sent: Monday, September 1, 1997 11:39:43 From: RSmith2980@aol.com Hi Mike, Boy, am I impressed! After you answered my e-mail that I sent you with questions about my new ETX, suggesting that I try your web page, especially the feedback sections, my wife thinks I've disappeared into this computer. What a shot in the arm for me. All the contributers in the feedback sections have great questions and even better answers ! I've cut down a couple of film cans to use as covers for lens openings. Great, simple idea -- Tom Price has some super things to do to the scope for RA tracking, one of which I am going to try today. Reducing friction between the rotating parts of the telescope and the base. Tom Price also has a compass and level method for polar alignment that I will try. The Luxor Hotel's 8 million candlepower light blasts straight up at the North Star from where I set up my ETX I can barely see the stars in the handle of the Big Dipper, let alone Polaris. Tripods look to be just a matter of choice. Hopefully, I'll make the right one. Extra lenses, filters, a star finder: 90 degree or possibly the EZ Finder from Orion, a carrying case, etc, etc. This "hobby" could get expensive, but I feel worth the expense and time if I can get it right the first time. One filter that I haven't seen discussed in the feedback section or on your Accesory Page is the polarizing filter. Would this be a good filter to have when viewing a full moon ? It looks like so far I've done most of the "getting started" things backwards.I seem to be doing all my research on the ETX after just setting it up and frustrating myself over and over. I've been interested in astronomy for many years, but never really looked through a telescope at even the planets other than a fleeting glance with binoculars at times. After my kids bought the ETX for my birthday ( It sounds like they just lucked out on purchsing the ETX ) plus the magazine Astronomy, I've been able to fumble my way around the light poluted South, South Western and South Eastern skys here in Las Vegas and take closer looks at Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Spica and of course the big 'ole moon. Your web page must take many of your off-time hours to keep up with, but the quality that is apparent in all the phases shows that you not only enjoy doing it, but are doing a class job ! I only found your web site by accident. I was on line and clicked on Astronomy. After clicking on aol web sites and scrolling down, ETX Telescopes with your address appeared. Thats twice, so far, that I have "lucked out" with my venture into backyard viewing. Keep it up, Mike. I'm hooked. I have a lot more Feedback pages to print for learning and enjoyable reading off line. Outstanding information. Regards, Bob Smith rsmith2980 Las Vegas, NV
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