Last updated: 31 March 2007
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: ETX90PE Alignment Question Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2007 15:47:45 From: Alan Miles (email@example.com) Just wanted to say thanks for your advice, my question was a stupid one tbh. This is the first day since I emailed you of being able to look at the sky without massive amounts of clouds, so I bought a few books, read up about zenith, right inclination, etc etc and finally figured out how to use the star charts and my telescope now works properly anyway slewing itself to the right places. Didn't do anything differently particularly. Anyway thanks for your forbearance and your help. Best wishes! Alan.Mike here: No questions are stupid. We all need to learn new things. I'm glad to hear that you are jumping into learning more about using your telescope. Welcome to a wider Universe!
Subject: OTA turning wrong way during cal. sensors Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:06:58 From: Henrik van Holthoon (Henrik.firstname.lastname@example.org) Somebody has a problem with calibration sensors, problem OTA turning clockwise instead of anti-clockwise as it should do during procedure calibration sensors. I have encountered the same problem with the latest version 4Ed AS software. Strange enough this is not happening always but you have to be very alert otherwise the OTA bumps into hard stop. If other people have the same problem there must be an error in the AS 4Ed software I think. I have mentioned this earlier. Regards Henrik
Subject: RE: Details from Meade on new improved ETX PE "smartfinder" and flaws in original design Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 23:04:01 From: Tom Farrell (email@example.com) Thanks for the reply. That you get good function out of your original version LNT / smartfinder is very reassuring. I'm still waiting for a haze-free night to properly train / calibrate / align / test my ETX. It makes me wonder if the guy at Meade really was so knowledgeable after all. He mentioned he'd never seen inside an ETX and really wanted to. Maybe I'll send him your URL. Here's what I surmise regarding the "new improved" smartfinder: I don't know what the text of the old catalog was, but in the 2007 catalog, the LNT / smartfinder combo is termed "plug-and-play". (I hate that term and Microsoft's example shows it's always more hype than truth.) Anyway, I would bet most of their improvements were aimed at both/either making unnecessary most the undocumented initial steps and/or running a special series of instructions on a brand new scope, to guide the user through training drives, calibrating sensors, et cetera, prior to moving on to alignment (what Microsoft would call a "wizard"). However, based on the posts on your website, which explained in detail the internals and shortcomings of the servo-motors and drive trains, I don't see how training / calibrating could be eliminated or hidden via automation through clever algorithms since they are entirely mechanical in nature and based on user observation / input. In my opinion, not until they design electronics which can scan the actual sky, match it to a ROM-based star map and align on specific visible stars, will true plug-and-play alignment and GOTO be a reality. Something like that could even figure out longitude/latitude, date and time all by itself. All technically feasible now but perhaps not at a nice price -- and the last time I encountered that kind of astronomical technology was in a classic Star Trek episode where then ended up back in orbit around 20th century earth. So anyway, thanks again! (By the way, it does occur to me that if he magnetic north pole really is slowly moving as I have heard, that could really goof up the LNT -- but I assume in such case Meade would issue a software patch.) Tom Farrell firstname.lastname@example.org Charlotte NC USAMike here: Yes, the Magnetic Pole wonders around a little bit but that is nothing to worry about. By the time it matters enough Meade will have released a whole new line of telescopes using a subspace GPS satellite for orientation and location in the Universe.
Subject: Details from Meade on new improved ETX PE "smartfinder" and flaws in original design Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 03:33:37 From: Tom Farrell (email@example.com) Wow, am I glad Meade so prominently mentions your website in their new catalog! After reading all the instructions there on the proper way to train drives, calibrate sensors, align scope, and test GOTO accuracy, I can now understand why I've remained so frustrated two months after purchasing my ETX 90 PE UHTC (on EBay for $450 brand new and never opened!) -- because you and all the posts are so right the documentation is woefully inadequate, and a novice cannot possibly be aware of the omitted, necessary initial steps to properly prepare the scope for successful alignment and GOTO. I can't wait for the clouds to clear so I can go put what I've read into practice! (To date, alignment hasn't worked yet, and in fact has functioned quite randomly.!) Anyway, I read in one post that you did not have any experience with or knowledge of the new improved smartfinder. I've never used it either but I do have a good bit of information from a Meade customer support representative who seemed to really know what was going on and wasn't afraid to say: He told me that the original LNT module with smartfinder mounted on the side simply never hits is mark on GOTO and more than a little manual slewing should be expected every time. Furthermore, he said, the smartfinder was not part of the original LNT design, was more or less an add-on requested late in the development cycle when they realized the positioning of the LNT module precluded the use of the right-angle viewfinder -- and the bugs really were not worked out when the LNT / smartfinder module went into manufacture. In the customer representative's opinion, the side-mounted smart-finder was basically worthless, offered no uniform orientation from which to look into it, and there were issues in the electronics as well, so it could not offer alignment of any precision. His suggestion to me was to ignore the laser dot and smartfinder altogether -- and that far better accuracy could be obtained by sighting directly over the LNT module and using the vertical set screw on top as my alignment mark. Wow, as if I weren't disappointed enough, I then learned that the LNT module had been totally redesigned, with improved electronics and the smartfinder unambiguously positioned on top where it always should have been and that, after alignment, GOTOs dependably slewed their targets directly on the laser dot and centered them in the eyepiece all just as had been claimed of the original LNT module. Sad to say, that made me feel like my brand new ETX 90 PE UHTC was really shabby. So of course I asked whether there was a recall on the original defective LNT module -- since it was incapable of living up to its claimed function and replacement with the new, actually functional LNT module. Then the representative corrected himself and stated (almost as if reading from a memo) that the new module simply one of many routine "improvements" bundled into the very latest scopes. He was very knowledgeable, extremely helpful, was even able to diagnose, just by listening over the phone, that both my vertical and horizontal gear trains had a manufacturing flaws, and got my ETX 90 PE UHTC shipped, at no cost to me, to and from Meade for warranty repairs. (I think he may even have mentioned the need to train the motor drives.) But as to swapping in the new, actually functional LNT module -- I was out of luck. Anyway, that new LNT module I don't have sounds pretty great! But this is no unhappy ending. Your website gives me renewed hope. I am just thankful to find clear explanations and remedies for my many nights of carefully following instructions yet consistently failing with LNT / smartfinder alignment and GOTO. I get the idea from all the posts I've read that even the earlier LNT module / smartfinder can be tamed and may even perform as originally claimed, after performing the necessary undocumented preliminary steps outlined on your website. My telescope no longer seems second-rate. Thanks! Tom FarrellMike here: My ETX-105PE has the original LNT/Smartfinder and it works OK for me (after some initial hiccups).
Subject: LNT Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 05:45:27 From: Jan H Kolst (firstname.lastname@example.org) I had to change the az-motor and gear which was relatively easy.But after the reperation I am not able to have Automatic alignment. I reinstalled the new Autostar version,reset calibrated and trained both drives. When I try Automatic alignment I get the right time and date.The scope levels and than it starts finding NORTH.The scope just moves around and I have to stop it from hitting hardstop.Easy alignment is ok. Any suggestions what to do? It worked ok before I changed the motor. Regards Jan H Kolstoe NorwayMike here: Odd that that happens only with Auto Alignment. I suggest redoing the CALIBRATE MOTORS just in case that didn't take the first time.
Calibrate motors didn't help.Perhaps I should try Star patch 43DA? JanMike here: Reloading the ROM won't hurt but I don't think the patch will solve it.
You were right.it didn't solve the problem.So what d o you suggest? I am out o f ideas . JanMike here: Have you tried a CALIBRATE SENSOR? If that doesn't cure it, then try a RESET, then CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then TRAIN DRIVES. Perhaps something in the AutoStar is corrupted. Although a reload of the ROM should have cleared that out. But a RESET won't hurt.
When I tried to Calibrate Sensors I had of course to put the scope in the LNT-HOME-POSITION. I did ,but it Levelled and FINDING NORTH and the scope went clockwise until I had to stop it before it hit the hardstop. So I wasn't able to CALIBRATE SENSORS. I really have tried RESET , CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. I'll do it once more. Should I install Meade's version for Autostar or the Patch from Star GPS?Mike here: I would suggest using Meade's first.
Well I tried Meade ,but no luck.I even tried RESET. Has TRAINING DRIVES and SENSORS anything to do with Automatic Alignment procedure apart from pointing accuracy? I'v reinstalled the new AUTOSTAR UPDATE application (Ver.4.6) as well just to be sure. Perhaps I'll have to just use EASY ALIGNMENT? Jan
And an update:
Thanks for responding, I managed the LNT- module to work again after reinstalling Meade's latest version ,calibrate and train the drives. I had to do this twice. Regards JanMike here: Strange but glad it is working now!
Subject: etx 125 pe Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 00:11:10 From: Jerry Wolfe (email@example.com) I BOUGHT A ETX 125 PE USED. THE OWNER HAD A ETX 125 EC AS WELL. I CAN'T TURN ON THE RED DOT FINDER. NO MENU. COULD HE HAVE GIVEN ME THE WRONG AUTOSTAR? EVERYTHING ELSE WORKS, LIKE THE AUTOMATIC SETUP, ONLY THE RED DOT FINDER DOES NOT WORK.Mike here: First off, please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; using ALL CAPS is hard to read. Thanks for understanding.
YOUR RIGHT IT WAS THE BATT. THANX ALOT. YOU DA MAN.Mike here: Now about that CAPS key...
Subject: ETX90PE Alignment Question Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2007 15:55:07 From: Alan Miles (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have recently bought a new ETX90PE and am having problems setting it up properly. I go through the whole LNT process of turning counterclockwise for the horizontal and then letting it do its stuff on automatic finding Level and North. As I only have a small back garden with houses on most sides it is not always possible to use the two stars to find, in fact I have never once seen one, but I just accept it with enter. When I used Goto to find the moon automatically, it was not pointing directly at it, and was a fair way off. When I found it manually the automatic tracking kept the moon in the viewfinder for the 10mins I was looking at the moon so something is working! My questions then : a) When I did the MODE button for 2 seconds it reported my local time as being correct, but the LNT time was about 53 mins behind it. Should it be the same or one hour plus or minus due to summertime etc which started today? b) The time and date do not seem to be kept in memory (the local time anyway) as I have to reset it each time. Is this correct or am I doing something horribly wrong? My suspicion is that the LNT is causing the telescope to point in the wrong place. I checked on my computer the location of the moon for today and it was correct on the handset, but as I said it was pointing to the place the moon was in about an hour. This might be conincidence! Any help gratefully received I appreciate it. Of course this is making me learn the night sky properly for the first time and about how to find things in the sky 'old school' which is no bad thing really J Thanks a lot Alan.Mike here: There are several PE/LNT troubleshooting articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page; check those for more info. Are you seeing the Local Sidereal Time value? That is different than local time. Normally the AutoStar should be getting its time from the LNT module but if not, the AutoStar will default to the last set date and always to 8pm (2000).
Subject: ETX-105 PE and British Summer Time Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2007 03:20:13 From: Richard Webster (email@example.com) To change the internal clock settings for British Summer Time do you turn the Daylight Saving on and leave the GMT/UT time as it is or do you turn the Daylight Saving on and advance the GMT/UT time by one hour. Regards Richard WebsterMike here: I would suspect you leave GMT alone and set BST "ON" just like DST.
Sounds good to me. Many thanks Richard
Subject: re: ETX125PE, Electric Focuser and Autostar Problem Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 19:25:59 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) An alternate way to reach the focuser menu is to tap the zero () key. It will also bring you back to where you were. have fun --dick
From: Cafarella, Edward M. (email@example.com) Wow, dick! Thanks a lot for that. I'll test it out now! Ed
Subject: Re: ETX 125 PE horizontal lock fault Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:52:41 From: dave & lorraine (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for the info, Sorry you are right I did mean the RA I will do as you suggest Thanks Dave Whittle
Subject: ETX 125 PE horizontal lock fault Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 09:04:54 From: dave & lorraine (email@example.com) This is the first time I have emailed you, I am a novice in astronomy and Learning as I go along, Please forgive me if I offend the site e-mail etiquette its not Intentional. I have upgraded my telescope from a ETX 105 EC. To a ETX 125 PE. Both were second hand but the 125 is almost new. Still boxed not a mark on It. I have noticed that the horizontal lock on the 125 PE only goes half way Across the recess and not up to the "stop" unlike my last scope. Also Dec Motor seems to "struggle" when alignment is in progress and the DEC marking Tape on the base is not stuck to the base, you can move it around the base, But looks like it came from the factory like that. Should it be? Or is Something wrong? Hope you can advise me David Whittle Manchester EnglandMike here: The lock doesn't need to go all the way to one side to be in a "locked" position; just depends on how the lever is attached. As to DEC motor struggling, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (training on both axes)? Could you be overtightening the axis lock. Regarding the tape (I presume you mean Right Ascension and not Declination), see the FAQ page.
Subject: Meade 8x25 finder scope Sent: Friday, March 9, 2007 17:34:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I have a friend who has a used Meade ETX125 Premier and the red dot finder scope does not work. I have an ETX125 (not Premier)here with the 8x25 finder scope. Will the 8x25 right angle finder scope fit on the same mount as the red dot finder scope because he is not happy with the Red Dot and it doesn't work anyway. Any other ideas for a finder scope. Thanks Randy Meade 14" RCX 400 user Meade ETX 70 and ETX 125 userMike here: No, it won't attach to the LNT module, which is where the red-dot Smartfinder is mounted. For other choices, see the Accessory Reviews: Finderscopes page. But just curious, what is not working with the Smartfinder?
I'll find out and let you know..... Thanks Randy
Subject: #128 3x Barlow and Meade ETX-125 PE Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2007 14:00:15 From: Tyler Pearson (email@example.com) Would this work with the ETX-125 PE? Is it advisable to but this for the ETX-125 edition? Regards TMike here: Since the #128 is a "shorty" style, it should work fine. By the way, a search on the ETX Site would have turned up an answer.
Subject: Question regarding new Smartfinder in ETX-90PE Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2007 10:43:14 From: Ariel Caceres (firstname.lastname@example.org) I noticed that the new ETX-90PE comes with a different Smartfinder which (at least in the pictures) looks much more robust and stable that the original one. My experiece with the ETX-90PE smartfinder has been pretty poor; stability and robustness were always a trouble. Two questions for you: 1. Do you know if the new Smartfinder is actually more robust, as the pics may suggest? 2. If answer to #1 is Yes, Do you know if it is possible to replace my existing Smartfinder with the new version? (ie. would Meade sell the needed pieces) Thanks ! ArielMike here: I haven't had the opportunity to experience the new design. As to whether it would mount, again don't know since I haven't seen it.
Subject: LNT-time Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2007 01:05:24 From: Jan H Kolst (email@example.com) I'm enjoying using the Auto. alignment,but when I set the time for the LNT I unfortunately set it 30 seconds late. Should I fix it or isn't it worth fixing? If I do,how do I change the time? Is the only solution taking out the battery of the LNT and start all over again? Thanks again for a nice page full of info! Jan H Kolstoe NorwayMike here: Once you have done the Alignment, the time won't be that important (except for time-based events such as rise/set times, and for the position of ephemeral objects). But you can fix it by just re-entering the time in the AutoStar.
Subject: re: LNT-module Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 21:51:54 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dr. Clay wrote: ---------- > NOW....that being said, if you telescope is NOT programmed to operate ? with the LNT, it will NOT find north; it will only find TIME. Did you > buy an LNT and install it on an older telescope? ------------- If your telescope is offering to perform an Automatic Alignment, and attempts to find North (and/or level), it -is- programmed for, and recognizes as attached, an LNT. If, instead, it offers Easy Align (in Alt/Az), then it's not "seeing" or thinking about, an LNT. have fun --dick
From: Jan H Kolst (email@example.com) Thank you for answering! I tried reinstalling the Autostar version plus RESET and then everything works nicely. Regards Jan Norway
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) 1. Changing the LNT battery has no effect on Sensor Calibrations or any parameter other than time. The battery only powers the clock with all other components on the LNT board receiveing power via the main telescope power source when it is switched on. 2. The process for determining North goes like this: a) The Autostar commands the scope to slew CW; b) the LNT monitors the strength of the magnetic field and when the field reaches minimum and starts increasing, it sends a signal to the Autostar; c) the Autostar saves the azimuth position of the scope at the instant of the null, which is magnetic North, then applies an approximated correction for magnetic declination calculated from the lat/lon of the Site; d) the Autostar further refines the position using stored values from a previous Cal Sensors procedure, if available. e) The final result is Zero degrees azimuth, or True North, and is used from then on for all position measurements. There are a couple of reasons the scope might continue to slew past magnetic North without detecting a null - one is a defective sensor on the LNT and the other is the presence of an external magnetic field strong enough to mask the field of the Earth. One other possibility is corrupted software in the Autostar itself. I don't know if any of this helps but maybe it will provide some info that might be useful in resolving your problems. Regards, Mike Hogan
Subject: LNT-module, Home position confusion Sent: Friday, March 2, 2007 08:10:36 From: Niels Peter Ditlefsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks again Mike for your indispensable site. Without your site,not many ETXes would work much longer. After having studied the mail : "LNT-module", of February 26, 2007 from Mr. Jan H.Kolst, - last section signed by Dr . Clay, I am somewhat confused regarding "home position". I am sure,I have misunderstood the instruction,because when following it, i.e. finding the midposition and pointing "the whole set-up" to magnetic North , my CCW-stop ends-up pointing North-East and consequently the CW_stop will be pointing at North-West. As a full turn of the scope is some 630deg. (42h 45min) the midpoint is at 315 deg.,indicating that my observation seems correct. So far I have been following the best instruction of all,namely Mike Hogans . "PREMIER EDITION SETUP TIPS", dated 5 July 2006. Mike Hogan points out that home position is where the OTA, the base,the tripod,the lot is pointing in a Westerly direction with the OTA locked at the CCW stop. As North-East is far from a Westerly direction,I would very much like to be corrected and told, what I have misunderstood. To Mike and the Group Have a nice Weekend Niels Peter ( Newbie), 56.1N 10.5EMike here: The CCW hard stop should be approximately on the Southwest side. That puts the Control Panel on the West side.
Now I see my mistake,it is not the front of the OTA, that must point to North,but the backplate. I knew of course that Dr. Clay was right, I was just reading his instruction incorrectly. Thanks, I am happy again. Niels Peter
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