ETX PREMIER EDITION FEEDBACK
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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 (alan@alanmiles.net)
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.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
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 (tsfarrell@carolina.rr.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
tsfarrell@carolina.rr.com
Charlotte NC
USA
Mike 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 (tsfarrell@carolina.rr.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 Farrell
Mike 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 (jan.kolsto@online.no)
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
Norway
Mike 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.

And:

Calibrate motors didn't help.Perhaps I should try Star patch 43DA?

Jan
Mike here: Reloading the ROM won't hurt but I don't think the patch will solve it.

And:

You were right.it didn't solve the problem.So what d o you suggest? I am
out o f  ideas .
Jan
Mike 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.

And:

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.

And:

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
Jan
Mike here: Strange but glad it is working now!
Subject:	etx 125 pe
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2007 00:11:10
From:	Jerry Wolfe (jalward@gandcautobody.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.
When you hold down the MODE key and the MODE display shows on the AutoStar, you have to scroll through the displays to get to the Finder menu. Does that not appear there? If not and yet the LNT works for Auto Alignment then it could be that the Smartfinder LED has been disconnected (or broken) inside the LNT module. You could also try replacing the battery in the LNT. For more on troubleshooting the Smartfinder/LNT see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.

And:

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 (alan@alanmiles.net)
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 (raw7@dovecote.fslife.co.uk)
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 Webster
Mike here: I would suspect you leave GMT alone and set BST "ON" just like DST.

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
An alternate way to reach the focuser menu is to
tap the zero ([0]) key.
It will also bring you back to where you were.

have fun
--dick
From:	Cafarella, Edward M. (edward.cafarella@dpw.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 (d.l.whittle@ic24.net)
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 (d.l.whittle@ic24.net)
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 England
Mike 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:	wa3hlp@ptd.net
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 user
Mike 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?

And:

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 (tyler.pearson@ntlworld.com)
Would this work with the ETX-125 PE? Is it advisable to but this for the
ETX-125 edition?
Regards
T
Mike 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 (ariel.caceres@gmail.com)
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 !

Ariel
Mike 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 (jan.kolsto@online.no)
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
Norway
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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 (jan.kolsto@online.no)
Thank you for answering! I tried reinstalling the Autostar version plus
RESET and then everything works nicely.

Regards
Jan
Norway

And:

From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
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

And more:

Subject:	LNT-module, Home position confusion
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2007 08:10:36
From:	Niels Peter Ditlefsen (0068300m001@stofanet.dk)
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  10.5E
Mike here: The CCW hard stop should be approximately on the Southwest side. That puts the Control Panel on the West side.

And:

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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Copyright © 2007 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2007 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/mar07/etx-pe.html