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ETX-LS FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 October 2009
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This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX-LS. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (RA, EC, AT, BB, PE, LS) 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 for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	Electric focuser for ETX-LS?
Sent:	Saturday, October 31, 2009 08:33:24
From:	Yihan Goh
Hi, I was wondering if you know of any electric focuser that would work
with the ETX-LS? There seems to be a plug for an electric focuser on the
ETX-LS itself - do you know if there are specific Meade models for this
scope? Thank you.
Mike here: JMI has one listed on this page: http://www.jimsmobile.com/buy_motofocus.htm#Meade

And:

Many thanks, Mike. So none of the existing Meade models would work?
Mike here: Certain none of the ETX electric focusers will work. The Microfocuser (for the LX200) might work but since I've not received my ETX-LS back from Meade yet, I can't test that.
Many thanks again, Mike. 

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback For Mike
Sent:	Friday, October 30, 2009 10:53:01
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Do you know anywhere that I can get a blueprint or assembly drawing of
the GPS unit on the ETXLS from. I'd like to see how its put together
before I make any suggestions for improvements to Meade.
I would have thought that an antenna connector for an external antenna
would have been a good idea. This would not be too hard if the Meade
antenna plugs in and is not hard wired in. Simply replace it with your
own higher quality antenna.
If anyone has ever taken one apart and has photos that would be helpful.
Thanks
Guy
Mike here: I've not seen any telescope with an external antenna jack. In fact, I don't recall seeing any GPS device with an external jack. But interesting idea. I suppose if you Google for the GPS part number (whatever it is), you might find some info on the Web.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback - another bad 'scope!
Sent:	Wednesday, October 28, 2009 21:39:55
From:	Scott Recker (srecker@earthlink.net)
After a week's delay (so much for "cross-shipping"), Meade sent my
replacement ETX-LS. Ser# 1019xx, build date 9/30/09. System 1.2g is
factory installed.

Interestingly, the vssver entries I described earlier are in there!
Specifically: choose "Guided Tours," you get "Tonights Best" ...
"vssver". If you choose vssver you get an error message telling you that
the "file does not exist." Also, the 'scope crashes at random times - it
just freezes, requiring a reboot. So I reinstalled System 1.2g without
the vssver.scc files, and it seems to work fine. So I guess the
vssver.scc files I found in the update weren't my imagination after all!
(or a result of downloading the update with a Mac)

Anyway, this 'scope doesn't work, either. It's a different problem than
my first one, which wouldn't find North. Now, the GPS won't find my
location. Turn it on, it starts up, starts looking for satellites
("Satellites:0"), and finds none. I tried numerous times in numerous
locations with perfectly clear skies. When I input my city and the time,
it aligns successfully, and things work pretty well (still doesn't slew
to objects very well - it's a little better after using Finder Center).

Meade agreed to take this one back, too. Sigh!

Scott Recker

Subject:	re: Possible solution for weak GPS signals
Sent:	Wednesday, October 28, 2009 21:19:42
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
blkhole recommended:
Portable Re-Radiating Antenna set (MCX) GAR08X Cost $39.90
from Pc-Mobil at http://www.pc-mobile.net/gpsant.htm

and Mike wrote:
> Looking forward to some real-world feedback on it.

Unfortunately, that product (and -all- GPS re-radiators) are illegal
in the USA (blkhole's in Canada, so he's safe).

The US FCC bans all such devices, since they *will* mess up adjacent
(passing ambulances? low flying helicopters?) GPS signal users.

The OFFICIAL word:
http://www.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2005/DA-05-1107A1.html
(as discussed in a judgement against a vendor)

In 2007, they levied a $75,000 fine against another vendor:
(fairly far down, seek "GPS" or "radiator")
http://www.atcb.com/news.htm

have fun (but don't buy one in the USA)
--dick

Subject:	Mini Disk for ETX-LS
Sent:	Monday, October 26, 2009 10:22:09
From:	Warren Spreng (wspreng@gmail.com)
Sorry to hear that blkhole is having so many problems with the GPS unit.
I sent my unit in because I had fried the Autostar and could not find a
mini disk that wouldn't just shut the scope down when I tried to use it.
They adjusted my GPS antenna while it was in to be re-loaded and now it
finds the satellites in about 1 minute.  Speaking of the mini disks, I
finally received one today that I ordered from Amazon.com and it works!!
It is the SanDisk Ultra II Mini SD 1.0 GB.  Previously when I would try
to "Take and Store Picture" after inserting a disk, the scope would
freeze up and I would have to turn it off and back on again.  I put this
one in, did the same and everything worked fine!  Even got a picture of
my living room!  Just thought I'd throw that in for any LS users that
were having the same problem.  (PS, I had formatted each of the previous
ones with FAT32 as well as this one)

Also I thought I would comment on Meade Service.  I sent my scope in on
September 9th and they said it would be 4 to 6 weeks including shipping.
I emailed Meade after about 3 weeks as to the status and they quickly
emailed back that it should be shipping back soon.  I received it back
on October 8th.  Everyone I have corresponded with has been very helpful
and returns my emails promptly.
 
Appreciate your site and input!

Subject:	Possible solution for weak GPS signals
Sent:	Saturday, October 24, 2009 15:30:53
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Hi Mike I said I would do some investigating and I came up with this
solution. Cheapest way to go.

It is now possible to boost your GPS reception for your telescope GPS
even though it doesn't have an external antenna. I found this item on
the internet 

Portable Re-Radiating Antenna set (MCX) GAR08X Cost $39.90
from Pc-Mobil at http://www.pc-mobile.net/gpsant.htm

Re-radiating antenna consists of 2 parts - receiving antenna and
transmitting antenna. Receiving antenna has internal signal amplifier so
requires power. 3 x AA batteries (Rechargeable Ni-MH or alkaline)
Amplified signal is transferred to the transmitting antenna which
"radiates" the signal onto the antenna of telescope GPS. In places where
reception is marginal, e.g. in woods or streets with high buildings.
Because re-radiating antenna "amplifies" the signal so you might get 4-5
satellites when you can get only 2-3 with your handheld GPS with its own
internal antenna. Connect the external receiving antenna to the
transmitting antenna by the MCX connector, put it somewhere where it has
best view of the sky. Switch on the transmitting antenna (LED power
indicator shows it is on and has adequate battery power). Place the
radiating antenna loop onto the telescope GPS. You should see the result
immediately (allow TIFF - time to first fix).  For best result, use the
supplied rubber band to strap the antenna loop onto the telescope GPS so
that it is secure even if you move the telescope GPS about.
Characteristics and positions of internal antenna vary so experiment
with different positions to get best result. After your telescope has
finished its set up the re-radiating antennas can be removed. This does
not void warranty as you are not opening or tampering with any telescope
parts. You are just temporarily amplifying a signal so your telescope
can pick it up.

Hope this helps with some of the problems.

Guy Westcott
Mike here: Looking forward to some real-world feedback on it.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback Ver 1.2g not much improvment.
Sent:	Thursday, October 22, 2009 19:44:51
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Well Mike I am finding that the new software ver 1.2g doesn't improve
the location and detection of the GPS sats very much more than the
original software. So tonite I thought I would test it out. It said it
had to detect 4 GPS sats and just didn't do anything for 1/2 an hour. I
thought it might be the location so I got my cheap explorist GPS unit
out and put it on the telescope in the handset holder on the base. My
GPS picked up 9 sats in under 10 minutes and most were strong signals.
So the problem here is either the GPS unit on the telescope not working
well enough or the antenna that they use for the GPS unit isn't strong
enough to pick the sat signals up. The scope finds level and North fine.
If you punch in your Location and Time it does the star alighnment fine
and when you go to an object no problem. Just for a test I asked it to
find M57 from my roof in the middle of the city. 20 seconds later we
were looking at the ring nebula and had a very good alighnment and view
even though the skies were really bad with smoke and clouds. So although
this telescope does have problems with finding GPS sats (the down side)
it does give excellent views of planets and deep sky objects from very
light polluted sites. I think this scope will only start to come into
its own when Meade actually spend some time and do a real update to the
GPS software or antenna system. Maybe a plug in antenna mod would make a
difference. I'll have to see what I can come up with to amplify the GPS
sat signals.
Guy Westcott
Mike here: It is certainly possible that the GPS unit or antenna could be faulty, or even the antenna cable (assuming there is one) is disconnected (from a jar during shipping?). Unless you want to open up the GPS unit module, you will probably have to contact Meade for a repair.
Subject:	Your ETX-LS6
Sent:	Thursday, October 22, 2009 14:20:36
From:	Bellomy, Robert S. (ROBERT.S.BELLOMY@saic.com)
Did you ever get your scope replaced or repaired??  I have been bad
about getting my situation posted online in a timely fashion.  I have
been dealing with a (at work) spacecraft issue prior to launch and it
has dominated my time.  After getting in touch with the Meade Chief
Financial Officer by email and explaining my situation to him, Meade
called me and said they were sending me a new telescope.  I did receive
it and though I didn't have much time to play with it, did power it up
and noticed it did a "fair" alignment, only off by a small margin.  I
was aware of the software upgrade to the handbox, but still not enough
free time.  Well, my spacecraft did launch this past week and so I
downloaded the new version v1.2g and updated the handbox.  I took the
scope out last evening and it aligned itself.  Although not perfectly
centered, I can adjust the AZ-EL drives to get it as close to centered
as possible.  I then took a quick tour for objects I knew I would be
able to see.  The scope did a good job.  I only hope that your issue has
been taken care of and that you are up and operating.  Like I said
before, the optics are very, very good.  The camera is interesting and I
tried it for a fixed focus wide field shot of stars.  It performed
adequately, but I will probably never use it when I have a better camera
to use.  Functionality was overall very good with all Meade's claims
being met.
 
Robert Bellomy
Mike here: I will post an update of my ETX-LS comments when I get the telescope back.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, October 20, 2009 20:57:17
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Hi Mike. for those people that are wondering I've been into astronomy
for about 55 years and I always seem to find my way out of problems.
Here's what I found out. If you update your telescope to 1.2g with only
the batteries or a battery pack it seems less likely to take and more
likely to give you errors. This is what happened to me the first time.
The second time I updated I used the meade supplied power pack and had
no troubles. I think when you are updating any variance in the voltages
screws up some of the data reading and writing. Also just about any
problem can be fixed by turning off the light switch and cycling through
back to on. When you turn it back on go directly to the shut down
telescope menu and shut it down this is like putting a car in neutral
and then allows you to start all over again with a clean slate. The
manual isn't wery explicit when it tells you to put in the time and
location...you actually have to put the location in first before you get
to the time screen or at least that's the way mine came up. Will keep
you posted on any other problems that I have and fixes that I come up
with. If you want anything tried out let me know, this one has all bells
and whistles including the mini monitor.
Guy Westcott

Subject:	Mini SD cards FOUND THEM
Sent:	Tuesday, October 20, 2009 20:40:52
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
I found a source for the mini SD cards they are 1 gbit cards and they
come with an adapter to the standard size. They are also not HC so if
formatted at Fat 32 they should work real well. The price is $13.99
Canadian they are:

Transcend 1GB Mini SD Card
(T555-1018)
MPN: TS1GSDM
from  www.tigerdirect.ca
 
Hope this helps anyone out there still looking for the miniSD cards.
 
Guy Westcott
Mike here: TigerDirect also has a 2GB mini SD card.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback LS6 not locking on
Sent:	Sunday, October 18, 2009 19:11:13
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Hi Mike finally got a clear nite. Went out turned telescope on and let
it do its thing. After half an hour it asked me to put the time and
location in manually. Although I tried every thing in the manual I could
find no way to enter the data manually nor would the telescope go back
to shutdown mode so that I could reprogram with the new files and
updates. Finally turned it off just as it was. Put the sd chip in and
turned it back on to see if it would update. It is now in the middle of
updating. It has now updated and asked me to remove the chip and
restart.

I might also add that my telescope has the same white piece in the card
slot as Gregs does. I found that this is just an indicator showing you
which way to put the chip in.     Cut away on the adapter to the
bottom...white arrow to the top and fingure connectors facing out
towards the side of the on off switch.

I am now going to restart the LS keeping my fingers crossed. It restarts
at ver 1.02 but the handbox says Time and Location on the top lineand
get from GPS on the second line. Only button that does anything is the
media button and that just starts the media presentation again Back
button and mode do nothing...so I can't even get the telescope in the
shut down position. I'm starting to think that this is a white elephant
and not such an easy telescope to use even for advanced amateurs.

Guy Westcott
Mike here: The latest version of the AutoStar III software is 1.2g. I don't know why you are seeing 1.02 after updating to the current version. Up until recently, ETX-LS telescopes were shipped with 1.07. I suggest reformatting the mini SD card, re-installing the software on it, and then re-install the software into the ETX-LS. Thanks for the info on the card slot.

And:

Yes Mike I just checked it again and it definetely is saying Ver 1.02
not 1.2g The download onto the chip and into the telescope went ok
software file is called EFINDERETX and is five folders and two bin files
(firmware and the FlashFirmware) total size is 243 Meg. The telescope
arrived with Ver 1.07 but after not finding the gps sats very well I
updated. I wonder what others are seeing as to version on their handsets
after updating?

And an update:

Just redownloaded and burnt a new sd chip and reprogrammed it this time
it came up as Ver 1.2g so maybe now it will lock on with the gps and
other processes a little better. Told it to goto Jupiter and it found it
ok. the optics are very clear and sharp for a 6" used a Xcell 18mm
eyepiece and could see the cloud bands and details easily. So first
light worked well you watch I'll get another week of rain and clouds
now. Thanks for the help Mike.
Guy

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Saturday, October 17, 2009 00:11:34
From:	Louis Welke (wwtpoper@yahoo.com)
Did you get a replacement for your ETX-LS yet?, I am hesitating doing
anything yet partially because of the weather and being worried that
upgrading it to the Version 1.2 might make it worse.

Did you try using the newer version of the software before you sent your
LS back to Meade?

It seemed strange that at one time and one time only my LS did
everything it was supposed to do and this also makes me wonder if there
were certain situations present that either helped or hindered the
proper alignment of the LS.

To know that there are others having similar problems like I do makes me
feel like I am not alone in seeking answers to these problems.

Lou Welke
Mike here: Version 1.2g had not yet been released when I sent the ETX-LS back to Meade. And it hasn't arrived back here yet. As to the update, it seems like it resolves the problems that were affecting some users.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback - finally gave up
Sent:	Tuesday, October 6, 2009 19:20:54
From:	Scott Recker (srecker@earthlink.net)
I never got my ETX-LS properly aligned (even with 1.2g). It would find
(near) South when looking for North, even after I took it 5 miles out of
town under very good conditions. I believe, based on other physical
problems, that it was damaged in shipping. After explaining the entire
saga to Meade, they are graciously shipping me a brand new one. Kudos,
Meade!
Scott Recker
Mike here: Sounds like a bad LNT module, which is what I suspect mine had.

And:

Let's see . . . LNT . . . "Loch Ness Tribble?" . . . nah . . . "Lunar
Never Terrestrial?" . . . nah . . . Oh, I've got it . . . "Look North,
Telescope" . . . I give up; what does it stand for?

BTW, thanks for the info page. Very helpful!

Scott Recker
Mike here: LNT = Level North Technology. Name used with the ETX Premier Edition models.
Subject:	Re: ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, October 6, 2009 18:35:19
From:	Professional Family Consultants (f.stewart@shaw.ca)
I have downloaded the new version onto a micro card adapter that has
another wee small micro card inside of it.  Is this the same as a mini
card that Meade says we need?  Just wondering because my card is not
going into the telescope slot.

Thanks for your help.
Francis Stewart
Mike here: The micro SD card fits inside a "mini SD" card adapter. The slot is a "mini SD" card size. From reports I've received, you have to push the card well inside to get it to "click" in. However, I just received a report (below) of some "obstruction" preventing the card from being inserted.

And:

Thanks, Mike.  That is exactly what my problem is.  There is an
obstruction at the top of the slot.

Subject:	Meade ETX-LS 6" ACF SD Card Obstructed
Sent:	Sunday, October 4, 2009 19:15:28
From:	Greg Wilkins (wilkins.gregory@gmail.com)
Hello, I have a quick question and maybe somebody can answer it. I have
a brand spanking new ETX-LS 6 ACF. It appears that there is a small
white metal tab or stub at the top of the SD card entrance. This keeps
you from inserting a card. I have both Mini SD and Micro SD with
adapter. They will not slide into the slot.

Any help would be appreciated. At the price that this scope costs, it
should arrive to you with no problems. I am really disappointed with
Meade Quality Control

Thanks for taking the time to read my question. I have included a couple
of pictures to demonstrate the issue. Sorry for the  blur but they were
taken with my camera phone. You can clearly see what i am describing.

photo


Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Saturday, October 3, 2009 04:34:39
From:	Varga, Les (LVarga@Nordson.com)
I was finally able to able update by ETX-LS firmware to version 1.2g
with help from Meade Customer Service.  It helps when you actually
follow the directions, format the SD card to FAT32, and give the device
the time to do the loading process, etc.  My scope worked well before
the upgrade.  It appears to acquire GPS faster now.  For me, this scope
is beautiful and both the dealer, OPT and Meade provided excellent
service...one man's opinion.
Regards,
Les Varga
Cumming, GA
Mike here: I accidently noticed that your email had been DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site Home Page. Thanks for understanding. And thanks for the report.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback  AutoStar III version
Sent:	Friday, October 2, 2009 20:58:04
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
Well I finally got to turn my LS on for 30 sec just to see the version.
I got mine at the beginning of Sept and the ver is 1.07. Sorry Mike no
viewing yet as you know the rules...You buy a new telescope and you get
the equivelent number of days of rain and clouds times twice the
telescope size. Thank god I didn't buy a light bridge. When I do run it
I'll see if it works ok and then update from sd chip to ver1.02g (how
come the update is 1.02g and not 1.07a or 1.08?

I might also have a solution for Hajri Mohammed's problems. If his
repair shop can't get a new slot have them hard wire an SD chip Mini
adapter in place then all he has to do is plug the micro sd chip into
the adapter. I have also found that it is easier to leave the adapter in
all the time if you dont have the proper mini SD chip as that way it is
easier to get the micro chip in and out. The other way he could go is to
get a standard SD chip holder out of an old camera and replace the mini
one in the telescope with the standard one. Any electronic service shop
if it's good should be able to do this for him at a price less than
having to ship it all the way back to the US.

Guy Westcott
Mike here: I assume that versions 1.08 through 1.19 were not entirely ready for primetime or had features that were older than what is in 1.2g. So, 1.2g is the latest feature set with the latest bug fixes.
Subject:	mac and upgrade
Sent:	Friday, October 2, 2009 15:54:00
From:	Murray Harris (mharris562@gmail.com)
8 or more people out of 10 have a windows pc, I am sure most have a
friend that has a windows pc, and would be happy to download the upgrade
to the sd card so the mac users could upgrade the scope, a minor
inconvienence, but it is not like they will be doing upgrades daily.
Mike here: Good point. It is true that some friends of Mac users use Windows, that is, until they switch to Macs. Not counting many of my friends through my ETX Site, most of my Windows using friends now have Macs. Hum...
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Wednesday, September 30, 2009 22:40:44
From:	blkhole (blkhole@shaw.ca)
I purchased the new ETX-LS ACF and agree with every thing you say. But
there are a few items that Meade should deal with. The SD slot on the
telescope is a Mini SD slot and not a standard SD slot The mini SD chip
however went out of popular use about a year ago and they are very hard
to find. You can always fit an adapter however but getting the chip back
out is extremely difficult unless you are female and have long nails.
Also no mention is made as to whether the scope will accept SDHC chips,
THIS SHOULD BE IN THE MANUAL. Meade could have easily supplied an SD
chip with the scope. When I phoned and asked they were more interested
in selling me an extended warrantee than correcting problems.The scope
should be supplied with the AC power adapter, not everyone has a stock
of batteries around their house. Meade does not at present make a carry
case for the telescope but for $375 JMI does. No 2 optical back, this
would have been nice. Given the option of a finder scope or a red dot
finder would also have been nice. One major change that Meade gets
points for is that now all their accessories have the same thread patern
as Celestron this enables me to use a vast collection of bits and pieces
that I have accumulated over the years. On the whole I liked the
telescope it performed well after I updated the AutoStar to Ver1.2 at
212mb (this refined the GPS tracking) A bit expensive for the begginner
but for someone older (retired) and hard of seeing to line things up,
its ideal.
Mike here: Adding the AC Adapter as standard would have increased the price somewhat. And not everyone can use it. So having it as an option is probably still appropriate. The SCT adapter thread is a standard across many manufacturers including Meade and Celestron. So most SCT accessories should work with the ETX-LS. Your concerns about the mini SD card are valid. Sometimes decisions are made early on in a project's design stage that get left behind as technology moves on. Only a few manufacturers (like Apple) can lead technology changes rather than lag them.

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