Last updated: 9 September 2000

This is a "User Opinions" page where YOU can express YOUR opinions. Contributions are welcome of course.

Subject:	 ETX-125 & Autostar: A systems analysis approach
Sent:	Saturday, September 9, 2000 14:18:33
From:	rrzimmer@netcom.com (Bob Zimmerman)
CC:	engineer@meade.com
Mike -

First I want to express my appreciation for your creating this venue to
exchange information, frustrations and lessons learned.

Have there been any signs of progress out of Meade?  Its been over six
months since the last release of the Autostar software (2.0i) and the
list of bugs and functional inadequacies is substantial.  It might be an
interesting journalistic effort to sponsor a "meet the team" set of
interviews with the Meade staff.  The lack of response to their
communications port at  is very user hostile and
does not bode well when there are no signs of change after six months to
a year on software fixes.  Their reluctance to communicate with their
customers is alienating the very people most likely to buy their
products in the future and influence Meade's reputation in the user

I've compiled a set of issues across various sub-systems: let the
readers build the list &  be the judge.

Optical: relatively satisfactory with 26mm ep, fewest issues.  Concern
about their 9mm eyepiece, which simply lacks sharpness. Un-able to split
the epsilon Lyra double double on even cold, clear, nights after 4-5
hours of cool down.

Mechanical - drives: backlash, slippage. clutch design / robustness?
Mechanical - mount
Mechanical - vibration, stability, pointing accuracy / cumulative errors

Electrical - voltage regulation / stability: What is the design point?
See on-line postings concerning various power sources.
Electrical - blanking / run-away of Autostar controller
Electrical - encoders: cumulative error, hysteresis

User interface for loading TLE's for satellite, Shuttle, Mir or Space
Station tracking
Comet eccentricity errors
Internal registers for location good to degrees: minutes only.
Park command errors: after 3-4 hours of observing; park places OTA 4-6
degrees below the horizontal
Occasional run-away: focusing, slewing

Its a complex product worthy of a well written and illustrated users
manual. A good tech writer could make a vast difference for many users
initial experiences.

Motor training - any opinions on the use of a reticle to get the highest
accuracy on the motor training exercise?

The computer control port: Have people using computer control software
with a computer (such as SkyMap Pro or The Sky) had fewer problems than
those using the Autostar alone to control system's pointing?

After my experience with the scope over the past year, I've greatly
enjoyed the viewing, but have spent way too much time dealing with
random blanking of the Autostar after alignment and during observing
sessions that had to be re-aligned 4-8 times in the course of an
evening.  That's about when I give up and go to the simple hand
controller or call it a night.

I am seriously considering a larger aperture scope. But despite Meade
Customer services chirpy responses and readiness to ship/swap
replacements I am rapidly losing confidence in their ability to execute
a stable product design.  The experience to date does not bode well for
the up-coming LX-90.  Maybe the shipping delay is to provide for better
design and quality control before they start shipping?

I appreciate that they are producing a complex and delicate product at
an ambitious price point, but they could be making a product which is
considerably more stable and reliable for little additional expense.

What can we do as a user community to encourage Meade management to
improve the product, protect their reputation, and thus give us better

Thanks again for your efforts in creating this site,

Best regards,

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