Last updated: 23 June 2009
Subject:	ETX-LS first night report
Sent:	Tuesday, June 23, 2009 07:13:55
From:	R L Laffoon (
Here are my first impressions on using the new Meade ETX-LS, ACF
telescope.  First off, this is not your "normal" Meade telescope.  There
are no adjustable clutches on this scope.  In order to use the scope,
you must supply power to the scope.  Either with C cell batteries or
with an outboard power supply.  I'm using one of the "jump start"
rechargeable battery boxes that are available by several different
manufactures.  It does supply 13.8 volts DC, but the scope works fine at
that power level.  It  would be a good idea to have some C cell
batteries in the scope, just in case your power cord becomes detached
from the scope at some point in your observing session.  That way the
batteries can take over until you plug the power cord back in.  Read the
section on how to install the "C" batteries carefully.

Meade does a good job of supplying you with a decent set of components
to get you up and running, but you might want to replace the "eyepiece
holder" with one that uses a compression ring because the supplied one
uses a screw to hold your eyepieces and you can easily mar the finish on
your eyepiece.  Also, if you want to leave the diagonal in place you
will need to supply your own plastic cover for the diagonal.  If you
want to keep the supplied eyepiece in the diagonal, then you will have
to supply a plastic cap for the eyepiece as Meade supplies only a "bolt
case" for the eyepiece.  You can always remove the eyepiece holder and
put the supplied screw cap back on the OTA and then put the eyepiece
holder and diagonal in zip lock bags and put the eyepiece back in the
bolt case.  I like to leave as much on the scope as I can between
sessions as this is truly a great "grab and go" scope.  With the handle
on top of the fork arm it is very easy to pick up and carry around. 
Also, putting the telescope on top of the tripod is and lining it up
with the retaining bolts is now the easiest part of setting up the
scope.  Not like other scopes where you are fiddling around trying to
line everything up, the new tripod top and the three holding screws
really line up nice on this tripod!

The optics are superb and the new longer focus shaft makes focusing a
breeze.  It has a very nice feel to it and operates very smoothly.  The
supplied finder does a good job, but mine needed a small piece of
electrical tap added to the end of the holder, (before you screw the
holding bracket in place), in order to be nice and tight on the OTA. 
Not a big deal, but worth the small effort as there is no movement of
the finder now!

Now, you would be well advised to take a good look at the new Autostar
III hand controller.  I have used every version of the Autostar
controller that Meade has introduced and I must say that there is a
learning curve with this one that must be overcome, especially if you
have used one of the earlier models.  I spent about an hour using the
hand box inside the house and now feel very comfortable using the new
buttons!  The scope handled everything as it should.  GOTO's were dead
on, which made the first night experience very satisfying.

The audio and visual presentations are really wonderful, but if you are
going to a star party with other serious observers, I would suggest that
you take a pair of headphones along to plug into the audio output jack
so that you won't brother others.  I could go on and on about the audio
and visual descriptions, they are very extensive and quite informative. 
Lets' just say that this is going to be the perfect scope to take to
public outreach events and to brush up on what you thought you knew
about many of the objects that you have looked at and studied over the
years!  Also, the scope is built very well indeed, but you will have to
remember that without power, you can't move the scope, so be prepared
with a good power supply and buy the cigarette lighter plug adaptor that
Meade offers.  As for the slewing noise  well, let's just say that
people will know that you are in the area.  It is louder than the
earlier ETX series, but not as loud as my 12" RCX400 scope.  Also, you
will need to purchase a MINI SD card if you want to save the photos that
you take with the built in camera.  Note that you can't have the SD card
in the scope when you power up the telescope.  You have to power up the
scope and after it is aligned, then put the card in.  There is one other
small point that I should mention, the cover on the scope really fits
well on this scope even though it is the "push on" held by friction
type.  Also, do yourself a favor and take a small piece of electrical
tape and put it over the "A" USB slot.  That slot is for "future"
expansion and I don't know and don't want to find out what will happen,
(if anything), if you plug something into that slot.  I just covered
mine up.  Perhaps someone else will check the slot and see if anything
is "live"!  If there is power there, (5 volts), then I could see where
it might be possible to plug in one of the flexible LED lights that
several companies sell for laptop use.

Well, that is my first impression and use of the telescope.  I must
admit to being "hooked" on this scope and I can see my other scopes
spending a lot of time setting around.  By the way, for what it is
worth, I do own the following scopes: a 3.5" Questar Duplex, the
Takahashi CN 212 on the EM200 mount and the before mentioned 12" RCX400.
All of them fill a different need, from extreme portability, to
excellent portable "deep sky site" astrophotography scope to the 12"
scope in the observatory.  But the Meade ETX-LS is going t be the one
that I can setup on a moment's notice anywhere around the yard or take
to a public star party and be able to play the audio and visual clips
for the assembled masses.  There are many other features that I should
report on, but that will have to wait until another time when I have
more than 2 nights a month of clear weather!  Yes, it has been that bad
here on the East Coast this year!

Best regards,
Larry Laffoon
Owner, Yahoo Autostar Suite group.

Off topic and not part of my report ---Mike  I tried to call Meade today
and ask about the serial numbering system they are using with these
scopes.  My serial number is #1000000000.  So, I want to know if I have
the real #1 ACF scope produced or if they use another system!  Any

Oh, please feel free to post this on your site, or elsewhere.
Mike here: By the way, I use the top half of the "bolt style" eyepiece case as an eyepiece cover. Works fine.

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