Last updated: 8 April 2002

Mike here: While not strictly ETX related, this was too good to not post!

Subject:	First Light ... Thank you OPT, Thank you Meade, Thank you, Mike W!
Sent:	Saturday, April 6, 2002 16:48:14
From: (Richard Seymour)

Mike, did you have a direct hand in this?  
Either way, Thank You... if you didn't -directly- affect it, you (more than)
indirectly caused it by providing a soap box fingers to shout from...

A tale:

Aperture envy finally got the better of me, and i decided
to buy my little ETX90 a bigger brother... i've been
holding out for the 10" LXD55, but decided that i've been
too cheap far too often, so a couple of weeks ago, i chose
a vendor and mailed a check on a Saturday for a 10" LX200gps.

Three days later, i received an email from Mike Fowler of
Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT).  (<-- not my selected
 vendor, not OPT's fault)

"Please give us a call, I'd like to speak with you about a
few things I think you might find interesting!"

So i did... and was stunned by his question: "How would you
like an 8 or 10" LX200gps... free?"   

It takes a lot to knock me speechless (i talk like i write...
(including the parenthetical asides)).. he managed it. 

When i stopped (well, slowed) just going "ga, ga, uh, "
i finally squeaked out: "You're 3 days too late... ga, ga"
His answer: "Stop the check" (see footnote 1)

This was totally out of the blue... I've never purchased
anything from OPT, nor communicated with them other than here
and via the Yahoo groups over the last year.  (see footnote 2)

Totally unexpected, complete gob-smack as the UK folks would say.

OPT had gotten together with their Meade Sales Rep, and 
convinced him to cut them a special deal, and they covered
the rest of the cost.  As explained to me: "for services
rendered to the general Meade telescope user community".
 (footnote 3)

I still hadn't fully recovered speech capability when Mike F.
asked: "would  you like UHTC with that?" (and made the
reasonable argument that a 2- or 3-week delay would be
immaterial in the long run).  So that's what we chose.

Mike F. then left (the next day) for his Baja vacation, with a
request that i check with him after his return on Tuesday,
April 2, to see how the order was faring.

At 4pm, on Monday, April 1st, a familiar brown truck
delivered 3 boxes (small, medium, and this-is-ridiculously-huge)
to where i work (fn 4).
Co-workers were hoping i'd open it, but i figured i'd have
problems  getting it home safely out of, or sloppily
reinserted into, the boxes. (i -did- open the end of the
big box, and saw that the inner boxes required full
extraction to open... so we couldn't even peek at the

At 6pm, i stuffed it into my Nissan Stanza wagon (a
minivan... big box across the back seat, tripod and
eyepiece box tossed in the rear), and took it home. 
Dinner was somewhat disrupted as my wife and i unpacked
and assembled it.(5)

Egad... it's HUGE.  the front UHTC corrector is -transparent-.

Meade forgot to pack the obligatory cloud coverage... bless
them.. Seattle was having a first-time-in-weeks clear, and
i mean CLEAR, night...

So i struggled the beastie upstairs and out to the viewing
deck (and brought along the ETX90... good thing).

I didn't have batteries, i didn't have a 2 amp power
supply... so i used the knobs (while my dear wife ran off
for batteries)... half an hour of  familiarization with
manual slewing and focusing, and general drooling at the
images...  I had the ETX90 show me where Ikeya-Zhang was,
and filled the 26mm with it.   Batteries arrived, and the
LX200gps got first-powerup.  v1.1a 

Based upon the postings in the LX200gps group, i [mode]d 
out of GPS fix, and manually told it Seattle.  
It proceeded to point completely sideways for Arcturus,
and then (as its 2nd alignment star) chose one below my
 horizon. So what?  i had faith...
I then did a Calibrate Sensors, ran the focuser in and out,
and shut it down. Then turned it back on...  
The GPS started looking... one asterisk appeared, a second...
 and -WHAM-...  the words "Different Site" flashed on the
 screen, and it was off and rolling with the alignment 
sequence... less than -15 seconds- for the first fix! 
It arrived at the alignment stars within the viewfinder...
 the rest of the evening was spent visiting old (Saturn,
 Jupiter, Pleiades, m42, comet, m31) and new (m82.. 
just not visible with the ETX90 here in-city... 
a distinct and clear line-in-the-sky of the
edge-on galazy it is in the LX200gps. (26mm and 2x barlow)). 
Flawless operation for over an hour and a half... 
the -only- bug came at the end when i asked it to create
the User Object "North Pole" at RA=00 Dec=90. After
creating it, it declared it to be "Below Horizon".  (yes,
i've reported it).

That beast is one -sweet- scope.

Tuesday night was even better... clearer, and i dug out my
Televue 8mm and reached 600x with the Barlow... Jupiter
looked like the ETX90's box photos. M42's Trapezium nearly
filled the field of view.... a friend came over and we  
slewed into the night ... until the batteries  died (motor
stalled during tracking at Battery Level=50%)(so $3 per
hour battery cost...)

Wednesday i bought a 17AH quick-start battery, and played
some more. The microfocuser may be having problems... the
motor runs, but the barrel is no longer extending... it
only moves inward.  But there's that big knob as backup, so
i'm still happy (i can wait for the delayed shipment of
clouds to arrive... since the Space Shuttle is going up, i
expect them tomorrow). [added later: focuser OK]

Fit and finish were nearly excellent... the one paint chip
was on the edge of the front  cover plate, probably where
the hook held it during the painting process. 
A small screw fell out of the big box when opened, later
determined (took a LOT of looking) to be one of the base's 
underneath cover screws (again an item mentioned in the 
comprehensive LX200gps group's FAQ).

So, i wish to sincerely and publicly THANK OPT AND MEADE for
this wonderful gift... i'm still stunned at the thought of it...
Mike Weasner deserves a major chunk of credit, too... his well-moderated
site has served himself, me and Clay with a platform from which to provide
whatever help we can... the "time lag" (vs. the instant-post eGroups) allows 
better researching and a few cycles of ask/answer/clarify with himself
in the middle serving as second eyes/ears.  
Reader's questions provide opportunities to dig into and learn more things
than i'd ever think of by myself.

The LX200gps it will let me move from "i think" and "theoretically" with
LX200 questions  to being able to test and verify problems. 
I'd already been nibbling at the edges of digging into how
v1.1a operates, and now i've got the ability to -test-
patches which might seem useful  ...

It -has- severely cut into my eGroup-tracking and email
time... i'm -days- behind in all of the groups i track...
but, but... i'll catch up... just as soon as some clouds
appear... really...

still flabbergasted (but oh, what lovely images...)

sn 02558  10" gps, UHTC.
sn???  ETX90ec

Footnotes: (1) well, i wouldn't do -that-, and was able to
cancel the order from the other vendor with no hard
feelings (how can you price-match "free"?)

(2) (Full disclosure section:) About 2 years ago, OPT 
ran a little contest (announced on Mike Weasner's site,
and on their store's pages) involving an Autostar Tour...
 the goal was to run the tour, see the magic word,
and submit that for a drawing. The tour was
written in Valley-speak (like, fer sure!) and rather
painful (i could imagine the squeaky voices).  I may have
been the only person who perservered long enough to reach
the secret word.  Be that as it may, i won the prize, a
very nice nebula filter for eyepieces.  Three emails, and
the arrival of the package from OPT, are the sum total of my
prior  communications with them. (Mike F. was unaware of this)
(3) just goes to show P.T.Barnum was on to something...
(4) (UPS can -never- find my house).
(5) Again thanking the LX200 FAQ for the "how to find the
  microfocuser's mounting ring"
And an additional comment from Dick:
Lest you think (or fear) that Aperture is Everything,
The best accessory for successful use of the LX200 has been the ETX90
purring along beside it... first, it provides something useful
to -do- for the five or more minutes the LX200 spends sweeping 
bystanders from the area during alignment... and then it serves
to show where the various targets really -are- when the LX200
decides to look elsewhere.  The ETX can also confirm that an
unfamiliar alignment  star really  -is- below the horizon.
The Autostar is v2.4, the LX200 is only v1.1, and it shows...

Of the four nights i had the LX200 out (before clouds ate us),
i -didn't- set up the ETX90 on the third night... and that 
was the least "productive" (and fun) night of the bunch.
The ETX90 was set up -first- the next night, and contributed
throughout the evening.

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