Last updated: 30 November 2003
Subject:	CALIBRATE and TRAIN works
Sent:	Friday, November 28, 2003 12:22:39
From: (Eric Renger)
This site is a great resource. Ever since I first got the ETX-125, I
have had some problems with the Autostar, but the night before last I
did the CALIBRATE and TRAIN procedures as recommended so many times on
this site, and now the Autostar works great. This is a really, really
long email about the problems I had had, how easy it was to fix them
using advice I found on your site, and how having my Autostar working is
going to CHANGE MY LIFE.

My first experience with the ETX line was when I bought the ETX-70 last
summer. The Autostar on that scope seemed to work just fine right out of
the box. The scope always found objects I picked off the menu just fine,
always right in the field of view. Also, the scope moved smoothly when
tracking an object and did not have any problem manually slewing while
tracking. But with the light pollution in this area and the 70's small
aperture, I decided I should exchange it for the 125 if I was really
going to get into this hobby.

When the 125 arrived, the Autostar did not work as well as it had on the
70. The most annoying problem was that when I used the Autostar to
locate and track an object, it usually was not centered in the field of
view, but when I tried to use the handbox to move the scope, it would
usually "snap" back to the original position as soon as I let go of the
handbox button. When tracking an object, the movement seemed very
"coarse" an jumpy. When reversing direction with the handbox, there
always seemed to be a long delay before the scope would move, and then
it would jet off at high speed. Altogether, these problems were really
annoying, and for a long time I didn't even use the Autostar. I just
skipped through the setup and used the scope to look at Mars or the
Moon, which I could find without Autostar, and I would just track them
manually using the handbox.

Finally the other night, we had really nice, clear weather for the first
time in a long time, and I decided I wanted to check out Saturn. I had
no idea where to find it, so I decided to finally try to fix the
Autostar. I followed the instructions exactly as I found them on this
site. It was so easy. The CALIBRATE takes two seconds, and the Autostar
does it all. For TRAINing, I used the Alt/Az mounting, used the
high-magnification eyepiece, aligned to Polaris (which is a great tip
for nighttime TRAINing), was very careful in recentering the star in the
field of view, and trained BOTH axes (which is another great tip that I
would probably have missed, because the Autostar menu is a little
counterintuitive for this procedure). The procedure took maybe 3
minutes, and now the Autostar works great. I am a bit irritated at
myself for not doing it earlier.

After the CALIBRATE and TRAIN, I used the Autostar to point at Saturn.
It was not in the field of view with the 25mm eyepiece, but it was in
the finder. I used the handbox to center the planet in the telescope's
field of view. It moved smoothly, with no jerking, no delay, and no
snapping back after the movement. The scope tracked the planet
perfectly. I was changing eyepieces and fiddling with the focus, taking
my time doing all sorts of stuff, and each time I went back to look
through the eyepiece, there was Saturn, dead center. It was great to not
have to go chasing after it every minute or so. And, by the way, Saturn
is AMAZING! The last time I saw Saturn through a telescope, I was about
7 years old and someone had set up a telescope in my elementary school
parking lot. I was amazed then, and I am even more amazed now.

Once I was done with looking at Saturn, I did the Tonight's Best tour.
The selected object was never in the telescope's field of view after the
slewing, and I am not sure what most of these objects are supposed to
be, but I could generally figure out what it must be in the finder and
then go find it. I think I will be more careful with the alignment next
time and see if I can improve that. Still, I was able to see more things
in one night with the Autostar, than I would be able to learn to find in
a year without it. The standout objects for me were the Andromeda
Galaxy, the Double Cluster (very pretty) and the nebula in Orion (that
was the best --- it's amazing how much structure you can see!). I was
out there freezing my butt off in the backyard for hours and loving it.
I'm still getting used to this telescope and what you can do with it. I
really bought it because I was suckered by Mars Mania, but now that I
have the Autostar working the way it is supposed to, I can tell I am
going to see things I didn't even know were up there.

Thanks again for providing such good information and helping people get
the most out of their ETXs. I think most people are used to buying
things that work perfectly out of the box. I know that's what I usually
expect when I spend as much as I did on this telescope. But Autostar is
one of those things that is still in the middle ground of complex
technology. It is not so specialized and so complex that the only people
who use it are specialists who are willing and able to really figure out
how it works and who know they will probably have to tweak it now and
then. But it is not such a mature consumer technology that just any
consumer can buy it and press a button and have it work all the time. In
a way it's like a personal computer --- average people who don't know
very much about them can buy them and want to have them and can usually
work them. Most of the time a PC will work as expected, but when it
doesn't, the average owner has to stretch a bit to solve the problem.
The ETX is that way. I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer, but I can tell
that now and then I am going to have to figure out what the heck is
wrong with this thing and fix it. Thanks for helping us out with that.


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