ETX TECHNICAL TIPS
I've been frustrated with the flimsiness of Meade's ETX tripod for some time, so I decided to make some modifications. I built my own central stiffener/eyepiece tray (see the picture) to replace the small one supplied by Meade. Now my tripod is much steadier. Heres what I did:
1) You'll need: 1/2-inch plywood, at least 16 inches square and finished on one or both sides; three 1/4 x 1 1/4-inch bolts; three 1/4-inch wingnuts; a saw; a drill with 1/4 and 1 1/4 drill bits. For those on the metric plan, 1/4 inch is 6mm.
2) Cut an equilateral triangle from the plywood. The triangle should be 16 inches on all three sides. To create an equilateral triangle, measure one 16-inch side, then mark the halfway point on that side. Draw a perpendicular line 13 7/8 inches long from that halfway point (the dotted line in my drawing). The end of this line is the point where the other two 16-inch sides will meet.
3) Set up the tripod with its standard round eyepiece tray. Set the plywood triangle in place on top of the tray with the triangle points projecting toward each leg. The triangle should fit with just a little room to spare.
4) The metal struts that hold the round eyepiece tray between the tripod legs each have two holes. Mark the position of the outermost holes (the holes without tabs) on the triangle. Remove the triangle and drill 1/4-inch holes. Youll use the bolts and wingnuts to attach the triangle to the metal struts at these holes.
5) Drill 1 1/4-inch holes in the triangle for your eyepieces. Avoid the areas where the metal struts are located.
6) I decided that the points on the plywood triangle would get battered quickly, so I trimmed about 1/2-inch off of each point, leaving small flat ends. I sanded all holes and cuts smooth.
7) After you're sure the plywood triangle fits, remove the metal triangle that the leg struts connect to. You won't need it or the round eyepiece tray.
Subject: review of the plywood triangle tripod enhancement Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 1999 10:53:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I wanted to add this to Scott Cameron's tripod enhancement. I built Scott's device mainly for the eyepiece holders and I was amazed how well it worked and how much sturdier the tripod has become! The whole project took about an hour and the results are great. I no longer curse the $200 Meade Field Tripod. Some words of advise: 1. Chopping off the corners of the triangle is not just a good idea, it is required to use the tripod at any height besides the maximum. I found this out the hard way, having merely rounding the corners originally. (It's a good thing that my Doskocil case also makes a great stool for the kids!) 2. The holes in the metal struts on my tripod were smaller than 1/4 inch and would not accept the bolts. Using the 1/4 inch drill bit at high speed, I was able to enlarge the hole. (Slow speed can jam the bit). 3. I painted mine Kryon black and added a small dish in the center for lense caps, wing nuts, odds and ends that always wind up on the ground in the dark. Highly recommended! Thank you Scott and Mike! David Kaufman
I saw, at this web site, some ideas for modifying the Meade tripod to avoid the issue with the legs slipping. I was looking for something that would not detract from the overall appearance but was something each person could do WITHOUT ANY SPECIAL TOOLS. Just to restate the problem, when you tighten down the set knob it places a lot of pressure on the soft metal and causes it to bend over time. The key for me was to figure out a way to distribute the pressure more uniformly over the leg and figure out a way so the metal does not bend under pressure. This is my procedure. Remove the leg and take a piece of paper towel and fold it into a rectangular shape. Then force it into the open end of the tripod leg. You want to be sure that you fold it back and forth as you shove it into the leg with a screw driver. You are making a TIGHT SEAL about 3 inches down into the leg. Now go to your local Lumber or Hardware store and purchase some plastic wood. Get the kind that comes in a two part mixture. One bag contains the power part, the other is a bottle of white polymer liquid. When you mix the two together it forms a MUD like substance that will set up ROCK HARD in several hours. Just force the mixture into the ends of the tripod legs. Clean the metal surface with a damp towel as some will drip down the outside of the legs. The mixture should protrude a bit past the very end of the metal leg. Keep the legs standing straight up to allow gravity to pull the mixture into the leg as it sets up. Let the mixture set up for at least 24 hours so it is good and hard!! Sanding can be done in 2 or 3 hours. Using some sandpaper, you can smooth out the very end. I painted the very end of mine with silver paint. It almost looks like it was done at the factory. When you tighten down the set knob, the metal can no longer bend and the holding force is now distributed along the 3 inches of hardened metal. Also, take some bearing grease used on your car and put some where the securing knob shaft comes in contact with the metal leg. This will avoid metal on metal grinding and makes for a very mice touch as you tighten the set knob down. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if I can answer any of your questions.
Happy New Year!!!!
Return to the top of this page.
Go back to the Tech Tips page.
Go back to the ETX Home Page.