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ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 April 2000

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-90EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	 Re: Polar alignment of ETX-90/EC with JMI Wedgepod tripod
Sent:	Saturday, April 29, 2000 08:11:44
From:	dennis1449@dcwis.com (Dennis)
Boy that reply was QUICK!

I knew that sooner or later we'd get around to the Alt/Az Home Setup. 
My problem with it is that the Autostar then automatically tracks the
position I'm in.  With the motors running the JIGGLES are something
fierce, even with the standard 26mm eyepiece!  I was hoping that with
only one motor running I could use the scope at higher magnifications. 
Is there any way to GO TO with Autostar, then shut off the tracking?

I know that the problem is the motors as I can use the standard
controller and manually slew the scope and see stars & planets fairly
well (I only have the 26mm & a Celestron Barlow.)  But when tracking,
objects jiggle all over! The JMI Wedgepod is a pretty rugged (I believe)
tripod and I even got a Flexi Focus so as not to induce much jiggle when
focusing (although even it does!)

All the photos I've seen of the Wedgepod seem to show the Control Panel
facing South when in Polar Mount.  But that would not allow equal Az.
slewing in both directions.  I'm an ex-mechanical engineer so I know
about vibration, etc. and I've even thought about using lead leg-weights
on the tripod cross-braces to further dampen it.  BTW, your link to JMI
returns an error.  I've tried finding them through various Search
Engines and they all return an error.  They must no longer have their
own website.

I've been disabled for 2 years due to failed back surgeries & my wife
bought me the telescope for Christmas because I've always enjoyed the
night sky. I'm staying primarily in our cottage in rural Wisconsin where
there is little light pollution.  However I can't stay out too long (2
hours puts me in horrible pain) so I want to get up & running quickly
and enjoy the viewing.

I'm using an Orion EZ Finder, the standard viewfinder is a joke!  I also
tried Meade's right-angle viewfinder but it broke almost immediately!

Any additional suggestions?
Mike here: If you have the tripod on a hard surface, you might want to look into getting some pads for the tripod feet. A softer surface seems to help dampen out the jiggles. I didn't see any bad vibrations on the ETX-90EC nor the ETX-125EC from just the drive motors while tracking. Do you have the locks tight (or maybe too tight)? JMI is at: http://www.jimsmobile.com/. Where was the bad link on my site?

Added later:

Am setting up my tripod in a gravel parking lot.  Will experiment with
different lock settings.

The link you emailed me works great.  The link in the Dealer section of
this page http://www.weasner.com/etx/links.html returns an error.

BTW for USB to Serial I am using the Keyspan Twin Serial Adapter.  Works
good with my old Apple Personal LaserWriter and my Palm Pilot.  (I've
been a Mac user since 1985!)
Mike here: Odd. That's the one I used to check the address! When I click on it, the JMI site comes up fine. I've been a Mac user since Feb 84!

Add a response:

Sent:	Saturday, April 29, 2000 21:17:15
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)

Had to set up my refurbed Meade tripod to check this one. Bought the
wedgepod when the Meade tripod punched out its legs. Anyways, Polar is
the same set up as on the Meade tripod.

Point the leg north, (the eyepiece rack should face south), and the
ETX/EC panel faces the west side (or your left as you stand behind the
wedgepod). JMI changed the direction for ALT/AZ set up so you can leave
the screws in the base of the ETX at all times. If you choose to do
that, then the panel faces the eyepiece holder(South). If you choose to
remove the  screws for each session, then ALT/AZ can be set up the same
way with the ETX/EC panel facing west/left.

Sorry if that sounds confusing, but there are a lot of mounting options
on the wedgepod. But, it can be used for polar.

--------------------------------------------------
Sometimes I think that the surest sign of intellegent life on other
planets is the fact that they havent tried to contact us yet.  (Bill
Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes)

jchalfen@goldengate.net
jchalfen@aol.com

Subject:	 Polar alignment of ETX-90/EC with JMI Wedgepod tripod
Sent:	Thursday, April 27, 2000 14:26:52
From:	dennis1449@dcwis.com (Dennis)
Everything I have seen advises Polar and Alt/Az alignment with Computer
Control panel facing left.  However the JMI Wedgepod tripod pivots such
that for Polar alignment the Computer Control Panel will either face
South/upward or North/downward.  Should I do the Home Position
rotate/lock setup different than that specified in the instructions
(with the Declination setting circle locked directly above the Computer
Control Panel)?
Mike here: The control panel will likely have to be on the due West (or East, according to some reports) side, even for Polar Alignment.

Added later:

Thanks for your reply.  If what you are saying is correct, then I cannot
use the JMI Wedgepod for Polar Alignment.  @#*!  Guess I might call both
Guess and JMI.

BTW, really enjoy your website.

I too am a Mac user!  Have been considering installing VirtualPC on my
new Pismo 500 MHz., 256 MB, 12 Gig. laptop after re-reading your article
about using yours to update the Autostar software.  Meade's website said
the JavaScript version is coming out soon for Macs.  Do you have any
advance heads-up on when?  I'll really have fun trying to come up with a
cable for my USM port laptop.  Any advice?
Mike here: Unless you really need to mount equatorially, it seems that most users mount Alt/Az if they have the Autostar. VPC 3 works great on the G4. I haven't done an Autostar update from the G4 since I don't have a USB to serial adapter, which is required since the Autostar is RS-232(something). As to the Java client, that notice has been on Meade's web site for about a year.

Subject:	 Alternate Power Supply
Sent:	Thursday, April 27, 2000 14:15:48
From:	rmarchionna@voyager.net (Ray Marchionna)
Regarding Mr. Sohacki's concern:

Don't worry about excess amperage, as amps are a function of voltage
divided by resistance. Since the resistance is constant, as long as you
supply it with the proper voltage, the scope will only draw the number
of amps that it requires. I power my ETX with 8 "D" batteries wired into
a Radio Shack plug. "D" batteries have a much higher amp rating than
"AA"'s do, (but only cost about 40% more,) so the end result is much
longer ( approx. 4 times,) battery life. Another advantage is I don't
have to fiddle around with the awkward battery compartment that's built
into the scope base.

Ray

Subject:	 re: Alternate power supplies
Sent:	Wednesday, April 26, 2000 21:43:15
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Timothy Sohacki asked about "amperage" from the variety of power
supplies. As I read his note, it sounds like he was worried if the
various batteries, etc. would put out too much.

They cannot. (see quitclaim further down).  They can only put out too
little. Meade specifies a voltage (12v).  Amperage is determined by the
resistance, or "load" that the ETX system places upon the power supply. 
The ETX90 system, if fed by a 12v supply with INFINITE current capacity
(hello? Grand Coulee Dam?) will normally end up getting/using/passing
200 milliamps.   That's one-fifth of an amp.  That's all.

Meade's supply is rated at 1.5 amps.  I use a half-amp RadioShack
supply. (here's the quitclaim:) if something went HORRIBLY WRONG inside
the ETX (i'm talking components short-circuiting, or you plugging the
wrong thing into the AUX jacks), then it (the ETX/Autostar) could
conceivably draw more (even LOTS more) current from the power
supply/battery... but it wouldn't be -caused- by the battery's
capability of supplying more than an amp or so.

In many ways, batteries are -better/safer- than even the Meade supply. A
battery will NEVER deliver over its rated voltage... so a 12v motorcycle
battery (if not simultaneouly plugged into a charger) will only deliver
that: 12v. (maybe plus a smidge). Whereas the Meade supply can deliver
16 volts.  There are more and more postings at Mike's site complaining
about erratic behaviour above 12, even 10 volts.  (my ETX90 works fine,
thank you).

You -can- "regulate the amperage" (Timothy's phrase) in a very simple,
effective, inexpensive way: Put a 1 amp fuse in series between the
battery/supply and the ETX system

(you can buy an "in line fuse holder" from RadioShack (pn 270-1281
$1.59), and the little 1 amp fuses to put in it .(pn 270-1005, $1.29 for
four).)

(or any automobile parts store... radios use them) That way, if
-anything- goes wrong, the fuse will blow, protecting the ETX before you
even smell the smoke... (don't forget that the center pin of the ETX
power connector is the positive pin)

I hope this helps calm fears.

--dick

Subject:	 alternate power supply
Sent:	Monday, April 24, 2000 19:24:52
From:	sohacki-t@mailcity.com (Timothy J Sohacki)
I'm interested in saving money on batteries for my etx 90ec, so I
checked out your site and found a few contributions concerning alternate
power supplies. Within these tips there are mentions of motorcycle
batteries, 12v cordless drill batteries, ect. Although these batteries
are all 12 volts, they must push different amps. I want to use a small
rechargable lead-acid 12 volt battery to power my telescope, but I am
need to know if I should regulate the amperage somehow. The
specifications page for the telescope just says "12volt DC" for power
supply, no amperage rating. I'm not an electrician, but have access to
professional help from electrician or electronic technition if
necessary. Any information you could provide would be greatly
appreciated.
Timothy Sohacki

Subject:	 Left tube adapter failure
Sent:	Monday, April 24, 2000 18:14:35
From:	kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin Edwards)
Just to be completely different, my ETX-90EC last night suffered a left
tube adapter failure.  As with the common or garden right tube adapter
failures you hear so much about, this involved the knurled and threaded
shaft being pulled clear of its plastic housing.  I first noticed it
when trying to adjust my Dec scale and found that the knob just kept
turning.  A couple of dabs of superglue later, and its as good as new. 
I guess this was good practice for when the right tube adapter goes!

Best wishes,

Kevin

Subject:	DEC Problem solved
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 18:56:56
From:	SCallndr@aol.com
I sent a question about a 3 degree wobble in my ETX-90EC but I think I
found one of the simplest solutions.

I just found a great new solution. I removed the DEC tighting screw and
scale. I then put an oversized plumbing washer, about 1.5 inches O.D.
and about 1.372 I.D., this size is not critical, but it was about 1/8th
inch thick. Once tightened down, the only play was the wobble in the
tripod. Simple fix, Meade needs to put this washer in, it is so simple
and cheap.

Thanks, hope this helps others.

Scott Callander

Subject:	 One last question
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 16:00:04
From:	robisimo@earthlink.net (ROBERT HALSEY)
I appreciate the responses you have provided to my previous questions
.... very helpful.  I've decided on an etx90.  Question now is used or
new.  I've read that early etx90's had production problems ..... do you
have a rough month/year when the major problems were corrected?  This
will help me decide if the used scopes I'm looking at fall into the
"bad" or "good" batch.  I expect the date to be rough, but any data is
better than no data at all.  Thanks.

Rob Halsey
Mike here: There is no good date available. The only significant failure mode was the Right Tube Adapter. If that fails, you can get a new one from Meade for free. It is an easy to replace part. But July 1999 to now are likely to be better units than January-July 1999. Just my guess.

Subject:	DEC Problem on a new ETX 90
Sent:	Friday, April 14, 2000 19:04:26
From:	SCallndr@aol.com
I just purchased an ETX 90 EC and have been trying to learn about it. A
problem that I have been having is that when I set it up and tighten
down the vertical lock, I still get about a 3 degree play in alignment.
Is this normal? Should I return it? Send it in for service? Or can I
make a simple fix?
Mike here: There is some slop in the locks. The amount does seem to vary from nil to several degrees. In normal use, the slop will probably not be a problem since the drives will be moving the scope. As to making some adjustments, see the ETX Tuneup page on the Scopetronix web site. However, making any modifications will invalidate your warranty.

Added later:

Took the scope back and the dealer gave me a new one with less slop.
However we had to open four boxes before we found one that did not have
one problem or another. Even the one I excepted had a rattle in it that
it took me an hour to figure out. A small plastic stop was broken within
the attachment arms, thank god for superglue. Is Meade having production
problems?

Thanks again.

Subject:	 re: universal adapters
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 21:11:21
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (RichardSeymour)
Julian,

From the description of your symptoms, i'd suspect a slightly
intermittent connection between your adapter and the telescope. This can
arise in many places:  cold solder joints in the adapter, slightly
"noisy" (that's an electrical term for spikes of voltage where it should
be smooth) connections (the RadioShack/Tandy two-pin "adaptaplugs" can
generate noise if loose), loose springs in the ETX's own connector jack
(where your univeral adapter plugs in). From notes on Mike's site, a
goodly number of "official Meade" power units have incorrectly-sized
connectors on their cables, so your problem is not unique.

It only takes a few microseconds of below-5-volts at the Autostar's end
of things to kick it into Reset or Blank screen. (yes, the Autostar's
own coiled cable and connectors could be at fault, too).

Life's uncertain.
--dick

Subject:	 ETX DS60 Mount Modification
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 19:41:28
From:	kattomm@earthlink.net (thomas perrone)
I finally finished collecting everything need to perform the
modification to use the ETX on a DS mount.  After purchasing the 497
Autostar I was ready to tackle the night sky for a tour of the stars.
After doing the alignment with two known stars I was off.  The first
object the moon,  a little offset but ok.  Next to the Orion nebula,  no
where in view.  I tried a few more but no luck.  I brought the telescope
inside and proceeded to level it and see what was wrong.  I noticed that
as I turned the scope in a full circle my bubble level would move out of
center and extremely to the outside.   After messing with the scope I
came to the conclusion that I had to leave the scope OUT of level so
that as I turned the scope in a circle the bubble stayed in the same
position.  I also placed a level on the ETX tube in the horizontal
position (level) and rotated the scope to make sure it stayed level. The
poor quality of the tripod is the cause of this but at least it was
fixable by a few small adjustments when setting up the scope.  I think
this could be a possible problem for a lot of folks only achieving maybe
75% accuracy.  I haven't had a chance to go out and try it but I'm sure
I solved a major problem with my setup.  Thanks for a GREAT site.  I
have obtained a great deal of information and knowledge.

PS.  Anyone who finds that they have the same  out of alignment problem
please email me and let me know.

Kattomm@earthlink.net

Subject:	 Universal Adapters (ETX90-EC) 
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 16:18:53
From:	julian.harries@virgin.net (Julian Harries)
Last night after about an hour's observing, my Autostar went dead. I
switched the telescope off, then back on and it was working again, but I
couldn't face realigning the thing so I had to call it a night.I was
using a Jessops universal mains adapter (set to 12v, pin-positive) -
could a slight fluctuation in output cause Autostar to malfunction? It's
happened once before and I think I was using the adapter on that
occasion, too. Does it mean I have to stick to batteries or fork out for
Meade's adapter?
http://www.virgin.net/

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