ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK
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: etx90ec problems also Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2000 20:41:05 From: email@example.com (James and Marie Hirsch) First off, great site, keep up the good work. Your site helped convince me that the ETX90 was the right unit for me. I just saw a post on the etx90ec user feedback page about alt problems. I too have purchased an etx90ec for christmas. The unit I had seems to have the same problem. The scope was moving on all axis during the training. I was doing some easy aligns and the DEC(ALT) axis motor seams to have died. No motor sound no movement. I did some tests with both the EC controller and the Autostar and neither can move the scope in the DEC axis. Mine went back to the dealer who will do an exchange, but is back ordered. I wonder if there is a problem with recent etx90ec units? Jim Hirsch
Subject: ETX 90 Parts? Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2000 19:42:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Adair) Do you know of a source for ETX parts? I have an ETX 90 that mysteriously quit working after I had been out of town (relatives were staying with us, though). The tube just tipped forward and moved freely on the mount. The motor drive would move the horizontal but the vertical did nothing. I took the tube out and removed the fork cover and discovered what appears to be the gears completely stripped. I think I can fix it but would need the appropriate parts. Thanks, JeffMike here: You can either see the Scopetronix ETX Tune-up page or you can contact Meade for a replacement Right Tube Adapter (which sounds like the part that has failed). Replacement is easy; see my report on doing this at the bottom of my ETX-90EC report.
Thanks for the info! Your prompt and helpful as always! Jeff
Subject: etx90ec motor faults (possible solution) Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2000 02:43:03 From: email@example.com (Henryk Zels) the following information might be useful for etx - owners with motor -problems : BGJAKU@aol.com wrote : >I purchased an ETX-90, AC adapter and autostar for christmas. I went >out today and trained the drives around 4pm and waited for darkness. I >set up around 10pm and found that my brand new etx won't move in alt. I >did earlier without problem. It doesn't even make a sound and moves >freely when I unlock the drive. I tried switching controllers to no >help. As a last resort, I reset the autostar completely and when I >turned it back on, a new message appeared..."Motor Fault Detected". >What happened and is there anything I can do short of shipping it back >to MEADE? > >Mike here: If the altitude drive motor won't even run but the azimuth >drive does when using the standard handcontroller, then it sounds like a >problem has developed. If you can hear the ALT drive motor running but >the ETX tube does not move then the DEC (ALT) lock may not be fully >engaged. But don't overtighten it. The other possibility if you can hear >the drive running but the tube doesn't move (or always moves by hand >when locked) is that the Right Tube Adapter has broken. A free fix is >available from Meade and is easily installed. Or you should be able to >return the ETX to the dealer for an exchange. >Added later: > >Thanks for the info Mike. It doesn't make any noise when I push the >controller buttons. I'm gonna call Meade Monday and see what they have >to say. Again, thanks alot. > This story reminds me to some trouble with my own etx. As i've just purchased it, everything works fine. After two days of happy slewing random motor faults begin to show up and then there was silence :) But i'm an engeneer (and read Dilbert - Books), so what! I opened the etx (AFTER some research at your site) and voila : there was a loose connector and a shredded wire which i simply reconnected/soldered (easy, the wires are colored) and i'd have a running etx again. The problem was caused by false assembling : one bundel of wires (for the dec - motor) was just thrown across the mechanics and was catched by the wormgear. So after repairing, i put the wires away from the gears as shown in the attached picture (i have reused a pic from George Jacob (firstname.lastname@example.org), found at your site, hoping he does not mind). IMO is it possible (if you are careful) to open the etx and, if you can't fix the problems by yourself, close it again and no one could see that it was opened. I'm also thinking that meade is shipping careless reassembled units which was send in for repair as new ones. Anyway, if someone care about guarantee, he/she should NOT do something :) inside the etx. gre and happy new year hzels
Subject: ETX-90EC problems Sent: Saturday, December 30, 2000 22:40:18 From: email@example.com (Jonathan Henriksen) I just want to keep you informed of my first ETX-90EC experiences. I just got my ETX-90EC and Autostar today, put it all together and tested everything out. Everything worked fine. I then brought it outside so I could see a clear image. I live in the frigid climate of Minnesota and it is very cold here. I have read that some people have problems with the motors in cold weather. When everything had cooled down to the same temp, I tested out each motor. The altitude motor did not work, but the azimuth motor worked perfectly. I then brought it back in and instantly both motors worked fine. I figured it was the cold weather and turned the power off. An hour later I turned it back on in the house and the azimuth motor did not work. This seemed very weird, so I switched controllers and still the same problem..the azimuth motor did not work. The altitude motor works perfectly. I do not hear the motors turning or engaging at all in the azimuth motor. This sounds exactly like the same problem the previous user had. The motor just suddenly stopped working, for no obvious reason. I am glad I did not purchase it from an online store like I was going to. I will exchange it for another one tomorrow where I bought it.Mike here: The altitude motor didn't work outside but it did inside. The azimuth worked outside but failed inside. Really odd. I suspect an intermittent connection somewhere. Hope the exchanged one works.
Subject: etx90ec problems Sent: Friday, December 29, 2000 20:51:27 From: BGJAKU@aol.com I purchased an ETX-90, AC adapter and autostar for christmas. I went out today and trained the drives around 4pm and waited for darkness. I set up around 10pm and found that my brand new etx won't move in alt. I did earlier without problem. It doesn't even make a sound and moves freely when I unlock the drive. I tried switching controllers to no help. As a last resort, I reset the autostar completely and when I turned it back on, a new message appeared..."Motor Fault Detected". What happened and is there anything I can do short of shipping it back to MEADE?Mike here: If the altitude drive motor won't even run but the azimuth drive does when using the standard handcontroller, then it sounds like a problem has developed. If you can hear the ALT drive motor running but the ETX tube does not move then the DEC (ALT) lock may not be fully engaged. But don't overtighten it. The other possibility if you can hear the drive running but the tube doesn't move (or always moves by hand when locked) is that the Right Tube Adapter has broken. A free fix is available from Meade and is easily installed. Or you should be able to return the ETX to the dealer for an exchange.
Thanks for the info Mike. It doesn't make any noise when I push the controller buttons. I'm gonna call Meade Monday and see what they have to say. Again, thanks alot. Happy New Year!
Subject: etx-90ec fixes Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2000 20:02:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Terry Ritchie) Excellent site! I received the following LAST XMAS and have just gotten around to using them (shame on me!) ETX-90EC, Deluxe Tripod, Autostar, Right Angle Viewfinder, Hard carry case and a Barlow 2X. I have two questions. The first involves my right angle viewfinder and my hard case. With the viewfinder installed my case presses on it when I close the cover. I took other's suggestions and set the viewfinder off at an angle, this helped tremendously in using it but didn't solve my problem. I do not want to have to remove my viewfinder every time I want to pack my scope up. Any suggestions? (Meade could have done a much better job on the case as well. It's pretty bad workmanship. The tripod is pretty flimsy as well, I'm scared if I tighten the extensions too much I'll ruin it, but they keep slipping!) Secondly, I see MANY fixes, trips, ticks, etc.. on your site for the 90EC. My scope is sloppy like so many others have reported. In your opinion which fixes should a new 90EC owner perform? Oh, how the heck do you use the focuser knob when the scope is pointed upward??? Terry RitchieMike here: Some people will cut out an area for the viewfinder in the case foam. If you haven't done so, contact Meade for the fix for the ETX Field Tripod. You can learn more about the fix at on the Accessories - Tripods page; see the end of the comments on the "ETX Field Tripod". Focusing is always a challenge; some users will add an electronic focuser, one of the commercially available focusing aids (see the Accessories - Miscellaneous page), or just clip on a "clothes pin". If you want to tune-up your ETX, see the "ETX/EC Tune-up" on the Tech Tips page.
Wow, thanks for the speedy reply and your help :-)
Subject: ETX-90EC question Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2000 09:39:00 From: email@example.com (Jonathan C Henriksen) I am about to buy an ETX-90EC and I just have a couple of questions. I would really like to hook it up to my pc and I know that I can do that through the pc-autostar-ETX link. On the ETX-90EC's Computer control panel I can see that the Autostar hooks up to the HBX port. What are the AUX ports for? and does anyone know if software has been written to directy hook up the ETX to the computer, bypassing the need for the Autostar? Thanks - JonathanMike here: The Aux ports are for other products, such as an electronic focuser. And until someone (Meade?) compiles (or emulates) the Autostar software for a different CPU, the Autostar is required.
Thank you for your quick reply. Congrats on the best ETX site - I have learned more from your site than any other site around - even the Meade site.
Subject: Re: etx-90ec problem Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2000 22:38:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (peter zimmerman) I used my trusty Minox to snap pix of the partial solar eclipse here on christmas morning. Film is at the lab now; will let you know if I got anything good. Afocal photography is always chancy. I wanted to use a 35mm SLR, but found out that my lightest body is too heavy for the uncounterweighted ETX's clutches. And it was 10am on Xmas when I found that out so too late to improvise anything safe. Thousand Oaks 10**5 plastic filter material. Did find a way to trick the ETX/autostar into tracking the sun however: level very very carefully and point N very accurately. Then tell it to do an 'easy' alignment simply punching in 'ok' at each star. Gave it a reasonable view of the heavens, and then I just told it to go to the moon, which it did. Of course, the sun was also right there. Question for you: when you tell the ETX to track the moon specifically, does it know to use the lunar rate or does it just use the sidereal rate in Alt/Az (or in polar)? My alignment wasn't good enough to tell; I expected slippage. I'm now using a Radio Shack AC converter to power the rig when it's near the house. So far haven't noticed the slippages and wild excursions your site reports, but will check against a starfield over the weekend (my first check was on the eclipse, and the setup wasn't good enough to tell anything subtle). If there's a problem, I'll just build that keen filter/voltage adjuster somebody posted. Again, thanks for the site.Mike here: Someone reported that the Autostar doesn't switch to lunar tracking rate when GOTO the Moon. As to the random slewing, it really is very random. I hope to have news from Meade within a couple of weeks as they checkout the ETX-125EC I returned.
thanks. haven't had it happen to me yet except when the batteries chilled out at about 18-20 F. Shows what happens when the engineers live in Southern California.
Subject: Meade ETX-90EC Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2000 14:23:29 From: email@example.com (Ray Lang) I was going over your site and didn't find anything that seems to address my question. I just got my scope and when the on/off switch on the base in on the unit makes a motor running sound when its idol. When I move the unit with the hand controller then the noise stops until I let go of the button. Is this normal noise? Ray LangMike here: This is normal when the ETX-90EC is in Polar Mode. When you power it on it immediately starts the clock drive to compensate for the Earth's rotation when viewing celestial objects. If you can disable this for terrestrial objects. You can disable it temporarily using the standard handcontroller buttons or you can disable it "permanently" by removing one of the screws on the backside of the standard handcontroller. See the manual that comes with your telescope for a full explanation of this.
Subject: etx-90ec problem Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2000 07:14:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (peter zimmerman) I have a new ETX-90EC which works quite well except for an excessive amount of play in the DEC lock. Hold it on target. Lock it. And find the tube drops about 5 degrees. From then on it's ok, but it's really annoying. Do you or any of your contributors have any guidance on simple fixes? --pete zimmermanMike here: See the tune-up info listed on the Tech Tips page. However, some play is normal.
Subject: Help! RA motor problem Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2000 22:34:59 From: email@example.com (Jon Seymour) I bought an ETX-90EC for my daughter for Christmas. Was out tonight trying to get it all together in polar alignment. I have the Autostar and for some reason after a short period of time, the RA movements, whether performed by the Autostar (in polar Align mode) or by me manually were met with a strange grinding of the motor, and no movement. I am able to unlock the RA lock and move the unit clockwise/CCW throughout the full range of motion. I feel as if the locking isn't engaging the gears correctly. Is there a trick to this? Something else you can think of? Thanks, Jon SeymourMike here: If the RA lock is fully engaged, a grinding noise is not good. If the lock is not fully engaged, then you may need to adjust the position of the lock lever (unlock the knob, loosen the setscrew, reposition the lock more to the unlock direction, tighten the setscrew). Another question: can you retrain the drives with the Autostar? Also, what happens when using the standard controller?
Mike, thanks for your help at this odd time. I tried what you suggested above, but no change. The motor does not seem to be engaged properly. I can try [retraining], but the motor problem interferes with the procedure. It tries to move (horizontally) , but can't . Same story [with the standard controller].Mike here: Sounds like an exchange is in order.
Subject: Meade ETX90 Declination Lock Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2000 19:33:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Spagnoli, Peter J (US - Parsippany)) First off.. let me state the obvious (and I'm sure you probably can't stand to hear it anymore) your web site is great! What a wealth of information! It helped a lot in persuading me to purchase the Meade ETX90. Well.. I received my ETX90 yesterday.. had some great views of Jupiter and Saturn however I need to get a stronger eyepiece (thinking the 9.7mm) as well as the right-angle viewfinder (the standard one is TERRIBLE). Anyway.. I was kinda curious about the mechanics on the Declination Lock so I screwed the knob all the way out and I could have sworn that a spring popped out. I searched for this elusive spring but I couldn't find it. My question is am I losing my mind or doesn't the declination lock have a spring where the device screws into the main assembly?. If so.. I'll call Meade for a replacement. Please let me know! Thanks!Mike here: I don't recall one on the ETX-90EC (which I presume is the model you are talking about although you didn't specify whether it was the ETX-90RA or the ETX-90EC). I checked the photos on the Scopetronix ETX/EC Tune-up page (linked from the Tech Tips page) and didn't see one. I then checked my report on the Right Tube Adapter replacement and didn't see any spring on my photos either. I suppose this could be something new that Meade added.
Subject: Question Sent: Monday, December 18, 2000 17:26:10 From: email@example.com (Richard Lewis) Where can you request help? My question is what is the advantages of the Polar setup over the Alt home etc? Thanks Dick LewisMike here: You didn't specify what setup you have. Autostar or not? What model telescope?
Autostar attached to an EXX-90 Astro Telescope. I have done all the alignment routines, north direction (using Polaris), training, motor, level, home position and Easy alignment but it will only go to the correct general area of sky but doesn't make an accurate placement to Saturn, Jupiter etc. That's why I asked about a polar alignment.Mike here: Do you have at least version 2.0h of the Autostar software loaded? If not, you might want to download and install the latest version from the Meade site (assuming you have the proper serial cable). But to answer your question, Polar aligning the Autostar takes one variable out of the equation but most users have had better results in Alt/Az mode.
Thanks for your timely reply.
Subject: Dec Knob Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 21:44:23 From: DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland) I have a problem. The Dec adjusting knob seems to be continuously spinning with no effect. I suspect that it's the "right tube adapter" mentioned often on your site. I don't have a computer to use your "search" function, I only have webtv. I'll probably have to get it repaired at the factory. I can't seem to remove the knob. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks Mike for a wonderful site. DonMike here: See my comments about replacing the Right Tube Adapter on:
Thanks for your reply. It turns out the "free repair kit" isn't free anymore. Meade is now charging $35 plus shipping for it. I also used to be able to get a free update on my autostar. No longer. I think it's about $65 to have Meade do it. I'm pretty dissapointed in them. My chief concern is removing the knob (item 2 in your repair description on your link). It wont come off and I'm worried about stripping it. I welcome any advice regarding the knob. Thanks for your help. DonMike here: Sorry to hear it isn't free anymore. As to getting the knob off, try pulling outward from the fork as you turn it.
And an update:
I called back Meade to confirm the curious charge for the Right Tube Adapter Kit and spoke to Scott Byrum. Apparrenty they don't typically charge for that. Guess I got the wrong customer rep. Anyway, that was cleared up. One thing that might be of interest to you. He said that the best way to train the Declination was to point to something at least a 45 degree angle high. Something to do with the weight distribution in the axis. He said that would give you the best training for that axis. Thought that was fascinating.
Subject: Alt jerky problem Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 11:49:05 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Atkinson) My ETX-90EC, when new, exhibited both the jerkiness problem and clutch slippage in the declination axis. I carried out the procedures described on the excellent Scopetronix site to degrease the clutch surfaces (which fixed the slippage), and used some of the abundant lubricant to grease the bushing surfaces on both left and right fork bearings. This improved the jerkiness somewhat, but I was still unsatisfied. After inspecting the innards more closely, I noticed that the nylon-like bushings and the shaft surfaces are slightly conical - probably necessary since everything is injection-molded. The knobs screw into threaded bushings in the "pointy end" of the shaft. When tightened, they pull the bearing surfaces together more tightly. I believe this promotes jerky motion, particulary in the left fork arm. I introduced thin washers under both knobs, so that a tiny amount of play would remain even when the knobs are snug. The washers must be sized to bear only against the end of the inner shaft - as I recall this meant an outer diameter of about 0.7 inches. And they need to be thin so as to not make the bearing really sloppy. I made mine out of aluminum flashing; perhaps index-card stock would work. This has made a big improvement to azimuth slewing in my scope. However, this sort of thing is not for the mechanically faint-hearted, and doubtless violates the warranty. Dave Atkinson
Subject: RE: RE: Alt Jerky Problem Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 06:18:15 From: email@example.com (Ben Smith) It doesn't bother me but I think if I can't work out the problem I will just ship it back and see if another one won't work better. Ben
Subject: Alt Jerky Problem Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2000 13:18:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben Smith) Hey, first off great site. I am new to astronomy and now that I have had a taste I can't get enough. Here is my problem. I recently purchased a Meade ETX-90 EC, Autostar, and tripod. During the drive training I noticed that the Az training went fine. The first part of the Alt went fine. But the final stage of the Alt training, where you move the scope back down after it has displaced itself up is very jerky. In fact it is almost impossible to realign the target because of this. What happens specifically is I hear the Alt motor run for a second. Then the scope jerks down and stops. The motor keeps running, jerks down and stops. It is as if something is binding and the scope will not move until enough tension builds up. This obviously effects the accuracy of the training. This problem does not occur in any other axis or when moving the Alt axis up. I have also seen during observation that the scope seems to consistently be off in the Alt direction. According to the Meade FAQ, this is the result of bad training. Can you suggest what the problem may be and how to fix it? Thanks a bunch for your help, Ben Benjamin F. Smith Real System Engineering, Inc. and Technical ManagementMike here: It does sounds like something is catching. Do you see/hear this problem when just slewing the scope in Altitude up or down? If so, does it vary depending upon where in Altitude (the degree setting) that you start at? With the Alt lock unlocked, can you detect any restrictions when moving the scope in altitude by hand (not electrically)? If the scope is still under warranty you might not want to try the Scopetronix tuneup tips.
Thanks for getting back so fast! The problem ONLY occurs when slewing down. Slewing up works fine and slewing left and right are fine. The problem does not seem to be dependent on where in Alt the scope is. I called Meade tech support on a diff matter (see below) The Meade tech, who seemed somewhat technically challenged, told me just to crank the Alt lock down tighter. This may have helped but I have not tested it thoroughly yet. (This guy did not even know that their Windows client SW for updating the AutoStar does not run in Win2000 Pro. I found out the hard way!) When I release the Alt lock the scope seems to move fine without any binding.Mike here: OK, if the warranty question doesn't concern you, check out the tip on the Scopetronix site.
Subject: 90EC upgrade? Sent: Monday, December 11, 2000 10:39:04 From: email@example.com (Bruce Kohorn) Hi- you have an informative web site do you know how I can covert my ETX90 to use the autostar? Mead says they will not sell me a ETX90EC base. They say it would fit, its just not available- sounds like an odd marketing ploy. Bruce D. Kohorn DCMB, LSRC Rm B353 Duke University Durham, NC 27708 919 613 8182 tel. 919 613 8177 fax http://www.dcmb.duke.edu/faculty/kohorn.htmMike here: This topic was thoroughly covered shortly after the ETX-90EC was released in January 1999. There is no upgrade; according to Meade it would not be cost effective to just sell the base. You are better off selling your used scope and buying a new one.
Subject: motor fail Sent: Friday, December 8, 2000 04:27:26 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Iannelli) Had an interesting evening of stargazing last night.My alignment was normal but i still was getting random slewing.Then i remembered that i had already used my external power pack for five hr's without a recharge.So i went on the internal batterrie's.It still was acting weird so i checked the battery power level and it was indicating 54%.The temperature was about 22 degrees F.I replaced them with fresh batteries and raligned.I was centered on Jupiter Everything was working normal.Then all of a sudden the the scope did a slew to the near vertical position then lateral.The message on the auto star read motor fail with all the possible scenerios.All of which i had previously addressed including the one about the hard stop.I had free movement with the RA and the Dec movements.I took the unit inside and after a couple of hours i did the same setup for a half hour and didn't get one glitch.It worked like i would expect it to work.Is this unit a warm weather machine or is there another solution to this problem other than the one i seem to have come up with?If this happens on a regular basis i might have to return this one. thanksMike here: Temperature does seem to have an affect. But the random slewing also happens in warmer weather.
Subject: unexpected slewing.... Sent: Wednesday, December 6, 2000 21:48:52 From: email@example.com (richard seymour) To: firstname.lastname@example.org "Those who forget the past are condemmed to repeat it" John, that doesn't apply to you, but last winter Mike's site was FULL of "my ETX is weird!" messages... due to the cold. Autostars do NOT like to be below 30F. (your frostbite may vary) Keep it warm(er) in your pocket, down the front of your shirt, whatever. Don't just let it stare at the sky (and chill way down). Also, if you're using batteries, check their level when this happens. If it's below 75% you're heading for trouble. good luck --dick
Subject: auto slew Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2000 09:54:54 From: email@example.com (john iannelli) I've owned the etx90ec for about a month now.I am very impressed with the unit as a whole.Something odd has happened the last few times i'ved used the scope.The alignment process has has been error free during all view sessions and after slewing threw the skys for a couple hours when the scope is in the near vertical position for no apparent reason the scope starts a rapid slew on its own for a short distance.This naturally has thrown my alignment off and i have to do a realign.The temperature has been about 10-15 degrees F.Do have any insight on this. Thanks johnMike here: This sounds like the random slew problem that has affected some ETX-125EC owners (including myself). There has been some ideas that the problem is a power glitch, either due to AC line noise or low batteries.
Subject: re: ETX90EC Electronic Focus Sent: Saturday, December 2, 2000 16:19:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) To: email@example.com Art, It -should- work... does it also fail to work if you're in Alt/Az mode (after having GoneTo an astronomical object, so that the sidereal drive is running)? I have an ETX90/ec with focusser and Autostar, i use a 12v, 500 ma unregulated Radio Shack power lump, and it all hangs together quite happily, so i don't think power's the problem. Are you using an Autostar? (if so, which firmware version) or simply the normal hand controller? I just exhumed my old hand controller and tested your situation... and the focusser works while the ETX drive is in Northern Hemi Polar tracking mode. So: it -should- work. good luck --dick
Subject: ETX 90 RA does not move Sent: Friday, December 1, 2000 11:48:19 From: SONTAG@bostik.com (Sontag, Richard) My ETX 90 acted like Rick Parson's when I first got it. I opened the bottom and found that the plug from the motor to the circuit board had gotten loose and was disconnected. When I connected it to the board all was well. Dick SontagMike here: He hears the motors running; would that occur if a plug was disconnected?
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