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: Daylight use Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2000 11:56:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Colton) Just a note to share some more observations about the ETX-90. This morning I used my scope for the first time for some daylight viewing. The birds were putting up a racket and when I looked up at the source of the noise there was a large, white bird perched atop a tree. I quickly got out my telescope and was able to view a magnificent white and grey hawk. In an email to your site last December I commented on the ETX-90's limited light gathering power, particularly at high power. I was therefore surprised to experience the same limitations during daylight viewing, as it was a sunny morning with only scattered clouds. My 7.5mm provided a detailed look at the hawk's head - he was staring at me as I was observing him. However, the view was noticably dim. My 12.4mm provided a brighter image and the 26mm was even more brighter. My experience with the 7.5mm (166x) is that it is at the ETX-90's light gathering limit and would advise visitors to your site who want to buy more eyepieces to purchase lower power oculars. I also noticed that the image kept moving and I realized that as my nose tapped against the finder scope it made the scope vibrate. I took the finder off which made the scope much more stable. I have mounted an Orion EZ (1x) scope to the right of the eyepiece, so I've decided to keep the finder-scope off and plan to take the finder-scope bracket off as well. (It looks like it comes off with an allen-wrench, is that right?) I also just bought a gadget bag for all my accessories (eyepieces, filters, etc.). I bought a Focal brand, video/camera bag at K-Mart for $18.00 and it has proven very useful and economical. It is padded and measures 13"x6"x63/4" and comes with a should strap and carrying handle - although I hang it from my tripod so it is easy to dip into it when I want to exchange eyepieces and filters. Regards Dave Colton
Subject: another ETX "mention" in Sky & Telescope... Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2000 11:33:42 From: email@example.com (Dick Seymour) In the April 2000 issue of Sky & Telescope, they don't say "ETX" right out loud, but... on page 119 in the Lunar Eclipse article, they mention a Tracy Miller of Nashville, Tennessee who was trying to photograph the January lunar eclipse and... "After a while my computerized 90-millimeter Maksutov began to issue 'motor-drive-failure' messages due to the bone-chilling cold, and it wasn't long before my digital camera also began to fail. My body was about to issue a 'failure' message of its own, so I decided to pack up and watch the rest of the eclipse from indoors." ... does that a message sound familiar to a few of your colder loyal readers? --dick
Subject: ETX-90EC Horizontal Lock Probs Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2000 07:10:15 From: Richard@rly-yb02.mx.aol.com.Hudson@rly-yb02.mx.aol.com (Richard Hudson) I had to take my ETX90EC back to Discovery Stores (which kindly took it back 'tho I'd had it for months!--no questions asked). The new one had the horizontal lock problem described in other messages. Very stiff, wouldn't move w/ fresh batteries. I took it back, and the clerk--who's got one himself-- said the current batch requires the locking knob be moved all the way over... not just to where it feels snug. He did that with my "faulty" one, and it worked. He opened another one, and we tested that: same problem. Very stiff motion while unlocked, and the knob has to be pushed very hard to lock it and engage the motor. Seems like they've changed something in the design. Ive had two models... and they both moved very freely. Any ideas? Any tips on fixing this? Many thanks - RichardMike here: I don't know if this is related or not but see Scott C. Kramer's report on a RA Lock fix further down this ETX-90EC Feedback page.
Subject: Mount vibration in ETX90/EC Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2000 20:32:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Dean) I just bit the bullet and picked up a TeleVue Radian 18mm EP and had to race the clouds to check it out. Love the EP but discovered my suspicions were correct- I'm experiencing a pretty good amount of "shake" in the image as the ETX is tracking. I thought I'd noticed it before with the Meade 4000 9.7mm but attributed it to the poor skies here in SoCal of late. Now I believe differently- when I sync on a planet and the tracking stops briefly while waiting for the enter command from the Autostar the shake is gone and I confirmed it by switching the 'scope off and saw the same nice crisp image when the motors were off. For what it's worth I'm using Meade's field tripod. The shimmies are reduced in polar alignment but not eliminated so I doubt it's as simple as a faulty motor. I can readily feel the vibrations from the motors (I assume) when touching the ETX base so I assume it's a cavity resonance or the like. Have you had any other similar feedback from users out there? I'll contact Meade tomorrow to see if they have any suggestions and I'll keep you posted. Maybe I'll get some word out of the "coming soon" status for Autostar downloads while I'm at it. Regards, BillMike here: Some users have noted that using some sort of tripod leg pads will dampen out the vibrations. I think I discovered (quite by accident) that placing the tripod on dirt versus concrete will also dampen out the vibrations. I've not been able to verify this in actual star use however since the clouds and rains have continued.
Thanks for the reply Mike. Contacted Meade and they said to ship it- drove it up this afternoon and now I guess I'll wait it out for the next month or so. It was definitely a problem with the 'scope and from what I gathered they've had a few cases before. Seemed like something loosened up with use and just managed to go bad in time for the TeleVue purchase. I'll let you know how it winds up when I get Li'l Ed back from Meade. I'm seriously considering going out and picking up a 10" LX-200 while I'm waiting but I have this sneaking feeling I should hold off and see what 2K brings.
Subject: ETX Tune-up..need help! Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 17:48:38 From: Douglas_7@msn.com (Doug Hallberg) I recently read an article on the ETX90/EC tune up..I was given fair warning about the thin wires connecting the battery case to the circuit board...I regret that I was not careful enough and the black wire leading to the circuitry broke off. I am having difficulty seeing or locating where this black wire needs to be reattached. Do you have any advise, picures or diagrams to help???..or should I seen to Meade for repair? Thanks Doug e-maiL: email@example.comMike here: See the "ETX/EC Tune-up" from Scopetronix (link from Tech Tips page). There is a photo there.
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 16:38:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Campbell) Great site! I am thinking about buying a ETX 90/EC for an entry into a little more advanced astrophotography (been doing it for a while with cheap & homemade equipment). I liked the fact that the ETX 90EC has dual control motors as opposed to a typical (lower end) scope only having RA... My goal is prime focus and piggy back with 35mm camera's. Now I have no allusions as to the granger of a $600 or so purchase. My goal simply is to do guided photo's with 135/200mm piggy back and prime focus shots. I see allot of what I am looking for on your site, however most are taken with a RA and not an EC model, have they (e.g. the EC) improved the tracking? Can the scope track well with camera and lens (almost as big as the scope) hanging off of it? Thanks in advance for the help! Joe CampbellMike here: All my good piggyback shots were with the ETX-90RA with a Scopetronix Microstar II+. I meant to try it on the ETX-90EC I had for a short while but I never got around to it. There are some examples done with the ETX-90EC on the Guest Astrophotography - Sky page.
Subject: ETX-90EC default controller mode on start-up Sent: Saturday, February 19, 2000 10:55:32 From: email@example.com (Imesons) My ETX 90 EC doesn't go to polar mode on command. I plug in the electronic controler, lights flash, then move to single (top) light. I push "mode" button....... and nothing happens. I hold it a good long while, too. After the electronics have been on for a few minutes, I go thru the above, and the mode function starts and works fine. This afternoon, I was aligning my new right angle viewfinder (why do they even sell the direct view finder?) and noticed the polar mode wasn't working, even though I had taken out the "A" mode screw on the handset. I played around with it for about five minutes, flicking the on/off switch a few times, holding various buttons..... Getting frustrated. Then the last time I turned on the electronics, the polar mode started by itself, as it should do since the "A" screw had been removed. It seems to me the polar mode itself is disfunctional. I will try taking out and removing both mode screws tonight and see what happens. Jerrry Callighan recommended this in his e-mail to you of 21 January. By the way, once polar mode does kick in, it works like a champ. I can turn it on and off, go to alt/az, go to southern, go to norhtern - no trouble. But fresh out of the carrying case, it just doesn't work. It's almost like it needs to warm up, which is ridiculous. Thanks Tom Imeson, London PS: Any thoughts on the apparent poor quality control at Meade? From reading your website, I have the same feeling I had back in the 80's looking at American cars. All the bells and whistles you want, a big high performance engine, but the quality control is bad. What are your thoughts?Mike here: Definitely odd. As to Meade's quality system, I feel the need for another editorial...
Subject: Problem with RA motor drive Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2000 12:11:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (joyce) My ETX-EC has developed a drive problem in ra. When I press the slew button nothing happens for at least 10 sec..then it begins to slew. After that the delay is less but still seems to retain a residual delay. Any ideas? BobMike here: How are the batteries?
Subject: ext90ec Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 12:28:48 From: email@example.com (Franck) this is might seem like a stupid question, but i plugged in the autostar which obviously has a plug very similar to a telephone plug. now i can't get it to come out. its stuck. i haven't forced it for fear of breaking it. is this a common problem or is there a release button somewhere. also, i have the eyepiece that came with the scope 26mm what would be a good selection to have for both terestrial and astro. with the 26mm i cant even see the rings around saturn or what i realy want to see is a nebula. thanks for this site and your hard work much love and peace, franck firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Check the Buyer/New User Tips page for some eyepiece recommendations as well as the Accessories - Eyepieces page. As to the plug, just like with the telephone cord, you have to push the tab closer to the body of the plug. This tab is what keeps the plug from coming out. If you are pushing the tab into the plug body and it still won't come out, there are a couple of possibilities. Either there is some obstruction keeping the tab from moving enough or friction is keeping the plug in place. Sometimes it can be hard to tell which.
Subject: ETX 90 EC - Drive Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 07:00:17 From: email@example.com (matt tanzy) I just opened up my new ETX 90 EC and spent 2 hours reading the manual and mounting it on the Meade field tri-pod. I leveled the tri-pod, plugged in the handheld drive remote controller and tried to slew the scope to look at a star, or tree or something!! The scope would move up and down with the drive moter, but it would not slew right and left. It just made a humming noise. I tried to loosen any knobs that would inhibit a left to right motion, with no success. I do not have the autostar. As you can tell, I am VERY new to this and hope I have not already broken something before I get to see my first star........am I doing something wrong? MattMike here: Well, the obvious first question is did you move the horizontal lock knob into the locked position? If so, does the scope still rotate horizontally? If so, something is wrong with the lock mechanism. If not, then something may be wrong with the electronics.
Subject: ETX-90EC Horizontal Lock Probs Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 05:00:15 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott C. Kramer) I'm on my second scope that had horizontal lock problems. Both scopes that I received would not turn "freely" when the horizontal lock was in the unlocked position. The first scope I sent back immediately. The second scope I called Meade Support and asked them about my problem. They suggested I remove the horizontal lock by loosening the setscrew and loosen the underlying bolt. This does not work. I can loosen the underlying screw as much as I want and the scope still does not turn freely. In fact, I have to hold the base to prevent the rubber feet from skidding as I try to turn the scope. I can see receiving one scope in this condition, but two in a row is starting to make me wonder. I just want a scope that works. I have written two letters to Meade, but have not heard back from them yet. Has anyone else experienced problems such as these? Any suggestions? P.S. The first scope I received was damaged during shipping (not seriously but enough for me to send it back) but the horizontal lock worked wonderfully. I'm starting to wish I kept the first scope. The above mentioned scopes are my second and third in an attempt to get one that works!
Subject: etx-90ec Sent: Friday, February 11, 2000 20:17:49 From: Wahseng@aol.com Hi, I have a question on the ETX-90EC. Is it normal for the optical tube to move slightly either up or down even though I have tightened both RA and DEC locks. If it is not normal, how can I correct the problem. Thanks for your help, ChaiMike here: Well, some "slight" play is normal.
Subject: ETX-90EC Sent: Friday, February 11, 2000 18:29:48 From: email@example.com (Julian Harries) Have bought the ETX-90 as a first telescope for my son (and myself - who am I kidding) and so far have just pointed it at the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, The Orion Nebula etc. - just getting to know it. I have the Autostar but haven't yet plucked up the courage to use it. I have two questions. There is a certain amount of "play" in the alt axis of the mount. This makes the view jump slightly when making small adjustments. Is this normal? With the 26mm lens, that isn't a problem - will it become one at higher magnifications? Also, I'm thinking about getting Ultra-Wide Angle lenses, possibly the 6.7mm - what is the FOV on them, and are they worth the money? Great site, by the way. Useful as I don't know any other ETX owners. Greetings from Suffolk, England. JulianMike here: There is some play, especially when reversing directions. A small amount is normal. As to UW eyepieces, some users like them. See the Accessories - Eyepieces page for comments on some eyepieces, including the 6.7 UW. You can also search for "ultra"; you'll find some more comments, I believe.
Subject: JMI Megapod Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2000 19:44:34 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Just wanted to add my impressions of the JMI Megapod to yours. Solid! Sitting atop the Megapod, there is no chance my ETX-90 will hit the ground. On relatively level ground the Megapod holds the scope very steady, make a great platform for astrophotography. Blinking LED legs are also a nice touch, useful when my 8 year old son wants to pony up for a view of Jupiter. The bubble level is really not all that useful, since it is hard to find in the dark and doesn't really give you any indication of the scope tube level when trying to set up equatorial alignment. One thing I would change: There should be a different method of locking the legs, perhaps something like a locking tab rather than the set screws on the unit. The ETX also doesn't slide on the wedge all that well either, since the slots are fairly tight with 1/4 -20 screw inserted, but both of these are minor quibbles. All in all, far superior to the Meade Tripod. Allow me to add my thanks to everyone else's for your work on this site. It was the deciding factor in favor of Meade when reviewing new scopes.
Subject: Power Adapter Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2000 09:13:55 From: LooneyRoo@aol.com I purchased a "PowerLine Universal AC Adapter," product #0900-15 from Walmart a few weeks ago. It was $10 and has a terminator tip that fits perfectly on the ETX. It has the option of 3-12v and an option to make the tip + or -. It works great and is a fraction of the cost of the Meade version. Just thought I would pass that along. The only thing that you have to be careful of is setting the pin to the correct polarity. For the ETX, you need to make sure that the tip is positive. Sure beats batteries!!! ~Noah
Subject: Recharge works with 90EC Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2000 09:02:17 From: LawR@DNB.com (Law, Rick) Fellow ETXers, The 90EC scope works fine with Ni-Cd recharge. The NiCd is same as the NiMH at 1.2v. With 8 of them, it adds up to only 9.6v but enough to drive the scope. You will notice that the scope moves somewhat slower -- enough to be notice, but works. I use the typical NiCd from Wal-Mart I got for my (wife's) digital camera. They are about $10 for a pack of 4, and they are only 600maH -- i.e., you can draw 600ma for one hour. So, with the scope's 250ma draw, you can expect a couple of hours of constant slewing with a new set of battery. The NiCd, at half the price of the NiMH, is a much cheaper battery. But NiCd has the memory effect problem which NiMH doesn't. Memory effect means, if your battery is only partially discharged, say half discharge, and you recharge them at that halfway point, in time, the battery will stop discharging at that point. So you reduced your 600mah to effectively a 300mah battery. The NiMH at Radio Shack (at 1500mah) is $18 for a pack of 4. I may switch over to them. An alternative is the Alkaline-recharge, which actually is at 1.5v. I am not sure about the Alkaline's capacity. Now I can retain the scope mobility and make the setup quicker. Rick Law
Subject: ETX-90C Vibration Sent: Tuesday, February 8, 2000 23:20:59 From: email@example.com (Al Testani) A while back I wrote asking if anyone had any information on periodic vibration while the scope is tracking. I have greatly reduced the problem and am providing this short report so it may be of help to others who have the problem. The problem is that under higher magnifications, the image goes in and out of "focus" consistent with the periodic noise of the drive motors. I did several things that have seemed to help. I didn't go back to see how much effect each had on the problem but I am listing them as I *think* they stack up in effectiveness. 1) Apply the fix outlined in the ScopeTronics ETX Tune-Up page etxtu.htm where velcro is applied to the battery cover. 2) Don't crank the RA lock lever any more than is necessary to have it grab when tracking. Evidently, this puts stress on the entire base. 3) Use a small 12v car or tractor battery or other power source other than the internal AA batteries. This makes the sound emanating from the scope when it is tracking *much* smoother. In fact, the periodic nature of the sound when on internal batteries is basically gone when I run on the car battery or AC power pack. __________________ Al Testani firstname.lastname@example.org __________________
Subject: Meade ETX/EC Electric Focus Sent: Tuesday, February 8, 2000 18:51:01 From: email@example.com (Glenn Mueller) While I am a great fan of the ETX, there is such a thing as making things too powerful. I bought the electric focus this last Christmas and am using it to much delight. Not wanting to strip the thread on the focus gear during installation, as another writer mentioned, I firmly but not overly tightened the set screw. While recalibrating the finder scope indoors, I focused in for a period of time. Knowing that it would take quite a few turns, I didn't look in the eye piece but waited for the focus to bottom out at which point I would just back out a bit. To my surprise, the motor on the electric focus had enough power to continue turning the focus rod attached to the gearing even though I had made contact with the housing. The gears continued to turn and the threaded rod kept on working its way in. All of a sudden, there was a click and the rod disappeared into the telescope! After taking the tube assembly apart in a very clean environment, I noticed that the spring loaded focus rod is not fully threaded. When the rod projects less than 1/8" (or there about), the threading ends and becomes smooth. This design is such that the rod can be hand inserted at the factory, attached to the focus mirror with a spring between the two. The rod is then positioned through the hole in the housing and turned until the thread engages. This 1/8" smooth area is so the technician can grab a portion of the rod to engage the thread. There is nothing in the design to stop the threading process other than the attachment of the focus knob or electric gear. So a word to the wise, tighten the gear screw enough so that focus can not be over turned. At the first sound, and it is very slight, stop the electric focus or better yet, don't even try to do any major near focus activities using the electric motor. This is not a design fault in my opinion but the only means of being able to provide the thread engagement necessary for focusing. Once this rod disappears inside, the entire focus mirror is free to move about inside the tube assembly. Not only that, the spring and rod (which is only held in place by a slot head) fall free and bounce around the inside.
Subject: New ETX owner! Sent: Monday, February 7, 2000 16:58:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jennifer Lohman) Hi! You have such a helpful website! I just bought an ETX-90EC based on a product review in Sky & Telescope online and I really like it. When I was in school--from childhood on!--I was very interested in astronomy and subscribed to several magazines, so even though "real life" got in the way of my interest for a few years, I hadn't forgotten *everything* and I knew what to expect (and not to expect) from a scope of this size. I got the telescope two weeks ago from Amazon.com (the price plus shipping was less than the price plus sales tax in the local stores) and was tortured by ten days of extremely cloudy winter skies! I finally tried the scope out last Sat. I freely admit to being stumped by the Autostar (ver. 1.2, I think--what is the current version?), at least for now. Has anyone else found the instructions to be difficult to follow? I read and re-read them and tried to get things going a number of times but it just doesn't hit the target. I know I am probably doing something wrong (ie, I screwed up the drive training, not getting the scope pointed true north, whatever) but it is very frustrating. I finally set aside the Autostar pending a thorough re-reading of the manual and the additional instructions on Meade's website, and just pointed the scope at Jupiter and Saturn last night. Wow! Through the 26 mm provided with the scope, they are small but very clear and well-defined even from my extremely light-polluted suburban backyard (I can use the light from the neighbor's mercury vapor light to set up and dismantle the telescope and tripod!). With the Barlow added on, the planets were amazing! This scope is going to be great, and I am so glad it is portable enough to take it out to darker skies easily. My only criticism of the product is the finder scope (my problems with the Autostar are,I am sure, not the product's fault). I can't see *anything* through it because of the glare of light pollution so it is worthless to me for astronomical observing (it works fine for terrestrial viewing). What would be the best sustitute requiring the least amount of technical rigging? Thanks for any advice! JenniferMike here: The current Autostar version on Meade's web site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) is 2.0e. But you'll need a cable to connect your PC to the Autostar. As to alternative finderscopes, check the Accessories - Finderscopes page. You may find one of the red-dot or 1x finders more useful.
Subject: Just got the ETX! Sent: Friday, February 4, 2000 05:40:00 From: email@example.com (Derek Leath) Well, I got my ETX 90EC last night. I have not had a chance to really use it yet, but will be looking over the manual over the weekend and reading your site as well. Your web site was really a deciding factor in my purchasing the telescope. When the weather clears up here in St.Louis and I get a chance to run it through it's paces, I will let you know how it went. Till then, I will be reading your web page from front to back. Thanks again for all the great info. And thank all the people who also provide a wealth of info to your page as well. Derek P.S. Keep me on your list to stay up to date on all the latest info. My Home E-Mail is.. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks Again.
Subject: ETX-90EC default controller mode on start-up Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2000 11:25:31 From: email@example.com (Pinenuts) I just got around to reading the post by Jerry Callaghan dated 1/21/00. I had the same problem. About half the time it would boot up in the polar mode, even though the mode default screws were in the alt/az position. This seemed to be a random problem, and only occurred with the standard controller. It worked fine with the Autostar controller. I called Meade and they didn't seem to be able to solve the problem. I fixed it by removing the mode default screws and re-installing them. Thanks for a great site.
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