Last updated: 29 February 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:	 Daylight use
Sent:	Sunday, February 27, 2000 11:56:35
From:	davidcolton@rica.net (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

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.

Dave Colton

Subject:	 another ETX "mention" in Sky & Telescope...
Sent:	Sunday, February 27, 2000 11:33:42
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.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


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 - Richard
Mike 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:	billdean@home.com (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.


Mike 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.

Added later:

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
Doug   e-maiL:   douglas_@msn.com
Mike 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:	calljoe@home.com (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 Campbell
Mike 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:	family@imeson5.freeserve.co.uk (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

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

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.


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
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:	jestem@home.com (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?

Mike here: How are the batteries?

Subject:	 ext90ec
Sent:	Wednesday, February 16, 2000 12:28:48
From:	saandman@email.msn.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
Mike 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:	randbankcard2@mindspring.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?  Matt
Mike 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:	sckramer@pressenter.com (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
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,

Mike here: Well, some "slight" play is normal.

Subject:	 ETX-90EC
Sent:	Friday, February 11, 2000 18:29:48
From:	dwhymark@btinternet.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.

Mike 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:	klasher@ralston.com
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


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

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:	atestani@ibm.net (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

Subject:	 Meade ETX/EC Electric Focus
Sent:	Tuesday, February 8, 2000 18:51:01
From:	gmueller@fischerimaging.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:	donjenlohman@worldnet.att.net (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!  

Mike 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:	derekleath@colorassociates.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

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.


P.S. Keep me on your list to stay up to date on all the latest info. 
Home E-Mail is.. dvderek@prodigy.net
Thanks Again.

Subject:	 ETX-90EC default controller mode on start-up
Sent:	Thursday, February 3, 2000 11:25:31
From:	pinenuts@gte.net (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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Copyright © 2000 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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