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: Resolution - ETX90 EC tracking Sent: Monday, January 29, 2001 13:26:03 From: Rob.Fezekas@dfafunds.com (Rob Fezekas) Just wanted to let you know that my tracking problem is solved. For no real reason, I put the mode screw back in my hand controller and instantly the motors began to track and my mode button works fine once again. Now I just have to press the "mode" button every time I start up, press the "speed" key to get into Northern Hemisphere Polar Aligned mode and I'm back in business. I wish removing the mode screw would make NPA the default setting, but this is only a minor inconvenience. Thanks for your suggestions. -RobAnd:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) Bob - GREAT! Glad you got it working, now you can get down to some serious observations! It sounds like your hand unit had already been ELECTRONICALLY defaulted to the Polar Mode, and taking the screw out has by-passed the command (see Page 11, "Electronic Controller Modes" in the Meade manual). This certainly is no problem but appears that someone has pre-set the hand control (at the dealer or factory? seems a bit unlikely, though - perhaps someone tried it out prior to you getting it). By putting the screw back in (bet you didn't try the motors BEFORE you took the screw out!) you defaulted back to what the handbox was set to, taking it out overrides that setting. In any case.....you're up and running! Best of Luck! Clay Sherrod
Subject: RE: Right ascension motors with handbox Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 10:35:32 From: Rob.Fezekas@dfafunds.com (Rob Fezekas) To: email@example.com ('Clay Sherrod') Clay, Thanks for your tip. I tried to follow your instructions but unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work yesterday but maybe that's because I don't really understand how to implement your step #3 below. I am still a novice. Could you spell it out in greater detail? I have the scope mounted on the standard field tripod with the N labeled leg pointed toward the north and the top mount tilted to 34 degrees (Los Angeles latitude). I believe this is polar alignment. What exactly is "observing position" and how does that differ from Polar Alignment? What do you mean by "outside of alignment position"? And when you say in #3 to aim the scope toward north do you mean pick up the whole tripod and physically move it until the scope is pointing north or do I use the arrow keys to rotate the scope north? Also, I'm not not sure if we have the same problem. I have two problems- (1) even with the correct mode screw removed, the scope will not track objects automatically (the motors are silent) and (2) the speed and direction keys work fine on my hand controller, but the MODE key does absolutely nothing, no matter how long I hold it down. Thanks again, -RobAnd more from Clay:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) Rob - Glad you got back to me; sorry you are still having trouble, but I think we can get you going. I read back through my response to you and, indeed #3) is confusion. Let me clarify some of your points. 1) Refer to page 13 in your Meade instruction manual and look at the photo at the top right; you will see an ETX 90 with tabletop tripod aimed at Polaris. Now imagine that being your scope, except you are mounted on the Tripod. This is "Home Postion" for your scope in Polar Mode (which is where you want it with the standard hand controller). Notice the two tabletop legs "under" the scope base? You have two buttons where those would go on the base of your scope; MAKE SURE that those two buttons are in the same position as the legs seen in Fig. 16 of the manual. HOWEVER, the eyepiece is pointing UP in this picture; when you first mount the scope on the tripod and aim the tube toward Polaris (90 degrees), it is likely the eyepiece will be pointing "down", opposite what is showing in Fig. 16. To reach "Home Position" as is shown in Fig. 16, proceed: 2) Notice that the CONTROL PANEL is aimed at you in this figure; this is correct, and should be pointed north for home position. 3) While in this position (Figure 16, except your eyepiece will be pointing "down"), go ahead and ROTATE the scope in the RA axis ONLY COUNTERCLOCKWISE until you hit the hard stop; do this slowly (about 180 degrees should do it....just keep gently turning counterclockwise until you hit the stop). 4) Once there, begin rotating BACK, or CLOCKWISE until the fork arm is OVER THE CONTROL PANEL (as in Fig. 16) and the eyepiece is aimed "UP", as seen in Figure 16. 5) Now your are in Home Postion. Once here, rough align - sighting down the barrel toward Polaris to due north; make sure you have your latitude set for 34 degrees (which I think you said you did). 6) Once Polaris is very close, use your finderscope (make sure it is aligned to the main scope) to center Polaris on the cross hairs. TO DO THIS use the slow motion vernier controls ON THE TRIPOD. Move the entire scope...DO NOT use the arrow slew keys; the scope must remain fixed in home position! 7) Once centered in the finder, center (using the tripod adjustments) Polaris in the big scope (I prefer to use about 100x for this). Once centered, look up and find the END STAR (the last star of the "handle" of the "Little Dipper" and slightly offset the scope using the tripod adjustments TOWARD that star. 8) Here is where I confused you: Once your are aligned, you are ready to observe. What I was inferring to "observing position" was similar to Figure 13, Page 12 of your Meade Manual (right photo), where the scope is aimed overhead, or to some other region of sky besides Polaris....nothing complicated, just get it looking somewhere besides Home Position! 9) At that point you can test your slewing in both axes; MAKE SURE THEY ARE ADEQUATELY CLAMPED so that motion can be immediately detected in both RA and DEC when slewing. 10) SOMETIMES the RA drive motor will kick on immediately after slewing but usually not. 11) After slewing, if you still do not hear the RA drive (it is loud), then hit the "SPEED" key and press any speed, say "3". Now slew at that speed in BOTH axes. 12) Wait a few seconds and RA motor should engage; if not, repeat Step 11 and hit "Speed" and try another speed; slew again and listen. 13) Hope and pray this works....it does in many cases, reminding the motor that all is set up and ready. If not, you may have a problem but not a serious one. Let me know ASAP and we will pursue. MODE KEY ON STANDARD HAND CONTROLLER: The Mode Key on the standard controller does not do much once you have removed the screw for Polar Mode. It is used to flip-flop between the modes, which you do not need (keeps you from tracking when viewing terrestrial things). Also, HIT MODE if you have an "Electric Focuser" plugged into the base of the scope, and it allows you to focus (1 slowest, 4 fastest). ONCE FOCUSED, press "Mode" again, and you are back to slewing and selecting slewing speeds. Let me know if this helps. Good luck and good seeing. Clay Sherrod
Subject: Re: tripod and electronic controller Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2001 21:10:06 From: email@example.com (John Chalfen) To: firstname.lastname@example.org, Just happened to have my ETX 90/EX and electric focuser out as I read your message. Simply pressing the in and out buttons on the standard controller should operate the electronic focuser. I would try it with the Autostar and see if works. If it doesn't work with the standard controller or Autostar, then it's more than likely in the ETX itself. if it does work with the Autostar, then it is the standard controller. -------------------------------------------- --Sometimes I think that the surest sign of intelligent life on other planets is the fact that they haven't tried to contact us yet. (Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes) TIA email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Right ascension motors with handbox Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2001 10:58:21 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: Rob.Fezekas@dfafunds.com Rob, I saw your inquiry on the ETX web site - ain't it great? - and thought I would respond since I, too sometimes prefer to use the standard control box when looking at one object in particular and do not need GO TO. Interestingly, the problem you are experiencing seems to be a circuitry idoscyncracy of sorts that is fairly common; mine had the same thing and I learned quickly how to fix the problem: 1) First, it won't go away; you will have it every time you fire up for the evening. 2) Align scope (I think you said you were using Polar) and get all set up. Lock clamps and use arrow keys to slew in both RA and DEC to assure that clamping is secure; 3) Once satisfied, move scope to "observing position," outside of alignment position with scope aimed toward north (be sure to check "home position" to keep internal wires from wrapping!); 4) PUSH THE SPEED KEYS (#1-4) and select ANY speed; 5) Go back to your arrow keys and slew again. Scope motors will engage! Hope this works for you...if your slewing capability is there, I am sure it will. There seems to be some sort of recognition failure for the motors to engage (I assume from what you said that you removed the APPROPRIATE screw from the bottom of the handbox? There are two, one for north and one for south hemispheres; either way, the motors should be heard - unless you removed the WRONG screw....there are four (4) of them. Best of luck and good skies - CLAY SHERROD, Conway, Arkansas
Subject: Electric focuser with handbox Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2001 10:50:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.com Hi - saw your message on Mike W.'s ETX site and thought I would take the liberty of writing. That's great you got the electric focuser as a bonus, quite a deal. You will thank your lucky stars every night using it; it elimates much vibration and frustration. You, can, indeed interface the focuser directly to EITHER the standard control box that comes with your EC scope or with the Autostar. With the hand control box, there are four settings for focus, using the number keys, with "1" being the slowest. Simply plug the focuser coiled wire into the BASE CONTROL BOX of the ETX scope at either female jack (you will see the appropriate jack size - there are two that will fit; I use the RIGHT on, looking at the Control Panel, so the cord does not get in the way as much). IMPORTANT NOTE, and MIKE TAKE NOTICE! A problem with the electric focuser (Meade) is that it should be DISCONNECTED from its power source after every use (each evening). They have a tendency to drain your batteries (if plugged into the scope) or battery (9v if using the handbox supplied with the focuser) overnight. I have experienced this first-hand and have heard from many who also have. Simply unplug the coiled cord each night. If your connect to the Autostar, the focuser still plugs into the Control Box, but you have 9 speeds to choose from "1" still being the slowest; on that unit, simply depress and hold for 2 seconds the "MODE" key and you will see the first display as "FOCUS"; if not the first display, SCROLL down five spaces and there it will be! Good luck - Clay Sherrod, Conway ArkansasAnd a reply:
Eureka! Perhaps I'm the first one dense enough to have missed all this, but at the same time, the electronic focuser came with no instructions. With both of your messages I knew I had to be missing something, sooooooooo... I took a few more minutes of close inspection and discovered what you already knew. The coiled wire can be disconnected from the focuser control box- (I know I know, but I never noticed this before). Naturally it is now plugged directly into the ETX control box. Furthermore, I completely concur with Clay's suggestion on disconnecting the focuser. While using the 9V box, I have run through a battery each night! And not from use- simply from leaving it connected to the 9V! I thought it might be the cold but as it has warmed into the 40's this no longer made sense. No question that the power source is drained overnight! And as it is now plugged directly to the ETX, I am of course leaving it disconnected when not in use. Thanks for pointing out the obvious Clay and Mike!
Subject: electric focusing Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 23:44:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) TO: email@example.com (tfmf)) Plug the focus unit into one of the AUX jacks on the base of the ETX. (either jack... they're wired in parallel) Now the hand controller buttons should operate the focuser. (unless something is broken) --dick
Subject: Question power supply ETX90-EC Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 00:53:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ralf-Rainer Rohloff) because the original MEADE power supply is very expensive I've bought an stabilized power adapter (12V, max 1.5A) with a complete set of connectors for only DM 30. What connector type fits to the ETX90-EC ? Where is positive, the central pin on the ETX ? Can something smoke or run the motors only in the wrong way ? Many thanks in advance. Greetings from Heidelberg, Germany Ralf-Rainer P.S. Great ETX site !!!!Mike here: There are several power supply discussions on the Tech Tips page. In several places it notes the center pin is positive. You may want to read through those as not all power supply adapters will work reliably.
Subject: ETX-90 New User Question Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 14:40:23 From: MarcusKay@aol.com What an incredible find your site was!!! I'm a complete ETX-baby. Annointed with one for Xmas and have such a basic question, I'm almost embarassed to ask. I just got the AutoStar, but haven't even set it up yet.(rain and clouds here for the last two days...bleccch) However - it seems from alot of the info on your site, that the scope has some way to go into 'tracking' mode. (even without the Autostar?). I can't seem to figure out how, once I've got the scope centered on an object, to have it 'track' it automatically (as the earth spins). Am I just imagining this capability? Am I misreading something? Am I just confused? Thanks in advance, Marcus Dinsmore Washington, DC P.S. My company's involved with a great new program. I bet alot of your readers would be interested. Check it out! www.spaceadventures.comMike here: The EC model can track (compensate for the Earth's rotation) when the ETX is mounted equatorially (same as polar mode) and the standard handcontroller is set for polar. When you add an Autostar the ETX can track whether mounted in polar or Altitude/Azimuth mounting; you just have to tell the Autostar which mode to use. Of course, with the Autostar it gets a little more complicated for the GOTO capability since it has to know some facts about the date, your location, etc. I've seen info about these adventures. I've been to 45,000 (Air Force T-38) but always wanted to go higher! Nice to know an insider... So, when does an ETX go up?
Thanks for the hint Mike. Though I'm still a tad unsure how to 'turn on' the tracking function...I'll try to figure it out once the clouds clear out here in DC. As far as when the EXT gets to 'go up', I think the bigger questions is, when do we?!Mike here: Without Autostar: tracking gets turned on when the ETX is turned on IF the default mode is polar. Otherwise, it turns on when you set polar mode from the handcontroller. With Autostar: tracking gets turned on at the completion of the alignment process.
Subject: Can't get into polar mode Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 11:51:10 From: Rob.Fezekas@dfafunds.com (Rob Fezekas) I've been using my new ETX-90 EC since October without any problems. Recently however, I noticed I could not use the mode key on the standard controller to get into polar aligned mode. The scope would not counteract the earth's rotation and the slight tracking noise went silent. Holding the mode key down for even 30 seconds had no response, although the batteries seem OK because slewing with the direction keys still works fine. I even removed one mode screw to change the default to PA but still it won't counteract the earth's rotation and the gears are silent. I've turned the scope on and off several times and even took out the batteries and replaced them. Is there a quick fix I'm not thinking of or is it time to contact the dealer? Thank you. -Robert FezekasMike here: If the scope slews in RA but won't track in RA then there is something wrong somewhere. Can you slew at the slowest speed? If the RA lock is too tight (or there is binding someplace) this might show it.
Subject: tripod and electronic controller Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 19:22:57 From: email@example.com (tfmf) what a gem your site is- especially for a relatively new ETX90EC user! I have 2 questions here- 1. I purchased the scope with the standard electronic controller and the dealer also threw in the electronic focuser. Here is where I'm confused. I have properly attached the focuser and it works just fine. However, the standard elec controller also seems to have buttons for focusing (the "in & out" buttons I presume). Do I in fact need both keypads, and if not, how do I get the std controller to operate? Pressing those buttons achieves nothing. (I also have an autostar but do not plan to attach it until I am more comfortable with my own knowledge of the sky). 2. Have read through all the tripod hints. I happen to already own a Velbon DF-50 tripod and was wondering if any of the adaptors mentioned on the site could also be used with this tripod. It has a 3-way quick release platform made for 35mm and video cameras, as well as pan tilt/vertical/horizontal movement. I would love to use this tripod if I could adapt to the ETX90EC. Again, thanks for a great web site! Terry.Mike here: Not having the electronic focuser myself, I can't say from experience but according to the documentation it is supposed to work through the standard handcontroller. Scopetronix has some tripod adapters that may work. Word of caution: the tripod really needs to be a very sturdy one, otherwise vibrations will make observing hard or impossible.
Subject: RE: Did I Damage my ETX's Drives..??! Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2001 20:58:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Chalfen) To: MFRiesco@directvla.com Unless Meade changed the way they connect to the worm gear, the answer is no. This is how the worm gear is on my ETX: From the motor is a gear train, and at the end of the train is a gear(I know...Duh). This last gear has a tapered hole in the center. The end of the worm gear that attaches to the last gear in the train is tapered and fits into the hole, and a screw holds the worm gear in place. This causes a friction type lock which allows the scope to move unless a hard stop is hit. When that happens the motor and gears keep turning, but the worm gear stops moving. I had to put my worm gear back on because I let it hit a hard stop and keep turning and the screw fell out. Sounds right from what I remember, since I did this awhile ago. -------------------------------------------- --Sometimes I think that the surest sign of intelligent life on other planets is the fact that they haven't tried to contact us yet. (Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes) TTFN email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: etx90-ec comments Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2001 10:06:02 From: email@example.com (Andrew Coholic) I purchased my ETX90-EC with teh autostar back in October of last year (2000). Immediately, I was surprised at how easy it was to operate, even the autostar, and I tried to use it as much as possible before the cold and snow arrived (I live in Northern Ontario, Canada). Even with the sub zero temps now, I pull it out to do some quick observing a few times a month. I have also used it for primes focus photography on the moon, and got some excellent shots (2 24 exposure rolls) of the december 25th partial, which was absolutely awesome form our location (approx. 50 north lat). I just have to say, my ETX has performed wonderfully, even at allmost - 40 degrees (drive running for about 1 hour). After reading about the problems many have had with the right tube adapter, I have made a simple aluminum bracket on which I can mount a counter weight, to offset the weight of the camera in either prime focus, OR piggy back. When the camera/adapter is mounted at prime focus, I have an aluminum bar (.25 by 1 inch) in which I have tapped 1/4-20 theads about every 1 inch. I place this on the piggyback mount, and place the weight (that I got with the JMI piggyback mount) out over the front end of the scope untill it balances perfectly. Then, only a light tightening is required to lock the OTA in the forks. If I want to piggyback, I mount the same aluminum bar under the scope where the weight is supposed to go, and move the weight out untill it also balances. I think if the OTA is allways kept in good balance, there will never be a great enough load on the clutch to do any damage, right? This is an easy fix. When I first mounted my OM-1n with a 50mm lens onto the ETX, even with the seemingly heavy counterweight you get with the JMI mount, it did not balance out. With a heavier lens like a 200mm, it would be WAY too nose heavy, and with the camera on the prime focus adapter, it would be way too tail heavy to use without having to super tighten the ra lock. Thanks for your great site! Andrew Coholic Kirkland Lake, Ontario Canada PS. my other scope is a B&L RV5+ and I swear I can see more with the ETX 90, even with the smaller apature.
Subject: Did I Damage my ETX's Drives..??! Sent: Monday, January 8, 2001 06:28:24 From: MFRiesco@directvla.com (Riesco, Michael F) Arrrrggghh!! I did something stupid, and I'd like to know if I potentially did any damage to my new ETX-90EC's azimuth drive. The "home position", as you know, involves placing the scope tube level (which I did), and rotating the assembly fully counterclockwise until reaching a stop, then clockwise until the fork is over the control panel area. Unfortunately, I mistakenly reversed this latter part -- I turned it fully CLOCKWISE until it hit a stop, then counterclockwise until the fork was at the right spot. I then pointed the whole thing North, and off I went. By sheer coincidence, when the Autostar then slewed the scope to find reference stars, it actually did stop near existing stars, which I centered, per procedure. The scope then pronounced the alignment "complete". When I then told the Autostar to "GO TO" a desired object (Saturn), it slewed the scope in azimuth toward where it "thought" Saturn would be. Suddenly, the motion stopped (obviously it hit the rotational hard-stop, though I didn't realize this at the time, since I didn't know yet that I had done the alignment wrong). I thought that something was just "catching up" in the gearing, so I let the motor just keep buzzing away. I let this continue for about 10 seconds, then shut it off -- so, for those 10 seconds or so, the motor was grinding away, "pushing" against the hard stop! What's worse, I then re-aligned the whole thing again, and I caused this hard-stop hitting problem to happen AGAIN! I obviously know what I did wrong, but my question is: Did I damage anything by letting the motor buzz away against the hard stop? Or is there some kind of "idiot-proofing" in the design that releases some sort of clutch to prevent motor (or gearing) damage? Anxiously awaiting your reply.....and thank you for putting up with novices like me!! Mike Riesco (firstname.lastname@example.org)Mike here: If the scope moves fine in azimuth using the slewing controls on the Autostar or standard handcontroller you should be OK. So try that. If OK, then put the ETX in the PROPER HOME position and try aligning again. If the scope tracks smoothly then you didn't damage the gears. If there are LARGE jumps or skips then the gears may have been damaged. Let me know how it turns out.
And another response:
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) Mike - Thanks for your questions. My best guess is that your scope and drive motors are OK; let me answer your second concern first, that being the locking of the Azimuth (aka Right Ascension) knob. On many scopes it take quite an effort to tighten the AZ knob to the point where the drive motor is engage. Here is an ideal rule-of-thumb: If the scope moves (slew it back and forth a couple of times BEFORE aligning at north. If the scope moves in both directions with little or no hesitation, your clamp works just fine. You CAN, however, overtighten the knob. Unknown to many, and cleverly disguised by its silver paint, this clamp is PLASTIC and can break. So be careful. Back to locking in Azimuth: If you find that you are tightening fully and the scope does NOT move when slewing, then you can remove the clamp and and adjust some. If this is the case, you undo the set screw on the clamp, remove the clamp in the "tight" position and replace further toward the "unlocked" position; this gives more latitude in clamping motion. As to your "running into" the stop position, it sounds like you might not have the scope in the "HOME POSITION," which is a confusing thing to many new users. Just remember this: Home Position is found by making sure that the two plastic cover screws on the BASE that cover up the holes for the Table Top tripd are facing equally NORTH, one sort-of on each side of north, if that makes sense. This puts the COMPUTER CONTROL panel (with your plugs, off-on switch, etc.) directly WEST. This is important; that places your base stops in the right position. If the base is turned any other direction, you will, indeed, run into stops. Once your base is so aligned (just remember that the control panel goes WEST, and that does it!), aim your scope so that the Declination circle fork arm (WITH NUMBERS) - NOT THE DUMMY CIRCLE WITH THE ALTITUDE CLAMP - is aligned directly OVER the west-facing control panel. 1) NOW, rotated the scope counter-clockwise until it hits a stop; that should take the optical tube aim just almost, but not quite south. It will NOT make a complete 1/2 turn, as most people think. 2) After that merely rotate the tube again until the Declination circle is over the control panel on the base; the scope should then be pointing due north (or close). 3) NOW YOU PROCEED TO ALIGN, starting with your scope tube level (use a bubble level) and set your Dec. circle to 0 degrees once level; tighten the decl. circle knob to hold. Now align with Autostar. Okay, if - when you turn the scope counterclockwise (step 1) and it keeps going on around past half-way (past due south), then your azimuth motion has turned too much from your first attempts. You must carefully "unwind" the azimuth (clockwise) on the base until you can place that first stop just west of south as described in step 1, above. I doubt this has happened, I think you simply have misinterpreted the "home position;" it is a common problem. NOTE: If you can HEAR the azimuth motors, and they slew the telescope (set it up inside, initialize your autostar and do some "dummy alignments" to activate the motors and play around with it), then your drive motor in AZ is okay; if, however, you cannot hear them, nor do they move the scope when properly clamped, you may have a problem.....but I doubt it. They are tough for their sizes! Best of luck; let me know how it turns out! P. Clay Sherrod Conway, ArkansasAnd more:
Subject: From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: MFRiesco@directvla.com (Riesco, Michael F) Mike - Unfortunately, there is no "fail safe" mechanism inside the RA (Azimuth) drive other than the clutch itself. The clutch, of course can slip under pressure, but that depends on how tight you had the azimuth clamp secured; if it was not engaged too tightly, then the clutch rightfully would have slipped in such an occassion. I feel that this is the case since your motors did not fail altogether. Likely, if the motors had fatigued under the stress you would have gotten the message: "Motor Failure" on your Autostar readout. You obviously did not, as the motors would have shut down as soon as the message appeared. I think you are okay; if you would like to verify, simply take the scope out, (clamp both axes securely) align (from "Home Position" this time!) and turn it to a bright star at medium power. Go inside and relax and come back in 15 minutes and see if your star is close (you'll probably get a little drift, so don't worry about that). Another way, without going outside is to do a "fake alignment" indoors; simply set scope in home position, level tube, clamp axes. Initialize your Autostar for the actual time when you do this, and today's date (or whatever day you do this - that way, the scope will be realistic and pick stars that it knows are in the sky at that exact time and date). Make sure your clamps are engaged so that scope will move with motors. Now do an "easy alignment." After first beep (after scope moves), hit "Enter' and scope will move to second alignment target and beep again. Hit "Enter" again, at which time motors will engage. Leave scope where it is pointing, DO NOT UNLOCK the azimuith clamp and move your RA setting circle (the large one that slips) to read "0 degrees" on the little pointer. Go away for 30 minutes and see if the pointer has moved 30 minutes on the setting circle. If it has, your motors are working great! I think you are okay. Let me know what you find....Clay Sherrod -----Original Message----- From: Riesco, Michael F (MFRiesco@directvla.com) To: 'Clay Sherrod' (email@example.com) > >Hello Clay -- > > Thanks for the very quick reply! Yes, I knew that I had mis-set the >"home position", and I know where my error occured (I moved things clockwise >first, THEN counterclockwise, as opposed to the other way round). > > My concern was more that, given that I drove the azimuth motor/gears >into the hard-stop and then waited 10 seconds or so before turning the scope >OFF, did the motor (or gears) get harmed? I think, like you say, that the >answer is "no", since everything seems to work just fine even after the >incident. It would just make me feel better to know positively that there >is an actual mechanism in there (i.e. a clutch, or something like that) that >is specifically intended to prevent damage in such a situation by >disengaging the motor from the gears, and just letting the motor spin freely >until the user turns the power off. > > If you know of such a "fail-safe" design feature, please tell me, so >I can stop worrying about having "stressed" something...! > > Again, thanks for your kind advice... > > Mike Riesco (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: New ETX-90EC Sent: Saturday, January 6, 2001 14:09:41 From: email@example.com (Richard Schreiber) I discovered your Web Page just prior to my purchase of an ETX-90EC a few days ago, and it (1) validated my decision and (2) gave me some confidence knowing there was easy access to knowledge and experience with the scope. First some comments on the scope. It was not an auspicious beginning. The scope appeared to behave properly using the hand control, but then started to have slewing problems. It would slew (ALT mode) very rapidly, regardless of the speed setting, for the first second or so, and then settle down. It was o.k in AZ mode. I contacted the dealer and he led me through the use of the Autostar to check the drive motors more thoroughly. Slewing seemed fine. Then came the first night we set up to observe. Easy align went fairly smoothly, we saw Saturn and Jupiter and then were slewing to the western skies (to see what, I cannot recall). The mechanism suddenly stopped and a drive fault message appeared on the Autostar unit. We tried what it suggested, and even tried recalibrating the motors, but the scope would not slew at all in ALT mode by this point. A quick call to Meade and they suggested I exchange at the dealer, which I did. Part Two: The new unit seems to be ok, but notice as I was setting up today, it takes a second or two to start slewing in AZ mode (under manual mode, not clocking). At slower speeds the delay is somewhat longer. Also the base seems noticeably tighter (when turned manually in the unlatched poition) than the original unit. If you stop slewing and then continue in the same direction, the delay is minimal; if you reverse direction the delay shows up again. In addition, I do notice a slight continuous clicking noise when it moves in the AZ mode in the counterclockwise direction (this is in additional to the normal whine heard in all directions ALT and AZ). Do you think the above symptoms are anything to be too concerned about, i.e. signs of problems down the road? Otherwise - and this was just terrestial use today - the slewing seems to be fairly even and at the right speeds. And calibration and training showed no faults. In the ALT mode none of the above symptoms are apparent with the other drive motor. Any comments/advice would be most appreciated. Thanks!Mike here: The delay is movement is the backlash in the gears. A small amount of this is normal with the ETX (and NexStar) telescopes. Stiffness may be a result of tighter nuts, less lubrication, or just lack of use. Whether this is good or bad depends. Keep using it and see if it loosens up (which may not be good either).
Subject: right tube adapter Sent: Saturday, January 6, 2001 10:33:52 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (m bailey) Great site! I learned through your site what my problem was with my declination lock (right tube adapter) It was exactly as you described and photographed. It snapped off and I did not overtighten it. It too broke when I wasn't using it. And I've only used it a handful of times. I'm very distressed with the ETX 90ec. I am a fairly experienced 'scope user having used many types over the years and after several frustrating and fruitless nights, I have yet to get my autostar working properly. I can't imagine a neophyte successfully using this telescope. Perhaps foolishly, I suggested my wife buy one for here science classroom. She did and it immediately developed drive problems and had to be sent back (where they replaced it with a new one.) So that makes THREE ETX 90ec's that I've had direct access to. 2/3 of which developed major problems after essentially only a few minutes of use. I dread having ever been exposed to these seeming beauties. I've spent far, far more time dealing with repairs than actual viewing. I'm totally bummed out by the whole deal. Now I have to go back to the drawing board and find the new "ideal telescope" for my needs all over again! Cheers, Mark Bailey 2110 Greenwood Heights Drive Kneeland, CA 95549Mike here: Sorry to hear about your problems. Fortunately, not everyone has this problem. As to the Autostar, there are reports on my site and elsewhere about "neophytes" using the system without problems. So, user experiences do vary.
Subject: RE: ETX-90EC Questions Sent: Saturday, January 6, 2001 07:49:07 From: MFRiesco@directvla.com (Riesco, Michael F) Thanks for the reply, Mike! As I said, the strange behavior with the hand controller was only intermittent. last night I was out with it again, and it didn't re-occur at all. But still, it's one of those annoyances where you don't know when/if there will be more problems in the future. Otherwise, I couldn't be more pleased with the scope. Beautiful views of Jupiter and Saturn (easy objects to find manually). Tonight I will try the Autostar for the first time. And I've decied to go ahead and replace the #140 Barlow with the more conventional shorter-barrel #126, which is the one recommended for the ETX-90EC anyway. Hopefully, it will be able to do double-duty with my son's refractor as well... Regards, Mike Riesco.
Subject: RE: ETX-90EC Sent: Saturday, January 6, 2001 00:22:14 From: email@example.com (Wm Smith) Thanks for the quick reply. Yes I have read the numerous positive things said about the ETX line, and no I have not encountered any problems (I have only had it out of the box to play with for about an hour). A friend of mine owns an ETX-90EC and loves it so much he convinced me to buy one. I have been looking at scopes (all types and makes) for 25+ years now and decided my sons birthday, he's turning 11, was a good excuse to buy one. I guess you could say I am just a little paranoid about spending the money, although Kits Camera had one heck of a deal at $595 for the ETX-90EC with the deluxe field tripod, no shipping, no taxes! I need to look at this as an investment in my childs education! Bill Smith firstname.lastname@example.orgAdded later:
In all seriousness, how are the motor drives of EC models holding up? In your opinion, are the reports of problems more an exception rather than the rule for reliability?Mike here: If you consider that the user comments of problems that are sent to me are just a small part of the tens of thousands of ETX models that have been sold since its introduction, and if you consider that people tend to report the negative versus the positive, I'd say the problem reports are small percentage-wise. But then I have no way of knowing the overall return rate (to dealers or Meade). Of course, if your scope has a problem, it is no consolation that most other users are happy with theirs.
Subject: ETX-90EC Sent: Friday, January 5, 2001 17:13:18 From: email@example.com (Wm Smith) I just purchased an ETX-90EC for my son's birthday (read-Dad's when he gets bored with it in 6 months) and now I'm a little concerned. With the negative things I am reading about the drive system of the EC, did I make a mistake in purchasing this model, or are these types of problems to be expected with any drive system? Bill in AlaskaMike here: Did you read the positive things as well as the negative? There is a lot to like about the ETX line. Are you experiencing any problems?
Subject: ETX-90EC Questions Sent: Friday, January 5, 2001 08:47:40 From: MFRiesco@directvla.com (Riesco, Michael F) Happy New Year! I got a "90EC" for Christmas (!), and wanted to ask you a couple of things relating to the scope: 1) I haven't tried out the Autostar yet, and have just been playing with the normal hand controller. I have found that, on occasion, when I have the speed set to one of the slower rates and I push the right- or left- arrow, it causes the ETX to slew in azimuth at the HIGH rate for a second or two, then settle down into the desired lower speed. This is annoying, because you then have to "slew back" in the original direction to get back to where you wanted to be. Any thoughts on this? It only happens occasionally, and I'm wondering if this is cause to exchange the scope for a new one or not. 2) When the scope is pointed at or near vertical, it is very hard to access the focus knob (I'm sure this is obvious to anyone who has ever used the scope, but, again, I'm new to the ETX world!). I know that there is an electronic focuser available by Meade (and others?), and that there is also that mechanical, flexible thing you can attach to the focus knob to avoid having to squeeze your fingers under the tube to access the knob directly. Any recommendations in this department? 3) Regarding Barlow Lenses, I bought the Meade #140 (apochromatic, 2X). This is a relatively long-barrel design, and results in my having to turn the ETX's focus knob clockwise almost all the way to achieve proper focus, at least with the 26mm eyepiece. It is also totally unusable with my son's smaller Celestron 60mm refractor (no matter how far you turn the focus wheel, you cannot achieve proper focus when using that Barlow Lens). I had intended to get a Barlow Lens that would be usable with both scopes, and it appears that this one (the #140) is not. Do you think that the Meade #126, which is physically shorter in length and which is the recomended one for the ETX, would also work properly with the 60mm refractor? Any thoughts/guidance would be much appreciated. As always, thanks very much for your help, advice, and Website!! Mike Riesco (firstname.lastname@example.org)Mike here: That is odd behavoir by the standard handcontroller. I'd suggest checking to see if happens when slewing with the Autostar handcontroller. If so, you know it is the drive, not the controller. Certainly an electric focuser is a nice luxury if you don't mind paying for it. But there are alternatives, including a "clothes pin" clipped to the focus knob. I don't know if the #126 will work with your Celestron.
Subject: 90EC questions Sent: Friday, January 5, 2001 08:41:05 From: email@example.com (Jonathan C Henriksen) I exchanged my defective ETX for one that works. I have no problems with the motors now. The Autostar seems to work great so far, but I have not had time to align it and try the all-important Go To Function yet. Do you recommend trying to polar align it first or should I start with the altazimuth align? Also I had the ETX-90EC out a few days ago and it was about 10 degrees out. When I brought it back in, I did not put the lens cap on first and water condensed on the scope, including the front lens. I left it in the warm air so the water could evaporate. When it was done, the water left a few water spots on the front lens. I don_t think the water spots are affecting my view through the telescope, but I don't like them there. I want to clean the front lens, but the users manual gives more warnings than descriptions on how to clean the optics. What is the proper way to clean it with out damaging it and without leaving more water spots? Thanks - JonathanMike here: Most first-time users have better results with the Alt/Az mode. As to cleaning, see the info on the Buyer/New User Tips page.
Subject: ETX-90EC Electronic Controller Question Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2001 04:55:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Holland) I got a 90EC for Christmas and have been playing with it - mostly inside and have not yet experienced any of the drive motor problems mentioned frequently at your web site. And yes the site is a great wealth of info on the ETX - thanx. I completely read the manual and then started to explore the scope with the manual at my my side. When I got to the part about modes, things did not go so well. When I would push the mode key (hold it down for extended time), the controller would not do what the manual said. ie the top two lights would not come on. I then looked at the back of the control unit and apparently the both mode screws are missing as well. My assumption here is that the scope is in the alt/az mode. I've got the #883 field tripod on back order - but when it comes - how would I change to polar mode??? I also have the handheld computer(astrostar???) but have not explored it yet. regards Jim HMike here: The screws affect the default mode but as I recall you should be able to set the tracking mode via the control panel as well per the manual instructions. (I currently don't have an EC model to try out)
Subject: ETX-90EC - laptop computer control Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2001 10:18:41 From: Rick@ht.com (Rick Cunningham) Great site! A real service to the community! I'm a newcomer to astronomy trying to decide whether to keep the ETX-60 with autostar that we bought the family for christmas or to return it for an ETX-90EC. Autostar is incredibly useful (but lithium batteries might be needed to stand up to the cold), but I'd really like the better optics. The 90EC is double the price (worth it) but unfortunately comes without autostar. The problem I'm having is understanding whether it's possible to get starfinder capability from a laptop (or desktop!) computer without having to shell out the $150 for the handpiece. On the 90EC, without autostar, is there any way to get RA tracking while mounted in alt/az (level)? And can the scope be driven from the computer to a particular dec/ra coordinate? I know the autostar does a bit of magic with mechanical backlash on the encoders, but this can be overcome pretty simply. If there's no Meade software, is there a movement among users to develop something that provides the basics of computer controlled go to and ra tracking?Mike here: As has been pointed out on the site, the Autostar is required for computer control until someone writes an Autostar emulator for a desktop/laptop computer. And no one has publicly or privately told me they are doing this. Any takers out there? And yes you can get the EC models to track in Right Ascension with an Alt/Az mounting and no Autostar. Unfortunately, you have live at 90 degrees latitude for the telescope to accurately track real objects in the sky! ;-)
Subject: ETX90EC Alt Problem Sent: Monday, January 1, 2001 18:53:11 From: DWitherill@email.msn.com (DWitherill) I have been reading all of the post about the Alt failures on the ETX90EC. Just thought I would add that I had the same problem with mine. Setup fine and then the Alt motor quit and didn't even make a sound. I sent the unit back to Meade and it seems to be working fine now. Sounds like a manufacturing defect to keep showing up over and over again. Henryk Zels is probably correct that the wires are being cut by the gears. Hopefully Meade has changed the process. David Witherill Port Charlotte, FL
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