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ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 July 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:	 etx-90ex aux ports
Sent:	Monday, July 31, 2000 12:00:54
From:	cdcopy@t-online.de (cdcopy)
the etx-90ex has two aux ports - one for the focuser and one for a
connection to a computer. Do you know which one is for the computer?
When you have to connect the Autostar to the computer to control it with
the lx-200 command set what can be done with the second aux port?

Markus Barth
http://www.cdcopy.sk
http://www.s35expl.de
http://www.MarkusBarth.com
Mike here: I believe the two Aux ports are identical.

Subject:	 ETX Question
Sent:	Wednesday, July 26, 2000 10:36:46
From:	RodolfoMM@excite.com (Rodolfo Mier+Martinez)
My name is Rodolfo, I live in Mexico and I just bought an ETX 90EC
during a few days visit to Houston, TX.  I am still in Houston, but I'm
planning to return to Mexico very soon.

I already opened my new ETX to see if at least the basic functions
perform well. I noticed that the horizontal and vertical velocities are
not the same (especially at the lowest speed).  The horizontal (RA)
movement is slower than the vertical (Dec) movement at a given velocity.
 Is this normal?

I will appreciate your feedback before I return back.

Thanks,
Rodolfo.

PS.  I already read your internet page; however, I didn't find anything
that can answer my question.  Reason why I am sending you this e-mail.
Mike here: I don't recall any noticeable speed difference in the two axes on the ETX-90EC I had for awhile. But unless the speed difference is considerably different, I doubt there is a problem.

Subject:	 Greetings to Winnipeg, Canada (cc'd)
Sent:	Saturday, July 22, 2000 21:50:42
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Dave,

I saw your note on Mike's site, and thought i'd add a few links to S4
coordinates.

> 1. I'm not sure if my telescope is in proper order. Using the Andromeda
> Galaxy as an example, when I view it using my 26mm Plossl, it appears as
> a fuzz ball with no distinct detail. Is that normal? Is that how it
> appears to you as well? If this is not normal, what can I do to fix it?
Unfortunately, "faint fuzzies" (as they're affectionately called) are
what you'll see with an ETX.
And Andromeda is the closest pretty galaxy in our neighborhood.
The stunning sweeping spirals you see in photographs are achieved by
taking minute-to-hours long exposures.
One of the facets of amateur astronomy is clamping a camera on your
'scope and going for it.
But --soooo-- little light reaches us (per second) that the human
eyeball cannot "integrate" the photons to create a view with detail.
Perhaps more rewarding would be a target like the Ring Nebula (Messier
57)... even with an ETX90 it's a distinct "smoke ring" in the sky...

> what can i do to fix it?
Larger mirrors are the direct "fix"... and, indeed, with a 12-inch or
16-inch, you might start to see some detail for Andromeda.  But not very
much. (a 12-inch has about 16 times the light-gathering power of the
ETX90)

> 2. Using the Autostar to add new "user objects". I have been frustrated
> with trying to view the comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR), and have benn
> searching the skies, and haven't found it yet. I have the charts and
> details from Astronomy Magazine, but have come up empty.Is there some
> place that I can get the co-ordinates so add in to the Autostar?
The coordinates are available from an on-line copy of a July 2000
Sky&Telescope article.  It's at 
www.skypub.com/sights/comets/0007linearS4.html

The ETX90/Autostar do **not** correctly point to S4 if given its "TLEs".
But you -can- directly go to the RA/Dec numbers in the above article.
Here's how:
(a) use the Mod ekey to get to the RA/Dec display. (as you've done)
(b) Tap  [GoTo]
(c) the display now converts to RA/Dec **entry**
(d) use the numeric keypad to enter the RA number (it'll hop over the
colons (:))
(e) tap [enter]... it'll shift to the Dec number
(f) use the numeric keypad to enter the Dec number... 
(g) tap [enter]... it'll now slew directly to those coordinates.


> 3. If an object is of Mag 4.5 or higher, can the ETX actually see it? Or
> am I searching for nothing. I really haven't found anything to say what
> the ETX can or can't see (magnitude wise). Can you help me at all?
By the numbers, in a (very) dark sky, magnitude 11 objects are
theoretically visible.
If you're in -any- sort of human-populated area, what kills you is sky
brightness.
Here in Seattle i cannot see by naked eye stars dimmer than magnitude
2.9 or so.
The ETX90 easily finds 6th magnitude, and (with a little care and
averted vision)
shows 8th magnitude pretty well... but frequently moisture or haze in
the air wipes out dimmer than 7th magnitude.
One way to check the magnitudes is to take an Autostar-driven
"constellation tour".
Choose a constellation... (Ursa MAjor or Ursa Minor work well as
examples).
On the Autostar, do:  Object>Constellation [enter]
use the scroll UP key (lower leftmost key) to back -up- thru the list to
Ursa Major.
Hit [GoTo]
The Autostar will present the brightest star's name.
Hit [Enter]... it'll show its SAO number (whoopee!).
Hit {goTo]... the ETX will slew to the star.
When the "Slewing..." becomes the SAO number again, 
Use the Scroll Down key to see facts about the star.
The final "fact" will be a scrolling message.  You'll need to tap the
[Mode] key to escape from it.
**don't hit the [Mode] key until the Autostar beeps, signalling final
arrival at the star.**
Tap  the Mode key (if not in the scrolling message) once to get back to
the display
saying "ursa major" on the top line, and the star's name on the second
line.
Tap the scroll down (v),(lower right) key once.
You'll see the -second- brightest star's name appear.
(at this point, go back up a few lines to "hit [enter]", and repeat for
all the stars the Autostar will present.)
If you've got a good star chart, or by deciphering the scrolling
messages, you'll see many multiple stars (Alcor/Mizar and their two or
six friends are a good example)

This will lead you on a merry tour of a number of magnitudes, and their
companions are far fainter.

Have fun
--dick

Subject:	 Greetings from Winnipeg, Canada
Sent:	Saturday, July 22, 2000 11:58:53
From:	wowchuks@home.com (The Wowchuk's)
I just wanted to drop you a short note, on how much I appreciate your
ETX website. It has been a tremendous resource to me as I begin this new
found delight called astronomy. I own an ETX90EC with the Autostar 497,
which I am enjoying.

I have a few questions I'd like to ask you if you don't mind:

1. I'm not sure if my telescope is in proper order. Using the Andromeda
Galaxy as an example, when I view it using my 26mm Plossl, it appears as
a fuzz ball with no distinct detail. Is that normal? Is that how it
appears to you as well? If this is not normal, what can I do to fix it?

2. Using the Autostar to add new "user objects". I have been frustrated
with trying to view the comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR), and have benn
searching the skies, and haven't found it yet. I have the charts and
details from Astronomy Magazine, but have come up empty.Is there some
place that I can get the co-ordinates so add in to the Autostar?

3. If an object is of Mag 4.5 or higher, can the ETX actually see it? Or
am I searching for nothing. I really haven't found anything to say what
the ETX can or can't see (magnitude wise). Can you help me at all?

Any info you can provide would be a great blessing!

Thanks,

Dave Wowchuk
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
wowchuks@home.com
Mike here: Most nebula and galaxies will appear as faint fuzzy objects. Don't expect to see the same image with your eye as appears on long duration photographs. With the ETX-90, you can "easily" see objects down to around Magnitude 9, depending upon your sky conditions and the nature of the object. As to the Autostar, check the current Autostar Feedback page for info on Comet Linear (including some sites for elements). Also, check the Autostar Information page for an Eccentricity Patch, which you may or may not need to apply.

Subject:	 New ETX-90EC user comments...
Sent:	Monday, July 17, 2000 01:56:11
From:	muffler@btinternet.com
After getting some advice from your site I thought I'd give you my
comments on the 'scope.

Phoned quite a few astro' suppliers in the UK, gave them my requirements
(birthday present for someone new to star gazing, mainly to be used for
the moon and planets, had to be able to rig it up to a camera and be a
doddle to use with a budget of around 500GBP) and 60% of them noted the
ETX without hesitation (other rec's were a couple of Orions and
something German sounding beginning with 'b', but the overwhelming
response and your site made me stretch the budget to the ETX).

I then had other family members (the scope was a present for my other
half) chip in for an Autostar, t-mount/ring, an erecting prism (for day
time terrestrial use), additional (9.7mm) eyepiece and tripod adapter
(for a photographic tripod).

Well, HID was very pleased (understatement) with the present - all high
quality gear it has to be said and all worked out of the box very
easily.

Luckily her birthday was on Friday (14th July) and so in time for a full
moon. We also managed one of the few clear summer nights we've had in
the UK so had the scope straight out.

Absolutely and without reservation this thing is amazing! The images we
saw were truly superb and much better than a hotel's much larger scope
(can't remember the make but it must have been at least an 8" reflector
and very awkward to carry around - OK it had probably had a hard life
but it didn't look or feel cheap!) we used on our holidays. Simply
stunning.

We didn't bother with the Autostar straight away as we didn't have much
time and we weren't at our own home - and even we can find the moon!
Everyone was queuing for a look through the eyepiece and the resolution
of the craters etc. was quite unbelievable.

Last night (16th July) we did manage to test the Autostar (it has rev2.0
of the software I believe) and again it worked straight out of the box.

We weren't entirely sure whether we were doing everything correctly
(equatorial mounting) but had a bash anyway. All the setup steps seemed
to go OK then, again because we knew what were looking at, asked it to
goto the moon. Worked brilliantly with only a little manual correction
required then tracked spot on. This despite being on very uneven ground
on an unstable tripod, without being very accurately levelled and us
being some 30 or so miles away from the nearest location in the Autostar
database (and the time not being set so accurately! What more could we
improve on here...).

We had it slewing to a few other stars but without knowing the sky (must
look for a good book now that describes what we're meant to see!) it was
hard to know whether it was doing it right - though it did point to
Cassiopea and Ursa Major with pretty good accuracy (according to HID).

Unfortunately the other planets (and stuff I wanted to check out like
the Hubble, Mir, ISS etc.) were either below the horizon or shrouded by
the moon's glare (which I think is about right for us at this time of
year?).

Anyway, I was gobsmacked by the whole experience (and being a
professional techie and rarely phased by new gadgets this is
something!).

Thought I'd also make a few comments with respect to the critique's on
your site:

1) Noise. Not sure what most of the people who commented on your site
are used to but I didn't find it noisy at all! I prep'ed HID to expect
it to be loud, then we tried it and looked at each other - we thought it
must be broken! More than acceptable to our ears, even on speed 9
slewing (maybe if there were a dozen of them being slewed at the same
time it'd be a problem but not solo). Same applies either indoors or
outside in a very quiet neighbourhood.

2) Right angle viewfinder. They really ought to supply this as std. The
overall package is so compact to make the small length standard one
awkward to use. It is still useable (and I found it easy to centre) but
I imagine the 90deg one would be better (will probably invest soon!).

3) Focusing - I noticed a few people mention that it's a pain having to
refocus between the std. eyepiece and others. Again, not sure what
people are used to but didn't find this a pain at all! I suppose if it
cost Meade no more to give them all the same point of focus then maybe
they ought to, but it really is a small thing.

4) The lock lever in the base to disengage the motors is very stiff. I
strongly suspect this may not last the course if used frequently.

5) The screw threads for the t-adapter are a bit suspect and I think
they may end up being all too easy to cross thread. Same goes (slightly
less so) for the other threads that are regularly used. Will have to be
careful with these.

How would I improve it? Well there's very very little really. A true
bargain piece of kit even when having to pay UK prices (despite trying
to buy one from elsewhere [rebuffed - Meade obviously have their dealers
in line!] and getting a healthy discount from my UK supplier). I would,
however, suggest the following could be added very cheaply:

1) A spirit level in the base, preferably one that rotates so you can
make sure the thing is truly level or maybe a well in the base for an
optional one.

2) A compass in the base also (or, as with the above, maybe a well in
the base for an "optional" one).

3) Serial cable for the Autostar really ought to be included - I'd make
my own if I had crimping tools etc, as it is I'll probably buy one soon
enough.

So, thanks for the site. It has given plenty of insight so far and gave
that nice feeling you get when you know you've bought the right thing!
No doubt we'll be regular visitors to the site for help and will give
more feedback on the ETX (including use for photography) as we use it
more.

Muffler

PS Anyone wanting the best price in the UK for an ETX should check out
Sherwoods in Birmingham, UK. www.sherwoods-photo.com. The only link I
have with them is as a recent customer.

They're not the most cheerful salesman in the world (for that check out
Stockport Photographic or Pennine Photo - think these names are correct)
but they'll be at least 10% better on price than anywhere else in my
experience, especially if you buy a bundle of kit. And the kit will
arrive very promptly. 

Subject:	 optical tube cannot be fixed in position anymore
Sent:	Tuesday, July 11, 2000 10:43:51
From:	patrick.cramm@vt4.net (Patrick Cramm)
The knob to screw my optical tube tight has worn down. It is now so
loose that the tube practically slides down slowly by itself and of
course it won't work with electronic controller or autostar anymore. Is
this a common problem for the ETX (I imagine it is)? As a matter of fact
my ETX dates form 22.05.00 so my warranty is over I guess allthough I
used in not more than perhaps 20 occasions. I looked in vain for a way
to contact Meade directly by email.
You have any tips for me ?

Thanks,

Patrick 
Mike here: It sounds like you need a replace Right Tube Adapter from Meade (it is free). It is an easy part to replace. You'll need to call or fax Meade to get the replacement shipped to you.

Subject:	 ETX 90 and Magellan II
Sent:	Sunday, July 9, 2000 19:56:14
From:	ariasrl@earthlink.net (Ricardo Arias)
I am considering buying an ETX 90 EC. I currently own a Starfinder EQ
with a Magellan II. My question is would the ETX work with the Magellan
or do I need to purchase the Autostar?

--- Ricardo Arias
--- ariasrl@earthlink.net
--- EarthLink: It's your Internet.
Mike here: See the May 1999 ETX-90EC Feedback page for Dave Cordner's comments about the Magellan I. Also, see "Magellan DOB controller" on the Tech Tips page. These may help you decide whether or not you want to purchase the Autostar.

Subject:	 Bogen/Manfrotto  3030 QR Head and ETX90EC
Sent:	Thursday, July 6, 2000 15:08:09
From:	jturley@xai.com (James Turley)
I'm having trouble mounting my Bogen/Manfrotto 3030 Quick Release Head
to the base of the ETX90, using a QR plate for polar alighment.  Anyone
have any luck doing this?

There are two problems:

1. The plate's bolt will not reach the threads in the base of the ETX;
2. The plate hits the rim of the ETX base.

Any ideas?

Jim Turley, XAI

--
XA International                        14510 Big Basin Way, #240
Contract Programming Agency             Saratoga, CA 95070
International Software Engineering      mailto:info@xai.com
http://www.xai.com
+1 408 741 5577 Voice                    +1 408 741 0512 FAX
Mike here: Basically it sounds like you may need longer bolts. If so, have you tried your local hardware store.

Subject:	 Great - But is it OK?
Sent:	Tuesday, July 4, 2000 11:51:23
From:	paz1@mexxan1.fsnet.co.uk (Paz Islam)
Great site with excellent links. After reading so much about the ETX
90EC I decided to purchase one today. I think the design is really
impressive but I won't be able to try out the telescope for star-gazing
due to cloudy weather forcasts for the next 5-6 days! (Lichfield - Nr
Birmingham, UK)

The only slight niggles I have are with the time it takes to engage the
motors, which I know is normal. No problem at the high speed setting but
their seems to be an uneven power output / motor noises at slower speeds
- is this also normal?

Thanks for your time and help.

Paz.
Mike here: When tracking in Alt/Az mode, the drives make adjustments to each axis as required to properly compensate for the earth's rotation. That is probably the unevenness you are hearing. This is normal.

Subject:	a little FYI follow-up on my Dec Lock failure...
Sent:	Monday, July 3, 2000 16:24:05
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Just some heads-up info for any of you out there with possible Dec Lock
failure (or soon-to-be failure). This is a follow up of my previous
e-mail to Mike regarding my OTA adaptor failure (also known as "the darn
plastic shaft sheared right off!!") When I picked up a replacement
adaptor at Meade, customer service told me that they hadn't heard of any
of the replacements ever failing (yet I thought I had read here
somewhere that someone had replaced his at least twice). But she did say
if it happens again Meade will again replace it for free.

In any case, I compared the original one and the replacement. The
replacement had an "F" stamped in the plastic on the inside, which the
original did not. I also noticed that the old small dec lock retaining
ring which fits over the shaft and on top of the gear and contains the
"stop" did not fit onto the new adaptor -- the difference was extremely
slight, but enough so that it would not slide on. The new ring supplied
with the new adaptor, of course, fit correctly. Without a caliper to
measure, I believe the taper and shaft diameter has changed by an
infinitesimal amount. I also noticed that on the original adaptor, the
dec stop ring sat flush with the end of the shaft, whereas the new ring
sits "just above" the shaft by about 1/32" (this is after the ring is
flush with the large gear). I think this gives the plastic shaft a
little more "oomph" to cinch up inside the dec stop ring to form the
friction clutch when the dec lock knob is tightened. I also find that
tightening the OTA with the lock knob now takes a lot less torque than
it did before, probably due to the slightly modified taper and fit. I am
a little afraid of accidentally overtightening the knob; I think the
small countersunk retaining nut could possibly get "pulled" right out of
the shaft. But, as I said, since it seems to take a lot less to tighten
the OTA, this probably will not occur.

While the scope was open, I decided to also take a look "under the
hood," so I removed the batteries and unloosened the bottom cover.
Reading both here on Mike's site and also Scopetronix's, there's a
mention of "carefully" removing the bottom plate because the red and
black power wires to the battery compartment are very delicate. So with
extreme care, I slowly opened the plate and took a look inside. My first
view was of the black wire going to one of the battery terminals, and as
I pulled the plate open, I realized that the black wire was loose!!! Say
what? I didn't pull anything hard enough to cause that!!! I jiggled it
with my finger and sure enough, it was totally loose. Careful inspection
showed a very "cold" solder joint; and just a tiny bit of solder at
that. The red wire didn't have a problem, and there was considerable
solder at that point. But the black wire connection was absolutely
ka-ka!!! And to think I've had this scope for a year and never had a
power failure when running off the batteries!! Amazing!! A quick solder
job fixed the problem. I also checked for any play in the worm gear (I,
like others, have some "slop" in RA, but I can't attribute it to loose
gearing now, since everything checked out). I brought out my canned air,
made sure everything was clean (including the encoder disk), and put
everything back together.

I retrained the drive and did a test run the other night. Everything
worked as expected. I still have some "slop" in RA (you know, it takes a
second AFTER you press the left or right arrow buttons and hear the
motors run BEFORE the drive starts to actually move.) Declination worked
fine and was very responsive to the up/down arrows. BUT (damn it) -- the
"creepie beepies" are still there!!!!! So, (as we have suspected) it's
all in the software!!

Wordy, and a little more enlightened...

Take care, clear skies...

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 new etx90ec
Sent:	Sunday, July 2, 2000 08:36:43
From:	dseeber@rmci.net (DJS)
May I add my 2 cents worth on the design and performance of the Meade
etx90ec telescope and autostar computer right out of the box.

My biggest complaint deals with the finder. The field was distorted and
the crosshairs were out of focus and un-adjustable. My best advice for
anyone using this scope for astronomical purposes is to replace it
immediately. It might have some value for terrestrial viewers however.

I didn't do my research very well before I bought my scope. I was under
the impression the F number was much smaller; around F8. Because it is
F13.8, the base power with its only eyepiece is 48. My own feeling is
this is much too high for such a small aperature resulting in very faint
images on most of the good celestial targets excluding the bright
planetary views. I was surprised to find Meade is selling an even
smaller aperature scope using the autostar computer. I think it would
have the same usefullness as aiming a stick at the object and being
amazed at autostars pointing ability..

On the positive side, the easy align in the alt-azimuth mode worked
quite well. Tracking was good but I felt the azimuth lock (RA) must be
tightened excessively to prevent slippage.

Sincerely,

Don Sieber
Mike here: Obviously every buyer should match their requirements and expectations with what they purchase. If the ETX (any model, or in fact, any telescope no matter who the manufacturer is) doesn't meet your requirements and expectations then you have the wrong telescope. However, for literally tens of thousands of users the ETX models satisfy their needs, whatever those needs are.

Added later:

My comments about the pros and cons of the Meade ETX were sent to you as
my personal evaluation. I never said it was the 'wrong' telescope. It
certainly fills  a niche for my needs or else I wouldn't have bought it.
From personal contact with some ETX owners; there may be literally tens
of thousands of ETX users that are NOT as happy with some of the overall
design features as the the Meade advertising department would lead them
to believe, but then thats business.

A response to: rchawkey@home.com (Bob Hawkey)

Subject:	Re: Meade-ETX 90EC Carrying Case #774
Sent:	Friday, June 30, 2000 17:20:28
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Bob,

When I first got the ETX-90RA model, I ended up purchasing a hard
carrying case from JMI, along with their right-angle viewfinder mod kit.
With the viewfinder attached, the rubber eye guard "just" bumps into the
top of the case, creating a small impression (about 1/32" to 1/16" deep
-- no big concern because of the rubber). Then I upgraded to the
ETX-90EC and found that the same held true (the fork arms are slightly
larger, too, but the styrofoam stuffing "gives" enough to allow it to
fit nice and snuggly.)

When Meade introduced their right-angle viewfinder and I saw it at the
store, I was pretty happy with my previous purchase from JMI. Although
Meade's viewfinder has a softer rubber eyecup, which I prefer, the darn
thing sat way too high to fit into the case, and the crosshairs are as
thick as an elephant's leg. Since seeing the hard case Meade now sells,
I think it's almost exactly the same as the JMI case, except the insides
have the cutouts in different locations.

It's probably too late for you, unless you want to play swap-a-roo, but
I'd return Meade's right-angle viewfinder and double check with JMI
about theirs.

As far as "did Meade goof" -- you think so, and I think so, therefor...

Clear skies,

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

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