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ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK- JULY 1999
Last updated: 31 July 1999

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-90EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to both the original ETX model, the ETX-90EC, and the ETX-125EC are posted on other pages as appropriate. 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 Gear Upgrades
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 21:17:29
From:	defender@toast.net (defender)
I heard a rumour that a third party was offering upgrades to the plastic
gearing used in the ETX/EC 90.  Evidently, they had higher quality
machined metal gears, supposedly providing better tracking.  However, I
haven't been able to find any information about this.  Anyone heard this
rumour?

Thanks

Mark

Subject:	 ETX 90EC 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 13:20:04
From:	DaleC@xSides.com (Dale Christensen)
First of all this is a great site, without doubt the best on the ETX.
Just in case anyone who visits this site is thinking about buying and
ETX and gets scared off by the problems posted here I thought I'd write
a few words about my experience with the ETX90EC.

I bought mine in February from The Nature Store and then got the
Autostar from Oceanside in early March. The first month I had some
software problems which were solved by the first web download firmware
release. Since then the only problem I've had is a mysterious inability
to get it to GoTo M81 or M82.

The scope is incredible. I have no idea how they get this function on
the market for the price point. The optics are very good - especially
when you use a better quality of lens. The GoTo accuracy is pretty
reliable and has allowed me to see more faint fuzzys from the not so
dark Seattle skys then I

thought possible. I took it to the Texas Star Party and saw nebula that
I wouldn't have thought possible with just 90mm.

GoTo does make you lazy but it also lets you find objects that are truly
difficult to star hop to. The scope is a wonder.

Subject:	 ETX-90
Sent:	Monday, July 26, 1999 15:30:21
From:	master_yoda@mindspring.com (Briar Richard)
I'm Briar Richard from Baton Rouge Louisiana and I have a question for
you:

I bought an ETX a few months ago in the hopes that I'd become an avid
stargazer. I was graduating from college, and my affinity for space led
me to believe that astronomy was the hobby for me.  It turns out that my
old pastimes of reading comics and sci-fi books has only increased with
the extra spare time.  The rest of my time is for work or my girlfriend.
I'm writing to you because I'd like to sell my telescope.  If possible,
I'd like to sell it through your website.  You seem to be a trustworthy
person, and if possible, I'd like you to be the moderator.  If you know
of anyone who'd like an ETX in pristine condition, with only about 10
hours of use, please let me know.  I'm asking $425.00 for it, but if you
think I should be asking for more or less, I'd welcome your opinion.

    Thanks for your time.

Briar Richard

Subject:	 ETX 90EC Update
Sent:	Monday, July 26, 1999 00:39:02
From:	fyrframe@ptinet.net (Gregory David Stempel)
Thought I would post an update on my ETX 90EC (ETX) experiences. As some
may know I bought the scope about two weeks ago. Purchased the Autostar
as well.

My first experience with the ETX was dismal. No matter what I did, it
would not align as a result no goto. The autostar would crash, the scope
just stop and nothing would respond. That was version 1.1J.

I called the dealer I bought the scope from, Mike Fowler at Oceanside
Photo and Telescope (www.optcorp.com) and explained my woes. He quized
me to ensure I was training, homing, etc. correctly, and after he
determined I had done everything right, said he suspected my autostar.
He sent me a new one. Two days later it arrived. This one has version
1.2b installed.

That night, I did the initial motor trainging, alignments in alt-az and
easy modes. Eureka! I have goto like no other scope I have owned.
Everything I hit goto for, ended up in the field of view with the
standard ep.! Albiero...goto..bam! Almost dead center. Even the moon
ended up in the ep's field of view, I was grinning from ear to ear. I
tried a dozen different stars, from one side of the sky to the other.
Everyone of them ended up in the ep. I do mean the ep and not the finder
scope.

There was one glitch....

The LCD panel is not working correctly. It is a minor problem for the
most part, but the lower panels block out information. Instead of seeing
letters, you see the entire square lit up. This is only happening in a
couple of menus and only on a few deep sky objects. But, when hitting
information, the scrolling words will get blocked out.
Block...block...block...in the...block...block...billion stars...block,
etc., and the problem will transfer to the top panels if I hit enter.

To credit Oceanside, Mike told me on the phone "do not worry Greg, I
will get you through this, be patient and we will make it right." I
asked him what if the new autostar does the same thing, he replied, "I
will send you another scope." No phone tag. Quick, timely replies to
email. That's customer service.

I want to thank Mike Weasner for sponsoring this site. There is a lot
of good information here. It was the first place I visited when I had
the initial problems. Thanks Mike.

Take care out there,
Gregory david Stempel
FIREFRAME

Subject:	 Mounting the ETX-90EC on the Meade Field Tripod
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 1999 06:24:14
From:	rsimon@uswest.net (Ricki Simon)
I join everyone who has thanked you for your website...  I think I would
have returned my ETX-90EC (and Autostar)  by now - if it hadn't been for
all the suggestions and encouragement -  I am anxiously awaiting
receiving my cable connector so I can update my Autostar software (which
I'm hoping will resolve my tracking failures...)

I am an amateur and have been using an Orion DeepSpace Newtonion Dob for
the last few years - so the ETX is a brand new experience for me.

I am having a problem that I haven't seen mentioned  on your site.  The
holes on the bottom of the ETX don't seem to line up over the mounting
slots on the mount plate of the tripod.  I managed to get the threaded
knobs thru the slots - but I had to put one of them in slightly
slanted...  Has anyone had the same problem?

Thanks again,
Ricki Simon
Mike here: I don't recall any similar reports and certainly haven't seen that problem with either the ETX-90RA or ETX-90EC.

Subject:	 ETX 90 EC -mechanical problem resolved?
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 1999 01:22:14
From:	farminjon@gtmc.net (jon shannon)
Hi, Great site!  Just read your comment that Meade has resolved the
problem with, I assume, the dec lock.  How do I get the new component?
I'm tired of wearing kid gloves whenever I handle the scope.

Thanks, Jon.
Mike here: Contact Meade.

Subject:	 Declination motor continued ..
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 1999 15:03:18
From:	joe@cunninghamfamily.com (Joe Artale)
Having ruled out the Right Tube Adapter as the cause of the declination
motor malfunction, I contacted Meade to see what they had to say .. It
boils down to two possibilities (according to Meade):

A defective hand controller - which they said does happen, but is rare
.. I tend to doubt this as the cause because the scope does not move in
declination even during power on ..

Faulty electronics - This is what I'm betting is the cause .. Anyone
have schematics of the electronics in the scope? =)

Any other ideas as to what may the cause?  Having purchased the scope
via eBay I probably cannot rely on warranty repair and Meade's
electronics charge starts at $200 ..

On another note, thanks for the great, informative web site you maintain
.. Many questions I had were answered quickly with a few clicks .. Great
work! ..

-joe

Subject:	 Re: ETX Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 1999 09:18:51
From:	thedbarbee@yahoo.com (Don Barbee)
I don't believe taking it apart to clean it will void your warranty.
Just take care when removing the battery compartment.  The wires are
very fragile!  Please do not take what I'm telling you as the way to do
this.  Check out the site mentioned on mikes website, I'm pretty sure
its ScopeTronics site but don't hold me to that.  You have interesting
systems with this.  It also could be a bad cable from the Autostar to
the ETX.  A broken wire making momentary contact could really mess
things up since the computer might interpret breaks in transmission as
actual data!! If you open up your ETX and the encoders don't have grease
or dirt on them. I would take back the Autostar and CABLE and get a new
one!

Don Barbee

--- Gregory David Stempel (fyrframe@ptinet.net) wrote:
> Don
> 
> First, thank you very much for your feedback. I
> truly appreciate it.
> 
> Here is what is going on.
> 
> I train the motors trying several different targets,
> surfaces. I set all
> the user imputs (date, time, site), then I home the
> scope. I hit setup,
> align and easy. Point the scope north, and hit
> enter. The scope begins
> to slew, and then stops. LCD panel says the scope is
> slewing, yet
> nothing is happening. After waiting several minutes
> I try to hit mode,
> and none of the buttons work. Turning the autostar
> off and after a few
> seconds, back on seems to be the only way out of
> that crash.
> 
> The other problem is the Autostar has told me three
> times there is a
> motor problem, call Meade.
> 
> Finally, (a rare occasion the scope actually made it
> to the first
> alignment star), after hitting align, the scope
> begins to slew toward
> arcturus, but passes it until it hits the stop. Last
> night, I hit mode
> when the scope got to the vicinity of acturus
> (clouds were out) and
> aligned to arcturus according to my memory. The
> autostar then went to
> deneb for the second alignment star. Got to the
> neighborhood and
> stopped, did a little hunt and peck and finally
> autostar beeped. I then
> was able (again, very rare opportunity) to actually
> use the goto, and it
> seemed to find things. Accuracy was undetermined,
> but it made the
> general neighborhood.
> 
> I can not remember what I actually had posted to
> Mike's great site, so
> if this is all a repeat, please forgive me.
> 
> Anyway, all of this leads to me to ask if you still
> think it is grease?
> If so, does cleaning it void the warranty? I have
> only had this thing
> about four days, so you can imagine how frustrating
> it has all been. 
> 
> Take care out there Don, 
> Gregory david Stempel
> Gig Harbor, Wa.

Subject:	 Re:  Declination motor
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 1999 00:49:31
From:	joe@cunninghamfamily.com (Joe Artale)
It's possible that it is an issue with the motor not locking .. If this
is the case, I would not hear any motor sounds when slewing in dec,
correct? .. That is, I will only hear the motor if the scope is locked?

-joe

"I am a bomb technician. If you see me running, try to keep up!"
Mike here: The motor would run but the scope would not move in DEC.

Subject:	 Declination motor
Sent:	Sunday, July 18, 1999 23:58:52
From:	joe@cunninghamfamily.com (Joe Artale)
I have just purchased an ETX 90/EC via eBay and it appears that the
declination motor does not function .. My admittedly cursory research
into this problem indicates that this may not be unique .. What I'm
wondering though is whether I'm missing something obvious .. Barring
that, what is the solution?  I've heard praise for Meade's service
department and, living in California (Meade is in Irvine), I'm wondering
if sending it 'into the shop' may be the best bet .. Any input would be
helpful ..

-joe
Mike here: If you mean that the DEC lock won't lock, then the repair is easy. See the last few paragraphs of my ETX-90EC Comments for info on the replacement of the Right Tube Adapter. But since you live close to Meade, just drop it off.

Subject:	Your ETX evaluation
Sent:	Sunday, July 18, 1999 12:43:34
From:	FNeighb122@aol.com
Thanks for the time you spend maintaining this great, informative web
site. I have a question regarding your evaluation of the ETX 90EC that
Meade gave you.

On May 5th you posted the first encounter with your 90EC, the results
were so disastrous that it made me laughed out loud. At the time you
said you would try again after you "upgraded" to version 1.1M, which you
knew to be much better than 1.0c. That was over 2 months ago. I think
you mentioned that you have done the upgrade but that autostar still
didn't work. The point is...here it is mid July and still no evaluation.
I feel that an honest evaluation should include all of your experiences,
not just positive ones. If your first ETX was defective, why didn't
Meade just send a new one? Is the time your taking to get an
ETX/Autostar that works typical of what ETX owners can expect of meade's
service? Mike, am I right in assuming, that, sometime you'll tell your
followers the whole story? Don't you feel an obligation to do that?

Thanks again.

Forrest
Mike here: I've been testing new Autostar versions, the ETX was checked out by Meade, and once I have something new to say (soon) I'll say it.

Subject:	 batteries?
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 1999 17:50:56
From:	spinerock@home.com (Damien Roohr)
Lately the hand controller moves the tube at high speed no matter which
of the four speed settings I have it set to - might this be the typical
indicator of weak batteries?

Also - and I am the former "what's the big deal" dope - I have had a few
terrific evenings of moon viewing, have seen Venus, Mars - and got up at
3:30 a.m. Saturday night just to target Saturn and Jupiter. Crystal
clear rings, and two (count 'em) cloud bands. Very satisfactory. I'm
just beginning to explore, but so far so cool.

Subject:	Update
Sent:	Saturday, July 10, 1999 09:40:46
From:	SMalin1@aol.com
I sent my ETX / EC to Meade to update the Autostar and to tighten the RA
drive which had a lot of looseness. I got it back about 2 weeks ago.
They replaced the entire RA motor system and strangely, updated my
Autostar with the 1.1J not the 1.1M. I will be going to the Stellafane
get together in August and will be able to give it a good tryout. I was
very impressed with the quick service and not even a charge for
shipping. Pretty nice of Meade.
Selwyn Malin  

Subject:	 problem with 1.1m
Sent:	Friday, July 9, 1999 04:04:37
From:	plianos@kronos.aueb.gr (Panos)
I made the cable and downloaded the 1.1m version of autostar from meade.
The problem with the "motor unit fault" is still there, and the "gears"
don't always change from 1-9 but feel stuck in 9. Let me remind you that
the same problem existed with the first etx90-ec I got, with the
etx90-ec that the dealer has in display, and with the new one he gave me
in replacement of the first one. I thought it was a software problem but
it obviously isn't. The gears seem a little more "tight" on the one i
have now, and i was wandering if they need to be a little "used" first,
in order to work better with the autostar. I don't think the dealer
believes me, he thinks I'm doing something wrong. After all, what is the
probability that, 3 etx's motors are not working right? Is there a known
problem off "motor units fault" out there, or in a specific batch of
etx's? I feel very disappointed by this situation. What can Meade do
about this? Is there a way to contact them? I didn't see an e-mail
address at their site. Sorry for the long post, it's not your fault but
I feel you're the only one who can help me..

thanks.

Panayotis-Ulysses Lianos
Athens, Greece
e-mail: plianos@kronos.aueb.gr
Mike here: A couple of things come to mind: 1. You do have a defective unit. 2. The batteries are too low to run the ETX-90EC and Autostar. Check the level (press and hold the MODE key for a couple of seconds and then release; scroll through the display). Using the ETX will probably not clear up the problem. Since the unit is still under warranty, if #1 is the case, return it. Meade doesn't take customer inputs/questions via email. You'll have to use the contact info on their web site.

Subject:	 Amateur Astronomy 101
Sent:	Wednesday, July 7, 1999 19:12:56
From:	Dschmit@us.ibm.com (Daniel Schmitz)
The big event has happened,12 hr road trip to 4th of July  family
reunion in dark sky Nebraska with the 90EC and the Autostar!! Mistake
#1, left scope in the air conditioned cabin all day, took it out of its
safe and snug Doskill case and out the front door to perform
training,,70% humidity. Water condensed all over the scope, lenses
eyepieces etc.. quickly I set it in the warm Sun,,,slowley it
evaporated,,power on,,no Dec motor movement!!!,,,remove the bottom base
plate and point the circuit board toward the Sun and say a little
prayer. Power on and all is well....YIPPIE! Training goes
uneventfull,,installed the Thousand Oaks Sun filter,,amazing most people
ignore our nearest star,,had family members lined up around the porch to
ohhh and awww  at the sunspots. After fireworks in town we return to the
cabin,,all the cousins, nieces and nephews calling dibs for first look,
onto the bogen tripod with the alt az base,attach eyepiece caddy (check
tech tips under accessories) level,home position, center polaris,,lock
RA, rotate tube and lock DEC at 0% (previously verified with a level on
the tube,,mine was off by 2% rotated scale and retightend knob) Power up
autostar..<5>,,enter,,date,,time,,daylight yes,,,distracted all the city
dwelling relatives with a passing satellite,,easy two star,,missed!
Scratched  head,,,DAH,,,,site! I live in Dallas I'm now in Nebraska,,now
I'm in trouble,,8 miles north of  a small farming town of 3200 people,
Omaha is too far south,,well lets try it anyway,  add site,,,scrolling
thru the towns in Nebraska,,,WOW,,there it is O'Neill,,,thanks Meade!!
Back to home position,,easy two star both in the 26mm. GotoVenus,, dead
center, Mars same,tracking perfect,a dozen little ones passed across the
eyepiece,,, time for the little ones to head to bed,,now the line of
siblings Aunts and Uncles begin to form,,Messier time!! First I show
them a picture from the Peterson Stars and Planets Field Guide of what
they will be looking at with the understanding that its gonna be a
"faint fuzzy" M51 was a favorite because they could see both
"blobs".Goto M81,,M82,M13, the list goes on and on,, all of these were
in the 26mm,just slight tweeking for centering,,M16, M17, wish the wind
would die down, before we knew it the moon was rising and began to wash
out the incredible sky, a quick succesion of views at the moon and I
think I've just sold 12 scopes! In one evening I saw more of the heavens
bounty than ever before, Warts and all ,, dollar for dollar I wouldn't
trade this little jewell for anything. Its Mikes Web site that
originally got me back into this hobby and I can't thank him enough for
all the information he's passed on to us "newbies".

Subject:	 Re: ETX90/EC problems (Lianos)
Sent:	Wednesday, July 7, 1999 04:01:53
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
I think part of Mr. Lianos's problem may be due to the Right Ascension
optical encoder. If the Autostar alone was causing trouble then I would
suspect software. But if the standard hand controller also demonstrated
the problem then a possible fix is to clean the RA encoder. The ETX/EC
tune-up guide (Jordan Blessing) refers to cleaning the encoder.

I had a similar problem and cleaning the encoder helped when using the
standard controller. (Never worked better actually!)  My autostar died
when I tried to upload the new firmware and was sent back to Meade, so I
don't know how the encoder cleaning helped the autostar. (Hopefully,
I'll tell you this week.) Even with the standard controller and clean
encoders, I would not worry if the RA motor goes crazy occaisionally. If
it can't be fixed by switching on and off, or happens more than once
every month or two, then I would suspect a problem.

Just be careful when cleaning the encoder that

	1) any grease on the inside of the drive base is not transferred
	   onto the encoder surfaces.
	2) The wires on the battery compartment are EXTREMELY fragile. If
	   they come loose, chances are they come off at the PCB and not 
	   at the battery compartment.

If having safely cleaned the encoder, the problem still persists, I
would call Meade. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

Clear skies all,

		Kev.

---
Kevin P. Kretsch  B.A.(Mod.)Phys 	e-mail: kkretsch@alf2.tcd.ie
Photonic Materials Group,		Tel:	+353 1 608 1324
Department of Physics,			Fax:	+353 1 671 1759
Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND.

http://www2.tcd.ie/Physics/People/Werner.Blau/page223.html

Subject:	ETX-90EC
Sent:	Saturday, July 3, 1999 14:48:57
From:	Kavorka6@aol.com
I brought my ETX-90EC with me to the smoky mountains last week.  Had
beautiful views of the moon, mars, brighter faint fuzzies and sunspots. 
I added a site with the coordinates for my location and the Autostar
worked fine.  I still use 1.0c software and have had good luck with it. 
Guess I will upgrade soon... but I would like to wait for the next
release though.

Thanks for your web site... I visit it often.  It has come in very handy
with the finicky ETX-90EC.  I have to give Meade credit though.  Even
though the mount is very cheap (I would have gladly paid $200 more for a
quality mount), the Autostar does point accurately.

Clear skies,

Todd

Subject:	 R tube failure
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 1999 14:28:52
From:	andyr@pmccapital.com (Andy Rosemore)
I have a brand new EXT90 EC and there is a lot of "play" in the vertical
axis with the side knob locked. Meade has offered to send a replacement
tube adapter. In your experience, do you think that this will fix the
problem?

Thanks for your advice.
Andy Rosemore
Mike here: If the Right Tube Adapter has failed as described on my ETX-90EC comments page then it will fix the problem. You can see that page for disassembly info with photos. But if you have only a few degrees of movement then the problem MAY be something else entirely. But the RTA swap is easy so it can't hurt.

Added later:

Mike, thanks for your advice. They are sending me a RTA and I will try
that first. Also, is it normal for the azimuth card in the base to spin
around independent off the base - sounds like it wasn't glued down well?
QA seems to be of minor concern with Meade particularly from the view of
a first telescope owner.
Mike here: That IS normal. It is that way so that you can set it to proper RA at the beginning of a session.

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