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ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 June 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 90EC
Sent:	Thursday, June 29, 2000 15:45:49
From:	JPETERS498@aol.com
I am Considering purchasing this telescope and I will admit that I am
not experienced in the use of telescopes of this nature. I was wondering
if it is still possible to view all of the celestial objects that I have
heard about despite the fact that I might only have the table top
tripod. Also, if it is possible, is it difficult to get it perfectly
level and facing true north, and what is the best way of going about
both of these?

Thank you,

	Jasper Peters
Mike here: The ETX-90EC can "see" quite a large number of celestial objects, depending upon your location, sky conditions, etc. As to whether it can see everything you've heard about, probably not since there are many known objects that are too faint or otherwise invisible to the ETX and your eye. Check the Buyer/New User Tips page for answers to many questions that new users can have.

Subject:	um -- oops!!
Sent:	Thursday, June 29, 2000 10:19:02
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Well, it finally happened. My Dec Lock broke last night (bummer). Was
going to try tracking the ISS and while I was setting up and preparing
to Easy Align, I tightened the Dec Lock (no more so than I usually do!!)
and heard this little tiny "snap" sound -- faint as a whisper -- and
proceeded to watch the OTA rotate downward to aim at the driveway.

Took the OTA off, opened up the right OTA assembly and sure enough, the
entire shaft that inserts into the teflon fitting had completely cracked
off. Luckily I live only about 15 miles or so from Irvine, so on my way
back home this afternoon I think I'll take a roundabout trip home and
stop in at Meade and hopefully get the replacement part. Considering
this to be one of the biggest design flaws and recurring trouble for
lots of users, I would imagine they would have them up in the front
lobby where you could just stick your hand in a barrel and pull a few
out!!!   ;-)

I saw on Scopetronix's web site the repair procedure for a "slipping dec
lock." After the "sanding" procedure it says, "I prefer a lithium type
grease as it is temperature, and moisture stable, won't harm plastic,
and won't run." Anybody know where to pick that goo up in small amounts?
Again, I'll try Meade and see if they can give me some in a small tube
or something (yeah, right!!).

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the failure. Fortunately it is an easy replacement.

Added later:

went to Meade late this afternoon, talked to customer service (Tennessee
was her name -- that's unusual), received the replacement kit (to think
that it's actually a "kit" now, with a full set of instructions and
photos showing what to do!!! -- that means it must happen enough to
justify the cost of making it into "kit" in the first place.) And
surprise, she even went back to get me some goo (lubricant) in a small
plastic vial. I'll work on replacing the broken part, and probably try
the "sanding" procedure suggested on the Scopetronix website, sometime
this weekend.

take care, and clear skies --

-- gee, tomorrow morning (6/30) is supposed to be good for the Moon,
Saturn, and Jupiter conjunction, but every morning here is just socked
in with early low clouds and fog, and tomorrow is predicted to be the
same (darn!).
Mike here: Glad you got a "kit"! Socked in here too on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Subject:	 Meade-ETX 90EC Carrying Case #774
Sent:	Wednesday, June 28, 2000 14:19:44
From:	rchawkey@home.com (Bob Hawkey)
I was surprised to find that the case won't accomodate the scope with
the right-angle viewfinder mounted, a real bummer in my opinion.  Am I
missing something here, or did Meade goof?

Subject:	 ETX-90EC /w Autostar /w Deluxe Field Tripod
Sent:	Monday, June 26, 2000 05:10:15
From:	big_k@gmx.net (Soenke Kastner)
I really enjoyed your website this it's simply the best when it comes to
the ETX.

Since I was looking for a small, portable telescope (I owned a 8" LX200
a few years ago) I decided to buy an ETX-90EC after consulting your
website. Although it was obvious there a some itches and glitches with
the ETX I bought one last Thursday.

I live overseas (Germany) and unfortunately due to currency exchange
rates, import taxes and extra margin for the local distributor the price
for an ETX with Autostar and Meade Tripod piles up to approx. $ 1270,-
which is more expensive than in the US.

I unpacked everything and the first thing I noticed that the bubble
level of the tripod was broken. I wasn't much convinced by the stability
and durability of the Meade tripod at all since I felt it was very
flimsy. At this steep price tag ($275 in Germany) I had expected
something better.

However this was just the beginning of a nightmare:

The RA and DEC drive of the ETX were very noisy and soon I realized the
RA drive didn't work very well or at all. I went back to my dealer on
Saturday and he was more than helpful since he was willing to change my
scope into a new one without hesitation (which is pretty unusual in
Germany since it's a "customer service desert" !!!). However we tried
his whole stock (4 more ETXs) and ALL of them had the same problem (some
more some less).

I was pretty much disappointed however I got my money back. I spent most
of the weekend investigating about errornous drives and it looks like
other people have made the same experience.

My dealer called me this morning: he had spoken to Meade Germany and
they claimed that they never heard of this problem. What a joke !

Anyway, keep up the good work !!!

Best regards,

Soenke (Hamburg, Germany)

PS: Please excuse my bad English !

Subject:	 ETX90Ec again
Sent:	Saturday, June 24, 2000 23:36:34
From:	berjac@southwest.com.au (Bert Denovan)
I have cooled down a lot since sending my bunch of 'gripes' about two
failed ETXs with Autostar and for various reasons have begun
negotiations with the retailer about getting another one.  Actually I
sent him an email late Friday setting out a proposition.  I know he does
not work Saturdays.  Therefore I do not expect an answer until tomorrow
(Sunday to you).
So: if I do get another ETX90EC with Autostar, can you help me with some
suggestions.  The issues facing me now that I have researched part of
your voluminous site, had direct contact with Dick from Seattle (from
your site), and another I have met here in Perth are these:

   * I am led to believe that the software for the Autostar is actually
     in the handpiece.  I gave myself the impression that the handpiece
     only controlled software in the base of the scope.  There appears
     to be problems with some of the software on sale and would be
     grateful if I could be directed to the numbers of the ones to be
     avoided and those (or that) one(s) that are without too much fault.
   * Somewhere on your site you are quoted as saying that you visited
     the Meade factory in the US and saw the raw materials for the ETX
     being assembled.  Does this mean that the optics, gearing and all
     the other integral parts of the ETX are actually manufactured in
     the US or made in Taiwan and simply assembled in the US?
   * With both of the ETXs I have had, there was a considerable movement
     in Dec.  The first one had a four degree movement in Dec.  The
     second one was not too bad in Dec although the movement was still
     there.  But I also noticed a lot of movement in RA too.  Trying to
     align the finderscope was a wearisome task, because after I had
     centred (funny Aussie way of spelling - you just have to get used
     to it), the object (30 kilometres away), in the eyepiece. I would
     then go through the routine of centreing it in the finderscope.
     Check with the eyepiece and find that, while it is centred in the
     finderscope the scope had moved so far in RA and Dec that the
     object was nowhere near centre!   Try, try again!  With the old
     manual ETX you could take the slack out of Dec by tightening the
     knurled knobs on either side of the Dec control.  Meade tell me
     that 2 degrees is acceptable but I cannot agree.  If my LX50 did
     that I would be very unhappy.  Is there anything that an amateur
     can do to tighten the movement in RA and Dec?
   * I have the shaky Meade Deluxe Field Tripod for the ETX.  (That's
     all I have now and one of the reasons for going back to the ETX).
     Touch it and the view in the eyepiece wobbles around for ages
     before settling down.  (About 10 seconds or more).  Is there any
     way of making the tripod steadier?
   * I have a 6x30 finderscope that came with the LX50 (I now have the
     8x50 and love it), so I was thinking of doing what someone on your
     site suggested, that is to finely cut the finderscope holders at
     their bases so that they can be widened to take the 6x30
     finderscope.  What are your thoughts on that?  The finderscope
     supplied is too short and too......lots of other things, besides I
     can't see the crosspiece.
   * Another thought I had was to use the end opening for the eyepiece,
     by installing a spare (repaired) diagonal prism and using the 4000
     series Super Plossls that I have for the LX50.  (These are made in
     Japan, now, sadly in Taiwan).  It looks like you have done this
     judging by the photograph on your Home page.  Does it work?  My
     wife is 'vertically challenged' (very politically correct), and
     finds it difficult at times to see through the top site for the
     eyepiece.  At least with a diagonal prism the eyepiece can be moved
     around to see from the side etc.
   * If anyone from Perth, Western Australia visits this site and has an
     ETX, could they please contact me via the email address?

Hope you or some of your site visitors can help.
Regards
Bert Denovan
Mike here: The Autostar handcontroller is the computer, not the ETX base. I've not used any 3rd party s/w with the Autostar so can't respond as to what works best. There are some comments on the Astro Software Feedback page, as well as on various Autostar Feedback pages.
I did visit the Meade facility in Irvine, California, USA (See the Just for Fun page). I saw ETX scopes being assembled there. I saw raw materials and finished products. Also, see the Virtual Tour linked from my page.
There are various mods (RA/DEC and tripod) discussed on the Tech Tips page. I've noticed that the surface the tripod is sitting on also influences the dampening. Several users have commented on the Vibration Suppression Pads (for any tripod) from Celestron.
The included finderscope is not a professional quality one. Many users have replaced it with or added 1x, red-dot, or other finderscopes.
What you see in the Home page photo is the Shutan Wide Field Adapter. I have also used the Meade Erecting Prism. As you noted, using an eyepiece at the rear does help the "vertically challenged" (my wife is in the category too).

Subject:	 Attaching a Video Camera to the 64T Adapter!
Sent:	Tuesday, June 20, 2000 16:27:28
From:	alphi@home.com (Al Phillips)
I am about to purchase an ETX-90EC system w/Autostar as a beginning
astronomer, but I have some ideas as to how I want to use it for
terrestial viewing. I want to attach a video camera with an LCD
viewfinder, so that more than one person can see the telescope image at
the same time. Sharp makes a great ViewCam with a 4" LCD, but the lens
is not removable! What can you suggest? Has anyone been successful with
this approach? Is there a CCD available that will work?

I visualize a couch-potato system someday where I'm sitting in my family
room with a laptop, the telescope is outside enjoying the great
ocean/harbor view, and through the video and RS232 cabling, I am able to
capture the color video, and use my keyboard to control azimuth,
elevation, and focus.

Looking forward to your assistance.

Al Phillips
Mike here: You can hook an astronomical CCD imager to an ETX-90EC and use a computer to control the scope and view the image. Some users have done just that. Search for "CCD" and you'll find several hits.

Subject:	 ETX90EC + Autostar
Sent:	Monday, June 19, 2000 01:22:29
From:	berjac@southwest.com.au (Bert Denovan)
I bought an ETX90EC with Autostar in May.  At first I used it only in
the simple mode as an equatorial mount (32degS), and found that it would
not track properly. (I also have an 8" LX50, so I know how to polar
align). I then went through the set-up for the Autostar, hoping things
would get better.  But I noticed that, in the 'train motor' phase I
could not get the 'barrel' to stay still.  Once centred the thing would
drop!  I measured 4 degrees on the setting circle.  This explained why
it kept losing objects in the eyepiece when the scope was touched (eg
focusing).

The retailer took the scope back and replaced it with a new one.  So,
once again, after going to 'reset' I went through the initialization
process.  But the aligning stars were about 5 - 10 degrees away from the
finderscope.  It was labourious work getting them centred through that
miniscule finderscope but on a couple of occasions I made it and was
told that the alignment was successful.  'Go to' was hit and miss.  Once
I was informed that Omega Centauri was below the horizon when it was  a
neck-breaking sight near the zenith.  I was also told that 47 Tuc was
below the horizon when it is circumpolar here and was 14 degrees above
the horizon.  Once when trying to find an object I wanted to 'go to' but
needing to go through the entire list (nothing is in alphabetical
order), by the time I decided to 'go to' an object the aligning star had
slipped to the bottom of the eyepiece.   The retailer here in Perth
(Western Australia) was unable to help so I e-mailed Meade in the US and
was basically informed that I was doing the right thing but I must be a
bit sloppy in the setting up. I went down to the beach and trained the
motors on a water tank 30 kilometres away across the water.  I levelled
the Meade deluxe tripod accurately (on Alt/AZ and selected that in the
computer), as normal and levelled the optical tube by the setting circle
and double checked with a spirit level.  I used an engineer's field
compass to find North (after the usual procedure of anti-clockwise to
the stop and the first fork arm over the control panel).  Variation is
only 3 degrees West here (ex-Navy man).  I then set my digital watch to
the second from a US atomic clock (Web site).  There was no difference. 
I have given up and returned the thing to the retailer who is reluctant
to refund my money. These scopes may be cheap in the US (about $700 - so
what do you want for a miserable $700!) but with the exchange rate at
the moment plus freight charges they are around A$1800! here. Both the
retailer and Meade inform me that there is a zero failure rate with
these scopes and the Autostar.  Yet I got two lemons out of two! That's
a 100% failure rate. I have since heard of others here in Perth finding
faults and one was returned (noisy slewing motors - mine were too), and
I see evidence of other faults on your Web site. After all my work I am
left with a sore back and twisted face from trying to centre things in
the inadequate finderscope.  Not difficult when in equatorial mode and
you can disengage the RA and Dec. motors to slew, but painful when
trying to do the same thing using slewing controls.  After all I thought
that's why I bought a 'go to' model: to do these things for me.   I also
have a very disappointed wife for whom the scope was a present from me.
This experience has put me off Meade products altogether.
Regards
Bert Denovan
Mike here: Sorry to hear about your negative experiences. Some users have had problems and some have not. The problems that have occurred have ranged from minor (or rarely occurring) to happening all the time. It is hard to tell what is happening. A user in my local area had problems with her ETX-90EC and Autostar. She brought it over to my house one night and I taught her how to use it. Things worked well during our training session. GOTO was near perfect on the objects we selected. I'm not saying that you were using your system incorrectly but some users have obviously missed some important piece of information or were mis-doing a specific step and so the results were not what they should have been. Have there been hardware and software glitches? Yep. Nothing new there. Happens with computers, cars, planes, and telescopes. So, as they say, "your mileage may vary".

Added later:

I did everything by the book and also followed the instructions sent to
me by Paul Hobbs (which differ from the book), to no avail. At one stage
I was aligned on Alpha Crux and asked it to 'go to' the Jewel Box only a
few degrees away near the zenith.  It whirred and cranked around in a
small ellipse and then told me it was on target.  It was still pointing
to Alpha Crux!

Subject:	 ETX after 6 months
Sent:	Sunday, June 4, 2000 12:46:38
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
I was interested, and amused to re-read my first posting of my ETX
experience from January. Full of frustration about things like the
finder and home position, and some disappointment over the limited light
grasp of the 90EC.  Other problems at the time were major difficulties
with the Autostar blanking out in the cold [Meade replaced it and the
new unit has been trouble free].

Well after 6 months, once used to the limitations of the scope and its
quirks, my experience is almost completely positive and far better than
I had imagined it would be when I started out.  First of all, taking the
scope in and out [even with the field tripod attached] and set up is a
snap [I had experience with a 60mm refractor years ago, and its limited
usefulness, together with its size soon resulted in the novelty wearing
off]. Despite the complaints of some people, I find the bubble level in
the Meade Field tripod adequate for Autostar use.  With the help of the
Orion EZ finder the Autostar alignment is simple and fast, and the
accuracy of the Autostar has been amazing.  I don't recall the last time
I haven't had the object in the field of vision [admittedly, some deep
sky objects haven't been resovled, do to mediocre seeing on a particular
night, but that's not the Autostar's fault].  As I had intended I have
been using "Left Turn at Orion" and the "Small Scope Sampler" from Sky
and Telescope as my introduction to the objects.

Moving from season to season has been interesting, always new objects,
and re-visiting certain ones does reveal more than I had imagined
possible.  At this time, my primary eye piece the 26mm continues to be
the mainstay with the Meade barlow receiving much use along with a 17mm
Sirius Orion Plossl, I also have a 40mm Sirius which provides
interesting views, it'll be interesting to use with extended objects
like the Plieades, the next time they come around.  Only the 9mm Meade
eyepiece I picked up, has proven a disappointment, the limited eye
relief makes it virtually unusable for me. Another object I have found
useful is the Kendrick Quik Focus.  One problem I continue to have is
focusing on dim objects after changing eyepieces when there are no
bright stars nearby.

As for the controversy [if you can call it that] about computer scopes
vs. star hopping, all I can say is that seeing the objects is what I'm
interested in, not spending hours trying to locate them, and the
Autostar has given me just what I need in that regard.  And, yes, I do
know the sky, from planning the sessions, and I do make sure to get a
sense of where the objects I'm looking at, are.  The easiest way is
looking through the EZ finder as the scope aligns.  I'm sure purists
would sneer, but my interest in astronomy has grown thanks to the easy
access to celestial wonders.  I probably use the scope once or twice a
week in good seeing conditions for about 2 hours each session.  My
current favorites of the present season, M-13 and 92 and the deep sky
objects in Scorpius.  Still trying to fully resolve "The Double Double".
Although I wish I had the added resolution of the 125 [invariably the
Autostar's description of a globular cluster says "in a scope of at
least 4" individual stars are visible" or "in a larger scope...." which
just cuts out the 90] I'm fully satisfied by the ETX 90EC after 6 months
of use, and am looking forward to years more.

Thanks for your excellent site.

Tom Brown [teb1013@hotmail.com]

Subject:	Meade ETX-90EC Pricing
Sent:	Thursday, May 25, 2000 19:13:48
To:	Camera World "eanswers@cameraworld.com"
From:	etx@me.com
I just received your Summer 2000 printed catalog.  I was enjoying
looking through it until I came to the Meade ETX-90EC (page 60).  Your
catalog shows a list price of $699.  Meade publishes an ETX-90EC list
price of $595.  You show the Meade Autostar for a list price of $220 but
Meade lists it for $149.

Can you clarify your pricing claims so that I can let my ETX site
readership know the facts?

Also, in the printed catalog descriptive text for the ETX-90EC there is
a consistent typographical error ("EXT" vs "ETX" used three times and
"-90EX" vs "-90EC" used twice).  The text is correct on your web site
although the price is still shown as higher than Meade's list price.

Mike Weasner
Mike here: The above is an email I sent to Camera World. I'll publish their response when I get one. In the meantime, watch out for price claims.

Subject:	 Followup to ETX-90/EC & JMI WedgePod
Sent:	Tuesday, May 2, 2000 15:09:25
From:	dennis1449@dcwis.com (Dennis)
Emailed JMI, they have a new top plate for the WedgePod which allows
mounting the ETX-90/EC with the control panel facing west.  They are
sending me one free of charge.  Thanks for all your help.

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