Last updated: 29 March 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:	 ETX90EC default mode
Sent:	Monday, March 27, 2000 08:18:37
From:	Bob.Sandy@icl.com
I saw an entry from Jerry Callaghan (21st Jan 2000) on your site. I've
just bought an ETX90EC here in the UK and fresh from the box it
certainly powered up in Polar mode. Don't know whether N or S but its
very disconcerting when you are not sure what's happening. The solution
in my case was to remove and replace the two "Polar" screws in the
handset as posted elsewhere on your site and this cured it.

For anyone in UK needing a hard case, Halfords have a Curver
(Rubbermaid) toolbox which is on offer currently at 18.57 which can be
lined with high density foam and holds the scope very securely. There's
room for the hand controller / Autostar and the lid has a clear plastic
section which can hold eyepieces etc. Inside there's also room for a
spare set of AA batteries.

I'll report further if we ever get some clear skies!!

Bob Sandy

Subject:	 Re: motor drive fault
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2000 12:28:23
From:	astro.shack@lineone.net (Astro)
Thought you may be interested that on return to Broadhurst Clarkson and
Fuller (the supplier), they rapidly diagnosed a circuit board fault, and
replaced the original scope in its' entirity. It would seem that Meade
have not as yet issued any spare parts over here and are concentrating
on getting the scopes out. I have to admit to a slight concern that
there may be a quality control issue here, and the "quantity not
quality" adage may be being applied.
Thanks for your swift response.

Subject:	 etx 90
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2000 01:33:08
From:	ve7cer@direct.ca
Hi again,Charlie here again,Was just on you'r page that you explained
all you went through with you'r 90EC.It seems like every one has allmost
the same problem from what I have been reading on most of the
pages.Frustration seems to take all the fun out of every thing,so Im
going to do it a different way.My intention is to get the ETX 90 Spoting
scope and put it on an EQ3 Equatorial mount.I know it's a bit over kill
but being as new to this as I am couldn't put up with the frustration if
things went wrong.Just want to take it camping and a bit of fooling
around,no deep stuff.Am I doing the right thing or not.What do you
think?Thanks big guy. Charlie
Mike here: Some people do get the spotting scope version and then put it on a different mount.

Subject:	 etx 90ec
Sent:	Saturday, March 18, 2000 10:21:32
From:	sohacki-t@mailcity.com (Timothy J Sohacki)
I just recieved my etx 90ec, and was looking for information when I came
across your web page. You have more information about the telescope than
any other page I found (including Meade's). I have a quick question
about the telescope. Straight out of the box the declination adjustment
has about 3 degrees of backlash. The R.A. has none. Is that DEC backlash
a problem that I should adress with Meade? My concern arose when I polar
aligned the telescope and saw that it inverted when slewing to the
alignment stars. I figured that with that much backlash, the alignment
would be thrown when it turned upside down.

I appriciate your help with this matter,
Timothy Sohacki
Mike here: Some backlash is normal; you'll find lots of discussions about it on the site. The Autostar attempts to compensate for it. One thing to check is the DEC lock; is it fully engaged? Can the scope be moved a lot in DEC with it locked?

Subject:	 Re:  Controlling ETX-90-EC with a computer
Sent:	Thursday, March 16, 2000 06:37:03
From:	gmt@nebula.physics.uakron.edu (Greg Townsend)
I received a reply to my posting of June 29 th on your website.  It was
a private e-mail and here is the essence of the correspondent's message:

The LX-200 command set is not the same as the ETX90 command set. About
half the commands work and half do not.  Meade was no help at all when I
called and asked for the ETX90 command set. They insisted it was LX-200
compatible. So, I purchased Deepsky2000, which claims to be able to
control the ETX90. After verifying that DS2000 was indeed able to
control my ETX90, I hooked another computer up to my main computer in
place of the telescope in an effort to intercept the commands DS2000 was
sending. Here's what I found:

To set the right ascension you would like the telescope to slew to, give
it the command  #:U#  #:SrHH:MM:SS# 
To set the declination give it the
command #:U#  #:Sd +00_00:00# 
(it doesn't seem to care what character
you use in place of the underscore) 
Then, when you give the commands
#:Gr# or #:Gd#, 
it should return you to whatever values you set in the
example above; and when you give the command to slew to object (I forget
what it is, but it is the same as LX200), you ETX90 should slew
properly. Also, after giving any command to the etx90, which instructs
the etx90 to return data, you must put a delay in your program because
you computer is probably faster than the etx-90.  i use 1-2 seconds, but
DS2000 uses 5 seconds.

I wil let you know how the programming goes; I have just got my hands on
an ETX90 !!

Greg Townsend

Subject:	Re: motor drive problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 21:07:46
From:	Jmccarty26@aol.com
i have trained the drives, and it slews perfectly normal with both hand
controllers alone, yet i encounter the error when i try to align or use
the go to function. and i dont have the cord to connect to my computer
to upgrade, so im guessing its a problem with autostar and not the scope

Subject:	motor drive problem
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 19:16:19
From:	Jmccarty26@aol.com
i have an etx-90 and ive been experiencing problems with it lately. 
during polar and altaz alignment, the scope tends to stop in mid slew
and the autostar handbox freezes up.  so i turn the scope off and try
again, to no avail.  sometimes, it will stop while its slewing and
autostar will say "motor drive fault."  the scope is not obstructed, not
overweighted, and the batteries are fresh.  do you have any ideas?  thanks.
Mike here: Have you retrained the drives lately? Have you upgraded to the current Autostar software (2.0i)? Does the scope slew normally in both RA and DEC using the standard handcontroller as well as with the Autostar?

Subject:	 ETX and 12V cigarette lighter plug
Sent:	Tuesday, March 14, 2000 13:03:46
From:	Pierre.Henrotay@skynet.be (Pierre Henrotay)
Till today, I happened to use a 12V cigarette lighter plug recycled from
a camping torch light and had no problem, except that the cable was a
bit small. I just purchased the 12V lighter plug from Meade (#607, 25
foot extension cord, product #07043)...and now the scope cannot be
powered from the 12V socket anymore. What a disappointment. It was
rather difficult to plug in the Meade: it seemed to not fit correctly;
and when switched on, the power light did not indicate anything. As soon
as I unplugged it, I was able to work on batteries. Now the hardest part
of the story: I plugged back my old cable and switched on: no power at
all, except via batteries. Something happened during my efforts to plug
in the Meade one but I am not able to figure out what and how to check
or repair. When looking at the socket, I see a central pin and a small
metal strip on the side; these should make contact with the plug and I
think they do, at last for my torch light plug. Has anyone an idea of
what is happening here ? Did someone run into problems as well with that
accessory from Meade ? Any suggestion or hint (should I open the base,
how ?) ? I feel a bit desperate.
Mike here: Using the plug disconnects the batteries. So at least that part works. But the obvious question if neither the old nor the new cable works is whether or not there is even power getting to the plug. Have you checked the output from the cable?

Added later:

The output of the cables (both the Meade one and my original one) is OK:
I am able to power a torch light with each of them, and when measuring
with a multimeter, I get about 12V with correct polarity (positive at
center). It seems to me that the scope itself is in trouble, not the
cable. The damage is likely to have its origin in my attempt to connect
the Meade cable; I would like to cure this myself if possible: it is a
pain to return the scope and miss it for weeks for such a problem.
Mike here: Since the cables are OK I do suspect something on the scope side. Perhaps a blown fuse (if there is one) or a blown circuit?

Subject:	 Dec judders
Sent:	Sunday, March 12, 2000 21:03:10
From:	kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin Edwards)
I have just become the proud owner of an ETX-90EC, which I purchased
second-hand from a dealer in the States (new prices in Australia are
ridiculous, the 90EC sells for approximately US$1050, while I have been
quoted US$2500!!!).  While generally very pleased with the unit (its SO
much lighter than the LX50 ;-)), I have noticed that the Dec motor is
both noisier and much less smooth in its motion than the RA drive (the
'jitters' are particularly apparent on the middle speeds of the standard

I've opened up the unit and removed a small amount of lint from one of
the gears, but otherwise everything looks pretty tight and clean.  Has
anyone had any similar experiences, and if so, how can this be corrected
(short of replacing the standard bushes with roller bearings!)?

Cheers, and thanks for a wonderful site.

Mike here: Check out the ETX tuneup info on the Scopetronix web site. Something there might help.

Subject:	 Is my vertical motor dead?
Sent:	Wednesday, March 8, 2000 17:27:48
From:	ccsk@ldd.net (Kevin Lasher)
To:	Y2Kaufman@aol.com
I had a very similar problem with my ETX right out of the box.  Go to
the Scopetronix ETX Tuneup page (there is a link on Mike's site) to
determine how to remove the bottom of the scope properly.  After opening
the bottom of the scope, check to see that the wires from both motors
are still connected to the controller board.  Again, it helps to refer
to Jordan's tuneup page to make sure you have them plugged in right
since he provided excellent pictures.

Hope this cures the problem!

Kevin Lasher

Subject:	Please Help!!!!
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 19:13:29
From:	Ayresrock97@aol.com
My name is John Cronin and I wanted to ask you for some advice regarding
my ETX which is two months old.

I was outside tonight with my ETX-90EC and it worked fine, motor etc.

I came inside and noticed that the scope was a little loose inside the
fork arms, not very loose but more than I had noticed before.  I
adjusted the declination knobs a little to see if that would make the
scope sit more firmly.  I than decided to lower my tripod legs, as they
had been fully extended.  While I was loosening the knobs on my tripod I
heard a VERY LOUD click from my hubble and when I put my hand on the
scope again it went limp in the fork mounting.  It is completely loose
and the motor to make the scope go up and down is running but the scope
is not moving.

Have you encountered this before.  I have no idea what to do.  Please
Help.  Thanks.

Mike here: If the DEC lock doesn't lock, I suspect the Right Tube Adapter has failed. It is a relatively easy fix. Meade can send you the part and you can do the replacement. You can see some photos and an explanation of the steps near the end of my initial ETX-90EC Comments page. Of course, you are still under warranty so you might want to return it to the dealer.

Subject:	 Broken DEC lock on ETX-90EC
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 06:25:00
From:	bcronber@mailbox1.tcfbank.com (Bob Cronberg)
Well, Mike, after reading your web site since buying my  ETX-90EC last
November, I have leaned a lot.  Many hundreds of dollars in accessories
later, I was looking forward to getting outside with my little purple
toy now that the weather has broken in Minnesota.  Yesterday afternoon,
after waking up from a late afternoon nap, I  was going to do a little
viewing out the open patio door to my deck.  I removed my custom
unbleached muslin dishtowel dust cover from the telescope.  Turned on
the power and button pushed thru the Autostar start up.  What's this??
The ETX will not swing up and down.  Ok, now touch the telescope and it
flops down to the stop.  I'll just tighten up the DEC knob.  Nice and
snug.  Still the tube flops up and down.  Ok, tighten somemore.  Oh Oh.
a little resistance and now the knob spins free.  I pull the knob away
from the fork and there is a cylinder of plastic firmly lodged on the
knob screw.  The edges are jagged.  I have broken off the threaded boss
that the knob goes into.  I took the tube off the fork mount and see
some steel gears and a hard plastic boss/axle arrangement that goes into
the fork mount.  The question is,  I could replace this part myself with
a new one.  Which would be the wisest choice??  Contact Meade and ask
for a new part under warranty(thereby admitting that I took it apart for
examination) or box the thing up and spend UPS charges to ship it to
Irvine , CA.  How sympathetic is Meade about user repairs??  I would
imagine the turnaround time would be several weeks...By the way, a
record temperature in Minneapolis yesterday...74 degrees and clear
skies...and a floppy telescope.
Mike here: The Right Tube Adapter has failed. It is a relatively easy fix. Meade can send you the part and you can do the replacement. You can see some photos and an explanation of the steps near the end of my initial ETX-90EC Comments page.

Subject:	Is my vertical motor dead?
Sent:	Sunday, March 5, 2000 11:48:47
From:	Y2Kaufman@aol.com
Here's a letter I had hoped I would never write.

While trying out some new toys (flexifocus, and crosshair 20mm lens)
from Scopetronics last night, in the middle of a slew to Hyades, the
scope stopped, and the Autostar displayed something like "Drive Motor

I turned the scope off and on, and the Autostar displayed "UNDER
CONSTRUCTION".  Pressing any key shifted the Autostar into TRAIN DRIVE
mode, where the scope moved horizontally and then sent back to "UNDER

I switched from the Autostar to the regular handbox and the scope would
move horizontally but not vertically.

I brought the scope inside and switched from AC to fresh batteries, but
got the same results.

I really hate the thought of mailing my scope across the country and
waiting weeks for it to be fixed.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your great site,

David Kaufman

P.S. I guess I've shifted from the silent majority to the vocal
Mike here: If the DEC lock doesn't lock, I suspect the Right Tube Adapter has failed. It is a relatively easy fix. Meade can send you the part and you can do the replacement. You can see some photos and an explanation of the steps near the end of my initial ETX-90EC Comments page.

And another response:

Subject:	 Re: Is my vertical motor dead?
Sent:	Sunday, March 5, 2000 14:48:57
From:	dcriner@ieee.org (Doug Criner)
If you can hear the gear motor running, but the 'scope doesn't move,
then Mike is probably right. However, I think that the Autostar assumes
that the 'scope is moving based only on the optical encoder that is part
of each motor's gear train. I don't see how a faulty DEC lock or RTA
would be sensed by the Autostar and lead to the messages you received in
the display.
And a reply:
Maybe I do not understand the previously reported DEC lock problem.  I
am able to point the scope by hand and physically tighten the vertical
lock and the scope stay where it was pointed.  However, the motor does
not engage, and the TRAIN DRIVES test fails.

I thought if the DEC lock was broken, that the scope would flop freely
along the axis with the slightest nudge.

Also, the fact that the Autostar never finishes the INITIALIZATION
sequence, and displays "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" upon turning it on, seems
rather ominous.

Please let me know if you think my troubles are related to the common EC
lock problem.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

David Kaufman
Mike here: Since the DEC Lock does lock, that is not the problem. Does sound like something is amiss with the drive itself.

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