ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK - OCTOBER 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: 90 vs 125 Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 05:05:32 From: email@example.com (Lynda Rybka) I recently sold my ETX RA and am about to buy an EC. I originally assumed that I would get a 90, but now I'm wondering if I should consider the 125. I am far from being anything but a beginner in astronomy. I have tried a bit of photography (terrestrial no astronomical yet). My long range plans are to purchase a LX200 (if I hit the lottery), so I have always felt that the size of the 90 is a good reason to stick with it. What do you think? 90 or 125? Thanks LyndaMike here: Optically, the larger aperture is nice to have but at the penalty of less portability. The ETX-125EC is still portable but not as portable as the ETX-90EC.
Subject: Field reports Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 19:30:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (E Mosser) I have kinda held off on the latest field reports...it seems you have had your hands full. My two cents is that your website is not only educational and informative, but also inspirational. Between October 10 and 15, I took advantage of the clear skys and lack of moon early in the evening. With the ETX90 I was able to have quite a bit of luck. As previously stated, I do not have any computer system, just a Peterson Field Guide. The recent Sky and Telescope pointed out several items. First that I located was Stock 12. It was about 20 arc minutes and I was able to resolve 25+ stars. It was on a line from Beta Cas thru NGC 7789 about 2 times that distance. I was able to locate M27, the Dumbell Nebula in Sagitta. Didn't see a dumbell detail, but the nebula was very obvious. Turned back to Cephus and located Mu Cephus. Now that is a red star! Just below it Struve 2816 and 2819 were in the same FOV @ 96X. 2819 is a double system with separtion of 12". 2816 is a triple system with separations of 12" & 20". The next night I revisited NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula and the nearby open cluster M52. There is a very interesting grouping of stars near M52 which appears to be shaped like a dipper with about 10 stars, all about 7 magnitude. Anyone else seen this? The double cluster, as always was just stunning, diamonds in the sky. Nearby was open cluster TR-2, which I described as a dyslectic upside down question mark in my notes. That is about as descriptive as I can get. I turned attention to the Andromeda area. Gamma And is a great double. I couldn't tell if it was yellow and blue or green. The open cluster NGC 752 was next, about 30 arc minutes. I counted 50+ stars. Jupiter is like a giant beach ball. Wow! The next night I started at Jupiter and then Saturn. After revisiting several items from earlier in the week, I went to Gamma Aries. I called this double cats eyes or twin peaks. The actual magnitude of the system is 4.8 and 4.8 with sep of 7.8" Go look at this double! Iota Triangulum was a tough double for me on the ETX. I couldn't resolve @ 48x or @96x with barlow. I then inserted the Paul Rini 14mm with 2x barlow for 178x. It was a little fuzzy so I dropped back to 96x and there it was. It is a tight double at 4" or so, with yellow and blue stars. Next was M34. What a disappointment. I thought this was a better open cluster. Well, the reason for my disappointment was readily visable. Clouds were moving in. I took a final look at Jupiter and noted the advancement of one of the moons to begin transit. Saturn was nice and I spotted one moon. Clouds were rolling in big time. With the moon getting more prominent, it is time to shut down for a few days. This can be a satisfying hobby with the right equipment and a little knowledge of the skys. Lets all hope the two major scope manufacturers can push the envelope and continue to provide better products. Ed Mosser email@example.com
Subject: My view of the ETX. Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 15:53:25 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John A. Horsley) I have noticed that a lot of the comments being posted about the ETX's as of late are of a negative nature. That the people who seem to have trouble with their scopes, go out of there way to voice their opinion, and complain in all directions about it as much, and as loudly as they possibly can. Why is it that when something does go wrong, a lot of people immediately think that the world's coming to an end and that they are the most important person on the Planet? I'm here to testify that I have an ETX, actually this is my second ETX! I originally bought my first a 90/RA, 2 1/2 years ago. I never had one problem with it. I loved that scope and took it with me everywhere. Then when I found out that they had redesigned the scope to include a DEC motor drive, and GoTo capabilities. I went to the local Meade dealership and traded my ETX-90/RA for the EC. The new scope as it sat, was of the same optic quality as my first, and now being able to slew the scope by using the handbox was a major plus over the older style. The tracking is acceptable, keeping objects dead center in the FOV for well over 10 minutes. It is an all around better scope. Now on to Autostar.... I waited for a month after I purchased the scope, for my Autostar to come in. When finally it came in... I hooked it up, and powered on the scope. Well.... The scope started slewing to parts unknown, hitting the dead stop on the scope. The unit was defective!!! Luckily, the dealer had gotten two units in and I was able to exchange it right away. Now armed with a new Autostar, I hooked everything up once again, and had no problems with this one. The Autostar came originally loaded with version 1.1j (Remember that?) I've suffered through all the upgrades to the latest version 1.3b. Each upgrade has been better than the last and this shows to me that Meade does care and is trying to better it's product. I do have to say that, I think that Meade rushed to much to get the Autostar product out on the market. If they would have waited until they had a sound unit, I think that this would have kept the vultures more at bay. Anyway, I have had a blast with this scope! I do a rather involved setup and alignment, more than most do. But I'd venture to say that I get probably 90-95% of my GoTos in the FOV of the 26mm EP and a 100% in the view finder! That's good enough for me! Remember People, This is a $600.00 telescope and a $150.00 computer, not a $3000.00 LX200!!!!! One should keep this in mind, and go out and just enjoy the scope and not worry so much if it misses and object now and again! And if your scope looses a little tracking and the image moves off center... ADJUST THE SCOPE! I also have a 10"LX3, no computer here just setting circles, I can see more in just a few minutes with my ETX/Autostar, than in a whole night with my LX. Try turning off your Autostar computer sometime and use RA & DEC coordinates to locate an object. You'll really appreciate Autostar then! I'm not trying to say that if your scope is really doing strange things, that you just grin and bare it! No if you have a problem call Meade and get it resolved. I have found them to be most helpful, and if you don't, then take the scope back to the dealer and have them deal with Meade! In fact, I just got a Meade Electric Focuser. (Been waiting for it for almost 8 months!) and went to install it on my scope the other night. I've seen on the internet postings about taking extreme caution when installing an electric focuser on an ETX. It seems that if you don't get the focuser firmly mounted to the focuser shaft, then when you power up and run the focuser it can run the shaft into the scope housing and fall inside the scope. Well... even knowing this, and taking extra precautions against it, I still ran the shaft into the housing! I called Meade and they had me send the scope in with the electric focuser. They're going to fix the scope and install the electric focuser for me. Thanks, Meade! When I was talking to tech support and telling them about what happened, I mentioned that if they would use a notched slotted shaft instead of round one that this wouldn't happen. They agreed with me... Maybe they'll change it. So if you get an electric focuser BE CAREFUL! So what's my point! The ETX-90/ec and Autostar in my opinion is a great combo! Not without it's quirks mind you, but ones that can be lived with. It's an affordable, GoTo scope that will let you explore the wonders of the universe. If you are a beginner looking for a first scope, this is a dandy! But, keep in mind that this is a small aperture scope. You're not going to see images through this telescope that look like the pictures you've seen in books. And most of all, READ THE MANUAL! Then read it again! Don't expect to have perfect results right out of the box. You'll have to get to know your scope, and develop your skills at Astronomy. If you're an experienced Astronomer, an ETX is a little Jewel! You can take it with you anywhere, and have it setup and tracking in minutes. Often am I surprised at what you can see with this scope! How crisp and sharp the images are. On a clear night you can get down to 9-10 magnitude. But like I said before; "This scope is not a LX200!" Don't expect it to be. How many times have I seen postings on the internet, knocking the ETX for it's drive system? Saying that it's just not good enough to do photography with. Have these people ever read the manual??? PLEASE! It states right in there that these scopes are not adequate for long term photography and that they weren't designed for that purpose. So why do I keep seeing these whiners complaining about it??? If you want to do Astrophotography, then don't be so CHEAP! Get the equipment to do the JOB! Bottom Line: I like my ETX scope and would recommend one to anyone. It's not a Celestron, so don't compare it to one. Rate it for itself. I've told you my opinion and what some of my experiences have been with the ETX, if you have one go out and enjoy it! If you're looking to buy one... just remember... Take it out and enjoy it!!! Clear Skies -n- Keep Lookin UP.... John
Subject: DEC failure Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 1999 21:20:39 From: email@example.com (John Chalfen) My dec failed back in May, got the replacement and it worked fine. Seemed to be pressed better. Took the 90/EC out last week and noticed that the dec seemed a little sloppy. Brought inside to investigate and was amused to watch the OTA go from pointing to ceiling to pointing to floor by itself. Removing OTA showed the cause: the DEC knob had sheared off again. Compared to original tube adapter and it had sheared in same place. Either I got an old one, or this may be something to be aware of. The guy at Meade was kind of stunned but is sending new one. -------------------------------------------------- TIA and TTFN (Don't forget to wear your peril sensitive sunglasses.) firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com (I know...I know...)
Subject: Fwd: ETX-90EC W/Autostar and JMI Motofocus Sent: Monday, October 11, 1999 12:35:17 From: Wtbesq@aol.com Well, I fixed the DEC lock failure, and also took the opportunity to perform the ETX tune-up. That helped the scope's accuracy a lot. I received the new JMI Motofocus cable arrangement. It is set up with a small control box mounted to a bracket into which the Autostar is pressed, so you have the control buttons right next to the Autostar buttons. This was rather handy, as you always had the focuser controls available for adjustment without having to scroll through the Autostar menu. On the negative side, it adds some bulk to the Autostar, and the Autostar tended to slip out of the bracket during use or when trying to set the now-bigger unit down. All in all, I found the new Motofocus to be at least as good as the earlier models of the motofocusers I have used on this and other telescopes, but it suffers from a consistent problem. It is difficult to slow the motor down enough to make very fine adjustments without the power then being too low to turn the motor. Any ideas? Best regards, Bill BurghartMike here: I have the original MotoFocus but control it with the Scopetronix Microstar II+ controller. Slow speed hasn't been a problem but I can see how it could be. Don't know if there is any fix (short of changing electronics).
Subject: Berserk RA Drive Sent: Sunday, October 10, 1999 21:15:01 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dewain Belgard and/or Danny Smith) I just bought an ETX90/EC -- used it three nights so far. I didn't buy the autostar. I've had none of the problems so far with a loose dec lock or any of the RA lock problems I've read about on this site. However tonight, after slewing west to east using the EC, as soon as I release the key, the drive immediately turns the scope west a degree or two. This happened maybe 10 or 12 times. Also when slewing west to east, several times when I released the key, it took off on its own. No way to stop it except to switch the power off. I'm wondering if some of the problems some users have attributed to autostar firmware may be something more basic. In disgust I switched the power off tonight and let it sit a while. Later when I tried it again, it behaved perfectly. I'm thinking strongly of returning this thing for a refund and looking around for one of the older models with manual slow motions. I love the optics. Best I've ever used. But I don't have much time for observing and I don't plan to use what I have fiddling with a berserk EC.Added later:
Well, I've repented my intention to return my little ETX90. I've been unable to get it to repeat its naughty behavior of last night. I called Meade. The young man was nice, but not very helpful. He said the problem of the drive rotating to the west a bit after I release the key on an eastward slew is probably related to the gears working out the slack. I don't think so. This was more than a litle recoil to the west. The movement was immediate, the motor had time to whine and the movement west was very positive. He seemed to think the runaway behavior after releasing the key on a westward slew was likely related to a transient problem in the EC's little processor. I think the latter is likely the cause of both misbehaviors. Remember -- I was NOT using the autostar, so this was definitely not a software problem. A day doesn't go by that my PC at work doesn't have a nervous breakdown or two. And the one at home goes psychotic at least once a week. I've had the etc90 almost a week now, so one little psychotic episode may not be so bad, though you would think the electronic controller's little processor is about as complex as one in a microwave oven -- and ought to be as stable. Anyway, I figure I can't lose with this little instrument even if the drive totally malfunctions. You would expect to pay a lot more just for an optical assembly of this quality-- minus a drive altogether. This site is a great service to etx90 devotees. Thanks. Dewain email@example.comMore info:
Well it happened again this morning. Exactly the same symptoms. Runs away to the west after a westward slew. Swings back west after an eastward slew. This morning I used an external power source. The guy at Meade had suggested low batteries could cause erratic behavior. So now it's done it both with batteries and on an external power source. So low batteries is NOT the problem. It did it this morning immediately after power on. So heating up something is not causing it. The solution was simple. Cut the power off. Leave it off a few seconds. Power on again and all is well. I'm not so upset this time now that I know this may happen sometimes and what to do about it. But it would be nice to find out what's happening and fix it.
Subject: Kudos and Questions... Sent: Sunday, October 10, 1999 12:48:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dick Seymour) Your site has been a great help to a new ETX owner. I bought a used ETX-90/EC at Rivers Camera Shop in Dover NH (they advertise in Sky&Tele, and i was visiting the area last month). I was planning to pick up a C-8 or similar, but two hours of pouring over their large collection of used gear finally resulted in walking away with an ETX/EC. I live in Seattle (high light pollution, frequent in-city haze, frequent clouds) and picked up an Autostar from the local Captain's Maps ... and it's been GREAT! Having a scope which can get going (aligned) from the few visible stars and then find the Ring Nebula on the first try is a joy. The scope seems to be happy (compared to a lot of your correspondent's problems), but, since it's used, i have no idea if it's been back to Meade in its former life. The new controller came with 1.1j , and i've since loaded it with 1.3b (after building an rs232 cable from your website's data). My only accessories (so far) are a Televue 8mm Plossel, a Bright Star atlas and a Sky&Tel Messier chart. That chart is really handy for quick Messier-lookups. Now I'm on my second set of AA cells, and trying to power-cord it. Your site had the numbers (5.5mm /2.5mm connector) and load data ("scope draws 200ma, moving"), but i'd appreciate two more nuggets of information (one easy, one harder). First: what's the Official Meade AC Adapter's ratings (from the module itself)? I know it'll be 12vdc, but how many milliamps do they claim? The second question is harder: is it a -regulated- 12vdc? The easy way to answer that is simply to measure the adapter's output with a voltmeter, when it's -not- plugged into the ETX. I purchased a Radio Shack 273-1773 500ma 12v adapter, but found it was putting out 15volts (unloaded)! I gave it about a 80 ma load (100 ohm resistor) and it only dropped to 14v. Since your correspondent said "20 ma resting, 200 ma moving", I'm (as yet) unwilling to plug the adapter into the ETX for fear of overvoltage damage. RS also has "regulated" supplies, but the 300ma 273-1662 wasn't in stock. As a sideshow to the above, let me warn folks that Radio Shack is now selling their power adapters -without- a bunch of Adaptaplugs... you get to choose a free one when you buy the adapter. The 5.5mm/2.5mm which fits the ETX is letter "N" of their series (273-1717). Which (of course) my RS didn't have! (not even an empty hook on the wall... they went from M to O.) Since i wanted to make an extension cord anyway, i negotiated a solder-set of the 274-1573 connectors a a replacement for the non-stocked N, and used a left-over Adaptaplug for the "two-pin" end. My experiences with the 1.3b software have been mixed. I'd hoped that they'd "fixed" the trait of no speed control while doing a Sync... it runs at whatever speed you last moved at -outside- of Sync. A handy chart would be the list of "fixes" the various versions have added. (they have that for the downloading softare, but not a one-list-has-all for the Autostar's) Something which i could swear didn't happen with the 1.1j software is an unwarranted Slew in the siderial direction after doing a Sync. I'll GOTO (near) an object, then Sync to center it, hit ENTER, hear the siderial drive engage...and then about 5 seconds later the scope will slew a half degree or so in the forward siderial direction... driving the object right out of view. It's almost as if they were "correcting" for the time the drive was idle during my Sync operation. (but a degree is 2 minutes...and i don't take quite that long to Sync) During my build-it-myself assembly of a power adapter, i've been watching how the ETX judges battery life. It ran fairly reliably down to a reported 38%, then got very confused. The Altitude (Dec) drive stopped working smoothly at that time. Along the way i measured the batteries' voltages... "80%" seems to be 10 volts across the pack. The ETX90 is a pretty good in-city scope... the high contrast gives an apparent "black sky" behind stars, and it easily cuts through the murk. We've been lucky to have some clear evenings here in Seattle. The Autostar's "Constellation" go-to lists have been fun for toruing areas i've overlooked in the past. Two "wish list" items for Meade and the Autostar: (1) speed control during SYNC... if the last thing you did was a slow touch-up, and the next GOTO ended up way off (such as a planet), speed control is a must-have. (2) -maximum- slew-speed control during GOTO. This is going to sound weird, but i'd like to -limit- the slew speed during GOTOs... this would allow appreciating the stars and sights which flow past during (say) Constellation tours, rather than always going at warp-factor 9. Clear skies- --Dick Seymour email@example.com SeattleMike here: The Meade AC Adapter shows output of 12VDC, 1.5A. I measured the unloaded output and it was 16.5VDC.
Thanks for the rapid response... I suspect Meade's 1.5amps is to cover a stalled motor condition, and/or for future bigger systems... the 16.5v unloaded means that the radio shack's "paltry" 15v shouldn't be a problem. (but i won't hold you nor your site responsible if smoke curls... this is on my own head) ... thanks again! --dick seymour (now to go back to convincing it where "home" (as a Site) is...)
Subject: Mike-question on Polar aligning an ETX90EC Sent: Wednesday, October 6, 1999 10:22:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Singer) Question...in polar aligning the scope, I understand that one needs to adjust the mount to one's latitude, level the mount, and then level the OTA and set the Dec. circle to 0. How, when in a northern location like Portland, Oregon, where the mount has to be adjusted to 46degrees, can one level the OTA? The base of the telescope gets in the way and prevents this...am I missing something? Thanks for feedback, Don Singer email@example.com.Mike here: There is a difference in the HOME position for Polar Mounting and Altazimuth Mounting, as describ the Autostar manual. In Polar mode, the base is tilted for your latitude, the OTA is rotated in RA to the proper HOME position, the DEC placed at 90 degrees, the ETX OTA pointed towards true North, and the Autostar mode set for Polar. In Alt/Az, the base is level, the DEC set for 0 degrees, and the Autostar mode set for Alt/Az. If you don't have the Autostar, the Polar Aligning is similar to putting the ETX into the Polar HOME position: the base is tilted for your latitude, the DEC placed at 90 degrees, and the ETX OTA pointed true North. You don't have to set the DEC for 90 degrees but it does make aligning North easier.
Emailed you today re: above...then a big duh! came about...I realized that when polar aligning the scope, the OTA should be pointed north and, as a result, the base does not get in the way. Wish they had a better DEC adjustment though, so that when it is loosened to adjust the scale it does not loosen the DEC itself. Thanks for the great site.
Subject: ETX DC Power adapter Sent: Tuesday, October 5, 1999 10:27:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Craig, Tom) I spent an hour and 27 min last night searching the archives for a post regarding fabrication of a cigarette lighter DC adapter that listed the Radio Shack parts and closed with a comment that the Meade equivalent was not that expensive and a viable alternative if you didn't want to build one. I couldn't find it anywhere! I found a couple about RS 12v power supplies (I tried searching every which way). Well, I want to make one for my ETX125 while it is away in the shop. Off the top of your head, do you recall where the message was? If you do, point me in the right direction please. If not, sorry to bother you- no need to reply. Take Care, TomMike here: The search engine I use is not perfect so I apologize for that. I don't know if this is the reference you were searching for but I searched the site for "cigarette" and found one page. I then searched that page and found a reference to a Radio Shack item.
Subject: ETX90EC Sent: Tuesday, October 5, 1999 07:10:55 From: Lyon@CSD.com (Lyon, Jim) I believe I wrote you about my ETX90EC with the stiff RA drive. I have decided, since it is not in warranty, that I would like to open it up and fix it. Do you have a reference to opening the base and freeing up the RA drive? Does the scope have bearings or Teflon pads that it is supposed to move on? Any idea what is causing the binding?Mike here: Check the Tech Tips page. Also the Scopetronix tune-up page (link on the Tech Tips page).
Subject: A New form of DEC problem ? Sent: Saturday, October 2, 1999 21:54:32 From: email@example.com (Andrew Jackson) I searched your site and could not find any other example of my ETX problem. I was wondering if you anyone out there had heard of this:- When using the ETX with it's batteries installed I can do an Atl Az align. When I use a 12 volt power supply the DEC always goes running way past the correct point, sometimes it nearly crashes into the fork arm. On my previous ETX the DEC and 12 volt power supply combination was fine. Andrew Jackson firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: I don't know if this is the problem or not since you didn't specify which model/modifications of the ETX you have. But the original ETX used 4.5-volts DC for the RA motor and the ETX-90EC 12-volts DC for the RA and DEC motors.
Sorry I assumed the ETX-90EC, but your quite right to mention the other possibilities. It is an ETX-90EC with no modification or tinkering that has the problem with the 12 Volt power adapter . Strangely my previous ETC-90EC had no trouble with the very same power adapter. I can not imagine why running from the 12volt power supply would confuse the DEC motor/encoder etc. The RA is fine with batteries or power adapter. The DEC is fine on batteries only. If I find out from elsewhere I will be sure to let you know in case it happens to someone else. Thanks once more for you kind help and service to the ETX community.
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