Last updated: 28 February 1999

This page is for actual user comments and information on the newly released Meade ETX-90/EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to both the original ETX model and the new model will continue to be posted on other pages as appropriate.

February User Comments (2/28/99)
Current User Comments
ETX-90/EC Press Release (1/28/99)
ETX-90/EC Accessories (1/28/99)

User Comments

Subject:	 ETX to pc cable parts list
Sent:	Sunday, February 28, 1999 20:10:49
From:	mtriola@ibm.net (Marc M. Triola, M.D.)
I used the info in your Tech Tips section to successfully make an
Autostar -> PC serial cable as described by Cameron Brennan  and Dick
Walters.  The parts were about $5 at Radio Shack and consisted of a 25
ft handset cord (#279-305), a 9 pin female serial connector
(#276-1428a), and the serial connector hood (#276-1508).  Took about 20
minutes to put together and has been working very well with the demo
version of SkyMap Pro 5. Radio Shack also has a good power supply that
can be used with the ETX. It is part # 273-1653B.  The output is 12V DC
at 1 amp.  Its a very nice supply with a built in reset button and costs

Just thought some people might like to know the part numbers.  Keep up
the great work!
Marc M. Triola, M.D.
NYU Medical Center


Subject:	 ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Sunday, February 28, 1999 19:46:32
From:	pthorpe@mediaone.net (Peter Thorpe)
More observations on the new ETX:

1)  Power Adapter - Radio Shack part # 273-1662 with the "green" colored
tip with TIP+ aligned and adapter switch set for 12 volts.  Please be
careful with polarity as "ALL DICLAIMERS APPLY"

2) Definite bug in the Longitude register.  When doing an edit to a
custom location the < Lon: > mode WILL NOT accept anything but decades
in the last two positions (minutes).  For instance it will register 20
but not 26 or it will register 30 but not 32.  UPON CHECKING THE ENTRY
IT WILL HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO 10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80 or 90 if anything
like 23, 45, 66 or 81 (anything but a decade count) ........ have been
used when the enter key is pushed and you think it's been accepted - it
gets changed to the nearest decade.

3) Yes SkyMap works very well with serial adapter (from SCOPETRONIX). 
For some reason it will not work with THESKY software ... they said they
are working on it though.

4) So far we have three people in Minneapolis area interested in an
informal get together any other takers should e-mail me.  Next dark
skies will be week-end of March 20/21 .... Maybe then?

e-mail is pthorpe@mediaone.net

As always, Mike, thanks for the great site.

Subject:	 ETX comparison
Sent:	Sunday, February 28, 1999 17:03:22
From:	cdumas@capecod.net (Chris Dumas)
I have owned the "classic" ETX since November and have enjoyed every
minute out with it.  I recently have had the opportunity to purchase the
new ETX for the outdoor education center I run on Cape Cod.  I took the
scope out the other night...here are some thoughts.  I felt that the
hand controller was a fine addition, it really made centering objects
easier and quicker....though if the electronics or batteries ever go bad
in the field you would have no way to slow-mo track.  I'm not sure why,
but the new scope also has a bad vibration when focusing (much more so
than my old  ETX).  I wonder if this is caused by the plastic base? Both
ETX's are mounted on Meade tripods.  Anyway, I was happy with the new
scope, but not overwhelmed.  I am not sure which one I would personally
choose.  Thanks again for updating your site so frequently!

Subject:	  etx90-ec/wedgepod
Sent:	Sunday, February 28, 1999 7:59:51
From:	riccatbj@adams.edu (Brian Riccatone)
I received the new adapter for the wedgepod the other day and installed
it shortly after.  It is a solid chunk of metal which installs over the
battery compartment and screws into the two baseplate holes.  Once in,
it is a very sturdy mount.  This did not go on without a hitch though. 
After installing and setting back up, I powered on the etx and
discovered that the scope would slew at only the fastest speed in R.A.,
no matter which setting!  Also, during tracking, it would automatically
slew to the west by itself.  So there I sat scratching my head saying No
Way!  Since all this didn't happen until I put the adapter on, I dedided
to loosen it up just a bit.  I had my scope back! For some reason, maybe
someone out there can help me out, when the mounting screws are
tightened completely, it causes the R.A. to go haywire. (Dec was fine) 
It was just a matter of a half turn or so to get the scope back to
normal without compromising the sturdiness of the mount.

Aside from that, the scope is performing very well.  I was getting oohhs
and aahhs from some first time skywatchers the other night while showing
them saturn, the 1/4 moon, and M42(looked excellent even with the bright
moon nearby!)  The scope continues to impress.  Looking forward to
having the blue moon retreat to get on with some clear dark sky
observing here in southern CO.  Thanks again, and serenity and happiness
to all under the night sky.

Brian Riccatone

Subject:	 ETX 90-EC
Sent:	Thursday, February 25, 1999 14:36:40
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
I've had my ETX 90-EC for three weeks now. Ireland in February is not
the best time of year for clear skies but I have had some success. The
first night was the trapezium and Saturn through light cloud. Four
components of the trapezium were easy at 48x and Saturn stayed visible
in the scope at 98x despite being COMPLETELY INVISIBLE by eye through
light cloud! Cloud band on the disk was easy, though no Cassini
division. (To be fair, not expected through the cloud.) Jupiter through
hazy cloud a few days later showed easy cloud bands with very distinct
colour and of course, the Jovian moons. Speaking of moon... ...WOW!!!!
I'm stunned! I never saw the moon like that before!

One good clear night gave me lots of cool clusters, and I cleanly split
the components of Castor (3") at 98x. that said, the first diffraction
ring was only half a ring. Collimation could be out, but I'm not too
worried, yet. Anyone else have this problem? Can anyone tell me of a
closer double that SHOULD be resolved?

Having seen a few open clusters (and Castor) I decided that I would go
for a shorter f.l. eyepiece, rather than a 40mm. So, when I get a chance
to use it, I'll tell you about the Celestron 17mm plossl (83x/166x). Oh
yeah, I love the coffee sound, but until I try it out at 3am, I don't
know if it wakes the neighbours! *smile*

Clear skies all,


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.

Subject:	 Interfacing with the ETX90/EC
Sent:	Thursday, February 25, 1999 2:34:02
From:	KVenables@avimo.co.uk (Keith Venables)
Although I live in the UK, I managed to buy an ETX90/EC and Autostar on
trips to the USA. (Nature World in the Galleria, DALLAS had Autostars in
the shop last week). I read that some users are having difficulty with
alignment, my Autostar is version 1.0c and clearly states that the
"smaller fork" needs to be above the control panel. This removes any
ambiguity and I have had no problem. I have a Manfrotto #075 tripod with
#029 head, and have made a simple interface adaptor out of a 6" diameter
1/4" thick aluminium plate. The ETX sits on the plate and is securely
fastened by two 1/4" screws. I recessed the screws holding this on to
the tripod quick mount plate, so that they do not foul the battery
compartment, and it makes for a really steady arrangement. The ETX90/EC
is not available in the UK for some months, so I am having difficulty in
obtaining some of the accessories. I built a PC to Autostar cable out of
a telephone handset lead, this is the only source I have found for the
small connector. You have to shop around a bit to find one that has the
little plastic lug you press to extract the plug. Some are meant only to
be removed using a small screwdriver or similar. So far the Autostar is
working well with SkyMapPro5. I cannot find an AC or car adaptor that
will fit the ETX90/EC power socket. The centre pin seams to have a small
ridge on its top edge that prevents normal plugs from entering. Does
anyone know of a source of plugs or leads? I am new to the ETX and would
agree that the finder is less than perfect (British conservatism!), but
with an Autostar it becomes much less of an issue. The noise dosent
bother me either. I've not had too many clear nights (missed the
conjunction like everyone else), but so far can only say I am very
impressed. I've started with the 26mm, 9.7mmSP, and short barlow, which
seem to be a useful spread of lenses. Are the UWA eyepieces worth using?
Next I'm going to try interfacing my Starlight Xpress CCD camera, I'll
report progress.

Subject:	 My experience with the new ETX90/EC
Sent:	Wednesday, February 24, 1999 9:43:59
From:	bcucchi@amidoduco.com (Barry Cucchi)
I purchased the scope in January and about 3 weeks later, the autostar
computer arrived. Cool! I have similar observations to others; the
finderscope reeks, electronic focus is a must, and there seems to be no
"hard stop" in verticle movement.  I check out Jupiter, Saturn and M42
the first night. Very satisfied! I used a 40mm PLssel eyepiece  and 2x
televue barlow along with the supplied 26 mm.

I was somewhat disappointed in the sparce manual with the autostar, but
the on-line navigation is pretty straight forward. I went through the
initializing and "motor training" with no problems. The sky was going to
be perfect that evening too!

Once it became dark, I had an immediate problem with determining the
"home" position. Turning the scope ccw until it stops resulted in no
stopping at all...uh oh...better check this web site. After reading the
experiences of others, I got the scope in the home position and Polar
Aligned it. (Oh, it's mounted on the Meade Field Tripod.)

So now, I'm ready to do the alignment procedure...the autostar selects
Sirius and noisily begins to slew to it...it moves in RA, and seems
lined up with the star on that axis, but there is no movement in
declination. I try the arrow controls to move the scope in
dec...nothing. Bummer!

I take the whole rig in the house...try the hand controller...no
movement in dec. I try the recalibrate motor procedure...the autostar
suggests the batteries are going dead. Can't be...check the battery
alarm...it says bats are at full capacity. My new toy is broke!

Called the dealer, Astronomics. They are helpful as usual (why buy a
scope anywhere else). They get me in touch with a techie at Meade. He
suggests that I return the scope to them and tthey'll have it back in a
week. Well, it's mailed; hope to have it back soon.

Great site; thanks Mike!


Subject:	 ETX Newbie sees the Light!
Sent:	Tuesday, February 23, 1999 7:30:07
From:	kyounger@netscape.com (Kris Younger)
A long buried interest in astronomy has surfaced again due to my 7 year
old daughter's interest. A recent trip to the Onizuka Visitor's Center
on Mauna Kea with her made us both realize how much there is to see, and
gives a chance to do the Father/Daughter thing, which is always welcome.
I hadn't spent any real time observing since I was about 13, so it
shocked me to discover the bug very much alive.  Being a bit on the
technical side, I thought the ETX/EC was a great idea, and after reading
all the material I could on the ETX on your site and others, I figured
that last Saturday was an auspicious day to finally buy one. Added a
padded case and the seemingly required #126 Barlow.

Saturday afternoon and evening was the moon and the Orion Nebula. Simply
put, breathtaking. The ETX was easy to use, easy to setup, and I found
even in alt-az mode, easy to track these objects by handcontroller. The
only thing I'm still not content with is the finderscope, either its
attitude (I need to get the right angle one) nor its alignment, which is
close, but not good enough. Seeing was not great, with high clouds
coming and going, but the experience of learning the ETX's habits was
very enjoyable. Mine seems to be one of the good ones, I like the
motorized control, and find the noise caused by the motors while slewing
not overly loud, even at the fastest rate. "Electric Can opener" seems
to be the right metaphor to describe it. I thought I was seeing things,
when the Trapezium popped into view, along with the gray clouds of gas,
I just kept looking and looking, trying to convince myself that I was
truly seeing such a sight with a small scope. My daughter and I were

But now, last night (Monday) was the way it should be. Jupiter with a
few bands, all four Galilean moons, low on the horizon and with good
seeing. Just above it, was Venus, bright and in phase, although I had a
bit of tree branch to contend with. Saturn and Titan, and I must look
again tonight if I can, but I thought I could make out the Cassini

The Moon at Quarter was terrific, detail stood out, making it look
serene and cold. Fabulous view. Orion Nebula too got revisited, and
spent some time crawling around Orion, with some great results.

All this makes want to pick up an Autostar as soon as they are available
in the retail store here by me. I also think I'm gonna go out at lunch
time and get a quickcam to start taking apart and hack into CCD imager.
Already ordered the SkyMapPro5 software, since several folks have
confirmed you can drive an Autostar with SkyMap in LX200 mode. I saw one
place that had the cable I need too. I figure a QuickCam Color and one
of the photo adaptors with a project box from Radio Shack and little bit
of time hacking and I may just be able to record some (and more) of what
I can see with an ETX. Maybe a tour of the Messiers - Thanks for a great
site, and Thanks to Meade for a great telescope.


Subject:	  etx-90/ec
Sent:	Sunday, February 21, 1999 11:45:34
From:	riccatbj@adams.edu (Brian Riccatone)
I originally bought the classic etx last may and I had many great nights
of observing with it, so when the new ec came out I became interested
and contacted the Natural Wonders store where I originally purchased my
first one.  To somewhat of a surprise, the manager informed me that I
would be able to swap mine for the new one as long as the scope was in
good condition with no dings and with original store receipts and
packaging.  Well, needless to say when I got a chance, I went up for the
replacement and came back with a very fine scope. My first impressions
of the scope are limited for now since I received the scope yesterday
and unfortunately had an overcast night.  The two stars I was able to
see though looked good even through the haze, and when I slewed at all
speeds I had little to no vibration.  I like the feel of the control and
the ease of operation.  The noise is a little on the loud side, but that
really doesn't matter to me.  At first, the gears sounded a little
grindy but take up backlash within a second at the slowest speeds and I
see virtually no backlash at the 5 and .75 deg/sec speeds.  I think I
grabbed a good one here! I don't know if it's just me, but this scope
actually seems to be put together with a little more care than my
original etx.  The OTA is a richer purple than the last and the whole
scope feels a bit more solid.  More importantly, the optics seem to be a
little nicer also.  The corrector lens has a much deeper coating to it
than the last etx and the primary mirror also looks smoother around the
edges to me.  The new Dec and R.A. locks are also solid and more
reassuring than the old ones.  Overall, I am very impressed with the new
look. After seeing the mixed reports on the autostar, I'll probably stay
away from it for awhile.  After all, searching the sky, discovering and
learning positions of objects is one of the main reasons that I enjoy
going out at night.  I would like to get the auto focus though in the
near future to eliminate the wiggles especially during the cold winter
nights. Thanks Mike for the work that you put into this great website
and keeping it so up-to-date.  It's my favorite spot on the web and the
reason that I own this scope.  I hope to send some observation results
with the new scope in the very near future.

Brian Riccatone

Subject:	 New ETX
Sent:	Sunday, February 21, 1999 8:56:34
From:	edbrentnall@mindspring.com (Ed Brentnall)
Pulled the ETX out of the box and on the first night did an easy align
and tracked both Saturn and the moon. Worked a total of five stars. I
have not touched a scope in thirty years and had lots more fun with the
ETX. Yes the manual is bad but figure it out. This is a fun little
Ed Brentnall

Subject:	 ETX report
Sent:	Friday, February 19, 1999 19:44:50
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Well, I managed to get out for about a half hour of cloud free skies
tonight, just after twilight, with the ETX/Autostar. This time, I made
sure that the base was LEVEL (using two small bubble levels), input the
CORRECT time, DST ("NO"), and location settings, set the forks' Home
position according to the manual, then aimed the scope to TRUE NORTH
(using the North Star to assist) by moving the entire base, then fine
tuning it by moving the forks just a tiny bit, set the OTA at 0 deg
altitude, and then did the Easy Align. The first star, Sirius, was just
outside the field of view of the 26mm eyepiece, so I centered it, hit
Enter, and went on to the second star. That one was almost dead center.
Centered and hit Enter, and alignment was done. Entered Saturn, hit
GOTO, and the scope slewed right to it, almost perfectly centered. I did
the Synch function on it, and then went on to Pleides. Dead center. Next
was M36. Dead center. Then M38, dead center. Then the clouds rolled in.
The ETX/Autostar got me locked on to easy objects in about 1/3 to 1/2
the time it would have taken me using my 6" Newt, not including actual
observing time, and without using a finder scope at all.

Keep in mind, I was inside of light polluted and hazy Philadelphia, and
these objects are obviously fairly easy targets for any scope. If that
is what the ETX/Autostar can do under those conditions, however, I can
hardly wait to see what it does for me with all those many other dimmer
or more difficult objects that I have always just not bothered with out
of laziness or because they were just too much of a pain to deal with
using star hopping or inaccurate setting circles, as well as on those
same easy objects under better skies. This thing DOES WORK when it is
properly set up, and we are talking about someone here who has used the
unit only two times, for a grand total of less than two hours time to go
through the learning curve.

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'

Subject:	 Play in RA axis on new ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Friday, February 19, 1999 16:33:06
From:	sbinkley@mindspring.com (Mindspring Email)
Could you post this in the comments section for the ETX-90/EC?  Perhaps
some other new owner could advise me.

My new ETX-90/EC seems to have excessive play in the RA axis.  Even when
locked there's enough slop to move the optical tube around about a
quarter of an inch at the end.  Also, if I pick the scope up by the
forks, there seems to be about 1/8 inch vertical play in the RA axis. 
The DEC axis is nice and tight with nearly no play in it.

Also, when training the motors, scope movement is smooth and straight in
the vertical axis (DEC).  However, when slewing left and right on the RA
axis, there is also up and down (depending on which way it's moving)
motion as it takes up the slop in the axis.

As an owner of an earlier ETX , I know that the mount has never been its
best feature, nor do I expect the same kind of precision found in my
LX200.  Could other new owners advise me about what is normal play in
the fork mount and what action, if any, I need to take.

I can be reached at sbinkley@mindspring.com.


Subject:	 ETX and Autostar Problem
Sent:	Friday, February 19, 1999 15:54:11
From:	drainey1@midsouth.rr.com (Doug Rainey)
I have been trying to get this damn thing to work for days and I finally
figured it out.

If your having problems with getting the scope to point in the right
places, check your Lat and Long manually.  I discovered that it was
placing me at -35 degrees when it should have been +35 degrees.  Once I
fixed that problem it worked fine.

In other words, don't rely on the site you chose during setup, verify
your location with the Lat and Long.

Thanks for the great site....

Subject:	 ETX/CE Dec. Hard Stops
Sent:	Thursday, February 18, 1999 7:45:57
From:	dick@dwalters.com (Dick Walters)
From e-mail traffic, it appears the first shipment of ETX/CE scopes did
NOT have hard stops in the DEC axis to keep the tube and viewfinder from
cratering against the base or yoke.  Apparently this feature (mentioned
in the handbook) was added to subsequent scopes. One message mentioned
the owner had returned his first scope without the stops and the
replacement scope had them. Conversations with Meade tech support deny
the existence of DEC hard stops on the ETX/CE.  My scope does not have
them and I've already found that they would have been handy, especially
knocking the VF and the scope out of alignment in the dark.  All scopes
do have stops in the RA axis to keep the wires from tearing loose.

Another confusing issue with the new scope is the RA "home position",
which allows the base to be positioned in the center of its travel.  The
drill is to turn it to the hard stop, then turn it back so that the yoke
is over the control panel.  Meade tech support said turn it CW to the
stop then back till the Dec scale with the numbers is over the control
panel.  The Autostar manual says CCW to the stop then back till the
"fork arm" is over the control panel.  The Autostar setup display says
the "smaller" fork arm. Probably not important so long is it's set
between the stops.  The Autostar manual says to hold down the mode
button 2 sec for status of the telescope position, batteries, etc. What
is doesn't say is that nothing happens till you subsequently press the
up or down buttons. Another thing I noticed is that unless the RA lock
is engaged, pressing the "Park" function will cause the RA motors to run
forever.  I guess it's counting clicks on the encoder which is then

Dick Walters

Subject:	 ETX-EC comments
Sent:	Wednesday, February 17, 1999 20:31:12
From:	mkelsey@mail.okus.com (Mark Kelsey)
Great site.  Here is an edited version of the letter that accompanied my
ETX-EC that I returned to the vendor after just one week.  I had already
made a deal to sell my original ETX but backed out when the EC turned
out to be too problematic.  I'll keep my old ETX for a while.   Still, I
intend to buy an ETX-EC sometime in the future (when they get the bugs
worked out), but right now I am very disappointed in Meade for releasing
a product that's not ready for prime time.

After both "Easy Align" or "Two Star Align" the ETX-EC never finds a
selected GOTO target. I have precisely Trained the scope and set the
location and time (exactly via WWVB) but have only once had a desired
object appear in the eyepeice after selecting it. I precisely set the
scope in Home position and am very careful when aligning on the selected
stars. But after all this, the scope cant even find the very same
alignment stars it just had me point it to. Heres an example, I used
Easy Align which automatically selected Sirius then Alioth for
alignment. After aligning on Sirius the scope automatically slews to
Alioth and after aligning on it, I select Sirius as my first GOTO object
It then slews near Sirius but it doesnt hit it. Sirius may be in the
finderscope but never in the 26mm eyepiece.

Another problem is even if I manually slew the scope to a selected
target, the EC fails to track the object for more than a couple minutes
in alt-az mode.  Note that from the same, level, concrete pad my old ETX
will track an object for hours (albeit using the table-top tripod).

Altitude adjustment causes shift of azimuth: While Altitude Training the
scope, the azimuth shifts slightly. The converse does not occur when
training azimuth. In any case it is impossible to use the up or down
altitude keys to precisely return the scope to the original stationary
target as the azimuth has changed.

Once when requesting a different star in Easy Align, the Autostar went
into an infinite loop "Searching.. Not Found. Searching.. Not Found"

After waking up the scope from sleep mode (after approximately six
hours) the time read 34:10:15 and the Autostar declared all requested
objects to be "Below the Horizon." Powering off the ETX-EC and then on,
and entering the correct time, cleared the error.

The Autostar "locked up" on one occasion after a two star Align (Alkaid
and Beteljuice) with the following message "PROC. TRAP 2" The ETX motors
were still running but no keypad entry would respond (nor remove the
PROC TRAP 2 message from the LCD display). Power off/on cleared the

On one occasion the scope stopped slewing though the motors were still
running. Even though the Autostar beeped and declared it had reached its
target, the EC was off-target by about six hours in RA.

Design-wise the only shortcoming the Autostar has is the lack of an
Electric Focus. While electric focus does come with the standard hand
controller, its omission from the Autostar is unpardonable. This is such
a serious omission that I feel I must have overlooked something. As with
all Meade products, the users manuals must be written by engineers and
are not the easiest documents to use. Also, as with the original ETX,
the 8x21 Finderscope is too small, awkwardly placed, difficult to use,
and in general is not befitting of a telescope of this caliber.

Subject:	 ETX 90/EC tracking vibrations
Sent:	Wednesday, February 17, 1999 17:37:46
From:	scjohnso@vt.edu (scott johnson)
on february 6th dean posted a message saying he was having problems with
excessive vibration during sidereal tracking with his new etx ec. i just
wanted to note that i have had some problems with this as well, though
not as bad.   i was able to clearly feel a very subtle vibration through
the focusing knob when in sidereal tracking mode. i never had this
problem with my old etx, which is one reason i noticed it.  it also was
detectable through the ota and the rear housing. obviously, this
affected imaging in some way, though it was not a perfectly steady
night, and comparisons with the tracking on and off  didn't show gross
image problems, though it seemed the image pulsed with the tracking on. 
in any case, i informed mike leigh at meade, and am sending the scope
back for tests and repairs.  mike says this is definitely not normal
behavior.  otherwise, i must say i like the scope much better than the
old etx.  controls are much tighter, and i find the overall integrity
better.  i had the use of a questar for some weeks thirty years ago and
never would have thought i would own a scope this optically
excellent, let alone a scope with this level of electronic
sophistication.  and the questar was five times the price of either
model etx.  despite the problems i have had, which seem rare, i am
hooked.  hats off to meade from me.  and many thanks to mike weasner
for a superlative site.


Subject:	 Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, February 17, 1999 16:06:16
From:	ngc6960@mlecmn.net (Gary Hansen)
Here is my new ETX mounted on the tripod and wedge I built. I really
like the new Meade and the tripod works well with it. The wedge comes
off the tripod and of coures the legs can be removed for transport.I
used Oak wood and brass hardware for the construction.




Subject:	 Autostar alignment update
Sent:	Wednesday, February 17, 1999 6:11:34
From:	jdantin@accuridecorp.com (Dantin, Jim)
My first night with the Autostar presented me with a couple problems.
The scope insisted on slewing up against the AZ hard stop when using the
GOTO function on some objects and when using the Park function. I also
had a consistent error in positioning with GOTO -- the scope stopped
around 1-2 degrees below the object.

I spent a half-hour on the phone with Meade tech support (their nickel!)
trying to translate the instructions in the manual. I'll report on that
conversation and ask for comments from other users.

The manual describes the alignment procedure in, let's say, less than
clear English: "ETX telescopes must have the base in a special position
to avoid internal hardstops. Begin by releasing the ETX horizontal lock
lever. Turn the telescope counterclockwise until it stops. Next turn the
telescope clockwise until the fork arm is directly over the computer
control panel and lock the horizontal axis. With the telescope in the
home position (level and pointed North), press ENTER."

That sort of sounds straight forward, but is a bit unclear in places --
such as which fork are they talking about! During my conversations with
Meade tech support, a couple other problems surfaced -- specifically
relating to what direction is clockwise! He acknowledged that the manual
is sorta vague! I'll now repeat his verbal procedure:

To eliminate any confusion on clockwise or counterclockwise do this --
place the scope on a table. Stand up so you are looking down at the
scope. When you rotate the scope (holding the base stationary) so that
the optical tube goes in the same direction as a clock, that's
clockwise. Well, duh! I already figured that out, didn't you? Well, hold
on a second and pay attention to the next steps!

Position the scope (and tripod if it's on one) so that the control panel
faces West. Release the azimuth lock and rotate the upper part of the
scope (holding the base stationary) CLOCKWISE until it hits the hard
stop (the tube should be pointing roughly South). Wait a minute! That's
opposite what the manual says. Yup. Then rotate COUNTERCLOCKWISE around
180 degrees until the tube is facing North. If you've done this
correctly, the scope is pointed North, the control panel is pointed
West, and the fork arm with numbers on the declination scale is
positioned directly above the control panel. Lock down the azimuth lever
and move the entire tripod, if necessary to more accurately position the
tube to North.

Now, carefully level the scope. You now (allegedly) have the scope in
the Home position. Meade tech support says that the leveling step is
very important for proper (accurate) operation of the Autostar! Continue
with the alignment procedures as instructed by the Autostar. Hint -- to
accurately center the scope on one of the alignment stars you can
defocus the star until the image fills the field of view -- it is now
much easier to accurately center the scope on the star.

I haven't fully tested this procedure -- clouds! I did simulate it on
the kitchen table, and the scope does park correctly now. Hope this

Sent:	Sunday, February 14, 1999 18:37:02
From:	pleiades@erols.com (PAUL B. PERLMUTTER)
I received my etx-90/ec last tuesday and as luck would have it, it was
cloudy that evening which gave me a chance to spend an evening studying
the manuals which fall very short on documentatio. (Beginners will be
very confused). The next evening was clear an to scope worked well(the
noise was loud but not a problem for me)in the alt-az. Mode. Rahter than
spend 100 bucks or so and wait for a wedge, i made my own out of some
spare wood for about 5 bucks (mostly for hardware). I have and 8 inch
meade s-c so i'm familiar with polar alignment but i couldn't get the
etx to work at all in the polar mode. I didn't even come near the
alignment star and seem to go wherever it want but not were it should.
Very strange how it works in alt-az. Fairly well and not at all in the
polar mode. Meade should also be ashamed for making this scope with the
finder that is comes with and not the one they offer as an after
thought. Any ideas on the polar mode.
PAUL B. PERLMUTTER(pleiades@erols.com)

Added later:

Just spent an hour out in the freezing cold with the scope. It was lots
of fun. Aligned in alt-az, mode with one star alignment. Zipped to m's
35,36,37,38,42,45,81,82,44,and saturn. All this is outside of light
polluted phila. I can't wait for a little warmer weather and a chance to
go out to darker skies. I haven't been able to polar align the scope yet
but with the way it is working in a-a mode, i don't really care about
the polar mode.

Mike here: You can see Paul's Homemade Wedge on the Tech Tips page.

Subject:	Autostar Problem
Sent:	Saturday, February 13, 1999 14:09:44
From:	T1138HX@aol.com
I'm having a strange problem with my new Autostar. I'm hoping it's just
user error, and someone can enlighten me. Sorry for the long post, but
I'm at a loss here . . .

My Autostar will drive the ETX when I select a star or constellation,
but if I select a solar system or deep sky object, the OTA doesn't move!

I've tried two different Autostars and three ETX's with the same
results. The ETX will slew to stars/constellations but not planets/deep
sky. When it should be slewing to a planet/deep sky object, the Autostar
display reads "slewing . . .", but the OTA doesn't move.

All other functions are okay. The ETX by itself works great. No optical
problems, standard handbox works great, Autostar used as a handbox
controller to manually move the OTA works great.

I've started from step 1 many times by resetting the Autostar and
carefully following the setup instructions in the manual, but I get the
same results every time. I even had the assistant manager at my local
Nature Company store (where I purchased the ETX) to try it, and she got
the same results!

What am I missing? This is what I'm doing . . .

1. Connect the Autostar and then turn on ETX power.

2. Press 1 to select English.

3. Read Sun warning and press 5. Autostar tests motors.

4. Read Getting Started message and press ENTER to continue.

5. Enter date and time (I'm doing this procedure as I write--It's now
4:15 pm EST, Feb 13, 1999) and press ENTER.

6. Enter YES or NO (currently NO) for Daylight Savings Time.

7. Select location (Atlanta--I tried entering other locations, with no
change in results).

8. Select scope model: ETX90/EC and press ENTER.

9. Train drive, both AZ and EL. (Several steps in this process. I
followed the manual, used a distant, carefully-centered terrestrial
object, and got seemingly good results.)

10. Go to SETUP, ALIGN menu. Select EASY.

11. Autostar asks for the scope to be placed in "home" position. (Rotate
azimuth CCW until stop is reached, then rotate CW until the shorter fork
arm is directly over the control panel. Then move entire scope to point
OTA directly north.)

12. Press ENTER. Autostar displays "Searching . . .", selects Capella
and slews to it. (I take it's word for it, since I'm doing this inside
during daylight).

13. Press ENTER. Autostar displays "Searching . . .", selects Diphda and
slews to it.

14. Press ENTER. Autostar displays "Calculating . . ."

15. Autostar displays "Align Successful" and starts tracking Diphda.
(Note: Since I made no manual corrections to Autostar's slewing, it
thought it was "dead on" those two stars, so of course the align was

16. Select OBJECT, STAR, NAMED and press ENTER. Autostar displays a list
of named stars.

17. Select Deneb and press GO TO. Autostar displays "Slewing . . .,
slews the OTA across the sky, stops at Deneb and begins tracking. The
OTA actually moved.

18. Select OBJECT, SOLAR SYSTEM, VENUS (should be in the sky now because
it's daylight) and press GO TO. (HERE'S WHERE THINGS GET WEIRD.)
Autostar displays "Slewing . . . " but the motors STOP for a few
seconds. Autostar then displays VENUS and the motors start tracking
again. But the OTA *has not moved*!

19. Select OBJECT, CONSTELLATION, URSA MINOR and press GO TO. Autostar
displays "Slewing . . ., slews the OTA across the sky, stops at URSA
MINOR and begins tracking. The OTA actually moved.

TO. (THINGS GET WEIRD AGAIN.) Autostar displays "Slewing . . . " but the
motors STOP for a few seconds. Autostar then displays CRESCENT NEBULA
and the motors start tracking again. But the OTA *has not moved*!

Is this operator error? A software bug? I called Meade and spoke with
someone familiar with the Autostar, and he had no idea what's going on.

Since I've tried two Autostars and three ETX's, it's got to be operator
error or a serious production problem for Meade.

Anyone have any ideas?

Added later:

Someone on the Meade ETX Discussion Web Page suggested pressing ENTER
before GOTO. This seems to work for my deep sky/solar system GOTO

Apparently, for stars/constellations you can just press GOTO, but for
planets/deep sky, you MUST press ENTER first and *then* GOTO.

Meade should fix this in their first software update. Or at least make
it clearer in the manual.


Subject:	Focuser compatability
Sent:	Friday, February 12, 1999 14:37:18
From:	Tetsuo912@aol.com
Colette at Meade's dealer support tells me that the focuser will be able
to be controlled through the Autostar controller.  Of course, I guess
we'll have to wait until the ship to be positive.

Subject:	 Autostar and focusing
Sent:	Friday, February 12, 1999 9:10:21
From:	jdantin@accuridecorp.com (Dantin, Jim)
I'm still waiting on my AutoStar to arrive, but the manual DOES have a
reference to "Focus" on page 6 -- Pressing and holding the "Mode" key
for 2 seconds enters a menu that has "Focus" as one of the entries. No
more info about how you actually use that feature (instructions packed
with the electric focuser?)

The manual also tells you to go to the Meade web site for "complete
instructions" on how to track satellites!

Jim Dantin

Subject:	 ETX 90EC
Sent:	Friday, February 12, 1999 9:04:18
From:	gonefishing41@hotmail.com (Johnathon Morgan)
Just wanted to add my first experience with ETX-90EC.  I've had my new
ETX for about 2 weeks now and finally had an oppportunity to use it.
Still waiting for the autostar to arrive. I set my ETX up and did a
polar alignment using my compass and compensating for the grid to
magnetic angle, as best as possible

My impressions are that I liked the ETX-90EC better than my ETX.

I felt that the optics were identical on both.  My ETX 90EC's optics
appeared no better or worse than my ETX.

The difference was the electric hand controller.  The ETX 90EC with the
hand controller was so much easier to slew than the ETX using the hand
knobs.  Another thing that I liked was the noise the motor drive makes
and the red LED light.  While it does sound like the gears are grinding
apart at least I knew the drive was engaged.  Something I always
wondered about with the ETX.

After manually slewing the tube assembly the drive motor took up the
slack within 1-2 seconds.

There was a slight breeze last night and I felt that the Mead tripod/ETX
90EC combo was easily effected by the wind.  I'm not sure of the
solution to make the system a bit more stable.

My first targets were Jupiter, in Orion Betelgeuse and M42 and in Ursa
Major Mizar and Alcor.


Subject:	 ETX-90/EC _DOES_ have declination stops!!!
Sent:	Friday, February 12, 1999 8:28:55
From:	hopewell@new-quest.net (Meade Daffron)
The new ETX -- the ETX-90/EC -- DOES have rotational hard stops built
into its declination axis! When you're rotating the tube upwards, they
stop the tube a few millimeters short of allowing the finder bracket to
contact the left fork arm. When rotating the tube downwards, they stop
the front of the tube from contacting the RA base.

It's a major improvement over the first-generation ETX, in my opinion,
because I nearly dented the tube of my first-generation ETX against its
drive base several times during my 13-month course of ownership.

So either the folks that claim their new ETX-90/ECs don't have
rotational stops just don't notice them (I will concede that they do
stop the scope's rotation awfully close -- especially near the finder --
but they DO stop it from contacting) -- or they got bum scopes from
Meade (which I'll concede isn't out of the realm of possibility either).

Still enjoying the heck out of my new ETX -- and I don't even have the
Almighty Autostar yet.

BTW, Question for ya -- My birthday's coming up and I'm thinking about
asking for some scope accessories. I want a few eyepieces, but the Meade
Series 4000 Plossls are kind of expensive and they don't have much eye
relief (especially the 26mm that comes with the scope --awful) for us
eyeglass wearers. I used to have a couple of Edmund RKEs with my old
6-inch reflector. They have great eye-relief (you can hold your eye
about an INCH away from the 28mm), they're wide-field, multi-coated,
etc., and they're only $49 bucks a pop at Edmund Scientific. I can't
find any reference to them on your site. Have you, or any fellow ETXers
out there, tried 'em in your ETXs? Any comments? Thanx!

Clear skies,

Meade Daffron Richmond, VA

(Note the changed e-mail address, if you keep records of that type of

Mike here: As to the Edmund eyepieces, I mention some of mine but only in passing in a review of the Expanding Bushing, which lets me use my old 0.965" Edmund Brandons.

Subject:	 New Etx
Sent:	Wednesday, February 10, 1999 16:33:28
From:	ngc6960@mlecmn.net (Gary Hansen)
Well I have seen the comment's etc on the new ETX and thought I would
add my 2 cents worth.I had purchased a ETX about 5 months ago and was
very happy with the optic's, however the small hand controls for RA and
Dec were terrible. So when I saw the ad for the new one I had to have
one. I have never had a scope with goto functions and prefer finding
stuff myself and figured it might be fun to try. Also it would be easier
to get at the hand controller for adjusting Ra and Dec. After several
night's of using the new ETX and Autostar I have nothing but praise for
the new system! Alignment promblems? I havent had any, Shakes with the
new motor drive obvious in the eyepiece? I don't see any. It does take
bit of time to figure out, you must train the scope before using etc and
the manual isn't the best with the AutoStar but once you figure it out,
it's simple and there's lots of great info included in the Autostar
menu's on objects etc. Overall I think it's a KEWL scope... Mine works
very well....


Subject:	 Electronic focuser for EC/90
Sent:	Wednesday, February 10, 1999 15:51:41
From:	drainey1@midsouth.rr.com (Doug Rainey)
I just received the Autostar computer and noticed the manual mentions
nothing about interfacing with the focuser.  Have you heard anything
about whether or not it will support this feature or is it only on the
standard controller???

Mike here: All I know is what I read on the ETX-90/EC Accessories listing:

#1244 Electric Focuser
Focuser can be run off of the ETX-90/EC hand control

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, February 10, 1999 5:52:07
From:	dick@dwalters.com (Dick Walters)
Although I haven't received my Autostar yet, Meade told me the way to
align RA is to turn the base full clockwise to the mechanical stop then
back till the main dec scale (one with numbers) is over the power switch
of the control panel.  This is supposed to be home position for both
Az/el and computer use.  As for the hard stops in elevation travel to
keep the base from hitting the tube or viewfinder, forget it. Not there.
The motors will scream, but there's a clutch and it won't hurt anything
according to Meade.

The scope does use encoders and that's what the startup routine is for
(the scope slewing off position when you first start it), to align them.

Dick Walters

Subject:	EC/90 and AutoStar Operation
Sent:	Tuesday, February 9, 1999 22:33:41
From:	EbyT@aol.com
AutoStar arrived today and luckily the sky was clear enough tonite to
put it thru its paces.  I mounted the ETX on a Bogen tripod, powered up,
enetered date and time  then ran thru the simple Alt Az motor drive
training calibration on a distant land based light.  Next ran thru the
"home" procedure (set ETX to approximately 0 degrees dec, turned the RA
CCW to the rotational stop then back again CW a bit so the small fork
lines up with the control panel); then adjust tripod to point scope
toward North polestar.  According to instructions, I then used the
AutoStar to tweak the DEC to read 0 degrees, and energized the RA motors
briefly prior to doing the "Easy Align" function, which worked like a
charm.  It calculated Sirius as the initial alignment star,
automatically slewed to it and finished with the big star well within
the 1 degree field of the 26mm eyepiece.  Used slo-mo's to center it,
then hit ENTER.  Next it selected Dubhe in Ursa Major as the 2nd star,
and repeated the process.  That's it, all aligned.  Then select any
object, ENTER them and "GO TO".  I punched in Saturn, M42, M1 Crab
Nebula (looked pretty good in this little scope!), Pleiades and a number
of stars in different parts of the sky - all objects fell well within
the 26mm's field.  Had a lot of fun and was impressed by the accuracy
even though the scope probably wasn't leveled perfectly and the motor
drive training was quick and dirty.  Manual states the initial drive
training is very important to do accurately and directly affects
subsequent operational precision.  Found that the Alt Az tracking was
very good, "grabbed" right away when slewing finished, and drive kept
objects in view for longer than I wanted to look at them.  Was some
minor DEC drift, which may have been due to inexact alignment or motor
training.  Scope has a busy little sound to it with both engines running
vs. RA tracking alone in the polar mode.

When GOing TO an object, the scope may slew around the long way
depending on its last position, to avoid the RA rotational stop.  My
scope doesen't seem to have a DEC axis stop as indicated in the manual,
however, this is no big deal since the AutoStar will not drive the scope
to an object below the horizon anyway, it just issues a "below horizon"

AutoStar is quite nice, makes this little package come to life!  Fits
the hand well, easy to read display and all keys are backlit with
red-orange light.  Brightness and contrast of display is adjustable. 
Comes with a good manual, but most instructions and procedures scroll
across the display; essentially the manual is unnecessary once you get
the hang of the menu architecture.  I got stuck once when a "Motor Unit
Failure" error came up repeatedly during my first alignment attempts.
Scrolling message said to check for low batteries, obstructions, or
simply reset the encoders using the "Reset" function.  Resetting did the
trick.  Lots of other functions available and has some nice utilities
such as a timer, alarm, eyepiece field calculator, etc.  NGC, Messier,
IC and myriad other objects available, just punch in the one you want.

All in all, the first nite was a success! Definitely a fun system.

Subject:	 ETX-90/AutoStar
Sent:	Tuesday, February 9, 1999 21:57:44
From:	barrycnp@earthlink.net (Barry Craig)
I just came in from using the new ETX-90 with the AutoStar controller. I
wanted to share my insights with others while it's fresh in my mind.


1.  Placed the ETX-90 on a flat table (my Work Mate) and pointed the
scope manually at the North Star and locked the R.A.  My thinking was
that I would get very close to perfect North.

2.  Manually I leveled the tube a locked the DEC. My thought is that
having the base level wouldn't be a bad idea to improve pointing

3.   Powered up the scope and entered the date and time. I had
previously entered in my location. I don't understand way Meade didn't
add a small coin battery to keep the time and date.

4.  Entered the Easy Align Mode and Sirius was the object of the ETX-90
desire and it took off to the South in hot pursuit and placed Sirius
within the field of view in the finder. I hate the standard finder.  I
have thick glasses and can't get in close enough to get a good view.
Besides, it's in a poor location.  I would recommend the Quick Finder by
Rigel Systems because of its easy to use position mounted 4" above the

5.  Without touching the scope I used direction buttons on the hand
controller to move Sirius into the cross hair in the finder. I recommend
that users align their finder during the day to help with aiming the
scope on an object at night. Since using the buttons to move the scope
is easy it's a lot easier to center an object in the main eyepiece if
the finder is aligned. Moving around the sky with motors and not knowing
what way to the object while looking through the main eyepiece is
frustrating. Also note what way the object moves in the finder field of
view relative to what button you press. It maybe different then what you
see in the main eyepiece.

6.  Centered Sirius and focused the scope. I know from being a LX200
owner that centering the object with higher power improves the pointing
accuracy. The ENTER button was pushed and the second star (I can't
remember its name) in the N.E. was displayed on the hand controller.
After pressing the ENTER button the scope slewed to the star.

7.  Centered the second star a pressed ENTER.  I  twice before pressed
the MODE button by mistake instead of the UP button. I had to start over

8.  Selected M-44 and pressed the GOTO button and the scope. The scope
slewed to the open Star Cluster. It wasn't in the main eyepiece field of
view. Instead of trying to center the object I decided to slew over to
M-42 in Orion. It also wasn't in the field of view. Looking through the
finder I spotted it off center by a small amount. I centered the object
by pressing the direction keys on the controller. I studied M-42 for a
couple of minutes and then pressed a held the ENTER button for 3 seconds
to enter the Sync Mode. ENTER was selected again to Sync M-42.

9.  Next was the star Castor. It wasn't in the field of view ether.
Looking through the finder revealed that it was off by the same amount
as M-42. Maybe all the objects would be off by the same amount. Knowing
that it might be the same every time might mean that the same centering
buttons could be pressed every time a new object is selected. My thought
is that better setup procedures could help pointing accuracy's.

10. Selected M-45 which was close by, but the scope took the long way
around. It was off by about the same amount. I centered M-45 and
selected M-42 again. The scope slewed into it's built-in stop and I had
to shut down the scope. I was cold and called it a night. More results
in the future.


I think leveling and accurate high power centering will be a must for
best results. It might be possible that each user/owner will have to get
use to their scope, because each one will it's own personality.

My concern is that "Newbies" and "Vet's"  to this hobby might be
frustrated with results like listed above and be turned off by the GOTO
promise. It's one thing to not being able to find and object manually in
non-GOTO scopes. How will close by no cigar when expecting GOTO to over
12,000 objects leave them feeling? I encourage all owners and users to
learn how to get the most out of their GOTO ETX-90. This is only going
to come with practice and patience. For owners of the ETX-90 who don't
have the AutoStar controller yet, maybe practice with the standard
controller will help you get use to your scope.

Thanks for this Forum


Barry A. Craig  (clear Night Products)  248-547-2315

Subject:	 ETX with Autostar, Verdict not in...
Sent:	Tuesday, February 9, 1999 7:08:20
From:	Michael_P._Lingenfelter@oa.eop.gov
I've been out a couple of times now with the ETX and Autostar, and so
far I'm underwhelmed.  I've done a good polar alignment, then tried a
two star alignment.  Usually I get "alignment failed."  In the cases
when the alignment was successful, I would choose another object, press
"go to," and the ETX would certainly go, but not quite where I expected.
And sometimes, it chooses, shall we say, "interesting" slewing
directions.  For instance, while aimed at Betelgeuse, I pressed "go to"
for Sirius.  This should be a very short slew.  But, the scope slewed
clockwise, thus requiring nearly a full rotation to get to Sirius -
which it didn't actually end up anywhere near.

Now for a question.   I'm using the Meade ETX field tripod and after
several frustrating hours last evening, I decided that, having tried
everything else, perhaps I should check the accuracy of the bubble level
on the tripod.   I removed the ETX and placed the tripod head at 90
degrees. Then I adjusted the tripod until the bubble was centered. 
Next, I placed my own level on the tripod head and there was a
discrepancy.  So, I tried another level, still off.  I leveled the
tripod using my own levels and when I looked at the bubble, it was off
center, with a portion of the bubble outside the little red circle.  I
popped the level out and set up my own levels, like a plus sign +, one
on top the other, both with bubbles centered.  I placed the bubble level
from the tripod in the center of the + sign, and the bubble was off
center.  The question - how much would this effect my polar alignment. 
It doesn't seem like much, on the ground, but I have to think that the
discrepancy would multiply with magnification and distance.   Anybody
have any thoughts?

If it's clear tonight, and it looks like it will be, I'll try aligning
the ETX after leveling the tripod using my own levels.   I'll let you
know what happens.

If this fails, I may consider returning the autostar, and probably the
90/EC as well.  I may go back to the "classic" ETX,  or I may even
consider something entirely different.  Perhaps something with no motor,
but more aperture, because it's damn frustrating spending a perfectly
clear night fiddling with a gadget, while the stars wheel overhead.


Mike here: As to the exactness of the tripod leveling, it can make a difference but exactly how much depends upon the amount and direction it is off and then where you are pointing the ETX. The idea is to get the ETX's RA rotational axis exactly parallel to the earth's rotation axis. Usually, with portable telescopes the polar alignment is only approximate so any misorientation of the axis can compound errors. But I suspect that the approximation done when polar aligning would far outweigh any minor leveling errors.

Subject:	 ETX-90 Focus
Sent:	Sunday, February 7, 1999 22:41:31
From:	jadair@dnai.com (Jeff Adair)
I've had my ETX-90 for about a week. The first few times I had it out
and looked at the moon and Orion Nebula. This weekend I did some
terrestrial observing, and noticed I couldn't get to focus very well.
The only thing I've done to it is add the Orion EZ Finder with 2 sided
tape.  Is there some tests I can do to determine what the focus problem is?



Subject:	 etx/ec
Sent:	Sunday, February 7, 1999 19:41:11
From:	scopinusa@earthlink.net (John Welch)
I'm John Welch of Phoenix, AZ. As a former employee of the Astronomy
Shoppe and still reviewing and repairing scopes for same, I thought I
would put my two cents worth in about  the new ETX/EC.

I've tested and repaired approximately thirty original ETX's and found
them to be wonderful scopes with the indiginous weak points (drive,
finder, mounting) adequately reviewed in your neat site.

The EC removes most of the frustrations! After initializing there is
little to no need to use the finder scope. The shakes are minimized by
using the scope in alt/az. I built a flat-plate mount that prevents
vibration transfers. I found the plastic base plate is not perfectly
flat but only requires a simple shim to remove the "teeters" when used
on the new Meade deluxe tripod

The only programming flaw I found was the inability to call up negative
dec. positions with the scope still located in the north and vise versa.
Slewing the scope to the area (north or south) and then entering the
dec. position solved the glitch for now. I called Meade and they
promised a cure (new chip or 'flash' over the net) in the near future.
All other menus and submenus worked to perfection! All six alignment
methods are simple and are just as accurate as the LX200.

As always, the scope is textbook perfect optically and has nearly
undetectable image shift.

Thx, John 

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Sunday, February 7, 1999 18:38:31
First of all thanks for this site, it made all the differance in the
world when it came to buying the ETX. Picked up the new EC today, 2X
barlow and a 9.7 eyepiece. Out of the box RA had too much catchup, 3/4
of a second at hi speed,,12 to 15 at low. Back to the Dealer. They were
kind enough to let me plow through 8 or 10 scopes. It became obvious the
first scope was an abboration, the others had varying degrees of catchup
problems but only detectable at the lowest speeds and only for an
instant on either axis. Also noise varied between scopes, none were too
loud, of course I've never heard an LX for comparison but I surley
wouln't be embaresd to spark it up among friends. Did notice several
with what appeared to be alot of dust and contamination on the primary
mirror. Being a newbie with only memories of a cheap 60mm refractor to
relate to I was truley amazed.   Couldn't wait till nightfall,
terrestrial time.  100yrds 26mm EP across the parking lot to the balcony
of Apt 1102,  (I didn't know she had blues eyes) reading a book "Applied
Marketing Principles"..WOW!  Nightfall, the Orian Nebula, supposed to be
around here somewhere, boy these slow motion controls beat the jittery
manual ones I've played with before,, POW!  There it is, not the fuzzy
blob I remembered but clear contrasts,,the 4 stars in the center
needlepoint clear, but this shouldn't be possible in a light polluted
parking lot in the middle of the Dallas Ft Worth Metroplex!! Well its
time to go shopping for a rock solid mount and a Doskill hard case
because  July brings the family reunion in dark sky Nebraska! .

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, February 7, 1999 13:45:12
From:	pthorpe@mediaone.net (Peter Thorpe)

Thank you for your vital service to the ETX community.

Got my AutoStar This Friday (2-5).  I am looking forward to comments
from others as there are some issues with this initial version (V 1.0)
of the software.  My comments below are intended to seek advice from
other AutoStar users ... not as a product review ... based primarily on
indoor use/testing as the clouds have allowed only a brief outdoor test
here in Minneapolis.

1) My main problem centers around the "Home" position.  Page 7 of the
manual does not say which fork arm is to be centered over the control
panel. However the LCD instructions indicate the smaller fork is to be
centered ... does this mean on the first pass or after one revolution? 
Is the intent to find the middle of the total range (630deg)?  Does the
correct "Home" position for polar mount put the finder above or below
the tube?  No instruction on this in the manual as the LCD would have
you think.  Is there a different "Home" for Alt/Az verses Polar?

2) Next most bothersome problem is possibly related to #1.  After
initial set up the GOTO button seems to work well, however, eventually
the scope "picks" a GOTO direction that forces it against one of the
horizontal limit stops instantly causing a loss of alignment.  Is this
related to incorrect "Home" or possibly a software issue?  The software
does not seem to know where the horizontal limit stops are.

3) The motors worked well in the Alt/Az mode out of the box.  When I
tried the Polar mode the East direction would not engage.  This turned
out to be a slipping clutch.  I adjusted the horizontal lock by removing
the silver lever and turning the nut a quarter turn tighter.  This
allowed the lever to fully engage the clutch when in the lock position.

4) When doing a GOTO on a Solar System Object (planets and moon) you
must first press ENTER.  A computation is made and then you can press
GOTO.  On all other objects pressing GOTO will work.

5) Use of the SYNC mode causes loss of alignment ... must be a software

6) The Easy Align mode finds it's first star with very good accuracy ...
make sure the correct time, date and location are entered though!

7) In Easy Align mode it is possible to keep making another selection to
find a visible star, but upon reaching the end of the list you can not
advance or go back to any other star ... you are just stuck at the end
of the list.

8) Has anyone got the pin-out for the RS232 port?

9) Does the ETX/EC use encoders?  If not, how does it know where it is?

10)   When doing a polar "one star alignment" the tube went into a
rotation that stopped only when it hit the horizontal limit stop.  The
vertical motor did not run at all.

11)   Had a problem with GOTO on Jupiter (Saturn & moon worked good). 
The motors would slew to the general area and begin to slow down as
usual and fine tune ... only to pause for half a second and take off in
a direction that would require a 360 deg rotation from where it was
already on Jupiter.

12) My original ETX was very spoiled with red dot finder, NGC encoders
and MicroStar 1 and I still went for the upgrade, hope that's what it
turns out to be.  CCD is next.

13) I like the sound of the motors ... makes it sound like the "Mighty
ETX" ... lol

14) Any one want to start a Minneapolis ETX users group?  There might
even be six of us.

That better be all for now.  Thanks again for the great site Mike!


Subject:	methods of alignment?
Sent:	Sunday, February 7, 1999 13:17:47
From:	MeteorMik@aol.com
I just picked up the new ETX 90/EC and it seems to me the table top
set-up they mention as an accessory is just the same legs that came with
the old one except you use the rear hole instead of the middle one which
had been removed. Also, I purchased the Computer hand controller as well
but find the instruction manual to be minimal at best. Can anybody
enlighten me as to these various methods of alignment they mention as
far as how they are performed. The only one they describe is the simple
az method. By the way, I held on to my original ETX because the optics
are terrific and I also like the idea that I don't need batteries if the
weather is very cold and the batteries can die.

Thanks, Meteormik @ aol.com

P.S. Mike, this is one of the most enjoyable sites I visit on the
internet. Keep up the good work. Will you be moving to the newer version
or staying with the old one?

Mike here: For now, I expect to continue to use the older model. Lets me eval all the add-ons explicitly for it (there are a lot of older models out there).

Subject:	 new ETX vibrations
Sent:	Saturday, February 6, 1999 7:09:06
From:	cwd@mis.net (Dean)
I am waiting for the second ETX to arrive!  The first one has some
problems that I can not live with.  I would like to hear if any one else
has anything like this or could it just be that I am expecting to much?
The noise and vibrations are much more than I expected.  The tracking
motor sounds like a "grinding can opener" and can be heard from a
considerable distance.  The vibrations make this one unusable in the
tracking mode!  After a few moments the "harmonics" actually get
internal parts to start rattling!  While trying to focus on saturn, I
had to turn off the tracking motor to get a clear view.  My wife picked
up on this first off, and had only looked through the ETX 'classic'
once. I have the scope mounted to the meade field tripod and feel that
some of the vibrations come from the "soft" feel" of the mounting
system.  Also, the locking mechanisms still alow the scope to move.  I
can only describe this as a spongy feel.  The electric focuser will help
with viewer induced vibrations, but what about the tracking motor and
the spongy mount?  I hope this new one is smoother or I may consider
going back to the Classic ETX which felt much more solid.

Is it just me?

Subject:	New ETX and Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, February 4, 1999 14:13:32
From:	HellMet1@aol.com
I now have the new ETX and Autostar. Picked up the Autostar on Tuesday
2/2/99 from Clairmont Camera in So. Cal. The Autostar manual refers to
models DS-60 and DS-70 etc. as being compatible with the Autostar system
(of which there seems to several different models). The ETX must be
trained before you can use the goto system which involves sighting a
land based object and then re-centering it after the scope slews away,
both R.A. and DEC motors. Date and time must also be entered at each
power up. The Autostar does have sleep and park modes. Have not had time
to fully test the computer yet, maybe tonite. Great site.



Subject:	New ETX-90/EC... mine was defective
Sent:	Wednesday, February 3, 1999 18:12:59
From:	Kavorka6@aol.com
I had to return my ETX-90/EC scope and electronic controller for
replacement.  Sometimes when turning on the ETX, the slew speeds do not
function correctly in the declination axis.  In the fast speed, the
declination axis would stop (not slip) every 15 degrees.  And in the
lower speeds the drive would operate either at fast speed or jump back
and forth between fast speed and the lower speed.

Also, the instruction manual talks about rotational limit stops to keep
the optical tube from running into the drive base, or the viewfinder
from running into the left fork arm.  I could not detect any sort of
limit stop (either hard or electronic) on this scope.  The tube came
right down to the base if I moved it manually or with the electronic
controller.  Maybe some other users can comment on how these limit stops
operate on their scopes.

I will let you know how the replacement scope functions when I receive
it.  I hope that this is not a general bug that will plague a bunch of
the first production units.

Still waiting for an ETX-90/EC that works right.  ;o(

Todd Larson

(And wouldn't you know I forgot to take my batteries out before I
shipped it back to the dealer!!  LOL)

Subject:	 New ETX
Sent:	Tuesday, February 2, 1999 12:22:43
From:	X2MSPRIN@southernco.com (Springfield, Michael R.)
I received my new ETX on Monday, Feb 1. I am fortunate that I still have
my old ETX, that I am trying to sell, as well so I can do some side by
side testing. I unboxed it and immediately inspected it. QA seemed very
good. The new base seems to be the major update. I haven't actually
tried it but it looks like the optical tubes be a direct swap looking at
them side by side. The optical coatings on the new one seems to be a
much deeper, richer purple. I inspected 5 scopes in my local Service
Merchandise store before I purchased my first ETX. Since it has been
raining for several days here I have not had a chance to do some side by
side star testing to confirm the better optics that the new one appears
to have. My base seemed to be sturdy enough even though, as everyone has
pointed out, is plastic. It mounted really well on my #883 field tripod.
No problems there. I now have my old ETX mounted on a heavy duty Bogen
photo tripod and ready for a side by side test. I do not have an
Autostar yet and am told by my dealer that they would be in and
available in about 2 weeks. Last I heard the electric focuser would not
be available until June. I am hoping for a break in the clouds tonight
for some head to head testing and will email you the results when they
are in.

For anyone interested in seeing some CCD images taken through the ETX
check out Daryl Powell's web page at http://www.mindspring.com/~dgpow.

On another note the Meade dealer that I have the Autostar on order with
indicated that Meade is getting ready to release several more telescopes
that you can plug your Autostar directly into. He would not go into
anymore details than that so look for a more stuff real soon.

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC: A thorough look
Sent:	Tuesday, February 2, 1999 10:11:46
From:	hopewell@ctg.net (Meade Daffron)
Hello from a fellow ETX owner who's made a comment or two on your site
since my first ETX purchase in December 1997. I'm surprised Meade hasn't
sent you a new ETX-90/EC gratis, in exchange for the sales benefits they
surely reap from your site's existence. I'd like to know how many people
decided to purchase an ETX after visiting your site. I did!

I am now the proud owner of a new ETX-90/EC, and although I know you're
getting tons of "first light" reports, I'd like to make one as a former
ETX owner who spent many hours at the eyepiece with the first one, and
who took his new /EC out to a dark-sky site in the country over the
weekend. (Brrrr!)

First things first though: I had to return my first /EC. QC was
horrible! The first one had the following problems: (A) Collimation so
far out of whack that the entire image had a blurry border and the moon
was egg-shaped anywhere in the field but dead-center. (B) Eyepiece
thumbscrew was so loose in its hole (wrong drill bit, Meade?) that I
could rock it from side to side quite a bit, and it stripped its own
threads the first time I used it! (C) The finder was covered in a light
oil. (D) One of the four LEDs on the hand controller was dead. All this
and a wonderful "QC Passed" sticker on the scope and controller. "QC
Passed" by whom? Helen Keller?

So I exchanged it. The second one was all the difference in the world.
No problems at all. (Still wondering about that first one -- lordy!)
Anyway, here's a brief review of my impressions both at home and in the

-- Focusing image shift is virtually GONE from the new /EC. This is
wonderful! I'm surprised no one else has praised this little
improvement. No more watching your image sway back and forth across the
field as you focus!

-- Yes, RA and Dec movement is much improved. Very smooth. I was
concerned that mine felt a little stiff even with the RA lock unlocked,
but the drive works fine. No noticeable rocking of the mount on its base

-- As others have mentioned, there is quite a bit of "catch up" to be
done by the drive after you make an RA adjustment with the hand
controller. But all you have to do is take up the backlash by moving
east at a slow speed. Once you've taken up the backlash, the drive
starts tracking immediately.

-- Ditto on the loud motors. In the fastest slew speed, my /EC sounds
like my autofocus 35mm camera rewinding, amplified two or three times.
(Sorry, but I seem to be one of the few who don't have an LX200 to
compare it to :-) ). And there's no way to describe the clock drive's
sound other than it's unique and humorous to listen to. Yeah, "coffee
grinder" or "can opener" may describe the slew speed -- but "DISHWASHER"
is about as close as I can come to the drive noise! BTW, do we all hang
out in the kitchen way, WAY too much?!

-- Despite what others may have said, the new /EC fits fine on the "old"
ETX tripod. And yes, the base plate is plastic -- but the two tripod
mounting holes are reminiscent of the holes for the portable legs -- the
mounting screws go through the plastic and into what appear to be brass
sockets anchored inside the mount. This scope does seem to jiggle a
little more than the old one when it's on the tripod and you're
focusing, though.

-- My Dec motor will slip a little when slewing if I don't have the Dec
lock screwed down good and tight.

-- The RA lock is still in an awkward place; maybe that's unavoidable,
but at least you only have to work ONE finger in there now. Before you
had to get your whole hand in there to twist the little knob; now all
you've got to do is poke a finger in there and slide a recessed lever.
We'll call that an improvement.

-- Like two other owners whose posts I've read here, I've found my
electronic controller doing unexpected things on one occasion: All of a
sudden, the RA stopped slewing after a movement of exactly one hour in
Right Ascension -- even though I was still pressing the button. I
repeated this several times to prove I hadn't just found a "dead point"
in the button. I even went so far as to set my RA circle and measure the
movement, finding it to be exactly one hour. I finally cleared it by
turning the scope off and back on again. Like your other posts noted, I
suspect I inadvertently entered a key sequence that caused an
unpublished mode change. Hmmm -- can't wait till all the new owners
start experimenting with these things and find all the "secret"
features... !

-- A comforting word to those who are worried about the "telephone jack"
plug -- I'm also an amateur radio ("ham") operator, and they've been
using the exact same plugs on mobile radio microphones -- in place of
the old, hardy screw-on metal connectors -- for several years. I have
two radios with those cords and even in all the stretching, twisting,
etc., of a mobile environment, both have yet to fail me. Besides --
those plugs are designed to take the full pull of a 13-year-old teenager
on a 25-foot cord, stretched to its limit across the kitchen, slammed in
a doorway! I'm not worried about mine!

Hey Mike, thanks again for a great site. Sorry about the long post; but
I felt I could offer some first-hand experience after more than just an
out-of-the-box review. And BTW, I don't regret having owned the original
ETX. It provided many hours of excellent stargazing both at home, in the
mountains, and at the beach. The new one is a buncha fun though!

Clear skies,

Meade Daffron (Hey, just a coincidence! It's a family name)
Richmond, VA

E-mail: hopewell@ctg.net

Subj:	An Early Review of the Meade ETX-90/EC
Date:	Tuesday, February 2, 1999 8:14:23
From:	donw@crescentresearch.com
At the request of Mike, I am providing a quick summary of the new Meade
ETX-90/EC Maksutov Cassegrain telescope from Meade.  Before I provide
specifics of my review, allow me to qualify my observations.  First, I
am not a professional reviewer.  I am a relatively newcomer to
Astronomy.  But, I occupy the interesting position of having owned both
versions of the ETX within a very short period of time; consequently, I
can provide a comparative review of the two instruments.

The first noticeable difference between the new ETX and the previous
version is that Meade no longer includes the table legs for polar
aligning the telescope on your favorite backyard table.  The shipping
box has the empty cavity where they were once located with the previous
ETX.  As a result, be prepared to spend about $28 for the legs.  Or, if
preferred, the Meade ETX field tripod can be obtained for about $175. 
Note also that the new design of the battery compartment eliminates the
ETX's ability to accommodate a center screw for a normal camera tripod. 
If you want to polar align the scope, you need the ETX tripod, the three
table legs, or an adapter to fit a camera tripod.

The major enhancement to the new telescope is the inclusion of the
dual-axis drive system.  A compact hand controller allows the user to
select between four slewing speeds, the fastest being 5 degrees per
second.  The slowest speed is 8X sidereal (0.034 degrees per second). 
The axis drive motors are a little noisy, not quite as loud as a Meade

The ETX is controlled using a compact hand controller.  It controls the
slewing speed, choice of alignment mode, and if obtained, the
auto-focuser (about $120).  The feel of the hand controller is very
good.  The pads are big and "chunky," certainly large enough to feel
through gloves for winter-time observers.

The hand controller can be configured to default automatically to either
polar aligned or altazimuth mode.  And, if polar alignment is the
default, the ETX can default to either northern or southern hemisphere
viewing.  The defaults are obtained by removing one or two tiny screws
in the hand controller unit, a design that could easily be improved, in
my opinion.  Another welcome addition would be an improved method of
informing the user as to the current or desired operating mode.  For
example, the ETX will inform you that you have put the scope into
northern hemisphere mode by a pattern of blinking lights.  If you want
to change modes, be prepared to either memorize the different patterns
of blinking lights or take the manual with you.  Note to Meade, LEDs are
cheap  please use them.

The hand controller also allows the user to increase or decrease the
speed of the automatic tracking speed, up to +\- 65% of sidereal rate.

The hand controller connects to the ETX base by means of a plug-in clip,
much like a wide telephone jack.  The connection is secure, and is
typical of the types of connections that Meade builds into its

With the addition of the two drive motors, Meade also re-designed the
method for "locking" the telescope's right ascension and declination. 
Both RA and DEC must be locked in order for the axis drives to engage. 
The previous version of the ETX had two little hand knobs that were used
to control RA and DEC movement.  They were the same size as the knob
currently used to focus the telescope, and were a little too small for
their intended purpose.  The RA knob on the previous ETX always felt a
little like it was going to fall off.

The declination (vertical) lock is now a large wheel located on the fork
mount at the hub of the scope.  It's big, comfortable and easy to use. 
The RA (horizontal) is now a recessed lever in the ETX's base.  Two
comments on the lever design.  First, for anyone with gloves or large
fingers, it may be a bit tough to reach or manipulate.  And, if the
telescope is pointed perpendicular to the base, the lever is essentially
out of reach.

The second comment is that, if you put a large eyepiece on the ETX (e.g.
12mm Televue Nagler) and a 2X barlow, be prepared to give the lever a
pretty hard push in order to engage the drive motor.  Pushing it across
half way will not completely engage the axis drive.  The user must push
the lever hard to the left to fully engage the drive.  But, a call to
Meade has confirmed that the ETX is designed to handle the hard push,
and the user cannot damage the scope by pushing the lever too hard to
engage the drive.  But, the locks should always be left unengaged when
not using the telescope.

Instead of 3 batteries, 8 are now needed to power the ETX.  The battery
compartment is accessed similarly to accessing batteries in a child's
toy - by removing a thin, plastic compartment cover.  It is much easier
to access than the previous ETX which required removing screws and then
removing the entire base cover.  Although the new design is somewhat
more flimsy, it is in a low-risk location.  A 12-volt AC adapter is
available from Meade for about $40.  The base also has two auxiliary
inputs for options such as the auto focuser and computer software, the
latter of which may be used to control the ETX's movement.

The Autostar for the ETX has not shipped as of this writing, but is
expected to be at retailers by mid-February, 1999.  For about $150, it
will provide GOTO capabilities to a database of 12,000+ objects,
including 50 earth-orbiting satellites.  Precise sidereal tracking can
be obtained in either equatorial or altazimuth modes.

Some things have not changed with the new ETX.  Leading the positive
side is the excellent optical performance of the ETX.  A 26mm Super
Plossl eyepiece comes standard and provides about 48X magnification with
the scope's 1250mm focal length.  Both versions of the scope were
received perfectly collimated, producing nicely formed airy discs.

An 8x21mm view finder is mounted just to the left of the eyepiece and is
arguably one of the biggest detractors of the ETX.  I find it remarkable
that Meade produces a fine telescope that offers equatorial tracking as
one of its primary benefits, but that at the same time is extremely
difficult to align because the viewfinder cannot be used when the
telescope is tilted for polar alignment.  The viewfinder becomes
completed shielded from use by the base of the telescope.  However, many
options are available to overcome this deficiency.

Bottom line, the new ETX is a terrific telescope.  It's portability,
optical quality, versatility and technological capabilities combine to
offer an astronomical package that is hard to beat for the $595 retail
price.  Some will find it an excellent entry level telescope.  Others
folks will purchase the scope, add the Autostar, program in M42, take
one look through the ETX and decide that they have the scope of a

Don in Dallas

Subject:	 Another ETX/90 First Night
Sent:	Sunday, January 31, 1999 22:58:46
From:	jadair@dnai.com (Jeff Adair)
After MUCH research, analysis and contemplation I finally decided to
make my first scope purchase an ETX. And since I procrastinated long
enough, I was able to get the ETX/90!

Since this is my first scope and I'm really new to astronomy, I just set
it up and decided to check out the full moon. I had a little trouble
getting the scope attached to the Meade tripod...the screw slots on the
tripod seemed to have a little too much coating and the bolts didn't fit
very well. I went ahead and got it put together, but think I'm going to
investigate the wedgepods I've read about on your site. With the
accessory tray in place, you can't seem to collapse the tripod, unless
I'm missing something. Kind of detracts from the portability. The only
other thing I noticed was some excess lubricant on the outside of the
scope itself...I'm assuming that's no big deal.

I did an initial finderscope alignment before dark, but need to fine
tune it. The position of the bottom thumbscrews on the finderscope made
it a little troublesome, but not bad. I didn't bother Polar aligning as
from my location I couldn't readily see Polaris. I scanned your New User
area and found some tips on Polar aligning so will try that at a later

I set up the scope on my deck as soon as the Moon cleared the trees.
With such an easy target I was able to focus in with the 26mm included
eyepiece and the 2x Barlow I purchased with the scope. I used the hand
controller to keep the Moon in view and to scan the skies. The motor
does seem fairly loud, as I've read in other posts. It's not so much the
fast slewing speed noise that's annoying, but the slow speed with the
drives locked in. Unless I'm doing something wrong, they sound like a
variable speed drill spinning very slow, and the motion doesn't seem as
smooth as I'd expected. it certainly doesn't seem smooth enough for a
photograph. Another point I'd read in other folks' reviews was the
"feature" of the drives engaging and moving slightly when you turn on
the motor. This was troublesome when I had the Moon in view and turned
off the motor to keep a steadier image. When powered on, the scope moved
substantially enough to require another look through the finderscope to
re-acquire. A way to override this would be great.

My second night out I got bold and tried to find the Orion Nebula. I'm
pretty sure I got it, but not entirely. I haven't Polar aligned yet, so
I just eyeballed the "sword" part of Orion and the middle star. In the
scope there appeared to be a hazy white cloud around a bright star, with
2 much smaller stars very close (I think part of the Trapezium?).

Sound like it? Even if not, I was pretty jazzed. Even woke the wife up
and made her come out and look:)

Sorry for the long winded narrative. Your site was extremely helpful in
getting me up to speed enough to make a purchase. I'm looking forward to
learning much more about this great endeavor.



Subject:	 New ETX in hand!  Woo Hoo!
Sent:	Friday, January 29, 1999 14:02:10
From:	pvogel@chromatic.com (Peter A. Vogel)
Based on a conversation with the manager of my local Nature Company,
where I had bought my ETX on Jan 3, I walked into the store yesterday
afternoon with old ETX in hand and told the floor supervisor what I
wanted to do and what the manager had said.

He did a quick inspection of the old ETX to make sure nothing was
damaged (it wasn't) and mentioned that I was lucky I had spoken to the
manager last week, since a memo from Nature Co. HQ had gone out early
this week regarding returns of old ETX for new ETX and the policy is not
as nice anymore.

Just to show my appreciation for the store, I forked over the $190 for
the #883 deluxe field tripod :-)

We actually had a pretty clear night last night, so I eagerly got the
thing home, stopping at the local walgreens along the way to pick up an
8-pack of AA batteries.

Set up: Definitely looks like the mounting between the optical tube and
the forks has changed, there appears to be some beefy plastic mounting
system mounted to the optical tube, that system then mounts to the fork.
So I can see why there is an upgrade path problem, though I suspect the
tube could be reused to produce an upgrade.

The base has 3 modular connections, one (8 wire) goes to the hand box
(either the EC that comes with the scope or the AutoStar computer) the
other two (phone handset size) are for auxillary accessories, the only
known aux accessory is the moto-focus (#1244) but the manual suggests
that other accessories will be added.

I'll echo the comments from others that have indicated that the new
plastic bottom does not seem as "robust" as the old metal one. 
Especially noticable when the scope is mounted to the tripod and the
latitude adjustment is dialed into the tripod.  I think it is entirely
cosmetic though, since the tripod bolts go into what appears to be a
fairly strong assembly deep in the base.

Power up the scope, push a key on the keypad, and the DEC and RA motors
kick in briefly to let you know that it is alive and ready to be
commanded.  As shipped, when you power on the scope, it starts in Alt/Az
mode, you then need to hold down the MODE key on the keypad for a few
seconds to enter the "mode setting mode :-)" from which you can cycle
through polar (S), polar (N) or Alt/Az. mode by pressing the SPEED key. 
Once you set polar mode, you know it, because you hear the RA motor
begin to churn.  From a polar mode, you can alter the tracking rate up
to +-64% of sidereal rate by pressing the focus IN/OUT buttons on the
hand contoller, each press of IN adds 0.5%, each press of OUT subtracts
0.5% (caution, I may have the direction of button pressing wrong, I
don't have the manual in front of me) so it will take 128 presses to get
to the full 64% rate alteration.  The manual provides some guidance
regarding what rates are necessary for the moon, and other non-sidereal
objects one might choose to view.  I'd personally like to see the back
of the hand controller contain a short mode guide to explain setting the
sidereal mode and speed, but that's easily accomplished with a laser
printer and an Avery label set :-)

There are two "mode screws" on the back of the hand controller remove
one and the system will default to Polar (N) mode, remove the other
instead and the system defaults to Polar (S) mode.  Regardless, all
modes are accessible from the procedure mentioned above.

First light:

First off, align the finder scope.  Fortunately, there is a tall tower
in the Great America Theme Park nearby that has a nice, bright light at
the top.  I got that centered in the main scope (the electronic controls
were GREAT for this, much easier, lower vibration, than with the hand
controls on the old ETX.  Then messed with the set screws for the
finderscope until the tower's light was centered in the crosshairs.  Now
to view some celestial objects...

I'm in a pretty damn light polluted area (the Silicon Valley floor) so
I'm limited in what I can view, so I started with the objects I knew
best from the old ETX:  Jupiter and Saturn.

Cranked in full speed on the hand controller and slewed around to rough
in the location of Jupiter.  Dropped to moderate speed (32X sidereal)
and got Jupiter centered in the crosshairs.  Back to the scope and there
he is!  A little focusing (LOTS of vibration, maybe my hands aren't
steady or something, but I'll tell you right now, the #1244 focusser is
at the top of my purchase list!) and he's looking good!  For the real
test, I added in the 2X barlow (the only EP accessory I've got) to get a
96X view.  On my old ETX, if I got Jupiter centered with the SP26mm and
locked RA, the RA motor lash would have Jupiter *just* on the edge of
the field when I added the barlow and it would then track Jupiter
faithfully.  I'm *very* pleased to report that Jupiter *remained* in the
center of field after adding the Barlow--No lash! :-)  Optical quality
is unchanged from the old ETX, with the Barlow I could make out the
stripes on Jupiter and the 4 moons.

Saturn was much the same story, though the small amount of vibration
introduced by the Electronic Control while slewing in 8X sidereal mode
to get Saturn well-centered was more noticible than it had been with

Overall, I LOVE the new ETX.  I'm looking forward to the AutoStar and
the Electronic Focus control, which I'll be buying from Nature Company
to support a store that stands by its promises, even though they receive
a memo from the corp. office that says they shouldn't do what they had


Subject:	 ETX-90EC! User Feedback
Sent:	Friday, January 29, 1999 7:49:05
From:	Jeff.Huston@infousa.com (Huston, Jeff)
I finally got my 90-EC from the Nature Company (they said they will get
the Autostar controllers next week).  Funny thing is, it took me about
15 minutes to convince the saleperson it wasn't capable of auto-focus
out of the box...and it doesn't look like Nature Company is going to be
receiving any auto-focusers (corporate blunder?).

The quality of the mount is substantially higher than the previous mount
(or maybe my previous mount was just sub-standard).  The R/A and dec
movements are extremely smooth.

I am a JMI Wedgepod owner, and while I am still waiting for my free
90-EC adapter (from JMI...contact them if you have a wedgepod and
looking to buy a new ETX), I was pleasantly surprised to discover that
the drive controller fits very nicely where the JMI auto-focus/auto-dec
unit would normally go.  Looks like it was made for it.

As far as I am concerned, portability is the name of the game, and the
JMI wedgepod fits the bill much better than the Meade tripod (now
cheaper than the Meade tripod).

I quickly installed my JMI 90deg finder conversion and piggy back
adapter (both work just fine) and now have a very potent
astrophotography setup.

It is, indeed, a rather loud drive (even tracking), however, nothing my
viewing partners couldn't get used to (hah).  Rather than a coffee
grinder however, I would start dubbing it the 'can opener'.

For those of you wondering about the noise and what one of these things
looks like in action, I've put up a couple of MPEG files on my web site.
They can be found at: http://www.eomaha.com/jeffsastro/etxnews.htm.

Clear skies

Jeff Huston

Subject:	 RE: First Impressions of ETX/CE
Sent:	Friday, January 29, 1999 5:22:29
From:	dick@dwalters.com (Dick Walters)
Mike,  looked at your site.  Nice job! 

In the new instruction manual the photos of the scope polar aligned on
the ETX tripod has it mounted backwards. That may not be a problem, but
suspect the Autostar might not be pleased with the orientation and the
scope RA would be 180d out of calibration. Probably an overly artistic
layout artist.

I subsequently found out from Meade that there are only 1-2 folks who
know much about the scope, Mike Lee and John Piper. There is apparently
no e-mail access into the place.  According to Mike Lee, the startup
motion is necessary to enable the scope to calibrate its encoders and
it's similar to the larger scopes, LX50. I guess it's something I'll
have to remember to do.

I don't know where you find the spare time, but keep up the good work.


Subject:	 New ETX-90 images
Sent:	Thursday, January 28, 1999 22:20:23
From:	barrycnp@earthlink.net (Barry Craig)
I'm forwarding the attached images for all to enjoy and use. I'm now
going to observe Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon.  I will report back with


Barry A. Craig  (Clear Night Products)  248-547-2315

The ETX-90/EC box
The ETX-90/EC (with the Craig TeleWrap/Dew Cap)
DEC tension knob
RA tension lever
Standard hand controller

Subject:	 New ETX-90
Sent:	Thursday, January 28, 1999 16:26:51
From:	barrycnp@earthlink.net (Barry Craig)
Barry here again, just got my hands on the new ETX-90 WOW! WOW! WOW!
everything the old was and lots more. In the 1200X mode in really zips
along. More to come with pictures. GOTO hand controller in a couple of


Barry A. Craig  (Clear Night Products)  248-547-2315

Subject:	 Comments on New ETX-90EC
Sent:	Thursday, January 28, 1999 13:02:09
From:	steven.jindra@lyondell-citgo.com (Jindra, Steven J.)
Received the new ETX-90EC yesterday from Astronomics (anniversary
present - great timing huh). It mounted okay on my homemade wedge and
tripod (based on design by Mark Peterson posted on your site that I
originally built for a Criterion 4000). Took it out to look at Jupiter
and Moon between clouds. Of course the optics are great. It sounds funny
but it works good. When changing direction on slew the view bounces up
slightly. At slower speeds or when tracking the backlash is pretty
noticeable after changing direction. The sidereal rate can be adjusted
through the hand controller up or down in .5% increments to + or - 65%
of normal to adjust to Moon or planets. At high power the tracking motor
seemed to add some vibration to image, but finally settled out. The
handheld computer is not due for another week or so. I am now trying to
design an adapter to mount a Celeston 80WA (short tube) OTA for when I
want wide angle views with Go-To capability.
I appreciate your site and the way you manage it.
Steven Jindra
Deer Park (next to Houston), Texas

Subject:	 First Impressions of ETX/CE
Sent:	Wednesday, January 27, 1999 11:41:00
From:	dick@dwalters.com (Dick Walters)
I unpacked my ETX/CE from Astronomics this morning and it's a very nice
piece of work.  A few observations:

1. The gross manual alignment is pretty simple: vertical by loosening a
"declination lock" on the right yoke arm and horizontally with a
friction latch on the upper base.

2. Quality is excellent and the plastic base seems sturdy enough.  The
base bottom is plastic to accommodate a battery compartment but the
tripod holes have brass inserts.

3. The focus control is much smoother than on my earlier ETX.  May be
just this unit, but it feels like it's improved with little or no

4. The optional #1244 electric focuser is not shown by photograph in the
book, so there's no clue about how it mounts to the telescope, except
that it "replaces the manual focuser knob.  It apparently comes with a
remote handbox, but can be plugged in and controlled from the electronic
controller or Astrostar controller.

5. The electronic controller works OK.  There is some backlash but
plenty of speed control (fast, medium, moderate and slow).  The motor
noise in high speed is surprisingly loud, but I have little to compare
it too.  Nothing to wake the neighbors, but 70-73 dB 1 foot away,
depending on H or V.  It's very quiet in the slow mode.

6. Uses RJ-11,RJ-45 type telephone plugs, which are fine, but probably
will be a pain when the little plastic tabs break off.

7. The base has plugs for 2 "aux" inputs (the focuser  fits here)

8. The ETX tripod bolts were plenty long to mount the scope to my # 883
ETX tripod.  Don't know why Meade thinks they need new bolts.  They DO
need some kind of bracket to hook the controller to the tripod leg as
shown in their photo.  Maybe they used Velcro.

9. My particular scope was a bit disappointing, QA wise.  Had a missing
eyepiece thumbscrew and there's a gouge in the base well under the
horizontal lock lever that looks like someone was a bit heavy handed on
assembly.  Not serious problems, I guess, but disappointing for a
precision optical instrument; especially the thumbscrew, which I thought
might be rattling around inside the optical tube.

10. The #497 Astrostar replaces the standard controller and the book
mentions an optional #505 connector kit, 1 to connect it to a PC for
Epock 2000sk software, or to download new object data or software from
the Internet, a second to tie two Astrostars together to download one to
the other.

11. The booklet describes the #825 right angle vf as an 8x25mm rather
than the 8x21 standard that comes with the scope.

12. There's an optional #1422 low latitude balance weight for use on the
#880 optional table tripod at latitudes below 30 degrees when the scope
would tip back pretty far.

13.  The booklet mentions an 882 standard field tripod without polar
alignment capability for terrestrial viewing.

14. Also mentioned are a #541 AC adapter with a 25' power cord and #607
auto cigarette lighter adapter with a 25' cord.  There's a standard
tip/ring plug on the control panel along with an on/off switch for the
scope power.

15. One thing I'm not too impressed with on the new scope.  When you
first turn it on, the scope moves slightly in both axis. Meade told me
it was to align the scope. The book says it's to test the motors.  I can
see why this is perhaps necessary then set for astro tracking, but it's
a pain if you have boresighted the scope on an object before turning on
the controller.

When the Astrostar and focuser come in, I'll add to this. Hope it
satiates some curiosity till the data starts rolling in.


Subject:	 Questar vs. ETX 90/EC
Sent:	Tuesday, January 26, 1999 13:09:05
From:	LBartolomei@pubdef.state.mn.us (Bartolomei, Luis)
First, I'd like to let you know how much I enjoy your site!  Please keep
up the good work.

Yesterday I was able to pick up an ETX 90/EC that I plan to give to my
father for his birthday coming soon.  I pulled it out of the box and
placed it next to my Questar Duplex for a simple test.  In a well lit
room, I taped a crisp new dollar bill on a wall.  I then made sure that
the scopes were aimed at the bill from the same angle to maintain even
lighting.  With the ETX's 26mm Superplossl and the Questar 24mm Brandon,
I compared the views of the bill.  I then switched the eyepieces from
scope to scope and then I juxtaposed the scopes themselves from their
positions and switched their eyepieces again.  The difference was rather
obvious:  The Questar view was significantly brighter at the slightly
higher magnification that the 24mm Brandon produces.  The brightness of
both views became roughly equal only when I doubled the power on the
Questar with its built in barlow.  The resolution appeared roughly the
same (with a slight edge going to the Questar), but focusing the ETX was
much more difficult.

Based on reviews that I've read, the authors made it seem like the
optical differences between the two were slight.  Perhaps that is indeed
the case, but from my glib little test, the difference was sufficient
enough so that even my "bias control" user (my wife, who would rather
watch paint dry than partake of my hobby) picked up on the difference
immediately and without prompting.  Just thought I'd pass this on.

Luis Bartolomei

Subject:	 RE: RE: New ETX about to hit the streets
Sent:	Monday, January 25, 1999 20:54:31
From:	rod_laird@csi.com (Rod Laird)
ETX/EC arrived with new tripod and Autostar. Limited testing time so
far, but some nice Autostar features include:

- lots more object info than Mag II (and Presumably LX). Nice access
structure for named and catalogue numbered objects. Good descriptors of
many objects as well.

- heaps better construction / display - great contrast and fabulous keys
in contrast to Mag / LX handbox

- smart setup - put in city or long/lat, and the date/time and the easy
align feature will select optimal alignment stars for that time (!)

- satellite tracking - with a feature that sets an alarm to remind you
of a coming satellite acquisition window

- nice 'guided tour' - picks some 'pretties' in your current night sky

- Good utilities for eyepiece selection and for timing of various
celestial events (Moon phases, eclipses, solar system object rises and
sets etc)

- Landmark or terrestrial database - allows to you memorise non-tracked
stuff too. Ideal for setting up at the beach house / office window,
where you have items you would like to jump to automatically

- Ability to transfer data directly between Autostar handsets as well as
to/from PC - presumably you can 'share interesting objects with your
friends'. Good for example for new comet data etc.

- Tiny feature but a goodie - built in LED light at the front which you
can switch on and off at the controller... Overall brightness controls
deliver superb readability.

- All the usual LX type features (park, sleep, HPP); Also features to
allow parametric configuration to a wide range of scopes - and the drive
and motor tracking calibration needed to reduce errors. Clearly this
controller will drive a complete new generation family of scopes

Too early to comment on pointing accuracy etc - have not done the basic
drive training. No docs yet either (presumably why it's not yet shipping
commercially?) so probably floundering a bit in some areas. But the
first evening was very entertaining (if hot and full of mozzies...) The
AutoStar is clearly the winner everyone is hoping for. This is just a
knockout product for Meade...

BTW, OTA quality if anything even better than my old ETX; astounding
quality control. The new ETX base is good quality and finish for the
price point. Power light and plug in external power are great (I use an
external sealed cell system for my LX 50 / CCD gear which is 100%
compatible). Interested to know what the two AUX connectors are for; one
is the focuser - the other??? Definitely no CCD auto-guiding here...

Added later:

Just came in from round to with the Autostar. Trained the drive chains
during the day so it has a clue about the relative Alt. and Az.
hysteresis. Now performs very well after the 2 star alignment. All
goto's clearly placed the objects in the 26mm field (although often on
an edge) - astounding! Only minus (apart from very, very minor early
release software glitches) is that the Autostar does not have a mechaism
like the Magellans and LX controllers to filter objects by magnitude and
other features - OTOH the menu structure allows good access to popular
named objects and 'see -worthy' objects of all kinds. Again, this
package impresses! I've stuck a quickpoint on it though - a right angle
finder remains an option.

Rod Laird
Melbourne Australia
PGP at keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC :  First Light Report
Sent:	Monday, January 25, 1999 20:44:03
From:	goawaylittlespammers@nothanks.com (John Steinberg)
First chance to play around with my new ETC-90/EC. In spite of comments
to the contrary, seems real firmly seated on the Meade #883 ETX Tripod.
Tonights brief observations of Saturn & the Moon confirmed as much. This
is the most stable combination for the ETX that I have viewed to date,
plastic base plate notwithstanding. No flexure issues whatsoever. Winds
however were quite light tonight. I'd like a four point attachment
scheme in place of the two point. Set up would take longer, but I'd
prefer the peace of mind.

You can utilize the the included hand controller in Alt/Az mode or Polar
mode (N or S) Sidereal tracking in polar mode, with only a modest
attempt at Polaris alignment, was quite nice. I'll have to snap some
pics just to see how good it really is. Mode changes are simple with the
hand controller and by removing a screw on its back, one can set up a
default mode.

The optics on this may even surpass my "original" ETX. Saturn was tack
sharp viewed with the 26mm Plossl as well as in concert with the #126
Barlow and the 9.7mm Super Plossl.  Really nice! Nice factory
collimation, Meade. I *was* going for the Cassini division but some
clouds and haze rolled in on cue.

Orion was pretty well washed out so that ended my 30 minute observation
session. It was one of those wet/cold nights that makes the fireplace a
seriously real distraction.

The focus nob is further extended from the OTA as compared to my
"original" ETX. I like it. Even turning it was noticeably smoother. Star
testing showed classical diffraction rings around Sirius when racked in
and out of focus. The cold was making my eyes water and my teeth
chatter, so a more definitive test will follow.

There are wo threaded bolt holes on the base plate. The plastic cover
over the batteries looks like it was borrowed from an R/C car, but
access doesn't require tools and the batteries are firmly ensconced and
right beneath the surface. Nice for those of us with "larger mitts" as
it were.

Dec. numbers are only on the left side of the scope now. The right nob
on the fork arm is used to lock the Dec. In place of the slow motion and
lock knob under the OTA is a single recessed bar to lock the RA. I like
the action of this a lot better than the knob it replaced. It also looks
more integrated.  Everything seems to operate more smoothly. With both
RA and DEC unlocked the ETX moves with, dare I say, a buttery smooth
movement.  The ETX seems to have grown up a bit with these modest
improvements. I always disliked the combination slow motion control and
lock nob on the RA and I detested the DEC screw - always afraid it would
just pop out. This simplified control scheme is a big plus to this early

The included hand controller seems a *bit* finicky, and I'm not sure its
my touch or its sensitivity that's the problem here.  The cable for same
is nice and thick - though the phone style jack looks like a potential
Achilles heel.  The controller body is a nice size and weight of
plastic. Clean white silkscreening on body and buttons. I've got some
velcro gluing onto it and a few legs of the tripod to allow for a comfy
resting spot. It will sit on the accessory tray of the #833 tripod
without stretching the cord, but I hate to bend if I don't have to.

I'm awaiting the autostar and the electronic focuser. I can hardly wait
for arrival!

High speed tracking is noisy, but not *that* noisy. Sounds pretty cool
actually. Not exactly like a Ferrai V-12 mind you.The three lower speeds
are very quiet, but I did notice some slight "hopping". Nothing
untoward. Nothing that wasn't easily managed.  Can somebody make a PEC
for these? :)

I didn't install my right angle finder yet. I prefer the straight
through, but yes, the finders proximity to the EP is awful. On the up
side, it's a damned fine optical piece. There's a set screw underneath
it and I'm wondering if I couldn't raise it, relative to the OTA, to
free it from its tight quarters. I'll have to investigate this at some
other time.

All in all, one seriously pleased new ETX-90/EC owner.

As soon as the autostar and focuser arrive I'll be set. In the interim,
if any of the fine programmers wish to adapt their software for use with
the new ETX, (and in Mac format, too please!) I can guarantee you at
least one sale!

Thanks for listening to this, admittedly, sketchy and limited first
light report.


Some men see the glass as half empty;
Bob Dole see's it as a great place for his teeth.

manbytsdog at aol dot com

Subject:	 First impression of the Meade ETX/EC from a newbie
Sent:	Friday, January 22, 1999 19:57:03
From:	aries1@voicenet.com (Elliot Rubinsky)
Here are my first impressions of the ETX/EC.  I recently bought the ETX
and have opted for the EC.  The computer interface appealed to my
computer geek background.

First the base plate is made out of plastic. The helps to make the scope
lighter (about a pound). The battery compartment is accessible by a
door, so you no longer have to remove the base plate. Actually you can
longer take the base plate off. I'm suspicious that the screws are under
the rubber feet.

The center tripod hole has been eliminated by the battery compartment
cover. The manual no longer makes any reference to using a standard
tripod. It appears that a new mounting plate is needed to use both holes
at once. One would have hoped that Meade would have made one available
in exchange for the tripod legs.

The slow motion controls have been removed. I missed the sense of
accomplishment in learning how to maneuver a scope. The RA lock is a
large lever, in-stead-of a little knob. However, it is located under the
OTA. I'm not sure how this will effect it use in the dark. The motor
defaults to alt/az maneuvering. By playing with screws on the hand
control can you set its default operation for N/S hemisphere polar

The manual has been written exclusively for the astro scope. There are
more diagrams to help make it more readable, including one on
overpowering the scope.  It also mentions more (Meade) accessories.
There are several useful appendices that deal with basic constellations,
astronomical distances and the charts which were scattered throughout
the original manual. There are also several typos throughout the book
and its figures (e.g. figure 3) .

All in all it was easy to move up to this version, even at a cost
increase of $146.  (The original scope was 20% off.)

Thanks for making all of the information public in your site.


P.S.  If you need any help beta testing products in the northern
hemisphere, let me know. 8*)

Subject:	 new ETX
Sent:	Friday, January 22, 1999 19:18:31
From:	billkamon@sprintmail.com (Bill Kamon)
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 16:29:32 -0800
From: John W Downs (docdb@juno.com)
Subject: Re: [M]: ETX-90 EC-reply

The little scope is a work horse. Not designed to compete with the
LX-200. Lots of fun and the same price. OPT carries the full line, but
no star computer controllers yet.

Willard Observatory
(not far from Mt. Palomar)

Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 09:55:56 -0800
From: "Loren A. Busch" (LBusch@ix.netcom.com)
Subject: Re: [M]: ETX-90 EC

I set up the first of the ETX/EC's to arrive at out store Tuesday night.
Has RA/Dec slew in four speeds and SOUNDS just like a mini LX-200,
actually not that mini, almost as loud.  Comes without table top tripod
(optional extra) and with the new base to the mount (not the very heavy
and stiff baseplate of the original ETX) is not as stable on the Meade
ETX tripod.  No electronics available yet to test.  BTW, when set to
track (Polar Mode only) the RA drive is VERY noisey.

Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 14:19:14 -0600
From: Robert Haler (rhaler@lymax.com)
Subject: RE: [M]: ETX-90 EC (anyone who has tried one)

There are clutch release controls so you can move the scope manually,
but it does not have manual slow motion controls.  All fine movements
are made using the 4 speed hand controller.  The existing tripod fits
the new ETX. We won't have the computer controllers for them until next
week.  One thing I do not like is that the original metal base plate has
been replaced with plastic - which does not seem quite as stabil on the
tripod.  And get ready for the coffee grinder jokes.....I think it is
actually a bit LOUDER than a 12" LX-200.  All in all, a pretty neat
scope, but I'm not in love with it yet.

Also from the latest issue of ASTRONOMY, it looks like the right angle
finder will be sold separately (49.95). I'm assuming it will fit, but it
pays to ask first.

Bill Kamon

Subject:	 FYI
Sent:	Monday, January 11, 1999 20:58:13
From:	Shutan Camera & Video
It's Happened!

The successor to the largest-selling modern telescope in the world has
been announced! Meade's new ETX-90/EC offers the same fine optics that
created the ETX revolution but with the following enhancements: A new
fork mount design with standard high-torque motors on both telescope
axes, permitting electronic operation from the standard-equipment
plug-in hand controller! Use the hand controller at any of four
dual-axis speeds. Totally cordless power system! The best is yet to
come-- plug in the optional Meade Autostar computer controller for
LX200-type operation including GO TO capability to more than 12,000
celestial objects-- the best from the IC, NGC and Caldwell catalogs, as
well as all 110 Messier objects; 900 stars; the 8 major planets; 26 of
the brightest asteroids; 15 periodic comets; 50 earth-orbiting
satellites; plus more! The optional Autostar also offers continuous
digital readout of RA and DEC. Precise sidereal-rate tracking in either
altazimuth or equatorial modes. It even has an RS-232 Serial Port for
operation through a personal computer, using Meade Epoch 2000 sky

Orders are now being accepted for the first allocation-- scheduled to
begin by the end of January '99. The price you ask? Same price the
standard ETX used to be sold for. Used to be... as in... not anymore.
This is also the best time to buy the STANDARD model ETX. We have a
limited number of brand new stock available at our lowest price ever for
an ETX Astro, including table tripod legs, finder, and Super Plossl

You can also purchase the new model for thru our trade-up program!
Here's how it works, it's very simple. You send us your ETX Astro along
with its factory-supplied accessories and we'll sell you the new model
for our trade-up price. Modified, damaged, or non-working ETX's will not
be accepted on this trade-up program. Call for authorization before
sending us your ETX.

Mike here: I've deleted the prices from this. Please visit Shutan Camera & Video ETX page for pricing info.

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Go back to my ETX Home Page.

Copyright © 1999 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals are Copyright © 1999 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/90ec_Feb99.html