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ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK - MAY 1999
Last updated: 31 May 1999

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-90EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to both the original ETX model, the ETX-90EC, and the ETX-125EC are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	autostar cord
Sent:	Monday, May 31, 1999 17:54:15
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
well, i decided to make the autostar cord as suggested on your site...
the cord was made with the same materials as was required by the posts
and in the same way. but for some reason, the autostar update program
won't agknowledge my autostar... are there any quick FAQ's on your site
concerning this problem? i really wanted to update to the new version
tonight... so please write back soon. thanks, and as always, GREAT
SITE!!!
~noah

p.s.- i used a volt meter and know that the cord is set up perfectly
Mike here: I had the same problem. Two points: don't try to use COM2; it won't work with the current updater s/w. Also, you could try reversing the send and receive lines. Finally, as Jordan Blessing of Scopetronix has suggested, grab the SkyMap Pro 5 demo from http://www.wwsoftware.com/featureinformation.htm and try that. If it works then you know that you have an Autostar updater problem, not a cable problem.

Subject:	 Dec Failure
Sent:	Monday, May 31, 1999 0:22:20
From:	gcarter@privatei.com (Gregg Carter)
Once again your site proves to be a great source of information.  I
experienced a Dec clutch lock failure exactly as you describe on your
Web site (i.e., it was just fine the last time I used the scope, and
then just when the scope was just sitting awaiting next usage, it
failed).  I also am sure that I did not "overtighten" the Dec lock.  I
purchased the scope at The Nature Company and am going to return it for
replacement on Tuesday (the day after Memorial Day).  Is this problem
very common, or can I reasonably expect the replacement scope to be ok?

I sure want to get this scope working,

Gregg Carter
Mike here: Meade has fixed the problem but some defective components may remain in the channel.

Subject:	 New ETX-90EC User
Sent:	Friday, May 28, 1999 17:36:55
From:	gcarter@privatei.com (Gregg Carter)
OK, I bought an ETX-90EC today.  Got the AutoStar also, of course.  Have
pretty much got it all figured out, having gone through the menu
structure and all.  Now if the clear skies just hold up once it is
dark..... :)
Added later:
I'm going to post this question on the usegroup, but thought I'd ask you
just in case you know the answer.  The sky is clear and I was outside to
do my alignment.  Everytime I try I get the message "Motor Unit Fault"
and the alignment procedure terminates.  Interesting enough, I can
manually continue to move the scope toward the start it was going for. 
I started in the home position (tube parallel to ground and pointing
north) every time.
Added later:
I did the "Reset" command and it's working like a charm. Did a two-star
alignment since I wanted to use Vega and Spica as I have some
obstructions at tonights spot.  Did that and so far it's hitting
everything I'm going for.  This is going to be great!!

Subject:	 Re: RA Drive (Andrew)
Sent:	Monday, May 24, 1999 22:26:42
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)
Had a somewhat similar problem. My ETX hit a hard stop (using Autostar
1.0c) and I started experiencing the same problem. My solution was to
open the bottom and check the worm gear. The screw holding the worn gear
was loose, (as well as other screws and gears as I found out in there) 
and had started to work it's way out. Slew one way and it works fine, go
slew the other way and the screw would work it's way back in until
friction took over and turned the worm gear.  Used a needle nose pliers
to hold worm gear and and allen wrench to tighten screw. Works fine.

*If* you decide to take the bottom off of your ETX, **be careful** of
the battery leads. My negative lead popped right off the circuit board
without much effort. Right now, my scope is external power only until I
decide if it's worth pulling out the PC boards. (Not worth it yet with
AC power and a gel cell option available). Also, you may want to look at
the Scopetronix site first to see what you may be getting into. There is
good info there on the internals of the ETX.
--------------------------------------------------

TIA and TTFN

jchalfen@goldengate.net
jchalfen@aol.com (I know...I know...)

Subject:	etx 90ec/natural wonders
Sent:	Monday, May 24, 1999 20:40:21
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
i just wanted to let you, and those out there who use Natural Wonders as
their dealer to know that they are no longer taking special accessory
orders. They won't be selling anything but basic telescopes, a couple of
eyepieces and maybe some autostars. other than that, meade has stopped
shipment to them. that means, no filters, right angle viewfinders, auto
focusers... etc. supposedly they (natural wonders) were having problems
with a shipment of very expensive items (i'm guessing lx200 type scopes)
and meade would not take back the defective equipment. so now they are
only carrying basic items.

also, while i was at the store today, the lady who has been helping me
since my first purchase (the original etx, back in december) told me
that i could swap my old autostarv1.0 for a new one. i have downloaded
the software from meade's site, but have yet to purchase a cord to
connect the autostar to my computer. (i opted not to make one myself,
because i didn't want to fry my telescope) anyway, i was reluctant to
trade in my old one, because i have never really had a problem with
it... but tonight i went out and turned on my scope, when all of a
sudden the autostar prompted me to the beginning start menu... the one
that shows up when you first plug the autostar in for the first time.
well, it was right then that i noticed that all of the memory was
cleared. not that it was a problem though... all i needed to do was type
in my location and retrain the drive. but i was curious to see if you
had heard of autostars acting this way. maybe i will trade it in for a
new one... ~noah

p.s. - i've read somewhere that you should plug in the autostar after
you turn on the scope... i keep mine plugged in most of the time
(including the time when i turn on the scope)... could this have been
the problem? this might be a warning to those who keep theirs plugged
in... it might lead to a short in the autostar.
Mike here: I would leave the Autostar plugged in, even with the ETX turned off.

Subject:	 Image Shift? or Major Malfunction?
Sent:	Monday, May 24, 1999 18:14:54
From:	tjdonovan@worldnet.att.net (Tim Donovan)
Once again many thanks for this ETX "bible".

I have been experiencing what I had thought was a collimation problem on
my ETX-90RA. After meeting one of your frequent and knowledgeable
posters at the local observatory, and seeing his ETX in action and
talking with him, I'm not sure what exactly the problem is. When I
attempt to focus in on an object, the image "slides" across the field to
such an extreme that I have to alter the position of the scope to keep
the object in view. I am focusing with two hands, one on the focus & one
on the RA knob. This "sliding" seems to be getting progressively worse.
I've searched your site for "collimation", "image shift", & found
nothing that seems to describe my situation. Any thoughts on this, or
have you heard of this before?

Many thanks in advance!
Tim
Mike here: Some image shift during focus is normal. But Meade Daffron (hopewell@ctg.net) noted in the ETX-90EC Feeback: "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!"

Subject:	 Report on firmware upgrade, and some questions
Sent:	Monday, May 24, 1999 7:54:21
From:	rcramsey@bellsouth.net (Robert Ramsey)
Thanks for your great site - very well designed, moderated, and
informative.

I received the Scopetronix serial cable this past Saturday, and upgraded
the firmware to 1.1.m.  I did notice, when the upgrade was complete,
that the Autostar went into initialization mode, asking for language
preference, etc.  I was wondering if I need to re-train the drive.  I
suspect I will need to, since all of the other user-supplied data (i.e.,
I had added a couple of locations to the site menu) was gone,
overwritten, I assume, by the new code.

Thanks, and keep the site as great as it is!!!

Clay Ramsey
rcramsey@bellsouth.net
Mike here: Retraining the drive is likely required since once you upgrade the Autostar, it is like having a new one.

Subject:	 Just some thoughts...
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 1999 7:51:27
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
Hi all,

Reading mike's review of the 90EC, I was surprised at the strange RA
movement, going for 1 hour motion and then stopping. I recall other
people noting the same problem and I even experienced it myself briefly,
but after switching on and off, this usually disappeared. My worry is
that there is a small bug in the RA motor system, particularly when used
with the Autostar (v1.0c). I got a 'motor unit failure' from the
autostar for a while, with no motion using the arrows. Strangely, the
normal hand controller worked perfectly. A gentle brushing of the RA
encoder was required and the with the normal hand controller, everything
is smooth and the '1 hour' stop thing is less frequent. Also, the 'RA
runaway' problem has not occurred. (My Autostar is with Meade on the
entirely unrelated problem of being dead, so I can't comment further
here.)

If anyone else can shed some light on this or have similar experiences,
I'd be interested to hear.

Please be extremely careful opening the base of the 90EC. The wires from
the battery compartment to the PCB are fragile, and Murphy's law says if
they break, they come off at the PCB. From painful experience I can
assure you that a soldering iron has great difficulty getting in
there...

On the subject of cleaning optics, I very strongly recommend that all
people read Al Nagler's advice on the Tele Vue (www.astronomy-mall.com/regular/products/tele-vue-optics/)
homepage. In fact the
entire site made for a very interesting afternoons reading. Quite an eye
opener. (And I still have no great urge to buy televue eyepieces). The
'ask Al and Dave' section also contains some ETX related questions and
answers which may or may not be use to some of you.

Clear skies all,

		Kev.

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

Subject:	Your etx 90-ec
Sent:	Saturday, May 22, 1999 22:33:02
From:	Etxowner@aol.com
Hey Mike!
Have you had time to work further with your new scope? I know all etx
owners are looking forward to more first hand info from you. Etx owners
owe you a debt of gratitude for this great site.
Thank You,

ETX owner
Mike here: Not yet. But will soon. Wanted to get the Autostar updated first. Stay tuned...

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC Dec Lock
Sent:	Saturday, May 22, 1999 15:06:54
From:	Pierre.Henrotay@sni.be (Henrotay Pierre)
Noticed your bad experience with the DEC Lock (right tube adapter). Is
this a design error from Meade (and as such this would affect all
telescopes sooner or later: it seems indeed that more and more of us
encounter a problem with the DEC Lock) ? If so, why would the new right
tube adapter last longer/not exhibit the same problem ? Sorry for all
these questions, but I am getting anxious by now: my ETX (a few weeks
old only) seems to require more and more tightening for the DEC Lock; if
not tight enough, the motor of the scope is not able to raise the tube
but however succeeds in lowering it. I am a bit reluctant to remove the
OTA and inspect the adapter, being afraid of damaging anything or not
being able to put thing back in a correct way. Anyway, there is little
chance to get here in Belgium a replacement for the right tube adapter
directly from Meade.

Thanks for your site: a terrific source of info...
 
Pierre Henrotay
Belgium - Europe
50  36 N
5 52 E 
Mike here: Not all shipped telescopes have experienced the problem but some may. The failure seems to occur quickly after initial use so if you've been using your ETX-90EC for sometime you will probably not experience the failure.

Subject:	 RA drive
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 1999 6:45:59
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
Pardon me if someone has brought this problem up before. I have
(another) new ETX90/EC and have come across an interesting problem. When
in polar mode (with the RA drive operating) and you slew the scope East
you get the expected pause in the motor. What I did not expect and did
not happen with the previous ETX90/EC is that even though the RA motor
starts again within seconds, the scope does not move for nearly 120
seconds. I was wondering if anyone had a similar problem (and solution).

Once it starts going it is fine, until next time I slew East. It has no
problem when I slew West.

Thanks for a brilliant site and an excellent service to all us Meade
users and potential users.

Andrew

andrewj@netvigator.com

Subject:	Autostar 1.1m
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 1999 19:29:35
From:	WAB003@aol.com
just to let you know...

hv used the 1.1m Autostar update a few nights now and it appears that
the tracking feature is improved over the 1.0c rev.  Caught M13 last eve
and it held it in the 18mm eyepiece for over an hour (would have been
longer...stepped inside for a beverage and to retrieve some logging
materials and became sidetracked.  Was a little surprised to see it
still centered when I returned 45 minutes later.  ;-)

For any others sitting w/ the 1.0c, the upgrade is relatively simple.  I
made my own serial cable w/ $7 in parts from Radio Shack.  If a user
isn't comfortable making D connectors w/ tiny phone wires, RS does carry
an RS-232 connector that converts from a phone jack to a 25 pin D.  If
the computer in question uses a 9 pin serial port, there is another
adapter to step from 25 pin to 9 pin.  (at this point, it might be less
complicated to pony up the 19.95 for a custom cable from Meade.)

At any rate, I found the readme file instructions w/ the update file to
be slightly in error.  The indicate that the Autostar should be moved
pat way through the Setup menu, start the update program, then activate
the download menu selection on the Autostar.  When I followed these inx,
the update program wouldn't recognize the Autostar.

I was successful when I moved completely through the Autostar download
sequence (getting to the message, "downloading"... even though it hasn't
started yet.  THEN, startup the Update upload program and the Autostar
was recognized immediately and the uploading began.  Took 20-30 minutes
and went very smoothly.  The sequence of connection and upload is
thoroughly described in the readme file and works well except for the
sequence described above.

Separately, I have received a couple of e-mails requesting additional
info on the camcorder battery hookup.  To assist w/ this, I have
attached a picture of the connector.  The expected battery life on a
single charge is 4-6 times the life of a set of alkalines.  When
compared to using a set of NiCad AA's in the base, the camcorder battery
also offers substantially longer cycle time and it will not "die"
suddenly as will NiCad's.  If a user plans a night of heavy slewing,
this might be a worthwhile alternative to plugging into a car battery.

Best regards,

Bill Bailey
[Home!]

Clarification from Meade:

Subject:	 RE: Autostar download sequence
Sent:	Thursday, May 20, 1999 11:22:51
From:	Meade Instruments
His gist is that the Autostar needs to be in download before he starts
the update program.  Absolutely NOT.  In fact the Update program checks
for either state of the handbox.  If it is in Download mode - cool, if
it is not, we prompt for you to put it into download mode and we check
again to see if it is in download.  The code repeats that sequence until
it is in download mode and then proceeds.

The sequence is actually fairly unimportant.

Having said all of that there is one caveat which needs to be mentioned.
On the old 1.0c versions of the Autostar.ROM firmware, there were
several commands which were not in place.  Some of these commands would
not allow the Update program to tell what version of the code was
present.  In these cases the only difference that I can see in the code
is the addition of a dialog box which mentions that the firmware you are
running is VERY old and that you need to download the newest version
from the Meade WEB site as soon as possible.  There was also a problem
that the link list of astronomical bodies could have an invalid link
(possible, but not likely). So there was an extra set of code for
checking that possibility.  That is pretty much it. If you turn on your
Autostar and then start the Update program, any other chain-of-events
would pretty much be allowed.  In fact about the only thing I
specifically DO NOT check for is turning the box on and off in the
middle of running the program.  I assume that once you start, you go
through to the end of the update and then change power states.

Hope this helps.

Meade Instruments Corporation
6001 Oak Canyon
Irvine, CA 92620         VOX 1.949.451.1450   FAX 1.949.451.1460

Subject:	 Autostar Cable Info
Sent:	Tuesday, May 18, 1999 8:21:04
From:	Meade Instruments
Appendix "B" has been updated on the Meade WEB site to be correct!

Meade Instruments Corporation
6001 Oak Canyon
Irvine, CA 92620         VOX 1.949.451.1450   FAX 1.949.451.1460
Mike here: There was an error on the pinout information on the Meade web page.

Subject:	 dec fix/ Ongoing Saga
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 1999 14:03:57
From:	rdonblake@my-dejanews.com
Just a quick note to let you know that I got my Dec Fix part from Meade
last week, and had no problem installing it. However I did have to do it
twice, cause the part came with no intructions, and I made the mistake
of letting grease get on the wrong part. Seems to work OK now. By the
way, I discovered after the fact that the fellow (Jordan I think) at
Scopetronix.com has added note to his information on tightening up the
dec and azimuth bearings (with pics) about the very problem that I had.
Very helpful to anybody else facing any kind of problem with the
declination axis.

In fact his infomation might prevent some problems with snapping off the
dec knob. Again, be aware of possible warranty problems if you take the
scope apart. After my experiences so far, I want to make sure that my
warranty stays intact as long as possible, and only went into my scope
to install the part that Meade sent me.

I am ready now to buy my fourth Autostar and try one more time to get
this little scope to work the way it should have in the first place.

By the way, all this experience with the dec axis makes it clear that
there is no problem with removing the Optical Tube for use elswhere if
you are so inclined, as long as you keep in mind that it may void your
warranty unless you are doing it as a Meade authorized repair. I recall
some early warnings about how the tube should not be removed blah blah
blah. Well now, it appears that the only downside to removing the tube
is the time it takes to retrain the computer.

I should note, by the way, that despite my occassional frustration with
Meade, the support people have been helpful once I got through to them,
and with rare exception have returned my calls in a reasonable period of
time. For folks having a hard time getting through, you might try the
FAX number, give a description of the problem, and ask them to call you.
Just a thought.

Thanks for the forum Mike. Thanks to all of you who share your stories,
and I might add that I would enjoy hearing from more of you who have had
good fortune with your ETX/EC.

Richard Blake
Austin Texas

Subject:	 TEST SITE
Sent:	Sunday, May 16, 1999 20:27:32
From:	BKSTA2@shell.co.th (HMA/3 (Sukun T.) .)
Glad that Minoru finally got the ETX 90 EC.  Keep on testing the ETX 90
EC for our group.
Best regards,
Sukun T.
Bangkok, Thailand. 100.3 E, 13.5 N

Subject:	 ETX-90 Tune-Up Updated
Sent:	Sunday, May 16, 1999 15:48:40
From:	jblessin@worldnet.att.net (Jordan Blessing)
Just wanted to pass on that I have updated the ETX/EC Tune-Up page to
address the common dec lock slippage problem.

See it at:
etxtu.htm

I also wanted to urge everyone to take a minute and download the new
SETI@Home software. You could be the one to discover ET!
 
Get it at:
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu

Clear Skies!
--
Jordan Blessing 


       ScopeTronix Astronomy Products
         http://www.scopetronix.com

Subject:	 Workaround for below horizon errors
Sent:	Sunday, May 16, 1999 0:50:35
From:	waltwarren@workmail.com (Walter Warren)
I believe I've recognized the conditions that lead to "below horizon"
failures in polar alignment mode on version 1.0c of the Autostar
software.  I believe I've had failures of this kind every time the two
stars chosen are of the arrangement where the scope has to slew
counterclockwise (as looking down the tube toward the base) to get from
the first alignment star to the second.  In a trial tonight, the scope
first moved clockwise from Polaris to Arcturus in the southwest.  Then
it moved counterclockwise to Altair in the southeast.  After aligning on
those two stars I received "below horizon" messages for objects that
hadn't yet set.  I then did a two star alignment reversing those two
stars. Using Altair as the first star and Arcturus as the second kept
all movements proceeding clockwise.  After that alignment the heavens
were correctly in place and recognized by Autostar.

Basically, with Autostar 1.0c the polar alignment of the scope must slew
from east to west (clockwise if looking down the tube toward the base.) 
During an easy alignment, if you recognize that the first star chosen is
in the western sky, it would be prudent to select a different first
star.

Walter Warren

Subject:	polar alignment
Sent:	Friday, May 14, 1999 19:20:59
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
i was out with my etx tonight and polar aligned for the first time. (i
have always been happy with alt/az mode, so i never tried the polar
alignment mode) but tonight i decided to go for it. (have the deluxe
field tripod) for the first 10 minutes or so, i had great success. i
aligned without a problem and had mars in view under 258X magnification
(9.7mm with 2X barlow) for approximately 5 minutes! i didn't even need
to make a minor adjustment. the only thing that i noticed was that the
motor made alot more noise in polar mode than it did in alt/az mode. i
live in miami and figured that the low latitude position made the gears
work a bit harder while moving the OTA. therefore i was not concerned. i
then slewed to m3 and then to m13 without a problem. i do have light
pollution where i live, but they still showed up as small faint fuzzies.
i then decided that i wanted to take another look at mars. when i hit
goto, the OTA did the dec adjustment without a problem, but would not
move in RA. i am assuming that the OTA was too heavy and the gears
slipped. i turned off the unit and brought it inside to have a look. i
turned the unit on again and skipped throught the autostar setup and
went right to the controls... again, the motor made noise but no
movement. it would move left (which in this case was down) but not right
(up). it was not hitting a hardstop, i know that for sure, because i'm
always good about putting the scope in home position. is this gear
problem something that i should worry about? it worked fine when i put
it back in alt/az mode. i don't have a T-adapter, but i may take photos
in the future, so this could be a problem. is there anyway to tighten
the RA? is that what it needs? or is it just that my low latitude area
is too much for the scope? any advice would be appreciated. thanks and
sorry for the long question.
~noah
Mike here: I would hope that your latitude would not have an effect on the RA failure. Since it won't move the ETX "uphill" in Polar Align mode but does in Alt/Az mode I would not think the gears are the problem.

Added later:

i don't think you understood my description very well... take a look at
the pictures you made on your personal ETX-90/EC page... the two
pictures right below the picture of the box. they show the scope
pointing south in polar mode. okay, now you have an idea of what i am
talking about.... now assume that the OTA was pointing left (directly
away from the "computer control" box. (east) it then is moving in RA
south (which is also up) that was where the error occurred the RA gears
did not want carry the OTA south, instead the gears slipped and a loud
noise was made. (again, i know it was not hitting a hard stop) the only
thing i could think that was making the problem was the fact that i had
a dew shield on... could the extra weight cause the problem? maybe a
counterweight on the back of the OTA would help... i'm sorry if you have
no idea how to help me and i'm being a nuisance, but if you could post
this question, i would be very happy. thanks again.
Mike here: There is no movement in Right Ascension to the south. Right Ascension is always east and west (in celestial coordinates). Declination is north and south. There have been reports that sometimes the OTA will not "go uphill", which means moving away from the horizon. This can be caused by extra weight (although I would not think a dew shield would be that heavy).

And more from Noah:

okay, i think i may have found the problem. i noticed in a post that you
can tighten the RA by removing the fastener and moving it over a notch.
well i did that, and it is working as of right now. hopefully this was
all the problem was... i guess the RA lock was loosening with all the
extra tension, and since i had never used the scope in polar mode i did
not know how tight it needed to be. one other question... while i was
using the scope last night (in polar mode) the autostar malfunctioned
and started saying that objects were inthe sky that weren't (such as the
moon) and the objects that were slewable, were not visible. (such as
m13) is this one of the bugs? (i still have the 1.0 version) i have
never had this problem in alt/az... so i assumed this was one of the
polar bugs... thanks again for your help.
Mike here: Sounds like one of the v1.0 bugs. Although the geometry issue that Dr. Palmer describes (on my ETX-90/EC writeup) could be a factor.

Subject:	 Your ETX 90 EC experience
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 1999 23:52:36
From:	BKSTA2@shell.co.th (HMA/3 (Sukun T.) .)
Your experience on ETX 90 EC is a bit long and I have not gone through
all the details.  But, in general, I think the 90 EC model is not stable
yet. Even in the unit Meade sent you which they should expect you to say
something good about it, there're quite a number of flaws.  Well, it
seems that 90 EC should only be for those who can access Meade support
without much difficulty. Even you had troubles in contacting Meade! 
Don't know why Meade (and also Celestron) chooses only snail mail and
telephone communication.  I would like to hear from someone who
purchased the 90 EC and has no access to Meade support, specifically
those who live in foreign countries with no Meade dealer to see if he
experienced any problem on the unit and how it was solved (if at all !)
Are you going to send back the unit to Meade after the review, say in 3
months' time? I ask this because it would make our group feel much more
confident that your site is 'Neutral', not a site sponsored indirectly
by Meade.  Actually, for the product test, there are certain parties
getting the products (scopes) from suppliers and write more good things
than actual things.  For Neutral test, the unit is usually purchased or
returned to suppliers after completion.  But why do you have to test the
unit for Meade? I'm sure that Meade will also send the 125 EC to you
soon. Anyway, I hope your site will remain as neutral as possible.
Best regards,
Sukun T.
Bangkok, Thailand.  100.3 E, 13.5 N
Mike here: The ETX-90/EC is a loaner. I'm keeping my ETX-90/RA (original model). And I will continue to report my experiences, pros and cons, on any product whether loaned, donated, or purchased.

Subject:	 Sanity restored
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 1999 22:57:09
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)
Found your site just after my dec knob sheared off. Thank you for saving
my sanity. I thought that the troubles with the autostar were just me.
Nice to know I'm not alone in the ETX/EX loony bin. Still on scope #1,
just had to open it up and tighten up all the loose unmeshed gears and
screws. Nice plastic in there ;). Just waiting for for the replacement
dec piece and off I go again. To quote the guy at Meade when I called
and told him " Ahhh Jeez!"

Anyway, thanks for helping me restore my sanity by providing a common
ground for all of us!

--------------------------------------------------

TIA and TTFN

jchalfen@goldengate.net
jchalfen@aol.com (I know...I know...)

Subject:	 It worked! Sort of!
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 1999 6:12:56
From:	hopewell@ctg.net (Meade Daffron)
As promised, here's my report on the Dec knob fix using a washer. I
removed the Dec lock knob on my ETX-90/EC (with the "setting circle"
ring still attached to the knob) and placed a 7/8" washer with a 3/8"
hole (er, 8 cents investment) on the center screw. Then I re-attached
the knob. The result? I don't have to tighten the Dec knob anywhere near
as tight now as before to achieve a good lock -- and I tested it several
times, washer on and off, trying to slew upward in Dec from the lower
tube stop. It works, and the way it works, best I can tell, is that it
keeps the "setting circle" (metal ring) from being pressed against the
plastic ring behind it (about the same diameter as the lock knob) when
the knob is tightened. Obviously, the setting circle presses against
this ring and either slows or stops slewing motion -- which can't be
good for motors, gears, or plastic parts, BTW! The washer keeps the
setting circle from contacting this ring when you tighten the knob. It
seems Meade saw this problem and tried to fix it by coating the plastic
ring with grease. Now the ring DOES serve a purpose -- it keeps the Dec
axis from wobbling -- but it seems to me that instead of the ring, Meade
should have installed a circular ball-bearing race or some other
contrivance that still provides a wobble-free axis, but one that can
MOVE!

Because of this loss of contact with the outer ring, however, there's
one tradeoff -- the scope now has a slight amount of play in the Dec
axis when locked. You can see this when you rock the scope up and down
with the knob locked. I took the scope out for a test run last night,
and when slewing up and down using the hand controller, the object in
the field of view would rock ever so slightly left or right before
moving up or down. I didn't find the tradeoff objectionable, even at
very high powers (see below). It's now MUCH easier to lock the Dec axis!
(Someone will probably come up with a more elegant fix that works a
little better, but for 8 cents, this is a pretty good fix for now!
Jordan, are you listening?)

BTW, my "test run" proved to me even more why I love my ETX. I had a
very enjoyable time splitting Epsilon Bootes (3 seconds!) and the double
in Leo's shoulder (can't remember the greek letter, I think it's Gamma
Leonis) -- 4 seconds! The diffraction rings of the two stars in the Leo
double just touched -- beautiful! And with Epsilon Bootes, at first I
thought I had the wrong star -- until I caught some good seeing and
realized the 5th-magnitude double was riding on the 2.5-magnitude
primary's diffraction ring! Cool! At 3 seconds separation, it took good
seeing and the kitchen sink -- my 9.7mm Plossl plus the 2x barlow.

Thanks to Roger Wortley for his May 8 posting on the Dec lock fix! I
don't know whether it will keep my right tube adapter from breaking --
time will tell -- but I am happy that I can lock my Dec axis now! Meade,
are you listening? People are fixing your scope for 8 cents! How 'bout a
simple Meade fix, for all your loyal customers, that's not a "handyman
special"?

Thanks Mike!

Meade Daffron
Richmond, Virginia

Subject:	 ETX Feedback
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 20:46:35
From:	motets@yahoo.com (motets)
congratulations on receiving the ETX from MEADE! i hope you get
your unit working asap so we can learn more from you. so far, your
'first nights' experiences are quire similar to mine. i evenhad my
brother helped me on reading the manuals! however, i got it all figured
out on the second night.

here's my guideline on using the ETX in its alt/az mode for a quick GO
TO star party!:

1. remember to rotate the ETX's fork arm base counterclockwise until it
hits full stop.

2. face the computer control panel WESTward

3. now, turn the fork arm base clockwise until it is pointing NORTH.
(about 45 degrees clockwise). then turn it a bit to the left. (this is
to anticipate the additional movement that AUTOSTAR will do to the ETX
once you switch the scope ON). i've bought a car compass that i stick on
the fork arm base for to easily align the ETX dead north.

4. lock both RA and DEC locks.

5. power on!

6. ENJOY!

HOPE this will help you also - just in case you need help >8p

until now, i haven't used my ETX in its polar mode. i plan to set it up
in polar mode when i'm back to the Philippines.

also, as what i've sent to the etx mailing list, i think there's a bbug
in AUTOSTAR. i have to use GMT/UTC's (with DST=YES) time instead of the
local time in SINGAPORE for the AUTOSTAR to be able to correctly track
the celestial objects.

i bought my ETX-90/EC from Discovery Channel Store at a King of Prussia
Mall, PA. so far, i am very pleased with my ETX. my ETX is now 1.5
months old >8p

cheers,
motets

Subject:	re Autostar 1.1m
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 18:39:51
From:	WAB003@aol.com
Have held off picking up an Autostar until the new rev was issued.  The
local Nature Co. called and said they had just rec'd a brand new batch
that Meade promised them was upgraded.  Not.  Still v 1.0c.  Will
upgrade the unit myself, but it might be worthwhile having the local
store power the unit up before you walk out the door.

Used the 1.0c version a few times and generally had good luck w/ it. 
Tried to be very accurate in training the drives.  Use a pocket compass
and a line level on the OTA to do a quick align and hv hit the alignment
stars in the finder scope every time. (and a few times in the 26mm
eyepiece!)  Given the relative slop in the drive mechanism, I think
that's pretty good.

The R/A tracking w/ the Autostar is adequate but nothing more.  I hope
this is improved in the software rev.  I found the polar alignment
tracking reasonably good when used in "manual" mode (w/o the Autostar) 
It may seem foolish to have the unit slew 350 deg to reach a point 10
deg away... but not really, given the hardstop limitations.  It would
seem that providing 360 deg contact rings and wipers would hv added to
the mfg cost and reduced the long term reliability due to environmental
contaminants building up inside the unit.  Always tradeoffs.

A suggestion for "very portable" users.  The "Hershey Bar" lead acid
camcorder battery (full size VHS camcorders) is an excellent source of
12V power that is easily rechargeable.  Relatively lightweight and it
will substantially outlast eight alkalines in the base.  Just use a
cigarette lighter adapter for the ETX and a female connector adapter
that clips to the battery.  Both available @ Radio Shack for under $10
total.  If you don't already have one, the battery may set you back
$15-$20.  Rechargeable remote power that will still fit in the "gun
case" or your backpack.

Mike, you hv a wonderful site that is extremely helpful to NB's.  Keep
up the good work.  Really helps demonstrate the usefulness of the web.

Rgrds,

Bill Bailey
Cincinnati, OH  USA

Subject:	congratulations
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 14:23:50
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
i just wanted to congratulate you on your new scope! meade made a good
decision by sending you a free etx. (good for online advertising!!!) you
use the free product and praise it on your site, meade can't lose.
unless of course they continue sending you defective products (you would
think they would have done a special inspection of your scope before
sending it away, knowing that you would report any defection to us). i
would suggest that they send you all the accessories, (that are 90/ec
related) so you can test them out and make your own personal reviews.
just a suggestion, however unlikely!!! well, good luck and happy
slewing.
~noah

Subject:	 Software to drive the ETX90/EC - BUY DEEPSKY99 !!!
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 13:52:52
From:	Dave.Cordner@NSMG.seagatesoftware.com (Dave Cordner)
Great Site, Thanks! 
 
I've been an ETX owner since August 97. I selected the ETX based on your
reviews and the comments from the many other readers/posters of/to your
site.

Mike, you may need to find a Windows laptop... I know, I know, I'm a MAC
user too but...

This is a little long, so if you want to get to the real reason for
posting this, scan down until you see *******DeepSky99******* (about
half way down)

Dave's ETX/RA : ETX/RA, JMI Wedge (original) Bogen tripod, Doskocil XL
case..., several TV eye pieces, including a 9mm Nagler, OH-Yea! I've
also built the Richard Berry CCD Cookbook Camera, and will use it with
the ETX (90/EC) ;-), will post images soon.

Inspired by work that Peter Ryczek (see Mike's Astronomy Links page)
did, I adapted a Magellan I (DOB) kit to the ETX.

I had previously acquired Starry Night Software from SiennaSoft for my
MAC, (demo available on web). I really enjoy Starry Night and would buy
it again. Now available for windows too, and has an SDK (Software
Developers Kit) posted on their web site.

Starry Night comes with a plug-in to interface to the LX200 (plug in
from Casady&Green) C&G has many software products for the MAC including
a tool called INFO GENIE, and another plug-in for Starry Night to read
from the Magellan I computer.

The combination of Info Genie and Starry Night and the plug-ins allowed
me to create a fun environment with the ETX. With Info Genie in the
background and Starry Night running, you can select objects from the
Starry Night display of the sky and make a "view list". With the
Magellan-I connected you can send coordinates to the Magellan and it's
display will indicate to you how to move the telescope in RA/DEC to
center the selected object. Additionally as you move the telescope the
display changes too, neat! OK I'm easily entertained.

While the interface is not optimal its fun.

The biggest benefit of all this (INCLUDING THE ETX) is that my son who
will be 13 this summer, "GETS IT", and is learning the sky with me. We
have had great fun at the local astronomy club with our ETX and the
Magellan / MAC DUO 2300 w/Starry Night configuration. So, IMHO (in my
humble opinion), MEADE did a very good thing developing a mass-market
product, the ETX, I'll eventually buy a 7" MAK LX200 too. We have a
classic (early 70's) Cave Astrolla 10" F7 Newtonian. But the ETX goes
outside more often than this noble scope, so which is better? The one
you use...

Well this year the ETX90/EC arrived! I acquired one in February,
(Valentines day, thanks sweetheart! Godiva Chocolates do pay off!)
followed shortly by the Autostar and Meade ETX tripod,...

Now the Quest: To find software to drive the ETX90/EC automatically.

As Meade describes the ETX90/EC/Autostar having LX200 like capabilities.
LIKE is the key word, its a sub-set, no exactly the same. The result of
this "Likeness" is that the ETX90/EC/AUTOSTAR will get confused if you
"talk to it as an LX200".

I've searched for MAC software to address this requirement (manage the
telescope) but had not found any written specifically for the ETX90/EC,
until I found DeepSky 99.

Didn't really want to consider the Windows platforms because I'm a MAC
user! Have to deal with Windows NT at work, and would rather not at
home. As a MAC user (with 17 years of UNIX experience too) the IRQ,
memory I/O range issues of dos & windows, yada yada yada, ptewie, please
make it easier...I don't want an erector set, I want to use the
computer, sorry that's another soap-box...

I surrendered, and found several software packages for the Windows
platform that have telescope control software.

Starry Night with the C&G plugin for the LX200 works for a few moves but
gets confused eventually, which requires that you re-align the
telescope, and try again

Robert Denny has developed a package called ACP - Astronomers Control
Panel PC only - today, which can be used in conjunction with many
astronomy packages available on Windows including Starry Night, and
DeepSky99 (more on DS99 in a minute)(He says when Meade settles down on
the Autostar SW he will develop ACP for the ETC90/EC too, and port to
the MAC eventually)

SkyMap Pro has an LX200 interface (demo available on web) (PC only)

SkyChart III has an LX200 interface (demo available on web) (PC and
MAC!) (cheap, bought it, I'd buy it again too)

*******DeepSky99******* DeepSky99 release 2, by Steve Tuma and Dean
Williams has an interface defined for both the LX200 and the ETX90/EC
(PC only 95/98/(NT4.0 SP4/ IE5)) (demo available on web) (cheap, bought
it, tell your friends, buy it!)

DeepSky99 is not a planetarium software, but IMHO everyone who has the
ETC90/EC should download the demo, drive your ETX90/EC with it, and buy
the program.

Get a cable and power supply (I bought mine from Scopetronics) hook em
up and you will be impressed, not to mention have allot of fun.

Deepsky has a large database which you can access with SQL, if you do
not know SQL, it has wizards to help you.

Start Deepsky99 "What's Up Messier" is a menu selection under the
"Query" menu which, based on your local time, and location, will
generate a spread-sheet (SQL result) from the database listing all
Messier objects currently visible.
 
Select: Query
Select: "What's up Messier"
Identify the objects you want to view (click on the PLN field in the
spread sheet),
Select: "show plan" from the "Planner Menu" and your selections are
separated from the larger list (you've made a view objects plan)
 
Now the telescope:
Start the ETX90/EC
Do your alignment (I updated the Autostar to the latest SW from Meade -
needed the cable from Scopetronics, Meade's was not available yet)
- pay attention to leveling the telescope and mount, (get a bubble
level, see notes from other folks on the site)
- Note: I've only had to use the EASY align so far, but it placed the
target stars in the (std) Meade viewfinder, move to center, Enter, next
step... works for me...
 
No problems or complaints This is a less than $1000 telescope setup,
don't be spoiled, no whining... ;-) Maybe not perfect, but hey it didn't
cost $3500+ either (for the LX200 MAK)

Cable up the com port on your PC (I use a DELL Latitude CP with NT40
Srvr - don't ask I'm in sales....)
Connect to the rs232 port of the Autostar
Select: the Telescope Menu, 
Select: Scope Setup, 
Select: ETX90/EC
Select: the Telescope menu, 
Select: the "Scope Disabled entry" to enable the telescope
- you will be prompted for the com port that the telescope is attached
to, enter only the number, not the word (1 not com1 for example)
 
Check that the interface is working:
Select: the Telescope menu
Select: current scope position, be patient, a dialogue should come up
saying basically "Getting ETX90/EC position"
A window should appear showing the current RA & DEC etc. of your
telescope (of your last alignment star), if the RA&DEC are not displayed
make sure the IRQ and I/O ranges are correctly set for your com port.
(slap my forehead, - why programmers have flat foreheads - duh!)
Reset preferences and try again (start\programs\deepsky99\reset
preferences)
 
Cool ready to go:
Select: Telescope Menu
Select: Slide show
Deepsky99 will now position the ETX90/EC on the first object in the plan
created earlier.
If you have the CD in your drive and specified the location of the
images folder and database folder during the startup (on the CD), when
the telescope gets to the location you will have a form on the screen
with fields for you to enter your impressions (viewing log) of the
object along with an image of the selected object, cool... (shush I'm a
child from the 50's)
 
The Deepsky99 database is extensible too, you can import data to it...
 
I generated a list of 20 objects, tried to view them all (am in Denver,
light pollution... Dark site this weekend!) and the telescope did not
get lost once! You can see the Ring Nebula (M57)(mag-9)(TV Plossl 17mm)
with the ETX! (ok not last night, earlier this winter) Without a
broadband filter too.

I spoke with the Deepsky99 developer who indicated that he is using a
small sub-set of the LX200 commands. He did this by testing each
command, weighing its success and selecting the best of the LX200
command set for the ETX90/EC/Autostar. Meade apparently is slow on
publishing the API, so developing in the dark - hum pun? ;-)

You cannot go wrong with DeepSky99. try it you'll like it!

 
Dave Cordner
Systems Engineer 
Nerve Center & HSM 
 
dave.cordner@nsmg.seagatesoftware.com (work)
davcor@aol.com   (home)

Subject:	 Possible DEC fix ...
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 11:05:38
From:	hopewell@ctg.net (Meade Daffron)
Hi, It's been about a month since you heard from me. (Congrats on
Meade's recognition of your hard work -- FINALLY!) I was reading some
recent postings on the 90/EC board and happened to read Roger Wortley's
May 8 post about a possible fix for the declination movement problem,
involving a washer placed between the declination circle and the fork
arm. I visited my local hardware store at lunch today (Wednesday) and as
luck would have it, they had lots of washers -- but none in the exact
size Mr. Wortley described. (I had drawn a template on a Post-It note,
based on his measurements.) There were several that were close, however,
so I just filled a baggie with several candidates and paid my forty
cents. I can't wait to get home and try them out; I'll report my
findings -- and hopefully have a domestic equivalent to Mr. Wortley's
washer -- tomorrow!

I too have experienced dec slippage when my scope is pointed near the
drive base, which I've corrected by tightening the knob a little
further, and after reading what's happened to you, and Jordan, and
others, I can't believe I haven't had my dec mechanism break on me --
I've had my ETX-90/EC since late January!!! Watch me discover that my
luck has run out when I get home from work this evening ... :-(

BTW, has anyone figured out just how tightening the dec lock knob makes
the clutch engage? I've had mine off a few times, and I can't make
myself understand how it works just by "eyeballing" it. I think we could
all understand the problem a little better if we understood how that
little mechanism works ... ?

And now, since you didn't ask, my five reasons I DON'T want a 125/EC:

1.Sure, it's a bigger scope, but along with the primary mirror, the
secondary obstruction will be bigger too, so the overall increase in
aperture won't be a full 35mm. And my 90/EC already outperforms my old
6-inch newtonian in some respects!

2. It will weigh in at about twice the weight (and SIZE) of the current
90/EC. So much for that wonderful portability. The size of the 90/EC was
a major consideration in my purchase.

3.They say it'll work fine on the current tripod? Maybe it'll work OK
alt-az aligned, but as for polar-aligned, I wouldn't feel comfortable
hanging the equivalent of TWO 90/ECs off one side of my "Deluxe Field
Tripod" !!! Seems that lightweight aluminum tripod would get mighty
tippy! And boy, now we'll have to make REAL SURE we tighten those leg
nuts! Meade already caught us all by surprise when they re-badged the
old ETX tripods and started charging $200 for them! Watch 'em come out
with a new-improved, super-deluxe, heavy duty field tripod for $250 or
$300!

4. I question whether Meade has done anything to beef up the mount
design to accommodate a 100 percent increase in tube weight. (Sure, it's
a bigger mount -- but is that the only difference? Are the motors,
gears, materials, etc., the same?) Will this twice-as-heavy scope still
ride on a plastic base with two nuts serving as the only mounting points
for the tripod? (Remember, they say it'll fit on the existing tripod!)
All this is fine for an eight-pound scope, maybe, but for one twice as
heavy? I hope I'm wrong on all this and Meade has done their homework,
but hey -- I'm about to go home and see if I can fix my $600 telescope
with a four-cent washer!!!???

5. For $895 (make that $1,095 if you have to get the tripod) -- I think
I'd have to make the $100 jump to an LX-10 -- especially since the
125/EC isn't a portable scope in my book anymore. But no thanks, I
wanted a portable scope -- so I'll keep my happily mobile 90/EC and
maybe someday get it a bigger brother.

I don't mean to sound QUITE so cynical, but after owning and
experiencing the classic ETX and now a less-than-perfect ETX-90/EC (hey,
I'm on my second 90/EC too), these are some points I feel deserve
consideration before spending $900 or more!

Clear skies (although we really do need some rain here in Central
Virginia),

Meade Daffron
Richmond, VA

Subject:	 Autostar to PC cable & SkyGSC use
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 1999 1:22:12
From:	steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
I applied Version 1.1m at the weekend. No problems applying it to the
autostar, it took about 30 minutes.

I made up a cable, 4-pin (autostar end) to 9-pin (serial port in PC) ,
it only uses 3 wires as per the existing cable descriptions on the ETX
sites. The 4-pin telephone type plug needed filing down slightly to fit
into the autostar socket. The LX200 cable that is used to connect to a
PC is different. It uses a 6-pin plug at the telescope end.

All I am waiting for now is a clear night to try it out and see if it
has fixed the poor goto I experienced previously with version1.0c  (see
'help please' subject title).

PS: Does anyone know if the ETX can be driven by the Bisque Software,
SkyGSC? I tried LX200 mode briefly with no success.

Clear Skies,
Steve Southern
Internet id: steve_southern@uk.ibm.com

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC home position and GO TO's
Sent:	Tuesday, May 11, 1999 8:21:21
From:	JDeriso@Alphaind.com (Deriso, John)
Mike, I gave up on that "large fork - small fork" stuff, and I used to
agonize how precise "over the control panel" had to be.  Then I realized
that in the Autostar FAQ, Meade mentions rotating CW 3/8 of a turn from
full CCW.  Now I use the RA setting circles: 3/8 of a turn is 9 hours CW
rotation.

I have never tried polar align yet, always alt/az, typically on Capella
and Arcturus (April/May).  I only do a rough leveling with the standard
field tripod bubble. Before locking Dec, I tilt up to Polaris and move
the tripod legs to get approximate North azimuth with my modified Daisy
red dot finder... it's also an enormous help during initial 2-star
align, with final tweak eyeball-centering in the 26mm ep for both star
targets.  After align, my experience is that the target is in the ep
field of view 80% of the time, and the red dot provides a sanity check
and direction for correction otherwise.  I am still using the original
1.0 firmware and occasionally get a screwy "below horizon" message. 
Following tips from your contributors, I occasionally stop "wrong-way
slew" by hitting down arrow then GO TO. Usually works, not always. 
Another note: although always in alt/az mode, my unit sometimes goes
bananas trying to find Polaris and will take off whining in some other
direction.  M81, M82, Mizar, no problem.  We'll see what the new version
firmware does... Jordan Blessin's shipping me a cable from stock,
Meade's #505 might be still vaporware.

In all honesty I was frustrated just as you seemed to be in your initial
trials, the first time or two I tried GO TO. I calibrated the motors and
trained the drive in the daytime as recommended, at least twice.  Now
I'm getting faster on setup every night that I use this gizmo, and I've
learned to adjust my expectations as well as the 'scope.  Last night I
was hitting targets consistently even while the Autostar was beeping,
warning 23% battery level.  I have measured current drain with fresh
batteries, if anyone's still interested, with both the stock controller
and the Autostar.

Give it and yourself a chance.

John Deriso

Subject:	 External Power and ETX/EC
Sent:	Sunday, May 9, 1999 8:11:19
From:	cdugger@freeway.net (Chris Dugger)
Is anyone having any problems with external power on their ETX/EC?  When
I have switched between internal batteries, and using a Kendrick 12v gel
battery, every time, I initially get an Autostar error saying "motor
movement failure", and then a description of possible cause scrolls
across the screen, obstruction, overload etc.  The power is off when I
change to external power by the way.  When I turn off the power and
restart, it works fine.  It seems to be the first time after having used
the scope on internal batteries, the different battery pack confuses the
unit.  I have started just using the scope only with external power, and
have retrained the motors using external power.  Note my previous post
regarding a software? bug leading to a runaway RA.

Just another of the many little mysteries regarding this product.  Does
anyone wonder whether meade goes from design, straight to production,
and skips any significant real-world testing?  If they did any testing
in real beta conditions, surely they would identify some of the problems
that are being discussed, both mechanical and software based.

This could really be a fine company with so little additional focus on
better Q/A, and more customer service.

Chris Dugger  

Subject:	 V1.1m Autostar Firmware
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 1999 19:40:59
From:	paul@coldnfrosty.com (Paul M)
Meade did not provide any release notes as to what bugs were fixed or
what features were added. Does anyone know??

Subject:	 ETX DEC Update
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 1999 14:05:14
From:	ROGER_WORTLEY@compuserve.com (ROGER WORTLEY)
This is an update to my Broken DEC saga I reported last week.

My failure was the same part as mentioned in Mike Weasner's "Weasner
Experiences the ETX-90/EC!", although previously it had become difficult
to lock the DEC due to slipping as the telescope becomes worn in. My
telescope also actually broke while not in use, as Mike's did.

Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller, the London Meade dealers, had received
some spare "Right Tube Adapters" and offered to send me one or fit it
while I wait. Being not too busy that Friday I decided to take the train
to London and get it fixed.

Bob in the maintenance department set at my scope while I had a cup of
tea and browsed around. On finishing the scope we noticed that the OTA
would still slip when being driven up. The problem appeared to be that
the aluminium dial was gripping on the plastic rings and preventing the
knob from rotating with the drive. Bob decided to introduce a washer
between the aluminium plate and the spindle. The scope then worked
perfectly. You would not believe the lack of force that is now required
to lock the scope - it is almost negligible.

The washer required needs to sit inside the small raised lip around the
nylon bearing the dimensions of mine are 13/16in outside diameter with a
3/16in centre hole.

If you're having problems give it a try, it seems to work for me. Even
if your not having problems it still might save you trouble in the
future. Let me know if it helps you.

Thanks again to all at BC&F for their first class service and friendly
help.

Happy trouble free slewing.

Roger Wortley

Subject:	 Shared Woes
Sent:	Friday, May 7, 1999 21:12:02
From:	rblake@io.com (Richard Blake)
Just a quick note to let you know that I am waiting for the exact same
replacement part for the declination axis that you describe in your
review of the EC. No hassle from Meade once I got hold of someone to
talk to. I am determined to see this little scope work! This is my third
time around with warranty service involving the mount, and I have
returned two Autostars. The first Autostar  performed much as you
described, the second one had no illumination for the keypad. Still, I
am not giving up. I need a small scope for everyday use, and this one
has great potential. I think I will make sure my next Autostar has the
latest software on it. Probably next month before they are in the
stores. From now on, I buy anything that has to do with the ETX locally.

I like the Meade service folks I have talked with, and I am excited at
the possibility that Meade will bring some changes to what appears to be
a somewhat moribund market for beginning amateurs like myself, but it
seems likely  that one way for Meade to keep the lid on prices is to use
the dealer network and consumers as the quality control department for
some of their products. I have learned a lot in the process, but would
just as soon have been among the lucky folks for whom everything works
as advertized out of the box.

I look forward to seeing how your repair goes, as I will be doing the
same thing shortly.

And now I don't feel quite so fumble fingered, knowing that I am not the
only one who had the declination knob fall off in his hands.

Many thanks for the time and effort to keep your site up-to-date.

Richard

Subject:	 ETX ec/90
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 20:42:11
From:	RonMcCafferty@email.msn.com (Ron McCafferty)
I think congratulations are in order.  Meade now thinks enough of your
site, and it's about time,  to send you an EC/90.  I hope you get to
keep it and are negotiating a 125 deal.

Congratulations,
Ron McCafferty

Subject:	 Weasner experiences the ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 12:02:19
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
First I wanted to reiterate what a fine site you have here.  With all
the dedication you've shown, Meade should hire you as a R & D liaison.
Regarding the "small fork" you were puzzled about in the initial
alignment procedure, upon closer inspection you'll find a smaller
rectangular protrusion in the molding of one of the forks.  With Meade's
limited explanation I assumed this was the "small fork" they were
talking about.  Consequently I've had few problems with it when I used
"easy alignment".  Also I helped someone at the last star party with
similar problems and his worked fine for the rest of the evening.  Also
I had shearing problems too and my scope is with Meade as I'm writing
this.  I suspect the ETX125/EC will be better and plan an upgrade as
soon as it comes out.

Clear Skies!  DON
Mike here: I assume you mean that the left fork (which has the smaller rectangular area) is the one Meade means. Seems like it would have been more clear for the manual to have referenced the DEC lock (on the right fork) or the DEC scale (on the left fork).

Added later:

Looks like you've got it right, though I don't have my telescope back
yet to confirm it.  Your absolutely right on how Meade could have
described the fork.  Looks like Meade is going through growing pains but
as Dennis de Cicco in S & T put it "price alone makes it difficult to
nitpic the ETX-90/EC."

DON

Subject:	 autostar pinout
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 11:43:40
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
i just noticed that the meade autostar manual on line now has an
appendix with the cable pinouts - looks like jordan and the rest of the
crew were right, with the one pin being a blank - it also has the pinout
for the handset connector
glad i didn't fry my baby, or burn down the house!
g

Subject:	 ETX90/EC Review
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 8:25:36
From:	peter.dawson@uwinnipeg.ca (Peter Dawson)
Just read your excellent review of the ETX90/EC! Having access to your
views and your web site makes me feel as though I have a trusted friend
who I can turn to when I need advice about my ETX....but only get voice
mail at Meade's tech. department. In relation to your problem re/ the
failed DEC locking mechanism, this has also been a common complaint at
S.A.A. I wonder if it has something to do with leaving the DEC and RA in
locked position for long periods of time. I know that the manual advises
to store the instrument with both DEC and RA in the unlocked position.
What do you think?

Bye the way, did Meade send you the ETX and Autostar for keeps? If so,
you certainly deserve it, given the effort you have put forward with
respect to all things ETX!

cheers,

Pete
____________________
Dr. Peter Dawson
Assistant Professor,
Department of Anthropology
University of Winnipeg,
Winnipeg, MB
email" peter.dawson@uwinnipeg.ca

Subject:	 Re: Help please
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 8:20:48
From:	steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
Thanks for the info, it looks like the Autostar's coming into the UK are
at 1.0c software version. The 2 ETX's I returned had very sloppy drives,
maybe from badly assembled and adjusted mechanisms but I would
invalidate the warranty if I looked inside. My supplier, Dark Star in
Wales, is going to replace the ETX again when the next batch arrive in
the UK but will check out the drive mechanisms before sending it to me.
It also seems I am not alone in the UK with ETX-90EC problems. What a
pity it is not built and tested better. Meade need a good slapping for
this. I wonder what percentage are failing? I read the S&T report, maybe
they should evaluate one bought anonymously from a store.

I have downloaded the new version of the code. Do you know if the LX200
to PC cable is the same as the autostar to PC cable??? I need to
download the software to the autostar from my PC. I have seen the wiring
diagrams but don't know the LX200 cable wiring.

yours hopefully,
Steve Southern
internet id steve_southern@uk.ibm.com

Subject:	 Many comments!
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 1999 6:17:33
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
I tried the mirror site - works flawlessly - just a drop slower
(initially) as my browser has the aol site cached, however i tried the
mirror site again and images popped right up - moving away from aol is
usually a good step...

A user, Keven K. reported a failed autostar upgrade which locked his
autostar - i remember reading something in the help/read me of the first
autostar download version meade had (roughly april 6) - it said
something about holding the down button, etc. to put the autostar into a
rom receiving mode - if he still needs help, i'll see if i still have
that old version, or he could call meade - but i definatly remember
there is a provision if the autostar locks on a download.

Next - (lotta coffee today) - I was happy to read that you finally got
to try a 90 EC/Autostar - especially after your tireless work on the
site helping others - I felt badly that you had the frustrations of
working with the autostar, but i felt vindicated, that you, a "seasoned
pro" had the same problems as me, a newbie!  Before I returned my first
autostar, i had called meade, and was speaking to a young woman (girl?)
who tried to help me, and whenever i asked her something, she would put
the phone down and ask someone else, then come back to me with an answer
she didn't understand - unacceptable, so i finally spoke with a tech (i
don't remember his name, could have been mike, but don't remember) and
he gave me some tips, then suggested a complete reset - didn't really
help).  I sent a fax to meade, never responded to.  Now, mind you, I am
a newbie, but i do know sirius from procyon from aldebaran from mizar
from arcturus from spica - how many poor shlamiels walking into natural
wonders, who buy the scope and autostar for their kids, etc., will have
that knowledge, when they see the brochures, boxes, etc. that show great
graphics, and promise instant point and click operation?  I've spent
HOURS on this site, and every other etx site i could find for q&a, etc.,
and at this point (foggy/cloudy weather) i don't know if my THIRD scope
will work properly!  I was so impressed with the POTENTIAL of this
scope, the potential of the anticipated 125, and the DS series, that i
bought the stock, but to be honest, i have to wonder how much meade will
spend on refurbishment, customer complaints, etc. - not good. MOST of
the complaints i've read about the scope deal with the mechanics, rather
than the optics (scope number 1 had excellent optics, scope #2 could not
produce star point images before the focusing mechanism jammed - never
got to star align it!)

Meade has been very slow on the uptake in addressing their user's needs
- it is understandable that with such a cutting edge product there will
be errors or problems, but rather than really addressing them, it feels
as if it was swept under the rug (februrary posts indicate that
complaints to meade about the scope had technicians making the callers
doubt their sanity - meade said there was nothing wrong with the scopes,
despite the below the horizon errors, etc.).  Meade did put up a buggy,
then a working autostar upgrade, but i think they should have been more
forthcoming - explaining the errors improved, actually putting up
working asteroid and satelite databases to replace what is lost upon the
upgrade, and basically following through.

i think the scope has tremendous potential, with the bugs ironed out -
however the way the encoders work (or don't work if not motor driven,
i.e. scope moved manually after an alignment), and the scopes poorly
written programming (slewing 370 degrees to hit a target) are really not
acceptable.  as i mentioned once before, hitting a hard stop will NOT
stop the encoders - so if you hit a hard stop, you've just lost your
alignment!

as a final aside, it would be nice if meade made real latitude/longitude
information available - i had to scour the web to find what i felt were
accurate coordinates, then had to find a conversion to get them from
decimals to degrees, minutes (who knew to multiply by 60?  not this
newbie!)

ok, enough gripes.  Thanks again for the clear review, and i'd be very
interested to learn of more results.
Gary

Subject:	 Meade's Gift
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 1999 23:08:02
From:	agriggs@pacbell.net (Art Griggs)
I appreciated being able to read about the ETX90EC that Meade donated.
Maybe they will send you a ETX125EC as well.  BTW, I just ordered one
from the Nature Company.

- Art -

Subject:	 Autostar Woes
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 1999 21:49:23
From:	jblessin@worldnet.att.net (Jordan Blessing)
About time they sent you one! Guess who else's dec lock just failed ; )

I'm writing in response to Kevin P. Kretsch's letter in which he states
a failed update left him with a dead Autostar. The Autostar has a built
in bootstrap loader and should be able to recover from this. Hold down
"ENTER" and the "Down Arrow" (the one on the lower right of the
controller) then turn the ETX power switch on. The Autostar display
should read "Flash Load Ready" and you can proceed from there. Good
Luck!

 --
Jordan Blessing 

       ScopeTronix Astronomy Products
         http://www.scopetronix.com

From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
I tried this and to no avail. To my knowledge, the bootstrap loader is
only available on version 1.1g and later. So, it probably wasn't even an
available option. Too bad.

Thanks anyway,

		Kev.

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

Subject:	 Autostar woes
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 1999 12:55:33
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
Autostar version 1.0c performed poorly, even alt/az was off. So, I
downloaded the update from Meade, made up the cable and started
uploading the new stuff to Autostar. THEN, about a third of the way
through the upload, the update program gives me an error message, quits,
and leaves me with a dead Autostar!! No emergency backup facility!

Pocono Mountain Optics could do little for me, which is fair enough.
They don't have any Autostars in stock as Meade have yet to resume
shipping since the 1.0c 'inspired' delay. (At least that's what the guy
said, paraphrasing of course.) But, Meade are good about it, and will
upgrade me to Autostar 1.1m. So, it should all work out good in the end.
It's just a shame it's like this at all (grrrrr, Mr. Meade)...

Clear skies all, 

		Kev.

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

Subject:	 Dec knob failures
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 1999 20:11:35
From:	TONY.vonRUDEN@kla-tencor.com (von Ruden, Tony)
Well, from monitoring this site I see that DEC clutch knob failure is
happening to more and more people. It doesn't surprise me -- in fact I'm
surprised that there haven't been more failures reported here.

When my ETX 90-EC broke a month or two ago I complained to Meade that I
thought the design was really poor -- the keyway in the hollow shaft
leaves only about 3/32" of plastic taking all the loads on on that axis,
and that the edge of the brass press-nut and keyway combine to form a
nasty stress concentration in this area.

Mine broke with very little force only my second time using it.  Meade
fixed it for free (it took about two weeks), however I'm sorry to see
from Roger Wortley's post that they are still blaming the users for the
failure.

Thanks again for the great site!!!

Tony

Subject:	 ETX/AutoStar Woes
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 1999 5:26:13
From:	cdugger@freeway.net (Chris Dugger)
Well, the saga continues.  I returned my first ETX/EC to Astronomics
because I believed that I had a progressive *mechanical* problem that
led to a RA runaway that hitting mode would not clear, I had to turn off
the power.  I am using AutoStar version 1.1m.  The second ETX worked
very well, object within the eyepiece most of the time, for about 30-40
minutes, searching for multiple objects.  Then, accuracy starts to get
worse, the scope then loses its ability to move up in the dec axis. 
Even hitting the keypad won't raise the tube, although the motor is
running.  After a few seconds, the same RA runaway occurs.

I power off, re-align, and the scope works again, the the process
repeats. I am not making this up folks.  Is anyone experiencing any bugs
like this? Could this be a hardware problem with the Autostar?  It is
obviously the older Autostar with the upgraded software, but if there
was a hardware error, I would think that it would not initialize or
download the new version without an error of some kind.

The real bummer is that the star test on the 2nd ETX does not look that
great, slightly out of collimation, and on one side of focs, the outer
edge of the disk has a flat spot at 4 o'clock.  The mechanical side of
the 2nd ETX are much tighter than the first one, no play in the dec
axis.  Any ideas regarding the possible cause of the repeated failures
would be appreciated.

Chris Dugger

Subject:	Autostar ver 1.1m
Sent:	Monday, May 3, 1999 19:42:30
From:	Etxowner@aol.com
In response to Steve Southern's query re autostar problems, you stated
that Meade's autostar upgrade had corrected a number of problems. Could
you tell us what problems it corrected? In my experience all it did was
change the version number!
Thanks for your mighty Site!
ETXowner
PS; do new autostars come with ver 1.1?
Mike here: Since I don't have the upgrade I really can't answer what problems it corrected. Supposedly it did fix the polar alignment problems that some people were having. I also don't know if the new Autostars are shipping with the new version but one would hope.

Subject:	autostar update
Sent:	Monday, May 3, 1999 17:18:50
From:	BillJensen@aol.com
Thanks for a great site. Its a wonderful service to ETX users. My ETX-EC
really doesn't work well with my obstructed site (no western exposure,
and east is only good from 35 degrees to zenith) which makes the easy
alignment out of the question. Just curious, as a mac user, have you
heard of anyone getting the windows version of the updated software
downloaded and installing it under virtual pc? The folks from southern
stars have a cable that would work apparently between the mac and the
autostar, so I was interested in the updated software to determine if
that would allow me to use the scope (2 star alignment had low accuracy
since the stars chosen were too close) I have had the scope for sale as
a result of the usability issue, but i am not dying to sell it if I can
get it to work well from home. In the field it seems to work fine.
thanks again
 bill
Mike here: I would suspect that it would work using VirtualPC or SoftWindows.

Added later:

I wonder if meade will jump on the usb bandwagon, and make one that
would work with iMac/B&W G3's as well as newer peecees.... I may give a
call to their tech support to urge them along.

Subject:	 New user say thanks
Sent:	Saturday, May 1, 1999 23:52:48
From:	ElFlako@worldnet.att.net (Edward Wemmerus)
I just bought a new ETX-90/EC today and part of the reason for my
purchase is your site. I had been looking at telescopes for the last
several weeks and in the course of my investigations I found your site.
Very nice by the way. Because of all the information I found on your
site and the comments by other ETX users, I felt fairly confident that I
would be happy with one. So far so good, but time will tell. I had been
using an old "Tasco 60 mm Alt/Az that I bought a few years ago and it
was a real disappointment. No surprise to anyone who has ever had one
I'm sure but it was to me.  I guess you do "get what you pay for" don't
you. Well, I just wanted to thank you for the good work you are doing on
your site and you can count me as one of your new converts to the ETX.

Sincerely
Ed Wemmerus
Forest Grove, Oregon

Subject:	 Skymap Pro Update/ Broken DEC
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 1999 2:58:59
From:	ROGER_WORTLEY@compuserve.com (ROGER WORTLEY)
The updated driver for Autostar is available from the sky map site.
http://www.skymap.com It seem to work fine on the registered version but
I haven't tried it on the demo but It  should be ok.

It will not work with Skymap 3.2 as the file structures are different.

*********************************************************************
For Reference:- Copy of Email to my supplier regarding my DEC locking
problem:-

Further to our telephone conversation this morning when I informed you
that my Meade ETX 90/EC had a broken DEC locking ring.

First, let me commend you and your company on its  attitude towards your
customers in offering to replace it. It must be a great relief to Meade
to know that their interests in the UK are being protected by your
superb customer service.

After owning my ETX for only three weeks I was disappointed when the
Telescope refused to drive upwards as a result of the DEC knob captive
nut coming loose. I can assure you that only sufficient torque was used
to ensure scope was locked.

I was extremely surprised to learn that Meade has informed you that they
consider that this is caused by the dial being over tightened. (Must be
getting a lot of complaints).

Please would you pass my following comment along to your suppliers:-

Any company that designs a product that can be broken so easily should
not try to lay the blame on their customers. I also note from my
researches on the web that earlier scopes were not fitted with vertical
stops, and a keyway was introduced around the nut for the inclusion of
such a device. I submit that the original design concept was undertaken
and tested withou ta keyway which is a weak link. In fact my scope has
broken at the keyway.

I understand from our discussions that the problem might be the result
of excessive grease being applied to the mechanism causing it not to
lock the DEC knob without excessive force. If this is the cause the
fault does lie with Meade corporation.

This is really a great little scope and at very reasonable price, even
at UK levels, but I would have been prepared to pay more money for this
scope if it had more reliable fixings.

There is no other scope on the market like this one, but there will be.
It would be a shame for Meade to lose its foothold over a "pass the
buck" policy.

Thanks again to you all at BC&F for your assistance to date, but my real concern is that this might be an ongoing saga.

******************************************************************
Regards

Roger

Subject:	 ETX-90EC; more of the same quality control problems
Sent:	Saturday, May 1, 1999 12:38:33
From:	donannie@capital.net (Don & Annie)
> Subject:         ETX-90/EC Quality Control problems
> From:   newby@damage.nobletec.com (Matthew Newby)
> I've got a couple quality control questions for you all.
>
> First Question/Background info:  At this point, I'm on my third ETX from
> the local Nature Company. The first one broke as soon as I got it home,
> and it got returned/replaced the same day.  The second one broke about
> two weeks later--returned and replaced last Saturday.
>
> The problem has been the altitude tension knob--specifically the plastic
> thingy it screws into on the other side of the metal disk.  When turning
> the knob to set the tension--going very gingerly, mind you--the center
> plastic piece shears in half right behind the brass screw insert.  On
> the first one, I had tightened it to moderate tightness when it broke.
> On the second one, I was simply applying enough torque to keep the OTA
> from flopping around.

I have exactly the same problem with my 3 week old scope. I, too,
tightened the altitude tension nob only moderately, and it broke during
my 3rd time out with it. Shutan Camera has none to replace mine with
right now so I will be calling Meade on Monday for a return
authorization number. Does anyone out there have any idea how long this
might take?


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Copyright © 1999 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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