ETX CLASSIC FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 December 2012
This page is for comments and user feedback about ETX telescopes. ETX models discussed on this page include the ETX-60/70/80/90/105/125 (EC, AT, BB, Premier Edition). This page also includes comments and feedback of a general nature. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to the ETX-90RA, DSX, and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.
Subject: ETX125-PE lock problem Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2012 08:43:47 From: Hatto, Stuart (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hi Mike great site has helped me enormously in choosing my new telescope. I have managed to purchase a NEW ETX125-PE, however first time out the DEC lock just rotated without locking. I now have a replacement but I am worried this is a shortcoming of the ETX and am wondering whether to send the replacement back and get a refund. I didn't overtighten the lock was very careful about that, but I just don't see how this lock could hold the weight of a DSLR at prime focus. Do you have any advice? Thanks, StuartMike here: If the DEC lock never tightened on first use, it was likely broken by the previous owner (or store) OR it could have been overly tightened prior to shipment and movement of the OTA broke the mechanism. The RTA can be easily broken by overtightening to hold a lot of weight but it should not break under normal use. I recommend doing prime focus imaging through the eyepiece hole using an adapter like the OPT Camera Adapter (see my review on the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page). If you are concerned about the weight, add a counterweight system; see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page for several articles on counterweights.
Thanks Mike! There is so much info on your site I'm sure I'll get to it eventually :) I was thinking of starting off with afocal photography before bolting in my DSLR - the new compact digital cameras are so light I think it will eliminate early worries about the strength of the locks. Anyway, thanks again for the reply - I'll be sure to send you my first image. StuartMike here: Afocal astrophotography works fine for many objects. Best to use an adapter to hold the camera (see the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page). Also, many tips on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page for many types of astrophotography and cameras.
Subject: re: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 22:56:15 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You lucked out... v1.2 *does* (or "did") have Safe Load, so the loading of 43Eg was (partially) successful. But yes, you were too impatient... with ASU in Safe Load, it takes about 30 minutes for the load. But: now that you have most of 43Eg in there, the next load (if done "normally"... do NOT invoke Safe Load, just let ASU kick the Autostar into Download mode) should only take about 20 minutes. There is no "in progress" indicator on the Autostar... but there is one in the bottom left margin of the ASU screen on your PC. The Autostar will self-reboot when the download is complete (you could load twice as fast by using StarPAtch from http://www.stargps.ca/starpatch.htm ... the free version does half the load in one minute, then slows down to "Meade speed" for the next 10 minutes) Try again, but with fresh batteries (and more patience) --dick
From: steven flick (firstname.lastname@example.org) Roger that - thanks all. What really threw me was that the display continued to say "ready" (I think that was it, or close to) after I had "started" the upgrade - I really expected it to at least provide some confirmation that the process had begun. Many thanks --SF
Subject: Re: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 15:36:59 From: steven flick (email@example.com) A follow-up on Subject thread and perhaps another question or two if you could possibly be so kind: After my rather idiotic external power mishap with my new 125PE, I just happened to catch a ridiculous auction deal on a replacement HBX (purportedly new-without-box, but I really doubt it). I powered it up along with the scope (v. 1.2 - wow?) and it promptly displayed the "use with ETX" message. Being unable to further access the menu, I prepared it for an ASU safe-load upgrade to v4.3Eg (from previously-saved download). Shortest version is that nothing beyond the already-displayed "Flash Upgrade Ready"(or the like) appeared on display after I hit "Upgrade Now" button. Although I hadn't done this before, I didn't think this was correct, but as the Keyspan adapter was indicating some sort of data flow, I waited something between 5-10 minutes for another display message, but no change. As the scope was on internal battery power and as I really expected to see some sort of "Upgrading" or other progress message, (but couldn't locate any specific upgrade message sequence on your site), I finally decided something must be wrong and proceeded to shut down the scope, planning to evaluate and perhaps try another safe-load. Upon re-powering the scope, I was startled to find that the Welcome scroll appeared along with a v.43E notation. (To repeat, I had received no "completed" upgrade message, nor any progress indicators.) Puzzled but pleased to see anything but a blank screen or perhaps gibberish, I set up time/date/locale, and was happy to see the 125 responding and performing a level/tilt (I had feared that scope boards/ motors also were toast). However, in two test automatic-align attempts from the home position, the scope seemed to stall at the "selecting star" message, despite letting it decide for several minutes on both attempts before powering off. I performed a reset, re-entered info and, coincidentally or not, it quickly slewed to first star and the mock center was accepted, but it then again "stuck" on selecting the second star. So now I'm wondering - - Could this extended star selection time possibly be normal? (surely not?) Is this a known issue? (again, sorry if old news, I did search the site). - And, can an upgrade somehow be "partially corrupted" so as to still appear to function, but fail on particular actions? (My PC is pretty fast, so it just may be possible that what I had understood to be an upgrade time of around 20-30 minutes could have been completed, or nearly completed, in around 10. Have you ever heard of the strange but seemingly successful upgrade procedure I reported above? (I promise, the facts above are correct.) - Also, Align mode not continuing to pick up time from LNT after initial manual time entry in both align and setup modes (LNT dot working fine). I'll check the battery shortly, but I would note that the original owner did damage and (very nicely) repair the finder mount, and he indicated that LNT was still working fine - I guess I may have to dissemble/troubleshoot LNT via the PE tips on your site if battery checks okay. Thanks much, SFMike here: Two points about the upgrade from really old versions: 1) you might need to install a slightly newer version than 1.2 (I forget when the FLASH LOAD code was added), and 2) it will take about 30 minutes before ASU will complete the installation. If the download did start, interrupting it before completion will corrupt the installation. If you need to try an older version, see the "AutoStar Software Archive" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. BUT since you did get something after cycling the power, it could be that the installation was OK (or not). I would suggest reinstalling and waiting at least 30 minutes.
Thanks Mike - One very quick point to clarify - if/when I try a reinstall, SHOULD I see occasional upgrade progress messages and a "completed message" (or beep) on the display (given a "normal" update process)? Thanks SFMike here: Hi from my observatory.
Great thanks - SF PS - LNT battery dead as doornail- 0 volts - lowest reading I've ever seen. That should fix the time setting. Good seeing.Mike here: Good you found that culprit.
Subject: Quality of new ETX 90 Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 19:50:05 From: Steve Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am intrested in buying the latest model of the ETX 90 telescope ($400.) Is the quality of the new scope as good as the previous model at the new low price? what are the changes? Thank you.Mike here: I don't have one so can't speak about it. Perhaps those who have the model will chime in.
Subject: Hi From Max Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:47:34 From: Max.Corneau@l-3com.com (Max.Corneau@l-3com.com) Just wanted to say that I've returned to the Mighty ETX. After operating telescopes bigger than 3.7meters and owning my own 16-inch dob, 130mm triplet and 10-inch SCT along with an AT-66 (that describes my current stable of scopes), I have returned to the Mighty ETX. Yes, I'm about to take it out at work and show my colleagues the Sun, Sol, our home star. Except now my ETX is deforked, as I won't own forks, I used GEMs. Looking forward to hearing from you. Also, I'm a POD head and have published extensively in ATT and other rags. www.astrodad.com Max CorneauMike here: Glad to hear the ETX gets some use! I love ATT. Only been a subscriber for a couple of years. And of course, love my SkyShed POD.
Subject: ETX 80 and DSLR Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 20:11:54 From: Stephen Olson (email@example.com) Long time. Hope all is well. Have not used my ETX80 in ages. Decided to add my Canon DSLR to it for fun. I have a link to my facebook page. I tried to look for you, but no luck. Here is a link. Hope you can get to it. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4433111820779.2167411.1078667997&type=3 also here is a link to my page so you can friend me!! Also any telescope people that would like to be friends would be great! http://www.facebook.com/stephen99 Thanks! Stephen Olson.Mike here: Hi from my observatory. I'm imaging Ceres right now with my DSLR.
Subject: Re: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 16:28:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Did we established the regulator was OK? If not a simple test is to connect a DVM ( Digital Volt Meter) from the center lead to the left lead and you should get system voltage, (about 12 volts). Next connect the DVM from the center lead to the right lead and you should see about 5 volts. If it passes this test, as Dick said "look elsewhere".
Subject: ETX-90 power supply question Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 17:35:02 From: Snuffy Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) I owned an ETX-90 for about three years until Hurricane Katrina washed it away. I am now about to purchase another one and I have a question. I had an AC power supply for my now-gone ETX-90 -- plugged it into 115 AC and it put out the correct voltage for the ETX-90 with a plug that matched the external power jack on the ETX-90. What voltage is required for the ETX-90? Regarding the plug that plugs into the ETX-90 external power jack: How is it polarized? Is the shell NEGATIVE and the interior connector POSITIVE or is it reversed with the shell being POSITIVE? Thanks.Mike here: Power requirements for the new ETX-90 are the same as for your old one. Central pin is positive.
Subject: re: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar Sent: Saturday, December 8, 2012 17:22:39 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) > I would ask you if you know if simply "jumping" the 7805 into the circuit > **with the existing (blown?) regulator still in-line** would be safe for > the components. I wouldn't blindly do that... If the regulator died in an "open" state, it might work (note: "might", see below). If the regulator died in a "shorted" state, (and there are three "short" paths possible), such a test could quite possibly damage things worse. Even in the "open" state, we don't know what the 5v snubbing circuit of the old regulator would do when it saw the (perhaps a tiny bit higher) 5v of the new regulator... would it try to shunt it to ground? At the very least, I'd try to ohmmeter the old regulator to assure myself that it's not a "dead short" between any two of the pins. Switching to the meter's Voltage scale, I'd apply a momentary bit of 12v while watching the 5v output (looking for anything from zero to 12v to come out the "5v" end). If it put out 5v, then i'd investigate elsewhere for the failure. Only if all of the above assured me that there were no shorts, and 12v in produced zero out, would i think of straddling the old with the new. And i'd still fret about it. good luck --dick
From: steven flick (firstname.lastname@example.org) Richard (and Mike) - Agreed - thanks for reply. Good to hear from the foremost authority. I've since gotten the proper stuff together for a "standalone" autostar test (thanks to Mike's site) and concluded that the regulator was working solidly (9v in - 5v out) - it's something else that isn't. Close to throwing the towel in, but still pondering what I can test on the board - no doubt power is getting to (and leaving) the regulator, so wondering how the thing could be totally dark - anything you might suggest (IF you have time) is appreciated. My meter's resistance mode is currently blown, (don't ask - replacement on way), but the top capacitor showed 9v (as I recall), while the bottom one read something negative (with power applied and polarity correct). Little confused about that, but don't really fathom the world of C's anyway - figured something must be better than nothing. Could crystal possibly be messed up? More likely IC shot or something. Tried soft reset - zilch. I don't *see* any continuity issues anywhere - perhaps you know of some other usual suspects (beyond VR) to inspect. (FYI - it is "newer style" 497.) THANKS SF
From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sorry, I've been away awhile. I your Autostar totally dead? If so respond and open it up. Mike
The 5 volt regulator on your autostar (Audiostar?) is labeled as LM2931D2T It is a 3 pin component. Download the datasheet and check the voltages. I have an older autostar and obviously there were revisions to the circuit board which placed the regulator in a different position. Let me know. Mike Amonett
Thanks Mike - did manage to test this already - the reg. is a-ok - still working on it. Thanks SF
Subject: ETX-90 slipped baffle Sent: Friday, December 7, 2012 08:45:43 From: Ralph D'Andrea (email@example.com) I have recently acquired an ETX-90 with a slipped baffle. I did this knowing that Meade no longer fixes them and I would have to do the job myself. I have thoroughly searched your site and other sites and have found plenty of information about how to re-attach the baffle (epoxy, RTV, 3M Command, etc) but there is precious little good information on how to remove the baffle safely. It is REALLY stuck on there. Once that is done, there is the problem of removing the adhesive from the corrector. I have seen "roll it off with your fingers" and "use the adhesive still on the baffle to pluck it off." Do you have any additional guidance or pointers? Regarding re-attachment, I am currently leaning towards cutting my own ring out of a 3M Command strip as it seems to be the safest adhesive to avoid tarnishing the secondary spot. My first choice was aquarium cement but I am a little worried about the acetic acid it liberates during the cure. Any opinions? I wish Meade still supported these old scopes. I would have willingly spent $75 and shipping both ways.Mike here: The articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page is all the information available. And yes, avoid any acid or materials that could outgas and coat the optical surfaces.
Subject: New model of ETX 90 3514-04-15 Sent: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 02:05:19 From: Mike Corley (firstname.lastname@example.org) Have you received email from any one else who has an ETX90 model 3514-04-15? My grandson took the bottom section of my brand new telescope, but did not document or photo what he was taking apart. Now I have a small box full of parts and no idea how they go together. I have talked with Meade, they were of no help what so ever. They claimed they could not even tell me the name of the company in China that build the telescope, much less provide any documentation. Mike, I am in real trouble at this point. I can't really blame my grandson for possessing such a strong curiosity. For a twelve year old, he uses tools rather well. He just needs to learn to document what he takes apart so that he can put it back together. I am hoping some other owner of this telescope would be willing to help me figure out how to put this scope back together. After all it has not yet even experienced "first light". I must repair it! There is a small pop out round area on the bottom. I need someone to pop this out and make a detailed photo/drawing of how things go together. Then if possible, the bottom cover needs to be removed so that the internal workings can also be documented. PLEASE Mike, help me find someone that can help. Otherwise I am going to have to purchase another scope, just to take apart careful and document it's construction! Steven Corley Waller, TexasMike here: Any emails I receive in response to queries are always posted on the ETX Site. None have been received regarding your problem. You might contact Dr. Clay Sherrod for his Supercharge service; he could probably get it all back together as part of his service. Details on the "Supercharge Service" page linked from the ETX Site home page.
Subject: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 13:38:41 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) This is in response to the question posted on your site 12-04-12. "Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar" If he can open the autostar there is a minature 5 volt regulator (looks like a 7805 TO220 but smaller). It's solderd in there kinda sideways. Reverse polarity will blow this for sure. He needs to look for a bubble in the center of it, if so repace it with a standard 7805 regulator in a TO220 package; it's a little larger but it will fit! I fixed my autostar like this. Mike Amonett
From: steven flick (email@example.com) Good stuff - thanks much to both of you. Since no good deed goes unpunished, would like to get a little more down in the weeds on it with Mike A. - if you have the time, Mike. (Background: I've conducted the standalone Autostar power-up test that Mike W. referenced in his reply [at least I *think* I did it correctly] - no response at all from Autostar. I've also, I believe, been able to confirm that I am getting a 12v output from the mount out to the HBX jack.) I've attached a couple of shots of the Autostar board FYI. I happened to have been looking at the VR you described anyway (I think), and, kinda like all the other components I examined, there's no real evidence of any "blowout" (or "bubble") there. (There is no center pin connection to the VR, but the area looks clean, and I believe that's a ground pin that might not be required in this application.) I'm far from expert, but I think that the lack of clear visible evidence of failure does not necessarily mean the the regulator (or anything else) isn't "shot". So, based on your reply, I think that it might be worth spending $2 at Radio Shack to test the theory. As I'm dumb on these things, I would ask you if you know if simply "jumping" the 7805 into the circuit **with the existing (blown?) regulator still in-line** would be safe for the components. At first blush, my thinking was "it couldn't hurt," but, as stated, I ain't no expert, so seeking opinion. (I don't want to have to chop out an original, still functional component for the sake of a test if it isn't truly necessary.) Also, I'm thinking maybe the 220 packaging might indicate more of a heat problem for the 7805 than the original surface-mount VR - any issue? Again thanks for assistance, Mike(s). Steve F.
Subject: Testing ETX Motor Function Without Autostar (?) Sent: Sunday, December 2, 2012 19:28:30 From: steven flick (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hello. First, I searched for this information on your extensive site for quite some time but couldn't find - I truly hope I'm not being repetitive. I've managed to break my 125PE by misapplication of an external power supply - let's call it "reversed polarity," although I don't think that was exactly it. Result: mount power light turns on - nothing at all from 497 Autostar except (believe it or not) a very faint intermittent "clicking" sound from speaker(?). (To be clear - sound is from the Autostar, not the base). So - now time to troubleshoot. The mount power light *seems* to point to a fried HBX rather than the mount circuitry, but of course I'm not sure if it's HBX, mount hardware, or both. Opened up the HBX and found nothing obviously amiss (though I'm not smart enough to test very much in place, and really don't wish to chop out capacitors, jump things, etc., in there prior to pinpointing the issue). So, my initial question is - is there any practical way to confirm basic mount functionality EXTERNALLY without Autostar? (Maybe adding a jack to the unused HBX cord end and jumping leads?) Other than that, would be looking at a base dismantle/test, with which I have zero experience (though I will look into any procedures that might be on this site). FYI, I know of no one having a Meade to test my HBX on, and I am far from any Meade dealer. Batteries are strong. External power supply still works fine with my Celestron. I did perceive (imagine?) a slight burning odor at the time of the problem. Thanks much in advance for any suggestions- -S. FlickMike here: I suspect you did fry some component. Probably on the AutoStar but could be on the circuit board in the ETX. A possible test is to disconnect the AutoStar and then power on the ETX. If the ETX motors slew the telescope then the ETX side is possibly OK (unless the blown component/trace is something in the AutoStar connection circuitry). You can test the AutoStar by making an external power source for it and see if it comes on when not connected to the ETX. See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Thanks for answer - powering up scope produces only power light - no slewing at all. I'll check Info page for autostar external power - thanks. SF
Subject: My corrector lens cell is loose.... Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2012 21:39:40 From: Daniel M. (email@example.com) just tonight I had my dew shield on my ETX-125, but when I took it off, the entire black piece and corrector lens cell began to loosen....and the dew shield wasn't coming off. I did eventually get it off, but now that the entire cell seems to be loose whenever I twist it, it scares me as I hope I didn't knock the optics out of alignment. I didn't loosen it until it actually came off, but it was able to be loosened if the cap was on too tight. I tighten the cell as tight as I can to make sure it never comes loose. So what is the best answer to this? Be careful when taking on/off the lens cover? Will the alignment of the optics be off? Thanks, DanMike here: The corrector lens housing can be unscrewed (as you discovered). This can happen when unscrewing a dew shield, a screw-on solar filter, or even the aperture cover. Holding the lens housing while removing these usually prevents the housing from unscrewing. If it does come loose, usually retightening the housing is all that is needed. However, doing a collimation check "star test" is a good idea. For more on star tests and collimation, see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
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