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ETX-90RA AND ETX-90EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 July 2001

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-90RA (originally known as the "ETX Astro") and the ETX-90EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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 and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	No ETX-90EC entry on autostar menu.
Sent:	Monday, July 30, 2001 22:44:58
From:	eashog@home.com (Everett Shogren)
My new autostar 497 has no entry in the telescope selection menu for my
ETX-90EC. Only the ETX-70 and a host of DS models. What is happening,
has anyone else had this problem??
Thanks
Everett Shogren
San Diego, CA
Mike here: Try connecting it to the ETX-90EC, do a RESET from the Autostar menu, and then see if the ETX-90EC is listed. You will have to reselect your location.

And:

Been there, done that, no change.
Mike here: Do you have the #505 cable to redownload the software (and perhaps update to 2.2Er)?

And an update:

I just got off the phone with Meade technical support. They will send me
a new autostar but hey said there is a chance that the porblem is in the
telescope itself. thanks

Subject:	etx 90ec
Sent:	Monday, July 23, 2001 20:53:47
From:	PHILVARAH@aol.com
Scope fork lock is broken and will not lock to hold tube. Plastic piece
inside is broken in half. Appears the scope tube must be taken apart
from fork assembly...... Can Irepair myself ? Available parts? Or, need
recommendations to send out for repair?
Please advise

Phil Long
Arvada, CO
Mike here: If under warranty, contact Meade. If not under warranty, see the various Performance Enhancements and Tuneup items on the Telescope Tech Tips page; some might help you. Or you can contact Dr. Clay Sherrod for his Supercharge service (also linked on the Telescope Tech Tips page).

Subject:	re: Longevity of ETX90 vs. Questar
Sent:	Saturday, July 21, 2001 11:53:22
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	lsmith@zianet.com
Larry,

Today, I'd opt for an additional ETX or two.

Background: i *love* Questars... i grew up drooling on their ads in
Scientific American and elsewhere.  I had the good fortune to borrow one
for the 1973 African eclipse, and to use one circa 1980. Since then i've
fondled them at Anacortes Telescopes.  They're jewels.

BUT: comparing $3,900 (the "Field Model" Questar, can be removed from
forks and has tripod hole) to $250 (a second ETX90/RA)... reminds me of
an old VW commercial:
camera shows car under drapery, voice-over says: "This is the XXXX, it
costs $6,000, goes  forwards, backwards, right and left. Pan camera to
another hidden-by-drapery shape: "This is the new VW XXXX... it also
costs $6,000, and also goes  forwards, backwards, right and left...
(drape lifts, revealing two cars) ... in two directions at once (exunt).
Isn't that wonderful?"

Utility-wise, for the $3500 you'd be saving, you can buy a raft of
accessories... like an LX-90. Or two.

But you wouldn't have a (hushed voice) Questar.

Tough call... i don't think it's a question anyone else can *logically*
assist you with.

--dick (resigned to practicality... but still loves Questars)
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
> 1) Just use the ETX till it breaks, hope that Meade is
> still supporting them, and get it fixed.
Or... who KNOWS what'll be on the market when (if) it breaks?

> 2) See if Meade (or a dealer) will sell me a couple of
> likely failure parts (motor, circuit card), and stash em.
I saw your original list on Mike's site... you could also consider
the entire 2nd ETX90/ra as a "spare part", and just hope that the
-same- part doesn't break twice.  This combines #2 and #3.

> 3) Buy another entire unit for $250.  Remove the
> scope, and mount it as a guide on my 6" Newtonian.  If
> the old ETX scope craps out, just pull the guide off
> and keep rolling.  If the old mount craps out, I have
> another in dry dock not being used.
The ETX90 is also available as a baseless spotting scope.
(i think)... but that probably isn't enjoying price-competition.

> 4) Assume that the scope will last, and put a few
> bucks (much less that the Questar) into a Meade 125 or
> a Nexstar 5.
Or buy two LX90's.  Binoculars with a *difference*.

> Do you have any thoughts on item #4?  (Or any others
> you care to comment on).  Your practicality is the
> voice of reason I need to consider.

About the only things that'll damage an ETX90 are:
 high heat (the baffle tube's glue can shift)
 physical damage: don't drop it too far.

There are also lots of folks dumping their old units,
stores going out of business, other options (how about a fine
reflector?  or a DS-127? ).  
I really can't figure out what's the "best" answer for you, without
a lot more detail... but i haven't even figured out the -best- answer 
for -me-, yet, either... and i've got FAR too much detail.

I don't know your goals nor self-imposed limitations (one of mine
is "hand carry on airplanes", my wife's is "motorized"(an RA would 
serve)) nor desired features (i REALLY enjoy the Autostar in-city,
but i ran the ETX90 without one for two months before buying the
 Autostar).  (i'm also -cheap-... i bought the ETX90/ec used)
A biggie light-bucket would be fun, but rarely used.  There are
months when the ETX is used -every- clear night.  Plop-and-go helps
that lots.

--dick

Subject:	Re:  Re:  ETX Observing
Sent:	Saturday, July 21, 2001 8:40:42
From:	doccpu@yahoo.com (Larry Smith)
To:	etx@me.com
Thanks for the comments.

Certainly, car manufacturers will sell you about any part you want. But
I have no idea about Meade.  They may not.  I do know that if you buy a
telescope from Tuthill (at least before the poor gentleman died), you
could also get it repaired there.  So it sounds like a dealer could get
some capacity to buy parts.  Maybe I could buy parts from Tuthill?

In any event, that's one of the reasons I've always kept a Newtonian
around.  There's almost nothing on a Netwonian I couldn't fix myself (in
addition to the fact that if properly collimated, they perform very
well).

I see that the ETX is in general pretty simplistic. The apparatus around
the primary mirror (focusing hardward and flip mirror) I would not want
to tamper with.  The stuff in the base is pretty simple, and unless
dropped or something, probably likely to perform a long time.  The
possible exception is the motor itself, which internally has plastic (or
nylon) gears.  I don't know how long that will work.  The remainder
(bearing mechanism, main drive gear) are not particularly likely to 
wear out.

I'm anxious to try out my calculator programs for locating objects, in
both polar and altazimuth mode -- whenever the clouds go away and give
me a chance.  At this time of year, it's hard to keep in mind I live in
a desert.

Thanks again. I take it (since you have the Meade 125 and Meade 70) you
like the Meade products.  I was looking at the Nexstar 5.  I assume you
find something about the Meade 125 that sets it above the Nexstar?
Mike here: I've never tried to buy a part from Toyota or Oldsmobile. Certainly dealers can get parts but I doubt that individuals can. I could be wrong however. As to the NexStar5, see my reports linked from the top of the "ETX-125EC Feedback" page.

Subject:	ETX Observing
Sent:	Thursday, July 19, 2001 21:00:47
From:	lsmith@zianet.com (larry smith)
I've had little luck in viewing Mars with my ETX90 this opposition, it
happened to fall in our monsoon season.  However, I've observed enough
to confirm what Jupiter & Saturn observing indicated:  if the ETX view
isn't begging for more magnification, there is no use setting up my
larger telescope.  I can consistantly get solid lunar/planetary viewing
(seeing permitting) with the ETX at 200x to 220x.  Views are really hard
to beat.

I've added the fast/slow switch (described in the tips section) so that
I can push a button to slew in RA.  With that simple mod, the ETX RA is
a very handy instrument for viewing.  I've only looked at a handful of
Messier objects, but only the Crab was disappointing.  The Ring Nebula
was a nice object.

I've programmed a calculator to hold a dozen or so alignment stars, and
the entire Messier catalog.  Now I can use the ETX90 RA in either the
altizimuth mode or the equatorial mode, and after a brief alignment, the
calculator will tell me where to point the ETX.  I think this will make
star observing much more convenient, in that I will not need to rely on
the finder, which is often in an awkward position.

I do have a couple of questions.  Everthing I've read suggests (and my
viewing would confirm) that the optics in the ETX are 1st class.  The
mounting and mechanics is where the ETX takes a hit.  My particular
model had a spur gear that slipped.  A drop of epoxy fixed that
annoyance.  Other than that, and especially with the fast/slow
modification, I find the mounting functionally adequate.

While I've read of a number of problems experienced (eyepiece tube
coming loose, flip mirror breaking, baffle tube coming loose), I'm
wondering if these are "common", or occur with about the same failure
rate as the other Meade and perhaps Celestron telescopes.  Also, what
has seemed to be the longevity of the ETX90 RA?  In general, are users
finding the telescope holds up under careful use?

The reason I'm interested is this:  I've found I enjoy the portability
and clear views enormously.  The ETX is my first line telescope.  I
switch my 6" Newtonian for deep space views, and photograph purposes. In
fact, I enjoy the views through the ETX so much that I'd be willing to
cough up the bucks for a Questar.  However, I realize that I won't
actually see anymore with the Questar.  It's the longevity that I'd be
investing in.  I suspect that the Questar would literally last me the
rest of my life.

What kind of longevity do you think I can expect with careful use of the
ETX90 RA (mine is the Walmart series M variety)?
Mike here: I still use my almost five year old ETX-90RA for most of my observing. I use the ETX-125EC when I need more magnification or more light gathering power. The ETX-70AT comes in handy for its wide field views. I've traveled with the ETX-90RA (to Indiana and Australia) and it has survived well. With all the tens of thousands of ETX-90 models sold (or whatever the actual number is), we've only seen a handful of problem reports on the ETX site. How valid a reflection of widespread or non-widespread problems these reports are remains unknown.

And:

Would you mind commenting on the following options? (That is, if any one
makes some sense).

I'm thinking of ways to get the long term performance from my ETX, in
that I'm very happy with it's performance, but don't want it failing on
me any time soon.  I'm also heard a few horror stories about sending
equipment back to either Meade or Celestron, and not getting it back for
several months.

Options:
1) Just save up and get a Questar.

2) Just pick up another $250 ETX90 from Sam's.  The OTA could be used as
a guide on my 6", but could always be re-attached to the Meade base,
should the original telescope fail.  Or in event that the base is what
fails, transfer the original scope to the new base, and keep the 2nd
scope as a guide.

3) Order a few parts from Meade (if they will let me). Like the bearing
cup, the circuit board, and the motor.  Thus, I'm prepared to repair the
most likely points of failure.

4) Don't worry about it, it'll likely last for years as it is, and get
parts when the failures occur, since Meade will (?) likely still support
it.
Mike here: There is a 5th option: send to Dr. Sherrod for a Supercharge should something fail. As to your other options. Meade probably won't sell you spare parts. That's not their business. I don't know of any manufacturers that will sell spare parts to end users; whether cars, telescopes, computers, cameras, etc. You could by a "spare telescope" but why bother unless you like the insurance of having one.

Subject:	Followup up to aquestion about scope problem.
Sent:	Wednesday, July 18, 2001 19:29:37
From:	bolender@centurytel.net (Brad and Lisa)
This is in relation to a problem I asked a while ago about my ETX 90/EC.
It was having. First of all I don't use autostar. It just a hand
controller.

I cleaned all my contacts outside of the scope (ETX 90/EC). It still has
a  regular hesitation in the horizontal movement. I would like to open
the base and do some cleaning. Is there and resource for starting a
delicate project like this or is it best left up to the pros.

Thanks Brad
Seattle
Mike here: The Telescope Tech Tips has articles on improving the mechanical performance and some items on tuning it up. Try those.

Subject:	Information Request
Sent:	Wednesday, July 18, 2001 8:20:23
From:	ib@inforbase.pt (Inforbase, Lda)
Hello Mike, Congratulations for your work. im from Lisbon - Portugal and
i have a ETX 90 RA and a LX 90. since the arrival of the LX 90 im
thinking about transforming the ETX in a goto portable scope, could you
tell me if it is possible to buy an ETX 60AT or 70AT and use the base
with the ETX 90 RA.

Thanks for you help

Fernando Marques Delgado
Inforbase, Sistemas de Informao e Servios, Lda
Praceta Diogo Silves, N 6 B - Urb. Vale de Flores
2710 - 632 Sintra
Tel: + 351 21 922 96 20
Fax: + 351 21 922 96 36
Email:fmd@inforbase.pt
Mike here: Due to the size difference you would have to make LOTS of modifications. Probably not worth it. I suggest trading up to the ETX-90EC; there are some dealers that will do trade-ins or you can sell the ETX-90RA and buy the -90EC.

Subject:	re: Unexpected jump in ALT. ETX90 - EC
Sent:	Tuesday, July 17, 2001 23:06:13
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Gene_Rozea@Rollsys.com
Sure sounds like "random slewing" to me...
i'd call Meade.

--dick
And:
> I tried another power source last night - a 12V, 4.5 AH gel cell that
> started out at 12.75 V. The scope tracked mars for almost three hours
> with no problems.
Ahh... somehow i got the impression in your original complaint
that you'd used multipler power sources.  Great!

> Perhaps you can answer this though - on the Autostar display there is
> a variable height rectangle at the extreme right, but I haven't been
> able to find a reference to what it represents - relative battery
> state?

The "splotch" is the currently-selected Slew speed.
speed 9 is a full-splotch, speed-1 is a (no) splotch.

Battery Level is one of the hold-Mode-to-access, then scroll up
  Status displays.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Unexpected jump in ALT. ETX90 - EC
Sent:	Monday, July 16, 2001 6:00:42
From:	Gene_Rozea@Rollsys.com (Rozea, Gene)
I'm hoping that the collective experience of the people using the site
can provide some help. I have a new (2 months) old ETX90-EC with
Autostar and have been having a repeatable problem.

After setup and alignment (ALT, AZ with the suggested RESET, CALIBRATE
and TRAIN sequence after a new firmware load) I locate and begin
tracking an object - say MARS - or even if I'm just doing GOTO's - every
once in a while the scope does a fast slew up in ALT. It has been what
appears to be between 5 and 20 degrees. The status readout in the
Autostar doesn't reflect the new position. A PARK SCOPE operation parks
the scope at the accumulated error position.

I've been running off a fully charged 12 V Gel Cell and the Battery
Voltage status in the Autostar shows 100%.

It seems to be independent of the firmware version firmware in the
Autostar - 2.2 Eh and 2.2Er. Any ideas before I give Meade a call?
Thanks,
Gene
Mike here: It is possible that the non-supported battery pack could be the source of the problem. Have you tried regular batteries or a regulated AC Adapter?

And:

The gel cell is a 12VDC source, not unlike a auto battery, which
according to the Meade info should be fine. The battery voltage is at
12.6 volts under load. However, I have tried the AC adaptor which
supplies 14.8 VDC under load and the short test with that appeared to be
OK! I'll do some more testing tonight.

Perhaps the published ability to run from a car "lighter outlet" in not
correct or the circuitry in the controller is marginal. Will keep you
posted. As usual, thanks for the comments and suggestions.

Gene

P.S. I forgot to mention, I've used the same battery with another ETX90
with no problems at all, which again points to something possibly being
marginal in the current setup.

Subject:	re: motion problem with ETX90/ec
Sent:	Sunday, July 15, 2001 23:56:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	bolender@centurytel.net
On Mike's site you said:

> Here is what happens. When I use the remote , the scope will move for
> about 10 degrees the stop. 

Since you use the scope for Terrestial work, is this the  Hand
Controller or an Autostar?  If it is an Autostar, i have seen that
symptom when the encoders were not telling the Autostar how far the
telescope has moved.

Things i would try: check the cable between the controller and
telescope. New batteries.

If it is an Autostar, simply try reversing the HBX cable end-for-end.
You could -gently- remove the base (remove the batteries, remove the
rubber feet, unscrew the 3 phillips-head screws thus revealed. Gently
lift off the base (the battery wires are fragile) and check that the
connectors inside the base are all seated securely, and that the central
shiny clamping nut has not cut the wires passing over (and through) it.

good luck
--dick
And this:
From:	bolender@centurytel.net (Brad and Lisa)
I put new batteries in. It is not the autostar.

There seems to get good contact in the battery compartment. Do you think
it could have dust some where. I have recently do a remodel on my house
and I kept a towel over the scope. I there some kind of contact area in
the base that could get corroded?

Thanks
----- Original Message -----
From: etx@me.com
> Some obvious questions.  Have you checked the batteries?  Low batteries
> can cause erratic behavior.   Have you checked the battery compartment
> for corrosion/leakage?  Have you overtightened the azimuth lock?  Do you
> have an Autostar?  If so, does the same behavior occur whether using the
> Autostar or the standard controller?  I seem to vaguely recall something
> about terrestrial mode allowing small movements so maybe there is in fact
> nothing wrong at all.
Mike here: Certainly it is possible that some dirt got inside and could be messing up the encoders or wiring. Have you tried RESETTING the Autostar. That can cure many oddities.

Subject:	90RA Focus problems
Sent:	Saturday, July 14, 2001 21:26:21
From:	kalnnc@webtv.net
Great site!  I visit often.  My wife gave me an ETX90 RA for Christmas
2000  due, in part, to the information I reviewed on your site.

It's optical and mechanical performance this past winter while viewing
Saturn & Jupiter was outstanding. Not having had time to use it the last
two months I recently pulled it out of storage to view Mars.  Much to my
surprise there now seems to be a problem with the focus.  When
attempting to focus the scope the entire image will shift.  It shifts
the opposite direction the focus knob is turned then moves back to its
original position when the knob is released.  When turned CCW the image
shifts right...CW it shifts left .  The  image moves diagonally from
upper left to lower right.  As you can imagine this is very  annoying.
The scope has not been damaged in any way and it was stored in its
original box in a climate controlled area.  There are about 4 months
left on the Meade 1 year warranty.  Any ideas on  what the problem is
and how you would handle it would be greatly appreciated by this novice
user.

Thanks.
Keith Lewis
Mike here: Some image shift is normal but it should not shift the image out of the field of view at any usable magnification. If the shift is excessive and since it is still under warranty I suggest contacting Meade.

Subject:	I have a problem.
Sent:	Friday, July 13, 2001 20:06:46
From:	bolender@centurytel.net (Brad and Lisa)
I have an ETX-90/EC that I bought new a couple years ago.

I tend to do terrestrial viewing with it and it sits not being used
allot in my house. A few weeks ago I noticed a problem with the
horizontal motor movement. I believe that's the ascension movement.

Here is what happens. When I use the remote , the scope will move for
about 10 degrees the stop. I then lift my finger off the button and
repress. It then starts moving again for about 10 degrees then stops.
This will happen going both left and right but sometimes it will go
about 1/4 the way around before it stops.

The scope works great going up and down. The declination direction.
    
Any ideas. 
Thanks for your time.
Brad, Seattle

Subject:	a question
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2001 18:32:51
From:	EAMITRA@aol.com
I've really enjoyed your site, its been a great source of information
for a casual observer.  I'm having problems with the declination drive
on my ETX90 EC.  The motors are running but it seems like the gears are
not able to engage and move the OTA.  Any suggestions on how I may
pursue troubleshooting and repairing?  I really appreciate your time and
any information you can provide.

Sincerely,

Eric M.
Mike here: Can you move the tube freely in declination with the lock engaged? If so, it is likely that the Right Tube Adapter has failed. You can see more on this on my ETX-90EC review (http://www.weasner.com/etx/90ec_comments.html); the RTA discussion is near the end. You can get a replacement from Meade for free. The installation is fairly easy and shown on my review. Or you can make your own. See the Telescope Tech Tips page for some items on this ("DEC lock mod" and "ETX Hints, Tips, Projects, & Products").

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Copyright © 2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2001 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackJul01/90.html