Weasner's 8" LX90-ACF Report #8

26 June 2008

8" LX90-ACF - The Wait Resumes...

[24 Jun 08]
I was notified by Meade that they would be "figuring out what is happening here and why the scope had the problems out of box again." They have issued a UPS pickup request. If all this helps Meade learn from their mistakes AND if they actually correct those mistakes then all will be good again.

[26 Jun 08]
UPS picked up the LX90 this morning. So it is now on its way back to Meade. And so the wait begins again.

The saga continues...

And now some recent email:

Subject:	Re: "Repaired" LX90 received - Strike 3
Sent:	Friday, June 20, 2008 22:15:20
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Bummer (cubed)

Was the return of this one directly to Meade, or to OPT and thence to Meade?
Was this one the same physical scope as #2?

I assume the old Autostar firmware arose by them pulling an Autostar
"off the shelf" at the repair station and sending it along.
(if you open it up, you may find evidence of repair, vs new.
My 2nd Autostar has such (it came directly from Meade to assist the
beta testing... it was not purchased, so i have no quibble with them
using a repaired unit... i used to receive post-service circuit cards
from DEC and HP when boards were swapped in lab-sized computers)

If you have been pursing this thru OPT, perhaps you might try playing the
"normal customer" and dealing directly with Meade Service.
It certainly couldn't be any worse... (well....)

Unfortunately, Meade's investor conference call was at 5:30am Seattle time,
so i didn't actively participate... i would've -loved- to have asked about
the current QC level of LX90's.   The call seemed to reveal that LXD's
are now made in Mexico, not China (perhaps the large ones?) and that
backlog issues are being overcome.  They also hinted at a major new
product "broadening the telescope line" coming out in a few months.

lets you listen in.  If you access it via Meade's Investor Relations
page, you have additional choices of playback (perhaps Quicktime)

good luck
Mike here: The return was directly to Meade. What came back had the same serial number as was sent to them.
I agree that they probably just swapped the AutoStar but the enclosed paperwork said "updated the AutoStar". So I take them at their word. Even though it was actually downgraded.
We'll see what OPT and Meade decide to do...
Subject:	Re: "Repaired" LX90 received - Strike 3
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 04:55:35
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@tcworks.net)
Wow.....this is really unbelievable, particularly since it has been back
twice for the same issue.

I still contend that the LX90 is the best telescope ever made by anyone.

This is getting to be commonplace with this model scope (Mike's
described problem...). I have seen three here and have heard maybe 5-6
additional reports of the same issue. The ones that I got in here all
had defective motor assemblies in DEC and I sent them directly to Meade
from here with that specified problem and instructed them how to fix.
Although they went to Mexico for repair, apparently they were put back
up to spec as the older ones would perform and I have not heard a
complaint from the owners since they got them back.

The problem with Meade repair is that we are now dealing with
burger-flippers.....really.  No one is there that has any idea
whatsoever which end of these telescopes to look through and they put
down clever things like "replace Autostar," "update to latest

And nothing is really done to the telescope since they have NO one to
instruct them on why this problem is very important to the owner and
what the end results of the problem are if not fixed.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC/ H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC/ H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC/ H45 (Petit Jean Mtn. South)
Mike here: And like Apple did back in the early to mid 1990s, QA was cut to "save" money. Apple learned from that mistake. At one time in the late 1990s the QA organization at Apple had been beefed up to about 400 people who actually knew something about hardware and software quality assurance. I can only hope that Meade will learn from their mistake before it is too late.


From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)

P. Clay Sherrod wrote:
> Wow.....this is really unbelievable, particularly since it has been back 
> twice for the same issue.

Actually, only this once... his first scope he -exchanged- with
another in OPT's inventory.   So Mike did not receive the benefit
of the first scope's repair.

> The ones that I got in here all had defective motor assemblies in DEC...

Mike's scope -also- evinced thumps in the RA, as well (if i recall
correctly, and as he mentions in his "3rd strike" posting).

have fun
Mike here: The first bad LX90 was reported to OPT. They contacted Meade. Meade sent me a second LX90, which had the same problem. After I reported the second bad LX90 the first one was picked up by Meade, repaired, and sent to someone else. It took awhile for them to arrange to pick up the 2nd bad LX90. And yes, I also reported thumps in RA.
Subject:	Meade quality
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 07:00:21
From:	Bill VanOrden (beevo@cox.net)
After reading the troubles you are having with the LX90(s),  problems
that my observing buddy Ken has had with a 125PE and two other people I
know with mechanical/electronic issues with Meade mounts it is painfully
clear that they have lost the battle on QC and outright design quality.

A friend has a 16" RCX with ongoing issues, so it obviously not limited
to the lower cost scopes.  Ken's ETX 125PE  has NEVER aligned correctly
since he bought it 18-19 months ago, even after a trip back to Meade
where their solution was to replace a cracked RA lock knob.  I am a
wizard at getting ETX's to work (when I remember to set DST) and I have
never been able to get it to point even close to correct.  I routinely
"fix" ETX's at star parties so I have gotten good at it.  We had a local
person ask for help on an LX90 he could not set up.  I offered to go
over to his house and help. The mount sounded like there was a handful
of metal debris inside when the motors were slewing, much worse than
what I would consider borderline.

Maybe you should get a Celestron CPC, I have helped set up two of those
and they work/point/track right out of the box.  The alignment is second
to none in functionality and results!!  While I am keeping and still
love my EXT125 and absolutely astounded with the optical quality of the
80mm APO triplet, I will never buy another Meade product again. 
Partially due to the terrible responses from their technical un-support
(that's when you can actually get them on the phone) and partially due
to the terrible QC/Quality of the mounts.  BTW the new bulbous eyepieces
are pretty poor optically when compared to the older UWA's and my

I guess I am a Celestron man now.  I just received a new C11-XLT optical
tube to mount on my Altas EQG mount and look forward to its first light
here in the next week or two.
Beevo (aka Bill VanOrden)
Mike here: Who knows how this saga will end up...


I dunno, all the new scopes I see at the star parties I attend are all
Celestrons.  The ONLY new Meade scope I can recall is my friend's 16"
and an ETX-PE.

Given their current state of quality and the fact they are moving
everything off shore as fast as they can I personally think it's too
late.  I guess the only thing we can be thankful for is *once* you get
them on the phone they all speak English as a native language....

Subject:	LX90 strike 3
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 09:25:52
From:	Henrik van Holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Hi Mike you must by now really frustrated I admire your patience.

What version 4.3Ed concerns I do also have 4.3Ed there seems an error in
version 4.3Eg which has something to do with the GPS procedure this is
what I remember some months ago stated by Rick Seymour. As 4.3Ed works
fine I did not download version 4.3Eg. until now.

Keep up your good spirits

Mike here: Bob Lashley had an LX90-ACF with the same problem as mine. He's just returned from being repaired. Here's an email from him:
Subject:	Re: your LX90
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 16:41:02
From:	Bob Lashley (rlashley...)
Mike Weasner wrote:
> Hope yours is better than mine!


Probably not.  I didn't need to wait for nightfall.

The RGA paperwork said bad motors and a HBX that wouldn't take an update
so they replaced it.  I know they touched the new HBX because there were
fingerprints with white grease on many of the keys.

I set it up and powered it up using my Celestron Powertank.  After
calibration (that's not how it calibrated before - must be earlier
firmware), I selected Saturn and waited.

::grrrr:: the rumble/machine-gun/stoccato/ raspberries vibration was
still there. With fingertips lightly on the OTA, I can feel it vibrate
with the noise.  I don't need to look through an EP.

Now what?

I'm thinking of two different avenues and would like your advice:

- return it and get my money back and never deal with Meade again

- record the sound during tracking with a voice-over annotation of what
is bad and why, so Meade technicians learn what to look for and how to
repair these scopes; send the audio to them along with the return of
this scope.  Or at least have them call one of us when they set it up to
do their "troubleshooting".

(Clearly they haven't a clue as to what is wrong with these.  I suspect
nobody who works at Meade actually uses these products anymore.)

Mike here: I'm waiting to hear what Meade decides to do before I make any final decision (but it was "strike 3"). I suspect the real problem is a supplier, coupled with a cost-cut tech support and QA. Hopefully, Meade will recover; assuming they don't run themselves out of business first.
I've thought about doing a recording myself, or at least letting them hear it over the phone.
Subject:	LX90 vibration
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 17:59:40
From:	SPWoo (jj_2_woo@yahoo.com)
I have been reading about your issue on the LX90.  Another member on the
Cloudynights LX90 forum is having the same issue.  Wish you a happy



Subject:	LX90
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2008 18:12:39
From:	Edward B. Phillips (edward.phillips@knology.net)
I am a ETX-125AT user and have been following your trials and
tribulations with the LX90.  I believe Meade must have promoted their
ETX mechanism engineers to the LX90 platform.

After reading everything you are going through and the problem other
people are having, I think you would have been better off waiting for
the LXD75 or saving a few extra dollars on the few months you were out
wait for repairs and bought a LX200.  It is a shame that a US Company
lacks the ability to see that adding 50.00 to 100.00 per unit max in
quality bearings, connector, sensors, metal gears and little better
training/oversight of the assembly processes would produce a product
that would be worth bragging about.  They have done a great job with
their optics, but their drive to make it cheaper and cheaper will only
drive Meade out of business.  Basically people who buy this price range
of telescope expect it to work. If that requires the cost to be 50 to
100 higher it is worth it.  When I bought my ETX the first thing I did
was send it to Dr. Clay and it was worth the money. Although, it should
not be necessary to do something like that.  I like others that read
your site feel your pain and hope things workout for you with Meade.
Keep up the good fight and maybe someone at Meade will wake up and start
running the company correctly.  Maybe firing their business people and
hiring some good engineers would be a good start!
Edward Phillips
Harvest, AL
Mike here: My ETX telescopes have performed better mechanically than the two LX90 telescopes I've received.


I have to say from all the people who have bought ETX and voiced their
issues on your web site have the same types of issue that seem to be
prevalent in both telescopes.  The Improper or the lack of care in the
assembly process and low quality mechanical parts seem to be the primary
problems.  I know I like my little ETX-125 but after hearing what Dr
Clay found and fix after getting into it amazed me.  1 screw holding the
worm gear in place and second was completely missing. Loose dec drives,
etc. Form your site and the history of e-mails this was a common thread
from MEADE except on LX200 which I only hear people complaining about
the non metal gears.  I love the optics on my ETX-125 and have had good
luck with it, but again I sent it to be supercharged first think out of
the box and just said screw the warrantee, because it is not worth the
hassle of shipping back and forth to Meade on a $750.00 telescope.  I
have not heard many bad things about the LXD75s except they are a little
weight limited.  If I ever get the chance to upgrade I believe I will
skip the LX90s maybe a Meade 12" OPT on a Orion Atlas Mount or a LX200.
Mike here: Keep in mind that most people only write to me when they have problems. That tends to skew the perspective. That is not to say that some users don't have real problems.
Subject:	Regarding report #7 on the 8" LX90 ACF
Sent:	Sunday, June 22, 2008 18:14:56
From:	Mike (mike_in_madison@charter.net)
My name is Mike Webb. I have been using your site for years in regards
to my Meade ETX-125. ( Mid 1999 version)

I have not gone to your site in over 6 months, I have been quite busy.
It upset me to see that someone stole a large amount of equipment from
you, and to make it worse now you are being subjected to what appears to
be a design flaw that Meade either does not know about, or are hesitant
to admit.

What tipped me off is your last entry, #7. In it Meade said that the DEC
motor was defective, HBX was damaged, and then you said that they
'updated' the AutoStar to 4.3Ed.

My trade is in IT Networking, but I also know quite a lot about
computers in general. And since scopes have a good amount of electronics
in them these days, I suspect the downgrade to version 4.3Ed could be
very telling. While scope #3 did not work out and had the same problems,
I find it hard to take that a trained Meade repair tech would not know
what the current version of AutoStar was.

So I feel that the reason they uploaded this version is because that
they might know of a specific flaw that either did not show up in 4.3Ed,
or somehow it did not occur as often for anyone to notice. ( Like say 2
'botches' of the drive in a week )

Finally, I strongly suggest you elevate your displeasure to the store
you bought it from, but mostly to Meade. What is going on is totally
absurd, and is borderline inept. If you paid by credit card, I also
suggest you call them to let them know what is going on. I would also
start demanding shipping numbers, and get as much as you can in writing.

Here is a site that finally taught me to stand up for myself in a
somewhat aggressive way: www.consumerist.com

In fact, if this fiasco keeps being played out by them sending you
defective after defective scopes, I would write the consumerist and they
might write about it - putting heavy pressure on Meade, the company you
bought it from, whoever you feel is at fault.

I wish you good luck in your quest just to get the scope quality you
paid for!!

- Mike Webb

P.S. It is ok to use my e-mail address if you want for some reason.
Mike here: What I suspect happened with the AutoStar is that the tech grabbed an AutoStar off the shelf and that one had 4.3Ed. It would seem that there is no Configuration Control at Meade that would have prevented that from occurring. As a former computer hardware and software configuration manager (at a large asrospace company) I know what can occur if CM and QA are less than fully functionation. My LX90 situation is being worked at Meade; I've already been in contact with them.

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Copyright ©2008 Michael L. Weasner / mweasner@mac.com
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