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R.I.P. Meade ETX 1996-2021

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#1 Augustus

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 05:55 PM

I found out while browsing today that apparently the venerable ETX-90, ETX-125 and ETX-80 Observer scopes are no longer available for purchase. Every site lists them as discontinued (not just out of stock), and OPT isn't even showing them as listed anymore. The new Observer models didn't seem to be very good for the price and I'm guessing that either the Orion lawsuit or buyout lead to the final nail in the coffin for these scopes.

 

 


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#2 DirtyRod

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:01 PM

I’m not familiar with Orion line but does Orion offer a similar series?

 

Did a quick scan of their site and it appears that the Apex, Starmax, and Starseeker lines are direct competitors. First order of business after a merger is to consolidate.


Edited by DirtyRod, 06 July 2021 - 06:10 PM.

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#3 Garthid

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:24 PM

I'm sorry to see them go. To have a long lived series has many advantages. I don't know about others but I've been leery of buying Meade products due to bankruptcies, takeovers, cheap electronics and abandoning the servicing of their faulty products. I know two people that had main board failures of their expensive RTX scopes and Meade's response was basically "too bad."


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#4 kbastro

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:32 PM

I had the 90,,, friend had the 125,,, both broke down,, mine on the focuser switch,, my buddies something electrical gave up the ghost,,,,

 

ending the etx series, I have to call it a "mercy killing"

 

either way broken, the optics were not too bad

 

kb


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#5 carolinaskies

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:39 PM

I’m not familiar with Orion line but does Orion offer a similar series?

 

Did a quick scan of their site and it appears that the Apex, Starmax, and Starseeker lines are direct competitors. First order of business after a merger is to consolidate.

Pretty much this. 

The ETX's lifespan was limited.  When you look at the Mak offerings on the market the ETX doesn't look like a serious offering as a stand alone OTA, and the ETX mount itself was long overdue to be shelved.   I'm actually surprised the ETX survived as long as it did in that fork form factor.  I would have axed it once the single arm mounts were produced.  To be honest though the ETX was likely so cheap to produce and slap any small short OTA on it was hard to let it go as an entry level design.  


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#6 Robindonne

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:42 PM

Just the “ R.I.P. Meade “ was enough
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#7 Redbetter

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 06:53 PM

I am not a fan of the ETX-125's design.  The integrated diagonal mirror, non-collimitable back plate is the sort of thing I avoid.  The ES/Bresser variant of the OTA with a proper backplate was an improvement.  The LX-65 version went the same route of putting a proper rear cell on it.  

 

I figure some other entity will end up producing the same optical design since the manufacturing is already in place somewhere.   These things just re-arrange in musical chair fashion with some new brands being put on them.


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#8 jgraham

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 07:07 PM

Somehow I ended up with at least one example of every major model of the ETX. They were never premium, but they were/are a lot of fun. The Observer series were a nice improvement over the long running stock design. The ETX-80/90 with its cast aluminum cradle was particularly nice. It’s fun to know that I now have a complete set! :)

 

Times change.


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#9 Spikey131

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 08:24 PM

I bought the original USA ETX 90 EC when it first came out in the 90s.  It looked like a poor man's Questar.  I was poor, but I paid $400.  I used it a lot.  The optics were good.  The mount and finder scope were frustrating.  The motor gave out 6 or 7 years ago, so I deforked it and used it on an ES Twilight mount for a while before giving it to my son.  He still uses it.

 

When I bought it in the 90s, I probable could have bought a used Questar for 2 or 3x the cost of the ETX.  If I had done this, I would probably still have the Questar, and everything on it would probably still work like new.  And I could probably sell it now for what I paid for it.

 

A lesson in cost vs value.


Edited by Spikey131, 06 July 2021 - 08:25 PM.

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#10 jgraham

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 08:48 PM

This is one of my favorite ETX memories...

 

Frozen ETX-60 (12-2-2011)-1j.jpg

 

The evening was so bitterly cold that I didn't want to risk my usual imaging gear, so instead I set out my trusty little backpack ETX-60. I used a Meade DSI Pro III to capture the luminance using 5 second exposures and a DSI III to capture the color using 10 second exposures. The system was controlled remotely from inside my house where it was nice'n warm!

 

If you look closely you can see that the controller shows that the scope is pointing at M42. Below is the picture that it was taking.

 

M42 (1-28-2012)j.JPG

 

This was the start of nearly a year having a blast imaging with this little ETX-60 that included taking pictures of Pluto!

 

Good times. :)

 


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#11 Rick-T137

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 09:06 PM

I bought the original USA ETX 90 EC when it first came out in the 90s.  It looked like a poor man's Questar.  I was poor, but I paid $400.  I used it a lot.  The optics were good.  The mount and finder scope were frustrating.  The motor gave out 6 or 7 years ago, so I deforked it and used it on an ES Twilight mount for a while before giving it to my son.  He still uses it.

 

When I bought it in the 90s, I probable could have bought a used Questar for 2 or 3x the cost of the ETX.  If I had done this, I would probably still have the Questar, and everything on it would probably still work like new.  And I could probably sell it now for what I paid for it.

 

A lesson in cost vs value.

I did something similar - I bought an ETX-90/EC back in the late '90's. Coincidentally, my friend inherited a Questar 3.5 Standard from his departed uncle and he loaned it to me for a whole summer. So, I got to use the Q and the ETX back to back for a period of about 3 months. The Q was quite old (I believe from the early 70's) so the ETX likely had superior coatings. Overall they put up very similar images - I suppose there's only so much one can do with 3.5 inches.

 

But optics aside, they were from two different worlds. The ETX was like something from Hasboro - basically a plastic toy with plastic gears. It sounded like a coffee grinder when slewing and I wasn't ever sure if it was going to dump all its gears onto the ground. When I first bought it, the GOTO didn't work at all - it couldn't even do a simple two-star alignment. I had to do a flash update before the scope worked properly.

 

The Q was a work of engineering art - it ran silently and responsibly. Everything was made from metal and it certainly seemed like something that would easily last a lifetime (perhaps several!). 

 

Still... I did really enjoy that little ETX of mine. It took several trips with me including one to Cuba to spot some of the southern skies delights.

 

Clear skies!

 

Rick


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#12 KerryR

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Posted 06 July 2021 - 09:39 PM

My first scope as an adult was an ETX90, back in the late 90's.

 

It was cute and vaguely similar to the Questar I had coveted since seeing one in an astro shop in the late 70's, but far far cheaper, and so, having succumbed to a gooey combo of nostalgia and Meade's slick marketing, it was the scope I chose when I re-entered the hobby.

 

In retrospect, the scope probably wasn't the best choice for re-entry to the hobby, and I confess I didn't enjoy it all that much. I wasn't a fan of the tough to reach focus knob or the teeny finder. The version I bought didn't come with Autostar, and star-hopping with the stock drive controller was nearly impossibly tedious. I added Autostar, but found I didn't really enjoy goto, nor did I yet have the observing chops for appreciating faint fuzzies through a 90mm aperture.

 

All that said, a favorite scope of mine is an optically superb ETX 105... deforked.


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#13 Stopforths

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 02:01 AM

I brought an etx in 95 remember one night I had a 4.8mm nagler in it perfect seeing on the moon  amazing detail 260 x!!.  The drive died on it after a few years and I flicked it but great optics.  It embarrassed my friends older questar it was that good.  I got another one a few years later but it was a bit of a lemon they weren't all good it seems.

 

A sad day...............



#14 SandyHouTex

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 09:15 AM

Just the “ R.I.P. Meade “ was enough

I saw somewhere that a couple of the  Meade refractors were also “discontinued”.  I seem to remember the 80mm.


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#15 Bill Barlow

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 10:10 AM

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Meade 5” and 6” Maks are discontinued as well since Orion sells those scope too.

 

Bill


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#16 Jaimo!

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 11:11 AM

I had an ETX-90, then an ETX-125, then as Intes MK-67 on a CG-5 ASGT mount which is still use for quick planetary imaging.  Never had any issue with either ETX and they both brought me great evenings of observing.

 

I think Celestron's (Synta) NexStar Maks have surpassed Meade's ETX's in every size and price point.


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#17 barbie

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 06:21 PM

I have a deforked, excellent condition ETX90EC that I purchased used off the CN classifieds due to arrive in the not too distant future and will see how it compares to other 90mm Maks I've had in the past.

#18 CHASLX200

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 06:11 AM

I had a insane older 125 that did 600x on the moon. Crazy a cheap scope could be so sharp.


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#19 Redbetter

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 06:50 AM



I had an ETX-90, then an ETX-125, then as Intes MK-67 on a CG-5 ASGT mount which is still use for quick planetary imaging.  Never had any issue with either ETX and they both brought me great evenings of observing.

 

I think Celestron's (Synta) NexStar Maks have surpassed Meade's ETX's in every size and price point.

Can't speak for the rest, but I have gotten the impression that, on average, the optics of the Synta 127's have not been quite as good as the Meade/ES/Bresser f/15 Maks.   I have seen more complaints of dogs or underwhelming performance in the Syntas, less so for the f/15 equivalent.  Not that poor performance is the norm for the Synta 127's, or that they don't turn out good samples as well.  I don't have statistics to prove this, but I have paid attention to comments by reliable observers. 

 

And my sample of ES 127 seems to be a notch above in planetary detail than what I have seen described for the Syntas.   As a result, I wouldn't trade...even though I would prefer the shorter ratio for the same percent obstruction.  [I had actually hoped the f/15 obstruction would be smaller, but the secondary baffle tube diameter seems to have been kept about the same despite the longer ratio, probably because it is more a function of the primary baffle tube geometry needed to prevent direct glare rather than ratio and secondary spot size.]  Keep in mind, mine did arrive out of collimation and it only gave such good views after I collimated it.

 

There could be some actual reasons for this suspected difference, since the effective aperture of the Synta's is about 7% less in the 5" class (while the percent linear obstruction remains the same.)  While it is a small difference overall, it could bias the results significantly if the optical quality were otherwise identical.

 

It will be kind of sad if what may well be the superior optical tube goes away (after they finally put proper collimatable cells on them), to keep around a lesser version--at least in terms of aperture.  


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#20 KerryR

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 10:25 AM

Can't speak for the rest, but I have gotten the impression that, on average, the optics of the Synta 127's have not been quite as good as the Meade/ES/Bresser f/15 Maks.   I have seen more complaints of dogs or underwhelming performance in the Syntas, less so for the f/15 equivalent.  Not that poor performance is the norm for the Synta 127's, or that they don't turn out good samples as well.  I don't have statistics to prove this, but I have paid attention to comments by reliable observers. 

 

*snip!*

Sadly, I'm an owner of a mediocre Synta 127. It flashlight tests significantly under-aperture (the only scope in my fairly large collection to do so), star tests poorly, and, most tellingly, doesn't snap to focus at higher powers. (Yes, it's collimated.) My older (USA) ETX105 ota, on the other hand, flashlight tests spot on for aperutre, star tests very well, and, most importantly, snaps to an obvious best focus at high power.


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#21 Jaimo!

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 01:25 PM

Another variable for the increased bad reports of the Synta 127 (other than the undersized mirror) is the number of sold scopes.  I don't know how many of each were sold, ETX125 vs. Synta 127, but I can imagine more of the 127 were sold.  ...and typically people will post more about problems.



#22 KTAZ

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 01:42 PM

I had an ETX-125 from around 2000. The optics were great but the mount and electronics were absolute tinker-toys. Plastic parts and bushings just led to the most problem prone telescope I ever owned.

 

Good riddance.


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#23 Redbetter

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 04:52 PM

Another variable for the increased bad reports of the Synta 127 (other than the undersized mirror) is the number of sold scopes.  I don't know how many of each were sold, ETX125 vs. Synta 127, but I can imagine more of the 127 were sold.  ...and typically people will post more about problems.

That is why I also consider what sort of planetary detail I see through a scope and what others describe seeing through theirs as well.  If there are several times more samples of a given scope out there, then there should also be more frequent reports of high performance as well, at least equivalent to what I have seen with mine--especially since the seeing here is chronically poor.  But I have not seen that among Synta 127 reports.  The difference in aperture could be just enough to erase the least frequently observable features, things that are at the limits of my 110ED and 127 Mak.

 

Of course, if a scope lacks snap to focus, then aperture or obstruction percentage are not the issue, it is a problem with the figure (assuming good collimation.)



#24 whizbang

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 06:06 PM

Nice tubes. Soft clutches. No big loss. I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did.
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#25 LU1AR

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 07:36 PM

I have enjoyed my little gem ETX-90 RA for over 30 years. I have been improving it with greater solidity in the mount, better power in the motor and a green laser finder.
I put lithium batteries inside and a PWM speed control that maintains an accuracy of 4 minutes in 24 hours.
I tried an external Baader dielectric diagonal and compared it with the included diagonal and couldn't find any differences, even at 220 power.
It travel in its padded suitcase and where I want to use it, I throw my sleeping bag on the floor and use it on his little table legs lying face down.
I am 70 years old and the last time I used it, was last week from the parking lot of my company, with a Meade tripod that I also reinforced and improved.
I have shared on this site some improvements that I made:
 

https://www.cloudyni...etx-90-upgrade/

I only have good words for this little giant, that has been with me, for almost half of my life.
Edgardo


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