Last updated: 31 December 2007

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT, ETX-80AT-TC, and ETX-80BB. Additional information is available on the ETX-60AT & ETX-70AT Announcements page. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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:	Meade ETX-80BB Digital Camera
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2007 08:39:18
From:	David Hayes (
I found your web site while looking for the subject in Google.

I would like to take the backpack ETX to Alaska and take digital photos
of distant terrestrial targets.  Do you know of a digital camera that I
can purchase for this purpose?

David Hayes
Mike here: Almost any camera can be used. You just need the proper adapters. There is a TON of information on using cameras with the ETX telescopes on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page on my ETX Site. Check it out. One caution: you will need a sturdy mount or other surface for the telescope since you will be magnifying not only the object but any telescope movement as well.


I anticipate fast shutter speeds for day light terrestrial shots.  I
only have the tripod that came with the telescope.  It seems flimsy to
Mike here: Fast shutter speeds will certainly help as will higher ISO settings to keep the exposures short. Also, keep in mind that the telescope axis locks are not meant for heavy cameras so you will want to use a lightweight one if possible.


I just completed a 30 minute scan of your astrophotography page.  The
page is composed of technical jargon focused on astrophotography
typified by long shutter speeds, etc.

Many of the articals were old.  I was wondering if you knew of any
consensus of recent expert opinion that points toward a camera/adapter
set for terrestrial shots?
Mike here: You can always use the search facility on the ETX Home Page and do a search for "terrestrial camera" or "terrestrial photography"; you will get lots of hits. Adapters for astrophotography will work fine for terrestrial photography. But note that the adapters that mate the camera to the telescope are better for daytime use than the adapters that just hold the camera lens over the eyepiece (and therefore let stray light enter the camera lens). For many daytime terrestrial images you can also just hold the camera lens over the eyepiece taking care to avoid stray light entering the camera.
Subject:	ETX 80 BB External Power
Sent:	Friday, December 28, 2007 16:41:28
From:	twinpolar (
I have been reading various postings on your site including the article
on astrophotgraphy.  I have a Celestron Power Tank with a 12v cigarette
connection. If I understand correctly, using the Meade #546 Ac adapter,
I can connect the 9v connector on my ETX 80 to the Meade #546 adapter,
plug the Meade #546 into a 12v power inverter, and then connect the
inverter to my 12v source the Celestron power tank.  Is this correct?

Is there a certain type of inverter that I need to use, and is there a
problem with polarity using an inverter?  Could you explain what type if
any polarity issue that I need to be aware of?
Thank you for your help.
Mike here: Yes, you could do that. I have used a Radio Shack 75W DC-to-AC Power Inverter ($30) with my Nikon D70 DSLR through the Celestron Power Tank. I never thought to try it with the #546 adapter but it should work. They also have a 150 watt version but that would likely be more than needed for the ETX-80.
Subject:	Re: ETX 80 - Issues and Questions
Sent:	Tuesday, December 18, 2007 09:00:11
From:	Tim (
Good morning to you. Thanks for taking the time to respond in the middle
of your move. I appreciate that very much. Thanks, too, for the insights
on things. I thought I'd need to figure out a way to polar-mount the
ETX-80 to get the kind of tracking I'd need for longer exposures. I'll
look into that. And the counter-weights definitely will be the way to
go. Thanks for that, too.

However, I'm going to need to get the problem with the horizontal drive
figured out. Last night shaped up to be the best seeing night we've had
here since I got the scope, and I was very excited about that. When I
turned the scope on and set out to align it, the system slewed right to
Capella (the first star I chose for alignment). Then, however, the
horizontal drive just quit working. I could not get it to move in either
direction, and I tried every speed option. It was like it locked up. It
SOUNDED like it was trying to move, but the gears didn't seem to be

I just shut it down and came back inside ... very disappointed. I guess
I'm going to call Meade later today and see if they can give me a
suggestion or two. I have been able to use the scope a couple of times
when everything worked properly, and its go-to performance was really
good. But I don't even seem to have a 50-50 chance of the horizontal
drive working properly, and that is unacceptable.

Thanks again for your thoughts and insights. I hope the move is going as
smoothly as it can.

Mike here: You could be overtightening the axis lock. The exact position of the level can vary from ETX to ETX but it should be just "finger tight". It is a friction-style lock (like car brakes).


I understand that to be the case. With this particular scope, however, I
do not get a difference in feel. That is, as I move the lock lever from
right (fully unlocked) to left (fully locked) in a clockwise motion, I
do not feel the lock stiffen or otherwise reflect any resistance. That
being said, I experimented using the handbox and discovered that about
halfway between fully unlocked and fully locked is where the motors seem
to engage. However, I wouldn't think that would vary from session to
session. I'm pretty much lost on it just now, to be honest.
Mike here: If you forced the locking lever too far to "locked" side it is possible to damage the mechanism. Since you detect no difference in the resistance I wonder if that has occurred.


I suppose that could be. But I can assure you that I have never forced
that lock. I downloaded the manual for this scope from the Meade Web
site two weeks before I ordered, and so was very familiar with the do's
and don't's before it ever arrived. If I damaged the locking mechanism,
I did so accidentally and without feeling or hearing anything that would
suggest damage.

And why does it slew to the first alignment star with both motors
apparently working fine, then have only the horizontal refuse to
continue functioning properly? It seems to me that if that kind of
damage was done, the scope wouldn't slew at all in the horizontal. As
you can tell, I'm very puzzled by all this.
Mike here: Good point. Lets try a test. Unlock the horizontal axis. Run the motor for several seconds in one direction and then reverse for several seconds. Is the sound you hear uniform? If so, lock the axis and repeat. Sound any different? One other thing to try is to replace the batteries with another set; check that you have the polarity correct.


Batteries aren't the issue because I bought the AC adapter and have been
using it exclusively. That being said, I just plugged it in and
completed the test you suggested. Totally unlocked, the scope move
horizontally, clockwise, about 80-90 degrees, then stopped. It would not
move any further in either direction. I moved the lock to the halfway
position I described earlier. Then, it would move in one direction about
120 degrees, then stop. If I unlocked it and re-locked it, it would move
about the same distance ... roughly 120 degrees ... in whichever
position I started it, clockwise or counterclockwise. It would then stop
and move no further. There was very little difference in the sound of
the motor. The act of moving the scope caused it to "work" very
slightly, which made the sound only slightly different. The declination
motors and gears continue to work flawlessly. It has been doing this
since it came out of the box. I have only had two sessions during which
the horizontal motor actually worked the way it's supposed to, and those
were several days apart.

I know this isn't the best way to try to troubleshoot something, but I
do appreciate your advice and suggestions very much.

Mike here: The telescope moved with the axis UNLOCKED? That shouldn't happen!


It did. And it has since it came out of the box.

And more:

I just plugged the scope in again and tried the horizontal motor. THIS
time, it would not move in either direction until I had it fully locked
down (lock down level all the way to the left). Then, it seemed to move
just fine in both directions. This is precisely the kind of
inconsistent, erratic performance I've been dealing with since the day I
got it. I'm at a loss as to what to do, short of calling Meade and
asking for a return authorization.
Mike here: It sounds like the locking mechanism is not fully engaging at times. While I don't have an ETX-80 I would be surprised if the telescope should move with the axis unlocked. That would be strange. So perhaps contacting Meade is the right choice, especially if still under warranty.


Yes sir, it's still under warranty ... bought new less than a month ago;
and I bought 3 years' additional coverage from Meade. I will contact
them tomorrow, and I thank you very much for all the suggestions and
information you've provided. I hope your move is complete ... or gets
that way very soon. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Clear skies,
Mike here: Move is almost completed but the telescopes are all still packed (and one is still in California!). Hope to get them unpacked in early January.


Meade is replacing my scope. It'll ship to them tomorrow. I explained
what was going on with the horizontal drive, mentioned that I'd had it
less than a month, and had bought the 3-year SkyAssure coverage. The
fellow at Meade immediately said they'd replace it, and provided a
return/replace number for shipping. So I won't have it for Christmas,
but will be able to start with a new one that, I hope, works the way it
should. I'll contact you when it arrives. Thanks again for all your

Subject:	Running the ETX-70 off a car battery?
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2007 23:29:11
From:	Jens Stark (
Thank you, first of all, your this brilliant web site!

While I already leaned a lot here, I am still not sure - can the ETC-70
be run off a car battery by using a simple cable or not?

Mike here: Yes. See the various articles in the "Power Supplies" section on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.



I took a lamp with 8m of cable that plugs into a car cigarette lighter
and a 9V battery connector from an old smoke detector.

Ten minutes later, I had first power - and it works like a charm!



Subject:	ETX 80 - Issues and Questions
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2007 09:36:08
From:	Tim (
Someone on the Meade Web site forum suggested I visit your site to try
to get some information about my new telescope. I recently bought a new
ETX 80 Backpack Bundle, and have had a chance to use it several times.
I've encountered some issues that I've had to work around; and some
others that leave me disappointed. I hope to maybe get some
insight/guidance on some of these.

The bubble-level is handy, but.... Apparently, the electronics inside
the scope deceive the compass, causing it to point several degrees to
the west of magnetic North when mounted in the 90-degree eyepiece
holder, per the instructions. The first couple of times I tried to align
the scope, after having following the directions for placing it in the
home position, none of the alignment methods was even close. Through
trial and error, I learned of this little electromagnetic glitch. I now
use a separate compass to align the scope to North. Question - has
anyone else encountered this, or does this glitch indicate a problem
with the scope?

I cannot get the scope to focus when using the internal Barlow. I have
only tried it using the 90-degree eyepiece holder. Question - is it
supposed to work with either eyepiece-holder location on this scope, or
only on the 45-degree holder at the back?

Astrophotography is a major interest here, and I am very disappointed
that the ETX-80 will not support my DSLR body. The declination lock is
not strong enough to support the camera mounted, using adapters, on the
90-degree eyepiece holder. Questions - is this abnormal? I'm thinking
it's not, and that my only photography recourse will be one of the small
CCD units like Meade's LPI/DSI units. If true, that's disappointing
because of the low resolution these unit provide. I've also read here
that nobody makes a piggyback adapter for this scope. Is that true? I'm
actually skeptical that the scope will track properly with the added
weight of a DSLR body, given my experience with trying to mount one to
the back of the unit.

The horizontal drive on my scope is erratic, to say the least. After
successfully aligning it during my last observing session, I sent it to
the Pleadies, and I found it nearly dead-center in my eyepiece after
getting the tone that the handbox had finished its work. I went from
there to Aldeberan, not so far away, with the same results. When I then
tried to send it back to Pleadies, the horizontal drive went the
opposite direction! I shut down and did another alignment ... and I did
not try to go from Point A to Point B, then back. Other nights, I've had
the scope slew to the first alignment star with no trouble, only to have
the horizontal drive appear to just shut down after that. The
declination drive has always worked the way it's supposed to, as near as
I can tell. The horizontal drive is totally another story. Question - Is
there a trick to making the horizontal drive more consistent? I've
already completed four "training" sessions, and I've run the "calibrate"
option more times than I can count. It's at-best a 50-50 proposition on
whether the horizontal drive moves at all during calibration. I have
found that I need to move the lock to about dead center (halfway between
totally unlocked on the right and fully locked down on the left) to get
the scope to slew. Is that normal? I bought 3 years worth of Sky Assure
coverage, and haven't had the scope 2 months yet, so I won't hesitate to
send it back to Meade. I just wonder whether I'm missing something about
getting that horizontal drive to work. As it stands, I'm not-at-all
confident that the scope will get me close to fainter deep-sky objects
now because of the inconsistent performance of the horizontal drive.

Thanks in advance for any insights/guidance on any of the questions I've

Clear Skies and Merry Christmas to all!

Mike here: Remember that you have to use True North for alignment and not Magnetic North.  As to the Meade supplied compass, don't know since I don't have an ETX-80BB.  I would have thought you should be able to focus, but again I don't have one to check.  As to astrophotography, yes the ETX-80 would make a fine wide-field astrophotography instrument IF you have the proper equipment.  For long duration photography you would need to mount in polar mode to avoid star trailing (that occurs if mounted in Alt/Az).  For heavy cameras adding a counterweight will help.  A sturdy mount will also be required.  You could make your own piggyback adapter; see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.  As to the horizontal drive, sometimes the AutoStar will command the telescope to slew in the opposite direction from what you might expect to get from one object to another.  This is normal.
Subject:	ETX-70AT autostar handset
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2007 12:40:57
From:	james bolton (
I own a meades ETX-70AT that I bought in Spain. Unfortunately the
handset display is in Spanish. Do you know if it can be re-programmed?
but if not, do you know where I might be able to purchase one. Stores
that I have contacted tell me handsets are only available with complete
kind regards
jim bolton
Mike here: Meade doesn't provide a user-installable update to get English.  You can't buy a new #494 but you can purchase a used one; OPT has some on their web site:
Or you can get a new AutoStar #497 from any Meade dealer, including OPT.
Subject:	ETX80 fault problem - top came off!
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2007 11:01:08
From:	Graham Smith (
Hi and thanks for a great site.

I foolishly lifted my ETX80 from its bag by the tube! The top half came

I managed to put it back on but the focus is now more fiddly that before
and isnt as smooth (as if smooth focusing is possible with an ETX80!)

Should i be overly worried or will it all be ok? I did get a fantastic
view of the Orion nebula once i put it back together!

Thanks, Graham
Mike here: If you mean the objective lens housing came off the main portion of the telescope tube, then yes, that is a problem. It should not do that. If you got lucky and got the focus shaft reconnected and it works then you could be OK but I worry about the ease with which it came off. I don't have an ETX-80 (and my ETX-70 is still packed from my move) so I can't check but I don't think it should slip off like that.
Subject:	ETX80 with no finderscope- has this quick and dirty solution been tried?
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2007 06:37:43
From:	Hubert Breidenbach (
I've never handled an ETX and my first will be arriving in the mail

Your website is an amazing resource; your effort in maintaining it is

There are some ingenious solutions to the lack of a finderscope, but I
cant shake an idea that's occurred to me.

It's so disgustingly crude it almost certainly can't work.  Can't you
take off the cap to the rear port and use the scope without an eyepiece
for rough alignment?  Until it arrives I can't tell if this is
inspiration or stupidity.  Apart from accidentally breathing vapour into
the scope, I can't see this doing any damage.

To your knowledge, is this a tried and rejected idea?

Best regards,

Hugh Breidenbach
Gosport, UK
Mike here: Well, yes that works on bright objects like the Moon or Venus. But alignment stars will be more challenging.
Subject:	ETX-80 erractic behavior.
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2007 06:19:49
From:	Phillip Brummett (
My etx-80 wants to take off slewing on it's own, without me doing
anything. I did a reset, calibrate drives, and when attempting to train
the drives, I'll get one done, and while attempting to do the other,
it'll just take off on it's own. Either sideways or up or down. Won't
stop unless I turn it off. Sometimes I'll get the drives all checked and
think everythings ok, then it does it, and takes off slewing on it's
own. I also get motor fault messages, even though they turn fine
manually or with the controller. I hadn't had it long when I figured out
the batteries just wasn't gonna cut it. I hooked up a 9v, 500m adapter,
thinking that would be better. I've just noticed several posts on your
site saying that I should be using a 12v, 1000m. Do you think my scopes
erractic behavior could be because of my 9v adapter?
Mike here: 9V won't work.
Subject:	ETX 60 will not stop slewing
Sent:	Thursday, November 29, 2007 04:27:58
From:	Riley, Chris ((C.)) (
My ETX 60 will not stop slewing when using the direction keys.

After about the 2nd or 3rd press it will continously slew in that
direction and cannot be stopped other than turning off the power.

Everything else seems ok with the handset (although the startup warning
scrolls very fast, making it un-readable).

I have reset the handset and performed a motor calibration, this comes
back with a motor fault, and again the scope slews until power is

I have also used fully charged batteries.

I cannot update the handset software as I do not have a serial cable.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Chris Riley
Mike here: First, I assume you have the #494 AutoStar (no number keys on the AutoStar handset); there is no user installable update for the #494 so that is not an option even if you had the #506 serial cable. Second, the text scrolling speed has nothing to do with the problem; see the FAQ page on the ETX Site for the cure to that. Since you have done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and get a Motor Fault there is something wrong likely in either the ETX base or the cable or the AutoStar. The simplest things to check are the cable connection and the condition of the pins in the connector and jack (they should be clean, not too depressed, nor bent sideways), and that the batteries are properly inserted and that the battery compartment is clean. The next is to check for some obstruction in movement (but that is probably not the problem since the scope slews in that runaway condition). But this test won't hurt and might even help by redistributing the lubrication: unlock the problem axis (you didn't say if the problem occurred on both axes) and slowly move the telescope back and forth several times (for azimuth go around several full rotations and then reverse for several rotations, for altitude just move up and down full swing). If you can get past the Motor Fault, try to do a TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes).
Subject:	Meade ETX-70
Sent:	Wednesday, November 28, 2007 01:29:41
From:	Bill McGraw (
I'm very new with any scope. I need to what Meade item I need to buy to
make a spotting scope out of the ETX-70, one that will give me a 45
degree eyepiece with an upright and left to right image. One of the
catalog dealers referred you to me.

William W."Bill" McGraw
"Somewhere South of Chicago"
Greenville, MS
Mike here: You need a "Meade - #933 45 1.25" Erect Image Prism for ETX-70 & ETX-80". Available at OPT:


Thanks Mike. I ordered it.

William W."Bill" McGraw

Subject:	Using an ETX90 electric focuser with an ETX 80
Sent:	Tuesday, November 27, 2007 18:34:18
From:	Donald Byers (
First I must thank you for putting together such a treasure trove of
information on these wonderful telescopes,  I've only just begun poking
around have found tons of helpful information already. After a nearly 20
year break from telescopes and astronomy I decided to purchase a
telescope (again since my old one was loaned out and never returned)
After reading through several sources on the web including your site, I
decided upon purchasing a brand new ETX-80.(Its what I could fit into my
budget)  I Haven't had much chance to get used to it yet, and even so I
have a question that you will probably fall over laughing at but here
goes! I was wondering if you could use a electric focuser for a ETX-90
on an ETX-80? ( could it be modified to work?  without voiding the
scopes warranty?) If you cant use the meade focuser is there an
aftermarket one available? I love the scope so far but turning a knob 20
to 30 times to focus does get a bit tiring, especially with a bad
shoulder. Any help or advice your could offer would be greatly
Don Byers down in Sunny FLA
Mike here: As-is the focuser won't work with the ETX-80 since the attachment point would be different. That said, you MIGHT be able to modify the focuser with a lot of custom-made mounting brackets to attach to the back of the ETX-80. I don't know for certain but suspect the focuser could be made to connect to the ETX-80 focus shaft. Alternatives exist, some of which might take some mods, such as a JMI electric focuser. A simpler alternative would be a flexible focus cable such as described in the article "Homemade Focus Cable" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. You might also check out some of the other "focus" articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page for some possible ideas.

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