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Last updated: 28 February 2011
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:	ETX125PE Dec lock 'flop' problem.
Sent:	Monday, February 28, 2011 16:40:29
From:	Brian (
I have an ETX 125 PE which has performed perfectly since I bought it
used about three years ago. The other night (one of only three clear
nights since Christmas here in the land of permanent cloud) as I was
about to pack up, I kicked the tripod leg and noticed that the OTA
dropped about 15-20 degrees. Assuming the Dec lock was loose, I tried to
adjust it but it was tight. Now I could tighten it some more, but hey,
this is a Meade and I have read on your site all about the Dec lock
problems with the older models. This is repeatable and the really
interesting (disturbing!!) thing about the problem is that once it has
dropped it won't drop any more, it's very tight in fact. Now, if I lift
it the fifteen degrees or so, it again becomes tight and won't lift any

So, I strip it down and get as far as the 125PE equivalent parts to
those described in the following passage from the Scopetronics site.

"The right OTA support has a plastic post sticking out with a brass
threaded insert in the end. On this post is the Declination worm wheel,
then a plastic piece which serves both as part of the lock (or more
properly "clutch") mechanism and as part of the dec "stops"."

Now, the 125PE has a steel piece which serves as part of the lock in
place of the plastic piece described in the passage above.

When I stripped off the small bearing and the steel piece followed by
the worm gear and looked at the groove in the plastic post, it was full
of black plastic shavings. When I brushed these away and looked at the
groove, the portion of the groove where the tang on the steel piece
locates (ie, between the worm wheel and the small steel bearing) is worn
to about 50% wider than the rest of the groove in the direction that
would allow the tube to 'drop'. So, when the lock is tight, the whole
assembly is free to move the 15-20 degrees back and forth at which point
the OTA stops.

Now, Meade being Meade and the 125PE being more substantially engineered
(though not BETTER engineered) than the older models, the Right Tube
Adaptor has a large steel bearing which is free to move up and down the
plastic post, but is stopped from coming off it by a large steel washer
which is glued or fastened in some way to the plastic or the steel
insert inside the plastic. The RTA also has a small bearing on its nose
which sits in the aluminium casting of the left fork arm.

So, some questions for you:

1	have you come across this problem before?
2	do you know if Right Tube Adaptors are available for the 125PE? (of
course, they would have to include the large bearing which cannot be
removed as far as I can see)

Bearing in mind that Meade in its infinite wisdom has routed the cable
for the LNT through a narrow slot in the aluminium fork arm and then
through a tiny hole in the Right Tube Adaptor BEFORE they crimp on the
two connectors, one at each end, it means that the RTA is NOT removable
without cutting out a section of the tube adaptor to allow the smaller
of the connectors to pass through.

It is too dark to take a picture now, but tomorrow I will try to get a
shot of the enlarged groove to show you what I am up against.

Any help you can throw on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Brian Martindale

Newbury, England

PS I will post a depersonalised version of this on the ETX Yahoo site to
see if anyone else has come across this problem or has a solution.
Mike here: It does sound like you damaged something when you kicked the tripod. While not specifically for the ETX PE models, see the article "ETX-90EC DEC fix (Right Tube Adapter repair)" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page as it may give you some ideas on how to repair the RTA. No one is making replacement RTAs as far as I know.
Subject:	ETX-105 Wiring Diagram
Sent:	Monday, February 28, 2011 06:45:29
From:	Yoh, Michael (
Do you have source for wiring diagram for ETX-105.  I am trying to get
it to work with the simple Meade Electronic controller, not the
Autostar.  It worked briefly.  My electronics engineer at work will look
at it, but needs to see the schematic.

Mike here: No schematic available. Sorry. Since the controller worked at one time, check the HBX cable, connector, and jack. Do the speed lights display?


Thanks for the reply.  I bought the telescope without a controller,
ordered the handheld controller online (new), plugged it in, and it
worked.  Thought to myself, I should check the batteries.  They were
leaking slightly, so I cleaned the compartment, put in new batteries,
and it hasn't worked since.  Now, I'm no dummy, I'm Director of Media at
Shippensburg University and trouble shoot our videoconferencing systems,
smart classrooms, etc.  But, this has me stumped.  I even hooked up an
external AC power supply, correct voltage and current.  Speed control
lights do change.  However, it doesn't seem to do anything when I hold
the mode button in.  I keep wondering if somehow I locked it up or
changed the mode accidentally.  Is there a reset?  I guess we (my
technician) will take it apart and see if we can trace the wiring, see
if the controller is sending proper signal.  Need to narrow it down to
controller or scope. Someone suggested borrowing another controller or
Autostar from a member of a local club, but I can't find a local club.

This is one of those projects I keep putting on the back burner. I would
like to get it fixed for warmer weather this spring and summer.  Getting
old to have to keep manually adjusting it.  If I was sure the motor, etc
was okay I would think about buying a good used Autostar for it.

Mike here: Did you receive a manual? It discusses how to set/change the EC handcontroller modes. If you don't have one, you can get it from Meade's web site.


Yes, I have the manual, but the proper lights do not light up when I
follow the procedure for changing modes.  But lights 1 & 2 don't come on
steady, etc.  Which stills raises the question of is it the controller
or scope.  If it was in the wrong mode, would it seem as if the scope
was not moving because it would be moving so slow (sidereal)?  I should
keep looking for someone with a controller I can borrow.  At least I
would be able to narrow it down to which is bad.

I do appreciate your help.


Subject:	ETX photos on Meade website
Sent:	Sunday, February 27, 2011 19:55:14
From:	John Lovda (
Is it just me or are about half of the photos in the Meade ETX Gallery
bogus?  They certainly show the ultimate optical capabilities of the
lens (and are beautiful) but mounting it piggyback on a multi-thousand
dollar 10" telescope with a better motor drive system is unrealistic for
the typical ETX user.
Mike here: I'm not certain which "photos" you mean. But if you are referring to "marketing photos" like those used on the box, then yes, those photos only show the types of objects that can be seen, not the image quality through the ETX. For ETX astrophotography, there are many excellent examples on my ETX Site.


Please look here:
There are a number of pictures by Mark Sibole with the ETX-125 tube
mounted on a 10" LX200.  I just mentioned this because I thought it was
somewhat deceptive from a sales standpoint.

BTW, I am the proud new owner of a used ETX-125EC with the older stype
tripod.  I turned it on once and I am scared that something is not right
inside. Noisy, grinding sound and vertical motion is very slow.  I
somewhat expected that the motors would sound like those on the
rear-view mirrors of my car.  Not even close.

One quick question.  My AutoStar controller is marked "ETX Autostar"
above the alphanumeric display.  Does that provide any clue as to its

I was kidding the seller of my ETX that the only place I will see the
Orion Nebulae is in a textbook but I'll get really good at objects
around Scorpio.  In the late 80's I lived in Appleton, WI and in January
a friend brought over a 5"-6" Newtonian reflector which we setup in the
back yard.  Our viewing consisted of five minute sessions with 30 minute
hot chocolate breaks inside.  The sky up there was wonderfully clear and
mesmerizing plus there were a few aurora.

One interesting tidbit from my past is that my father worked for 25
years at the University of Chicago (I grew up in Chicago) building
experiments for nuclear physicists, including the Pioneer probe with the
plaque.  When I was about ten years old (57-59) my father drove my mom,
brother and I up to Lake Geneva, WI.  We were given a personal tour of
the entire Yerkes Observatory by a U of C physics graduate student.  The
tour, of course, included the 40" refractor as well as the other scopes
in use.  My brother and I were able to climb up the main support pillar
and watch the dome rotate.  The main building had the huge dome on one
end and two smaller domes on the other end.  Some of my recollections
are faint but I remember the big scope.  It was not painted white as
John Lovda
Canton, OH
Mike here: The images done with the DSI are indicative of what can be done using a DSI on an ETX, regardless of the mount. The images done with the ETX piggyback on another telescope show what the optics AND imager are capable of doing. As to your motors, be certain to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know if that helps. The "ETX Autostar" nameplate is from the original model Autostar. When the AutoStar began being used on additional telescope models, the "ETX" was dropped from the nameplate. Having gone to grad school in Madison, WI, I remember the wonderful crisp night skies (away from Madison).
Subject:	Scopetronix?
Sent:	Tuesday, February 22, 2011 13:44:26
From:	J (
I LOVE the site.  Amazing that I just now come across it after having an
original ETX90RA (no computer) since 1997!!  I note in your
astrophotography section you mention the Scopetronix piggyback mount.  I
was able to find the site, but it left a lot to be desired, not the
least of which was that none of the email links worked.  Do you know if
ST is still operating?  Thanks and keep up the great work!

Mike here: For info on Scopetronix and its look-a-like, see the Editorial Page. I believe it is now defunct. By the way, you can easily make a piggyback adapter; lots of tips on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject:	Have a frozen lens cap on an ETX-90, Any suggestions???
Sent:	Saturday, February 19, 2011 10:18:28
From:	Janos Latura (
Got an older ETX-90 which I bought in 2003-4 and have not used much
since. It has been inside my house here in Cape Coral ,FL since , and
yesterday, I got motivated to used it again with my kids but in an
attempt to set it up, I found the screw-on metal lens cap frozen on. No
matter what I tried to do, I cannot get it off.
Everything else seems to work fine, motor, Autostar, & StarGPS seem ok
also , though I have to update my Autostar to work with the GPS still.
Any suggestions or helpful hints???  
Any help would be greatly appreciated

Janos Latura
Mike here: See the item "Q. I can not remove the aperture or rear port cover or loosen the Declination/Altitude scale knob. How do I loosen it?" on the ETX FAQ page.
Subject:	Smart Finder for EXT 125 PE
Sent:	Friday, February 18, 2011 13:55:30
From:	Steffan Biggs (
I would very much like to remove the Smart Finder from my telescope and
was trying to find any information on your site.
I have looked through the finder scope link with little luck, did I miss
that topic or can it be done.
Thank you
Steffan Biggs
Mike here: Did you check the LNT/Smartfinder section on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page?


Thank you very! Found exactly what I was looking for, Great site!
PS Now only if Meade made a decent wedge and auto focuser for the EXT
125 .

Subject:	Meade etx80 vertical gear problem?
Sent:	Wednesday, February 16, 2011 06:59:28
From:	Adam Cook (
I have a meade etx-80 bought for me for Christmas.  I have been using it
manually for a couple of weeks and last night decided to give the
autoalign a proper go.  The problem is the autostar will rotate the
barrel left and right and lower it but will not raise it.  I can hear
the motor running when I press the "up" key but there is no movement.

I have spoken to the company it was bought from and they have suggested
replacing the batteries (done) and reset the system (still to try) but
to send it back to them if this doesn't solve it.  The problem is I am
in Jamaica and bought it in the UK and fedex will cost about GBP250 for
the round trip.

Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance,
Mike here: Could you be overtightening the vertical lock? It should just be tight enough to hold the tube in position. With the lock tightened, does the tube stay in place? Also, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES?


Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

I don't think I'm overtightening the vertical lock.  If anything, I may
be undertightening  its hard to judge as everyone's idea of "finger
tight" is probably different!

I haven't tried calibrating the motor and train drives.  Is this
something that is explained in the manual?

My confusion stems from the fact that it will slew (?) down but not up
(left and right work without problem).  I assumed that the there were
two motors, one for each axis and they would just reverse to move in the
opposite direction,  and that the same drive gear would be used
irrespective of whether the motor was going forwards or backwards (then
again, as the saying goes, "you know what assume does.")

Thanks again,
Mike here: Do those steps. CALIBRATE MOTORS just runs them and measures the power output from the batteries. If the batteries are weak, doing this can sometimes help. The TRAIN DRIVES measures the gear train movement and so calibrates the movement. Be certain to do both axes. Follow the on-screen prompts. Both functions are under the Telescope menu.
Sent:	Tuesday, February 15, 2011 17:45:56
From:	Ed Johnson (
I haven't checked your site in awhile, but see you're still alive and

While doing some research, I noticed the you wrote a nice review on

I will tell you that I'm happy how well it works with the NGC-MAX box on
my Fixed eyepiece telescope (SSCT)
The hot link on that page leads to how that project evolved. 

I really enjoy the use of the fixed eyepiece telescope and think others
should emulate it.

I will check your site more often,


ps- got some unused Meade motors and Autostar -

pps - as I remember, you are somewhat involved with direct drive stuff.
I was considering actually buying an ASA drive (jointly with nephew)
till I read horror stories on their Yahoo group.
          When I saw a ASA unit at PATS, it looked nice, but now realize
          that it needs extensive support from an external computer in
          order to get it to run. Not my idea of portable.
          Too late in my life to start making from scratch? 

Subject:	copying photos
Sent:	Sunday, February 13, 2011 07:49:54
From: (
I take it anyone can copy photos from your site Mike?
Is there any copyright issue?
Not that I'll be copying, just wondering how safe my photos are.
Thanks in advance, George
Mike here: Each page has a copyright notice at the bottom. So, yes, the images and text are copyrighted as indicated on the pages. Copying photos for commercial use needs to be cleared with me and the submitter.


Thanks Mike, maybe I should have read a bit before asking you.
That's good news anyway, as I quite like the last photo I sent in,
wouldn't want just anybody pinching it.
Regards, George
Mike here: Well, like anything online, theft is always possible.

And more:

I might try putting the moon filter on next time, or some kind of colour
filter, any suggestions?
I know the moon looked brilliant when using the moon and nebula filters
Regards, George
Mike here: A moon filter can definitely help, especially when using a camera with limited manual exposure control.


My camera has a good range of shutter speeds and exposure.  My telescope
isn't set up, so I have to take a photo at pretty quick shutter speeds
or the object moves, leaving you with a blurry photo.
I might try to slow down the shutter speed next time.
Regards, George
Mike here: Use the self-timer if the camera has one to avoid hand-induced blurring.


Thanks, I thought about using that before, but never got round to it.
After all, that was my first go taking photos like that, I was pretty
pleased with the results.
I might even put the camera into burst mode so it takes several photos.
Cheers, George

Subject:	Telrad and ETX105
Sent:	Saturday, February 12, 2011 08:30:42
From:	Frank Trautmann (
I have a 105ETX with a normal finder, an 10" Starfinder with a Telrad.
Is there a possibility, to use it on the EXT? I do not found anyhing.
The Red-Dot-Finder (newer ETX): works it similar to a Telrad, and -if
yes- can I buy and install it?
Frank Trautmann
Mike here: See the Accessory Review: Finderscopes page on my ETX Site. Also, there are some articles on attaching finderscopes on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	ETX 60 RA motor problem, maybe you can help
Sent:	Wednesday, February 9, 2011 18:18:43
From:	Max Byerly (
I was observing one night and when I powered on the scope, I inserted
the required info and selected Easy Align. When the started the slew I
heard the RA motor running but the scope isn't moving left and right
like it should. The Dec motor works fine. You can hear the RA motor
running but the scope doesn't move. I tried pulling it apart and I can't
seem to figure out whats wrong. Any input?


Sent from my iPad
Mike here: Do the arrow keys slew the telescope horizontally? Have you replaced the batteries, done a CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES?


If you manually try to move the scope and right you can hear the motor
running, but the scope doesn't move. I did those things and still
Mike here: With the horizontal axis UNLOCKED, rotate the telescope horizontally. Go at least once around. Is there any resistance? Don't force it to rotate if you feel any resistance. Next, LOCK the axis normally. Carefully try to manually rotate the telescope horizontally. Is there the expected resistance? Don't force it to move if it doesn't want to move.


There is no lock or unlock on the knob anymore. I don't know if I put
something in wrong....
Mike here: Probably too late for this tip but it will be useful next time: See the article "Disassembly Procedure" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. There are several ETX-70 (similar to the ETX-60) disassembly articles there as well; maybe one of those will show you where you went wrong or what the problem might be.


I had some of the parts down on the bolt the wrong way, and I had to
retighten the bolt. It's complicated, but I seem to fix it....for now


Subject:	What diagnal and/or visual back would you recommend for a de-forked etx-90?
Sent:	Sunday, February 6, 2011 18:08:25
From:	Bob McCarthy (
I've successfully de-forked my old Meade ETX-90 and mounted it on an
Astro-tech Voyager mount.

I would like to use the rear camera port for viewing (as the top
eyepeice hole on theETX is now positioned on the side of the scope after

I'm having a problem determining how to attach a 90 degree diagonal to
the rear camera port for this purpose.

Do I need something custom?  Are there any concerns with loss of
focusing travel?  Would this change the focal length of the scope?

Any suggestions or guidance you can provide would be appreciated.

Thanks and regards,

Bob McCarthy
Westford, MA
Mike here: There used to be a lot ETX rear port accessories available but the availability has dwindled in recent years. I use an Apogee ETX Visual Back that Shutan used to sell. But neither company is in the ETX business anymore. Scopetronix and CNC Supply had them but see the comments about them on the Editorial Page. You might find one on eBay or AstroMart. Once you have a Visual Back, you can attach a diagonal that has the 1.25" insert tube. Focusing should not be a problem with most eyepieces and other accessories.
Subject:	Meade etx 125 AT purchase
Sent:	Tuesday, February 1, 2011 06:39:32
From:	Jerry Greer (
First of all...your web site is fantastic. The photos of several
galaxies were top notch!

I purchased a (well kept used) Meade etx 90 ( Mount, ota, no autostar),
Its a nice little scope...crisp images of Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon. 
I have decided to sell it and purchase a Meade 125at.  My reason for
this email is to see if you have any advice on ETX 125 start up such as
maintenence, optional eyepieces, common errors to avoid etc.  The scope
should be here in about 10 days

I bought a Meade 90mm ds a few years ago and on the first night....some
of the pieces of the cheap motor drive fell off...I understand that was
a cheap (200$) scope and Im hopeing for a little better result with the
125 at.

And finally, if you have a used autostar (497) for purchase or know of
any....let me know....
Clear skies
Mike here: There are several articles the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page that should answer your questions. As to a used AutoStar, check eBay or AstroMart. You may need to update a used model to a more recent software version. That will require a #505 serial cable (easily made; see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). If your computer (Mac or PC) only has USB and not a real RS-232 port, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters. Once you have the cable (and adapter) you will need either Meade's AutoStar Update application or StarPatch (from, both for Windows, or AutoStarX for Mac OS X (link on the AutoStar Info page).

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