Last updated: 31 January 2002
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT. Additional information on these models 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:	Re: Unusual aberration in ETX-60EC
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 16:33:02
From: (Alan McDonald)
Nothing but clouds here, so I set up a fake star (small circular
inspection mirror reflecting light from a window) in my basement to try
out your suggestion.  This gave me the advantage of not having to
calibrate/track the object, plus I could keep the OTA level for looking
through the rear port.

I saw the problem through both the flip mirror port and the rear port,
but it was more pronounced through the flip mirror.  There were no
obvious defects in lenses or the mirror, but I did find two things that
I did not notice or know of before:

1) The condition seems to always run radially out from the center,
regardless of where the object was in the viewfinder. In other words,
the "ghost" was always towards the outside of the view. 2) The flip
mirror does not stop at 45 degrees - it appears to be off by several
degrees.  When my "star" was centered in the 45 degree viewfinder, it
was not in the center of the rear port with the flip mirror down.  It
was on the high side within the view through the rear port, almost
completely out of the circle.  I think this means that the mirror is
flipping only about 41 degrees.

I decided to address #1 first.  I concluded that there must be some
internal reflections occurring within the optical elements, so I removed
the lenses and cleaned them using the cleaning solution on your site. 
On my first attempt, this made the problem worse!  I must have left a
bigger haze than was originally there, but at least I knew I was on to
something.  I made another batch of solution with less Ivory, and I had
great success!  The condition was completely eliminated on my fake star.
 I later focused on some terrestrial objects that I had previously
viewed, and the images were MUCH clearer.  I wouldn't want everyone
taking apart their scopes to clean them (because many may do more harm
than good - as I thought I had done at first), but it definitely
improved the resolution dramatically.  I'll let you know the results on
a real star if the clouds ever go away.

I am not sure what caused this, but I have two theories, both involving
outgasing (no smokers around here).  The first is that the haze on the
lenses came from chemicals in the packing material for the scope.  It
was in the box a long time, as it stayed in the box for several months
before we opened it with our kids as a Christmas present.  The second is
that it has been stored in the #773 case since Christmas, and deposits
from this is very likely - I can smell solvents when I open it, despite
having let it air out before I used it.  Maybe it was both.  Obviously,
I do not plan on putting the scope back in the case for a while.

I'm left with two problems: 1) getting the mirror to 45 degrees, because
the light is not entering the eyepiece in a collimated beam (the 
eyepiece optics are clearly not square to the light since the housing is
at 45 degrees to the lenses),  and the mirror probably has the same haze
on it. Any thoughts on these would be appreciated - cleaning through the
eyepiece hole seems risky, and taking the scope apart to adjust the
angle (and make cleaning easier) probably voids the warranty.

Thanks for your suggestions - I never would have found these two things
out without it!

Alan McDonald
And from our resident hardware expert:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
I would not attempt to adjust the flip mirror; if it is indeed only
rotating to 41 degrees that will be fine; your image in the eyepiece
might be vignetted to one side or the other (top-to-bottom) but this
will NOT affect overall optical alignment, only the direction the light
cone is directed into the eyepiece; the overall path of ray focus is
still consistent and maintained.

I see about 2 out of every 10 ETX scopes come in here that have the same
"problem"; if the mirror is firm in its proper position, I do NOT adjust
if only out a few degrees....the result of "fix" is not worth any amount
of effort; however, if the mirror is LOOSE in the rotating pin assembly
I do fix so that the image will be consistent.

One remark about your indoor testing....what type of mirror or you
using? If you are NOT using a precise pinhole (0.007mm at most) then you
are most definitely going to get serious aberration; I never suggest to
anyone doing an indoor test of a mirror....NEVER.  Your test is only as
good as the surface of the mirror and then totally worthless if you do
not use a precision pinhole OR a reflection from a ball bearing or
silver Christmas tree ball reflecting a strong beam of light.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	New user ETX-60 AT Motor Fault Problems
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 8:23:14
I recently started to use a ETX-60 At,  to learn my way around before
buying a ETX-125 EC  I ' ve had good luck with the easy 2 star
allingment. However on certain nights I some times experiece motor fault
and scope run-away problems  when using GO TO, let say between Jupiter
and Saturn (as an example). Nothing is obstructing the scope. Checked
the tightness of the hand box,changed batteries and reset the scope.
Worked for a while then next day same problem. It never happens
immediately but usualy happens after about 45 minutes to an hour after
my evening's obseving starts, and seems to happen if I start to use the
arrow keys to center an object when changing lens from 25mm to 9mm. The
techs at Meade suggested that I do not use the arrow keys to center
objects, after I have completed the easy 2 star allingment.Rather they
suggest using Go To, as I do, and if the object that I am looking for is
not in the field of view then use Select item, and then do Enter to
sync. Any thoughts to help out.

Thanks and congratulations on a great web site

Frank B   
Mike here: Well, their technique works (SYNC) but I don't think that's the solution you want. How's the air temperature where you use the telescope? If really low, the batteries won't be as efficient and could be causing the problem. Also, a bad connection (or connector) could be the problem since the error occurs when you are fiddling with the handbox. Check the connections at the ETX base and Autostar, and that the wires are secure in the connector.
Subject:	My ETX 60 AT
Sent:	Tuesday, January 29, 2002 3:26:05
From: (Bob Phillips)
Perhaps you can help. My ETX 60 is a great litttle scope and I'm happy
with the resolution of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn using my 2x barlow
and the 25 and 9mm eyepieces.

My problem is that no matter how I level the scope in the home position
...even with a precision bubble level in both alt/azm, and using a good
compass and compensating for 13 degrees west of magnetic north for my
area so the scope is pointing true just won't go to the area
of the two easy align stars that it selects. I never see them in my 25mm
eyepiece and although the alignment appears to be close in altitude but
way off in azimuth. Always way too much to the north. I have tried all
kinds of head scratching to figure out what I'm doing wrong..any

Bob Phillips
Mike here: Well, the obvious things to check are the Date/Time/Location/telescope settings in the Autostar. Don't forget to change to 2002 from 2001 for the year. Also, check the Daylight Savings Time setting. For some alignment tips, see the Autostar Information page.


I have looked on your site and I have not found a solution you
pointed out I did check all the obvious, location, date, time, 2002,
including checking the azmuth lock down clamp but this baby still will
not align using easy align...Your site is the best so I will keep on
looking and hope for a solution...perhaps "training" the drive or
picking out two known stars will work. That will be my next step..

I discovered that when I select for TELESCOPE......the ETX
defaults back to the ETX 70...can that be a problem????

Mike here: The "default" telescope is only a display bug. Once you set the ETX-60AT it sticks. It is just when you bring up the display again the ETX-70AT is selected. So, set to -60 and don't come back to confirm the selection.

And this:

Okedokey Mike....thanks for all your help...I will let you know if I
ever figure out why my scope does not track in azimuth correctly. To be
honest, I enjoy it just setting it up by eye to my sky object and then
it's fun slewing it to center. It sure beats the old hand crank alt/azm
method I had on a $100 4 inch reflector I had years ago, and then gave
away to a local elementary school as I got sick of the image
disappearing from view because our darn planet won't stay

Subject:	Acceptable ETX-70AT Chromatic Aberration
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 17:25:47
From: (Thomas Henry)
I just caught Jeff Lalo's question about chromatic aberration in the
ETX-70AT on the Mighty ETX Site.  Other users here might remember this
is a topic which consumed me a couple months ago.  A lot has happened
since then, so here's a bit of an update.

1.  I bought a unit in October.  The resolution was excellent, but the
chromatic aberration really got in the way of viewing (especially
daytime scenes).  Meade agreed to replace the scope, under warranty.

2.  The replacement reduced the color fringing just a tad.  But, the
astigmatism was way out of line (much like the one Sky and Tel reviewed,
I gather).  Stars were ellipsoidal, with the axes changing direction
depending on which side of focus I was on.  Also, one of the motors kept
giving failure messages; resetting and retraining had no impact on this.
Again, Meade agreed to a replacement, and this time they picked up the
tab for the shipping.  Nice guys!

3.  The replacement of the replacement which I have now is a vast
improvement.  Color fringing is very slight on the moon (you have to
concentrate to see it), and a bit more on Jupiter.  There is no
astigmatism, but just a trifle amount of spherical aberration.  I've
only been able to split 4" doubles thus far, whereas I could do 2.5"
doubles with the original scope.  However, I think I've reached the
limit of the trade-offs and will stick with this one.  For I also want
to do wildlife spotting without false color, which is very do-able now
but was impossible with the first two units.

4.  My brother bought one of these scopes too.  And (very maddingly to
me), I have not been able to notice any chromatic aberration at all in
it!  I haven't tested it for resolution, though.

So, here's my two-cents worth: it's not enough to say one should expect
"some" chromatic aberration in an inexpensive, fast (f/5) refractor.  We
need to define what "some" is.  And as my four examples above show, this
varies quite a bit from unit to unit.

I took some heat a couple months ago for suggesting that some of us
owners might want to raise objections.  I stand by my original comments:
we all paid the same amount of money for the ETX-70AT, and we all
deserve to get the same quality scope for the cash (whether it be all
lousy or all good).

Finally, let me mention that Customer Service at Meade has been
outstanding.  They've always listened to my comments, and have always
offered to help.  As mentioned above, they even arranged for UPS to come
pick up the second dud scope at no charge to me, and apologized for the
screw-up.  (Some ten years ago, they also went above the call of duty in
helping me find a special gear for my Meade 6600 clock drive---and
didn't charge me!)

I like Meade very much!

Now if we can only get rid of the dang moon and clouds so I can get back
to observing...

Best wishes,

Thomas Henry
Mike here: I agree that the same money should get the same product. Unfortunately, there do seem to be some differences in performance from specific unit to specific unit. Sort of like some people get excellent performance from their computer operating system and some have nothing but trouble. They all paid the same amount of money for the product but some people had to pay more in time (at least).


And that's probably the purpose of warranty service, to even out these
bumps in the road.  I think companies who care about their customers
(and reputations) realize that there will be manufacturing glitches and
are anxious to correct the problem.

By the way, I should have mentioned that I was extremely courteous and
friendly when I spoke to Meade Customer Service, and they were the same
to me.  I cringe when I hear people badmouthing a company and wonder if
they didn't bring on unhelpful responses by their initial behavior.  I
think the Golden Rule applies when dealing with Customer Service!

Subject:	re: etx90 on etx70 fork mount
Sent:	Monday, January 28, 2002 16:27:15

I talked to tech support at Meade and they told me the #43-6380-01 was
only meant to be a replacement part for the ETX90, not as an adapter for
the 90 to 60/70. She said the fork arms of the 60 were wider or thicker
than the 90 and she didn't think the 90 would reach.

I'm not doubting Walt had little trouble. I'm just saying Meade doesn't
seem to be any help on this. Not being an expert at this stuff (tho I
was a machinist at GE many, many years ago) I was just wondering if
there was somewhere I can look at some detailed instructions on making
the swaps (90 to 60 forks AND 60 to 90 forks) before I go ahead and try

Thanks in advance for any help.

Subject:	Unusual aberration in ETX-60EC
Sent:	Sunday, January 27, 2002 20:17:05
From: (Alan McDonald)
I love your site! What a phenomenal help it has been!

My problem is that I have an unusual aberration in my ETX-60 (which I
received at Christmas) that I do not understand.  At first I thought is
was an astigmatism, but I'm not so sure.  I thought it might be related
to the MA eyepieces, but I bought a Series 4000 6.4mm eyepiece (fabulous
views, but tight eye relief), and the concern is still there.  I have
not had good seeing yet to confidently state what I see under higher
power (using my 126 2X Barlow), but at the 6.4mm's 55X I see the

On planets like Jupiter and Saturn, I see what amounts to a "ghost"
image of the planet slightly behind and above it.  It is about 25% of
the intensity of the planet, and fuzzier.  It almost looks as if the
flip mirror was a second surface mirror instead of a first surface one.

On stars I see something quite different - at 55X, rather than a point
source focus, I get the tight focus of the star, but then also two lines
of light that extend to the left and up in the eyepiece for about 5% of
the field of view, with some spurious light filling in the right angle
between them.  I've attached a GIF file that is my attempt to show what
I see (created in powerpoint since I don't have any photographic

I've tried rotating the two lenses into different positions, and the
condition appears a bit better, but not much.  The scope has almost no
chromatic aberration when I go off focus, so I do not exactly want to
swap it for a different set of problems.  Any thoughts you can provide
will be greatly appreciated.

Additional suggestion for other users on alignment, coupled with
comments on the new #884 tripod:

I purchased the new #884 tripod for use with my ETX-60EC (with an eye to
an eventual purchase of an ETX-125), and I love it - the height with the
legs retracted is perfect for seated use (as well as my small children
to stand and view), and the scope is very stable at full height.  I've
also found it is fabulous for aligning the scope - the key is to use it
to level the base of the scope first.  Here is what I do:

None of my viewing locations at home are flat (all off by several
degrees). Since the ETX-60 has no azimuth stops, I have no need to worry
about the position of the base of the scope.  I take the tripod, and
place a circular level on the tripod. I rotate the tripod so that the
slide for the equatorial mount is directly opposite the position of the
bubble, which is on the high side of the bull's-eye - that puts the
equatorial lever at the low side of the slope.  I then raise the
equatorial mount until the bubble level shows the base as being level. 
This gives a very level starting point for the scope, and is very easy
to do.

Once in that position, I mount the scope and insert the MA25 eyepiece
for it's 3 degree field of view.  I take aim on Polaris until I get it
in the scope (I have no viewfinder yet), and then lock both axis.  I
then center Polaris it in the viewfinder with the controller, and then
stop look for Cassiopeia with the naked eye.  I then "cheat" Polaris 1/3
the eyepiece view (1/6th in from the edge) in the direction of
Cassiopeia, remembering that viewfinder is different than the world
(left is right).  This puts the scope as close to true north as I can
get it.  I then slew the scope down top level and verify it with a
bubble level.  At that point, I enter the scope as being in it's home

While this might seem a bit as overkill, the results are amazing.  Using
this method, the alignment stars have always been with in half a degree
of the center of the eyepiece.  Since much of my viewing location at
home is blocked by either trees or houses (I have to pre-choose which
part of the sky to view), I have a hard time finding the alignment
stars, and spent lot of time waiting for one that is in view.  With the
scope in a true home position, with both the base and the OTA level, I
am very confident accepting the position of stars I can't see, and
having a pretty good alignment by adjusting on only one star.

Even when having only used one of the two stars for alignment, and just
accepting the other, Jupiter has always been within the view of the 25mm
eyepiece.  This really works great - but there is one other thing I
should point out.  I entered my location directly in my scope based on
the exact coordinates returned from as an
additional measure of accuracy.  What all this means is that it is
fairly easy to let your scope know where it is on earth within one
minute, level both the base and the tube well within half a degree, and
point north within half a degree.  That starting point is almost "good
enough" to align your scope before you even turn it on.  Just remember
to enter the correct time!

Mike here: Since you have tried a couple of eyepieces and even rotated them, we can rule out the eyepiece as the problem. That leaves the objective or the flip mirror or something else scattering the light. Aim the telescope at the Moon or other bright object. Remove the eyepiece and look at the flip mirror. Do you see any scratches at angles to each other? One other test. Center Jupiter in the eyepiece. Remove the rear port and flip the mirror out of the way. Hold an eyepiece (as steadily as you can) at the rear port, moving it forwards and backwards until you find the focus. Do you still see the problem?

Subject:	Faulty or "Cleaned" optics?
Sent:	Saturday, January 26, 2002 4:08:40
From: (mjcripps)
I have recently purchased a new ETX 70.   However I am very disappointed
with its optical performance, so much so that  I wondered if I have a
faulty product.  In low power, bright stars and planets have a slight
flare. Using the 9mm this is accentuated.   Adding the x3 Barlow shows a
splodge of light slightly offset to the right, making the image almost
impossible to focus.   I have purchased a 9mm Vixen Lanthanum  but the
image shows little improvement.  The external surfaces of the objective
and eyepiece lenses are clean an I have had very clear viewing
conditions. In daylight viewing, using the 9mm, scenes appear to have a
misty wash over them.  Adding the x 3 Barlow turns this into a fog with
very little contrast although there is an indication of in-focus detail
behind this.  Using the Vixen, with its wider field of view, reveals a
band of clearer, higher contrast on the outside of the field. I have
read no indication of this problem on your site (although I have gained
an immense amount of other useful knowledge - thanks!).

In all other respects I have found the telescope excellent and, provided
the above mentioned problem is just a fault, I would like to purchase
several more ETX 70s for a high school astronomy club.

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

Many thanks
Mike Cripps
Mike here: Unless you or someone else "cleaned" the optics, it could be a faulty unit. I wondered about the cleaning though since a film of "cleaning liquid" (like Windex) could mess things up in this way.


Thanks for such a prompt reply.   The effect was noticeable from new.  
As a last resort I used a specialist 'coated lens cleaner' and 'lens
tissue' on the objective lens with no effect one way or the other.
Mike here: How about the flip mirror? Don't try cleaning it but just see if has a "film" on it.


Not an easy thing to check.   It looked as clear as a bell just looking
down the eyepiece tube.  So I got a halogen desk lamp and shone that
down whilst looking back through the objective lenses.   I then adjusted
the flip mirror so that the lamp was shining across it.   Lots of dust
but underneath I could just detect a layer of golden smears.  I hasten
to say that I haven't touched the mirror and always keep the cap or an
eyepiece in the tube.
Mike here: It sounds like someone was less careful or perhaps it sat in a showroom, exposed to who-knows-what.

And an update:

I shall be contacting the supplier of my ETX on Monday and hopefully get
a replacement.  Many thanks for your help.

I thought you may be interested in what we are planning to do in our
school and how the ETXs fit in. I'll finish with a couple of questions
which you may be able to help with.

Practical astronomy in UK schools has always been something mainly
carried out by private schools.   They have the kids on site 24 hours a
day and can pop out to their observatories whenever they have clear
skies.   The idea with our project is that students (11-18 year-olds in
a state high school) will be able to borrow an ETX70 and take it home on
the bus.   When they've had a night or two of clear skies they bring it
back and someone else gets a turn.   Initially we will buy 3 scopes but
we are hoping to get funding to expand this greatly.   We would then
also have a number of binoculars a couple of Dobsonians and something a
bit more fancy for the  advanced students - I'd like an LX200 GPS but
Meade's UK pricing is going nuts so it may be a Celestron GPS or an
LX90. We have also had an offer from our local Astronomical Society to
give these students access to their 20" reflector with state-of-the-art
digital imaging.

However the ETX 70s would be the core to the club's activities. The
tours on the Autostar 494 are excellent for starting students off on a
purposeful evening's viewing.   Is it possible to write new tours
ourselves and upload them onto the 494?  I have a 506 cable. I have
found details about adding and changing to the 494s program difficult to
come by.   Most sites, including Meade's, explain about the bigger
capacity Autostars but have very little info referring to the 494.
Finally, its probably me being stupid, but I can't track down Meade's
customer service email address.

Many thanks for your help.
Mike Cripps
Mike here: Sounds like a worthwhile project. However, be certain to set the students' expectations of what they will see when looking through a small telescope like the ETX-70AT. Yes, you can upload tours to the #494 using the Autostar Updater Client 3.0, just not a lot of them nor large ones (limited memory available). As to Meade's email address, like Celestron, they have no customer service email address.
Subject:	Right Ascension Setting Circle loose!!
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 15:53:34
From: (Ross Willoughby)
I have had my ETX-60AT for about 3 months.   When I went to prepare to
align it, I noticed the R.A. setting circle was loose (can be spun
freely around).  How should I correct this problem?  Could you tell me
where to put a mark in the upper housing?


Mike here: Your question is addressed on the FAQ page.
Subject:	ETX70 AT
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 14:15:15
From: (Nic Ylaya)
I just recently purchased an ETX 70 AT. It is a good starter telescope.
I happened to stumble over your website and read thru the email posted,
and sure enough I see that others have similar problems or shortcomings
as with mine. For instance, I purchased a 3x barlow lens, and used it
with the lenses that came with the telescope and I still do not get a
good focus on objects (for example Jupiter). I was not very happy with
what I saw. I learned from your website that this is due to a short
focal length. Also, I think the sidereal of my telescope is a little
faster than what is needed to correct the motion of the earth.  Do you
know how to correct this?

My other question is, if you were to purchase your first telescope,
which one will you get? Let us assume a budget of about $500. If your
choice cost more that $500, please let me know also. Thanks.

Mike here: I doubt that the sidereal rate is off, just the location or HOME position or both. You could also check the telescope model, TRAIN the drives (only if necessary). Location can be important if you pick a city that is a long ways (10s of miles) from your observing location. As I've always stated, first time buyers need to decide WHAT and HOW they will use the telescope. Do you need aperture, focal length, portability, etc?
Subject:	Mounting other tubes on ETX 60/70 AT
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 13:41:47
From: (Steve Bodin)
I just saw a post on mounting a ETX-90 to a ETX-60 AT fork and thought
that I would send along my experience with mounting a Meade 107D 4 inch
SC to the ETX-60 forks. Would this be an ETX-102AT?. I purchased the
Costco ETX-60AT with the expressed purpose of changing the OTA to my
107D for use as a travel scope ( it fits under an airplane seat). This
conversion is somewhat more difficult than the ETX-90 conversion. It
involves making an 'outrigger' of about 1 inch to the un-driven fork to
accommodate the wider tube. The OTA is noticeable offset from the
centerline of the base, but the 60 is offset a little anyway. However, I
can state that the conversion works well as I have just returned from a
trip to New Zealand to observe the southern polar skies and usually put
the target object in a 50X field on the first try.  The 'ETX-102AT'
capabilities of goto finding of stars in unfamiliar skies justifies the
need for computer control.  Alignment works well just remember to point
the scope north in the home position. I could send a more detailed
conversion procedure if desired.

Steve Bodin

P.S. only had to open the case up twice for airport security. Must have
been all those batteries and wires.
And this:
Subject:	re: etx90 on etx70 fork mount
Sent:	Friday, January 25, 2002 10:38:26
re:Mounting the ETX-90RA tube on an ETX-70AT Fork  turned out to be
fairly easy.

Is this also possible using the etx60 mount? (I thought the 60 and 70
were the same size in that respect.) And can you then mount the etx60
onto the old etx90 mount so it's still usable?

Mike here: I believe the -60 and -70 mounts are the same but I don't have both to compare them. As to mounting the -60 into the ETX-90 forks, yes you could do that by making the proper adapters.
Subject:	ETX-70 colored objects
Sent:	Thursday, January 24, 2002 13:07:09
I have recently purchased an ETX 70 with the hopes of starting to learn
the night sky.  When viewing a bright object, such as the full moon,
there is a small amount of blue light surrounding the object.  I
understand a photograph cannot represent exactly what can be seen in a
telescope with the naked eye but the following picture I have found
gives a good indication of the image my telescope provides (with the
exception that the image in the telescope is focused.

My question is -- Is this color and amount "normal" for optics of this
quality (introductory) or could it be made better with a trip back to

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.


Mike here: Some chromatic aberration is normal with low end refractors.
Subject:	ETX-70 + 9mm EP + 3X Barlow Lens
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 20:50:29
From: (Ken Hurd)
I have and still do use the 9 mm lens with the barlow 3x and aside from
the annoying re adjusting I have had no problem viewing Saturn's rings
and Jupiters (Gas clouds) I guess. But I am hoping to purchase the 6 mm
to see what results I can get out of that.

Subject:	eyepiece combos?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 11:38:35
From: (Slater, Jack)
One person said he gets the best planetary results with "the #128
Barlow/PL 4mm eyepiece combo" but I thought I had read your suggestion
that the 3x would only create fuzzier objects with the 70...true or did
I misunderstand?
Mike here: Each person's expectations and usage may be different. Plus I don't recall which telescope that person was using when the comment was made.


He was using the 70 also.  I sure don't want to buy more eyepieces if
they aren't going to do anything for me.  I have the 2 that came with my
70 (9 & 25) and I bought 2x Barlow for the 70 also.  Do I need more?
Mike here: Whether you need more depends upon what you would use them for. Many amateur astronomers have a large collection of eyepieces, one or more of various types for specific purposes. Some people avoid using a Barlow Lens because it does deteriorate the image somewhat and some people care a lot about image quality. In the case of short focal length telescopes, you don't gain a lot of magnification differences from one eyepiece focal length to another similar focal length. Similarly, using a wide angle or super wide angle or ultra wide angle eyepiece won't get you that much more viewing pleasure for the cost. Just my opinions.


Sounds like more eyepieces is no big deal then because without the
Barlow - all images are too small to enjoy.
Mike here: Only money.

And this:

Fresh out of that after buying all the other options I have! LOL.

I'm really getting better with the 70 now (thanks to your help!).  I saw
the dusty shadows of the Orion Nebulae last night... pretty darn cool!

I got my Digi-T from Scopetronix yesterday and realized I didn't know
how to use my Nikon Coolpix 800 for anything more than Auto Focus
Photography!!  So I'm gonna have to learn how to manipulate it to shoot
some pix.  I know you have a 995 but what kind of settings do you use on

Manual? Speed? Zoom?  Lightness settings?  Flash?
Mike here: See the Coolpix page on the Astrophotography page. I think that will your questions.
Subject:	RE: RE: ETX70AT Power options
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 6:09:16
From: (Slater, Jack)
The 90 and 125 are 12v systems tho aren't they mike?  I'll use the 12v
car adapter if it wont hurt my 70 - just wanna make sure I ask the
Mike here: The label on the Meade AC Adapter for the ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT says output 12VDC 1000mA.


ah!!!!  that really nails it down!  car cigarette lighter adaptation
should work great then!  thanks Mike.

Subject:	Barlow 2x or 3x for ETX-70AT
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 13:14:57
Thanks a lot for putting a site like this for ETX scopes. It is really
very helpful.

I have recently purchased a Meade ETX-70At and would like to purchase
Barlow lenses for it. Would like to know which one I should go for 2x or
3x. Does the 3x with the 9mm eyepiece exceed the maximum magnification
for the 70AT ?

Mike here: Personally, I'd use the 2X. 3X with the 9mm will be pushing it (as noted on the FAQ page discussion about magnification maximum) as the maximum for the ETX-70AT is 140X. Except for the Moon, you would probably not be pleased with the results with the 3X. Personal opinion only, not based upon real observations (I don't have a 3X Barlow Lens). You might want to look through the archived ETX-70 feedback pages or search the Site for "Barlow" for other comments.
Subject:	ETX-70AT and Autostar #497
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 12:16:06
From: (Philip Jones)
You've suggested the #497 Autostar handbox + #505 cable as an
alternative to the #506 cable required when using the #494 handbox.

Are there any caveats when doing that? Do I lose any functionality that
I would otherwise have using the #494?

Philip Jones
Arlington, TX
Mike here: No. You actually gain some (like Autostar updates, more objects, which you may or may not be able to actually observe with the -70).
Subject:	ETX-90 OTA on an ETX-70AT base
Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 11:23:17
From: (Roland Millas)
I have an ETX-60 AT which I purchased for $130 last month.  I've seen
the ETX-90 RA sell for $240, is it possible to remove the ETX-60 from
its mount and replace it with the ETX-90, therefore taking advantage of
the 60's Autostar and come up with the equivalent of a "cheaper" ETX-90
EC?  Do you know if the mounts are the same size?  Do you know if anyone
has done this?

Sent:	Tuesday, January 22, 2002 12:02:10
From: (walt)
Mounting the ETX-90RA tube on an ETX-70AT Fork  turned out to be
fairly easy.

Purchased from Meade:   (right side) Tube Adapter for
ETX-90EC,   Meade  part # 43-6380-01.

This adapter is shipped with an illustrated 4 page instruction booklet.
Some sanding and fitting of parts will be required wen replacing the the
right side adapter of the 90-RA OTA.

Follow ALL  recommendations found in " Telescope Tech Tips" 
in Mikes Super Site regarding the declination axis tune-up, and while
the mount is disassembled, at least check the RA drive components.

Go-To test: All objects in finder, most within the field of the 26 mm
Ploessl ocular.


Meade Adapter, part# 43-6380-01,   $15.00

Fringe benefit:

No damaging structural changes required. Easy to undo mod.

The forkarms of the ETX-70AT are 1/2 inch longer than the arms on my
classic ETX-90RA which increased the clearance between the flip mirror
housing and base by about 1/2 inch.

Clear Skies, Walt Glaser

Subject:	Can't center stars during alignment with ETX-60
Sent:	Monday, January 21, 2002 22:18:43
As a total rookie, I've really been getting a lot out of your very
informative site.  Thank you.  I do have a question.  When performing
Easy Align with my ETX-60 the telescope slews to it's chosen star as
it's supposed to.  After the beep indicating autostar is ready for
confirmation,  I attempt to center the star but the telescope  does not
respond.  I hear a low motor sound, but there is no telescope movement
even though I press the directional keys.  Am I missing something or is
there some sort of mechanical/electrical problem?   Thanks again for
your site.

Mike here: I suspect it IS slewing, just VERY slowly. Increase the slew speed if you like by using the Speed key.
Subject:	solar filter
Sent:	Monday, January 21, 2002 12:27:26
Got the etx 70 for Christmas. It is a great little telescope.  I am
greatly amused by folks who want to see a disc when viewing stars, not
that I'm anything other than a newcomer to all this.  This unit makes me
want the 90 or better. Question:  What is the best solar filter for this
system?  Sincere compliments on your website.
Mike here: Scopetronix has a solar filter for the -70 or you can make your own (see "AstroSolar Safety Film" on the Accessory Reviews - Filters page).
Subject:	ETX70AT Power options
Sent:	Monday, January 21, 2002 9:44:31
From: (Jack Slater)
Can these guys be set up to use a car for power source when on remote
Mike here: Yes, you would just need a cable and the proper voltage converter. Or you can purchase one of the Car to 120V AC adapters and run the ETX-70AT AC Adapter (and some other things too).


I saw a post on another newsgroup that said you could just use a car
cigarette lighter connection and 12v would run just fine instead of 9v!?
 Do you believe this?
Mike here: Well, yes, 12V is probably OK for the ETX-70AT. In fact, the AC Adapter for the ETX-90EC and ETX-125EC includes the car outlet plug.
Subject:	ETX-70AT or binoculars
Sent:	Monday, January 21, 2002 5:59:00
From: (puffy)
I almost bought an ETX  70 but changed my mind after reading your site.
Would it be better to buy an astronomical  binocular so that I won't
have to go through all those gizmos I hear people talking about?

What would be the strongest power binocular on the market and what is
the most user friendly instrument that I could buy so that I can see a

Mike here: Binoculars come in some standard sizes: 8x35, 7x50, 10x50, and some larger ones. The larger ones are mostly unpractical for astronomical purposes due to their weight (unless you purchase a good tripod and get binoculars that can be tripod mounted). So, if you consider that the ETX-70AT will yield higher magnifications than the binoculars you are likely to purchase, the ETX would be the better choice. If you want to take the time to learn the night sky (not a difficult task) then you don't need a GOTO telescope and so could purchase any of the excellent alternatives that don't have GOTO capabilities. However, you do mention one thing: you have an expectation of being able to "see galaxies". Well, you can see them with many telescopes but don't expect to see the "swirling bands of stars" with your eye. At most you might see some light and darker areas but most galaxies will appear as small, faint fuzzy blobs or even pinpoints of light.
Subject:	Target Jupiter
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 21:47:28
From: (wilbur, ted)
At the risk of repeating what everyone else says, this is a fantastic
site, what a great job you've done!  You're doing a great service for
the many people interested in astronomy as a hobby who need a little
help once in a while.  After my wife gets over the money I've spent on
an ETX 70 and some accessories I'll send a membership donation.

Jupiter, Saturn, and Orion have been my primary targets this Winter, but
I often pick a constellation to tour.  Autostar makes it easy to learn
the constellations, their stars names, and some interesting things about
the stars like distance.  Distance is fun to check since it has that
time warp quality.  I'm loving the 70, it's ultra mobile and makes it
possible to do a lot of learning by osmosis, great starter scope.

It's such a small scope though, that it's difficult to get much detail
out of it.  I've been trying to get the "best" view of Jupiter.  I've
had the most luck using the 9mm eyepiece and a 3x Barlow.  This is
probably too much magnification but I currently only have the 9 and the
25 that came with the scope.  What I've found is that I get the most
noticeable weather bands when I'm slightly out of focus, causing a halo
effect around the planet.  This is somewhat irritating but I've been
able to mitigate it a bit using planetary filters.  Any advice on
viewing Jupiter with the 70AT?

On Jan 18 you responded to someone interested in seeing galaxies and
suggested that it wasn't going to happen without a very expensive
instrument.  Out of curiosity, what would it take?  Andromeda is just a
fuzzy blob for me, what does it look like in your best scope?

Mike here: Jupiter is best observed at a medium power in the ETX-70AT. If you exceed or even get close to the max theoretical magnification it gets fuzzy. As to the Great Andromeda Galaxy, M31, I have seen a dark band in the ETX-125EC from a dark site but for the most part, visual observations of any galaxy with any amateur telescope will just show you the central nucleus and depending upon the size/distance of the galaxy, that will either appear as a small fuzzy oval or point source.
Subject:	Focusing Aid
Sent:	Sunday, January 20, 2002 5:10:38
From: (Pete H)
something for you to post on your fantastic etx site:

I am the owner of a ETX-70AT, and love it to bits, but I have found an
annoying little problem. when focusing (manually only on this little
fella!) especially with cold hands or gloves when the scope is looking
quite high, it is a slow and challenging process. I sorted this by
wedging a piece of rubber pipe ( 9mm inside diam. ) about 6 inches long,
over the focusing knob. you can get a smooth and relatively fast action
on it, rather than a 1/4 turn every 20 seconds with numb fingers!
hope this helps some of you,
great site, Mike

Subject:	AC adapter may make a difference on alignment
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 13:34:49
From: (Bill Swartout)
I noticed the following note from Jack Slater about alignment problems:

> My problem is that I use the EZ alignment and those are the stars that
> aren't showing up in the field of view!  If I accept those view, I know
> all else will miss the mark too.
> Scope was true north just like the other nite when it worked.  Scope
> base and tube are level with same bubbles as the other night but in 6
> tries, the EZ align never centered the 1st star selected (and I even
> moved on to other choices!).  It was close but I could never see them
> without additional slew. Could the AC adapter make a dif? (I sure
> wouldn't think so!)

I believe the AC adapter can make a difference. My ETX60 has been
working well on batteries, but for those situations where I'm close to
house power, I recently got one of the Meade #546 AC adapters.  When I
tried using it (indoors as a test), I had a big surprise.  During the
alignment step, the motors whirred very fast, and the scope went up and
up, all the way past 90 degrees ALT, until it hit the hard stop on alt.
On batteries, everything was fine.  I called Meade, and they suggested
retraining the drives, which I did.  Same problem.  I then measured the
voltage on the output of the AC adapter.  Under no-load conditions, it
was over 16 volts.  I believe the problem with the high voltage is that
it causes the motors to run so fast that they actually go past the
intended alignment point before the computer has a chance to notice, and
hence they overshoot.  I called Meade back and they sent out a new power
supply.  The new one is still high, but seems to work somewhat better
--- the alignment seems about 5 to 10 degrees off, but at least it
doesn't hit the hard stops.  I'm planning to call Meade next week to see
if they have further suggestions.   In the meantime, I'm going to be
using fresh batteries...


Subject:	re: ETX Autostar cables
Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 12:08:56
From: (Richard Seymour)
I saw your note on Mike's site, and you were not the only reader who
had the same question/idea/misimpression. 

The 506 cable can:
(a) CONTROL the 494, using programs like StarryNight and ACP (on the CD)

(b) It can let your PC change, update and add to the User Bodies:
    Satellites, Asteroids, Comets, User Objects, Landmarks, Tours.
   (using the free Meade updater from )

(c) It -cannot- update or correct the "firmware"... the operational program
    inside the 494 Autostar.  Meade has not released user-loadable firmware
    for the 494.

506 cables contain active electronics, and cannot be home-built.

If you had a 495 or 497 Autostar, you would use a 505 cable, not a 506.
(a) and (b) above remain true as stated.  
(c) above becomes: You -can- use the Meade Updater program to replace 
     (update) the firmware program in the 495/497 Autostar.

505 cables are simply "wires and connectors", and can be home-built.

Here in the US, you can buy 495 Autostars from many dealers (discoverystore,
ritzcamera) for $50 plus shipping, buy/build a 505 cable,
 and use Meade's Updater to  update it to become a 497 Autostar.

good luck

Sent:	Saturday, January 19, 2002 12:06:29
well, even though you bare unwanted news, i thank you for your time.  i
guess i set my hopes a little too high with this telescope, but i'm
still getting it.. (i had already bought it before i emailed you). 
hopefully i can at least see saturn better thru it than i can thru my
galileo 3" reflector.  thanks a lot man


Subject:	Meade ETX-60AT
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 22:41:31
From: (Richard Cox)
I've read at least one "complaint" from users who found it nearly
impossible to focus when the scope is pointing anywhere neat the Zenith.
The solution is to attach some heavy-walled rubber tubing to the knob
(make sure it's a tight fit sufficient to be able to turn the tubing and
thus the knob).  The tubing is flexiable enough to enable twisting the
tubbing at an almost 90 degree angle and have it turn the knob.  It
works fine.  I use about 4-5 inches and have even considered getting a
small stepper motor to "electronically" focus the system.  I just got my
scope for Christmas but have been a little disappointed with the images
I see of Jupiter and Saturn.  I see no cloud patterns on Jupiter and no
rings on Saturn with either eyepiece; just a round (but focused)
slightly yellow dot.  I may look for a higher power eyepiece and I'm
going to buy a solar filter for sure from the local Orion store.  The
Moon looks great with this telescope and I may buy a lunar filter
because my eye gets "wiped out" after looking at the Moon for too long
and looses it's night vision.

Richard Allan John Cox
37N14, 121W58
Mike here: You should be able to see Saturn's ring system instead of just an oval dot. It IS small in this telescope however. And yes, a Moon Filter helps a lot.
Subject:	TroubleShooting an Etx60AT
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 21:16:40
From: (Ron Schultea)
Ron From Texas Here.
Just to let you know of my Troubles and Experiances with the ETX.

Got my scope in September of last lear. Havent had to much oppertuinity
to try out the scope, due to College, and moving. But I have enjoyied
the scope's Portablity and the sharpness of the lens, and quality of the
Images ive seen.

Though I have had trouble with the Autostar Alignment.

First of all, the manual, needs a better technical writer :-) The First
3 times I tried to get an alignment, I wasnt even getting close to the
alignment stars, was begining to think I had a bad Autostar. Till I
started Scouring your site for information. And it turned out i was
doing a half-Alt-Az alignment and half Polar. I was aligning the base's
Right Ascen Circle to North, and not the Tube Itself. (Im trying to do a
Alt-Az BTW) and also the Dec Circle was off by about 5deg.

Ok, Honest mistake. But like i said the manual isnt well written
anyways. So the next Clear night i get. I try again. This Time, I get
closer, but the alignment stars are still way out of the lenses view. By
almost 30deg at some point. Do a little more research and it turns out
im not getting true north, but magnectic north. Im about 5degs off of
true north. I figure that doesnt help, but 5degs doesnt seem like it
would be that far off still...

So the last couple of night, its been overcast and rainy.. so Tonight
after ordering a #506 cbale and a #882 Tripod, to help along. I decided
to try a dry run inside the house.. just to re-learn the procedure.
Thats when it dawned on me..

Texas does go by Daylight savings time. I always figured the Autostar
would take into account the fact that we are in normal daylight time
since it winter right now, so ive been choosing Daylight Savings On.. I
dawned on this when i was playing with the events menu and it calulated
Sunrise almost an hour later than it supposed to be..

Again Honest mistake, but again the manual is poorly written... So i
figure I have narrowed down all the glites finally. All the way from bad
alignment to bad set-up..

I would like to ask if there is anything else i might be missing. I have
to correct Lat/Log for my house. (thanks to a link on your site). and
one i get the #506 cable in a few days I will have the correct updates
for the autostar. And I plan to go ahead and re-train after the update
(as someone recommended from the feedback articles)

All in all your site has been a wonderful help. I would prolly have
given up and gone back to my old, warndown, passed down, never stable,
always re-aligning scope by now, if it haddent been for a lot of the
tips from your site..

Im m an Elctrical engineer, computer tech, and a amature web page
designer. So my frustration was starting to get the better of me. And I
can appreciate your experance with keeping up a webpage. as i have to
keep up my company's page as well. And Im working on a webpage for my
scope to put up pictures off my CCD Camera ive built. Its pretty bland
with out picture im my humble opinion.

Ok Ive rambled enough. prolly bored you to tears now :-) Just wanted to
ask a question and thank you for the support of your web page. im sure
most of us would have taken a saw to our scopes by now :-)

Thanks again.
Clear Skies!!

Ron Schultea
Mike here: It sounds like you have gone through everything. One other thing to check is that the telescope model is set for ETX-70AT. If you have the proper HOME position and proper entries in the Autostar and still experience 30 degree errors on the initial alignment star pointing, then I have to wonder if you are mis-identifying the stars. If that's a possibility you might want to see the article "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Observational Guides/References page. I've not seen this type of problem with my ETX-70AT. By the way, there is no update for the #494 Autostar at this time. You can use the cable to add objects from your computer so it won't be a wasted purchase.
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 9:17:59
Hi.  I came across your site and saw that you post info about a
telescope that I am interested in. I have only one question.  With the
ext-60at,  will I be able to see galaxies?  that is all i care about.  i
want to look into my telescope and be able to see a deffinite image of a
spiral galaxy. I would stare for hours in joy if I can see that.  I hope
you can help me.  If you know that the 60-at can not do that, please
tell me, and I hope that you can maybe let me know of one that can, but
isnt too expensive. Thank you so much

Mike here: Sorry but you won't be able to see the structure of galaxies (like you see in photographs) with the ETX-60AT or probably any telescope you can avoid (unless your name is Bill Gates). All you'll see is a dim fuzzy object of a round or perhaps oval shape (for the most part). In fact, in the ETX-60AT many galaxies will be invisible or star-like.
Subject:	ETX-60AT Drive Trouble
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 8:17:34
From: (kallen)
I'm a new owner of an ETX-60.  I tried to move the scope vertically and
horizontally with Autostar.  Everything worked horizontally, but the
drive would not move the scope up.  It would drive down though.  I can
hear the drive trying to move up, but it remains stationary.  Any
Mike here: Have you overtightened the altitude axis lock? If not, you may have to exchange it with the dealer. Have you under tightened the lock so that there is not enough friction to overcome gravity?
Subject:	Parts Diagram for ETX60AT
Sent:	Friday, January 18, 2002 1:00:14
From: (Marv and Val Oshita)
I've been cruising your site for awhile now and have pick up a lot of
information that is much appreciated. I have a question about my ETX60.
It seems that there is an excess of play in the base plate of my scope.
Normally under good viewing conditions the instument works fine and I've
been having a blast with it. When the wind picks up a bit though, it
causes a lot of wobble in the scope. I've noticed that it has a
noticeable amount of looseness around the base. I popped the cover off
the bottom of the scope and found the clamping device that tightens down
to lock the scope in position. Underneath that is a plastic nut that I
assume holds the base to the scope/fork assembly. I tried to loosen the
nut in an attempt to dissassemble the unit but it is very tight and at
this point I don't want to force anything. What would really help would
be to have an exploded view of all the parts and innards. Do you know
where I can find a parts manual? The Meade site is not much help (it
sucks!!). Any help would be appreciated. Clear skies to you!!
Marv Oshita
Kauai, Hawaii. 
Mike here: There is no "parts diagram" from Meade however there are many tips on the Telescope Tech Tips page with interior photos and such. All the ETX models are similar but may have some differences.
Subject:	ETX Autostar Cables
Sent:	Thursday, January 17, 2002 13:00:11
From: (Jack W. Davis)
Last Christmas I got a ETX 60AT.  I had considered buying a 506 cable
until I started reading about homemade cables and decided to make one. 
I suppose I am lucky I have not plugged it in because on your website
was a warning  that the 506 cable contains some electronics and not just
wires.  So now I am back to considering buying a 506 cable however,  I
am pretty sure that having the cable would only allow me to update the
494 Autostar, and not allow PC control as I had dreamed.

The scope came bundled with Starry Night and  Astronomers Control Panel.
 Seems strange that they would send that with a scope that you cannot
control from a PC - yet all the documentation states that the 506 cable
is for updating the Autostar.

Am I right? or should I get a cable. 

Jack Davis
Albuquerque, NM
Mike here: Glad you stopped when you did. And yes, you'll be able to control the ETX from a computer once you have the cable.
Subject:	ETX-70AT Dec Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 17:02:30
From: (Philip Jones)
After straightening the Declination circle on my ETX-70AT according to
the instructions in your FAQ, that arm of the fork now seems to be a
little loose. The arm can be wiggled back and forth along the Dec axis
with about 1/8" of play.

It's entirely possible that it was loose before I fixed the Dec circle
problem, but I wasn't pushing on it then, so I didn't notice. I'm afraid
to tighten the Dec circle knob further in fear of causing other problems
that might result from over-tightening. It was a chore to loosen the
knob in the first place and I think I re-tightened it pretty close to
the same amount of turn as I used to loosen it.

Is that "looseness" just part of the ETX-70's design? Should I try to
tighten it more? It doesn't seem to be adversely affecting the operation
of the scope yet. I'm just paranoid about loose parts.

Any suggestions are appreciated. I wanted input from someone else before
I did something I might regret.

Thanks so much,
Philip Jones
Arlington, TX
Mike here: Yes, there is a little movement in the left fork. That's OK.
Subject:	ETX-60/70AT manual
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 9:28:50
From: (Jeff Lalo)
Alden Foraie noticed that the link to an online manual for the ETX 60/70
was not working.  Attached is a link for an online manual that is live.



Subject:	New ETX70 AT experiences from the UK
Sent:	Wednesday, January 16, 2002 1:42:47
From: (Chris How)
Love the site. I've been reading it for years, hoping to get a EXT90,
but in the end decided that the ETX70 was too good to turn down --
scopes are more expensive over here in the UK, approximately the same
price in Pounds Sterling as they are in Dollars over your side of the
pond. The ETX70 cost me 319 pounds with the tripod (458 dollars) to
replace my 'department store' 60mm refractor.

I haven't got it aligned yet -- my observing site is a west facing
balcony, and I can't see enough reference stars for alignment to
complete. I might try one-star alignment next time. Even without goto,
I've had a great time. I use Xephem (
so I can locate most things myself.

I spotted Mercury for the first time last night, and got a good view of
Saturn. I also managed to catch and track a satellite (found using

All in all, I'm really impressed with the scope's value for money, and
good build quality. The tripod is surprisingly stable. The focus knob is
OK for me -- its geared low enough for me to use my finger as a rack,
and the focus knob as a pinion, if you get my drift.

My next buy is a sun filter, and maybe a 4mm Plossl.

Keep up the good work. Meade should be paying you for providing all this
user support ;-)

Chris How

Brighton, UK

Subject:	More alignment issues
Sent:	Tuesday, January 15, 2002 16:31:59
From: (Bob Vilums)
I have the ETX 70AT (loving it, but at times wish I had enough $$$ to
get the 90ec).  I have no problems aligning with the two star method. It
appears to align well enough.  The objects are usually within the 25mm
view.  The problem is that if I use the "Guided Tour" of "Tonight's
Best", I have to realign if I want to leave "Guided Tour" and go to
Object mode.  If I scroll out of guided tour, and into object mode and
set an object I just viewed in Guided Tour mode, the scope would slew
WAY off, or sometimes even mention that the object is below the horizon
when I know that it is not.  If I realign and go to object mode, it
seems to work fine.   What's up with that?
Thanx in advance,
Mike here: With the #494 Autostar (ROM v 1.0E) I aligned (indoors), went Tonight's Best guided tour. Went through a few items until I get to Jupiter. Hit the MODE key (many times) to get out of the Guided Tours and finally got back to being able to select the Object-->Solar System menu. Then I selected Jupiter and all seemed OK. I didn't have to realign or power off.
Subject:	ETX-60AT Help
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 21:13:18
From: (John Johnson)
I received a new EXT-60AT for Christmas.  Now please keep in mind that I
am totally new at this star gazing stuff.  I say this because I am
hoping that I am doing something wrong.  Anyway....It seems to me that
the stars and planets that I view through this telescope look no
different in size and/or magnification than when I view them with the
naked eye.  This telescope comes with two eyepieces - 25mm and 9mm.  I
first inserted the 25mm, and then manually found a star.  The image was
a big blur of dim light.  So I turned the focus knob
counter-clockwise....and finally the image was clear.  However, it was
so small that I could practically see the same thing with the naked eye.
 So then I switched to the 9mm.  Once again.....a big blur of dim light.
 I had to turn the focus knob couter-clockwise once again.  And once
again, it didn't seem to magnify.  The image was clear, but it wasn't
any different than if I were to simply look into the sky.  Am I doing
something wrong?  Or am I expecting too much?  The manual speaks of
viewing the rings on saturn.  If I'm doing this stuff correctly, then I
don't see that ever happening.  Thank you for your time.  Remember I am
a newbie.......hopefully I simply don't know what I'm doing.  

Please help me if you can.

Nashville, TN, USA
Mike here: You have a common misimpression: that the stars will magnify and look larger through a telescope. They won't. They are just too far away. They are pinpoints of lights and they will stay that way (except for atmospheric distortion). On the other hand, the Moon, and some planets will indeed show a disk and some details with the ETX-70AT. Yes, you do have to refocus when changing eyepieces. And yes, you should be able to see the Rings of Saturn but the image size will be small.
Subject:	ETX70 User in Bangkok
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 15:23:42
From: (kookiwi)
It is useless to say how your website has been inpacting to me, I am an
ETX70 user buying it from London a yesr ago, I am now using it with
Autostar 494 once for a while (depends on my workloads and observing
condition which is always under-par in this tropical country), as far as
i concern, the scope has worth its cost. Last night, I connected it with
a laptop and controled it with my Acer through Starry Night, the initial
session of about 2 hours proved okay. One and only snag working with the
scope is, you know, its focus knob, I have always been in doubt what did
you do when you point your ETX to or near the zenith, as mine, I could
never make it at all......!!!! For me, I could never see any object at
the zenith area and I did not want to change the eyepieces.
Thank you in advance.
Best regards,
Mike here: You can see objects at the Zenith and yes, focusing is a challenge in that orientation. Small fingers help. Try applying pressure to the side of the knob with a fingertip. Or you could use the clothes pin trick (clip a clothes pin to the knob) or add one of the focusing cables (from Scopetronix or make one). And:
Thank you so much for your prompt response and accurate reply.

Subject:	More alignment frustrations
Sent:	Saturday, January 12, 2002 9:09:42
From: (Jack Slater)
I gassed off about finally figuring out the EZ Align with my ETX70AT the
other day;  Just make sure scope/pod totally level all directions, point
north and bingo - WELL........

I did just that (6 times last nite) and it would never GOTO the targets
- close but not right on.  The only change I made last night was to use
the AC adapter instead of batteries.  Could that have made any

Also I did have good sightings by just slewing around - saw Jupiter
clearer than b4 with the 25m eyepiece and 2x Barlow(2 very light vague
belts too) AND I found Saturn and its rings!!!!!! AWESOME....  When I
put the 9m in, the objects were bigger, still saw the same image detail
BUT both planets had a "glow" around them....  what's causing that? 
What can I do to clear that up???


Mike here: The accuracy of the GOTOs are influenced by a lot of factors, not just the HOME position. If the alignment stars are not exactly centered when prompted then the accuracy will be off. I'm not saying that they have to be EXACTLY centered in a high-power eyepiece but if you take the time to do that the GOTOs will be more precise. As to the "glow", could be from anything; scope still cooling down, light (invisible) cloud or mist or other things in the atmosphere, or even a fogged up eyepiece. At worst case, someone ran a finger across the lens and left skin oil.


My problem is that I use the EZ alignment and those are the stars that
aren't showing up in the field of view!  If I accept those view, I know
all else will miss the mark too.

Scope was true north just like the other nite when it worked.  Scope
base and tube are level with same bubbles as the other night but in 6
tries, the EZ align never centered the 1st star selected (and I even
moved on to other choices!).  It was close but I could never see them
without additional slew. Could the AC adapter make a dif? (I sure
wouldn't think so!)

Also, is there  a tutorial on how to use the new Meade sighting scope
somewhere too?  Not sure how it should be adjusted so its properly
Mike here: No, the AC adapter should not affect this. Date/Time/Location will. Are you saying that the first alignment star does not appear in the eyepiece field of view AND you are not manually centering it with the slew arrows? You need to do that on the alignment stars. What new Meade sighting scope?

And this:

(1) A few nights ago, the alignment stars appeared in the center of the
field of view with NO slewing at all.  If I was perfectly level and
perfectly north, I would expect this to happen (maybe this is an error!)
and it did as I said.

BUT, last night, I leveled and northed 6 different times and the
alignment stars NEVER appeared in the field of view at all!.  I had to
slew to them every time.

Is it wrong to assume that if I'm perfectly level and north, that they
should show up centered all by themselves without additional slewing or
is that just dreaming.

(2) I got a new Meade Finder scope.  I'm not real sure how to correctly
aim - adjust (2 thumb screws) - align - use this device.  I did peer
through it last night and saw a wider field of view which allowed me to
spot the stars I was expecting to Autostar Align to center on.  I just
want to make sure I'm using/setting/adjusting it correctly.

Thanks Mike.  You have been a big help to me.
Mike here: Well, they SHOULD be centered but that assumes a 100% perfect EVERYTHING. Most times you do have to do some minor (at least it should be minor) slewing to center each alignment star. As to the finderscope, before mounting it you sight it at the same object that is centered in an eyepiece. Then you "permanently" mount it. After that you can use the screws to fine-tune the alignment.


OK that helps - I was expecting perfection!!! LOL - live and learn eh?

So on the finder scope, I find an object and center it in the telescope
first... then align in finder and then the two should be in "sync" from
then on?
Mike here: Yes, unless you bump the finderscope and knock it out of alignment.
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Friday, January 11, 2002 13:19:21
From: (Adam)
I got a new ETX-70AT some days after the one that didn't work.  The
new one works just fine now (knock on wood).  Anyway, the reason
I'm writing you..again... is because I wanted to know if you've taken
any pictures with your ETX-70AT.  If you have, are they
posted at your site?  Anyway, I just wanted to ask because I'm
thinking about getting into some astrophotography myself, and I wanted
to know if you have any tips.  Anyway, hope to hear from you soon.

Mike here: Well, I have taken a test photo (see my ETX-70AT comments linked from the top of the current "ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT" feedback page. Others have taken photos. See the Guest Astrophotography Galleries. Also, see the Astrophotography page for tips and more examples.
Subject:	#506 cable
Sent:	Thursday, January 10, 2002 22:32:38
From: (Ken Hurd)
I was recently looking for a way to make a #506 cable, what I have found
is the closest I can get to it would be a 1c2 to rs232 converter. this
item will cost $125.00 and might have to be tweaked to worked. Better
too just buy the cable for 50 bux.

Subject:	ETX-60AT comments and questions
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 22:08:41
From: (Alden Foraie)
Love your site Mike. I'd been researching a small starter scope for
myself for a number of months and was entranced by the ETX60 price and
goto now  thanks to some really good information from
yor site, CostCo and Santa I have one. Thanks to your site my
expectations were not upset or unrealistically high, I understand and
see myself it is a great wide field scope and not overly great for
planets. The hype in ads about what can be 'really' seen is just
horrible. Just a couple of things I'd like to share and ask.

Yes the focus knob sucks, just like everything I read. I made my own
doodad like many others and would warn others to be careful doing this.
I found I lost sensitivity and overturned the knob while focusing,
forever it seemed (again just like I'd read) after changing eyepieces,
and it came loose and would not focus at all. Then using the hex key
from Meade, again thanks to your site I was not overly suprised to find
this hex key every slightly undersized and would not tighten properly,
but I was ready with another one...

I have not been able to get it to 'goto' with great accuracy, first it
went to low and after tonights 'training' is a bit high. The dec scale
on the scope seems off a little as at 0 it is on a slightly upward
angle, about 6 degrees I figure. To adjust the dec scale how does one
loosen it? It read the faq page and did not understand how I would do

The 'kit' i got included a tripod adapter, which seems decent. A nylon
carrying bag, again decent. 9 mm and 25 mm MA eyepieces, seem decent as
well. A small table top tripod, a joke really. And what appears to be a
shameful 2X Barlow (picture attached). This Barlow is all plastic
construction and when used with my 9 mm to view Saturn and Jupiter I get
a real bad flaring , I use the term flaring as I'm not sure how else to
describe it, at the bottom of the planet. Without the Barlow the image
is much cleared although smaller. I do not see this Barlow in the Meade
catalog so I'm not sure what model, if any, it is. I am quite frankly
astounded that with such a nice scope and overall package they would put
in a piece of poor optics like this. My question here is would I be able
to squeeze out any significant planetary detail from a 3x vs 2x Barlow
as I will definitely be replacing the one that came with it. What
eyepiece/Barlow match lets me push the magnification to the max before
it starts breaking down with this little scope. I'm a little confused as
the Meade site says 200x for this scope and what I've read on this site
indicates to expect 120x ?

In your archives someone had a URL for a site with an ETX60/70 manual
online in PDF format. That site is now a dead link, anyone else know
where I can get a 'soft copy' of the manual.

Again I appreciate this site and have found it to be absolutely top
notch, keep up the good work.
Barlow Lens
Mike here: As the FAQ says, loosen the large knob on the fork that holds the scale. It may take some force (use a piece of rubber for opening jar lids). Then with the tube horizontal (use a level for the best accuracy), set the scale to read zero under the triangle pointer and retighten the knob. Also, you might want to see the Alignment Tips on the Autostar Information page. That Barlow doesn't look like the recommended Meade one (a #124). So I'd recommend you go for that; it is a 2X Barlow and will likely provide you better views than the 3X one. And thanks for mentioning the dead link for the manual. I'll remove it. Don't know of another one.
Subject:	EXT 70-AT eyepieces?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 18:44:11
From: (David Searles)
It's Dave from Dumont NJ and I have a question regarding lenses for the
ETX-70AT. I am now ready to make the move to purchasing a Barlow 2x.
However, the stores here in northern NJ, carry only the Meade Barlow 2x
(#126). In reading all the FAQ's, distortions in viewing can be caused
by any number of factors, but you have to start with the correct lens
first. Meade calls for the Barlow #124 (2x) and the #128 (3x) to be used
with the EXT 70. In your opinion, what Barlow, regardless of company, is
the best to use with my scope? Thanks, for the tip in your FAQ's,
regarding moving the scope from inside the house, to outside, and
waiting 30 minutes for the temperature to compensate in the tube. It
made all the difference in eliminating a fuzzy haze around Jupiter and

Dave from Dumont NJ
Mike here: While individual mileage (and expectations) may vary, I think the best choice in this case is what Meade recommends. If you start adding other eyepieces, you might find they won't focus with other Barlow Lens models.
Subject:	New ETX-60AT won't go up! 
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 13:55:21
From: (Matthew Cross)
I bought my dad a Meade ETX-60AT for Christmas this year and he still
hasn't been able to align it and get it tracking.

The scope will move left and right but never up!  (not sure if it moves

I have not seen this in action only heard descriptions over the phone.
Can anyone help?  I'll point him to this site for comments on the
question. Perhaps he can also respond and describe the situation more

Mike here: There are a couple of possibilities: either the altitude lock is not tight enough (but don't overtighten it) or there is a connection problem. If the later, an exchange is likely in order.
Subject:	ETX 60 conversion
Sent:	Wednesday, January 9, 2002 09:36:33
I have an ETX 60.  Can it be converted to a ETX 70 by swapping out the
lens or is there more envolved?  It is a great product and have enjoyed
using it.

Thank You,

George Zimmer
Mike here: I think it is the same forks but you'd need more than just the tube; you'll need the tube adapters from the -70. And you can't buy just the telescope without the base.

Thanks for the info.  I guess I will leave it the way it is.

Subject:	new EXT60 user also
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 13:06:54
From: (Thebruners)
In doing the setup of the scope I set the time,date,daylight savings
time but i do's not give me the option to input my Country or Provinces
or city.Also it do's not ask for my scope model.  This is a very helpful
web site and that spark plug boot on the focus knob works great.
Thanks  Mike .  
Terry B 
Mississauga Ontario Canada   
Mike here: I suspect that someone set it up at the dealer. You can RESET the Autostar back to "factory default" by using the RESET command in the Utility menu. That's the cleanest way to do restore it to a "fresh" condition and clear out any bogus info that may have been entered by persons unknown.

Subject:	ETX 60 at Costco Stores
Sent:	Tuesday, January 8, 2002 03:46:40
From: (Pete Olson)
I just bought an ETX 60 at Costco in Richmond CA for $128.99, including
Autostar and 9mm and 25mm eyepiece lenses. I think they might be left
over from Xmas because I first noticed them about a month ago and have
been doing research before deciding they're just too good a deal to pass

Pete Olson

Subject:	etx-70
Sent:	Monday, January 7, 2002 07:47:00
From: (Bo Byrd)
I hooked up a muntimeter to my ETX-70at and the most current I could
ever get it to pull is 500 milliamps.  This was with both motors slewing
at the high speed. Another test showed that the voltage from my
batteries during the 500ma draw was 7.8V (these werent brand new
batteries)  so keep that in mind as well.  I understand that this scope
can run at 12VDC??? Is that correct?  Just sitting there powered up was
real low... only 50ma.  So If anyone wants to homebuild a power supply
this info will be good for them.

Can I get a 495 controller and software upgrade it to a 497 with a
homebuilt cable?  I've been reading the archives it seems for days now
and it looks like I can do that and make my scope work with the 495
controller.  Im trying to get around buying the 506 cable by just
getting a better controller with a built in rs232 port that I can build
a cable for.  That way I get number buttons as well.

Thanks for a most excellent site Mike you got more info on the ETX line
than one human being should be allowed to have.  And you're sharing it
all with us.
Mike here: You can get a #495 and upgrade it to the same ROM as in the #497.

Subject:	ETX-70AT
Sent:	Sunday, January 6, 2002 10:52:43
I dabbled with astronomy in High School about 35 years ago. I have
looked many times at buying another telescope, but never did until last
month. I ordered an ETX-70 package from I have read the
go-to direction, but it is not working for me. When I set the horizontal
setting to 0, the tube is NOT level. Should I disregard the setting &
use a level on the main tube?

What we've been able to find by eyeballing is great! My wife had never
seen Jupiter, nor Saturn & even though they're small with the supplied
eyepieces, I ordered the 4mm eyepiece & 2x barlow Friday, it is exciting
to see. You are right on about the focus knob shortcomings.

Thanks for any suggestion,

Mike Isenberg
Decatur, Illinois
Mike here: See the FAQ for the scale "problem".
Subject:	RE: ETX 70, lens + barlowlense questions
Sent:	Sunday, January 6, 2002 8:15:32
From: (Rick Geimer)
This is for the ETX-60/70 page. One of your readers asked how the 4mm or
5mm eyepieces are with the ETX-70. I got a 5mm for Christmas for use
with my ETX-60, and I like it a lot. The hole is small, of course, but
the views are actually quite good once you get your eye close enough. I
used it on Jupiter two nights ago and saw all the visible moons and two
sets of cloud belts, crystal clear. If you wear glasses, you might have
trouble getting close enough for a good view...I wear glasses, but am
able to see ok without them, so I end up removing them with the 5mm.

I don't have the 2X barlow, so I can't quote on how well it works with
this, but I do have the 3X barlow and I can say for sure that you should
not use them together...the image was too fuzzy to be of much interest.
However, the views from the "naked" 5mm are definitely worth the price
($40 from scopetronix). I actually prefer it to the 9mm, since the 26mm
and 5mm are much closer to being parfocal (you will have to adjust the
focus, but not nearly as much as you do when switching from the 26mm to
the 9mm).

Rick Geimer

Subject:	Why is the #126 2x Barlow not recommended for ETX "AT" models?
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 20:51:13
From: (Ken Martin)
I too had the same confusion a year ago when I got my ETX70 regarding
the suggestions for a barlow. Dr. Clay Sherrod advised me that a #126
would indeed work fine with the ETX70 and would be the best choice. I've
been extremely pleased with its performance, and not having any focusing
problems using the stock eyepieces included with the ETX70. Of course I
upgraded to Meade super plossl eyepieces (26mm and 9.7), and have had
continued excellent results with the #126 barlow.

I now use the Meade super plossl eyepieces and the #126 barlow in my
LX90, with excellent results.

From what I've read, and been told, the #126 barlow is a little better
quality than the #124.

Ken Martin

Subject:	re:  Computer Controlling the ETX-70AT
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 14:13:11
From: (Richard Seymour)
Enjoy the ETX70.. it's a good scope and fun to control.

Re: controlling it:  either way: 506 or 495/497.

In large part, it depends upon -your- future plans.

My -own- opinion is:
  *Yes*, get a 495 or 497 Autostar.  Build/buy a 505 cable.

Develop your control systems and practices with it, 
and, if so often happens, you feel the desire to move to larger
apertures, the Autostar can be attached to your future 90/105/125,
or serve as a spare with your LX90.

Even if you buy an LX200 or LX200gps, the controlling protocol all
 transfers directly.

And such is the case if you just get a 506 cable: everything you 
 develop will be transferable, but the 494 can't drive the bigger
  scopes (so you'd be buying a 495 or 497 Autostar...).

The 494/506 combo has a characters-per-second speed issue which the
 495/497/505 combo doesn't hit as quickly, and that can be a pain.
But if getting around such hurdles is part of the fun for you, go for it!

but above all...
have fun

Subject:	re:  My frustrating ETX-60AT Experience
Sent:	Saturday, January 5, 2002 14:12:55
From: (Richard Seymour)
It's always SO frustrating to read stories like your, realizing that 
simply having ten minutes with someone used to the scope's foibles,
or a better manual, or simply having caught the -right- back posting
would've saved you hours of pain...

Don't give up on astronomy!

(maybe on the ETX70... but keep an open mind on the stars...)

If you've still got the scope in the house, here are some pointers:
(a) the focuser requires almost 100 turns to go from end to end.
   It's (on my ETX70) 30 full turns between the two -eyepieces-.
   (Foible hint: swap the two chrome tubes between the two eyepieces.
    it brings them -much- closer together in terms of focus-turns)

(b) During the day, Point the scope at something -distant- (more than
    a mile).  Put in the 26mm eyepiece.  Now crank that focus knob 
    from full-stop to full-stop, or until it finally focuses.
    Swap eyepieces.  Repeat.  (this is NOT an exercise for the arthritic)
    Grab a hint from a posting two above yours on Mike's site and push 
    a sparkplug boot (and 3" piece of wire) onto the knob to make it easier.
   The focus you achieve on a mile-distant target will be pretty close to the 
   moon. (which, just to be helpful, won't -rise- until after midnight).
   But... you can look at the moon in the -morning-, too...

> I am an electrical engineer and a sailor
Think of a pair of binoculars as a voltohmmeter, and of the ETX as an
Years of voltohmmeter experience barely allows you to find the power switch
on an oscilliscope, let alone measure a voltage and waveform with one...
And it doesn't help that the scales behind the knobs slip...

(c) alignment: Home is due/true north... not magnetic.. we're looking at the
      not the wandering location of the earth's magnetic field.
    Home is Barrel LEVEL to ground... the numeric scale -slips- (can be

> Every time I ran the easy alignment procedure the only thing the scope
> would do is point straight up in the air and do an amusing little dance.
> It was trying to aim south by going over the top and the eyepiece would
> get stuck on the base. I finally gave up on the autostar feature altogether.
(d) That sounds like it has the wrong idea of what -kind- of telescope it is,
    and bad calibration settings.  To fix:
    Under SETUP, press the scroll UP key until you reach RESET.
  Press [enter] twice... you have just cleared away the Autostar's messes,
  and will be asked to re-enter your site and... Telescope Model.
  Scroll until you see ETX70.  Press [enter].
  (the selected model should have a ">" in front of it if you revisit
   this item)
  After resetting, scroll (and press enter and scroll some more) to
   get to SETUP > Telescope > Calibrate [enter]... the telescope will make two short motions, which
    will internally recalibrate the photosensors and speed controls.
  All of the above should only need to be done -once-, unless you move
   the Autostar to a different telescope.

Well, that's it for this set of hurdles... i'm confident the Autostar and
 ETX will conspire to lay more potholes into your path to the stars, but
 they (usually) are surmountable... 

Give it another shot (.30 caliber should do it...), 
 and it -is- quite possible that the same investment in a decent-optics, 
no GoTo scope might yield less frustraing (or different frustrations) 

good luck, 
From: (john mcauley)

My sincere thanks to you, to both of you, for your interest in my technical
problems. Your expertise and advice are indeed appreciated. FYI I was able
to return the troublesome little critter to the store for a refund, so I am
unable to try some of you suggestions to fix my problems. Frankly, I think
it was simply a malfunctioning unit, although I am open to accepting
operator malfunction too.

I am going to do some research before I purchase again. I will keep a eye on
this website just to help get educated on this intersting field.


John McAuley
Mike here: Thanks. Best wishes for a successful find that meets your expectations and that you can enjoy. Enjoyment of the night sky is one of the reasons we get into amateur astronomy!
Subject:	New ETX-70AT User
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 12:15:04
From: (David Searles)
Sure glad I found your Web site. I am sure I will be asking and
reviewing your FAQ's as I become more familiar with the Telescope. So
far I have just done the basic's to get it running. No motor problems as
of now, and that is in 20 degree weather. Had a problem focusing using
my big fat hands. Resolved it by using a spark plug boot and 3 inches of
the spark plug wire attached to the boot. I simply put the boot over the
focusing knob and now could focus by turning the end of the wire. This
might be helpful to someone with the same fat fingers as I.

Dave from Dumont NJ

Subject:	Performance enhancements
Sent:	Friday, January 4, 2002 4:19:58
From: (don t)
Do many of the enhancements given in Parts 1 thru 4 as well as the J
Blessing's ETX Tuneup apply to a ETX70AT?  If so, which parts??  Thanks
in adavance.
And from the author, Clay Sherrod:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Although the mechanisms and optical assemblies are uniquely different,
the same principals (and common sense maintenance tips) will follow to
the ETX 70 as they apply to the ETX 90, 105 and 125.  There are very
minor differences, but overall the engineering concept is
identical...the adjustments are very similar....the pitfalls are just as
great.....and the satisfaction once done can be remarkable!


Subject:	Mounting plate
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 15:46:12
From: (H F Fitzgerald)
I want to use my Meade ETX 60  with a standard tripod. I know that there
is a adaptor plate to attach the Mead to a stanfard video or camera
tripod. can you tell me where I can buy on?

Thanks for any help
Mike here: I believe Scopetronix has them.
Subject:	My frustrating ETX-60AT Experience
Sent:	Thursday, January 3, 2002 9:07:03
From: (john mcauley)
I was very happy to receive a telescope from my wife for Christmas this
year, until I tried to use it. I am an electrical engineer and a sailor
so I have some experience with scientific instruments and the night sky.
This was however my first opportunity to look into a telescope eyepiece.
I was looking forward to using this new toy. After several attempts on
very clear, cold nights I must admit total defeat. I found this web site
as I was trying to find answers to why I was so unable to use this
"instrument". This is an excellent site keep up the good work.

The ETX-60AT manual is poorly written and fails to show how to set up
the scope for the basic home position. Do you align to True or Magnetic
North? Do you set the tube horizontal to the ground using a level or
align using the zero degree mark on the round DEC scale? There is at
least ten degree difference between these two settings. I tried all
combinations without any success. Every time I ran the easy alignment
procedure the only thing the scope would do is point straight up in the
air and do an amusing little dance. It was trying to aim south by going
over the top and the eyepiece would get stuck on the base. I finally
gave up on the autostar feature altogether.

Manually aiming the scope didn't improve my experience. Taking aim on
the full moon, all that I could see looked like a street light. There
was no detail, no craters, no shadows, just light. Adjusting the focus
control does nothing at all. I don't think that it is even connected to
anything inside. Switching eyepieces also did nothing. In fact there was
no difference between the two eyepieces.

So much for astronomy,  I hope that we can get my wife's money back.

John McAuley
Mike here: Sorry you had problems. There may be reasons why you suffered as you did; all of which are addressed on the ETX Site. Yes, the manual could be better but the information on the ETX Site tries to make up for that in a lot of detail. So, let me know if you want to try some more; if so, look over the FAQ, the Alignment Tips (on the Autostar Information page), and the current ETX feedback pages (yes, you should use True North; the Earth doesn't rotate around Magnetic North) for starters.
Subject:	Computer Controlling the ETX-70AT
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 17:05:31
From: (C Copley)
First, let me say that you're providing an extraordinary service to all
owners of the Meade ETX scopes, especially those of us who are
'newbies'.  I tend to get compulsive about all my hobbies and I'm sure
this will be no exception.  Santa delivered my ETX-70AT on the usual
date/time, but I spent 3 days devouring the information on your site
before I even attempted any viewing (I'm REALLY glad I read the warning
on the focus knob before I installed my own version of the

Santa picked this particular model for me because it indicated that it
was 'computer controlled' and included the 'Star Navigator' software. 
Now for my question(s).

1) Can I really use this software, together with the #506 cable to
control the Autostar #494 from my laptop?  Most of the slick literature
seems to imply that it's only good for 'updating' (from everything I've
read the #494 doesn't have any updates) and (from the reading I've done)
it appears that the AUX port may be used for something other than serial
interface (but I could be seriously misunderstanding what I've read). 
Would I need a different controller (it appears that the #495 or #497
might work(?))?

2) If I construct my own wedge, pirate a wedge/head or find a reasonable
CG-5 clone, can I really use the Autostar to track sidereally with the

3) I've been in the computer business since just after dirt was made. 
My real hope is to build a rock-solid pier, add an additional scope with
some digital imaging/capture equipment and feed the results back to my
21 inch monitor (I've got a seven node network already in place with
outside access).  Can I expect any of this to work with the ETX-70AT or
should I only try this with a custom go-to on a larger 6-inch refractor?
(I've been looking at the Celestron, but that's probably a bad admission
for this site).

Any feedback you can provide will be greatly appreciated.  OBTW - Kagi
will be my next stop :-).  I'm a CTO so I know what it costs to keep
these puppies fed!

Clear Skys, Chip Copley, Clearwater, Fl

P.S. - I understand everyone's obsession with privacy, but wouldn't it
be practical to put an email link to your contributors, so that people
in the same general areas could get together.  Just a thought - Once
again, Great Site!!
Mike here: Yes, you can computer control the ETX-70AT with the right cable (#506; which can not be homemade) and software. (You could get a #495 or #497 from eBay and make a #505 cable.) But whether you really want to do this or not will depend upon its "coolness factor" for you. It may or may not be worth the effort. Similarly for your plans to add a wedge, pier, etc. The little ETX-70AT is a fine wide field instrument but if your viewing location is not really very dark you won't be able to do much long duration, wide field astrophotography and so the pier/wedge might be a waste. As to sidereal tracking with the Autostar, it will do that in Alt/Az mounting; you just won't be able to do long duration astrophotography in Alt/Az.


Happy New Year!  As a "newbie", I posted my first question last night.
Wow - unreal speedy response.  From the quality of the site I shouldn't
have expected any less, but my expectations of email response times
have, like everybody else's, fallen to the lowest common denominator for
the Web. Of course, as I said in my note, my next action was to Kagi to
make a contribution.

CHALLENGE TO EVERYONE! If you like the site (and if you're reading this
you do), make a contribution!!  Mike is providing the best support you
can find, and you know it.  As the CTO of a .com (, I can
tell you that it takes an extraordinary amount of time, energy and MONEY
to provide the service that Mike does.  Do your part to help keep this
exceptional content coming.

Regarding your reply, don't care about the "coolness factor", why
reinvent the wheel if the #506 cable will work.  But, since the database
is so much larger (and it's updateable) wouldn't the #495 or #497 be
better than the #494, or is it a complete waste of time considering the
70's limiting optics?  Also, will I be able to interface the ETX-70 to
my video capture equip to drive my monitor?

BTW, what about some kind of link to allow contributors to reach each
other by email?  Again, just a thought.

Thanks for the speedy reply and the service you're supplying.  Can't say
enough good things.

Mike here: Thanks. As to contributor emails, why limit it to contributors? That's why I like to include valid email addresses in the online posts. That way we can all feel a part of the community, not just those who have contributed to the Site. And yes, you can do video through any telescope; how well that can be done depends upon a lot of factors including the size and stability of the telescope and its mount. Yes, there will be a lot of objects in the larger Autostar database that will be beyond the ETX-70AT capability. (Apologies for the delay in responding this time; I do have a day job! Site pledges haven't been THAT good.)


Thanks, much!  Only reason for suggestion re contributors is that it's
easier to find people that may be close to you, rather than going
through the posts.

Regardless, you can count on me to be both a regular visitor &
contributor - can't even begin to imagine how much better it could/would
be if you didn't have to worry with that pesky day job.


Subject:	Alignment/motor problem on ETX-70AT
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 15:27:58
From: (Penelope Stanford)
I've just bought myself an ETX-70AT (to replace a homemade reflector our
school was given, 6ft long, cumbersome equatorial mount, no drive and
impossible to aim at anything except the Moon - magnification about the
same as the 70), but have had a few (not unique, I see) problems with
it. The altitude drive on the first one wouldn't be persuaded to work.
Today, I got the replacement. Not such a clear night as the ones when
I've been waiting for it, but good enough. So I thought. This one also
has a problem with the drive, but having read advice here about grease,
and assisting the drive to distribute it, I was happier about it, and I
can, manually, get the drives to point it at things - street lamps, the
Moon, Jupiter, that sort of stuff. I have carried out the training the
drive process. The alignment has been difficult.

Before I did the training, and because of buildings, I thought I would
start with the two star alignment using stars I could see, rather than
using the easy alignment. I can see Polaris well (Cirencester, England,
nearest city Oxford), so north isn't a problem. Vega, Deneb and Capella
were quite clear, and Betelgeuse was rising. No luck. There was a rough
estimate of the correct positions, but not really near. When I lined the
scope up with the arrow keys, it reported that alignment had failed.
That's why I did the training.

I then moved round the house, with a clear view of Jupiter, the Moon,
Orion and its neighbours and tried the easy alignment. Rigel was
suggested first. The scope slewed round to the right direction (much
better than before), but wasn't high enough. I adjusted it, using the
arrow keys, and entered the position. It then wanted to use Procyon.
This wasn't actually visible, but it seemed to think it was below the
horizon, slewing downwards much further than appeared necessary. I
scrolled down for a further suggestion. Pollux, clearly visible, was
also below the horizon. So was Castor. (So was the Moon, when I tried to
direct the scope at that.) These were not reported as being out of
sight, but that is where the drive pointed at. The azimuth in each case
was correct. Two more attempts at alignment failed before haze and
bitter cold made me give up for the night.

Because when showing children the sky, long periods of waiting for the
direction to be set up causes problems of boredom, I really need to be
able to rely on the Goto facility. Have you any advice on what might be
causing the problem? If it is the alt drive again, and it is likely to
spread the grease around and move more fluently with time, I don't mind
a few more nights of it not being quite right. (I have tried various
interpretations of "firm feel".)

Penelope Stanford
Mike here: There can be many causes of alignment failure. Some stem from an improper HOME position _or_ setups in the Autostar (date/time/location, telescope model, etc.). Others can come from improper identification of the selected alignment star when centering it in the eyepiece or just an improper (imprecise) drive training. Since you indicated you did a drive TRAIN I suggest redoing that just to confirm it was a good one. Also check all the settings in the Autostar. If you continue to have problems, see the alignment tips on the Autostar Information page.


Thank you for your response. I have now found it working very well,
indoors, when I tried using the software with it. Though I couldn't be
absolutely sure about north, it selected appropriate positions for
Betelgeuse and Deneb (today's easy alignment selection), as far as it is
possible to know through brick walls! At any rate, the altitude drive
was going up and down without apparent problems, and by comparison with
the planetarium software, the angles looked good. I suspect the hard
frost may have had something to do with it the other night. It is now
warmer, and therefore foggy.

How accurate do the location settings need to be? From the manual, it
seemed that the nearest city was considered good enough - though the
latitude of Oxford is close, it's a bit off on longitude - more than
Greenwich is from London, to pick another two suggestions. I've got the
date and time in correctly (though I haven't bothered so far with
seconds), and the correct telescope model. I'm feeling far happier about
things now, though I've got a couple of things to sort out with Starry
Night (doesn't include the correct model in its database) and ACP
(thinks it's the 2nd of February 2009 and won't accept correction from
the laptop (Windows 98SE) or the Autostar, but they have their own
sites, don't they?

Thanks again - I was a little bothered after the first telescope, which
didn't work indoors, and seeing the comments on your site. It's going to
do just what I got it for. Show children the Solar System, star clusters
and any passing comets without waiting around. I could only let about
four children see anything on the drainpipe before I had to move it to
track whatever it was, and that was absolutely dire, so the tracking
will be a real boon! Now, of course, as is the way with British
astronomy, there won't be any good seeing weather until it's too late
for the children to be up.
Mike here: Glad you got things working better. Location should be as accurate as possible but a few miles won't matter, especially once you get past the alignment stage.
Subject:	#506 cable
Sent:	Wednesday, January 2, 2002 14:08:21
From: (Bo Byrd)
I have a ETX-70AT and am very impressed with your wealth of info on your
site.  I understand that a DTE-to-DTE rs232 cable wont work because of
the 70-AT using I2C protocol instead of rs232.  I am an engineer with a
good deal deal of experience with I2C and RS232 and am wondering what
device/addressing I need to build my own cable.  Are you ther right
person to be asking?
Bo Byrd
Mike here: See the FAQ for the answer (the cable is a #506).
Subject:	alternative barlow to 140
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 18:53:37
From: (Bill Swartout)
One other thing... I noticed the following post on your site about
the 140 Barlow...

> Subject:	Need help with ETX-70 Barlow accessory choice
> Sent:	Monday, December 31, 2001 7:57:25
> From: (Scott B Wasserman Sr)
> Need your help.
> Purchased an ETX-70 for my son and started working on acquiring some of
> .
> .
> .
>     Meade MA 25mm eyepiece 1.25" (as supplied with scope)
>     Meade MA  9mm eyepiece 1.25" (as supplied with scope)
>     #140 Meade Series 4000 2x Apochromatic Barlow Lens 1.25"
>     Meade moon filter series 4000 1.25"
> Problem is the travel when focusing is not enough to include the use of
> the Barlow.

I have been using the Orion Shorty-Plus 2x Barlow with my ETX-60 and the
focus works fine.  Given that the ETX-70 is similar to the 60, it would
probably work there as well.  This Barlow also got good ratings at:

actually somewhat better than the Meade 140, and it's a little cheaper
to boot....


Subject:	Why is the #126 2x Barlow not recommended for ETX "AT" models?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 11:34:11
From: (sadien)
I'm a Stella newbie and was given an ETX-70AT for Christmas. Bless my
girlfriends heart.

Its been rather cloudy down here in South Florida. But I still find
myself patiently waiting for the passing clouds to give me quick peeks
at the moon. And I am loving it!

Today we ran out to our local Discovery Store, where she had originally
purchased the telescope, and I asked for a suitable 2x Barlow for the
scope. Well the teller sold me a #126 2x barlow (1.25"). I went home
excited of course and though another cloudy day  still managed to peek
around the Orion nebula.  I was able to focus with both 25mm and 9mm
eyepieces using the Barlow.

Now the question. I'm a bit confused about the different models of
barlows. The Meade web site  specifically offers the #124 (2x) and #125
(3x) barlows for the ETX-60/70 'AT' models. Other retail sites also note
that the #126 is not for the AT models. But this #126 barlow for the EC
models seems to work fine. Did the teller screw-up, compounded by my
ignorance?  And would I be diminishing potential viewing quality by
using the #126 barlow?  Thought I would ask before returning to the

By-the-way the #126 was $53 and the #124/125 as priced online is $40.

Thank you for any answers to my questions.

PS. I found your site through the news group: alt.telescope.meade. Some
grateful responces were posted there.
Mike here: The #124 is the recommended Barlow Lens because some eyepieces will not focus when used with other Barlow Lens models on the ETX-70AT.
Subject:	Re: ETX-70 Az axis problem 
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 10:50:05
Thanks for your reply Mike.

The scope is new so I will return it to the dealer, unfortunately this
means shipping it overseas. Its not all bad though I did get to see
Jupiter and it moons, and Saturn as well as some excellent views of the
craters on the moon. The problem now is I have developed a taste for
this and I would like to see more. Considering what I can see with this
scope how much better is the ETX-90? Is it a major jump from the ETX-70?

 Thanks again,
Mike here: Sorry about that. As to the ETX-90, yes, it is a step up (350mm to 1250mm, being the major factor). You'll get just slightly more light gathering power but a significant increase in available magnification.
Subject:	re Need help with ETX-70 Barlow accessory choice
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 9:50:09
From: (Richard Seymour)
I saw your note on Mike's site...

The 140 Barlow is definitely the -wrong- Barlow for the ETX70.
As you've discovered, you cannot reach focus.

But: you can interchange the chrome barrels between the 9mm and 26mm
 MA  eyepieces ... on my ETX70 this has the delightful result of making
 the two lenses -almost- parfocal!  
(comparatively) little knob-twisting is needed to focus between the two.  

And -you- may find that it changes their mounting positions enough
to allow use of the 140 (i don't know.. i have the short #126 recommended
for the ETX90).

There -are- going to be some items which are  inappropriate for
swapping 'twixt your future LX200 and your current ETX70.  
The #140 Barlow is merely one of them.
(finding out proactively which ones won't work is difficult... the Barlow
 problem has been discussed on various websites over the last two years
(a 140 won't work well in an ETX90, either), but that would require
-reading- two years of back-traffic, and *that* is a daunting prospect...)

You might consider "growing" your eyepiece collection with -good-
lenses... the with-the-ETX70 eyepieces are far poorer quality than
the same-sized Meade 4000 Super Plossels (or other main-line brands,
or even off-the-cuff brands like Harry Siebert's).  Good eyepieces
-are- useful in the LX200.

have fun
p.s. to Mike: you might add an editorial caveat as a header to the cited
warning about the potential of the 140 being a problem...

Subject:	RE: New ETX-70AT Owner with questions and issues!
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 8:40:55
From: (Jack Slater)
Well, I made the charts, laminated, and out I went last night and of
course, the 1st star the scope selected for aligning was not on the
charts - Capella!

Man....what am I missing?  The next star it selected was Rigel and both
scope slewing locations were close but not right on.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
 See the "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Observational
 Guides/References page on my ETX Site for charts of the Autostar
 alignment stars.  See the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page for
 some focus aids.  Or you can make you own; see the Telescope Tech Tips
Mike here: Probably nothing. I guess Capella was missed!
Subject:	1st time! with my new 70
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 7:45:14
From: (Jack Slater)
Well last nite (after manually maneuvering a bit to see what I wanted to
see.  I think my DEC setting is not right so I'll try to use the how to
on your site to level up) I saw Jupiter and 3 of the 4 moons (maybe the
4th too) and a very bright BIG moon with lottsa craters!  This is a
pretty neat experience for a 1st timer!  I'm learning lot every time I
get it out and then come back to this great website for more
understanding - THANKS.

I had a thought last night that caused a question;  I wear glasses
(bi-focal contacts actually) and wondered if that makes a difference? 
Should I take them out?  Wear regular glasses?  Other options? Am I
seeing all I can see?

Also, last night when I was viewing Jupiter, I was wondering if the
Barlow 2x would have allowed me to see any planetary detail at all.  As
it was, Jupiter was a very big, bright star, with the dots of the moons
adjacent but no detail from the planet surface at all.  Should I have
seen any with the Meade 9?

Mike here: Wearing glasses will make things worse as your eye will be further away from the focal point of the eyepiece. That makes it difficult to see the entire field of view. So contacts are better. Yes, you should see more details with the 9mm and even more with the 2X Barlow Lens. But don't get your hopes up too high; the ETX-70AT, while a nice wide field instrument, will not be able to provide the very high usable magnifications needed for a lot of planetary detail.


what are my options to get best views...just stick with contacts? or is
there some lens adjustment to be made? or?
Mike here: Contacts. However, depending upon what the contacts correct for, you may find that not wearing them works as well. (But I don't speak from experience.)

And this:

ok - I'll try without anything too.  No other lens options tho eh?
Mike here: There are no corrective lens eyepieces.
Subject:	ETX 70, lens + barlowlense questions
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 5:38:34
From: (Werner Maringer)
just got my etx some days ago, great little scope so far, but some

for watching the planets like saturn or jupiter, i would like to power
up the magnification to a sensfull maximum.

a very simple (seems to have only one lens...)2xbarlowlens was delivered
together with the etx, and with the 9mm eyepiece i get a 78x

with this combo the planets look nic, but i would like to maximise the

so now for the questions:

- what about the meade plssl eyepieces with 4 and 5 mm, is the 4mm a
good one for my uses, or should i get the 5 mm

- anyway, i need a better barlowlense which i would like to use with the
4mm or 5 mm eyepieces, so thougth about getting the #124 2xbarlowlense.

so, in conclusion, with the mentioned barlowlense, what eyepiece would
you recommend, the 4mm or the 5 mm plssl meade ??

by the way, i live in germany in a very small town with very good
conditions for watching the sky (very dark, very less lightninig...)

Thanks for this great page, a lot of time is needed to keep it updated
and actual, and a lot of 'know how' is behind it.....

Best regards from Germany
Mike here: Keep in mind the theoretical maximum magnification (for any telescope). If you are unsure of this and the formula for calculating magnifications for eyepieces, see the FAQ. As to the 4mm vs 5mm, I have no direct experience with either; perhaps someone else can respond. What Barlow Lens was included? Was it not the #124?


many thanks for the soon response, didn't expect this, even on this day
(the first of the new year, btw: best wishes for new year, forgot this
in my first mail......)

good idea to post my message on your site, maybe somebody has direct
experience with both of these eyepieces.

i know that the theoretical max magnification for a scope is twice the
aperture, but on some sides i have read it would be 2,5 x aperture, so
i'm a bit unsure which eyepiece to buy (one would cost around 60,-
dollars here in germany (or around 65,- EURO, which is as from today our
new currency... shame on that, but thats another story..) because i'm a
bit limited with the money i can spent on it.

the barlowlense is not the #124, it seems to be a cheap 'no-name'
product, but not that bad i had expected, anyhow i would like to upgrade
this part. i saw this lens in the net for around 16,- dollars, so it
cant be the best.
Mike here: Glad to be able to help. There are several "theoretical" max mag formulae. One is twice the aperture in millimeters (my favorite because it is easy to calculate). Another one is 50-60X per inch of aperture. Since actual mileage may vary, the calculations are only approximate and depend upon the entire optical quality of the system, seeing conditions, your eye, etc.
Sent:	Tuesday, January 1, 2002 3:04:09
From: (Wallace, James (SNS))


Mike here: Lets try this. Turn off the ETX, unplug the Autostar and leave it unplugged for 20 minutes (I don't know that this will help but it can't hurt). Then plug the Autostar back in, do a RESET from the Utilities menu. Go through the initial setups again (location, telescope model, etc.). Prior to testing the alignment (indoors), try slewing with the arrow keys. Let me know.

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