Last updated: 31 May 2004
This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Nikon D100
Sent:	Sunday, May 30, 2004 19:03:53
Hellomy name is Danny Camron & I live in Inverness in the Scottish
Higlands & will be getting a Meade ETX-105EC on Tuesday. I found your
site excellent for information & tips on using this telescope, so much
so I can't wait till it arrives. Anyway I have looked at you
Astrophotography pages & guest ones also, I am wondering if you have any
shots made with the Nikon D100 digital camera & is this good for
astrophotography? I'll be using it with my telescope & hope to send you
some results with this setup soon! Any feedback would be appreciated.


Danny Cameron
Mike here: Do a search on the Site for "nikon d100" and you'll find three pages.
Subject:	re: The new possibilities of Motor unit fault
Sent:	Sunday, May 30, 2004 18:34:16
From:	Tommy Lim KW (
But anyway, just want to tell you that my ETX will send back to the
supplier for warranty claim. This is because of the Nylon gear got
problem on two teeth.

And more info:
I have sent an email to my seller and also with few photos attached. I
am very unhappy with the QC in MEADE. Will share the photos of parts
that have problem and causing problem of motor unit fault.....

1. found out that the two wires didn't connect to the board once I
slowly open the base cover.
2. cracked
3. two teeth on one of the nylon gear got problem.
Regards, Tommy

Subject:	etx125 dec/alt adjustments
Sent:	Sunday, May 30, 2004 10:58:16
Hi all, I have a question regarding the "play" in DEC of my ETX 125. The
drive base had been replaced by Meade because of a past problem, and the
replacement has exhibited a slight characteristic I did not notice on
the original.  What is happening is if the scope slews upward, the DEC
locking knob (even though it is tight and there is no slippage), will
move outward ever so slightly, maybe 1/32 or so.  When slewing back
down, the reverse will occur.  It's not much, but if you use a
cross-hair eyepiece to train in the DEC direction, you notice that when
you go up, the target will move to the right slightly, and when coming
back down you may not be at the same place.  It's not off by much but it
is noticeable.  I had sent it back to Meade with a description of what
was happening, and they sent it back "repaired", but did not specify
what they had done.  There appears to be no difference in the before and
after repair.  I took the OTA off and degreased the DEC clutch (wow-what
a greasy mess).  The scope locks solidly, but this problem still exists.
I have bushed the OTA with rubber in the support arms, and it is solid
with no flexure in the OTA.  I have checked the tech tips and did not
see a fix for this (unless I missed it).  Can this be eliminated by adj.
the worm gear, or is this play normal and within specs for this scope? I
do enjoy this scope and try to not be too critical, as it has and will
provide many nights of enjoyment.  This scope is not in warranty.
Thanks in advance for any info.  Matt.
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (
This situation is very common in some runs of ETX scopes.
It is the result of several possible factors, but the most common is
severe binding in one or both of the OTA adapters (the two swing arms
that attach the OTA to the fork arms. Many times the milling on the
plastic castings is horribly off and results in severe binding and a
strong resistance to movement of the tube assembly in DEC....the result
is sideways torque, the only direction that the unit can move.

You need to remove the OTA and test both swing arms to check for
restricted movement; if either one of them (unclamped) is excessively
tight, then this is very likely causing your problem.

Best of luck on is troublesome, but can be improved.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
Thanks, Mike and Dr. Clay for the fast response.  The support arms are
moving freely with no restrictions.  This was checked with the OTA
removed, and again checked when the scope was back in to make sure the
OTA would "fall forward" when the DEC lock was loosened.  If I remove
the right DEC lock knob and metal circle entirely, I can watch the
plastic on the arm behind the circle flex as I push the up or down
button on the handbox.  This may be normal to some extent, I've never
really checked for this before.  I suppose I can check the worm gear end
play nut to see if it's too tight, and the pre-load adj. per Jordan's
write up.  Before I make any adjustments though, I think I need to run
it through its paces in the field.  If GOTO is good enough, I may just
leave it as it is.  Thanks again for your suggestions and support.

And this:

Ahhh....okay, I think I might know the problem then, or at least
something worth a try. Remove the inside cover of the right fork arm and
examine the worm gear; at the top is a flat hex nut that serves as an
adjustment for the worm....too loose and you have much play, too tight
and it very much does exactly as you describe, reverse torque.

Grab the brass shaft of the worm gear with a pair of needle nose vise
grip pliers very tightly so that it cannot rotate (gears will be
damaged) and use a flat head wrench to slightly back off (CCW) the nut
to loosen the torque on it; remove the pliers and rotate the large
toothed plastic gear directly under the worm assembly with your
thumbnail, rocking it back and forth....if you can move it back and
forth with your nail it is perfect....if not, it is still too tight. 
Once you get it where you can get it to rock, then re-install the OTA
arm and lock the DEC lock/clutch completely down with the cover still
off.....push up and down gently on the OTA support arm while locked and
watch the worm....if it moves up and down IN the metal assembly, you
have loosened the hex nut too much.

Work it until you reach an optimum level and that should do it.

Dr. Clay

Subject:	Venus Transit
Sent:	Friday, May 28, 2004 01:45:44
From:	Michael Heitmeier (
sorry to bother but I'm hoping you can help me with the observation of
the coming transit. What I would like to do is take a series of pictures
of the transit and I have all the technical means to accomplish this (a
Meade ETX 125, proper sunfilter, Autostar and digital camera) but ALAS I
am lacking the knowledge of the sun's 'oribital parameters, so that I
can feed these into the Autostar and have it track the sun.

I have seen some thoughts on this on one of your pages, but no actual
parameters, nor anywhere else on the Web. Can you possibly point me to a
source for these? Unfortunately I lso lack the knowledge of how to do
any calculations of these parameters myself, but I am sure they exist
and can hopefully be shared.

Thanks for any help,

Michael Heitmeier
Mike here: The best solution that has been suggested is to just track Venus. It is already in the Autostar.


Ouch, that proves stupidity hurts...

What about observing sunspots in general through?


Mike here: Unless you plan observing for longer than several hours, just assume sidereal.


Life works in mysterious ways. I had no idea what you meant, so I
googled for 'sidereal' which lead me to kstars
( I have used KDE at some point but
had no idea they had a desktop planetarium in there as well... with
telescope control!

So I'll offload the thinking to that software. Not the most
intellectually satisfying approach but if it does not refuse to track
the sun I'll be happy. Plus I really don't have time to learn celestial

Good seeing,

Mike here: Sorry to have confused you or prompted you to learn something new! ;)
Sidereal is the rate at which the stars move across the sky as a result of the Earth's rotation. The Autostar uses this rate for its "astronomical" tracking rate.
Subject:	First Time ETX-90EC User
Sent:	Thursday, May 27, 2004 10:08:18
From:	Marshall Oberholtzer (
About a month ago, I bought my first scope, an ETX-90EC. Being a
complete novice and scientific bozo, I was concerned about my ability to
setup the GoTo system. My first two tries resulted in failure. After
pouring over the articles on your site, I reset the Autostar and started
from scratch, even entering my local latitude and longitude as I'm
between the two closet cities.

Eureka ! The Autostar works as advertised. I haven't had any ideal
seeing nights as yet, but the visible objects look great and are
centered in the eyepiece.

I've done a lot of thinking about the old adage concerning learning the
night sky before purchasing a telescope. With the light pollution and
usually poor viewing conditions in my area, how can one learn the sky?
Other than Ursa Major, on most nights around here, one is lucky to see
only the brightest star in a given constellation. The Autostar has
helped me learn the sky better than naked eye viewing.

Thanks for your great site and a big thank you to all the contributors

Marshall Oberholtzer

Subject:	Autostar 497 and 1206 focuser
Sent:	Wednesday, May 26, 2004 19:39:28
From:	Marnix Verschraegen (
Do you know how ik can command my 1206 meade electric focuser with my
autostart 497 ?

Do i need to setup the focuser somwhere in the autostar ?

Is it possible to build a small controlbox for the 1206 focuser so i do
not have to command him with the autostar (schematic?) ?

Thanks in advance

Marnix Verschraegen
VVS Belgium
Mike here: If it works like the 1244 Focuser, (quoting from a review on the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous page):
There is a shortcut method for getting access to the focus control which involves holding down the MODE button for a second or two. When this is done, the Focus Control screen is displayed and the focus can then be adjusted with the UP/DOWN keys. The rate of focus adjustment can be adjusted by selecting the numbered keys 1-9, 1-slow to 9-fast. Exiting out of Focus Control mode is achieved by pressing the MODE button again.
Subject:	Should I purchase Meade insurance on my ETX-70
Sent:	Wednesday, May 26, 2004 17:43:54
From:	Nelson, Pamela O - ESA (
The Meade Company is offering insurance on their scopes now, do you
think it is wise to invest $28.00 for insurance for my ETX-70 scope? I
purchased it in 2003 and am finally getting around to learning the ins
and outs of what makes it tick. By accident several months ago I came
upon your web site which has answered many un-asked questions, I will
purchase your book next payday. Thank you in advance..Pam from Berkeley,
Mike here: This is the same as the extended warranty on a computer, DVD player, etc. If is a gamble either way; you buy it and don't use it, or you don't buy it and wish you did. If you can't afford the possible maintenance cost from any future problem or you think a problem is likely, then the "insurance" is a good idea. However, on such a low-end telescope I wouldn't think it would be cost-effective. But that is a decision you must make based upon the risk you want to assume.
Subject:	The new possibilities of Motor unit fault
Sent:	Wednesday, May 26, 2004 06:18:01
From:	Tommy Lim (
Regarding to the motor unit fault problem that i had, I found out that
Autostar handbox is not the main problem for it.

Actually I already re-flash the firmware,but the problem still occurred.
 After a while, I decided to open the cover of the base of my ETX125. I
done some checking on motor and gears,but everything seems normal.
Unfortunately, I found out the connector from motor unit to the board
already loose half way.

I plug it in again and after a normal train drive, everything works
fine. I can tracked planet and stars for a long period without motor
unit fault.

What do you think of this matter? Is it because of the connector? Or
because of the motor unit?

Hope this kind of problem will never happen to my lovely ETX125
again........Please give me some advise.

Tommy LKW  
Mike here: Intermittent connections of any electrical line will cause problems. Try to secure it so that it doesn't come loose again from vibration or moving the telescope.
Subject:	ETX90 going off 
Sent:	Wednesday, May 26, 2004 05:12:28
From:	Nick Howes (
here is the problem and would look forward to replies

I have an ETX90AC, latest firmware from this site, drives trained, and
the Meade 26mm eyepiece in the slot. It slews to an object (reasonably
well), but then after a few minutes of tracking well, it suddenly
decides to go AWOL and moves itself off completely. Even if I use sync
etc it still happens. Have checked all settings, checked I am using in
ALT AZ mode (no Meade tripod). Its being powered by the official Meade
power supply/ and or the official BCF (London) battery pack. Same deal.
This is recent, and I am now getting to the end of my tether with Meade,
who's concept of customer support is laughable unless you are within

Any help greatly appreciated as ever.

Mike here: Typical causes: dirty power, dirty encoders, dirty connections. Try redistributing the grease by moving the OTA by hand (with the axes unlocked) hardstop to hardstop, back and forth several times. Also, reversing the HBX-Autostar cable has been known to help.


Mike, many thanks

They should make you Meade president

Subject:	Pointing your ETX at the Sun
Sent:	Tuesday, May 25, 2004 02:44:57
From:	Brian Crane (
You obviously mustn't do this without an approved solar filter on the
object lens, and you should also cover the object lens of the finder

However, if you use a 25mm 'blind grommet', (a circular rubber plug used
by electricians in the UK to seal unused outlets in distribution boxes
outdoors) to cover the object lens of the finder scope ( a perfect fit),
you can insert a small screw into the centre of the grommet so that it
projects outwards. Now, by moving the scope so as to reduce the shadow
of the screw to a small circle surrounding it, hey presto, you've found
the sun without as much as a glance at it!

Thanks again for the site, Mike.

Brian Crane

BTW, I've heard from my supplier that the #1244 electric focuser has
problems when used with the ETX-105. Anyone else heard of this?
Mike here: Yes, there were reports some many months back about that.
Subject:	Google
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2004 17:25:31
From:	Bruce Pipes (
Thanks for putting the Google search engine on the Mighty ETX page. It
really is a big help.

Bruce Pipes
Mike here: Thanks! It took some prompting but I finally decided to check out a viable alternative!
Subject:	Re: ETX tracking jerky
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2004 14:40:05
From:	Jim Beston (
Unfortunately it doesn't look as though I'll be using my ETX for a while
the "clicking and jerking" i've mailed you about and had thought had
gone, has come back - with a vengence. Looking at Jupiter tonight with a
26mm eyepiece, the image drifts from the centre to the left edge of the
FOV and then there is a loud click and the image jerks back to the
centre. I now must make the decision whether or not to try and fix it
myself or send it back to Meade's UK agent for repair - In which case
I'll miss the transit!!

I am not a happy bunny !!

And more:
I have examined my sticky ETX gear train. I set it up initialy as though
it was tracking Jupiter and, sure enough the plastic gear fitted on the
end of the worm drive was the culprit. The gear train from the motor was
turning smothly enough but the gear, indicated on the attached photo,
was sticking. I noted that the system of washers and/or packing between
the metal worm housing and the plastic gear housing, also indicated,
would sometimes rotate in the direction of the gear movement when I
slewed backwards and forwards at higher speeds and sometimes it would
not. I attempted to put a little of the available grease around these
washers and also manually rotate them as I continued the higher speed
slewing. In the one and a half hour since I did this I have not observed
any sticky or eratic motion in the drive.

I don't know whether these "washers" are the culprits or if they should freely rotate or not (Could Dr Sherrard advise?) but it sure as hell looks as though I'm on the right track! Presumably there is nothing too special about the greases used in case I need to regrease? I hve some "Plastilube" which sounds about right for the Plastic gears and some graphite grease should be O.K. for the bronze? worm drive. Cheers, Jim
And from our resident hardware expert:
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (
This is getting to be a fairly common problem with the ETX scopes,
whether they are old or new out of the box.  Adding grease will not
help, although a very carefully directed tiny squirt of WD-40 will.

However, the best fix is to very slightly back off the hex nut at the
right (end opposite the complex gear box and large nylon gear) while
very tightly holding the brass shaft of the worm gear with a ViseGrip
locking needle-nose pliers.  You do NOT want to allow the shaft to turn
or it will strip out the tiny nylon gears.  Back off only about 1/8th
turn at most and this will do the trick!

Best of luck.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain
I'm very much obliged for your help. I'll have a go at the fix in the
next day or two.

Best Regards,

And best of luck and success to you Jim!

Dr. Clay
And an update:
The Operation has been carried out successfully and the Patient seems to
be extreemly well!! Pity about the 95% cloud cover or I could have sent
a nice image of the moon. As far as I can tell my ETX is now operating
more smoothly and quietly than I have seen since I purchased it. Maybe
someone should tell our Mexican friends to go easy with whatever wrench
they tighten the worm drive with!

Many Grateful Thanks & Best Regards


Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2004 14:10:47
From:	Roy & Margaret Landers (
hello mike i am due to go to orlando florida shortly, and i am looking
for a supplier, for assessories for my meade lx 90 telescope, can you
please offer any addressess i can go to ,or e-mail to pre order aany
parts i need. hope you can help-

 yours sincerly roy landers
Mike here: Scopetronix is in Florida. You could also check Meade's dealer listing page for ones in the Orlando area.
By the way, your message was originally DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the blank Subject. See the Email Etiquette page on the ETX Site for more info.
Subject:	ETX 125 help
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2004 08:35:27
From:	Perry (
I just bought a ETX 125 Auto star and don't think I'm doing the
telescope alignment correctly.Easy align is off 10/20 degrees. The
manuel says the fork arm should be directly over the control panel.It
won't go directly over the panel while pointing the scope north.The
Scope City salesman just said make sure the control panel is facing
west. Can someone tell this dummy in minute detail how to align and any
other tip about the ETX I should know.

By the way,I bought the ETX at Scope City in CA.. which I won't ever do
again.The lens had fingerprints on it and looked like it might have been
used as a demo. Buy locally, Walmart, Nature Store, Discovery etc. I
didn't know they carried them. My mistake.

Perry Abott
Mike here: Sorry to hear about the experience with Scope City. I hope you complained to them. As to the alignment, see the Alignment Tips section on the Autostar Info page. Articles there should help you.
Subject:	Broken RA Drive bracket
Sent:	Sunday, May 23, 2004 03:21:03
From:	Duncan Rosie (
The RA drive stopped working last night - started making a "cluck"
sound. On opening the bottom plate this morning I discovered the
bush/bracket had broken (see pictures).

Have you seen this before? Regards, Duncan Rosie
Mike here: Don't recall seeing that before. But it could be the cause of similar "clicking" sound reports. Sounds like time to contact Meade.
Subject:	another wierd etx 125
Sent:	Saturday, May 22, 2004 18:43:44
i have had my etx125 since jan 04 . i hate to say it but i have been
very dissappointed with this scope. i havent been able to get it to
track right since new. i have retrained over and over calibrated and
also did reset numerus times. i have read all info on this site about
proper training and followed instructions by the book . i am an auto
tech instructor by trade and have never had anything i couldnt take
apart and repair. i dissasembled and degreased and did tune up per
scopetronix site. tonight scope once again on start up when i tried to
do a 2 star align it went haywire alt was going in oppisate direction
and alt motor was running but no movement . i made the decision to send
scope off to dr  clay who has accepted to do supercharge on unit. i hope
it is what i expect out off this scope when it is returned. i bought
this scope because of all the reviews and all i read on this site. i
truly love this scope, so dont get me wrong i am just frustrated and
looking foward to getting it right. guess i am gonna drag the old rv6
out of moth balls and use till it returns wont be back till 3 rd week in
Mike here: I'm sure Dr. Clay will be able to determine where things have gone wrong, either mechanically or operationally.


From:	P. Clay Sherrod (
Thanks to both.

Certainly if there are mechanical or electronic issues or failures here
I will be able to isolate it and fix it; however, we must not forget the
"frustration factor" which many times enters the picture when things do
not go just right.  Setup and making sure defaults are properly set are
sometimes the biggest culprits in poor or weird operation of these

No matter how well you think you know them and how many of them you
have tested (.....I have had my hands on hundreds of these at this
point....), a user will STILL at some point hit a wrong button, align
the scope incorrectly or forget one critical default setting that will
result in horrible behavior.

I just wish that Meade would put ONE added button on the Autostar:  USER
ERROR, which you could toggle "on" or "off" at any mosquito-infested
frustrating outing.

Michael's scope however does sound like it has some major communication
problems, or needs some tough obedience training!

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)

Subject:	Re: Telescopes
Sent:	Saturday, May 22, 2004 13:09:51
From:	Bob Brewer (
Wonder if you might offer some suggestions. I am not an astronomer or
even interested in the sky other than the "Gee that's great periodically
when I look at it". However, my 8 year old Granddaughter is expressing
some interest (and it could be short lived unless something clicks
especially well with her). Based on that, would you recommend starting
her on the lowest telescope Wal-Mart carries e.g. $49.95 which states it
is excellent for beginners? Or would a step or two up be more apt to
capture her interest more. Don't mind spending the bucks, but do mind
spending them if this is just a passing fancy for her. We do not live in
a large city, so taking her to a planetariums is not a choice for
building interest for her.

Thanks a lot

Mike here: Not living in a large city can be nice; darker skies! There is a risk with low-end telescopes; the views will be disappointing when compared to what everyone sees in photos. You'll get the "that looks nice but I expected to see more" kind of comment. The Moon looks impressive in almost any telescope but planets and fainter objects will not appear clearly in those low-end telescopes. So, its a gamble either way: spend too little and get disappointed or spend too much if this is a passing fancy. I'd suggest checking out for local astronomy clubs; even if a couple of hours away. They may have star parties where you (and her) can try out different telescopes and see if she gets excited.


Thank you Mike for your prompt and reasoned reply.

Our closest would be The Kenner Planetarium and Observatory -
Freeport-McMoRan DLSC Planetarium/Observatory/Space Station.  They have
a Celestron C-14 instrument, that while light hindered by being in New
Orleans, is equipped with a CCD camera to help overcome that limitation.
I will be looking into scheduling us a trip there.  It is approximately
2 1/2 hours away from us.

Thanks again for the information.


Subject:	So far, not so good...
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 23:04:21
From:	Ted Semon (
I'm sending this email just because I feel like venting a little bit 
and maybe you can give me some advice On Monday, May 17th, I went to the
local Hobby Lobby and purchased an ETX-90 with UHTC, Autostar and
Tripod. This was a present for my son's 12th birthday. He told me that
he wanted a telescope for his birthday and my research on
had led me to Meade products. When I got the scope home, after setting
it up and running the "Easy Alignment" routine, I began to run into
problems. Asked to find a deep-sky object, the scope tracked vertically
and then PAST vertically  and then began making a rather loud "clacking"
noise. I turned it off, waited a bit and turned it back on and attempted
to re-align it. But every vertical movement, either up or down, was met
with this same "clacking" noise. There was no physical impediment 
releasing the vertical lock allowed me to freely move the scope up and
down. And, I tried various degrees of firmness in the vertical lock to
see if the problem would go away. Sadly it would not. I found several
sites on the Internet dedicated to Meade Scopes. A couple of them
pointed out repairs that I could do, but I wasn't interested in doing
something that would void the warranty on a brand new scope.

So, the following morning, Tuesday, I called Meade Customer Service.
After a brief conversation with them, they told me that there was a
problem with the unit and suggested I take it back to the store and
exchange it. I told them that I had already tried that and that the
store had no more in stock. The other store in driving distance (albeit
about 2 hours away) also did not have one in stock. Customer Service
then gave me a return code and told me that they would have someone come
and pick it up "in 2 or 3 days". It would be returned to the factory,
repaired, and sent back to me "within 2 weeks". Wednesday, no one came
to pick it up. Thursday the same. Friday the same. I called Meade
Customer Service Friday afternoon. After numerous attempts, I finally
reached a live person in Customer Service. She looked up my records and
promised me that someone would call me back by "4:00pm California Time".
No one did.

So, I guess I just have to wait for them. I do have a question for you;
is this normal for Meade and their products or am I just very unlucky
here? And, do you have any suggestions for me  perhaps someone in
particular at Meade I should speak to?

Thanks for listening.

Ted Semon
Mike here: Sorry you have had a problem. Some questions since you didn't indicate the steps you did in setting up the telescope. Did you read the manual? I always suggest doing that, three times, and then playing with the setups indoors in the daytime until you get the feel for the operating. That is much less frustrating than trying to learn how to use a new telescope system in the dark when you are anxious to actually see something. Did you set the telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar, and then CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES on both axes (easy to overlook)? Did you set up in the proper HOME position? Are you clear on the proper HOME position? I ask these questions because they are typical new user errors and the documentation is not always clear to some readers. As to Meade's customer service, they do not have a 100% spotless record unfortunately.
Subject:	shipping to clay
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 20:13:59
From:	tommyjt24 (
I was just reading about UPS and a broken scope and such. Being that I
work for UPS I would not recommend shipping any delicate instruments
ground via UPS. Unless your a package engineer. The only thing I can say
is that if you really do not want anything happening to your scope via
any of these companies I can say insure it for over 5000. packages that
are considered hi'value are subject to different path ways to there
destination. basically its like rolling out the red carpet. I know you
would think 1000 would be considered hi-val but when you consider the
number of packages ups deals with on a daily basis there is just way to
many 1000 packages.


Subject:	Dumb ETX mistakes
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 14:42:55
From:	Dan Hester (
I got my ETX125 back from Meade this week. Boy was I glad to have it!
Meade made all the repairs caused by me reversing the polarity, cleaned
the optics, cleaned the ota and collomated the scope. I got it back in
three weeks flat...that's North Carolina to California and back!

I went outside and set up the scope...aimed it at Jupiter before the
alignment and wow!...the optics are better than ever. I appears Meade
replaced the entire lower unit, the gears sound different anyway. They
also cleaned my flip mirror. Anyway...after several attempts to get the
unit to align....nothing worked. It slewed past the alignment stars
every, disappointed, it took it inside and decided to
re-download the software.

While I was downloading, the wife came in and said "I hate this daylight
savings time"...and that's when I realized what a mistake I had
made...forgot to say "Yes"...and messed up my alignments. After finally
completing the download...the unit was dead-on with every go-to and
tracked smoothly...even better than before. Just goes to
small mistake is all it takes to ruin your observing.

Take care. Dan

Subject:	Great Red Spot
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 11:31:07
From:	Jody Miller (
Meade ETX 90EC
2x Barlow Lens
Meade LPI
500 Stacked Pics

This is a pic of Jupiter I took the other night. If you look above the
Great Red Spot, you can see a smaller red spot. I have never seen this
before and thought maybe you could take a look.


Mike here: Not certain if real or artifact. Repeated observations and photos would be required.

Subject:	ETX 105 -A 70+ yr old beginners experience
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 07:08:30
From:	Keith Bryant (
First thoughts

Aligning the spotter scope. What fun! 6 little knobs to tweak! And the
swaying to and fro to check eyepiece view with  spotter view. Here my
age begins to become a factor (the back you know)

I set every thing up on the #884 tripod, used the little bubble level to
level, and found my first problem. With the tube pointing North the
bubble was centered (UK spelling!) but rotating through 90 deg and it
was not. There followed a session of raising/lowering tripod legs until
finally the bubble was centered on 2 axis at 90 deg to each other and my
back was saying bad things to me. Have you ever tried sawing the legs of
a chair to get rid of the wobble - usually mutates to a stool.

Home position.
OK, rotated anticlockwise (The tube that is) and then swung until the
fork was over the control panel. How vague is the 'rotate until the fork
is above the control panel'..I assume the odd degree here does not
matter? No one said anything about then locking the mount so I didn't.
This soon showed up when trying to align..a whirring motor and a
stationary tube. Get the tube horizontal, check the alt does
not read zero. Do I try to set it to zero (means undoing/loosening
something..shy away from this until more confident with my new toy) Note
the +/- degrees needed to enable mental correction if required at some
stage. Now to point the assembly to the North No real problem as long as
you KNOW that you do not swing the tube but the entire caboose.

A newbies thought.
When attaching the scope to the tripod why cannot Meade engineer the
locating holes/screws to line up exactly with one of the tripod's pods?
It would then be easier to get a pretty good North by pointing that leg.

Switch on the power.
Why oh why cannot this high tech beast remember the date and time? I am
hardly likey to cross the internaional date line very often. A small
watch type battery will not add weight and I am sure that the
electronics under the bonnet could cope. I mean, every single time I
switch on the power it asks the same ****** questions! Attaching a GPS
for this is the peanut and sledgehammer scene.

Right this is day 1, it is daylight so I cannot do this. I know that
come darkness my lack of physical familiararity with my new toy will
have me groping it in a most indecent and fumbling manner.. but there it
is and I do not have one of those red night lights so the evening will
be an experience. It wasn't. The British clouds rolled in.

An idea arrives.
Having set the scope up ready for the aligning game why not put a dab of
paint on the terrace where each tripod leg is. I can then simply cart
the assembly outside and replace it in the original 'set up' location.
Approach the wife with this idea and then have to conform with her
thoughts .. small..browny red (against the block paving). Hope this
turns out to be a good idea.

Second thoughts and actions.
Read about computer controls. (Am a computer junkie) Get geared up with
LPI and cable. Extend Auto star hand set with CAT5 etc/ Link everything
up to my lap top and the Autostar Suite (ASS) (latsest version you
know). Now .. can I align in the daytime? Surely if I let AS (Autostar)
select a star/object that it knows is above the horizon and let it slew
(love this new vocab) to it then ASS should track the scope and I should
see on the computer whether it has arrived at the right spot in heaven.
If not I can center the object whilst observing the laptop. Surely this
will work????

Another thought
Having set up the scope in the Home Position wouldn't ASS show the
scope's position at 360 deg and it's dec as + my latitude?

Time will tell and then so will I.
Mike here: Thanks for the report. Yes, new users have lots to learn. But that is true of most worthwhile activities. Yes, the Autostar could have battery maintained internal clock but I doubt that weight was the factor in the design; probably cost was though. By the way, while accuracy helps a lot, don't go overboard leveling the base. I've used an ETX/Autostar on a driveway with a 10 degree slop and tracking and GOTOs were pretty good.
Subject:	Motor Unit Fault on ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, May 21, 2004 04:44:32
From:	Duncan Rosie (
I have a new (Feb 2004) ETX-125 with Autostar controller and UHTC
coatings. Fantastic telescope which blows the socks off my old 90mm
refractor (Orion Skywatcher 90 EQ) in all departments.

I have only one issue  the dreaded MOTOR UNIT FAULT. This appears at
random after the telescope has been aligned. It appears when an object
has been slewed to and is tracking. It can track for an hour before it
happens, it can be 30 seconds. It almost invariable happens a few
seconds after I centre an object and update the alignment (by holding
down the ENTER key for a couple of seconds).

Power supply? I have used fresh alkaline batteries (Duracell Ultra),
freshly charged NiMH rechargeables (GP 2100 mAh), and a mains adapter 
doesn't seem to make a difference, I still get the fault.

I have browsed your superb site and seen several references to the
problem, including:

- it's Autostar software related  I've upgraded from 2.6 to 3.1  makes
no difference, and

- it's a power spike problem in the way the telescope draws current and
can be rectified with a capacitor (?) in the power supply  I'm not
electronically competent enough (at all!) to attempt this without step
by step instructions.

I have emailed Meade with the problem  no reply or even acknowledgement
after a month or so.

Is there a solution to this?

Thanks for a wonderful resource. Please keep up the good work.


Duncan Rosie
Mike here: There can be lots of causes, as you noted. Any electrical interference can cause it as can a loose Autostar cable connection. Since it occurs with any power source, any electrical interference would have to be nearby (power lines?). As to the cable, check the pins in the jacks and plugs. Also, try reversing the Autostar cable. You can also redistribute the grease by unlocking both axes and moving the OTA from hard stop to hard stop, in both directions, back and forth, several times. Lastly, since you didn't indicate any GOTO or tracking problems this is probably not the culprit but it can't hurt: do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES again. (Contacting Meade via email will not usually work.)


Thanks for your prompt and helpful response.

I'll try reversing the Autostar cable and I'll also replace it with some
network cable to see if that helps. There is no obvious source of
electrical interference. I am trying to source a decent, regulated 12V
supply which will hopefully help as well.

I'll report back on any success/failures as they occur.

An additional issue I've just remembered, which might be related to the
motor unit fault, is that the display and key lights on the handbox will
sometimes flicker and dim, apparently at random. The display and key
lights will also switch off if left without input for a while (about 10
minutes I think).

I don't have any GOTO problems that I know of. Once aligned, the little
scope finds virtually everything I point it at, if not in the field of
view of the 26 mm eyepiece, then at least visible in the finder. My dogs
woke me at 3 AM the other morning and, once I'd established they were
barking at a stray dog, I noticed what a beautiful, clear night it was.
10 minutes later the ETX was out, on it's tripod, and two-star aligned
and I eventually made it back to bed after 5AM, having seen more in
those two hours than I have in the past two years with my refractor.
After viewing M6 and M7 I used the Guided Tour function and found
objects I had no idea existed - 47 Tucanae for example - absolutely

I am waiting for delivery of the eyepiece set (coming from the UK with
my brother-in-law in a couple of weeks) and once I have that I will
review the scope for the Cloudynights web site. If it will be helpful to
you I will happily review the scope and eyepiece set for your site as

Mike, I trust that Meade have you on the payroll, I think you are doing
a helluva job of customer support for their products and are probably
responsible for more ETX sales than the ads in Astronomy and S & T!

Regards from Sunny South Africa,
Duncan Rosie
Mike here: The display going out is a power-saving "sleep" mode, like a laptop computer's display dimming after a period of inactivity. Press a key to get it back. But flickering is not a good thing. Check the connections.


I'll be checking the cabling tonight with a network cable.

I've written a review of the ETX (my eyepieces have been delayed) and
will submit it to Cloudynights tomorrow - I'll let you know when they
post it.

Thanks again for the prompt assistance.

Duncan Rosie

Subject:	supercharging scope
Sent:	Thursday, May 20, 2004 15:50:44
i have been surfing site but cant find link to dr clay's supercharge
site. i have a etx125 that i would like to get set up. could you send me
the link .   thanks in advance
Mike here: "ETX Tune-up Service" on my ETX Site Home Page.
Subject:	Cleaning the ETX tube
Sent:	Thursday, May 20, 2004 04:03:46
From:	"Family Sales" (
Dear Dr Clay,

I cleaned the ETX tube with lighter fuel as you suggested.

It looked so good I lit a cigarette.

When I struck the match there was a loud explosion inside the telescope
and the corrector plate was blown out of the OTA with considerable force
striking a passing fuel tanker driver behind the ear causing him
temporarily to loose consciousness.

Fortunately the truck was stopped by running into the fresh vegetable
section of our local supermarket, empty at the time for stocktaking, and
the driver escaped unhurt before the truck exploded causing two tons of
mangoes to fall through the roof of the Art Gallery, happily closed for
lunch, completely destroying an exhibition of Picasso's twenty most
expensive paintings.

The blast also ejected my newly rebuilt 26mm Super Plossl eyepiece from
the telescope at surprising velocity.

After several ricochets around the kitchen it broke a Delft plate of
incalculable value presented to my Great Uncle by the Duke of Wellington
after the Battle of Waterloo for his invaluable tactical advice.

I assume all this to be normal but the question is, do I have to retrain
the Autostar now or will a simple calibration suffice?

All the best,


Subject:	Clicking ETX drive
Sent:	Thursday, May 20, 2004 03:04:09
From:	"MMIC EOD" (
OK then.

Re the clicking ETX
Tighten these two screws with washers and Loctite

The motor and toy gear set are held onto the chassis by these two screws. There are rubber washers beneath to make the thing sound less like a cement mixer. The screws come loose and then the motor torque twists the assembly until it hits the head of the loose screw when it clicks back. Click rate varies depending on how near to falling out the screws are. I haven't dared look in the Alt drive bear pit yet. As one of your recent correspondents said this is an expensive item (an ETX 125 in the UK costs over ?800, nearly $1,500) and we shouldn't have to put up with continuing running repairs on new equipment. As I said before, the baseplate says it all - Assembled in Mexico from US and imported parts. I suspect Meade's success may have outrun its quality control procedures. All the best, Steve

Subject:	Re: Solar filter
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 2004 22:42:23
From:	Richard Seymour (
>I would think intuitively that if one looked at the Moon through an enormous
>scope at low power there would be enough light energy available to cause eye

It is always possible.. the moon is about 10% albedo (reflectivity),
so magnifying it by 10X to 50x does make it painfully bright...
except: try it in the -daytime-.   Does it still feel as bright?
A lot of the pain of looking at a bright moon is becuase your eyes
have fully dialated (pupil expanded to 7+ mm) and *WHAM* you shine
a moon at it.  But in the -daylight-, your eyes are at their 
normal 1 or 2 mm dialation, and accept the moon as "normal".
(you could try going directly from a well-lit indoors to 
nighttime moon-viewing, and see how it feels).
But that (relative/acclimated brightness) is only one factor.
The other is the magnification itself.. it's actually making the
moon's image -dimmer- (see below).  For a 90mm telescope, you are
gathering 165 times the light your naked eye would gather (assuming
7mm pupil... young people can dialate further, so the light amplification
is actually less).  If we magnify the image by that 165 times, we have
spread the light -out- (not concentrated it) to make the image bigger,
so the brightness returns to exactly the same as the original 1x apparent
brightness of the unmagnified moon's surface.

>Similarly I can't really see that a filter that is safe with 50 mm aperture
>and X50 mag can also be safe with 500 mm aperture and the same mag. since
>the collecting area is 100 times greater.
.Obviously, having been brought up on dire warnings re Sun + Scopes, I am a
>bit twitchy about direct solar viewing.

The trick with safe solar viewing is that the filter is -before-
the magnification.  
So the light is already dimmed to naked-eye safety levels.
Then you magnify it... that magnification -dims- the light 
(on a lux per square millimeter basis) by the magnification factor.
(this is why using high magnification on the "bright moon" does not
make that highly magnified image too bright to look at).
So if you take an already-dim-enough-to-view-safely image of the sun,
and magnify it to make it -bigger-, you are (at the same time) dimming
it in the process.

Another example of this dimming-by-magnification is "projection viewing" 
of the sun's image from a open-tube newtonian telescope (no eyepiece).
Do NOT try this with any SEALED telescope design (such as the ETX, LXD's or LX90).
(you WILL damage the telescope)
But in a plain newtonian, you can project the sun's image out through
the eyepiece hole.  If you put a piece of paper up close to the eyepiece
hole, the image is small, -intensely- bright, and may start a fire.
But pull the paper away, and the image grows in size, with corresponding
decrease in brightness.  You can project the image to a 2-meter diameter,
but you'll have to have that 2-meter surface in the shade, since the
image will be very, very dim.

have fun (Safely)
I appreciate your taking the time for such a detailed reply.

I accept what you say about the Moon, probably we have made a lot of
visual purple by dark adapting and, although I would expect our pupil to
contract in a few milliseconds there may be a price to pay for all the
retinal photochemistry that goes on.

Your comment :-

The trick with safe solar viewing is that the filter is -before- the

So the light is already dimmed to naked-eye safety levels. Then you
magnify it... that magnification -dims- the light (on a lux per square
millimeter basis) by the magnification factor. (this is why using high
magnification on the "bright moon" does not make that highly magnified
image too bright to look at). So if you take an
already-dim-enough-to-view-safely image of the sun, and magnify it to
make it -bigger-, you are (at the same time) dimming it in the process.

Hmm. Not convinced.

Lets have the same light source, the same filter attenuation and the
same magnification.

Optical expert I am not but for argument's sake lets assume the light
source produces a flux of 100 photons per second per sq mm.

The filter has an attenuation factor of 100 so, after passing through
the filter the flux is 1 photon/Sq mm/sec.

For a 100mm objective the collecting area (pi r2) is, say, 7,500 sq mm
so that telescope gathers 7,500 photons per second.

For a 1000mm objective the collecting area is, say, 750,000 sq mm so
750,000 photons/sec

For the same magnification (unless I am being completely stupid) the
size of the image on the retina will be the same for both telescopes but
that image will have 100 times the photon density and therefore energy
in the larger scope. Or have I missed something somewhere ?

All the best,

Mike here: That's why the safe to view image has already been created. You can look through the filter with your naked eye and it is safe. Dimming from magnification is just that; further dimming.


> Hmm. Not convinced.

And well you shouldn't be.

One other consideration is that the filter drops the light 
a good factor of ten -lower- than "safe" (possibly even 100),
before handing it to the telescope.

But most folks -do- add an aperture mask, so that a 10" telescope
(2500mm) may only have a 3" (90mm) solar filter in front of it.
(this gives you an F/30 telescope... great depth of field, dim).

In "the old days", the 3" aperture was also done for reasons
of cost.  Glass filters were expensive (still are).
Baader film removes the cost factor, but you still really
don't need a large aperture -unless- you're planning on 
-high- magnification.

So the best answer for general viewing (some low, some high,
magnification) would be a full-aperture filter for high
power, with an extra "cover" with a 3" hole in it (off-center
to clear the central obstruction) for low-power full-disk
Which is exactly what you've created!

have fun
That I do understand, many thanks for your helpful advice.

I live in a small village in central France (they're not entirely bad)
and we will have a village transit party (any excuse for drinking in the
morning) where everybody gets to look at the Sun. The last thing I want
is to see the entire village walking around with black eye patches
afterwards like Long John Silver.

I used projection with a home made 10" Newtonian for the eclipse but the
ETX has superseded that.

Anyway the mirror needs resilvering and my attempts with Brashear's
process have been less than successful.

Silvered the kitchen sink and the bottom of a Pyrex mixing bowl superbly
but the stuff refused to stick on the only chemically clean bit of glass
it was offered. There's a lesson in that somewhere.

I wonder how long the aluminium (if it is) lasts on an ETX.

Thanks again.

All the best,

Mike here: My ETX-90 has been going strong since 1996. My Edmund 3" Newtonian (circa 1961) could stand to be re-surfaced but is still usable.


Thanks again for the info Mike.

I have tidied up the kitchen and the supermarket fire is out now. I got
a second hand Creative webcam today and, being too old and impatient to
wait for night, put the Seymour/Weasner/Sales solar filter in place on
the newly cleaned ETX and took this picture of a sunspot with two pale
companions above.

I'm sure you are mightily fed up with amateurish first attempts but it
was your site that gave me the info and assistance to get even this far.
Thanks to you all.

ps How do I make the FOV larger - I need a reverse Barlow !

All the best,


Mike here: See the Shutan Wide Field Adapter on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page.


I'm pretty sure the ETX mirror is overcoated, since that coating
is one of the things they -change- for the UHTC option.

have fun

Subject:	ETX AC adapter
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 2004 05:43:12
From:	Mike Knapp (
One of my last times out observing I tripped on my AC adapter wire and
broke off the connecter to the scope. I thought I put the connecter it
in a place I'd remember...but you know how that goes. A mouse must have
picked it up and took off with it! Any idea what size the connecter that
plugs into the ETX is?

I also thought I would mention again about callibrating drives. Atyour
2nd star party in Springfield, IL Dr. Sherrod mentioned callibrating the
drives every time you use the scope. Ever since then, my "gotos" have
been EXTREMELY accurate. Thank you Doc!! Once I level the base and turn
thescope on, the callibration is the first thing I do. I then (without
turning the scope off) go back and enter the time, date etc. and then do
my 2 star allignment. It was so accurate 2 weekends ago, we finally found
M51, M81 and M82 in Ursa Major. While it was accurate, I found a few
VERY faint galaxies near Leo. 

Also, everyone needs to get out and look at comet Q/4 Neat....very
impressive. Where I observe from in central Illinois, it is a naked eye
object and through the scope there is a definate tail. Can't wait for T7


Mike Knapp
MIke here: Off the top of my head I don't recall but I believe the info is in one of the Power Supplies articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Check there.
Subject:	Re: GPS
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 2004 04:19:03
From:	"David Adriance" (
I have also had excellent results here in Nairobi, Kenya with the Star
GPS from Scopetronix and am now wondering how I got by without it!  It
has definitely enhanced the Go To accuracy of my ETX-125.

Dark skies,


Subject:	Eyepiece silliness
Sent:	Wednesday, May 19, 2004 04:12:19
From:	"MMIC EOD" (
Can you or someone out there please help ?

While enjoying some superb DSO views on a really clear night I put the
26mm Super Plossl down then at the end of the session put it back in its

Unfortunately it wasn't alone, a small slug had crawled into the
eyepiece. After a couple of days it had given up its little sluggy ghost
and expired in a pool of goo on the lens.

I had to take the whole thing apart because the lens needed washing. I
wasn't expecting two lenses.

I carefully put the first one down the right way up, washed the second
and put it down the right way up too, then the phone rang.

When I got back I couldn't remember what the right way up was and which
was the top lens. I could still remember my name and a few choice

I think both lenses are identical but am not sure. Each doublet has a
thin and thick lens when viewed from the side. There are eight possible
combinations for assembly and I now have the Plossl equivalent of
Collimator's disease.

This is the standard Meade eyepiece supplied with an ETX125 and yes, I
do feel daft.

All the best,

Mike here: Check the article "Eyepiece Designs" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.


Brilliant, I'd looked all over your site but couldn't find the answer (I
can't get your search engine to work)

Anyway I'm glad I'm not the only guy to have made the same mistake. If
it's of any use this is a simple design to hold the Barlow on the ETX
tripod tray. The Barlow has a very exposed lens with a plastic cap. I
turned this up in PVC.

All that's needed is to glue the short 30 mm dia. stub into a spare hole
in the tray. The Barlow is then held in place by its locking screw. When
removed the plastic cap fits over the 30 mm section so doesn't get lost.

Thanks again.

All the best,


Subject:	problem with #887 advanced field tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, May 18, 2004 21:44:17
From:	Tommy Lim (
I do facing a serious problem with my new #887 advanced field tripod.

First of all, I am staying at Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. As you all know
Malaysia is a country that located near the Equator, Latitude only 3N.

So, last nite when i set it up and check for the latitude adjustment, I
found out that it doen's reach 3 degrees. Then i also found out it is
because of the Fine adjstment L-bracket blocking it. So, What should I
do for it?

I also thought of a very stupid solution, what if I take out the
L-bracket and let it be at 3 degrees, but the problem is how am i goin
to fine tune the latitude when i need a precise polar alignment?

Can someone come out with a good idea for me or for all the people who
is using this mount near the Equator?

Hope to hear from you soon.


Subject:	Bright meteor sighted
Sent:	Tuesday, May 18, 2004 20:53:11
From:	"Douglas G.Canard" (
Tonight {May 18, 2004} at approximately 09:53 CST {May 19 0253 GMT?} I
spotted a huge, bright, greenish meteor with occasional red flashes that
lasted for around five seconds or so directly in the southeast. It fell
almost straight down from an approximate elevation of 60 degrees until I
lost sight of it due to trees around 20 degrees elevation. Don't know if
it was a skimmer or if it hit the ground. I thought I'd mention it in
case it did. {Most likely not, but who knows} It was the biggest and
most impressive one I've seen to date.

Location of sighting: Coal Hill, Arkansas.

Subject:	weird solar-filter
Sent:	Tuesday, May 18, 2004 13:57:36
From:	"Tomas Hekkers" (
....sometimes weird things happen. I bought myself a tight-fit glass
solarfilter for my ETX 105 at the 'Astronomische Trodel Treffen' in
Germany a few saturday's back. I tested it already. It gives a very
relaxed clear yellow-orange view of the sun. The filter is distributed
by a german trader but I suspect it is manufactured by JMB in the US. I
am very happy with the filter as the transit of Venus comes closer and
closer (8th of June). Don't forget that!

Then a weird thing happens; I proudly took a pic of my ETX with the
filter to show my ETX-buddies along the world, then this japanese dragon
appears on the the glass, haha........sadly it ruined the rest of the
photo which is rather vague, don't you think?

Greetings from the dragon-inn Holland, Tomas.

Subject:	eyepiece thread
Sent:	Tuesday, May 18, 2004 08:01:41
From:	Giuseppe Pellizzer (
First of all, let me thank you for the time and effort that you are
putting into this site. I have used it a lot and profitably since I have
received my ETX-90 in December 2003.

Now, my problem is that I have tried yesterday for the first time to use
a Baader contrast booster filter to view Jupiter and I have been able to
put the filter on all eyepieces I have (I have bought the Meade eyepiece
set that was on sale some time ago) except for the 6.4 mm and the 9.7 mm
eyepieces. It seems to me that the thread on these two eyepieces is
defective. So, my question is whether you have some suggestion on how to
fix this problem.

Mike here: Check for a metal "burr" or other obstruction in the threads. Usually, that is the problem.

And an update:

I found out afterwards that I can unscrew the barrel of the eyepieces,
pivot it and put it back without forcing too much. And the filter fit
perfectly on the other end of the barrel. I guess that one end was
better machined than the other.


Subject:	Mounting the ETX-90EC on a photo tripod.
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 23:05:52
From:	"Dave P" (
Since the ETX-90EC has a standard photo tripod mounting block attached,
can the scope be dismantled from the forks (without hurting the scope or
the mount) for use on a Manfrotto tripod? Are there any obvious problems
I might run into?

Thank you,

David Pottinger

San Diego, CA
Mike here: Yes, the OTA can be removed. See the description near the end of this page:
Subject:	Waxing
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 16:52:37
From:	"David Guibert" (
I was reading your ETX site and in one area someone mentioned that you
should not use car wax on the telescope tube. Is this true? If so why? I
have both a Meade SN-10 and a ETX-105, and I did wax the 105 with no
problems prior to reading this persons comment.

David Guibert
Melbourne, FL
From:	"P. Clay Sherrod" (
The use of hard car wax on the scope exteriors is NOT a good idea,
particularly for the ETX anodized surface; the LX models of scopes are
painted and overcoated and if they become marred and scratched waxing is
okay, but I recommend ONLY the soft liquid type rather than paste wax;
if the user sees blue on the rag after application, the wrong kind of
wax is being used.

For the ETX blue anodized tubes, the ONLY thing that works well is
cigarette lighter fluid....wipe it on and then buff with a fresh clean

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)


Wow, thanks for the info. How fast is that!


Subject:	Where can I buy a replacement ETX rear cover?
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 16:11:35
From:	"Arthur R. Kotz" (
I need a replacement rear cell cover for my ETX-105 -- the 1.4 inch
(approx.) diameter cover.

I can't seem to find who sells them, if anyone.

Can you or anyone steer me to a source?

Thank you.

Art Kotz
Mike here: Have you tried Meade? They might send you one for free.


I'll try them.

Thanks Mike -- Your site is great!

Art Kotz

Subject:	Sky Assurance program update
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 10:29:06
From:	"Monte Tausend" (
I told you about my troubles trying to get the extended warranty called
Sky Assurance. I am happy to report that I was able to buy it directly
from Meade by calling their 1-800 # and talking to a representative.

I also talked to representative who credited my account
backwitha full refund. She apologized and explained that her company was
still trying to get it set-up with Vac/Meade.

I would advise anyone else interested in buying the extended warranty to
ask first if the dealer they are going through has it set up as needed.
If not, thendo as I and go directly through Meade.

I am waiting for the hard copy paperwork on the program which should
arrive within the next week or so. If for some reason, that becomes a
problem, I will surely let you know.


Subject:	re:  Solar filter
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 08:17:20
From:	Richard Seymour (
There -is- a light-leak source in the ETX telescopes.
It is under the barrel, where it is held by the plastic
carrier.  Also the two threaded inserts on that carrier
(the mounting screws for a camera tripod if you were
to remove the barrel to use as a "spotting scope")

A way to look for light leaks is to put on the corrector 
cover, and point the telescope at the sun.

Look in the eyepiece.. it should be -black-.

If you see any light at all, try covering (or wrapping)
the telescope with dark cloth to find where it is coming

You should NOT be using it to observe the sun
if you are feeling eye strain. \
Reducing the aperture with your mask was a good idea.  

I cannot remember: are there -two- types of Baader film,
one for photography ONLY, and the other for visual?
(i know that some filter materials are classed that way).
You may have a photo-only sheet of film.  Dangerous.

good luck


You are right there are two grades of filter - I got the 'look' one not
the 'photo'. I'll go and test the scope now.

All the best,

And more:
Did the test as you suggested - completely black.

I do notice a bit of residual eye ache after looking at the full Moon
with the ETX125 (hence my initial question to Mike re eye damage from
Moon gazing).

I would think intuitively that if one looked at the Moon through an
enormous scope at low power there would be enough light energy available
to cause eye damage.

Similarly I can't really see that a filter that is safe with 50 mm
aperture and X50 mag can also be safe with 500 mm aperture and the same
mag. since the collecting area is 100 times greater.

Obviously, having been brought up on dire warnings re Sun + Scopes, I am
a bit twitchy about direct solar viewing.

All the best,


Subject:	Re: ETX tracking jerky
Sent:	Sunday, May 16, 2004 12:35:29
From:	"Jim Beston" (
As you suggested in your last mail I have done a RESET, calibrate and
train drives.I trained the dirves according to the procedure given by
Victor van Wulfen in his e-mail to yourself of January 19 2002. He
suggests using speed "1" when recentering the reference object. On doing
this I notice a very considerable time lag (30 -60 secs) before the
object moves. When it does move it jerks about 1/4 of the way across the
field of view then stops. It then does nothing for a similar period of
time and then jerks across again. This type of movement is not so
apparent at a speed setting of "2" and virtually non-existant at "3".I
have a bad feeling about this. Other that tap the motor housing
vigourously with a baseball bat is there anything I can do?



P.S. I got a Meade Solar Filter today - ready for the transit on June
8th. I was going to send a photo for your gallery but hadn't done the
RCT exercise. Hope to do so tomorrow!
Mike here: OK, the jerk does sound like something is catching. Probably not good.


I'm fairly technically minded. Is it something that I could spot if I
took a look inside?
Mike here: Possibly, if a wire or other obstruction.

And: a somewhat Cavalier fashion born out of desparation - I took the
scope off the tripod turned it upsidedown tapped it a little, shook it a
bit, caloled it, threatened it, turned it rapidily from side to side
and, guess what: The clicking has gone away and it is functioning (as
near as I can tell) Perfectly!

Fingers Crossed!

Mike here: Did your hear anything rattle? It would appear that whatever the obstruction was has moved.


No Mike, nothing:

I read stories of wires being found to be mashed up inside lets hope it
was not that. The clicking was getting much louder tonight and I could
feel the "shock" through the motor housing when it occured. I would say
it felt like a cog jumping. I'll let you know if anything re-occurs. I
hope the Meade engineers read your web pages. It's a pity that a really
good design concept can be spoilt by something like this. I know that it
is mostly people with trouble contact you, but some of the mechanical
problems I've read about could be quite off-putting.

It's midnight in the UK now so I'm off to bed.

Thanks again Mike,


Subject:	etx repaired
Sent:	Sunday, May 16, 2004 10:17:28
From:	"Dan Hester" (
Got word from Mead this week that my ETX 125 has been repaired and on
the way back home. Didn't take as long as anticipated...the unit took a
week to get there...a week at Meade and will take a week back. Not Bad.
Can't wait to have my old friend in the back yard again. Dan

Subject:	Scratches on ETX90
Sent:	Saturday, May 15, 2004 14:45:33
From:	"colin matin" (
Can anyone tell me how to remove or hide a small scratch on the nice
blue tube of my ETX90


Mike here: See the article "ETX Tube Touch-up Paint" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Is Meade #541 AC Adapter compatiblet with french 220v ?
Sent:	Saturday, May 15, 2004 14:41:44
From:	"Thomas DUFOUR" (
Thanks for your wonderful site.
Can you tell me if #541 AC Adapter is compatible with french 220v ?
My sister lives in New York and often buys me products at low price.
#541 costs only $49 over there, but in France, it costs 89 euros, about
$110; pretty expensive no ?
But I don't know if this adapter is restricted to 115v; usually,
electronics adapters (computers, photo...) are 115-240v compatibles.
Mike here: 115-120 only.
Subject:	Solar filter
Sent:	Saturday, May 15, 2004 06:15:47
From:	"MMIC EOD" (
I made a filter using Baader SolarFilm as per their instructions ready
for the Venus transit.

I checked carefully for pinholes and got a good view of the sun through
my ETX125 with a 28 mm lens.

I also made a filter for the finder from an offcut which makes finding
the sun very easy.

It is probably psychological since I have always used projection to view
the Sun before but I find my eye is slightly sore after 5 minutes, a bit
like accidentally catching an arc welding flash.

The image doesn't seem unduly bright but it is, of course, daytime.

Any comments ?

Is there any evidence of retinal damage from looking at the Moon ?

All the best,

Mike here: I've not heard of any eye damage from looking at the Moon although when Full (or nearly so) it can be painful to look at initially (unless you use a Moon Filter). The same effect is probably what you are experiencing when looking at the Sun if the image is bright. Since you are using a good solar filter you should be OK. But if you are at all concerned you might want to try a different solar filter.


Thanks for your prompt and, as usual, helpful reply.

I put on sunglasses and looked more closely at the solar disk. In the 28
mm lens it practically fills the FOV. In the centre was a much brighter
area, probably about 1/10 th solar diameter. In the general brightness
this was not visible without sunglasses.

I cut cardboard baffle with a 65mm dia central hole and installed that
behind the filter. Image quality was much better but there was still a
central bright area, this time about a quarter of solar diameter. No eye
ache at all after prolonged viewing and the image quality was much
improved. Is it possible that some internal reflection in the scope
(back of the corrector plate ???) is producing a concentrated secondary
image ? If so there is real danger of eye damage despite the use of a
good quality filter. Bearing in mind that lots of us will be looking
Sunwards for long periods during the Venus transit it is worth airing
this subject..

All the best,

Mike here: What you may be seeing is known as "limb darkening". This is a normal and a real thing when viewing the Sun. The limb is darker than the central part of the solar disk. "Stopping down" the aperture is certainly a good technique, especially on larger aperture telescopes. Again, a good quality undamaged solar filter from a reputable manufacturer is perfectly safe to use.


Thanks for taking the trouble to reply. No, this is an artefact. I have
no idea where it comes from.

If I take the solar filter and put it in front of a pair of binoculars
there is no similar effect.

It is not a gradual transition from light to dark but a bright clearly
delineated central brightness.
Mike here: Could be internal reflection or just a result of the low power eyepiece where the central obstruction becomes more obvious. I've seen this when using my wide field adapter with a low power eyepiece.


Yes , that is possible. Maybe the eye ache is less just because of the
'stop' reducing the amount of light. Obviously there's a considerable
psychological hurdle to jump for someone who has spent a lifetime being
told that you never point a scope at the Sun. I do appreciate your help.

All the best,


Subject:	ETX 90 Update
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 2004 13:02:41
From:	F&M Goodman (
Fred Goodman here.

The new mounting base,from Shutan, works well. The attached photo shows
the modifications I made since the last mail (New finderscope etc.). I do
have a problem that I could not find an answer to on the site. I have
developed chromatic aberration around the planets I have been
viewing (Jupiter and Saturn). I get red on one edge and blue on the
other. It doesn't matter what lens (26mm Plossl or 18mm Plossl) with and
without the 124 Barlow.  I already reglued the front baffle and
collimation seems fine. Is this a fix that Meade must perform?

Finally, I cannot use your homepage search engine. It says I need
Javascript,but it is enabled in my Mozilla browser. The same occured
when I was previously using Internet Explorer 6.0. I believe this is the
only site where I get this problem.

Above all, continued thanks for a superb site. Clear skies and great views.

Mike here: I suspect it is out of collimation. Unless you want to attempt the collimation steps on the Telescope Tech Tips page, Meade should perform it.
Sorry about the Javascript engine but thanks for the report. I presume you are on Windows; it works fine on Mac OS X (Unix) on my G4. I do know that I've exceeded the optimal file size for the Javascript search engine; guess I need to split it up or switch to something else again.


Thanks for the speedy e-mail reply. I will have to decide if I will send
the scope to Meade or to Clay(for the tune-up). Either way I will have
to wait a while.

Subject:	ETX part question
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 2004 12:38:55
Dropped the little eyepiece holder screw in the grass last night. No
luck finding it after hours of searching. Any ideas where I can get a
replacement, or a reasonable facsimile?
Mike here: I forget the exact size but I think the screws from computer cables will work, like RS-232 cables. You can also call Meade; they will likely send you some replacements.
Subject:	ETX Accessories: BinoMate on Meade ETX105
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 2004 08:08:25
From:	"MORRIS, MARK" (
In response to the question below, I have been using a Tele Vue BinoVue
on my ETX-105. I've been meaning to submit a review but just haven't
found the time. So, in short, I love it and it works well with the 105.
(I have tried it with a 90 and while it is useable, the wieght is too
much and causes excessive instability.)

The drawbacks, (aside from cost) are the increased weight which requires
you to tighten the dec lock more than normal, and the increased
magnification. The unit itself gives me a 1.3x-1.4x increase depending
on the ep used. Using the "2x" corrector gives me around 2.2x. I have
tried a 2x barlow in place of the corrector and that gives me about

So, as you can see high magnification is not difficult to get to.
However, 32mm plossls in the BinoVue gives me appx 62x and less than 1
degree FOV, not exactly low power/wide field viewing.

The advantages more make than make up for these issues IMHO.

The improved contrast and resolution is significant, as is the reduction
of eye floaters and general improved comfort of viewing.

I cannot comment on the long term effect the weight may have on the
drives, but they don't seem to be overtaxed.

I would recommend that anyone considering a binoviewer take the plunge,
more than likely they will like it. And if not they are easy to re-sell
and keep their value pretty well.

I should mention that while I have no knowledge of the vendor mentioned,
I have had less than an acceptable experience with a US vendor who sells
the product mentioned, YMMV.

I hope this helps,
                          Mark A Morris Fort Collins, CO

Subject:	my etx-90  page astronomy from madrid
Sent:	Thursday, May 13, 2004 05:57:11
From:	victor bertol (
i have inproved my skills thanks to your web for during this time

i send you the my web link, teke a look and i hope you include in your

thank you very for you attencion

victor bertol

Subject:	re:  ETX105: RA Drive skipping
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 21:23:10
From:	Richard Seymour (
I hate to say it, but the "once per 10-15 seconds" could be
a broken/missing tooth on the first gear the motor engages.
(or the motor could be loose in its holder... shimming with
scraps of paper can fix -that-)

I have met this condition once before on a Meade 4504,
and it was exactly once per 13 seconds in a Polar mount.
It was the ever-so-slightly-loose motor "hopping" out of
one gear point per rotation at sidereal speed.
You could hear it, and -feel- it (the 4504 motors are
externally mounted).  

good luck
I just read something from the latest "General" sectioned on the ETX
site posted by someone else which got me thinking about this skipping
problem of mine. I only started noticing it when I acquired my portable
PSU. The cig plug only has a 1amp fuse in it and I know the Meade plug
is 1.5amp. In one of Mike's recent responses on the web site to someone
else, he did mention that the ETX might not be able to cope with some
things running with only 1amp. Could this be causing motor jerking
resulting in the problems I previously reported?  I might pop down to an
electronics store and get myself a 1.5amp fuse today.

I will definitely try out your "half lock/turn" method and let you both
know what happens. I'm starting to feel like Columbo ;-) LOL You know
you were a child of the 70/80's if you recall Columbo... dear, oh dear.

Certainly if the problem appeared with the PSU, it's a suspect.
But a 1 amp fuse is merely a narrow piece of wire..
 a 1.5 amp fuse has just 50% more cross-sectional area.

A -better- test would be to return to whatever power source
you used -before- the PSU.  (what is a PSU, anyway?)
If a PSU is an AC adapter by a fancier acronym, then it's
quite possible that it's "noisy".  And noise causes problems.

good luck
PSU = Power Supply Unit.  It might just be a British thing, I guess.
It's basically a sealed acid battery unit, with a handle to carry it, a
helpful load meter on the front and a charge-test button plus a bright
light (that I have covered with red acetate). It has car jumper plugs on
it and a side power outlet which connects to a cig plug that goes goes
in to the ETX. Nice little compact unit, have been using it extensively
for a few weeks now on one single charge. Most astro dealers sell it in
the UK for double the price I got it from Maplins (a popular UK based
electronic store chain).

I'll get that 1.5amp fuse today and try it out, but I'll also try out
the ETX on just the normal 8xAA Duracels and also the AC adapter which I

And this:
Yes, i assumed PSU was "power supply unit", but since "supply"
is a moderately active verb, (and due to US engineering
idiomatic usage) i assumed it was an AC adapter.  
(over here a "power supply" is an active beastie,
and a "battery" is a passive battery.  We wouldn't call
a "battery" a PSU unless there were active electronics
involved to do things like generate AC from the battery
(then it'd be an "inverter").

On Mike's site, you'll see the term "JumpStart" applied
to mean exactly what you are using.. so-called after a
particular brand name of a family of automotive emergency
batteries.  I use one for my LX200gps, and i use an AC adapter
for my ETX90.  (when it's not on its internal AA cells).

good luck
So I hooked up my AC adapter instead of the portable PSU. I still get
the same problem. I've timed it this time. It's every 12 seconds. Tried
your half lock and twist method, Mike, still no joy. It looks like I'll
have to send the 'scope back *sigh* whilst it's still under warranty. I
wonder if it's worth opening up the 'scope and taking a look at the
teeth to check if any of them have broken? I guess that'll void my
warranty immediately. No doubt Meade have some sticker inside which if
broken proves someone has been tampering and they'll just send it back
and say sorry, pay up! Or will they?

There were no warranty stickers blocking access
to my ETX90, although:
(a) it was a 1999 model (so they might have changed)
(b) the access screws are under the adhesive rubber feet.
 Keeping the glue from becoming fouled is part of the procedure.
(c) once in there... BE CAREFUL.  They'd probably notice
 broken wires (oops.. dropped the cover) or a chewing gum
 wrapped left inside.  (especially one not available in Irvine)

have fun
Mike here: I don't recall if you've tried it but loosening up the lubrication might. Unlock the axis and rotate the telescope from hard stop to hard stop, back and forth several times.

And then there is this:

Subject:	Re: jerky RA movement of ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, May 14, 2004 10:07:51
From:	Perng (
Hi Mike,

We corresponded a few times in mid April about the clicking RA movement.
Below are two messages you sent.

Lately, I have seen quite a few posts reporting similar problem. this
may be a common problem with the new ETX 125. I thought I might be able
to offer a suggestion.

I did reset, recalibrate and re-train the drive. But nothing worked. I
then opened the base and checked to see if any wires got tripped. What I
saw in my new ETX model was totally different from some of the pictures
posted from others. Unfortunately, I don't have a digital camera to take
some pictures of it.

It seems with RA lock loosened, the whole gear train (plastic and much
more complex than old model) as well as the worm gear are totally
independent from the base rotation mechanism. That is to say all the
gears are stationary relative to their own axes when the base rotates.
But of course the assembly as a whole will rotate with the base. Not
sure if this is clear, but my point here is to say that rotating from
hard stop to hard stop won't help as there is no relative motion of the
gears at all.

What I found was that the worm gear was totally dry and I saw very
apparent wear marks on it. So, I scraped off some of the excessive goo
from other gears and applied to the worm gear. Right after that, the
clicks went away immediately. Since then I have been out between 5-10
times, it's been working fine. But it's back 2 days ago. So, I opened
the base again, and sure enough the worm gear was dry again. I did the
same thing with it. I tried a dry run (it's raining outside) for about
20+ minutes and all was fine. Certainly, it may not be a long term
solution but it seemed to work for me. Others could give it a try. I am
very curious to know how it works for others. Of course, I assume no
responsibility for any damage when people try this out.

very interesting. This "could" be the answer to my problem. I guess I
now have to ask myself, "I paid so much money for the 'scope, it's not a
toy, it's meant to work flawlessly, it's still under warranty, so
shouldn't I just send it back and get Meade to fix it and get my moneys
worth?" or should I chance it and go for a quick, all be it temporary
self fix? Hmmmm... I'll sleep on it. But my tool box is already out and
next to my 'scope and waiting to be put to use! LOL ARGH!  Stay tuned
for the next epic saga ;-)  Mike, as always, your in-depth help is much
appreciate, as is yours, Dick.


Mike here: Warranty is always the best way to go.


If you can do an instantaneous swap at the dealer's,
by all means do so.

good luck

Subject:	re:  powerstationl ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 21:18:31
From:	Richard Seymour (
This may sound strange, but has the fuse blown?

There could be a problem with your hookup which blew the fuse.

(remember that the center/tip of the ETX's power connector wants
to be the -positive- connection)

Check the output at the ETX's plug end with a voltmeter.

good luck

Subject:	re:   Light issue?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 21:15:56
From:	Richard Seymour (
> All I see when I look threw the telescope weather with or with 
>out a camera is the back of my eye. No
>matter what I try all I get is my eye,

I wonder... if you have the "flip mirror" in the wrong position?

There is a knob on the -side- of the rear of the telescope
which pivots a mirror into the light path.

When the mirror is -down-, the light from the main lens
is bounced up to the eyepiece hole.

When the mirror is -up-, the light passes underneath it
so that it can exit through the rear of the telescope
(there's a removable black cap back there).

For normal viewing, you want the mirror -down- (at a 45 degree
angle) to bounce the light properly.
If the mirror was -up-, then all you'd see if you looked
into the eyepiece hole would be, indeed, your eyeball.

If the flip-mirror -is- down, then, as Mike says, you
probably need to focus.   Twist the rear focus knob -many-
times (it's 50 full turns end-to-end).
The goal is to make the image in the eyepiece as -small- as

good luck
Mike here: Actually, with the flip mirror in the wrong position, the only view of your eyeball would be a reflection from the eyepiece top glass surface.

And this:

Mike you wrote:

>It sounds as if you are making a common new user mistake: using the
>focus knob >to try to enlarge the object being viewed. When in focus,
>the object should >actually be at its smallest.

Not the issue. I thought of that too, since my wife was playing with the
knob. For some reason it didn't matter. So I tried going down by the
shore (maybe some random streetlight) Nope!? I even went back the next
day went again threw the set-up...looked at Jupiter (completely dark),
Saturn and Venus when up (still light then) abit. I am stumped

Thanks for the quick response
And more:
I will try to turn the focus more or maybe the set screw on the side is
too loose so as not to turn the focus enough..I'll give that a shot.!
And an update:
Set screw was slipping so I didn't realize the focus ability.
Unfortunately, the batteries ran out pretty quickly tonight but I was
able to see that it works!

Thanks for the input...sometimes a little help goes along way!

Subject:	Light issue?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 19:01:01
From:	Dave Jenkins (
My wife just bought me the Meade ETX 70AT as a nice birthday gift (in
advance). I have been in and out with astronomy over the years. One of
my favorite pass times is to take night photos. The problem is that I
have better luck with just a camera. All I see when I look threw the
telescope weather with or with out a camera is the back of my eye. No
matter what I try all I get is my eye, no matter if it is the moon,
star, or mars. This seems wierd to me but another co-worker has the same
problem. This seems like it should be an easy fix but I can't figure it

David Jenkins
Mike here: It sounds as if you are making a common new user mistake: using the focus knob to try to enlarge the object being viewed. When in focus, the object should actually be at its smallest.
Subject:	powerstationl ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 12:12:05
From:	"Tomas Hekkers" (
in order to save money on batteries I bought mysel a powerstation at a
discount store for  16 ($ 18). I have trouble in connecting it with my
ETX 105. First some details of the station;

Tronic KH3106 powerstation with lead-gel battery
-with adapter and lightercable (to charge)
-3/4,5/6/9/12v max 1 Amp DC output
-2 Amp fuse

When I turn it on it doesn't give any power. I checked the polarity and
the use the correct voltage (12V) But nothing happens. The ETX runs fine
on 220V and on batteries. What do I do wrong; please help me out.

Mike here: How are you connecting it to the ETX? I presume the ETX LED does not illuminate. 1 Amp may not be enough for some operations; the Meade one does 1.5 Amp.
Subject:	ETX105: RA Drive skipping
Sent:	Wednesday, May 12, 2004 08:45:57
From:	Kaustav Bhattacharya (
I was wonder if you or one of your web site readers could advise me a
problem I have with my ETX105. A friend recently locked the RA axis
drive very firmly (much more firmly than I usually lock it). Ever since,
when the ETX is tracking, it appears to "skip" now and again. When I
look in to the 26mm EP, I can see that every 10-15 seconds or so, the
image jumps back a few degrees to where is was and I can hear a subtle
"click" noise as if the cogs have missed a teeth or two when rotating
inside. I have heard from others that over tightening the locks can
potentially cause problems. Are my symptoms typical of such problems and
is there anything I can do myself to remedy it?

Kaustav Bhattacharya
Mike here: Simple solution (if it works) is to slightly lock the axis and carefully and slowly move the telescope in azimuth back and forth across the location were the skipping occurs. This can flatten out the "dimple" that can result from overtightening the lock. However, if that doesn't work, check out the tips in the article "Part 1 - Mechanical Considerations and Adjustments" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Fw: support arms/ota  problem
Sent:	Monday, May 10, 2004 23:01:42
From:	"marianne/patrick" (
Just to let you know that I received the bolts and assembled the scope
as it should. But, bad weather since then.

Finally, the day before yesterday, I used my etx for the first time :
wonderful views of Jupiter and four moons.  Couldn't believe my eyes.

By the way : for the benifit of your readers : the reaction of MEADE
EUROPE (located in Germany) was immediate and concerned.  I'm very
pleased with their customer service. I wrote a mail complaining about
the bolts, the day after I received a mail back, with apologies, two
days later, I had the bolts in my hands.

I thought this positive experience with MEADE service was worth

Best regards,


Subject:	Re: ETX Tracking jerky
Sent:	Tuesday, May 11, 2004 02:41:28
It seems that the jerky tracking and associated clicking that I am
experiencing with my 105 occurs at all positons of the OTA mount:

Looking at a centered LPI image on my laptop, it will slowly drift
towards the border of the vewing window and then jerk back towards the
centre of the screen. Obviously this only represents a tiny movement but
it is a nusiance and while not preventing the capture of images by the
LPI it does make it a bit long-winded. The movement is such that the
image jerks away from the cross-hairs used in centering the image for
capture, the cross hairs dissapear to the top right-hand corner of the
viewing window and I have to fiddle about with the slewing controls to
get the image in such a position that the LPI cross hairs "see" it again
and restart capture. I am reluctant to look inside the unit - for
reasons of invalidating the warranty but it looks as though I may have
to. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this phenomena and fixed it.

I am dissapointed that MEADE (which must be a fairly big Company) does
not provide e-mail support. Thank heavens for you and your web-sites!

Best Regards
Mike here: I forget, have you done the RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN DRIVES routine?


Not the RESET - I'll try it.

Thanks & Regards

Subject:	ETX Accessories: BinoMate on Meade ETX105 
Sent:	Monday, May 10, 2004 03:38:24
From:	Kaustav Bhattacharya (
I was wondering if you or anyone reading this email off your web site
has used the BC&F BinoMate or similar product on their Meade ETX?  The
details of this accessory can be found at:

I seems like an useful item to have, but I wonder how it would effect
the motor drive on my ETX105. It does look quite heavy and I suspect I
might need some counter weights to offset the front and rear balance of
my ETX105?

Any comments from experienced users would be useful.  Thanks.

Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for one binocular viewer report.
Subject:	RE: Meade ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, May 10, 2004 02:00:30
From:	"Culpan, Gary"
Thanks Mike. Increasing the slew speed was indeed the answer.
PS. Yesterday I ordered your book on
The Meade manual is horrible !

Subject:	ETX-90 "black spot" (mirror seen in observations)
Sent:	Sunday, May 9, 2004 12:38:14
From:	"Lachezar V." (
Hello again, Mike

My question now is about something I've noticed in all my observations,
and thought of it as a scope problem (which came out not to be such, as
answered in some forums). Below is my question, as asked in Yahoo
Groups, please tell me what is your opinion.

//--My question asked in Yahoo Groups (for ETX owners):


I've got my new ETX90AT (UHTC) w/ AutoStar (w/ also Meade electric
focuser, and Meae LPI) this week, and unfortunately had some bad
weather and clouds all around with some small exceptions, when
stars 'came out'.

And in these very moments, I pointed for example the scope to
Jupiter, as well as to other stars, but was disapointed in some way
(I even though my scope had problems). I'm sure, I'm not doing
something right, but here's what I see.

When star/planet is in the center of the finderscope, as well as in
the scope seen through the eyepiece, I use the focuser to get some
more sharp details. When star/planet gets bigger, I see a black hole
in every image (star/planet observed), and as it seems this black
circle is the small circle in the front part of the scope, and as I
know - it's a mirror, that's the way the maksutov-cassegrain is
constructed. If for example I wave my finger at 2-3 cm in front of
the scope, at this moment, I will see it clearly shar, so ... the
focus as it seems, is to the objects at the front part of the scope,
and thus to the circle front mirror, placed on the inside part of
the optics. (sorry if I don't speak technical, but I'm really a
newbie, and just trying to explain my worries).

So, if I focus out... so that this black circle gets smaller, the
star/planet gets smaller as well, and I end up with an image of a
small star shining, seen as it can be seen via binocular or even
naked eye.

I've seen pictures from guys taken from ETX-90, which show
Jupiter/Mars, etc. pretty big, so how do the manage this 'black
circle' problem?

Also, if I watch at terrestrial targets, there is no such problem,
all is just perfect.

Please help with any advices.

Thanks in advance.

-- //

Mike, tell me what do you think. I used 6.4mm-40mm eyepieces, and with
not one of them I didn't see Jupiter clouds, or smth color, just big
white circle with black spot it in (the mirror).

Thanks again, as always. I hope I don't bore you with my questions, but
as a newbie, I have a lot...
Lachezar V.


Meade ETX 90AT
Meade Electric Focuser
Meade  Full set of premium-grade Super Plossl eyepieces 6.4mm <-> 40mm
Meade LPI
Meade  Erectic Prism
Meade  Barlow 2x Lens
Meade  Dew Shield
Meade  Cables/software kit for PC connection w/ ETX90AT
Bresser Saturn Special 30x70 Astro Binocular
Bresser Precision Compass
Mike here: You are making a common new user error. The focus knob is NOT a magnifier. When the image of a planet (for example) is smallest (with a given eyepiece) the image IS in focus. You can not magnify stars. When the planets (or the Moon) are in focus (for a given eyepiece), the stars will also be in focus. The distances of all astronomical objects make them essentially at infinity for optical purposes.


I understand now... 

Thanks. I'll make the observations again.
And an update:
I did it :) I saw Saturn and Venus tonight :) Finally clouds were
gone... 7 days I waited for this, since the day I got my scope.

And that's only a start... :) I never thought that Saturn would be so
small point for the naked eye. I came upon it by accident - just 'movin'
around with the scope. (as soon as I learn the sky, I'll stop this
accidental 'walks').

Thanks for all advices, Mike. I wouldn't manage without any help and
someone telling me that what I did was completely wrong :)

Saturn is beautiful...Venus crescent also.

Thanks again.

By the way, I made an extended 10 meters HBX cable and it is working
fine even on rechargable batteries. I'm telling you this, so that if you
want you post it under your Autostar pages. Some guys worried that
longer HBX cable on rechargable batteries will not work fine. Now I can
prove that is not true. I use GP NiMH 2100mAh batteries, and HBX 10
meters (crossed 1 to 8, 2 to 7, .. 8 to 1) CAT 5 network cable, and
Autostar and telescope work fine. This days I'm gonna buy an active USB
extender so that I extend to 10 meters the LPI as well.

Wish you all the best. As soon as I take some good pictures, I'll email
them to you.

Lachezar V.

Subject:	Re: Electric Focuser on ETX90
Sent:	Sunday, May 9, 2004 05:39:04
From:	"l.v." (
Well, thanks.

I've moved the gear, as advised. Then tested it from min to max, works
fine, no mirrors broken so far :)

Thank you.

Subject:	ETX-90 Question
Sent:	Sunday, May 9, 2004 04:55:19
From:	"Larry Harrison" (
I just bought an ETX-90 EC scope from Discovery Store. I opened up the
box with a note that the ETX now has the #497 Control Box. I called
Meade on this. The lady answering the call stated that this was a common
(generic) piece of paper that was included in all boxes. I read in your
section by Meade that beginning in 2003 all scopes would have the #497.
I believe that I should have had the #497. I bought the scope last
weekend here in Jacksonville, FL.

Do you agree with this? If so, who CAN I contact?

Mike here: You say you received the #497 Autostar (has number keys on the keypad). This is correct; this is the ETX-AT model, which includes the #497 Autostar and #884 tripod as standard.


I bought an ETX-90 EC.  (When you think and do not read what you
write...errors in communication fault.  Sorry Mike) The
Scope had the regular EC handbox.  A note inside the box stated the

"Important Notice Regarding ETX Telescopes with Bonus Accessories

Your ETX telescope has been upgraded with a #497
Autostar Computer Control System.  The Autostar
Makes it possible for you to locate more than 30,000
Objects in its memory at the push of a button.  Scroll-
Ing text then tells you about each object.

"Please disregard the information printed in the ETX
Manual regarding the Electronic Controller, and
Instead, refer to the enclosed Autostar manual.


I called Meade and the girl stated that this was only generic.  I got
what I was suppose to receive.

The accessories that I received was the free lens coating, free tripod
#884, and free tripod bag.  The manager at Discovery store stated that
he had never heard of this.

Should I have received a free #497?

Also, another question please.  When I begin to slew right or left,
there is a slight hesitation in movement.  Do I need to worry about
Mike here: Yes, you should have received an Autostar #497 but NOT the standard handcontroller. Contact the dealer. Some hesitation is normal.
Subject:	Please help
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 2004 22:43:48
From:	"The Olingers" (
I saw your pictures that you have taken using your ETX90. I too have an
ETX90 and I was wandering if you could offer me some assistance. I have
tried using the telescope with a 9.7mm Super Plossl eyepiece and with a
Meade Super Plossl LP 26mm eyepiece. I can see the stars better with my
naked eye than I can with the telescope. I do not know what I am doing
wrong. I can see the stars in the eyepiece and I can focus them to where
they are very sharp but, with the two eyepieces I have, I can not see
them any better than I can with the naked eye. Is there anything obvious
that I might be doing wrong?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Dacula, Ga.
Mike here: Glad you discovered the Site. But did you see that announcement on the Home Page that requested that new Site visitors read the Email Etiquette page BEFORE sending me emails? I ask because your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the subject entry. I also ask because I need to know how to make this important item clearer to Site visitors. Thanks.
What are you expecting the stars to look like through a telescope? Due to their distance, they are pinpoints of light and no magnification (with any telescope you and most countries can afford) will show any visible disk. Check out the Moon, planets, and the brighter deep sky objects for starters. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are especially nice right now.
Subject:	sky assurance program-Meade
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 2004 19:07:17
From:	"Monte Tausend" (
In June of 2003 I purchased an ETX 125 online. I had some problems with
it and sent it in for warranty work two times.

I was pickin around on websites to see what's new in accessories for
Meade, when I came across the Sky Assurance program. It offers to extend
original Meade warranty from two to four more years.

Since I had some troubles with my 125, I decided to get a two year
extension ( $99 ). At an online site was a phone number I called so I
could talk to a representative to make sure it would be O.K. to buy the
warranty from them. ( I had purchased the scope from a different online
dealer). I ordered the warranty 03/11/04.

It is now 05/08/04. For nearly two months they have been trying to get
me set-up. I have e-mailed them and talked on the phone with them a
number of times. They seem sincere in that they are trying to get it
setup, but still--two months?

There is a middle man company involved called VAC ? I believe that is at
least true as I had a few phone calls to Meade to see what was going on
and they said there was this middle man company as well.

So with that history, here is my question. Am I getting taken by the
online company or is there that much problem in setting up the program?

 Thanks for a place to ask questions
 Monte Tausend
Mike here: I haven't heard of problems but then I haven't received ANY reports of this new program. I've seen it mentioned. Which dealer were you working through?


I have been dealing with   They are listed on the Meade
website as an online dealer. They look like a good legit store. As a
matter of fact, at the time I ordered the warranty I also ordered color
filters which I received soon after.

I think I mentioned in my previous letter that I had some contact with a
Meade representative about this problem. I didn't mention the fact his
English was so hard to understand that I was barely able to make out
what he was saying. He did contact Vac but seeing as how I had already
paid to, he suggested I keep working with them.

The sky assurance program is on the Meade home page although one has to
buy it through a dealer. It is listed on several dealer sites which is
why I wonder what the heck is going on. Seems that it was poorly planned
if dealers can't access it in a timely matter.Or , am I a victim of a
lousy dealer? That was my original question I guess.

If you haven't heard much about the program, maybe no one else has been
able to actually get it either. The way I understood it was that I
should eventually have some real paper work on it that tells about the
program and how to use it if or when needed.

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Really appreciate your web

Mike here: Well, there are two possibilities: new program, lots of new participants, backlogged. OR, new program, VAC (the "insurance" company, I guess) doesn't yet know how to properly handle it. I don't recall reading about any problems with that dealer.


Thanks for the input, I'll e-mail you down the road after this whole
thing plays out.


Subject:	Meade telescopes
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 2004 12:48:57
From:	"Rich Quay" (
I am looking to buy a telescope for the first time. I would like one
that I can use in the science class that I teach in school. I am
confused by the large amount of models available. I can spend 200-300
dollars. I see that you know quite a bit about the Meade models. Can you
recommend one?


Mike here: Yes, there are a lot of models, designs, features, capabilities, prices. First you need to decide WHAT you want the telescope to do. Do you need GOTO, do you need more light gathering power or more magnification, do you need a very stable mount, do you plan to do any astrophotography? Once you decide upon your complete requirements, you can narrow the choices.
Subject:	Astronomy Link
Sent:	Saturday, May 8, 2004 11:28:05
From:	victor bertol (
i live in madrid, i have a etx90 and have learned much wich your
advices. it is without a doubt the complete siteof information about etx

this is the direccion of my web to put on your web

thanks you very much

Subject:	Electric Focuser on ETX90
Sent:	Friday, May 7, 2004 17:17:01
From:	"l.v." (
Last time I wrote you, I was just ordering my new (and first, and only)
telescope Meade ETX90AT. Now, a month later, I have it... and it seams a
really good piece of technology.

I've bought lots of books on astronomy, so I guess I'll catch up with
the 'astro know-how'.

Right now, as I've just had 2 nights observing (with some average city
pollution and lightness, and some rainy days), I'm still not sure I
manage the scope very well, as I should be - I mean selecting the right
eyepieces (I've bought the 30th anniversary Meade package of eyepieces,
so I have lot's to try), for the right targets of observation. I'm also
not sure, I've put together the Meade electric focuser very well.

I've read the Meade manual, and also the pages on your site, related to
Meade Electric focuser (warnings, users' feedback, etc.).

Before starting the whole assembling thing, I read carefully the mention
pages. Maybe, because I'm not a native English speaker, I didn't
understand perfectly well some things.

In brief, here is my question: How far from the telescope should the
gear be placed (in mm, or inches)? Should it be placed in the very end
of the axis (farthest away from the scope) - I guess no, cause as it is
said in the warning,something can slip away and break inside the scope.
If it is placed to close the to scope's side of the axis, this would
prevent the full range of focus length in the form of moving along this
axis, and thus I would not use values from min to max, when focusing.

I've created a simple image, see below:

Point A is at the end of the Axis farthest from the scope, point B is the point closest to the scope. Let's say we see AB as the axis' length, when AB is at maximum, that is this is the most the gear would turn so that the axis is max out of the scope. At some point, when turning the knob, or the gear (at open e. focuser) CCW, there is felt an opposition power from the Telescope, and no more should the axis betaken out. So, at this very moment we have AB at maximum. Point C, is where the gear should be placed, and by C I mean that part of the gear, that is closest to A, (and most away from B - telescope's side). A this moment, when AB is at maximum, what is the length of AC, in other words how exactly far is placed the gear on the axis (away from it's very end). What warnings should I consider, so that I don't break anything, and how would I tell while pressing the Autostar keyboard (which I use to control the e. focuser), when should I stop at both ends - closest to the scope's body, and farthest away from it. Are there any breaks, so that it 'tells' me when to stop 'focusing' in/out. Excuse me, if my questions seem stupid, but I'm really a newbie (got my telescope 3-4 days ago, and have no previous experience). Thank you in advance, hope you got the image as well, so you see where I've placed A,B and C points. Lachezar V. ------------------------- owner of: Meade ETX 90AT w/ Electric Focuser w/Full set of premium-grade Super Plossl eyepieces 6.4mm <-> 40mm Meade LPI Erectic Prism Barlow 2x Lens Dew Shield Cables/software kit for PC connection w/ ETX90AT and.. Bresser Saturn Special 30x70 Astro Binocular Bresser Precision compass
Mike here: As with many new things, it will take some experience to get the most out of your new telescope. Be patient and continue to learn. As to the focuser, simple answer is to place the gear flush with the focus shaft end. This will allow full travel.
Subject:	re: Solar safety Film
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2004 11:40:10
From:	"Vikas" (
Thanks for your reply, after reading about solar safety film on your
website, I think it would be okay to buy from the bombay manufacturer.

Thanks again for your valuable advice,

If there is anything i can do for you, you are most welcome,

Thanks again,

Vikas Singhle

Subject:	Meade ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, May 7, 2004 06:57:09
From:	"Culpan, Gary"
I live in UK and have just come back from trip to the US.

I bought a Meade ETX 125 + Autostar from Denver and successfully brought
it back to UK.

It's a superb scope and am eager to buy some more powerful eyepieces.

Please could you give me the benefit of your expertise and answer a
couple of questions I have.

1.  What's the satisfactory limit to magnification for the ETX 125 ? I
am pondering buying the 6.4mm Plossl which gives a magnification of
297x. Can the scope handle this or can I go even higher say to 5mm
eyepiece ?

2.  I have not yet successfully done an easy align with the Autostar. I
have set the scope in home position and followed instructions when it
slews towards the first test star. However when it comes to using the
four arrow keys to centre the star they don't work. I have not yet done
the "train drives" option. Is this neccessary before I can use the easy
align ?

Many thanks for your help and keep up the good work on the site.

Gary Culpan
Manchester, UK
Mike here: Enjoy the new scope! See the FAQ page for info on the max magnification. And yes, you do need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES in the Autostar first. As to the not slewing, I suspect you just need to increase the slewing speed using the keypad.
Subject:	Dissamble ETX 125 OTA
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 2004 15:20:24
From:	Allan Rahill (
Sorry to distrub you about my problem but if you can help, Iwould be
quite pleased.

I bought a second hand ETX-125 for my boy, There are a lot of play in
the declination axis and it needs some ajustments. Itried to remove the
OTA without success. Iremove the 4 socket head screws securing the OTA
to the left and right tube supports. I then spread th forkarms but there
is no way to pull the OTA. The right and left supports stay firmly
attached to the OTA. I don't want to break it. Is there any tricks to
remove the OTA for the ETX 125.

 * *
Allan Rahill * * *( )
 ~~-(__ )
Centre meteorologique Canadien * (____ CMC )
Canadian Meteorological Center, Dorval, Canada (_______)
Attilla web page
Mike here: There are little plastic tabs that keep the OTA in place. You just need to work a little harder and it will come off. But do use caution to avoid breaking these tabs.


Thanks Mike, I will give it another try!

Subject:	re: ALT drive motor failure, ETX 105
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 2004 15:06:29
From:	"Ian Docherty" (
I seem to be unable to get the search option on the site to work so If I
may ask you a question instead I would really appreciate any guidance.

Whilst using my ETX 105, the ALT drive gave up with no warning ? The
display on the Autostar showed no error message and the Az kept tracking
as normal.

I have changed batteries which has done nothing, I have reset the
autostar controller, no effect, had a look inside the telescope and all
looks as it should. When I try and train and or calibrate the motors the
only one which actually moves is the Az motor, I am stumped. Have you
come across this before ? What puzzles me is that the autostar seems to
be unaware of any problem.

The only thing left to try is the original four button basic controller
and then I will just have to send it back for repair but ofcourse it is
two months outside of it warranty !

Anyway thanks for taking the time to read this and any feedback would be
much appreciated

Best Wishes


'If they gave degrees for cheatin' destiny, then man I got a first'
Mike here: What error are you getting? I had to switch back to my old Javascript search since the service I was using was failing.
As to the ALT problem, does the telescope actually stay put in Altitude if you lock it at say a 45 degree elevation? Or does it fall back down? If it doesn't stay put the Right Tube Adapter has failed. If that is the problem you can either get a replacement from Meade or try to repair it yourself; see the article "ETX DEC knob fix" on the Telescope Tech Tips page. If the RTA is OK then it is likely some wire has been cut or disconnected.

And an update:

Thanks for getting back to me, the error I had when trying to search was
a pause of about 10 minutes then a failed web page, I think thats
probably more to do with my interent connection or maybe my Java
scripting isnt up to scratch, maybe I should just buy a shiney new Mac

As for the scope, the RTA does lock into position and stay put, so I
guess that means its means the fault is electrical and I will have to
package my prized posession and send it back for repair.

I'll let you know what the problem was with it when I get it back.

Thanks again

Mike here: Yeah, the timeout is possible; it is a grossly large Javascript. I don't see that so maybe Mac OS X handles it better than other OSes.

And an update:

Good News !

I decided to make an excutive decision and delve inside my ETX, I am
glad I did. The drive failure was down to a 'cut' wire inside the base,
it looked as though it had been pulled through the gear machanism and
cut, a quick bit of soldering and so far all is well. I just have to
think of some way to better the design of the trailing wires in the

As for the time out on Java script, I asked a friend to search your site
with his new Mac, A G5, it was noticeably quicker than my Sony Vaio with
WIndows XP OS.


Mike here: Super! Glad you got it solved so easily. As to the G5, not surprising.
Subject:	uhtc DSX-125
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 2004 08:50:54
Hello. Point does you whether that NEW Meade DSX-125 computer Guided
Telescope UHTC has?

Thanks Michel
Mike here: I haven't seen any mention that the DSX models have UHTC. Considering its pricing, I doubt it.
Subject:	Re: ETX Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2004 10:39:22
Unfortunatley the warranty is expired, but i will contact them. I also
had a tripod on my Mead 8' LX 50 which also broke in almost the exact
same fashion except the leg on that one could not be replaced and I had
to buy a whole new tripod.

Subject:	Astronomy and ETX page
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2004 05:46:09
From:	"Joachim Seibert" (
During the last few months I put a little page together concerning my
experiences with the EXT70, ETX90 and EXT125. Some other information is
contained such as long exposure webcam photography and some images of
observations. The page is constantly growing....

Have a look at:

If you wish you my include the link to your ETX homepage.

Best regards, Joachim

Subject:	Christmas tree ornament test
Sent:	Wednesday, May 5, 2004 02:39:19
From:	"chris warburton" (
I wrote to you a sort while ago about my Etx-90 producing spurious
infocus star images. So I attempted to conduct an indoor test. I found a
small ( 2.5mm dia. ) shiny bead. I placed this at one extreme of my
small but long house, about 40' away and reflected of it the beam of a
powerful halogen torch. Observing the reflection with my Etx at X250 I
could see a main small disc in the centre of the reflection with one
pronounced difraction ring with some further very faint rings outside
this, all, to my eye, perfectly concentric. Do you think this would
constitute a good test or do you think the results could be ambiguous.

Many thanks Mike,
Chris Warburton U.K.

P.S. Do you post this sort of a question on your site for other peoples
comments? And if so where? Thanks again.
Mike here: This test is similar to the "Christmas tree ornament test" and should be a valid test. It sounds like you have pretty good optics. As noted on the Suite Guide page, questions get posted to one of several possible places, depending upon the nature of the question. Yours would get posted on the General Feedback page on the next Site update.
Subject:	re:    Electric Focuser Speeds via the Autostar and Hand Control
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 22:37:29
From:	Richard Seymour (
Mike wrote: ... but the Autostar gives nine but the changes are small.

Sorry, i have to agree with Stephen's analysis.

The Autostars only speak four focuser speeds.
(Moderately quick, too fast, slower, still too fast.)

The remote handbox's four-step control, and the serial commands,
all echo this.

At one point someone asked me if i could patch in more
(or finer) controls, and the investigation showed that
the Autostar only sends a single digit (1->4) speed command
over the AUX bus to the focuser itself.
So further finesse isn't available at the lowest accessible level.

But there really are four.

have fun
Thanks Dick. 

Certainly the range of speeds however many are not always usable when
trying to achieve optimum focus. One mod on the ETX site showed
insertion of a 33 ohm resistor in series with one of the motor leads.
This works in limited situations, but depends on your power supply
(external - power pack, mains transformer, or batteries - Nicad, NiMH,
Alkaline, Lithium). Dependant on supply you need to vary this resistor
value between 20 and 40 ohms. This would be easily achieved by using a
suitably mounted miniature preset potentiometer accessed through a hole
in the focuser housing. But the problem comes when you want to switch
focus between an eyepiece and the LPI. If you have slowed the focus
speed range for fine control, it takes an age to move between eyepiece
and LPI extremes. So you end up with having to fit a bypass switch which
allows a quick change back to the course speed range. Not too much of a
problem since you are at the scope for the visual business anyway. All
comes down to fitting the components into the focuser housing.

A 100R Cermet miniature preset and an ultra miniature toggle switch
would do the job. I might give it a try when I get the time.


Stephen Bird 
Mike here: Gee, I could swear that when I first tested my focuser it had 9 speeds...


It confused me because the 1 - 9 buttons on the Autostar each give a
focus speed response in as much as the screen readout says fine, slow,
medium and fast, but the same reaction for more than one button. I guess
this was a Meade decision so that in the dark each button gave a postive
output result of some kind.

I have found with the focus controller that I can only get 2 speeds no
matter how hard I try. Mind you the switch pad on the focus controller
can initiate focus adjustment even when just pressing the speed change
button if you catch it right.

Still we got 3 hours of clear sky last night in the UK from 2000 to 2300
and I had a ringside view of the lunar eclipse. It was too low in the
sky to see it from my house before 2000, but I sat on the patio knocked
back a few beers and saw the best one ever. Perfect in every respect.


Stephen Bird
And more: wrote:
>But the problem comes when you want to switch
>focus between an eyepiece and the LPI. If you have slowed the focus
>speed range for fine control, it takes an age to move between eyepiece
>and LPI extremes.

(Stephen, you may well know the following, but i'm writing to a
wider readership :-)

Umm... dig into the Autostar Suite box... Meade supplies a parfocal ring.
Insert camera... focus.  
Remove camera, place parfocal ring around eyepiece barrel.
Slide eyepiece into place, while viewing through it.
When image comes into focus, tighten screw on parfocal ring.

Your eyepiece and LPI are now within reasonable electronic adjustment.

In many ways this is like the "field de-rotator" versus "wedge"
methodologies.  One involves sine/cosine motor speed adjustments
in a $400 unit, the other is a lump of metal ($100->$700).
Computer geek i may be, but i do appreciate the simplicity (and
accuracy) of the "lump of metal" approach.

have fun
Of course, Meade supplies one parfocal ring with the LPI, I use it on
one eyepiece, which I tend to use exclusively with the LPI. A great
invention for going from that one eyepiece to the LPI and back again.
But at the end of an LPI session, I round off with some good old
fashioned visual astronomy, it takes a while on slow speed to reach
focus on a non parfocal eyepiece and are you ever 100% sure you are
going in the right direction until the donuts start getting smaller? I
guess I'm one of those people who is never happy unless I have something
in pieces and worked on ways of improving it!


Stephen Bird
I was -thinking- of adding the sentence:
If you use more than one eyepiece, many people are quite
happy to sell you more parfocal rings.
(you can also use rubber bands, masking tape and/or O-rings)

So you could make "many people" "happy".

have fun
And this:
And on my first car the front wings (= fenders in the US I think?) were
made mostly of chicken wire, beer cans and polyfilla!

Dick, you sure you are a computer buff and not a used car salesman?

The O-ring solution is elegant though, I have a box of them I use when
servicing my SCUBA gear, and 7 cents apiece beats 7 dollars for the
parfocal rings any day. And, the absence of a locking screw means the
eyepieces still fit back in their individual bolt style cases.

You learn something new everyday!!

Thanks and Regards

Stephen Bird
>Dick, you sure you are a computer buff and not a used car salesman?

Actually, when the hi-tech industry went *poof* in the early 70's,
i spent a year as the transmission/electricals mechanic at a 
-very- classic-car garage in Boston... i got to work on everything
from model T's, a 1923 Renault, early 50's Porsche Spider 
Touring racer (aluminum body over tubular frame, roller-bearing
crankshaft, hard-chrome pistion rings in "porous  chrome" cylinders...
it took 5 minutes to come up to "sealing" temperature and stop burning
volumes of oil).  Porsche 356's  were as common as chickens in our
garage.  Jaguars of various vintages were assured paychecks
(their wiring harnesses twinkled so prettily in the dark...).
Great fun.

>You learn something new everyday!!

I try (this morning's unexpected topic was a review of CD
recording coatings with a view towards longevity)

have fun

Subject:	gps
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 15:37:45
From:	andy vivian (
im a new user , have had my etx 90 at since december, what will the star
gps software enable me to do? thanks, andy
Mike here: The GPS products will automatically enter the date/time/location into the Autostar. You still need to do the alignment steps. You can read more about these on the Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX Tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 13:18:57
One of the tripod legs on my #884 tripod has broken. Do you have any
idea of I can get just a single replacement from Meade or anywhere else?

Thanks very much for your great website.
Mike here: If still under warranty, I would suggest first contacting Meade. Even if not still under warranty I would contact them first. Let know what they say.
Subject:	Venus Transit with 125
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 08:16:32
With the upcoming Venus transit I am planning on using my 125 to track
the last hour or so of the event here in Myrtle Beach, SC.At present I
plan on using my screw-on white filter and hoping to piggyback a PST, if
it ever gets here. Is the 125 capable of Sun tracking? I haven't used
the scope in this fashion before, although I thought I might try today
just for the experience.

Best regards,
Al Koff
Mike here: Yes, the ETX will track the Sun. Just (safely) point it at the Sun and turn it on. If you have the Autostar, you can either Polar mount the telescope OR fake the alignment in Alt/Az. Just enter the correct date/time/location and assume the alignment stars are centered. Then slew manually (with the Autostar) to the Sun.
Subject:	Electric Focuser Speeds via the Autostar and Hand Control
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 04:09:38
How many speeds does the electric Focuser give via its own hand control?
Apparently it is supposed to give 4, but to be honest I can only detect
2, maybe the difference is too subtle for me?

The Autostar when Focus Control is selected, allows you to select
control speeds by pressing 1 - 9 on the keypad, but the screen only
shows 1 or 2 = Fine, 3, 4 or 5 = Slow, 6 or 7 = Medium and 8 or 9 =
Fast. Does this mean that there are only 4 speeds via the Autostar? I
can hear 4 speeds in this case, but not 9??

Then just to cause confusion, the Remote Handbox in Autostar Suite has
the focus slider labelled as Slow, | , |, Fast! But of course you can
use your PC number keys plus Esc for Mode and I think PgUp and PgDn as

No point masking things simple is there, just need to add dark sky to
the equation and it all gets kind of interesting!!


Stephen Bird
Mike here: The focuser handcontroller only has two speeds but the Autostar gives nine but the changes are small.
Subject:	Solar filter for ETX-90 Ec
Sent:	Monday, May 3, 2004 13:57:33
From:	"Vikas" (
I am vikas from India, ,I have a ETX-90 EC with me,You have advised me
previously for slew speed error

I am looking forward to photograph the transition of Venus, for this I
need a solar filter, a renowned telescope maker from Bombay is offering
solar filters for the same.

pls advice should I put up solar filter on my scope bought from him,
will it damage the scope in any way, will it be okay to see/photograph
Sun through the solar filter on the scope.

you can visit the website of the manufacturer

Mike here: You can read about a similar product "AstroSolar Safety Film" on the Accessory Reviews - Filters page. As long as it is the same material you should be OK.
Subject:	RE: ETX125 motor drives
Sent:	Monday, May 3, 2004 05:43:32
From:	Dave Turner (
I finally got round to carry out your suggestion. Unfortunately to no

All vertical movement using either the AutoStar or the standard
electronic controller have now ceased with no sound from the motor. The
horizontal movement is operating correctly. It looks like a problem
internal to the scope. I shall attempt to get Meade to honour their
warranty. Have you any other possible solutions?


Dave Turner
Mike here: It does sounds as though a connection has failed. Contacting Meade is a good idea at this point.
Subject:	drop in eye pice color viewers
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 2004 15:01:53
From:	"W. Sumner Davis" (
Any sugestions concerning the meade (or Orion) CCD real time drop in
lense cameras? I have a similar Black and white which works OK for the
moon, but now they are offering a color version for planetary and
wildlife imaging. Have you tried these?


Dr. W. Sumner Davis
Affiliate: New York Academy of Sciences
Fellow: Royal Astronomical Society
Member: American Geophysical Union
Mike here: I have the Meade LPI that comes with the Autostar Suite. You can read my comments in the article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page. There are comments on other imagers on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.


yes I read that. Interesting, but I was referring to a very similar
camera that connects via an RCA cord and plus into a color TV. I do not
know how it could "capture" images (Unless on a VCR) But reall did not
want to take actual "Photo's" as I use a high end SLR for that. I wanted
to have a nice 20" color screen so that I would not have to crane my
neck to look into the eye piece as I just had spinal surgery and it
makes it difficult.

Perhaps this can be posted on the MIGHTY ETX site and perhaps someone
else has purchased this Orion color item?


Mike here: Both the Orion imagers and the Meade Electronic Eyepiece are covered on that Astrophotography page I mentioned.


Yeah I saw that. What I was referring to was if anyone had purchased the
drop in imager that uses the RCA plugs for use with a color TV?

Thanks for the patience.

Mike here: I guess I'm not familiar with the item you are talking about then.
Subject:	Etx 125 dusty mirror
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 2004 11:55:48
From:	"Huffaker, Erin" (
Great site. Just got my ETX 125 last Wednesday from the Discovery
channel store. I've had it out twice, that night (Apr 28) and last night
(May 1). Shining my red light down the tube I noticed my mirror is
coated with a lite dusting of, well, dust. Is this normal? If not, do
you have any ideas how it got there? What will its effects be? Wednesday
night we had a storm roll through and it was very windy, to the point of
bad instability but it was in my (suburban) front yard and I didn't
notice dust and dirt blowing around. The particles are probably too big
to be pollen, I've seen that section of your site.

I can try to take a picture of it and email it to you if you think that
would help.

Should I take it back and exchange it? I'll probably have it
supercharged in the future, maybe Dr. Sherrod could troubleshoot it in
the process. I have 30 days to return and exchange it.

 Thanks for your assistance.
 Erin Huffaker
Mike here: As (I think) mentioned in your manual, shining a flashlight down into the tube is a not a good way to show whether cleaning is necessary. Most new users want to overclean their optics.


Thanks for the reply. Just to make sure I came across correctly, the
layer of dust is on the primarymirror, inside the tube. If I wanted to
clean it I would have to disassemble the tube and remove the mirror. I
am wondering if you've ever seen an accumulation of a layer of dust
within a few days of use. I'm also wondering if I should exchange it.

I have read Dr. Sherrods page about cleaning the corrector lens and
agree, it is the most damaging act a scope owner could ever do.
Overcleaning will not be a problem for me!

Thanks again for the correspondence.

Mike here: Generally speaking, you probably don't have an accumulation of dust. The "flashlight test" is giving a wrong impression.


Thanks. I'll defer to your expertise and keep the scope. 

Subject:	Were to buy a ETX?
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 2004 09:19:24
From:	"David Sacks" (
Meade should actually thank you for your site, without people visiting
it and learning about the ETX range in depth, they would'nt sell as many

I live in South Africa, I'd like to buy a ETX125 scope. It is cheaper to
buy one in America then from SA. But to lower the costs further I'd like
to buy the scope without the GO TO, then later purchase it. But I can't
seem to find any online store that sell the scope seperately from the GO

I would greatly appriciate it if you could send me some addresses of
astronomy stores (in America, that have online purchasing). And if one
doesnt have the GO TO pad, how to you move the scope?

Thanks for your time,
Mike here: I don't know about all Meade dealers but the OPT site ( says they ship internationally (but I don't know if that applies to Meade products). [Also, note that I have a relationship with OPT.] Meade (for export or warranty reasons, I guess) doesn't normally allow US dealers to ship products outside of specified countries. And as you've noted, all the current models have the Autostar included (at the same price as the former EC model that didn't include it). So, today you are not paying more for the Autostar. Yes, you will either need the Autostar or the standard handcontroller to control the telescope; it does not have manual slewing controls. If you really want to keep the costs down you could buy the spotting scope model and mount it on a different tripod.
Subject:	ETX EC-Tracking motor problem
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 2004 09:08:21
From:	Robert Stenstrom (
How do you gain access to the drive electronics on the ETX 90EC? Motors
not working. Bob Stenstrom
Mike here: There are many articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page that describe disassembly but do you know there is a physical cause for the motors "not working"?


I don't have a clue why the motors dont work. I'm trying to get the ra
drive to work. I don't have an autostar yet, maybe the hand control
needs to be pluggrd in??? Bob
Mike here: In order to use the drives, you do need to have either the standard handcontroller or an Autostar connected. If neither are connected when you power on the ETX, there is likely to be some random movement of the ETX in one or both axes.


Thanks..found a RA/DEC works! Bob

Subject:	Questions about Astrophotography
Sent:	Sunday, May 2, 2004 09:07:01
From:	"Aneysi Fernandez" (
I visit your website often and am a big fan. I have a question about
astrophotography, though. I would like your advice on the best camera
for mounting on my Meade ETX-125. I was thinking about the Canon
Powershot G5, but Im not quite sure if it is a 35mm and has removable
lens. Also, is there a digital camera for astrophotography that uses the
memory card system? (like the Canon Powershot G5?) Thank you for your

An Amateur Astronomer.
Mike here: See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. Lots of digital cameras discussed there. As to specifics of each camera, see the manufacturer's web site.
Subject:	support arms/ota  problem
Sent:	Saturday, May 1, 2004 09:21:21
From:	"marianne/patrick" (
I have received my etx 125 only last week. It is my first scope, so you
can imaging how intidmidating it is to start to use.

Before receiving the scope, I read a lot of tips and problem solvings on
your site. So I thought I was prepared for 'the worst'.

Unfortunately, in opening the box and starting to assemble the scope it
stroke me that something bsically was missing in the scope features :
the 4 allen bolts that keep the ota attached to the support arm, were
not there, neither on the scope, neither in the box.

I was so angry and wanted to make a complaint, but then I thought those
bolts were easily found and replaced. For that I had to take out the ota
towards the back (I read Dr. Clays report on mechanical tips on how to
remove the OTA out of its housing) to measure the holes in the ota.

I measured them to be 3 mm of diameter, so I considered the problem
solved if I could find the bolts. But what happened ?

I carefully slided the ota, back between the support arms and tried to
match the holes in the ota with the holes in the support arms, but it
was impossible. I could not get them to match. There was a difference of
about 2 mm, not much, but of course enough so that I couln't thread in
the bolts !

Is there a special way to glide back the ota, do you have to apply
pressure, does it has to be clicked in somewhere ? I do not dare to
apply pressure up till now as I'm afraid the support arms would break
from the forks, or I would damage the DEC lock.

Any suggestion is welcome !


Mike here: Well, first off those bolts SHOULD have been there. I'm surprised they were all missing. If this was a new telescope the best choice would have been to contact the dealer. Second best choice would have been to contact Meade; they would likely have sent the bolts free. Either of those would have prevented disassembling. But since you are at that stage, yes, the OTA does "snap" into place. I suggest NOT locking the declination axis to avoid damaging the Right Tube Adapter while doing this.


Thanks for your reply.

I also don't understand the bolts were not there, either already
assembled or seperately.  I've sent an angry email to MEADE EUROPE (they
have e mail !!) and I'm waiting for their reaction.

By the way : it was a new telescope, which I bought in US (price !!) and
brought to Europe.

I will keep you informed.


Patrick van Pottelberge

Subject:	poor resolution
Sent:	Saturday, May 1, 2004 07:55:03
From:	joe tolpa (
I recently purchased an ETX125AC. When observing stars they appeared
jagged and even after a 2 hour cool down the images didn't improve. They
looked the same going in and out of focus. I retuned it to Meade and the
performance hasn't seemed to have improved much

Can you steer me to any where I can get help?

Thanks Joe T Belchertown,Ma
Mike here: Without more details I can't say what the problem might have been. But take a look at the Telescope Performance section on the Helpful Information - Observational Guides/References page.

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