Last updated: 31 May 2005
This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX PE (Premier Edition). Feedback on the specific PE technologies (Automatic Alignment + SmartFinder, Level North Technology) will be covered here. Feedback on the Autostar Suite AE (Astronomer Edition) will be posted on the regular Autostar Suite feedback page. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (EC, AT, PE) will continue to be posted on the other appropriate feedback pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Re: Brand New 105 PE calibrated sensores
Sent:	Tuesday, May 31, 2005 18:24:38
From:	Ron Wright (
Wanted too let you know that I have taken the time to calibrate the
sensors.  It only took about 5 min at the most.   It made a big
difference on the alignment stars.  They are now in the smart finder
when the scope stops and I just have to fine tune from there.

I am still loving my little 105 and would like to encourage the people
that are having trouble, once you get through the problems the ETX is a
pretty cool little scope.  I am still leery and wondering if anything
else will go wrong.  But for now life is good and we are having a very
good time.

Thanks again for your help


Subject:	SmartFinder Troubles - ETX125 PE
Sent:	Tuesday, May 31, 2005 01:28:43
From:	Christos Bohoris (
My new Meade ETX 125 PE arrived 2weeks ago. Like others I have troubles
getting the smartfinder to work. I have fitted and locked the
smartfinder lens in its right place, all the way in, just as shown in
pictures in the manual.

Switched on the smartfinder and the red dot appears at the bottom and
right edge of the lens. Tried the horizontal adjustment screw on the
right of the LNT, turned this one slowly all the way in (the edge of the
screw would appear on the left side of the LNT) and almost till it came
out, the red dot would move slightly but still in that bottom-right
area. I also tried this with a combination of adjusting the top
adjustment screw, again the dot would be in the bottom-right edge or
even dissapear from the lens completely.

Any ideas? any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Also, it's not very clear really yet how you can point anything in the
sky accurately with this thing, as by looking at the lens from different
angles makes the red dot appear in different places on the lense.


Mike here: Have you looked at the SmartFinder tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page? Also, you might look at my Premier Edition comments on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page; I have a photograph that shows HOW the SmartFinder should be inserted into the LNT module. The red-dot does work when it is in the right position.
Subject:	re: ETX 125 PE
Sent:	Saturday, May 28, 2005 21:55:01
From:	Richard Seymour (
>What software version will I need to download to enable the correct
>functioning of the autostar control on my ETX125PE? (I have already got
>the #505 lead)
>When I power up the autostar, it says 05 MEADE (33E)

That question is not clear.  Do you mean which firmware should you 
run -inside- the Autostar (in which case, the "33" should work,
but there is a newer version (34a) available from Meade Europe in 
many languages.

However, if you are asking which software to run in your PC to
-control- the telescope remotely, there are many, many answers.
Mike has a "software" section on his site with many reviews.

There is also Meade's AutostarSuite package.

have fun
Mike here: The PE model comes with AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition, which is a "lite" version of the Autostar Suite software for controlling the ETX from a Windows computer.


Rob Field said:
> The problem is that the autostar unit has got certain menus
>missing from it,  such as the calibrate sensor menu, the smartview menu,
>and also the LNT module is not alligning and leveling.
>On power up, it goes straight into star allignment, just as the
>standard edition does.
>What I was asking was what version of firmware do I need on the
>autostar, to allow these function to be available.
And Dick responded:
The problem is NOT in the firmware, it is in (or near) the LNT module.

When the Autostar (running v33E(any letter)) starts up, it sends a
command to the LNT, to see if one is attached.  

If an LNT responds, then the Autostar asks it for the time, and
allows you to access the various menu items you are not seeing now.

If the LNT does NOT respond, then the Autostar assumes that it
is attached to a non-PE, no-LNT telescope, and it does -not-
offer those menus.  My old ETX90 operates like that.
If i were to move my Autostar to a PE/LNT telescope, the menus
would appear (same firmware!).

So your problem is a faulty LNT module, or a bad connection in
the internal cables leading to it.

Since there have been -many- reported problems with bad modules,
you should call Meade and they will send you a replacement.
Meade's toll-free number in the US:  800-626-3233 
If you are not in the US, contact your dealer for the warranty procedure.

good luck
And Dick also said:
How does "Astronomer" edition vary from [fill in name] edition,
and/or from the one i have which came in the box with the LPI?

I can understand the DSI Pro's edition having the Drizzle processing,
etc., and i wouldn't expect that with the LPI package included that.

have fun
p.s. it -rains- at Oracle??  Relocate!
Mike here: AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition is discussed on Meade's page: It only has the scope/dome control features. As to Oracle, I have more trips planned but so far the track record is horrible!


I can see the local headlines:

Deserts Bloom!  Drought Ends!
Local Astronomer accepts blame...

have fun

Subject:	re: ETX-125PE another defective LNT
Sent:	Saturday, May 28, 2005 21:49:22
From:	Richard Seymour (
>Do you know of anywhere I can get an ETX wiring diagram?  Not board
>level, just how the control wires run between the various boards.  Also
>would love to get specs on the protocols/signaling that is being used
> between the boards.

For starter, there's:

The detail of the communications is somewhat covered in Meade's patents
  6,304,376  6,392,799  6,445,498   6,563,636
(the first pretty much says it all) available through:

I haven't had a PE to play with, but i'd suspect the LNT has
its own IIC bus connection internally, and that the four wires
just parallel to the AUX port.

The distribution panel is almost exactly like the LX90's,
which is detailled here:

have fun

Subject: etx 125 pe
Date: Thu, 26 May 2005 11:39:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Hi Mike, love your site.

I bought a 125pe and returned it because of Motor fault errors. My
replacement scope is getting stuck in calc north mode and the motor
sounds wierd when this happens.

I reset, calibrated motors, etc. I am going to exchange for # 3 next
week. Three strikes and I buy a Celestron. Hopefully I will have better
luck. Is there a trick to finding home position that I am unaware of?
Any ideas?

Alan G.
Mike here: Sorry you are having problems. Keep me posted. If the LNT is working correctly AND you have entered the correct location, it should just work.

Subject:	etx125pe no red dot
Sent:	Tuesday, May 24, 2005 16:10:19
From:	Roberto Aguero (
Thanks for your site.  in the way of trying to have the best affordable
equipment, I bought a meade etx 125pe.  I followed all the instructions
of the manual but.. I haven't being able to get the red dot in the
smartfinder.  I have tried everything without a trace of red in the
beatifull piece of glass.  I live in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Central
America,  I am tryin everything before I decide to
send it back to USA.  Sending anything to USA is not as easy for us.  
Please advise.  Thanks in advance.
Roberto Aguero
Mike here: Does the LED on the side of the LNT module illuminate? If not, have you tried the various settings from the SmartFinder menu on the Autostar? You could also check that the battery inside the LNT is properly seated. If the problem is the alignment of the SmartFinder lens, see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page for info on the SmartFinder as well as my comments on the PE model on the Buyer/New User Tips page.


Thanks again.   I got the courage to open the smartfinder cover. Removed
the flat battery, set in again.  Calibrate motor and more important: set
the Autostar for  9 in intensity and push  the 0 key  in the Autostar to
iluminate the red light and !bingo! there it was.   It is imposible to
see a red dot in dayligth.  The manual should say that. I wonder  Why
the manual is so poorly written?.  Mead should contract you to write the
manuals. Customers deserve to have  better information.    Thanks again.

Mike here: Yep, daylight is a problem for red-dot finders.
Subject:	ETX-125PE another defective LNT
Sent:	Saturday, May 21, 2005 11:37:16
From:	Allen Jensen (
When my new ETX-125PE arrived, I went through the setup inside, ran
through the automatic alignment - no problems.  After attaching the ETX
to the Tripod and moving it outside, I hit 5 to get past the solar
warning.  I was then prompted for date and time - surprising since it
had not done that inside.  Then could not get automatic alignment mode -
only easy and the others, no automatic.  Clearly, it could no longer
detect the LNT module.  Ok, I packed everything up and went back inside
so I could check everything out.  To my surprise, the automatic mode
came right up.  Further experiments showed that whenever I physically
moved the tripod, it was very likely the LNT would stop.  Sometimes it
came right back, somtimes I had to give it a gentle "bump" to get it to
work again.

Having a moderate amount of experience with telescopes and electronics,
I decided to check out the connectors to make certain nothing had shaken
loose during shipping.  Checked both the LNT connector under the housing
on the tube and also checked the connectors in the base.  All seem well
attached, no problems there.

However, the problem still persists.  Tomorrow I am calling Meade, more
information on this later.

This sounds a bit like what Rob Fields was experiencing, but his never
worked at all.  The AutoStar does not show LNT menus if it does not
detect a LNT module.....

Allen Jensen
Mike here: Loose LNT battery?


No, that was the 1st thing I checked - it was actually rather hard to
remove the LNT battery it was so tightly gripped.  Continued to have the
problem after trying that.

And, I don't think it is the battery, because when I removed/replaced
the battery, the time came up wrong.  When the LNT disappears then
re-appears, the time is always OK when the LNT is detected, so the LNT
is not loosing power or it would reset to it's default time - and it
does not.

So, it has got to be that something mechanical with a connection is
going on - broken wire, bad solder joint, bad connection on the one of
the connectors.....

I suspected the connectors that are the type where when you press the
wire into the connector, the insulation is cut through by the connector
when the wire is inserted (like a telephone connector - "bites" into the

Do you know if the 4 wires (read/blue/green/yellow) from the LNT that
run from the LNT down into the base go through any electronics between
the LNT and the base?  I tried to test the cable from the 4-wire LNT
connector down to the base where they connect onto the
switch-plate/panel in the base but was not getting zero-ohm resistance
along the cable - and since I don't have a schematic for the telescope,
I was not certain if this was really a problem or not.

Do you know of anywhere I can get an ETX wiring diagram?  Not board
level, just how the control wires run between the various boards.  Also
would love to get specs on the protocols/signaling that is being used
between the boards.

On another topic, I have a bit of experience with Robotics and have
programmed motor speed control using encoder feedback, accelerometers,

Meade should figure out how to get the accelerometer info from the LNT
and use it to build a Kalman Filter to provide additional feedback on
the motion of the optical tube to help fine-tune the motor control. I
have used accelerometer data on industrial, high-precision robots to
train motion and position.  Using the accelerometer data, it should be
possible to automatically to the PEC training without needing anyone to
guide the telescope - and you could do it during the day.....

Do you know anyone (Meade or elsewhere) that might be interested in
working on this with me?

Allen Jensen
And an update:
Meade is sending me a new LNT - seems they are still having problems
with shorts/bad connections in the LNT modules....

Subject:	ETX 125 PE
Sent:	Saturday, May 21, 2005 08:12:49
From:	rob (
What software version will I need to download to enable the correct
functioning of the autostar control on my ETX125PE? (I have already got
the #505 lead)

When I power up the autostar, it says 05 MEADE (33E)

Mike here: Get the latest version from Meade's site. It has some fixes that will help. Don't forget to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES after the update. You can check your latest version from the STATISTICS menu.
Subject:	ETX 125 PE
Sent:	Friday, May 20, 2005 05:28:21
From:	rob (
Hello. I  finally received my ETX 125 PE scope. Once I had got it home,
I spent some time reading through the manual before setting up. I then
proceeded to set the scope up, following the instructions exactly. I
fitted the smartfinder as instructed, then it was time to power up the
scope for the first time. After the location, time and date were
entered, I waited for the LNT to come into play. Nothing. Turned it off,
and tried again. Nothing again. I tried a reset, entered the details
again. Guess what? Nothing again. I read in the manual that it was
supposed to detect north and then allign the scope. This was not
happening. It just started to allign with the allignment stars, which
proved to be way out. The "automatic" allign menu was missing.

The next thing that was apparently wrong, was the fact that there was no
red dot in the smartfinder. I consulted the manual, but didnt really
find any help there, (apart from the fact that the smartfinder operating
menu was missing from the autostar!)  I turned to your website for
answers. I found alot of answers that pointed me in the right direction,
but there was still no red dot.

The next missing menu I found from the autostar was the calibrate
sensors. At this point I felt like packaging the scope up and sending it

The nex day, I contacted the shop I purchased the scope from, and told
them what was happening. I was told that it sounds like the wrong
autostar controller had been put in the box! An easy enough mistake to
make by Meade, but it makes you wonder.

Anyway, I am waiting for the shop to get back in touch with me once they
have investigated! I will let you know the outcome as soon as I know
what it is!!!
Mike here: Have you checked the Autostar ROM version number? It sounds like it had not been updated for the PE model. You could do that yourself (with a #505 serial cable).


Thanks for the reply. Being new to the "goto" style telescopes, could
you advise me on where I would find the software to download, and what
version I am looking for.
Mike here: Helpful Information: Autostar Info page on the ETX Site. There are links there for Meade's software as well as info on making a #505 RS-232 serial cable (simple to do).
Subject:	ETX125 PE Calibration help please!
Sent:	Thursday, May 19, 2005 04:42:34
From:	Simon (
I am new to astronomy and was over the moon when I got my new ETX125PE.

All was going well, I was getting used to setting up, aligning which was
pretty accurate and views of the planets to die for when somehow the
battery in the LNT unit came lose.  I had to replace the battery and
then (as instructed in the manual) recalibrate the sensors.

I went through the motions tonight and could not complete them as I can
not see Sigma Octans at all, I am in Sydney Australia where light
polution is pretty bad, also as I read further down in the email trail a
guy from Brisbane said that it is nearly impossible to find at the best
of times.

I don't know what to do to get the scope calibrated again...  Is there
some kind of factory reset that will set everything back to how it was
set initially?  If there isn't then I really don't know what to do,
please can anyone help me?


Mike here: Do you have another method of finding True South (vs Magnetic South)? A point on the horizon, for example.


Thanks for the quick response.  I am very new to astronomy so you will
have to excuse my ignorance but I have no idea of how to do what you
suggested, please can you be more specific.

Much appreciated

Mike here: Forget astronomy. How about geography? Do you know which direction is South? Not Magnetic, as would be shown using a compass, but South on a map or your local streets? If so, just identify some point in the distance in that South direction and use that to help you know which direction to point the ETX.
Subject:	RE: ETX105 PE
Sent:	Wednesday, May 18, 2005 15:37:38
From:	Andrew Ashworth (
Well, ETX 105 arrived - I was absolutely delighted to have it and opened
the box with almost the level of Christmas / Childhood anticipation.....
But, with amazing frustration found the lens cap is jammed on!!!! 

Much pulling/pushing/ gentle twisting and the only result being the
entire front lens starting to unscrew.  Retighten, put on leather gloves
and a further gentle twist - nothing.  Twist harder - still nothing.....

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and blame the shipping company
for perhaps jamming the setup though no signs of any damage on the

Extremely disappointing.

All is going back to Telescope House tomorrow.

Hope they can fix my current view of Meade and their plastic

Yours, Dismayed, Disillusiond and Disturbed

Mike here: Sorry to hear this. Keep me posted.
Subject:	ETX-125 PE Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:24:33
From:	Bob Hammond (
I have a big problem with my etx-125 pe it does not seem to like my
location i have it all setup right lat and long are right time zone is
right and when it tryies to do a 2 star alignment it does not fined what
its suppose dto go to and if and when it does and you tell it to go to
the moon which is direct overhead it says the moon is not up hope you
can help me on this thanks.
Mike here: Have you updated to the new Autostar ROM (3.3El)? This sounds like the problem I was having initially where the location wasn't being saved properly. See my comments on the PE on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page.


Thanks Mike.....No i have not updated my auto star but i will thanks for
the info you have been a great help.
Its me again i am getting the new autostar you said to download and i
need to know how you would go about changing the time in the smart
finder i was told i may have to do that as well.
Mike here: I upgraded my Autostar last night from my Mac and didn't have to set the time. But in case you do, just set it from the Autostar like normal.


Thanks Mike you have been a great help take care.

Subject:	Brand New 105 PE: Going very good.
Sent:	Sunday, May 15, 2005 18:54:40
From:	Ron Wright (
I just wanted to let you know that since I have talked to you last I
have been out many times with my 105.

I have not taken the time to calibrate the sensors yet.  Weather
conditions have been very spotty around here.  All my scope time has
been spent actually using the scope.  Once aligned the computer is doing
pretty good.  Goto will nail it every time with the 26 mm.  It is well
off from the alignment stars but once I find them with the paper chart
we are fine.

Thanks for preparing me for what I won't see.  The dark sky objects are
pretty well just blobs in the sky.  Still cool that I can see them at
all.  The planets have been very pleasing to view.  I expected a little
more detail, but what I have been seeing is very cool.

I took my first look, with deceit sky conditions, of the moon last
night.   That was breath taking.  I see where I will be able to spend
lots of time there.

I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that I am happy
with and having a good time with my scope.   Oh, and by the way,
aperture fever has started.  Is there anything that I can do to stop
this before it gets out of control?  Or should I just start saving now?

Thanks again for your site and your help.


Subject:	ETX-125PE DC Socket Problem - still an issue...
Sent:	Sunday, May 15, 2005 10:10:42
From:	Craig (
Thanks for the site.

I received my new ETX-125PE telescope last Thursday. As it's my first
telescope I've been eagerly reading your site absorbing as much
information as possible. What I've learnt from this site has already
saved me hours of frustration on my first night out with my new
telescope. Thanks for all the information. I decided I wanted to
primarily operate my telescope from a small 12v sealed rechargable
battery instead of the internal batteries. The telescope worked fine
from the internal batteries but as has been said many times on your site
before - the AA batteries really don't last too long - especially with a
beginner like me pressing all the buttons and slewing all over the

I purchased the correct sized DC plug (5.5mm outside diameter & 2.5
inside diameter) from an electronics store and made up a lead ensuring
that the centre pin was "+". I tested it and the lead worked a treat.
But when I unplugged the lead things went wrong. The telescope refused
to operate from the internal batteries anymore - and to make matters
worse the DC plug was now making only intermittant contact when I
plugged it back in. If I touched the DC plug the power light would go on
and off. The microswitch that cuts power from the internal batteries had
failed - in fact the whole DC socket was now not working properly. I
then saw feedback on your site that you can try bending the metal lug
that activates the battery switch to attempt to correct this issue but
this really did not work too well. I tested the lead on a portable 12v
TV with the same sized DC socket and it worked fine. The problem was not
the lead.

So the next day I reluctantly took my shiny new telescope back to the
store and it has now been sent off for repair after just one night of
use. The store would have replaced it on the spot but they had no other
ETX-125PE's in stock.

I understand that these things happen. but I am grumpy as I have found
out via your (wonderful!) website that this very issue has been a
problem for various ETX users dating back as far as the year 2000.
Surely this issue could have been addressed by Meade by now. I have many
items in my home that use these small DC sockets and I have never had a
problem like this before. I'm dissappointed that changes have not been
made to the new ETX-125PE to correct what is a simple yet extremely
annoying issue. It does not take a rocket scientest to work out that
there is obviously some sort of issue with the DC sockets being used by
Meade in their ETX scopes. Meade must have repaired many units with this
same problem over the years but it appears that little has been done to
prevent the same problem occuring. There is something particularly
annoying about an electronic component that probably costs about $1 (the
DC socket) shutting down a A$1800 telescope.

Luckily (apologies to others here in Melbourne trying to use their
working telescopes) it's been quite cloudy here since Friday so I don't
feel as if I have missed anything spectacular in the sky. I will be
nervous to try it on external power again in case the same thing happens
but I guess I will just have to try it an see. I'd be very interested to
see if anyone has had this problem and since their socket was replaced
if all has been ok since?

Looking forward to getting my new toy back sometime (hopefully!) this
week....Keep up the great work with the site.


Craig Meddings
Melbourne, Australia

Subject:	ETX-105 PE experiences
Sent:	Thursday, May 12, 2005 21:39:05
From:	Nick Reynolds (
Welcome from Australia and thanks for the site!

My experiences with the ETX-105 PE mirrored so many others of those
reported on your site.  Your clear information really helped me to work
through them.

I had the same problem with the Smartfinder as most others seem to have
had.  On following your instructions, it clicked into place properly and
is now working perfectly: the wide field of vision makes it markedly
superior to a spotter scope.

My initial experience of finding stars mirrored many others in that the
telescope seemed to point in the opposite direction from where it was
meant to be pointing.  This was despite it having registered and
retained my location.  The final solution was two-fold: 1. train the
motors, and 2. ensure that the telescope is in the correct lock position
(fully anti-clockwise with control panel pointing to West).  Since doing
both these things, the auto-star guides me easily and accurately to

We had our first really clear night the recently and my wife and I were
both enthralled by the sights of the guided tour, particularly the star
clusters.  Previously we thought the rings of Saturn were the ultimate

The only drawback I could see with the telescope was that it eats
batteries at an alarming rate.  Once again using your site came to the
rescue.  Using the information on batteries, I purchased a weather proof
12v power source Jump start (from Dick Smith Electronics, web Id M4505,
Aus $50) and a DC Adaptor (Dick Smith Web Id M9889, A$25, which I set at
12v with the centre pin positive).  This powers the system perfectly and
I recharge it after each viewing session  it should pay for itself very

Thanks again for a wonderful site and your invaluable information.

Clear Skies
Dr Nick Reynolds
Sydney, Australia

Subject:	re: Brand New 105 PE: First light Revisted : New LNT
Sent:	Tuesday, May 10, 2005 19:03:47
From:	Richard Seymour (
Note that there are **two** Calibrate operations under 
Setup > Telescope  on an LNT scope.

One is "Calibrate Motors"... do that first.
(then do a Train Drive procedure for both axes)

The other is "Calibrate Sensors"... do that -after- the above Cal/Train,
and -this- is the one which tells the LNT module how to (better) GoTo
the alignment stars.   

Primarily (using Polaris) it tells the autostar how far your
magnetic north is from True North.

have fun

Subject:	ETX-125PE Finder
Sent:	Tuesday, May 10, 2005 14:01:25
From:	Mark Blanton (
You have a great site with lots of info here. I am thinking about buying
the new ETX-125PE and was wondering if the right angle finder on the
125AT would still fit on the PE? I have seen several negative comments
on the new Smartfinder. This would be my first ETX as I currently use an
Orion Starmax 90 Mak scope.

Mark Blanton
Mike here: Not easily. You would have to make your own attachment points.
Subject:	Power Panel Orientation?
Sent:	Monday, May 9, 2005 16:54:20
From:	William Ellis (
Been looking through yor site. Know I found somewhere Power Panels on
the ETX should always face West. LX 200's Classic North, LX200 GPS
South. Not very clear in the manuals!

Seems like I see the same thing orienting on the first star with each.
Right and down. Curious if we're looking at True or Magnetic?

As a positive note, once I get our new PE set up it does a really fine
job in GOTO and Tracking. Couple of minor glitches that I wrote to you
about before, and it sure is easier to set up when the skies suddenly
clear than our 10 Inch! Our last Star Party in April, my wife was the
first to see five moons around Jupiter (don't think it was a Star!) and
the guys with the big twelve and bigger scopes were soon seeing the
same. Hope you are enjoying yours.
Mike here: ETX power panel goes on the "true" west side. Less a concern with the PE models however since it finds True North on its own. Clouds, rain, and fog have been the case almost since I got it!
Subject:	Brand New 105 PE: First light Revisted : New LNT
Sent:	Monday, May 9, 2005 15:18:38
From:	Ron Wright (
Tuesday 5-3- 05

I got my new LNT yesterday.   Put it on in all of 15 min.  I was being
very cautious.  I could have easily done it in 5.  1 screw (the wrench
that came with the scope fits) and one conector.  This one is different
than the one that came with the scope.  This one does not have the 2
lens screws in the front.  Still has the 2 adjustment screws but not the
ones that hold the lens.   The lens just snaps into place.

I took the scope out side and tried the alignment.   Still no alignment
stars.  Entered my way through the process.   Hit go to Jupiter.  And
the scope went to the right section of sky.  Major improvement.  I then
installed the smart finder lens.   Found Jupiter on my own.  And sited
in the smart finder on Jupiter.  Tried the alignment process again.  The
alignment stars where pretty far off.  I don't think it was even in the
smart finder lens.   I used a paper star chart to figure what star it
was looking for.  And guided it in my self.   The smart finder was a big
help and pretty cool to.   After I (manually?) found the alignment stars
I hit goto Jupiter.  Bam, right to it.  I tried Saturn. Bam, right to
it.  I went in the house to go get my wife.  (She stayed in bed).  I
came back out and Saturn was still centered in my FOV.  Cool.  I think
it works.

I don't know why it missed the alignment stars so bad. But it is usable
once you find the stars.

Ran through tonight's best on the tour.   We looked at some clusters and
a couple of galaxies.  Atmospherics were so  so.  We where mostly clear
with some wispy clouds in the sky.  I was greatly impressed and
disappointed at the same time.  I was expecting more spectacular views
but very impressed with what I was seeing.  Jupiter was nice size with 2
bands and 4 moons.  Saturn was very small but you could clearly see the
rings and faintly see the split on the two rings.   The clusters looked
like little dust balls and the galaxies very, very faint.  If I had not
seen a picture beforehand I never would have known that any thing was
there.  I guess you are not going to get a Hubble image from a 105. 
Still let me repeat.  I was also greatly impressed.   This is truly the
best images that I have ever seen through any telescope that I have ever
looked through.  All I have used before where toy scopes.

Smart finder is cool.  I was able to sight in the smart finder with out
any trouble at all with the new LNT.  Paul at Meade was right,  I bobbed
my head all around.  The red dot stayed right on the object.   I do
think I like it better than a finder scope.   We will keep playing with

I called Paul at Meade to tell him that his diagnostics worked.   Asked
him about the missing alignment star problem.   He told me to calibrate
the motors because of the reset.   Then train the drives again.  I will
give this a shot asap.  It would be good for the scope to find the stars
on its own, but if this did not change I think I will be fine with a
paper star chart to get it aligned and then let the computer do the work
from there.

Finally Clear skies


Subject:	AutoStar Menu Tree for PE
Sent:	Friday, May 6, 2005 08:58:23
From:	Mike Hogan (
Has anyone developed a complete AutoStar menu tree chart for use with the
PE series?  The one in the PE manual (page 22) doesn't show the Status Display
list (hold Mode for 2 secs.) or the Sensor Calibration option.  The AutoStar 
manual has a chart but none of the unique PE extensions. Just a small thing
but a comprehensive chart is a lot more convenient than paging through text
in a manual to find a specific item.  Especially for a new user just learning the
menu hierarchy.

 Mike Hogan
Mike here: Haven't heard of one yet.
Subject:	Calibrate Sensors
Sent:	Wednesday, May 4, 2005 15:22:14
From:	Ken Hyams (
G'day Mike and Mike,

I saw your posting on Weasner. I live in Australia so Polaris is never
visible. Calibrate sensors works off of Sigma Octans down here. It's
very difficult to find, especially under less than perfect viewing
conditions. You talked about "artificial" Polaris. I'm wondering how you
do this so I can try it with Sig Oct.

My 105PE tracks and goes-to flawlessly but the initial slew to the
alignment stars is way off - probably 20 degrees (three Smartfinder
heights) off in the Alt coordinate. The AZ is pretty good.

I reset, calibrated motors, calibrated sensors, and trained the drives
the other night but it made no difference. I have a call in to Meade
that I'm guessing will end in a new LNT module. He thinks it might be
the Dec encoder but I don't see how it could track and go to if that
were the case.

Any ideas?

I also noted your problem with the not-so-Smartfinder. I ran out of Alt
adjustment and fixed it by sliding a sliver of plastic in the gap
created at the base of the LNT module when you gently lift the front of
the LTN module slightly away from the OTA. If you're running out of AZ
you might want to try reseating the lens?

I've been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Smartfinder.
Once you get used to it, it's really great. I really can't see using a
traditional finder scope anymore.

Brisbane, Australia
The term"artificial" Polaris might have been a misnomer; perhaps I
should have said "calculated" Polaris. Here's what I did:
Using GPS, I determined the lat/lon for a radio tower about six miles
from my observing site.  Then, again using GPS I got a bearing from my
site to the tower relative to True North. This should be accurate to a
fraction of a degree. I centered the tower in the eyepiece and set the
RA setting circle to that bearing, converting RA to AZ (1 deg Az equals
4 min RA). I taped the circle to prevent untentional movement.  I also
made sure the Dec setting circle was 0 deg when the OTA was level using
a bubble level.

Then I did a Cal Sensors and when it said to Center Polaris, I slewed
the AZ axis (actually RA circle) to "0" hrs.  Then I slewed the Alt axis
so the Dec circle indicated my latitude. This should be the actual
position of Polaris to less than a degree.  I had to slew tha Az axis
about 10 deg and Alt about 2 deg, hence my estimate of the inherent
error of the LNT at my location.

>My 105PE tracks and goes-to flawlessly but the initial slew to the
>alignment stars is way off - probably 20 degrees (three Smartfinder
>heights) off in the Alt coordinate. The AZ is pretty good.

This might be because the star alignment corrects for the LNT errors but
to the best of my knowledge the corrections are not saved after a power
off. So the next time you start you have to obtain the corrections
again.  I think the Sensor Cal permanently stores the corrections so the
next time you start, after the initial LNT process is complete and
corrections applied, the AutoStar should have a pretty good idea of it's
position. The rest of the star alignment should be just fine tuning. 
This is  just a guess, but I'm trying to learn more about storing of

>I reset, calibrated motors, calibrated sensors, and trained the drives
>the other night but it made no difference. I have a call in to Meade
>that I'm guessing will end in a new LNT module. He thinks it might be
>the Dec encoder but I don't see how it could track and go to if that
>were the case.
>Any ideas?

A wild guess is that maybe the LNT bracket is not properly mounted. 
When I received my replacement, I had to be very careful about the
routing of the wiring under the bracket to make sure it wasn't
interfering with the way it seated on the OTA. I'm pretty sure Meade was
rushing through the final assembly of the PE series due to a very large
backorder. Mine arrived with no signature on the Final Inspection
sticker. Removal of the bracket is straightforward: remove the hex screw
at the top left looking at the rear of the scope.  One of the hex keys
provided by Meade fits.  The bracket then swivels up to the right and
you can see the wiring and disconnect plug.  The right side is secured
by nothing more than a small tab in a slot in the OTA rear housing. It
lifts straight up and out.

>I also noted your problem with the not-so-Smartfinder. I ran out of Alt
>adjustment and fixed it by sliding a sliver of plastic in the gap
>created at the base of the LNT module when you gently lift the front of
>the LTN module slightly away from the OTA. If you're running out of AZ
>you might want to try reseating the lens?

I tried that but still can only get within a few degrees of alignment. I
presume you did a Sensor Cal after inserting the shim, since that would
definitely affect the the Level sensor.

For general info, I checked the magnetic declination for Brisbane and it
is about 11 deg East.  The permanent magnet drive motor in the right
fork of the mount seems to cause a West declination in the North sensor
Maybe these cancel somewhat, accounting for the small errors you have in
AZ.  Up-to-date magnetic declinations can be determined using:

I hope this is of some use to you.

Tennessee, USA

Subject:	etx 105 pe
Sent:	Tuesday, May 3, 2005 19:36:50
From:	josh rhines (
After 3 months of aggravation with meade it finally worked! I saw
Jupiter and it looked amazing! With just the 25 mm lens it was about the
same size as the 5mm and barlow in the etx 70at. It was a little hairy
to start the procedure because I forgot to focus the the telescope so
when I went to center the alignment star it was blurry. I went to focus
it and unfortunatly once u leave the alignment process u cant start
where u left off. Naturally when I started the alignment set up the
second time I had a hard timecentering the alignment star because the
viewfinder was a little off. However I found it and centered it. So was
like ok good it was farther than I got before! So it goes to the next
star to center and of course naturally it was in the trees!So  I decided
to hit Enter and it said align successful( which to me means nothing
unless a planet gets in there). So I was like here goes nothing I did go
to Jupiter and wullah it was just a little off centered. I put the 
various lenses in there but it did not focus that great (I have the
electronic focuser so I was a little dissapointed). All in all it's
about time. It's kind of ironic that today is 3 months to the day since
I first tried it.

Subject:	PE Series Sensor Calibration
Sent:	Tuesday, May 3, 2005 08:02:50
From:	Mike Hogan (
I've seen several messages on your site where people using the PE have
had large errors during star alignment and GOTO's.  Perhaps the
following may be useful.

Not long ago I received a replacement SmartFinder/LNT module but didn't
have time to really test it until a few days ago.  I've found that "out
of the box" the LNT derived North is off by about 10 deg., and level is
off about 2 deg.  I determined this by allowing it to do an automatic
alignment and accepting the suggested stars. I then slewed to
"zero-zero" alt/az as indicated by the AutoStar (press Mode for 3
seconds, scroll down once), then used a level and the RA setting circle
to determine the errors.  I had previously calibrated the RA circle
using a landmark at a known azimuth and doing the necessary RA to Az
conversion (4 min. RA equals 1 deg. AZ).  Performing a Sensor
Calibration reduced the errors to about 2 deg Az and less than 1 deg
Alt.  These residual errors may be due to using an "artificial" Polaris
since I can't see it from my observing location.

The PE manual only refers to doing a Sensor Calibration after replacing
the LNT internal battery.  I don't know if the calibration coefficients
are stored in the LNT itself or the AutoStar ( Mr. Seymour??) but maybe
it should be done anytime a Motor Calibration and Train Drives is

A final comment on the not-so-SmartFinder.  While the new one worked
fine as far as displaying a red dot, I ran out of AZ adjustment before
it could be aligned with the eyepiece.  Anybody got a fix for this?

 Mike Hogan
From:	Richard Seymour (
>Performing a Sensor Calibration reduced the errors to 
>about 2 deg Az  and less than 1 deg Alt. These residual errors
>may be due to using  an "artificial"
> Polaris since I can't see it from my observing location.

I would assume so.  What Calibrate Sensors does is tell the Autostar
how far from your local magnetic north True North really is.
The Autostar figures out True North by knowing where Polaris is at
the date/time you do the Cal Sensors.

> The PE manual only refers to doing a Sensor Calibration after
>replacing the LNT  internal battery. 

I can't see why they'd say that.  You might need to set the -clock-
after a battery replacement, but a Cal Sensors can/should be done
if your local magnetic environment changes (such as front yard/back yard
movements, nor near/far from the steel garage door).

>I don't know if the calibration coefficients are  stored in the LNT
> itself or the AutoStar ( Mr. Seymour??) but maybe it should be
>done anytime a  Motor Calibration and Train Drives is indicated.

All data (except for setting the LNT clock) are kept in the Autostar.

I do a Cal Sensors whenever i load new firmware in my LX200gps,
(since that wipes it out).  I don't change my observing location,
so once per 6 months or so is adequate for -my- situation.

have fun

Subject:	ETX125 PE UHTC
Sent:	Sunday, May 1, 2005 23:05:14
From:	Merle Miller (
Thank you for taking the time for a hosting such a great site.  It is
very informative for a relative newbie!

I am debating with myself to purchase this instrument or look at
something else (bigger).  For me the big selling point of this telescope
is the weight and performance.  I've had numerous back surgeries so the
weight is important.

I am concerned however at the number of quality control issues that seem
to plague this instrument.  I don't have a local dealer and I don't
particularly care to keep sending the thing back for repairs that should
have been caught in the first place.  In your opinion are the level of
issues/complaints exceedingly high or is this fairly normal level?  Is
this a case of Caveat Emptor?

Thank you again for a great site.  I've really enjoyed myself here.
Mike here: As I've stated on the site many times, we generally only see "problem reports" since people write when they have questions or problems. Most of these problem reports center around the LNT and SmartFinder, which are new. Meade has addressed both. Does this mean you won't have problems? As with all purchases whether a telescope or computer operating system, some problems can surface so purchasing from a dealer who stands by the sale is important.


Thank you for the quick response.  I hope your "seeing" is better than
your earlier reports, i.e. no rain !

I understand that people are more likely to write about problems than
their successes.  Still, some of the issues people raise gives me pause,
e.g. motors failing.  It reminds me of a crap shoot.  You're correct
about purchasing from a reputable dealer, but unfortunately there are
none close by.

Merle Miller

Subject:	ETX125
Sent:	Friday, April 29, 2005 12:03:11
From: (
Just wondering if you know of an electronic focuser is available for the
I have heard conflicting reports..Just wondering.
Dan Cohen
Mike here: There was a report that a redesigned one was coming for the PE models.
Subject:	Brand new 105 PE - Smart finder.
Sent:	Thursday, April 28, 2005 22:32:41
From:	Ron Wright (

My brand new 105 PE UHTC arrived today.  

The weather has been great, clear with temps 70-80 all week.   Today we
are having a snow storm and clear skies are not predicted at all in the
10 day forecast.

Time to unpack in the living room.  Every thing went together just fine.
I have the new fool proof smart finder with the owner's manual
supplement page showing detailed installation instructions with

Tried the computer and it seems to work great.  Time was factory set. It
went through its level dance and seemed to be looking for alignment
stars.  (Cant see them through the living room ceiling).  Tried the
optics on a tree.  Looking Good. Praying for clear skies.

Tried to align the smart finder dot.  No Dot. Instructions in manual
vague, Remember someone on the website site said to use the light button
to get the dot on. No Dot. Called OTP to avoid long wait at meade.  Told
me to go to a dark room.  A ha, we have a dot.   I guess that the smart
finder is useless for daytime viewing.

Night has fallen.  Pouring rain and 34 deg.  Trying to align the smart
finder on a street light about a mile away.  Won't even get close to
aligning.  Tried to remove the lens and see if there is another way to
install it.   Lens holding screw came off in my hand.  Darn!  Will have
to call meade after all.

Praying for clear skies!

And an update:
4-24-05  Sun

Mostly cloudy with some breaks.  Full moon.  I gota give this a shot.  
I brought the scope outside to see what I could see.   Scope went
through the Level dance.  Tried to see if the alignment stars would be
in any of the cloud breaks.  All I saw was clouds.  Slewed the scope
over to the moon and tried the tracking feature.  It was loosing
ground.   I guess I will have to train the drives. 

Looked at the moon.  Wow that was pretty incredible.  I was expecting a
little more definition but it is a cloudy night.  Still the best image
of the moon I have seen, I have just used toy scopes before.  Ran the
power up just to see what would happen.  9mm with a 2x Barlow.  Just a
dim hazy silhouette of  a very small portion of the moon.  I don't know
if I over powered the scope or if it is the clouds.   

Some more breaks in the clouds.  I will try the goto to see if anything
is in the breaks.  Hand device is dead.  Display says speed = 64x. 
Power off  on still the same computer is completely dead except Speed =
64 x.  Good thing meade will be open tomorrow,  I pull the whole thing
down and bring it into the house.  As I am putting the hand device away
I notice the 5 key is stuck down.  Moved it and it popped back out. 
Plugged it back into the scope.  Works great.  Well now I will have to
try again.  I am not going to call meade about the smart finder till I
find out if I have any other problems.   Praying for clear skies.  10
day forecast still clouds and rain. 


I am now pretty worked up about paying a $1000 for scope with a ton of
problems.  I call John Downs @ OPT  800-483-6287.  What a great guy. He
spent about 20 min with me on the phone answering my questions about the
scope.  He calmed me down and told me that my feelings are normal.  Just
relax and take time to become friends with the scope.  I will probably
have to talk to meade about the service issues but if I run into any
problems let him know.

He also passed on these little newbie tidbits.

Rule of thumb.  50 power for every inch of objective lens.  A 105 with
UHTC = 5 inch.  That would be 250 max usable power for that scope. 
(meade says 420)

He thinks the 105 out performs the 125.   He stated details that I wont
take the time here.  Ask if you want them.

Planets are better watched at lower power for a longer time.  The
atmospherics will change as you are watching.  The clarity will fade in
and out.  So watch for a longer time and you might get a better view.  

I forgot the whole thing of this one but when you increase power by some
value.  You cut light gathering in half and resolution by a quarter.

Still waiting for Clear skies.

Mike here: Another rule of thumb for max magnication: twice the aperture in millimeters. So, for the ETX-105, that would be 210X.

And more:

4-26-05 Tuesday

Still heavy cloud cover.  Had a break in the clouds and jump out to see
what I could see.   I fired up the auto star and it prompted me for the
date and time.  It still had my zip code.   I tried to align the scope. 
I could not see the alignment stars or anything close that looked like
an alignment star.  So I hit enter anyway to see what would happen.  The
computer was totally lost.  I used GOTO Jupiter and the scope pointed to
due west at about 45 degrees.  Jupiter was actually S- SE at about that
angle.  I tried the alignment again still the same.

I did manually get the scope on Jupiter, quite a task with no finder
scope, and forgot most of the computer troubles.  All I can say is wow. 
I got to see a very nice planet with 2 very distinct bands on it.  I
could also see four moons as shining stars that looked like a diamond
necklace around her.  I was truly in awe of Gods Creation.  I tried
tracking Jupiter and it kept fading down and to the left.  But not as
fast as the earth Turning, I think.

4-27-05 Wed

I called meade.

To say that the guy at meade was helpful would truly be an
overstatement.  The Gentleman that I talked to truly made me feel
stupid.  His tone and almost rudeness was clearly trying to say that
obviously I was doing something wrong and there could be nothing wrong
the scope.

After a few minutes of him establishing his dominance, He did help me
discover that the battery in the LNT had popped out.  According to him
all my problems would be attributed to the battery.  I find that hard to
believe.  He told me to put the battery back in and start over.  If I
had to, try a reset and start over again. He also told me to train the
drives before I tried to align it. He ended the call buy asking me if I
would like buy an extended warranty.  Now that ticked me off.  I told
him I was trying to decide weather or not to get my money back on the
scope. I surely was not interested in buying a warranty plan.

I did all the above.  When I took the LNT apart to put the battery in, I
could see how the smart finder screw fell out and reinstalled it.  Thank
you meade for sending the right allen wrench in with the scope.  It is
daylight here now, I trained the drives and I ran the alignment.  As
dusk is approaching I tried to align the smart finder.  It is way off I
can't get it even close. If I can find a break in the clouds tonight see
what happens.  10 day forecast still sucks.

The meade guy ticked me off so bad I forgot to ask a question.  So I
called back and talked to another person.  My question was how do you
use the smart finder?  There is no reference point to compare with the
dot to make a straight line. Like a gun site.  His response was, have
your nose touch the scope.  Remember where you stuck your nose and put
it in the same spot each time.  Quality.

Still Praying for clear skies.

And even more:
4-28-05 Thursday

12:05 am

It has become my nightly ritual, on my way to bed, I stick my head out
the door to see what is going on.  Maybe there is a small break in the
clouds that I can see something through.   So I took a look.  CLEAR
SKIES!  No moon.  Stars are everywhere!  I pull out the scope as my wife
mentions something about crazy as she heads off to bed. 

I turn on the scope.  Prompts me for time and date. Oh, oh been here
before.  Does the level north dance.  First alignment star. Black
space.  There are no stars at all (accept very faint) even near where
the scope is pointing.   I enter my way through the alignment process. 
I hit GOTO Jupiter which is shinning like a small moon in the southern
sky.  The scope points due west.  Oh how I wish meade customer service
was open this time of night.  I would LOVE to talk to them right now
(maybe they are not for that very reason).  I spend the next almost 3
hours trying every combination of reset, align, and train drives that I
could think of.  I tried entering in my city instead of my zip code.  I
tried the next closest city instead of my own.  GOTO Jupiter ended up
pointing due west in to black space every time.  I pack up the scope
with myself and the batteries almost exhausted.  Look at the clock at 3
am as I pour my self into bed thinking that I have to get up for work in
a few hours. So full of attitude that I can not wait for meade to open
in the morning, because we are going to talk.

12:00 pm Thursday

I finally have a chance to call meade.  I am almost shaking as I am
prepared to do battle with the voice on the phone.  Some how I must
convince them that I am not an Idiot and thier scope is broke, or that
their instructions are so vague that no one that stopped short of a
masters in astronomy can figure out how to work this thing.  I work my
way through the menu options and the line is answered on the second
ring.  I am truly holding back and I am being very nice to the guy who
answers, his name is Paul M., thinking this guy has done nothing to
receive my wrath, yet.  I calmly explain the events that have lead up to
this call.  He asked me some very simple questions.  Wait a minute, this
guy is talking to me like an intelligent adult, and in less than five
minutes on the phone with me, tells me that my scope is broke.  Not only
that, but he will send me a new Level North Module that I can put on
myself.  I do not have to send the scope back to them.  That should also
take care of my smart finder problem.

Wow, I don't know what to do with my self.  Hey Paul, let me ask you a
question about using the smart finder. So I ask him the gun site
question.  He told me he has not used the smart finder himself yet.  The
engineers told him that, yes the dot will move as you move your head but
so will the object.  So, once it is aligned, no mater where you move
your head the dot will always be on the object.  Cool.

4-29-05 Friday

Paul called me. (no way!)  He just wanted to let me know that my LNT did
ship today and should be here in a few days. 

Now that is customer service! 

Side Note:

Does anyone know what you are supposed to do with the hand device when
you are using the scope?  There is no where that I can find to put it. 
Am I missing something that should have come with it?  Or am I missing
the spot to put it?  Right now I am laying it on top of the leg spreader
on the tripod.  That works just fine but sure would like to use that for
eye pieces.

Wednesday is the first and only day in the 10 day forecast with no

Praying for clear skies and fast UPS

Mike here: Many of us use Velcro. Soft part on the back of the Autostar and the stiff part at the top of the tripod legs.


Thanks for the tip.


Subject:	Received my ETX 125 PE UHTC Back from Meade
Sent:	Thursday, April 28, 2005 17:31:35
From:	David & Sherry Wilson (
Received my ETX 125 PE UHTC from Meade, was disappointed in having my
Autostar flopping around in the box but all looks good.

They updated the Autostar firmware to 33I. Replaced the LNT/mount,looks
like the time update port is enlarged.(new mod.?) And the focus is
butter smooth.

Was able to setup the scope and do a automatic align with Jupiter/Saturn
just out side the fov of the 26mm eyepiece I believe that the alignment
will improve with break-in and using a process of sighting a alignment
star with a low power eyepiece then switching to a high power.

Keep up the good work
t David

Subject:	ETX125PE
Sent:	Thursday, April 28, 2005 10:38:49
From:	Owens, Krista (
I just got my new 125 PE and when I turn it on it does not ask for zip
code or location.  I have searched though the options on the autostar
and can't find where to give it my location.  Also, do you know if the
PE will fit into the hard case for the 125EC?  Thanks for all the help.
Mike here: Someone had already set the location. I'd suggest doing a RESET to start over from the factory default. And yes, it will fit BUT you would have to remove the LNT module possibly.
Subject:	ETX 125 PE Resolution
Sent:	Wednesday, April 27, 2005 19:27:31
From:	PBrady (
I promised to keep you posted, so here goes. Where last I left the saga
of our wayward optical device... Meade had returned a unit sent in for
motor drive fault error (alt motor) with its alt clutch adjustment knob
floating in the box... and apparently no clutch. I'm still waiting for
the return call from Meade promised on 4/22 for 4/25 since their phone
system was having fits... however, in frustration I called the customer
service at my vendor to see if they ( could help me wake
up Meade. They did better. The vendor hearing my sad tale, took pity,
and simply exchanged units.

So, it IS raining here and occasionally snowing... but at least the ETX
is slewing in both axes on the dining room table (I confess that we
brought batteries and checked this out before we left the vendor's
shop)... it has both clutches... and it is finding objects, albeit on
the ceiling, more or less where I would expect them were it clear and

NOW we can concern ourselves with looking for clear skys!

Thanks for your site and sympathetic ear. I look forward to sharing
something a bit more fun than complaints about customer service and
quality assurance.


Paul Brady

Subject:	Re: ETX125PE Drifting issue
Sent:	Wednesday, April 27, 2005 09:48:41
From:	jeffrey kramer (
Well, Meade has tried several ETX125s and they all seem to have pointing
problems. They are saying that the there must be a problem with the
supplier of the motors but they are not sure that is the problem. I
contacted my dealer and they agreed to give me a refund for the ETX125.
Now, I am back to what scope to buy!! I am considering going back to my
original plan of getting the Meade 6" LXD75 but am not sure.

Anyways, just wanted to give you the update,


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