Last updated: 30 November 2006

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:	EXT Amateur Astronomer Kit question
Sent:	Thursday, November 30, 2006 18:26:40
I have a EXT90PE for my 9 year old for Christmas in my closet from
optcorp.  Are there any accessories you would recommend that are not in
the Amateur Astronomer kit to maximize our out of box experience?
John Mulkey
Oxford, Mississippi
Mike here: Well, what you get will depend on your 9 year old (or you) will use the telescope. I'd recommend first learning the telescope and discovering what enjoyment you can get from the telescope. Then once you have a better understanding of your child's desires (or your desires) and the capabilities of the ETX-90PE you can decide on how to expand it.
Subject:	ETX125 Filter
Sent:	Thursday, November 30, 2006 13:57:19
From: (
I was wondering if you can recommend a good filter for the 125PE.. I am
interested in trying to reduce some of the pollution.
Mike here: There are various filters available that may help, depending on the source of the light pollution and the objects to be observed. See the Accessory Reviews: Filters page for comments on skyglow, light pollution, narrow- and broadband filters.
Subject:	Reply to WILLIAM MCKINSTRY on the subject "Meade"
Sent:	Thursday, November 30, 2006 09:31:01
From:	Kim Miau Lee (
Basically, you can buy Meade telescope from US vendors. Meade doesn't
officially allow this but many of the Meade owners do this to prevent
buying much more expensive scopes. There is advantage buying from the
local vendor. Just in case that your scope is faulty, the dealer will
send the scope back to US. He can provide you some technical supports

Subject:	Suggestion For "For Sale Page"
Sent:	Thursday, November 30, 2006 08:19:57
From:	Kim Miau Lee (
I would like to suggest that the sellers or buyers who write to you,
state their main items clearly in the subject line. It's more convenient
for us to surf through.

By the way, your portable observatory looks nice. I am going to make
mine with several panels to block the surrounding light to enhance my
dark vision.

-Robin Lee
My Astronomy Blog-

Sent:	Wednesday, November 29, 2006 05:39:48
From:	Mike Edwards (
Telescope motors do not respond to command from autostar handbox.

The wires came loose from the handbox/telescope cable and shorted out at
the telescope end.

Power supply is 12V  DC via a transformer into mains 240V.

I fitted a new cable, but the telescope will not move, motors will not
run at all.

When setting up alignment, handbox display works fine, but the scope
don`t slew anywhere!

Power supply to scope & handbox seem fine.

Any ideas?
Mike here: Could you elaborate on the "wires came loose" comment you made. It could be that something was damaged in the circuitry on the board inside the ETX base. That would likely require a repair by Meade.


thanks for swift reply;

the wires actually parted company from the male plug that slots into the
face board of the telescope base probably causing a short circuit.

This more than likely occurred because I let the hand set dangle on the
wire, rather than purchasing a proprietary handset holder/carrier.

I was subsequently recommended to contact BC&F for advice, as my scope
is out of warranty.

Steve at BC&F was extemely helpful, and suggested that the circuitry
behind the face board of the ETX base was damaged, and that if I sent
the scope in, He would look at it for me.

I`ll keep you posted of developments.

Subject:	overheat while viewing the sun
Sent:	Tuesday, November 28, 2006 10:04:03
From:	John Chase (
I recently purchased a Thousand Oaks filter for my refractor and while
viewing the sun I got a little warm. Since I am used to wearing heavy
coats for night time observing It occurred to me that prolonged sun
observing could get uncomfortable pretty fast.

I happen to have a survival blanket that is highly reflective on one
side only I threw this over my head, with the shinny side out, while
observing and there was a noticeable decline in my personal heat
absorption. Anyway I saw somewhere, I thought on your site, where
someone was having similar heat issues and I figured I would pass this
tip along.

you can see the blanket if you do an Amazon search with the key words...
 Emergency survival blanket

ps    great information in your site thanks for taking the time to
provide it John Chase

Subject:	Power switch 125etx
Sent:	Tuesday, November 28, 2006 09:44:12
From: (
Mike here: The article "Repairing Battery Cutoff Switch" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page might help.


From:	Niall J. Saunders (
Hi Steve,
I have never had to work on the innards of an ETX125 - I have owned one,
but did not get the chance to strip it down.

However, if it is anything like the ETX-105, then you are going to find
it very difficult to get 'into' the board that hold the power switch.
You may be able to 'get at' the connectors at the back of the switch -
and make an educated guess as to how to by-pass the switching action
(therefore relying on an external disconnect to remove power from the
scope). This is something you would have to tackle on your own.

Failing that, I would SERIOUSLY suggest that you contact Meade UK and
explain your problem to them. You might well be best served by putting
the ETX-125 into the back seat of your car and driving to them - at
least you don't have as far to go as I would !!

I know that I would be able to fix the problem (well, I would be
reasonably confident) - but that is only because I have had more than
thirty years in the electronics repair world - that said, I could not
compete on the commercial charges that Meade UK will levy.

Give them a call, and let us know what their answer is.
Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND

Sent: 29 November 2006 19:52
Subject: Power switch fault(ETX125)
Hi nial,read your note on the weasner site, and also emailed mike,about
a power switch that does not switch on unless rattled and poked about
Have you had any success in repairing or replacing the actual switch .
Regards Steve England (Raining)

Subject:	etx-80BB vs etx-90 newbie purchase
Sent:	Saturday, November 25, 2006 19:12:53
From:	Duckyfred (
I am a newbie looking to purchase my first scope.
I am looking at the ETX-80-BB and ETX-90.
I would like to eventually use it for photography purposes.
Which would you recommend for a beginner?
Thanks for any help.
Mike here: See my comments on the ETX-90 and ETX-70 (similar to the ETX-80) on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page. Also, see the various user reports on the Helpful Information: User Observations page. Depending on your expectations and budget, you may prefer one model over the other. Keep in mind that they are two different telescope designs, delivering different performances.
Subject:	Re: etx 125 electric focusser takes off on its own
Sent:	Thursday, November 23, 2006 13:34:02
From:	Chris and Claire Nuttall (
just a quick note to say thank you

i made a cable and updated my autostar, this seems to have solved the
focusser problem - i thought i should let you know and then you can pass
on the info if someone else has the same problem.

Many thanks

Crhis nuttall

Subject:	Scopetronix
Sent:	Thursday, November 23, 2006 13:24:48
From:	Phil G (
This is the first I've heard about Scopetronix issues.

I was browsing their page today looking at the MaxView adapter to use
with my Pentax *istD camera.

I have their old MicroStarII drive controller on my ETX-90 RA and love

I used to e-mail back and forth with Jordan quite a bit tweaking the
internals of that thing and I'd hate to think they'd be down for long.

Phil G.
Mike here: The problems surfaced a few months back. Unless they just got resolved, you may experience difficulties getting products ordered from their Site.
Subject:	Updating an ETX-90EC with Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2006 21:13:34
From: (
congrats on a great web site. As I am just about to embark on home
astronomy and am keenly considering a Meade telescope I expect I may
become a regular visitor. It looks to be jam packed with good info.

I am considering buying a second-hand ETX-90EC, which I believe to be in
good condition, but at the same time like the benefits (especially for
the novice) of the Autostar package which comes with the ETX-90AT. Are
these two telescopes essentially the same. I know I can purchase the
Autostore package at a later date. Are there any electrical and/or
mechanical aspects of the 90EC which prevent me from up-specing
essentially to a 90AT at a later date by the addition of the Autostar

As the ETX-90AT costs a little more than the Minister for War and
Finance (my better half) will allow me to spend initially, I am hoping
this offers an upgrade path for the 90EC.

I have checked your web site FAQs first, but can only see reference to
not being able to convert the 90RA to an Autstar model. Whilst the FAQs
mention that the only difference between the EC and AT is the Autostore
handset and the tripod, a local telescope shop here in Sydney has given
me concerns that there may be some compatibility issues.

Would appreciate any advise you can provide on this matter.

Happy for you to post my question on your site but would you please
suppress my email address.

Cheers from Down Under
Mike here: The EC model is the same as the AT model except that it has a simple handcontroller without GOTO capabilities and no tripod included. The AT model has the AutoStar #497 AND the #884 tripod included. If you do get the EC model you can add the AutoStar at a later date.
Subject:	Meade ETX90EC
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2006 11:47:54
From: (
I am looking to select & purchase my first scope.
I have been trying to find out without any success what wavefront rating
the ETX90EC optics have & I was hoping an enthusiast like yourself would
be able to confirm it.
Very best regards
United Kingdom
Mike here: Meade has not published that info. There is a comment about it on Meade's site at:


A million thanks for your kind reply.
However, I had already read those comments which are not really very

If Meade were based in the UK I would phone them, but my phone has
international call barring to stop my kids running up massive bills.
My quest goes on!
Take care

Subject:	Fw: Scopetronix visual back
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2006 00:49:11
From:	Stephen Bird (
This might help whilst Scopetronix is closed. They have all manners of
custom built accessories for ETX and other scopes.
Stephen Bird
----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Bird
Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 8:46 AM
Subject: Re: Scopetronix visual back

Try Astro-Engineering at, they have
various international partners shown on their "where to buy" page, so
you should be able to buy what you need.
Stephen Bird

Subject:	RE: Question re. Meade 125ETX as modified by Wegat Optical
Sent:	Tuesday, November 21, 2006 06:45:01
From:	James, Warren W CIV NAVSTA MAYPORT N5 (
Thanks for your reply, Mike- Looking forward to getting it... Basically
am hearing nothing but good about the scope. Now to find some rings...
You have an amazing site- definitely reflects an amazing amount of work
& dedication on your part.

See you're a cat lover as well... Have 8 indoors... Not sure how many

Subject:	Where to get "Using the Meade ETX-70"?
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 20:47:57
A week or so ago I e-mailed you about a Barlow lens for my 13 year old
son. I received my 2x lens from  OPT today! I thought it would be great
for my avid reader to have a copy of your book with the lens for
Christmas. I ordered from Amazon, but today received a refund. Out of
Stock. :(  Do you have any more copies, or know where I can purchase a

Thanks for Your Time,
Mike here: NOTE that the book is not specific to the ETX-70. But this past weekend, OPT had copies in the store. (I have a relationship with OPT.)
Subject:	Meade
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 19:38:15
I am new to Astronomy, but i wanted to progress a bit, as i am
restricted by my present telescope and also being new, i am not sure if
i am looking at the star that i want to. I found your website and read
your reports on the ETX-125, i have found them a great help in helping
me make a decision in the next telescope i should get,i read your
reports dated 4/3/2000 in the Buyer/new user tips page on the tests you
carried out and the continuous questions asked by owners. So i am just
thanking you for the information you provide

William Mckinstry

PS. I live in the UK (Northern Ireland) so there is a big price
difference over here, the 125 is $600 more expensive over here, i was
also interested in the LX200R 8", it is $4000 over here at the exchange
rate, thats nearly double the US price. This was also a help factor in
going for the

Subject:	Scopetronix visual back
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 07:35:11
From:	Patrick Roy (
we keep on hearing that Scopetronix is close, do you know if it is true
or not. I send them an e-mail and never got an answer.

If this is really the case  do you, or anybody else, might know were I
could find a Scopetronix visual back .

Patrick, Montreal
Mike here: Yes, Scopetronix is undergoing difficulties. We all hope they return. Until then you will have to just check around for dealers of their products.
Subject:	Question re. Meade 125ETX as modified by Wegat Optical
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2006 07:04:06
From:	James, Warren W CIV NAVSTA MAYPORT N5 (
I have a question regarding a scope I just purchased from AstroMart It
is a Meade ETX-125 as modified by Wegat Optical. It has a heavy solid
anodized aluminum backplate with standard Schmidt-cassegrain threads,
and an aluminum threaded lens cover. Focuser upgraded, etc. It was
apparently used for Laser research- the only problem I see using it for
astronomical use is the fact the corrector lens apparently is not
coated. (I have not received it yet, just going from research I've tried
to do on it) I didn't really realize this when I bought it, and realize
it may be a major issue for astronomy.

My question is- would it be possible to get a new coated (regular or-
preferably UHTC) corrector or corrector/mirror set from Meade as
required to replace the uncoated corrector? I realize this may be a very
expensive way to end up with a good astronomical scope, but I really
would love to have the improved mechanics of the Wegat modified
mechanics. I purchased it as an OTA, I plan on using it on my existing
mounts, will have to locate a set of rings for it. Just trying to
determine if I bought myself a "white elephant"!

Thanks in advance for your time- 
Kindest regards, 
Wes James 
Atlantic Beach, FL
Mike here: Yes, they were special purpose telescopes. If you search the Site for "white tube" you will get lots of hits. As to getting a corrector plate from Meade, not likely. The optics would have to be collimated. I don't know if the corrector lens is different from the standard ETX-125 but if not and you still want to try to replace the lens you could look for a "damaged" ETX-125 online and as long as the corrector lens isn't the damaged part you might be OK.
Subject:	OPT Star Party
Sent:	Sunday, November 19, 2006 13:48:08
From:	Don (
Congratulations on the 10th Anniversary of you site and also on your
award from OPT. I wanted to get your opinion on piggybacking the PST on
an ETX. I have the ETX-125EC and was wondering if the weight might be
too much for the Dec. motor? Obviously your RA motor could handle it but
in Alt/Az mode I'm not sure.
Don McClelland
Mike here: Thanks! I don't have a piggyback adapter for my ETX-125 so can't say for sure but the PST is not that heavy. If you need to you could add a counterweight system.


Thanks for the info.


Subject:	re: need dimensions of bolts used in ETX90 mount
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2006 22:25:27
From:	richard seymour (
I do not know the size for the OTA-to-fork attachment,
but the base-to-tripod are 1/4-20 NC

That is one-quarter inch diameter, 20 threads per inch "National Coarse"
It is also the "standard" screw for camera tripod attachment
to 35mm-sized cameras.

have fun
Mike here: The OTA to fork arms mounting screws are longer with a smaller diameter.
From:	a. toonen (
Thank you for the answer. You are wrong however in expecting that Meade
Europe will help me.

A while ago I contacted Meade Europe to order a Meade 1.25" eyepiece
holder for DS and DS-2000 telescopes #1002. My telescope has a 0.965
holder and this plastic part is offered at the Meade US website (spare
parts) for 10 US$ including shipping. But they will NOT ship to Europe.

Meade Europe advised me to contact the local (Netherlands) Meade
importer. I e-mailed this company but never got an answer. Then I
contacted a very friendly local Mede dealer who promised me to give it a
try. After a week he told me that this part was not available.

As last resort I contact the Meade US helpdesk by creating a "ticket"
and descibing the above. I did that 3 times and got one reply that they
were going to look at it. All I asked them was if they please could ship
this lightweight item in a normal envelope to Europe. I would pay by
credit card. I never heard from them again and I gave up. If I would
have been a US citizen I could just order it.

The DS2000 was my first, newly bought, telescope.

So I do not rate the Meade customer service very high. That is why I am
not even going to ask them for the missing bolts. Today I received your
e-mail with the dimensions of the lower bolts. Thank you. I can purchase
them here in any photographer shop.

In the meantime I learned that once I have the dimensions of the other
type of bolt, I can go to any car shop (where they repair cars) that
services US cars. The have all these inch size bolts. The trouble is,
that I do not have (yet) an ETX90 OTA, so I have no reference.

Kind regards,

Arnold W. Toonen
Mike here: Yes, we do not yet have a "global economy" where all countries and import/export laws are equal (or non-existent). Maybe by the 22nd century...
Subject:	ETX125EC Polar Alignment
Sent:	Thursday, November 16, 2006 15:32:19
From:	Ed Williams (
Love you site and continue to learn from it. I have a problem. My
etx125ec works fine in the normal Alt/Az mode when using goto. When I
try to Polar align it wants to bind and also does slew in the right
direction. I have checked to make sure that it is mounted in the 3884
tripod correctly and is. Also I made sure it was in Polar under the
Telescope Mount section. I have an old etx90 M which is of course before
goto and works great in polar. When I want to take pictures in the
Alt/Az mode the object moves out of view hence the reason for wanting to
Polar.  I am also not clear as to whether you have to turn the OTA in
the same manner as with the Alt/Az setting. Quite frustrating. I also
have an lxd75 10" SN Meade which is Equatorial and works great and I
want the etx to do the same when taking it camping etc.
Thanks in advance for you help.
Mike here: Is the problem only occurring when you attach the camera? If so, I suspect you will need to add a counterweight system (lots of tips on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page). Is the problem is occurring without anything extra added, it could be that the locks are either not engaging sufficient or are too tight. Also, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES recently?


it happens when nothing is attached. But as I said it works fine in the
Al/az mode slewing to the object just fine. So that lead me to believe
that the motor did not need trained. For instance when I do Polar and
hit goto for let's say Altair which facing would be up and behind me on
my right side alas it goes down. Go figure. Also again do I have to
rotate the OTA before star aligment as you do in Al/as home position?
Mike here: Yes, you do have to the same CCW/CW rotation when setting up in Polar Mode before the alignment process. Since the slippage occurs when the base it tilted for Polar Mode I would suspect that it is the clutch mechanism that is the problem.


Mike, is there a quick fix for this or do I have to send it to Meade?
Mike here: Whether there is a quick fix will depend on the exact nature of the problem, your expertise in fixing the type of problem, whether parts are required, and whether you are willing to run the risk of making things worse.
Subject:	ETX90 EC Faulty Control Panel
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2006 20:16:49
From:	Ian (
The control panel, where the handbox etc plugs into is faulty in that a
PCB board which is normally attached to the control panel has come

I need to physically remove the control panel its self, it does move,
but seems to be press fitted.  I just cannot replace the PCB while the
panel is in position.

Is there any way to remove the panel that you know of?

Ian Watson
Mike here: I haven't tried to remove mine. You might search the site for "control panel" and see if there are any comments about removing it.
Subject:	Fixing ETX105 to tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2006 07:33:27
From:	henrik.van.holthoon (
Yesterday evening yes indeed, stargazing, I screwed the ETX105 on to the
tripod and to my surprise when it is not possible to turn the screws any
further in you can still can move the ETX105 up and down vertically 1 to
2 mm this of no consequence in azm/alt position it will certainly not
fall of the tripod but in the polar position this can not be correct.
The screws can not be screwed completely in, they are blocked by a ring
very strange.

Most regards

Mike here: I presume you are talking about the #884 tripod. If both screws can not be fully screwed in then it could be the bottom plate is not fully inserted, so check that first. If the plate is inside the base as far as it will go, remove the base and check for any obstruction. DO NOT try to force the screws in as they could be hitting a vital component. If you can't find anything wrong, the simplest solution would be to add some extra "height" to the base so that it sticks up a little higher from the tripod mounting plate. Alternatively, you could shorten or replace the bolts.


Yes it is the standard delivered tripod #884 with the ETX105. The
problem is not the base plate or the telescope but the washers (rings)
on the screws they stop the screws going in any further in the base of
the telescope.

The solution is either washers on top of the base plate tripod as you
mention or below the base plate between the base plate and the knobs of
the screws. As I told you it not a big problem springs and weight of the
telescope keep the telescope from moving. In the polar position it is a
different story of course.

I understand from your reaction this is not as it should be as I though,
negative point for quality control by Meade.

Thanks Mike and regards,

Mike here: If the washers are riding too high on the bolts, you should be able to lower them down the bolt threads.


Mike thanks, but I do not think this is possible what you suggest the
washers are fixed in a groove at the lower end of the threat towards the
knob. These washers stop the screws falling out of the tripod base plate
and pretension the springs. The grooves must in the wrong place.

Well one way or the other I will find a solution as long as the
telescope is not used in the polar setup is does not matter. This I will
possible never do.

What I will do probably is to take the screw assemblies apart and put
then a washer between the knob and the base plate that would solve the
problem without going the threat too deep into the telescope base which
could cause damage to the telescope as you rightly suggested.

I think you have ETX as well, apparently you do not have this problem.

Most regards Henrik
Mike here: My #884 tripod does not have this problem although I have had of some that had the washers coming off and the bolts falling out. Hence my comment about the washers possibly being too far up on the bolt.

And more:

From: henrik.van.holthoon [] To: Hallo Niall, You must have great courage to take an ETX apart although I am electronic engineer and quite good (sorry to say this myself) but I would think twice to take an ETX apart but that may change of course. As you are ETX user yourself may I ask the following; I screwed the ETX105 on to the tripod and to my surprise when it is not possible to turn the screws any further in you can still can move the ETX105 up and down vertically 1 to 2 mm this of no consequence in alt/az position it will certainly not fall of the tripod but in the polar position this can not be correct. The screws can not be screwed completely in, they are stopped by a washer in a groove at the lower end of the threat. The washers (a removable ones) stop the screws from falling out of the tripod base plate. Do you have the same problem? I was using the ETX already for weeks but never checked if the dam thing was really fixed until two days ago. I will find a solution when needed but I was just wondering if I am the only one with this problem must be a fault in screw assembly i.e. groove to high. And do not be afraid if I find solutions which might help us all, I will them send to de great Mike site. I did see 2 days ago a beautiful Nebula in the Orion constellation very good clear image in the ETX 105 PE. Most regards Henrik
From:	Niall J. Saunders (
I am surprised that you are having problems with the screw fitments onto
the tripod top-plate. I certainly have never encountered this, even
though I do not regularly use my ETX-105 any more (now that I have the
LX90 on a wedge/pier in my observatory). However, even the other night,
when I took the ETX out to help the local 'Brownies' (junior Girl Guides
?) attain their Astronomy Badges, I had no problems - I just 'popped'
the OTA assembly onto the tripod and fully tightened the screws.

I am sure that if you take the time to examine the setup in detail that
you will be able to resolve the problem. Perhaps, by removing the
circlip (watch that you do not lose the retained spring), you can remove
the screw from the tripod top-plate and determine if the base of the ETX
does actually allow the screws to fully penetrate, without restriction.
Also, the base of the ETX should have three, quite thin (<1mm) rubber
feet (which also conceal the screws that permit the base cover to be
removed) - these feet, if missing, might be one of the causes of your
Let Mike and I know how you get on.
Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND

Subject:	ETX 105AT or ETX 90PE
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2006 14:45:00
From:	Gary and MaryAnn Pruden (
Hi.  I'm purchasing my husband a telescope for Christmas and am trying
to decide between the ETX 90 PE with electronic eyepiece or the ETX 105
AT which costs $200 more but the 105AT also includes a DSI pro and dew
guard free.  He's basically a beginner but has wanted a real telescope
for a long time and would like to take photos of what we see as well. 
Any advice would be most helpful.


MaryAnn Pruden
Mike here: Generally it is best to get the largest aperture telescope you can afford and that will actually get used. So you need to decide which is more important: the better portability of the ETX-90 or the larger aperture of the ETX-105. The PE model may not add that much to you over the AT model. As to the digital eyepiece, I don't find that they would be much use to me personally whereas the DSI would be more frequently used. For more on the various models see my comments on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page as well as those from others on the Helpful Information: User Observations page.
Subject:	ETX converson?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2006 13:39:09
From:	Keith Raihala n0vj (
I have a Meade ETX
There is an "off/on" switch on the bottom
can it be converted to install a computer in it?
Mike here: See the item "Q. How do I upgrade to an Autostar capable model?" on the FAQ page.


Subject:	ETX  Parts availability
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2006 13:41:42
From:	Keith Raihala n0vj (
I have a Meadw ETX
is there a red dot sighting device that will work on my ETX?
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews: Finderscopes page.
Subject:	need dimensions of bolts used in ETX90 mount
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2006 08:36:49
From:	a. toonen (
Your website has been a great resource of technical information about
DS2000 and ETX90 telescopes.

I recently got a defective ETX90 mount with an electronic failure. With
the help of your website and even the US patent office (Meade's patents
reveal a lot of technical info) I succeeded in repairing this ETX mount.

It came with no bolts, so the 4 bolts to attach the OTA to the mount are
missing and the 2 attachment knobs to attach the mount to the tripod are
missing. In the instruction manual I find no clue about the dimensions
of these 6 "bolts". As these bolts have inch dimensions and we use
metrics over here in the Netherlands I cannot just try which ones do

But I am sure, that you can tell me the dimensions of the two types of
bolts that I need. When I have the dimensions, length and diameter (of
the thread) it is much easier for me to acquire them.

Thank you in advance for your answer and keep up the good work.

If you think it is useful to others, I am prepared to write a small
report about the repair of the ETX90 mount that had a real unexpected
and hard to find but once found easy to repair failure and post it to
With kind regards,
Arnold W. Toonen
Mike here: Simplest solution is to contact Meade; they will likely send you replacement bolts for the ETX-90. And yes, would love to have the repair report.
Subject:	5th Annual Star Party
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2006 08:42:14
From:	Don (
I was wondering about the Star Party you have planned if the free Meade
telescope and cleaning applies to all apertures or just the ETX scopes?
I would like to show up this weekend and bring my ETX125 but my 10"
LX200 could definitely use the work. Especially the cleaning.
Don McClelland
Mike here: Quoting from the announcement on the OPT web site: "Meade Technicians will be on hand to perform a FREE check-up and cleaning on your Meade telescope! This is a very popular event, and we recommend you arrive early in the day and be prepared to wait, as telescopes will be serviced on a first-come, first-served basis." There is no mention of an aperture restriction.


Thank you Mike!

Subject:	re:  Observations and ideas about ETX105PE
Sent:	Monday, November 13, 2006 22:01:08
From:	richard seymour (
That was a very comprehensive review.

You wrote:
Change power source:
If you change over from internal to external power and visa versa (input
in power plug or internal batteries) it is claiming we should do motor
calibration. I fail to understand why this is necessary, the drive
systems are closed loop systems with encoders in the loop for feedback,
changing the input voltage within limits should not have any affect. It
has not any effect on my ETX105 anyway. I might be wrong but I do not
think so.

The Calibration procedure adjusts the brightness of the LEDs
shining on the encoder disks.
Meade uses cheap molded plastic which is semi-transparent.
That causes the encoders to still see some of the LED light
after the "edge" of the encoder vane moves between the sensor
and the light.

Calibration spins the motors quickly, and adjusts the brightness
to cause a "square wave" of 50% "on" and 50% "off" to be seen by
the sensors.

If Calibration is -not- done, and if you are unlucky, the encoders
might not see one (or some) of the vanes truly turn the light "off"
as they passed by.  If the Autostar detected that "lost" on/off/on
transition, it would declare a Motor Unit Fault.

So the Calibration is adjusting the one "analog" portion of the
servo system.  As you correctly wrote, the remainder is all digital.

Some models (LX90, LXD family) use metal encoder disks (not plastic),
so calibration is not as much of a problem.

have fun
From:	henrik.van.holthoon (
Hello Dick thanks for you extensive explication.

I am used to electronic precision theodolites with build in distancers
with very precise reading circles for vertical and horizontal readings
and we are talking about sub arc second precision and +/-1 mm for the
distance. I worked 25 years for Leica Geosystems. These instruments are
between 20000 and 30000 dollars completely different technology compared
to our ETX telescopes. In these instruments any backlash is
unacceptable. The more expensive instruments like you mention will
undoubted have a more robust construction.

You may be correct that a tension fall will influence the leds of the
encoders but my ETX105 does not get nervous by changing from internal to
external power. I would anyway advise people to use an external
rechargeable power pack better not use power line power supplies because
of possible transients on power lines although they get somewhat damped
by the transformer.

Thanks again and have fun yourself.



From:	Niall J. Saunders (
I just wanted to help you understand why the 'Calibrate Motors' step is
so important if your power supply voltage changes.

On each axis of the ETX (and LXD / LX90) scopes, Meade uses a single
slotted disc to indicate how far the MOTOR that drives the gear-train is
rotating (and indeed, how fast). It is especially important to note that
this measurement takes place RIGHT AT THE MOTOR OUTPUT SHAFT, before ANY
gearing takes place. It is also very important that this is the ONLY
feedback that the Autostar gets from either axis - there is NO FURTHER
FEEDBACK anywhere else along the gear- train.

So, if you have not carried out a suitable, effective, and applicable
'Calibrate Motors' routine, then EVERYTHING that the Autostar will try
to do will be hopelessly compromised. Your GoTo's will be out, tracking
will be out - even initial alignment can fail.

So, if you suspect that your supply voltage fluctuates (very often the
case with internal batteries), then you need to 'Calibrate Motors'
regularly - at least at the start of every viewing session. If you are
running from an AC power adaptor (and if this is PROPERLY regulated)
then you may suffer less. This is also the case with the larger DC
'power-tank' units, certainly those that rely on an internal 17Ah
sealed-lead-acid battery - although these will hardly be affected by
normal usage of the scope, it is wise to keep them regularly charged, so
that the Autostar sees a relatively constant voltage.

It does not take that much of a voltage fluctuation to start introducing
strange behaviour - so, be prepared !!

Why does it happen?

Well, the Autostar illuminates one side of the slotted disc (or, for the
cheaper scopes like the ETX range, the disc is not slotted, but is
actually just a plain disc with black lines painted on it) and detects
light passing through (or reflecting off) the slots (or the gaps between
the black lines). The source of the illumination is a simple IR LED.
There are no 'guide slots' next to the rotating disc (unlike the system
used in the more expensive LX200-type scopes) - when present, these help
eliminate any 'stray' light from illuminating those slots (or lines)
around the one that is actually passing over the detector (the only
slot/line that ACTUALLY needs to be detected as it passes).

In other words, if the LED illumination was too bright, then extra
slots/lines might possibly be detected (resulting in the Autostar
thinking that the motor was rotating faster (or further) than was
desired. Conversely, if the illumination is too low, then slots/lines
may not be counted as they pass the detector.

In order to overcome this (without huge financial outlay) Meade use a
clever process whereby they spin each motor axis (in turn, hence the two
bursts of movement) whilst they adjust the LED output power from minimum
to maximum. The Autostar knows that the motors have been commanded to
run at maximum speed and, barring anything jamming the axis, they expect
to see the output of the detector vary from nearly always off (minimum
LED power), through to nearly always on (at maximum power). At some
crucial stage in the process, the Autostar will detect a waveform whose
'mark/space' ratio is effectively '1:1' - i.e. a 'square wave'. This is
the 'ideal' output power for the LED - and the configuration of the PIC
chip that is feeding current to the LED is stored for future operation
by the Autostar.

(For the 'techies' reading this, and if memory serves me correct, there
are 127 different possible power levels, obtained from a seven-bit
output coming off the PIC chip. Each output drives a resistor of a
different value - in a 2^n scale - such that there is a 'summed output
current' available, depending on which of the seven bits are at 5V. The
'summed current' passes through the LED, providing the variable

Fortunately the tolerance is quite low, and so a certain amount of
voltage fluctuation can be accommodated. But, presumably to keep costs
in check yet again, there is NO VOLTAGE REGULATION on the motor driver
boards themselves. That is why, if you choose to run your scope off,
say, a 15V supply (possible, but maybe not recommendable) then your
top-end slew speeds will be MUCH faster. Obviously, the lower-end Guide
speeds are controlled, and are therefore not affected by the higher

Certainly, whenever Mike replies to queries with his infamous "Reset,
Calibrate Motors, Train Drives" response, I would always like to
emphasise that I consider that the order that these instructions are
given reflects the importance of each when it comes to solving problems.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Best Regards,
Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND


From:	henrik.van.holthoon (
Hello Mike I invoked quite a discussion on your site, big fun and
interesting. This is my response to Niall.
Regards Henrik

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "henrik.van.holthoon" <>
Hello Niall,

Thank a lot for you more then extensive response, be assured it is

I do understand now the possible influence of input voltage it beats me
why it not mentioned in the Meade handbook.

Anyway I will now regulary do a motor calibration it is quickly done in
fact but I will stick to a power pack instead of a line power
supply.Where I live in the country we have 245 VAC instead of 230VAC and
what is worse the power line is not very clean, transients you know
(voltage spikes).

With a DC power pack you do not have this problem and it is easy to take
with you. I am wondering how do you know so much of the electronic
construction of the Meade goto telescopes.

Ha ha I will be quickly an expert myself if we go on like this.

Most regards Henrik



I am happy to be of assistance - after all, I know how much help I
received from Mike Weasner's site when I first purchased my ETX-105 !!

As far as details being mentioned in the Meade Handbook, it is perhaps
easier to consider Mike's web-site as the 'Official' Meade Handbook !!!

Yes, I would STRONGLY recommend using a 12V DC power-pack - it is far
more reliable, and you gain an added advantage that you may even be able
to start your car when ITS battery fails ! (There is also the inherent
danger of using mains powered equipment in an external environment -
made even more dangerous by working in the dark.

As far as understanding the electronics inside the Meade Scopes - well,
my one was faulty when I bought it (ex eBay) and I decided I would just
take it to pieces, figure out how it worked, fix the broken bits (the
hard-end-stop on the RA / Alt axis), and then put it back together. I
was also extremely curious about how the axis control worked - after
all, that was what I did both as a hobby and as a profession. What that
meant was that I had all the appropriate equipment to 'look at' the
signals, and the experience to understand (roughly) how the internal
code algorithms must be working.

I have to also defer my knowledge the huge wealth of information made
available to us by Dick Seymour - he truly has 'burrowed' into the
depths of the AutoStar - in fact, he may even have a better feel for how
the program works than the programmers at Meade themselves. Certainly I
am convinced that the programmers at Meade are NOT actual astronomers
themselves - they simply provide 'code to request'. This is perhaps why
the AutoStar has so many shortfalls.

And, finally, yes - it will not be long before you will (hopefully) be
confident enough to share your accumulating knowledge with others. That
is the wonder of sites such as this.

Good Luck,
And Clear Skies

Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND

And more:

Thinking about the construction of the motor drives with the encoder on
the motor axes is not what I call a robust feedback system the encoder
should be paced on the vertical and horizontal axes then at least you
are measuring the real movement of the OTA. In our ETX the backlash is
as I understand not compensated as the OTA is always moving left and
right, avoiding it rams the stop in the horizontal plane this system is
introducing errors in the positioning. If you do a star hopping or a
guided tour you must have a positioning error becoming greater after
looking for a number of items. This what I have seen already I think, to
overcome this one should a reorientation I think after let say after 10
to 20 objects.

But I know it is all a question of cost of course it would be certainly
more expensive to install a more robust feedback system on our ETX.

Apart from that, it is a fantastic telescope.

Regards Henrik
Yes, the feedback system is a compromise between accuracy and cost - as
always. However, if you take special care to Calibrate Motors, and to
Train Drives, you might be surprised just how accurate the system
actually is.

If you want to improve accuracy even more, the system you have suggested
is actually available to you as an option within the Autostar software.
If you select <Setup>, <Telescope> and <High Precision> then the
Autostar will take you to a Guide Star each time you jump to a new
object (unless, of course, you are heading to a Guide Star anyway.

This is the mode I operate with all the time, on my LX90. It is very
easy to use, and very reliable. If you make sure that your Finderscope
is 'accurately' aligned with the OTA, then it should be very easy to
centre the Guide Star, and to then be confident that this will also be
central in the OTA filed of view as well (even at high magnifications,
or when imaging). Centre that star and you will find that whichever
'faint fuzzie' you are chasing will be in the FOV - even if you CAN'T
see it !!

Going back to my Train Drives comment - have a search through Mike's
site, and see what I have posted in the past - especially looking for my
'modified' Train Drives routine. I would certainly never consider
operating any of my Meade scopes without taking the time to train the
drives properly. By doing this as accurately as possible, virtually ALL
of my gear-train backlash is eliminated. Once this stage is completed,
you can also then adjust the RA/Alt and Dec/Az 'percentages' until, even
at x1 'Guide Speed' you can confidently move the image around to exactly
where you want it to be - with no 'overshoot', 'rubberbanding' or
'post-button-release drift'.

Finally - just take a few moments to consider the level of resolution
that would be necessary if you were to use a position sensor AFTER the
gear train. Even for a resolution of 60 arcseconds you would need to be
able to resolve 21,600 'positions' (1 minute x 60 minutes/degree x 360
degrees/revolution). I have used sensors in feedback control systems in
the past - and the best I could afford for the project was a 2,000
lines/revolution sensor that, with clever software algorithms, we were
able to extend to 8,000 lines/rev. And that was at a cost of over $700
per encoder - and would still have only allowed 3 arcminutes of
resolution! What Meade has achieved is FAR better than that !!

Niall Saunders

And still more:

An other response on the follow up by Niall.

Concerning ETX fixing on tripod I will report my solution in solving
this to you later.

Hi Niall,

This is a great help, I will certainly try this [high precision command]
and observe what happens.

Coming back on resolution I worked for Leica Geosystems they make GPS
positioning equipment and electronic precision theodolites with sub
second accuracy they have a very robust feedback system but they have
incorporated high precision coded disks which are read electronically
all digital of course but we are talking about 20.000 to 30.000 dollars
this is of course a different piece of cake.

You remark about the achieved position accuracy of Meade telescope made
me realise I should have more respect for what they have achieved at
relatively low cost.

One last question I put the Ra/Alt and Dec/Az percentages at 15 % or
should I experiment for better result in other words are these value
different for every ETX105's.

Cheers and have a nice weekend.



It is not possible to state what the 'best' values are for the
Percentage parameters - you will have to experiment.

What you are trying to achieve (after having Calibrated Motors and
Trained Drives) is a 'rapid' response whenever you change the slewing
direction on a given axis. When the values are at 0%, the Autostar does
not compensate for the 'slack' in the gear train whenever it has to
change direction. It certainly 'knows' what the 'slack' is - this is
what it 'learns' when you execute the Train Drives routine. It 'learns'
how many extra pulses need to be detected from the encoder wheel when it
has to 'unwind' all the gears from, say, having been rotating in a
clockwise direction, before ANY movement would start to happen in an
ANTI-clockwise direction.

So, when you change from one direction to another (or if the Autostar
has to do this for itself) the Autostar 'adds' the appropriate amount of
'extra' movement - just to compensate for the HUGE gearing reduction
that is present, and which means that a sudden change in direction of
the motor rotation will have NO immediate effect on the change of
direction of the axis.

I hope that this explanation makes at least 'some' sense.

That said, it may become obvious that, if a large amount of adjustment
is needed when the motor direction changes, if nothing is done about the
speed at which the adjustment motion is applied, then there will be a
significant delay between a change of direction being requested, and the
resulting change being observed.

The Percentage values allow for the compensating adjustment motion to be
applied at a HIGHER speed than is currently the case (except when the
speed is already at speed 9, which is the maximum possible anyway).
Specifically, the percentage value describes a 'nominal time period' for
which the speed will be enhanced - to allow the compensation to take
place quite rapidly.

If your Percentage values are too low, then the latter part of the
adjustment will still take place at the current operating speed - and a
delay might be noticed.

If your Percentage values are too high, then the motion at direction
change will be 'jerky', and may even lead to overcompensation.

Trial and error is needed - but you MUST have adequate Motor
Calibration, and it is ESSENTIAL that you have done the Train Drives
with the utmost of care. I strongly recommend a 'cross-hair reticule
eyepiece', but a little bit of ingenuity, and some very fine thread - or
human hair !! - will allow you to easily modify the 'standard' Meade
26mm SP eyepiece to achieve this.

Good Luck,

Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND
Mike here: Besides Niall's comments above I also recommend Dr. Clay Sherrod's article "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" and Dick Seymour's article "Calibration, Training, Percentages" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.


Thanks again Niall and Mike

Your suggestion about a cross hair ocular or modify 26 ocular is a good
one I will try the last one first. It not easy without a gross hair to
put a target exactly in the middle of the ocular.

For the rest high precision command, use Polaris as a target are
valuable recommendations I did not think about that one.

Thanks again

Regards Henrik

Subject:	Plastic Horizontal Lock Lever ETX-125
Sent:	Sunday, November 12, 2006 09:52:43
From:	Jeff Rushing (
Is there a replacement for the cheap plastic horizontal lock lever
available that you know of? I have now broken my second one. The first
was replace by MEADE when I sent the scope in for other repairs. Now, I
just need this plastic piece. I do not see them on the MEADE website.
Are there any metal options out there?

I have resorted using a combination wrench, but am scared I am going to
over tighten it.

Thank You,

Jeff Rushing
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page for some alternative levers you can make.
Subject:	Re: etx 125 electric focusser takes off on its own
Sent:	Saturday, November 11, 2006 14:23:01
From:	Chris and Claire Nuttall (
Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply, i hope you got a good view
of mercury, i was lucky enough to observe the entire of the last transit
from my home in seems odd that someone could be sheltering
from the heat when it is so gloomy and cold here!

I tried the 12 volt power supply, it didn't cure the problem I also
tried reseting the autostar as you suggested, this didn't solve it I
tried cleaning the keys and that didn't work either ( the focusser will
continue to run after a few presses of any of the four direction keys so
actually i doubt it is that anyway, also it never sticks while slewing
the scope)

I have no other funny autostar oddities to report.

Do you think i may need to reload the software into the autostar? I dont
have the cable for doing that but if you think it may help then i could
get one and try it. I have been re-reading your book and scanning the
website for ideas, but to tell you the truth i'm stumped.

Mike here: If you have the focuser handcontroller you might try that by itself and see if you get the run-on problem. As to the #505 serial cable, it is simple to make; there are several articles on it on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. NOTE: if your computer does not have a real RS-232 port and only has USB, then you will need a USB-serial adapter. But not all adapters work with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Avoiding the Desire to Collimate Your Maksutov
Sent:	Friday, November 10, 2006 15:12:02
From:	Bubba Martin (
I read the article titled "Avoiding the Desire to Collimate Your
Maksutov" and I disagree.  Although both Meade and Orion supply fairly
good scopes, I've had at least one that was slightly uncollimated as
delivered by the factory.  Tweaking one of the six screw an eighth or
sixteenth of a turn won't affect alignment of the primary/secondary as
much as one would think.  It DOES place the scope in perfect collimation
which is a MUST for planetary / high power observing.  Readers of this
article should not be discouraged from placing their scopes in perfect
collimation and robbing them of the views they deserve from pretty good

I've collimated newts (24"), true casses (up to 24"), maks (5") and yes,
even one refractor (only 4") and can't imagine putting up with poor
viewing due to an adjustment most people could make if they only knew
Good seeing,
Kerry Martin
Kara Technology Corp.
Mike here: I totally agree that ensuring telescopes that are meant to be user-collimated ARE collimated is a really good idea. However, the ETX models are NOT meant to user-collimated and there are no easy access screws to adjust the collimation. That was the point of Dr. Clay's article. That said, there are articles on collimating the ETX Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. It is just not something to be undertaken lightly as without the proper patience the ETX owner can make things worse. And due to the design of the ETX models, they do not typically get out of collimation under normal use.


thanks for your timely response.

I agree with that.  A novice can render a perfectly good scope unuseable
in no time at all.  But what do you do when you star test your ETX and
discover that Meade sent one that won't pass?  Do you have to send the
whole scope back if you're a novice?  Bummer.  I confess I have zero
experience with the ETX.  My Orion 127 Mak is a real pain to collimate
(six screws), but at least I can do it given good seeing and a couple of
hours with a LOT of patience.

Do you have any experience with the Orion Mak?  It doesn't appear there
is any way to collimate the secondary, and I've already sent one back
due to misalignment of the secondary spot/baffle.  A special tool is
required just to remove the secondary retaining ring, and I'll bet my
machinist friend would charge me at least $100 to make one...


Kerry Martin
Mike here: If an ETX arrives out of collimation it should be returned to the dealer immediately. If out of warranty and the owner wants to try it, those collimation articles I mentioned will help. I have no experience with the Orion telescopes.
Subject:	Is it safe to work on my ETX-125?
Sent:	Thursday, November 9, 2006 13:53:10
From:	Robert Harris (
I just purchased a new ETX-125 AT, and I'm curious if the improvements
described in the "Performance Enhancement Creating The Perfect "GO TO"
ETX or LX 90" section of your site are still applicable to it. This
recent post from Dr. Clay suggests they are not:

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Re: clutch adjustment
Sent: Wednesday, November 8, 2006 03:05:28
From: P. Clay Sherrod (
I do not recommend that the customer work on the NEW version of the ETX
(any with metal fork arms) at all.  The overall construction and method
of repair has totally changed and pretty much is out of the reach of the
average consumer.

Dr. Clay

Are those modifications safe for a new ETX?


Robert Harris
Mike here: Some of Dr. Clay's enhancements could be OK and some probably not. Since he is the author of those articles and an expert in hardware, I would seriously consider taking his advice.
Subject:	Transit of Mercury
Sent:	Thursday, November 9, 2006 04:43:16
From:	ROBERT Derouin (
Hi Mike!! Yes, It's been a while! I just wanted to congratulate you on
your AWESOME images of the Transit of Mercury of Nov. 8, 2006!!Beautiful
Job!!! It was a total rainy washout here in Cranston, Rhode
Island...(where I work!). Sorry to say, I have NO images to send you!!
I'll just keep on enjoying yours and look forward to seeing the images
of your other website fans who have gotten great shots!!! Keep up the
AWESOME work Mike, we here in RI appreciate it!!!! 

Bob Derouin                                                             
Johnston, RI

Subject:	etx 125 electric focusser takes off on its own
Sent:	Wednesday, November 8, 2006 14:38:37
From:	Chris and Claire Nuttall (
I have an etX125 and autostar that i have owned from new for about five
years, this problem used to happen very infrequently, it has started
happening all the time now. i will be carefully focussing an image on
low speed just dabbing the button a little at a time to get perfect
focus, and then it is as if the button is stuck and the focusser just
keeps going. i have franticly prodded at the button while this is
hapening but it doesn't stop. the only way to stop it is to switch off
the scope, then when powered on again it is fine, until the next time!

I use a small battery pack, to power the scope, i am going to try
powering it off a mains adapter, then my next idea was to take the
autostar apart and clean the contacts.....but before i waste several
evenings do you know what the cause may be?
many thanks
Chris nuttall
Mike here: If there are no AutoStar related oddities (random slews, poor GOTOs, etc.) then I would suspect a sticking key. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. But before you dive into that you might just want to try a RESET of the AutoStar; you will have to re-enter your site info and any objects you had added but if that solves the problem you won't have to "go inside".
Subject:	Re: clutch adjustment
Sent:	Wednesday, November 8, 2006 03:05:28
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (
I do not recommend that the customer work on the NEW version of the ETX
(any with metal fork arms) at all.  The overall construction and method
of repair has totally changed and pretty much is out of the reach of the
average consumer.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC/ H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC/ H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC/ H45 (Petit Jean Mtn. South)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "fred gagnon"

I was wondering if it is still possible on the newer models of the
etx125 to adjust the RA cluch by very slightly and cautionly loosen the
cluth bolt if the assembly is to tight, I did read the post about what
happened to the other guy who tried to remove it but I was not sure if
it is still slightly adjustable

Subject:	Meade ETX, What on earth is?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 7, 2006 20:06:37
From:	Eric West (
Just about to launch into the purchase of an ETX 90. Both the PE and the
AT are available. The salesman, (surprisingly since it is $100 cheaper),
recommends the AT over the PE because of the red dot view finder on the
PE, which is apparently too fragile.

He also says that the other things which come with the PE (a level and a
"Northfinder") don't make up for the viewfinder deficiencies. Do you
have a view on this?

Also, I have gathered from the forum that an OTA is the telescope tube,
but what does this actually stand for, nothing I can think of fits! In a
similar vein, what on earth is a GEM?

This is a great site, I can see myself spending hours here!

Eric West
Auckland New Zealand
Mike here: You can see my report on the Premier Edition model on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page. Other user reports are on the Helpful Information: User Observations page. Basically, the LNT/Smartfinder are worthwhile if you don't know (or don't want to learn) the night sky and just want to see objects or if you change observing locations a lot. Some people find the red-dot finder easier to use than a magnifying finderscope and vice versa. OTA = Optical Tube Assembly. GEM = German Equatorial Mount.
Subject:	MEADE ETX 125
Sent:	Tuesday, November 7, 2006 03:18:17
Great site and extremely helpful. My ETX125 fell and some parts came
apart. I need a wiring diagram to indicate what wire goes where in the
board that controls the vertical drive. The wires detached and there is
no indication where each color (wire) goes.
appreciate any help.
Mike here: No "wiring diagram" is available but there are many articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page with inside photos that will probably help. Look through those.
Subject:	Meade 884 Tripod 
Sent:	Tuesday, November 7, 2006 00:15:44
From:	glen ilacqua (
I just thought you and your readers would like to know that the Meade
Factory outlet has Refurbished 884 tripods with carry case for $59
shipped (CONUS). I just ordered one for myself . It's a good opportunity
for people to do polar alignment tracking... and it's a great upgrade
from the flimsy aluminum models supplied with the ETX 60-70-80.

Glen Ilacqua

Subject:	Focus Knob on ETX-70
Sent:	Sunday, November 5, 2006 12:11:45
From:	Anthony Favata (
Have had an ETX-70 for nearly two years now, and focus knob has always
presented a problem--primarily slippage that I can reduce somewhat using
the allen wrench that came with the scope.  However, in the last couple
days, no matter how hard I try to tighten this focus knob, the slippage
is very difficult to manage, and in many cases the knob is completely
coming off.

I am gearing up for Wednesday's transit of Mercury and I am looking for
some advice on some kind of quick fix.

Tony Favata
Mike here: You could replace the knob with something else; see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page for lots of ideas.
Subject:	re: 887 Field Tripod
Sent:	Sunday, November 5, 2006 11:51:34
From:	richard seymour (
> Does the tripod, wedge and scope need to be
>  exactly level for Polar position?


It's -convenient- if they're close to level, since it makes
(for example) the latitude adjustment scale vaguely accurate.

But it is -not- necessary.

All that's really necessary in a wedge situation is that
the wedge plate be perpendicular to the line beween
you and the celestial pole.  Then the RA axis is parallel
to that line, and the rest of the mechanism revolves around
that axis.  The RA axis doesn't care which way the tripod
legs are pointed as long as the axis itself is aligned to
the sky.
(consider that even a "perfectly level" mount will have
its legs "rotated" 90 degrees westward (as the earth
spins eastward) across the span of the next 6 hours...)

When i'm faced with operating on a slanted surface,
i bring along short sections of planks (6" x 6") to
place underneath the tripod feet (also useful for
spreading the load on soggy ground to prevent tripod
feet from sinking slowly into the muck during the evening).

Conversely, you could also press the "long" legs -into- the
dirt to "shorten" them (or bring a little shovel...).

have fun

Subject:	Buying a First Telescope
Sent:	Saturday, November 4, 2006 12:10:32
From: (
I'm looking to purchase my first telescope and would appreciate one or
two basic pointers from you.

I'm 53, intelligent, but not highly mechanically inclined.  My home is
in Palm Springs, where I'd be interested in stargazing, perhaps some
computer photo printing, but mostly want to stare into the sky.  There
are no kids - this is for me.  I'm willing to spend up to $1000.

I'm mostly interested in your recommendations for the type of telescope
and any significant features I should consider.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts you can offer.
- Craig A. Ewing
- Palm Springs, California
Mike here: Well, I need more info before making any real recommendation. If you just want to "stare" into the sky, perhaps a Dobsonian would be best. On the other hand, if you want the ease of a GOTO system, perhaps an ETX-125PE would be the right thing. Or perhaps one of the LXD75 models. Lots of choices but first you need to decide on what you really want to do with it. Is aperture more important than the mount? Is visual work more important than astrophotography. You might want to read through the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page articles as well as the Helpful Information: User Observations page. For more on the LXD models, see my LXD55/75 Site (


Thanks for your thoughts.  I'll continue to peruse your website for the
observations you and your correspondents have offered. 
All the best,
- Craig

Subject:	ETX125 How to open the OTA to fix the focus knob shaft?
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2006 12:45:30
From:	Alexandre Koukarine (
Thank you very much for your site!

I have a problem - the focus knob shaft fall inside the OTA and I can't
get it back.

I've searched the entire site but didn't found any guide for that.

(though, I've found this question asked once in archives, - the answer
was not given).

Please help! The Mercury transit event is coming!

Best regards,
Alexandre Koukarine
CORE IT Support and Development
School of Optometry, University of California
387F Minor Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2020
Mike here: Did the article "Focus Shaft Fix" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page not help?


Thank you very much for the prompt reply!
Your site is so huge! No wonder I've missed that article even with
google search.

I'll try that sequence today. Actually I've tried to unscrew the base by
bare hands but it was not moving, and I was afraid of breaking

I plan a fantastic focuser knob mod and an electrical wiring mod, and
would like to share the ideas and the procedures with your site
visitors. Should I just send you the text and the images when I'll done?

Best regards,
Mike here: Looking forward to the article.
Subject:	887 Field Tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2006 08:58:16
From:	Jack Fox (
I have just purchased the Meade 887 Advanced Field Tripod and wedge. 
How do you level the tripod with the wedge and scope attached?  The legs
are a  fixed height. Do you have to shim the legs somehow, that would be
an unsteady set up. I have checked the Wedge section on your site and
did not see a solution. Does the tripod, wedge and scope need to be
exactly level for Polar position? Any help would be great.

Jack Fox
Mike here: I don't have one so can't say for certain but from the description I don't see any leveling adjustments.

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