Last updated: 31 March 2009
This page is for comments and user feedback about the "ETX Classic" telescopes. ETX Classic models include the ETX-60/70/80/90/105/125 (EC, AT, BB, Premier Edition). This page also includes comments and feedback of a general nature. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to the ETX-90RA, ETX-LS, DSX, and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.
Subject: Solar Eclipse 2009 Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 16:51:40 From: Kevin S. Ladin (firstname.lastname@example.org) My name is Kevin Ladin. I own an ETX-125PE scope with a foam filled Pelican hard case. In July of this year I will be traveling to Tahiti for a two week cruise to view a total solar eclipse. I was wondering what your thoughts were about what astronomical equipment I should bring with me, not only to view the eclipse itself but also for viewing the night sky in the southern hemisphere. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. You are also welcome to post this on your website. Best wishes. KevinMike here: The ETX-125PE will make a nice telescope for the trip. If you plan to use it for solar astrophotography during the partial eclipse phases, you will want a good solar filter for the ETX aperture. You may also want to get a focal reducer for the ETX to ensure that your camera will capture the sun's entire disk. You can also just use a camera, with or without a telephoto lens, to capture the partial phases (you will still need a solar filter). For totality, no filter is used and your best images of the corona will be using the camera with a normal or wide-angle lens. For images of prominences during totality, you will want to photography through the telescope. For other night sky viewing, a good pair of binoculars is a must.
Subject: Definition of "Small Telescope" Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 11:07:27 From: John Batiste (email@example.com) Is there a generally accepted definition of "Small Telescope" (in terms of apature) that is in use for amateur back-yard astronomers? For "Medium scope"? For "Large scoope"? Thanks, JohnMike here: Typically up to 5" (127mm) aperture.
THank you -- Clear skies John
Subject: Re: ETX-105 Finder Trouble (3/25/09) Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 08:30:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Pressing the Autostar "0" Key (light) will switch the red dot on and off anytime. The red is not powered by the LNT battery, but by the scope main power. However, if the LNT battery is bad or unseated, the Autostar will not recognize its presence so will not operate the dot. As Mike says, see if auto align is available or if the time is being automatically set at start up. That's and indication of whether or not the LNT is working. Regards, Mike Hogan
From: John Deriso (firstname.lastname@example.org) Apparently the guy I was helping saw this post too and reported to me that "0" works, good tip, not in the ETX-105 manual. All this has nothing to do with the LNT coin battery... it was new, and seated properly. Not my 'scope and no longer in my possession, so I can't attest that auto align was available. John
Subject: Calibration,drive train. question. Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:01:56 From: Allen fowler (email@example.com) I use my 125pe/TNT with a DC converter only.I do not keep batteries in the scope itself.Does this mean it is necessary to calibrate and retrain every time I power the scope up? ThanksMike here: Normally, the CALIBRATE MOTOR step only needs to be done when swapping power sources. However, it can be useful when the in-use power source gets "weak" (batteries). When using a stable AC-DC converter, CALIBRATE MOTOR typically only needs to be done once. TRAIN DRIVES should be done once, and then whenever GOTOs are experiencing errors. If the AutoStar starts doing odd things, then a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES, or perhaps a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES, should be done.
Subject: Question about observing the ISS Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 19:08:48 From: l beck (firstname.lastname@example.org) I love your site and I am still learning and enjoying my ETX thanks in large part to the wealth of info on your site. I am in the military and have access to Night Vision Goggles, model PVS-7D, and have found that they are truly wonderful for observing the night skies. At my house (15 miles West of DFW) the light pollution is so bad I have come to accept being limited to the moon, major planets, and only the brightest deep sky objects. But with the NVGs the amount and detail of stars are astounding. If your ever have a chance I would definitely recommend trying them out. My question is what I think was the ISS that I saw several nights ago. The NVG's are zero magnification, but the contrast is amazing. I could have sworn I saw the ISS with very clearly defined wings (solar panels). I see other satellites' every night, but of course they are far too small to expect to see any detail or structure. Do you think it is possible to see the detail I think I saw with no magnification? With these NVG's I can easily count 20-25 individual stars in the Pleiades. Keep up the fun work, I hope to retire to do this full time some day. Thanks, Larry BeckMike here: I have used a night vision scope on the night sky. It is indeed a unique way to look at the sky. M31 was through it was really nice! As to seeing such detail on the ISS with no magnification, I doubt it. However, you could see some "blooming effect" from the solar panels.
Subject: RE: Setup problem Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 13:02:18 From: Tom Moore (email@example.com) Using house current with the adapter, I did the RESET, but when I tried CALIBRATE MOTOR I got a Motor Fault error. Never got to the TRAIN DRIVES part. Is there something else I can try? I took the cover off the bottom to see if there were any obvious disconnected wires but saw no wire/connector problems.Mike here: You might try reloading the AutoStar ROM (but see the AutoStar warning on the Announcements: Warning page first). If the fresh software doesn't help, then you may have a motor or a circuit problem. You could also check for dirty optical encoders. Sometimes just redistributing the lubrication can help; you can easily do that by unlocking the axes and moving the telescope tube up and down and full rotations left and right from hard stop to hard stop. Do that several times.
Subject: ETX-105 Finder Trouble Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 02:24:16 From: John Deriso (firstname.lastname@example.org) ETX-105 finder LED won't always come on. I'm familiar with holding Autostar MODE to get to the finder settings including ON/OFF blink rates. But often, after holding MODE a few seconds, and getting past the RA/DEC info, the finder set options aren't even there. Software glitch? Latest download was last month (Feb 2009). I'm considering hardwiring the LED thru a dropping resistor to an always-ON voltage on the module's pc board, if there is such a voltage. I can live with an always-ON finder LED. Anyone know of a schematic for the module? JohnMike here: Have you checked the LNT/Smartfinder battery? Have you noticed whether or not the Auto Align option is available when the Finder option is not showing up? Typically, if the Finder option is not available then the AutoStar is not "seeing" the LNT.
Did replace the battery, Mike. I'll try the Auto Align suggestion. Not my 'scope, helping another owner. I've done extensive repair on my -90 and others'. Thanks for the tip... John
Subject: Re: ETX 125 lock control Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 19:37:31 From: Dodo (email@example.com) Thanks for your promp reply. I dont think I'm overtightrning the axis lock, as sometimes I have to release the lock to get it started and then nip up the leaver again to get it moving, then it will stop moving, but I can hear the motor still turning and if I nip it again, the motor stops...?? It also acts strange when I start the eazy align, it will just drive tube until its pointing stright up and then I get a motor over run fault warning on the auto star...? Do you think its worth sending it away to Meade in Sydney Australia to get it checked out ..?? Best regards...SteveMike here: With the axis unlocked, do you find much resistance to moving the tube by hand? Also, does it rotate nearly twice around, hard stop to hard stop? Move the tube slowly as you rotate it. If there is any obstruction to free movement, use caution as it could be a wire and you don't want to cut it. If it does rotate nearly twice around, do the rotation, hard stop to hard stop, back and forth several times. Perhaps the lubrication just needs to be redistributed.
Thanks again for the quick reply... Yep...everything seems to be working fine except the problems that I mentioned...? I have used your site to get all the tips and tricks that I can, but nothing seems to help with the problem . Smooth movement from stop to stop, and once I do manage to get the scope up and running (not very often) it works fine until I get that over run problem, or motor fault problem, it tracks well and finds targets. (see photo below) maybe its better if I send it away and get a service done on it and get them to test the axis lock....?? I will keep trying..... :-), Thanks Mike.Mike here: You might want to check the HBX cable connector pins and jacks. Look for dirt, bent pins, or pins that are too depressed. If you want to have it serviced, checkout Dr. Clay Sherrod's Telescope Supercharge Service (link on the ETX Site Home Page).
Subject: Setup problem Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 13:36:11 From: Tom Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) My ETX-125 has been working fine until the last time I tried to use it. My power source was from AA-rechargeable batteries that all showed 1.4-1.5 volts on a meter before I installed them. When I turned to power switch to "on" the red led came on, the Autostar went through its initialization, I entered date, time, set the scope pointing north with the tube level and continued setup. Autostar searched for a star, found one but the scope never moved. There was no motor noise. The Autostar continued as if the scope found the alignment star and asked me to center the object. None of my arrow keys worked to move the scope. Since that incident, I tried the setup with house current through the power adapter. Same results as above. I hope you can help me. Thanks for your time. Tom Moore Griffin, GAMike here: First, rechargeable AA batteries are unreliable. Second, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR? When the batteries get low (as will happen quickly with rechargeable batteries) or when swapping batteries or changing the power source, you need to CALIBRATE MOTOR. If that doesn't help, try a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES.
Wow! Thanks for the quick response. I'll try the reset, etc as you suggest.
Subject: ETX 125 PE Smartfinder alignment Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 14:50:37 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) I recently purchased a Meade ETX 125 PE telescope and I am having troble in aligning the finder scope red dot with what is seen in the eye piece. I seem to have ran out of adjustment with the vertical screw since the screw is at the end of its travel with the red dot still not high enough to line up correctly with what is seen in the eye piece. Technical support UK say I should try bending the mount slightly! Tech support USA say I must align my eyes with the top and bottom correctly of the view finder? I can't achieve success with either method. I have looked through your archive but can find no direct article. What can you suggest? Stan DrizenMike here: Assuming you are using it correctly and looking "through" the Smartfinder lens with your eye focused at infinity, then it could be that the light fiber needs adjusting. There are several tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page in the Smartfinder section.
Subject: ETX-70 Broken Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 11:05:25 From: John R. Tomawski (email@example.com) I recently borrowed a cousin's ETX-70, so I could clean it for him. The telescope was left in a basement, and the optics had become quite dirty. While on the last part of the repair (putting it back together), the two plastic circle knobs snapped! Where can I buy replacement parts for this telescope? Also, the declination motor doesn't always work in both directions, along with the base rotation motor working intermittently. Any suggestions? I've put an offer in to purchase an ETX-90EC as an alternative to repair, will the Autostar computer that came with the ETX-70AT work with the ETX-90EC? Thanks! JohnMike here: You can try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page) for replacement parts. Meade does not sell replacement parts to customers. As to the motor problems, have you tried RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES on the AutoStar? The AutoStar #494 (no number keys on the keypad) will not work with the ETX-90EC. You would need the AutoStar #497 (has number keys).
Thanks Mike! I just called Telescope Warehouse, and he sold me a replacement fork mount for $35!
Subject: RE: Problem with ETX 70 Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 05:56:32 From: Malcolm Barker & Fiona Barclay (firstname.lastname@example.org) Seemed to do the trick, but once I got it going again, it now starts to aligh and the motor started making some noises while slewing and the scope stops. It is in Polar mode and maybe it doesn't like that. MalcolmMike here: Try Alt/Az mounting (both physically and in the AutoStar) to rule out or in the orientation as the source of the problem.
I have tried doing a polar alignment BUT with the base of the scope horizontal. This works perfectly. Once I place it in actual polar alignment, when slewing it turns so far on the RA axis(normally the AZ axis) then stops a it sounds like it is struggling to turn making a series of jerking movements. Could it be I need to find the correct position for the horizontal lock? The problem occurs only when the scope main lense is moving vertically, almost seems like the motor is not strong enough! MalcolmMike here: This is beginning to sound like the problem I had in polar mode when I attached my Nikon D70 DSLR camera to the ETX-70. The camera was too heavy and caused slippage and some strange noises when slewing. So, it could be that the axis locks are failing. You could try adjusting the lock lever; just don't overtighten the lock.
Subject: ETX-125 dec drive fault Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 02:39:37 From: John Farrant (email@example.com) I'm hoping you can help me with a dec drive fault which has just occured on my ETX-125. The symptoms are: 1. Power light dims when attempting a dec movement. 2. 12 volt supply (2 amp battery!) drops at this point to about 4 volts for around two seconds and then returns to normal voltage. 3. No smell of burning! Can't understand that. 4. Dec motor attempts to turn very slowly while this is going on, then stops and voltage level returns to 12 volts. 5. RA drive appears OK. 6. No motor fault message - except when four pin dec drive plug is removed. This is a bit strange. 7. HBX appears to be OK. 8. Motor training doesn't produce an error message even though the DEC motor doesn't move - or briefly very slowly. 9. Manually rotating the encoder wheel on the DEC board doesn't change the HBX ALT reading. On the RA board it does alter the AZ reading. I've plugged the DEC board and motor into the RA socket and confirmed the problem. I've visually inspected the DEC board and can't see any signs of burned or melted components etc. Also dec cable appears ok. I've tried all the usual things - motor training, drive training, reset etc. I'm at a complete loss and would really appreciate any help your can give me. Many, many thanks Mike, JohnMike here: Sounds like a failing component someplace since the motor and wires seem to be OK. You might have to replace the board.
Thanks Mike, John
I think it's the PIC gone for a chop. Oh well, that's life! I've rigged up a 3 volt battery pack with a polarity change over switch as a temporary measure. The battery pack is connected directly to the DEC motor which is now moving at the HBX button 6 speed (0.5 deg/sec). As the RA drive is OK I should be able to use the telescope in Polar mode with tracking. I'll use the DEC circle for the object's declination location. I'll let you know how it works out. Regards, John
Subject: re: old etx125ec needs power supply repair Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 19:36:35 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Have you tried an external power supply plugged in to the 12v socket? (12v, at least 1.5 amp capacity, outer shell negative, inner shell positive, 5.5mm outside diameter, 2.5mm inside diameter, RadioShack size "N" (as in Nancy) plug.) The battery compartment wires are not used when external power is applied. good luck --dick
Subject: re: ETX90EC motor unit problem Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 19:32:47 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) > I've not yet taken any thing apart, to invetigate further. I prefer to > minimise any invasive surgury on my electronics kit if possible. Your symptoms sound like one of the instances of the DEC wires being cut by sharp edges where they pass from the base up the center shaft. There was recently a posting on Mike's site with photos of such a problem. You DO want to open up the base and inspect... letting it go too long (and it may be there by now) can cause lots of additional damage (mine took out the Autostar, the hand controller and the DEC motor card). So sometimes it's a good idea to look first (especially if you know the batteries were good during the first instances). Going flat black is a definite symptom of short circuits happening. good luck --dick
From: Peter Burgess (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks Mike & Dick The battery was OK it is a 6AH gel cell with just over 12 O/P. I have not run the 'scope any more than to be able to describe what happens with is failure, and since the Autostar handbox still initialises it is probably OK. I'll open up the base unit and see what is going on in there. Thanks again and I'll let you know how I get on. Peter
Subject: ETX-60 tips Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 18:20:09 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) When your horizontal motor gears slip and it won't slew: I give a good knock on top of the housing til it moves again. Wait for it to stop and use go-to to go to a star you know. It'll be way off horizontally when it stops. Then re-align with the star and you're back in business (do NOT turn the scope off or move it). Another tip: for a cheap finderscope try a Daisy BB gun laser-point sight. Attatch to the top with velcro and align it with a screwdriver.......hey don't laugh at me because I have an ETX-60! I bought it new for $40! I like to use it alongside my 8 inch dob. It helps me find my way around and double stars and planets are easier to observe.
Subject: ETX 125 lock control Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 22:28:41 From: Dodo (email@example.com) I have a ETX125 and when I start my setup before viewing, the base lock has to be loosened before the autostar will start to do its easy alignment...?? I do all the setup, home position etc etc, turn on the scope and set the autostar..? The autostar starts slewing (screen) but nothing happens...??..until I loosen the locking leaver and then it starts to move, if I then tighten the leaver again, it stops...?? I'm wondering if the wires for the drive motor are getting stuck between the break inside the base ...?? Sounds realy strange to me.. Best regards ...SteveMike here: Could you be overtightening the axis lock? Which would prevent movement.
Subject: ETX90EC motor unit problem Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 03:43:49 From: Peter Burgess (firstname.lastname@example.org) I wonder if any one has any expeeience of the following fault and can give some pointers as to its cure or where to look. After giving an astronomy talk in my area I was showing some of the atendees Saturn through my ETX90EC when the controller box display went blak and the motors stoppped. We had to carry on viewing by manually movig the OTA. Next moring while checking out the scope it started up with the werning message OK until the beep, when the display beacme virtually unreadable with dim distoted characters. I tried to calibrate using the simple calibrate and got some motor noises. The RA drive seemed to move OK, but only a burst of noise form the DEC drive. All I could make out on the display was Motor unit, the rest including what was scrolling by on the second line was unreadable, I've not yet taken any thing apart, to invetigate further. I prefer to minimise any invasive surgury on my electronics kit if possible. It looks like something may be taking excessive current causing the dispaly to dim, but I would have exptected the RA motor to be stalled if that was the case. I have not yet been able to find any schematics of the electronics in the base unit, or any other reference to similar problems, so any help that any one has would be much appreciated. Thanks PeterMike here: Have you replaced the batteries?
Subject: Problem with ETX 70 Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 02:05:09 From: Malcolm Barker & Fiona Barclay (email@example.com) I have a little ETX 70 AT that I have been using for a few months. It has usually worked very well but the last couple of nights I have tried to use it, it will start an alignment an start slewing to the first alignment star then keep happily slewing right past it until the OTA is vertical and just keep on rotating in AZ until I get annoyed and switch it off. Couple of things I have done. 1. A couple of weeks ago I attached my DSLR to take some short shots with the scope just to see if it could be done (it can). I slewed to the target without the camera attached and then attached when it was pointed 2. I did also attempt to try the polar alignment mode, it was about this time the prob first showed 3. A few times it has come up with a "Motor Fault" error message 4. Often when slewing during align, the screen will go very faint and the scrolling of messages is very slow 5. I tried to do a reset, this seems to sole the dim screen and slow scrolling, but is still won't align! I think that is a rough history of all the circumstances. Any thoughts? Malcolm Barker Colac Vic AustraliaMike here: Have you replaced the batteries? Sounds like a power problem.
Yes I tried that. I am going to try 1. Replace Batteries 2. Reset 3. Calibrate Motors 4. Train Drive And see if that helps Malcolm
Subject: old etx125ec needs power supply repair Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 17:08:23 From: Barry Halpern (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hoping you can help and much appreciated for any response... I've had my ETX for six or so years. Have just relocated back from overseas and found that the batteries had been left in the compartment and leaked. Several of the metal prongs have broken off, battery "acid" all around, and when I tried taking it apart the "little black wire" was disconnected (from where, I don't know). Called Meade who informed me that they no longer support repairs for that particular model but they'd be happy to give me $200 off a new one. So I'm left with a perfectly fine telescope and mount but no drive. Do you know if it's possible to get it fixed, and if so, where or how? Barry HalpernMike here: I recommend you contact Dr. Clay Sherrod for his Telescope "Supercharge" Service. Link to the details is on the ETX Site home page.
Thanks so much! I will check it out and see whether worthwhile or not....Barry
Subject: re: Construction of drive train on PE Series telescopes Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 20:35:10 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) You wrote: > When I pointed out that for the ETX 125 PE > they were now metal worm gears, The ETX90 has had a metal worm and a metal final driven gear since at least 1999. The gears -between- the motor and the worm are plastic. Given any care and thought during operation and transport, the ETX90's plastic gears will last for many years (10 so far for mine). have fun --dick
From: Heinrich Bofinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) My worries are over - I just ordered an ETX 90 to complement my ETX 125.
Subject: Radian Eyepiece Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 18:29:36 From: Robert Sladek (email@example.com) I recently purchased a ETX-125 Premier and I would like to purchase a new eyepiece. I have been looking at the Radian line of eyepieces. What would be the highest mm you would recommend for my scope? Thanks Bob SladekMike here: If by "highest mm" you mean the largest mm, that would be 40mm probably (I don't have a longer focal length than that in 1.25"). If you mean highest magnification, then see the FAQ page for info on the "theoretical maximum" magnification. Then you can calculate. Also, there is info on eyepieces on the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page as well as more general info, including a simulator, on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page.
I appreciate your advice an quick response. I did mean magnification. Bob SladekMike here: OK. Keep in mind that the "theoretical maximum" magnification is just that. On bright, extended objects (like the Moon and some planets) on good nights, after the telescope has reached "thermal equilibrium", you can exceed the max. Then image may appear fuzzy however.
I just went through your FAQ page,Very helpful! You website is very extensive and I-like everyone else, appreciate your effort. As of yet ,I wasn't able to navigate the simulator. I'll try tomorrow. The power calculator was very helpful. I entered info for the Radian 8mm & 10mm. Neither seem to exceed the 300X max. I'm looking at these 2 eyepieces which are for sale a Astromart. I live in Chicagoland which is light polluted. We do get some decent viewing days though. On a average day which eyepiece would you recommend? Thanks Bob SladekMike here: What eyepieces do you currently have?
I just have the Meade 4000 26mm plossl.Mike here: One item worth considering is a 2X Barlow Lens ("shorty" style). Then as you add eyepieces to your collection, you essentially double your collection. So with your 26mm eyepiece, with a 2X Barlow Lens you would also get a "13mm eyepiece". Your next eyepiece purchase would probably be sufficiently different from a 13mm so that you would get not one new eyepiece, but two new "eyepieces" that would have different magnifications from your 26mm and "13mm". So, that would mean the 8mm eyepiece might be your choice. Then doubled, you would also get "4mm". Of course, that would exceed the theoretical maximum magnification, which may or may not be a problem. I've used a 4.3mm eyepiece on the ETX-125 on the M31 galaxy from a dark site. Worked surprisingly well.
Sound Great! I like your ideas about doubling up w/ the barlow.I've been looking into the Televue line of and barlows & powermates. I don't want to exceed the mag. If given a choice would you go with a barlow or a powermate, and at what power? If you only wanted to buy three eyepieces and a barlow/powermate, what would your choose?Mike here: Keep in mind that the quality of the eyepiece is important. You don't want to degrade the overall ETX optics by using a cheap eyepiece. With a Barlow Lens you lose some image quality, so using a high quality Barlow Lens is important. The Powermate is excellent; see the reviews on the Eyepieces page. The more magnification that is applied in the Barlow Lens, the more optical degradation that can occur. I typically only recommend a 2X Barlow Lens (again, "shorty" style for the ETX). As to eyepieces, which ones you get would depend on what objects you prefer to view. So, you need to decide that. For example, if you want to view lunar crater details, you might want a lot of magnification. If you want to view DSOs, you probably want less power but perhaps a wider field of view. Decisions, decisions, decisions!
Thanks Mike! I'm leaning towards Televue for everything.So far I'm possessed with our own backyard. I have noticed some good deals on Astromart. I missed a 8mm Radian but there's a 10mm for sale. With your thoughts of a "shorty barlow" this might be a good way to start Possibly a 2.5x Powermate. Thanks for all your help and advice. Bob
Subject: Etx125 PE - Red dot too low... Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 15:52:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) I didn't see anyone else with this problem snooping around the net. The adjustment screw on the bottom is tightened all the way, and loosening it does indeed lower the dot further. I have two questions for you. 1) Is there a simpler fix for this than relocating the mounting screws? 2) Is this effecting the accuracy of auto level detection and thus alignment? Thanks in advance, MikeMike here: Which model LNT/Smartfinder do you have? If the lens is inserted on the side, it is possible to incorrectly insert it (I did). There are several LNT/Smartfinder troubleshootinga articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
This is the model where the LNT is located on the upper left side of the OTA. Lens is vertical up from LNT.Mike here: I believe one of the troubleshooting articles discusses a misaligned fiber.
Yep, saw that one again and based on that persons experience am a bit leary of diving in. Second question. Does it matter? If the LNT module is not exactly parallel to the OTA will it not permit the scope to perform alignment as accurately? Thanks for your response, MikeMike here: The red-dot is NOT required for alignment; it just makes it easy to locate objects. If you do a CALIBRATE SENSORS the LNT should work fine for the Auto Alignment. If you find that a problem, you can always use one of the "manual" alignment modes (Easy, One Star, Two Star).
Subject: Construction of drive train on PE Series telescopes Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 15:21:05 From: Heinrich Bofinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have an ETX125 PE and now wish to get an additional 90 PE as my ultra-portable scope to travel with. I talked to a dealer who is trying to talk me out of Meade altogether, saying that "those plastic gears really do present a problem". When I pointed out that for the ETX 125 PE they were now metal worm gears, he kind of acted stumped and said "oh really? That may be for the 125. But I don't think so for the 90." He is pushing Celestron specifically the 6 SE, even though this would be much too big and inconvenient for me (one inch larger than the 125)?And the 125 is already too big for me!) So my question is: Did Meade do the same improvements in terms of the material to the gears to the ETX 90 PE as they did to the 125 PE? Thanks, and great site!, Henry B.Mike here: I wonder what "problem" he is referring to. Obviously, the ETX-90 has been around for many years. Meade continuously made some improvements to it; I don't recall the specifics.
Subject: etx 90PE or etx 125PE Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 07:46:39 From: Martha Demopoulos (email@example.com) Hi, I'm considering buying a meade etx. It is a little over what I have budgeted, but from what I can tell, it really is a good place to start for a beginner like me. I think I could get a less expenive scope without some of the mechanical/computer features, but think they would be beneficial to me. Also, I know I could buy a less expensive scope, but would just end up not getting the most value. I don't know if I should get the 90PE or the 125PE, especially with the higher price for the 125. I am just looking for something to get that our family (three kids) and us can enjoy - looking at the moon, planets, and see where we go from there. I did find a 125PE about a year old that is for sale for $400 and was thinking that was a good deal, but a little concerned about buying used without any documentation or the software. I see on Meade's sight that the new versions come with some added features also, so thinking new might be the way to go. Any suggestions? Thanks, TomMike here: Going for more aperture is always a good idea. However, sometimes more portability can be more important. As to the documentation, you can download that from Meade's web site. For software, there are MANY other options available for Mac OS X, Windows, Unix.
Thanks for the reply, good to know that I can get the instruction manual from Meade's web site and it doesn't sound like the software is a concern. My only other concern with buying used is any mechanical problems or damage to the telescope and the person selling the 125PE says there isn't anything wrong with it .... as long as they are trustworthy that sounds like the best way to go because it would actually be less expensive than a new 90PE and has more aperture. If I see the unit and have concerns about it being in good condition, would a new 90PE be a good second option? Any cocnerns with it?Mike here: The ETX-90PE is a fine telescope. Just don't let your expectations exceed its capabilities. You might want to read through the ETX-90 and ETX-125 reports on the Helpful Information: User Observations page.
Subject: Vignetting of 40mm eyepiece on ETX-125? ... Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 16:22:46 From: Jan M. Hollis (firstname.lastname@example.org) Is there any vignetting of 40mm eyepieces (eg. Meade or TelVue) on an ETX-125? Cheers, Jan M. HollisMike here: Not with the Scopetronix 40mm I have for the ETX. Can't speak to the others.
Subject: re: Meade mySky Plus experience Sent: Monday, March 9, 2009 22:56:08 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) It's a pity about the MySky. I must admit i'm surprised some people who experience the "broken power switch" don't dismantle the beast and replace the switch. (and it's an opportunity to put in something better). I see that Meade's web site still -has- the MySkyPlus (the naming of which (same old hardware, but with the GPS disabled in firmware) still stuns me). But i'd believe OPT's take on it over Meade's. good luck --dickMike here: Yes, it is unfortunate. It was a good product. Or it SHOULD have been. But I guess there were just too many problems. And in the current Meade environment, trimming products is likely to be a good solution. It worked for Apple a decade ago.
From: Steve and Brenda Gladfelter (firstname.lastname@example.org) Yes, it is unfortunate. It was a good product. Or it SHOULD have been. But I guess there were just too many problems. And in the current Meade environment, trimming products is likely to be a good solution. It worked for Apple a decade ago. I think that's another reason I didn't go ahead and fix the power switch. There did seem to be other problems I saw after reading other forums, and who knows just how long Meade will support a product they appear to be "dumping". Perhaps thinning the herd is a good idea, but they shouldn't ship products that they know have problems. One new product that fascinates me is the new "Light Switch" technology. After that has been around long enough to iron out the bugs, that should be THE scope to have. Of course, as a pilot, it is kinda like flying on autopilot....it takes away from the "feel" of things and using skills you master over time. Steve
Subject: RE: Autostar Updates and (new subject) 1244 auto focuser query Sent: Monday, March 9, 2009 18:59:52 From: Peter Hughes (email@example.com) Will keep you posted on the Autostar update issue, just waiting on cables in the mail... Version 4.85 (ASU) was on the website, at least that is where I got it - seems Meade may be having some software management issues! I have a 1244 motor focuser which - on first sight - looks like it might be modded to fit the 125AT. Has anyone done this? I would like to attempt it because 1. I have the 1244 (and it cost $60) and 2. I don't want to pay $130 for a 1247. I'm thinking of shaving the corner of the motor unit and cutting down the stub and drilling and tapping a mounting screw into the rear cover of the OTA. Any advice on this hairbrained scheme is welcomed! Keep up the good work, Peter Hughes ETX-90EC, ETX-125AT Grand CaymanMike here: Yep, Meade seems to have lost their SCM... As to the #1244 focuser, see today's Site update; check the Helpful information: Telescope Tech Tips page!
That is SPOOKY!! Thanks Mike, Peter Hughes
Subject: Exchange 60mm tube with 70mm Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2009 19:28:42 From: Donald Keirstead (firstname.lastname@example.org) I recently bought an ETX 60 AT telescope on ebay for $102.50. Years ago, I had a Celestron C*, but it is too heavy for me now at age 75. An ETX 70 AT that doesn't work is for sale on ebay. If I buy it, can I replace the 60mm tube with the 70mm? If so, where can I get advice on procedure? Donald N. Keirstead Chelmsford MA USAMike here: Possibly. There is no specific tech tip for doing that, although the article "Putting ETX-90 on ETX-70 forks" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page might help you.
Subject: ETX-90EC help Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2009 19:34:20 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) My name is Sean. I just received a Meade ETX-90EC telescope for my 31st birthday and I have discovered a problem with it. Since the gift was from my in-laws who purchased the telescope several years ago, I am unable to send it to Meade for diagnostics. The problem is with the vertical lock. It seems to be having problems engaging. When I turn the lock clockwise to tighten it, it does not lock. The optical tube is loose and unable to maintain any fixed position. This problem also prevents me from using the electronic controls for slewing because the motor that is in the vertical lock housing is separate from the tube. I can see space where they should be connected. If you can just point me to somewhere online where I could get information on how to fix it or if you have time to guide me, I would be most grateful. I am eager to start using the telescope!! Thank you for your time. SeanMike here: It sounds like the Right Tube Adapter has failed. If you want to try to repair it yourself, see the article "ETX-90EC DEC fix" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. If you want to purchase a RTA, see the link "Scope Logic (Astro Hut) Right Tube Adapter Replacement (ETX-90EC/AT only)" on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject: hello Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:07:13 From: Hj68865599@aol.com (Hj68865599@aol.com) i am looking for someone that might work on meade lx200 telescopes or can check a problem with mine .on the dec motor thank youMike here: I just noticed your email. It was originally rejected as SPAM due to the ambiguous Subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX Site Home Page. Thanks for understanding.
Subject: re: Unscrewed focus knob on ETX-80 Backpack scope. Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 21:39:00 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) Even if they epoxied or Locktited it on, both of those chemicals decompose at 400 F Holding a soldering iron against the knob (assuming it's metal) would therefore release the bond (and expand the knob relative to the shaft). If it's plastic, you could cut it off and replace it with a small radio knob from RadioShack (check that they have one, first) good luck --dickMike here: I'd probably decompose at 400F too...
Subject: re: ETX 125 blows 2 autostars in one night Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 21:34:01 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike wrote: > ... i know of one other ... was an ETX-90 So that was probably -me-, back in early 2001. The edge of nut which held the Aziuth shaft in the base cut through the insulation of the wires passing near it (to head up to the DEC motor). There was no -visible- damage, but you could -feel- it with your fingertips against the wires. When it cut through, it shorted the signal lines to ground and +12v. Since the signal lines are fed directly from the Autostar, it fried the same PIC chip as yours (plus blew some traces off the board). In my case, it took out my Autostar and my handcontroller. I sent the whole mess back to Meade, and they fixed it (this was the old days). So: my opinion is YES, it will continue to consume Autostars. good luck --dickMike here: Yep, it was yours.
Oh.. one more thing: That PIC chip is a programmed device, so you can't simply replace it with an off-the-shelf part. The programming is "locked", so we've never decoded it. have fun --dick
From: Dan Robertson (email@example.com) Thank you Guys for the great responses! I will inspect and test as far as I can with my equipment, I have access to a pic programmer but I supposed the Autostar code is a trade secret, Are there any programmed chips in the scope base itself? I can see speed controllers and encoder wheels. I would love to know the protocol for driving the motors and build a testing circuit for each motor board. How much would do you think it would run me for a Meade factory repair of the Base? Thanks again DanMike here: Meade typically charges something like $75-100 to repair an ETX, IF they will repair it.
Many details of the scope's operation (including descriptions of the message protocol between Autostar and PIC-bearing motor cards) can be found in Meade's US Patents on the devices. The primary hardware patent is 6,304,376 others include: 6,392,799 6,445,498 6,563,636 align: 6,922,283 7339731, 7221527, 7092156, 7079317, 7053992, 7414707, 7227223 You can access them through the Patent and Trademark Office itself: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm or as "PDF images" (which easily include the figures, but are not text-searchable) from: http://www.pat2pdf.org/ Specific details of hobby interest are found in the Roboscope group's Files area on Yahoo: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope have fun --dick
Subject: ETX90 Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 13:29:32 From: Tom Hutchins (THutchins@LSBC.NET) I have a question.. I bought a used ETX90 EC.. then got an Autostar 497.. The problem I ran into is that it will move down BUT not up , left and right go ok but like I said no up .. So I disassembled it and found that the plastic piece on the worm drive with a gear and has a lil screw on the bottom of it that was very loose . tightened it up a lil and put it back together .. and waalaa have UP movement Well for a lttle while then no movement again.. disassembled it and this time the screw was not loose But the gear did just spin on the worn drive .. question is can I glue the gear to the worn drive ? Or its it going to cause a problem later ? Thanks So much for your help Tom HutchinsMike here: Before you try to glue the gear, if the setscrew on the gear is still there, try adding some locktite to it (the setscrew). See if that keeps in tight.
Subject: ETX 125 blows 2 autostars in one night Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009 01:05:22 From: Dan Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org) ETX 125 blows 2 autostars in one night I had my ETX125 operating on the 12v cable and a small car battery. The telescope operating fine for about an hour after which time, while slewing I noticed a burning smell coming from the autostar I immediately turned off the telescope and disconnected the power cable. I waited 5 minutes and started the telescope up again using the internal AA batteries. The autostar booted up and after setting the time and date I noticed that it would not drive the AltAz motors but the software in the handbox menus worked fine.I powered down the scope and tried a spare autostar handbox which had been used to operate this scope before. The telescope worked fine for 15 minutes on the internal AA cells and the spare handbox. after that time I noticed that the handbox lights were completely out and it was and still is dark and unresponsive The 2nd autostar handbox was completely dead,it would make a tick sound on the internal speaker about every 3rd time power was applied and the odd scrambled letters on the LCD but the red LEDs are off I tried both problem handboxes on my ETX-60 scope which I have used them on before and I got no response from the motors The ETX-60 still works fine with it's orginal handbox Both autostars have the newer style 497 circuit board Inside the First handbox which gave off a burning smell I noticed a black charred boil on the PIC 16c57-hs chip.this autostar boots up and allows access to the menus but no motor operation. Inside the 2nd autostar, No visible signs of internal damage, but this handbox is dead and It would not boot off of the serial cable for a hard firmware reloading either. I inspected the circuits inside the ETX125, no pinched wires, no scorched chips or shorted out contacts. No bits of wire or bent pins on the HBX connector. I tried the handboxes with 2 different connector cables with no response either. there was no camera attached to it when this happened or any extra wieght. My big questions are: Will this scope keep eating autostars? What needs to be replaced? Is one of the drive motor boards blasting 12 volts back up the data wire? Is this a common occurance? Is there a way to mod the handboxes with microfuses to guard against this type of thing? I would like to design a safety junction box for autostar units to protect them from things that would eat them like this. If I can find the problem I would like to install optical isolators to protect the handbox. I am an avionics technician, and I have a lot of soldering experience and diagnostic equipment, I would love with the help of some experienced ETX users to get to the bottom of this problem before buying new components. Thanks Dan RobertsonMike here: I only recall one other report of this happening and that was many years ago on an ETX-90. The problem was a fault in the ETX base, not the handset. Your problem is likely in the power circuit to the HBX port on the control panel. Question: when the problem first occurred (using external power) were the batteries still installed in the ETX? You said you disconnected the external power when you switched to the internal batteries; was it still disconnected when the next problem occurred? If either of these are true, I would initially suspect the battery cutout switch.
Subject: Unscrewed focus knob on ETX-80 Backpack scope. Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 15:43:38 From: James W Elkins (James.W.Elkins@noaa.gov) I have a new ETX-80 refractor. I noticed the focus knob would pull up and not focus after its first use. Now the focus knob has become unscrewed. The aluminum part of the knob permits access to the screw. The plastic gear appears to be glued to the aluminum shaft of the knob. I have tried an ultrasonic cleaner with heater and ethanol and no luck. I have tried warm tap water. There is no set screw like the older ETX-70. The scope is useless now. I hear that Meade repairs at the factory take a month. Any suggestions?Mike here: I didn't know that Meade changed the design of the focuser for the ETX-80. Have you tried something like Locktite on the knob?
I believe that Meade is using an extreme Lockite or epoxy. Anyway I can't separate the plastic and metal pieces. Jim
Subject: ETX-EC Hand Paddle Problem Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 11:22:03 From: Roger Lange (email@example.com) Couldn't find an answer on the site to this one. I have an ETX-90EC (among other ETX scopes). When using the hand paddle to focus, the focus motor no longer responds after the speed control is operated. Unplug the focus motor and plug it back in and it works until the next time I use the speed control. Then it's the same thing all over. Focus motor doesn't operate at any speed setting in either aux port. The focus motor works fine if I use a separate focus paddle into either aux port. Have also substituted for another focus motor. No difference. Thank you for any help you can give. Roger LangeMike here: You didn't say WHAT electric focuser you are using. And just to confirm, you are using an AutoStar #497 to run the focuser, correct? If so, what version of the AutoStar software is in the AutoStar? Beyond that, have you checked the batteries? Also, if using the Meade focuser handcontroller, it eats battery power if when not in use. So check that.
It's the 1244 focuser for ETX 90's. Standard hand paddle, not an Autostar. External power supply of 12V+. Am aware of the battery eating hand focus controller so I never leave it plugged in. Received another paddle in the mail from Bill Vorce in between our e-mails. It works fine. Problem solved. Bad paddle... with that base unit. The goofy thing is is that the paddle works fine with several other ETXs and the single arm bases. Am also having problem with the Autostar (C)02Meade[24E] running rampant looking for I don't know what on this same base unit. Up, down, back, and forth. But that's another question for another time. Not sure which version it is. I think it originally came with my ETX-125EC and has been reset for the ETX90-EC in equatorial mode. thank you for your input. RogerMike here: Glad you solved it. As to the AutoStar problem, see the item "Q. My telescope has gone berserk. It slews until it hits the hard stop in either azimuth or altitude. It behaves erratically. What do I do?" on the ETX FAQ page.
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