ETX CLASSIC FEEDBACK
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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 (kslmd@cox.net)
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.
 
Kevin
Mike 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 (john_batiste@hotmail.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,
 
John
Mike here: Typically up to 5" (127mm) aperture.

And:

THank you --
 
Clear skies
 
John

Subject:	Re: ETX-105 Finder Trouble (3/25/09)
Sent:	Saturday, March 28, 2009 08:30:29
From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
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

And:

From:	John Deriso (olgazer@verizon.net)
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 (laurancef@centurytel.net)
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?
                                       Thanks
Mike 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 (msg_grumpy@yahoo.com)
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 Beck
Mike 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 (tmoore@dfiequipment.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 (olgazer@verizon.net)
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?
John
Mike 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.

And:

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 (rabbitsr@dodo.com.au)
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...Steve
Mike 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.

And:

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 (tmoore@dfiequipment.com)
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, GA
Mike 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.

And:

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:	sdrizen@lineone.net (sdrizen@lineone.net)
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 Drizen
Mike 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 (jtomawski@itasoftware.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!
John
Mike 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).

And:

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 (barx@iprimus.com.au)
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.

Malcolm
Mike here: Try Alt/Az mounting (both physically and in the AutoStar) to rule out or in the orientation as the source of the problem.

And:

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!

Malcolm
Mike 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 (johnfarrant@gmail.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,

John
Mike here: Sounds like a failing component someplace since the motor and wires seem to be OK. You might have to replace the board.

And:

Thanks Mike,
 
John

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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

And:

From:	Peter Burgess (g4bch@yahoo.com)
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:	keefus61@gmail.com (keefus61@gmail.com)
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 (rabbitsr@dodo.com.au)
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 ...Steve
Mike 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 (g4bch@yahoo.com)
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 
Peter
Mike here: Have you replaced the batteries?
Subject:	Problem with ETX 70
Sent:	Friday, March 20, 2009 02:05:09
From:	Malcolm Barker & Fiona Barclay (barx@iprimus.com.au)
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
Australia
Mike here: Have you replaced the batteries? Sounds like a power problem.

And:

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 (barry.halpern@gmail.com)
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 Halpern
Mike here: I recommend you contact Dr. Clay Sherrod for his Telescope "Supercharge" Service. Link to the details is on the ETX Site home page.

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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

And:

From:	Heinrich Bofinger (hbofinger@earthlink.net)
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 (sladekrobert@att.net)
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 Sladek
Mike 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.

And:

I appreciate your advice an quick response. I did mean magnification.
Bob Sladek
Mike 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.

And:

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 Sladek
Mike here: What eyepieces do you currently have?

And:

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.

And:

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!

And:

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:	mrcarney@embarqmail.com (mrcarney@embarqmail.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,
Mike
Mike 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.

And:

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.

And:

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,
Mike
Mike 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 (hbofinger@earthlink.net)
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 (marthademopoulos@alltel.net)
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, Tom
Mike 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.

And:

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 (jan.mike.hollis@verizon.net)
Is there any vignetting of 40mm eyepieces (eg. Meade or TelVue) on an ETX-125?

Cheers,
Jan M. Hollis
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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
--dick
Mike 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.

And:

From:	Steve and Brenda Gladfelter (sbglad@cox.net)
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 (peterchughes@hotmail.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 Cayman 
Mike 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!

And:

That is SPOOKY!!
Thanks Mike,
Peter Hughes

Subject:	Exchange 60mm tube with 70mm
Sent:	Sunday, March 8, 2009 19:28:42
From:	Donald Keirstead (d.keirstead@comcast.net)
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 USA
Mike 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:	coalblackcurls@gmail.com (coalblackcurls@gmail.com)
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.

Sean 
Mike 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 you
Mike 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.
As to a telescope repair, see the "Telescope Supercharge Service" item on the ETX Site. Dr. Clay repairs LX200 telescopes as well as many other models.
Subject:	re: Unscrewed focus knob on ETX-80 Backpack scope.
Sent:	Tuesday, March 3, 2009 21:39:00
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.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
--dick
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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
--dick
Mike here: Yep, it was yours.

And:

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

And:

From:	Dan Robertson (dan@funnydan.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
Dan 
Mike here: Meade typically charges something like $75-100 to repair an ETX, IF they will repair it.

And:

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 Hutchins
Mike 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 (dan@funnydan.com)
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 Robertson
Mike 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?

And:

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 (rwlange@infionline.net)
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 Lange
Mike 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.

And:

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.
Roger
Mike 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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