Last updated: 31 May 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:	Re: ETX125AT Dec Drive problem
Sent:	Sunday, May 31, 2009 07:40:56
From:	Humberto Faggiano (
Indeed, the OTA stay put when lock is engaged, and also I've opened the
plastic assembly of the fork, but nothing seems to be broken.

But as I said, I didn't opened the gear box, I just cleaned up the
grease that is overapplied in the outside the gear box.

also I've adjusted the three screws and the tiny hex bot located in the
side  that holds the endless screw, (doing this was eliminated the noise
that the gear box makes when you activate the up and down control from
the autostar comand, this was proved without the OTA attached

After I reassembled the fork and attached again the OTA the problem
persist, an when I need to "elevate" the OTA vertically the gear box
sound with a noise of a gear shift and the OTA does not moves up.

If any referenece exists to dismount the gear box exist I'll apreciate
your direction to find it in order to see inside the gearbox and trying
to adjust it or replace any possible gear broken.
Kind regards
Mike here: It sounds like the gearbox could be slipping on its shaft. Did you you check for that? It also could be that the gear shaft is shifting during rotation. There are several "gearbox" articles as well as a source for replacement gears on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	ETX 90 PE: Autostar is it working ok or not?
Sent:	Saturday, May 30, 2009 11:38:57
From:	Wil (
Thank you for the information of the site it has been very useful and I
have read much of it before choosing my purchase, after which I recently
bought an ETX 90 PE.
ROM: 43Ea
Location: UK/ near London
The unit is about a year old and appears to be in good condition, the
owner claimed little usage and given the general appearance of the unit
and accessories I tend to believe him. I have read as much as possible
on the site about Autostar and the alignment tuning procedure but I'm
still a bit sceptical that this unit is working ok and believe I have
either still got a setting wrong or there is a problem that is not
obvious. So far the only thing I have found that was definitely wrong
was the LNT battery which was flat which I replaced and is now keeping
time correctly.

So far I have been through the following procedure. Reset, calibrate
motors, train, check ratio and set percentages. I have set up a custom
site with longitude and latitude taken from GPS and confirmed by looking
up on the web. The time has been set using my radio clock which is fed
via a radio time signal. Holding down the mode button and cycling
through the display information confirms that the date, time and
location appear to have been taken correctly. The only issue I can see
here is that LST appears to be an hour out from what I can dig up via
the web. I'm quite sure that I have set the DST correctly and flicking
it on and off alters the local time as expected, LST stays the same of

When doing the initial auto align I have the power panel facing west (as
recommended) and of course place the tube in the correct home position.
When finding the first star (Arcturus) it appears to be several finder
eyepieces out requiring a lot of adjustment. I'm wondering if that is
normal to begin with? As most of the northern sky is obscured I then
have to keep selecting until it finds another star I can actually see
(Pollux). It's also a long way off and before I learnt to press the '?'
key to get it to tell me what star it wanted I was initially selecting
Castor and the alignment was failing. As I finally though I had some
progress I decided to try the tour. First up was the moon which it got
outside the 26mm EP FOV only slightly out as the glare was visible. I
understand planets and the moon are harder for the GOTO system to
position so I wasn't that bothered.  The view of the moon was impressive
and I was quite pleased. Next was Saturn which was in the 26mm EP FOV
slightly off centre, it just appears white but I could at least see the
rings. I note that I had to set the percentages to 90% to get movement
at about a 3 second delay at speed 3. The previous night I was using the
scope it was very hard to get things to stay in the FOV as it would take
so long to return to sidereal they would usually be to the edge or even
out of the FOV entirely. 90% seems quite a high percentage does it
indicate a problem? I continued the tour and it seemed to get the
selected stars that I could see in the 26mm EP FOV and not too far off
centre. It then selected a cluster (M5) which I believe it got in the
FOV but I'm not experienced enough to know for sure I was looking at the
correct thing. I couldn't see the sombrero or whirlpool galaxies at all,
both are about magnitude 8 so maybe the viewing conditions weren't good
enough. I attempted several times to see the whirlpool galaxy as it has
a fairly obvious shape so I though even if I could see some dim image of
it I would know whether or not Autostar had located it, I even tried the
high precision mode and spiral search to locate it.

All in all I'm not sure that Autostar is working correctly as it's so
far off the initial alignment stars, I could try entering the time 1
hour out and seeing if it helps but I feel like I would just be messing
about at this point. I can't see Polaris from my back yard so I haven't
done the calibrate sensors and haven't been able to do training at
night, I had to use a far off terrestrial target during the day but the
GOTO system seemed to find it ok from all 4 diagonals and the round the
horn slew seemed ok as well. To my mind the sound of the motors is not
excessively noisy or uneven. Any further pointers you could give me
would be helpful. Thanks for your time.
Mike here: First, don't confuse Local Sidereal Time with local time. They are different most times. Second, remember, there are two different HOME positions, depending on whether you Auto Align or use one of the other alignment options. Auto Align has the OTA rotated to the CCW hard stop and left there. So it ends up pointing approximately SW. Doing a CALIBRATE SENSOR will improve the initial alignment star pointing but once you have aligned the AutoStar, that doesn't come into play. However, a good TRAIN DRIVES is important as its the CALIBRATE MOTORS. You said you did these. But then you implied you might have messed with the ratios and percentages. Bad thing to do. I recommend NOT adjusting those unless you POSITIVELY ABSOLUTELY know you need to. Have you tried the other alignment modes? As to the faint DSO, light polluted skies will do a nice job of hiding things like galaxies (except M31). So you have some choices to make: get the lights turned out (good luck), go to a dark sky site, or try using a "light pollution filter" (which are not ideal on smaller aperture telescopes like the ETX-90).


Thanks very much for getting back to me.

> First, don't confuse Local Sidereal Time with local time.  They are
> different most times.  

I was using to get
the sidereal clock fed with my longitude and then comparing to LST on
the ETX as it was an hour different I was confused thinking maybe DST
was being interpreted incorrectly or I had miss configured something. I
would have thought an hour discrepancy in the time may account for being
so far out on the alignment stars but perhaps it's normal or that web
site is wrong?

> Second, remember, there are two different HOME
> positions, depending on whether you Auto Align or use one of the other
> alignment options.  Auto Align has the OTA rotated to the CCW hard
> stop and left there.  So it ends up pointing approximately SW.  

I'm quite sure I got this right and was using auto align as opposed a
different alignment mode.

> Doing
> a CALIBRATE SENSOR will improve the initial alignment star pointing
> but once you have aligned the AutoStar, that doesn't come into play.

I definitely want to do this I did also level the OTA as suggested, it
was about 2 deg out.

> However, a good TRAIN DRIVES is important as its the CALIBRATE
> MOTORS.  You said you did these.  But then you implied you might have
> messed with the ratios and percentages.  Bad thing to do.  I recommend
> NOT adjusting those unless you POSITIVELY ABSOLUTELY know you need
> to. 

I did adjust percentages but only because with speed 3 it was taking
perhaps 20 or more seconds to change directions and this seemed
excessive to me and was making it difficult to lock a star in the 26mm
EP FOV. I thought percentages applied to the amount of training that was
used to take up the slack so to speak before changing directions or
returning to sidereal when observing a celestial target. I didn't think
this could really be done before training?

I definitely didn't touch the ratios as the round the horn slew seemed
to work perfectly and also hopefully means there isn't any drive slip or
whatever. I think I'm going to take it somewhere I can see Polaris, let
it cool down and redo the training and set the sensors maybe this will
help a bit too.

> Have you tried the other alignment modes?  

I'll give one of these a go when I get the chance.

> As to the faint DSO,
> light polluted skies will do a nice job of hiding things like galaxies
> (except M31).  So you have some choices to make: get the lights turned
> out (good luck), go to a dark sky site, or try using a "light
> pollution filter" (which are not ideal on smaller aperture telescopes
> like the ETX-90).

It's nice to know I'm probably not doing anything wrong here. One of the
reasons I chose the ETX 90 is because I'd like to take it to a dark sky
site and I know it should be very portable. It's also the reason why I'm
fussing over the auto align because if I'm away from the planetarium
prog on my laptop its going to make it hard for me to be sure I'm
picking the correct stars. If being so far out on the 2 alignment stars
is normal then I will just have to learn where the stars are... perhaps
that's something I should do anyway if I want to look at them :)

p.s. I enjoyed the story about the man with the expensive new telescope
and his ear syringe! Just goes to show that in the maddening search for
perfection people sometimes do things that are far from it.

Mike here: There are alignment star charts as well as articles explaining percentages on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Check those out. They will likely help you.
Subject:	buying new telescope
Sent:	Friday, May 29, 2009 20:10:46
From:	James Bray (
I want to purchase a telescope for my husband, and I need some help. I
have done some research online and at a photo shop. My husband is a
beginner, but I want to purchase something that he can grow with that is
not too advanced. I want to spend about $700 for a 5 to 8 inch, with a
gps system. What would you suggest, and what kinds of questions should I
be asking. Thanks for any help you can give.
Mike here: First, avoid buying at a "department store". Use a reputation telescope dealer, preferrably local to you. If there is no local dealer, there are some excellent online ones that will talk to you on the phone and answer questions. As to price vs features, keep in mind that the best telescope is the one that gets used. A telescope that is too large or too cumbersome to set up and use is the one that ends up in the closet and never used. Normally you would want a large aperture telescope but physical size is important since it is easy to get something too large for some people to use. There are many designs and features of telescopes that can put the price either in your range or well outside of it. Of course, then there is the question of just how you think your husband want to use the telescope. Will he do just visual stuff or will he want to get into astrophotography, and then how serious will he get in doing astrophotography? (Are you counting the ever-increasing cost of this hobby?) That all said, you need to check the online catalogs of the major vendors (Meade, Celestron, Orion) and see what they have in your size/price range. Once you narrow down the choices, feel free to ask specific questions. Keep in mind, my ETX Site covers (mostly) the Meade ETX line. There are other online sources for information on other telescopes and manufacturers.
Subject:	Can you help?
Sent:	Friday, May 29, 2009 15:05:32
From:	yunus nas (
Hi my name is Yunus and i was wondering if you could answer or help me
with a few questions i have about my Meade EXT-80AT-TC telescope. First
of all i bought my telescope about 7-8 months ago but haven't used it
too much. Mainly because i am having difficulties trying to align it to
use properly.

My first question is can you help me with some information on how to
align it? i find it difficult and confusing using the manual.

Secondly, i also bought a software for my telescope called
"#506AstroFinder". I also have difficulties using this too. I was
wondering if this is the correct software for my telescope. My telescope
is #494 Autostar, do you know any information you can give me to help me
with using this software with my telescope?

If you can help me i will be grateful.
Yours sincerely Yunus 
Mike here: First, I just noticed that your email was rejected and deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site home page. Thanks for understanding.
There are alignment tips on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. See if those help. You can disregard any mention of "hard stops" since the ETX-80 does not have hard stops. As to the software, it should work with the ETX and #494 AutoStar. Are you using a real RS-232 port on your computer or a USB-serial adapter? If an adapter, be aware that not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	SmartFinder adjustment
Sent:	Friday, May 29, 2009 13:24:46
From:	John (
I've had a ETX125 PE for about 6 months now and the SmartFinder/GOTO
worked well.  I went out last night, for the first tine in 2 months, and
following the usually alignment I found that on GOTO I was missing the
target by about 2 degrees.  On checking the alignment of the SmartFinder
with the telescope I found that it was out.  The problem is there is not
enough adjustment on the adjustment screws to get it back on track.  I
checked the fixing screws and tighten them but I still don't have enough
adjustment.  Any suggestions/help would be appreciated.

If I was to pack the SmartFinder bracket to bring it back into the range
of the adjustment would this affect the north finding and levelling

Thanks for your help, John
Mike here: Check the LNT/Smartfinder tips section on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Something there may help. As to modifying the mounting, I would try to not do that. A small movement could be OK but I'm not certain how much tolerance there is in the sensors.


Thanks for the advice Mike, much appreciated.  Regards, John

Subject:	ETX125AT Dec Drive problem
Sent:	Wednesday, May 27, 2009 14:17:09
From:	Humberto Faggiano (
I own an ETX 125AT Scope (I do not live in the states, I live in

The problem I have is that the drive that move the OTA Vertically does
not goes up and have a sound in the gears but It work fine when the
drive moves the OTA down (Maybe helped with the gravity).

I tried to make all the adjustements I found in your site, but does not
work even in AltAzm or polar alignment the drive does not have enogh
power to stand up the OTA tube.

I adjusted the screws and cleaned the grease as indicated in some
articles but I havent the courage to open the drive mechanism, with the
stepping motor to see if any gear in the drive could be broken.

In your page and even in the WWW I couldn't find any sugestions or maybe
a site tu buy the replacement.

Could I request a kind help or maybe some WWW address to solve this
problem that does not allow me to point my scope and enjoy the skyes?
Kind regards
Humberto Faggiano 
Mike here: As recently discussed on the ETX Site, check the lock to ensure it is neither over tightened nor too loose. If the OTA stays put when the lock is engaged and doesn't lower back down to the base (with the power off) then the lock is likely OK. The next step would be to open up the fork arm and check the gear housing for a broken mount.
Subject:	Hard stop problem
Sent:	Tuesday, May 26, 2009 09:14:50
From:	Janet & KimYost (
I have a Meade ETX-125EC. It has hard stops about 300 degrees apart in
the horizontal (RA) direction so that Autostar cannot slew to the second
star in setup or reach Saturn from the home position. I understand that
there should be 600 to 700 degrees between stops. I haven't seen this
problem mentioned on your very helpful sight.

Could it be caused by loose Teflon pads or by a sheared off stop pin?

If I open it up will I need to clip the wires and reattach them with
push-in connectors?
Mike here: There are several possibilities. The hard stop could have been broken. There is a wire interferring with movement. There is some other obstruction (small screw or other debris) interferring with movement. In any case you don't want to force the movement as if it is a wire you could cut it. You'll have to open up the base and look to see what is causing the problem.


The battery compartment plate is removed. Also the long slotted bolt is

I assumed that the drive base should seperate from the upper fork
assembly at the R.A. setting circle, but with my wife holding the
optical tube and me pulling and twisting on the drive base it does not
budge. What do we do next?
Mike here: There are several articles on ETX disassembly as well as hard stop repair on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Check those.
Subject:	ETX 125EC FAULTS
Sent:	Tuesday, May 26, 2009 04:36:16
From:	Stephen Wratten (
I am really new to astronomy and am thinking of buying the above
telescope 2nd hand from someone here in Western Australia. Its about 5
years old and has had minimal use. it has a fault that when you switch
on the unit no led lights up and the remote power control does not work.

We checked the batteries and took the base cover off to check physically
the wiring but all looked ok. When i applied pressure to the switch at
an angle of 90 degrees the led lit and the remote lit as well but no
movement when selecting the buttons on remote. My question is that is
this a typical fault as the seller is prepared to reduce the cost of
purchasing to compensate ie to $500.00 australian, or am i in for a lot
of cost to rectify.

The unit has just sat around in the sellers lounge room for the past 5
years or so according to the seller! Maybe dry joints as when I wiggled
the circuit board I got the Led to light as well but still no power!

your help would be much appreciated, thanks for the website its a wealth
of information for people like me who are keen but want to learn more!!!

thanks Mike

Stephen Wratten
Western Australia
Mike here: There are several possibilities. It could be that the battery cut-off switch is defective. There's an article on that on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. It could also be that the HBX cable is messed up, possibly in the jacks or connectors. Try reversing the cable. Also, check the jacks and connectors for pins that are dirty, bent sideways, or too depressed. One other possibility is that the battery compartment wires are loose or shorted somewhere. Have you tried an external power source?


thanks fro the reply..what sort of external power source can I
try...does the scope actually come with the power source as I don't have
access to the item at present due to ascertaining whether its worth
buying or not....
Mike here: There is no included AC Adapter but you can easily make one using the information on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Or you can use a 12 VDC external power source; info on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Alternatively, you can purchase an external AC or DC power adapter; see the Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page for a review of some power supplies.


Thanks mike have ben trolling through the tech tips but am having
trouble finding the article relating to the battery cut off
switch...tons of other great info though!!! do you think 500 australian
is reasonable if I have to only use it in mechanical mode ie if the
electronics cannot be fixed?
Mike here: You could do a find in your web browser on "battery" on the Telescope Tech Tips page but the article is called "Repairing Battery Cutoff Switch". As to price, certainly the ETX-125 is a fine optical instrument, even better if it has UTHC, but I'd be hesitant if there were electrical problems. It might be simple to fix or a might need a replacement circuit board (difficult).
Subject:	meade etx-125ec review
Sent:	Friday, May 22, 2009 20:00:59
From:	ruth harahus (
hi can you answer this question for me.  Can you attach a gps auto
aligner to the meade etx-125ec.  thank you for your help.
Mike here: If you have the AutoStar #497, then you can attach some GPS units. See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; there are several GPS articles there. However, adding a GPS does not provide an "auto align" capability. It only provides your location and the date/time to the AutoStar. You still need to go through the star alignment steps for the AutoStar.


would the meade etx-125pe do that i think it has a compass in it that
points it north then aligns it.
Mike here: The PE model does locate True North and Level. But you still need to manually center the alignment stars in the telescope. The new ETX-LS model does do a real auto align using its built-in imager but it is not yet shipping.
Subject:	etx-80
Sent:	Wednesday, May 20, 2009 14:41:07
From:	Joe Cavanagh (
Dear Peter (cc Mike Weasner)
many thanks for your advice on disassembly of the ETX80. I'll try it out

When I remove the bolt, the outer casing will come off - is there
anything special I need to do with that funny retaining nut ? And will
any bits come loose that I need to be careful about ?

Sorry to be so cautious, it's just that I'll never be forgiven if I
screw up the household's telescope.

When I remove the outer case, will I see the same as shown in this link
- also from Mike's Mighty Site ?


Many thanks


From:	Peter Ashby (
Yes that is what you will see, just be sure to keep the washers and tabs
of the clutch assembly (the funny nut) in the correct order they came
out in and you will be fine. check the encoders on the gearbox, if they
get gunked with grease then the optical reader cant see through and can
cause error messages.


Hi. So far, the motor seems to be working, but just not engaging.
I took off the clutch assembly - that came off easily enough - but the
white plastic retaining nut (the one with the four spikes to engage with
the outer nut) seems to be stuck firm, or at least resistant to any mild
turning force from a standard screwdriver or pliers. I'll seek out a
socket set of the right size. I don't want to wreck it.

But is there a secret to undoing this nut - is it glued into position ?

Thanks for your help


No theres no secret, its a nylon nut and they tend to bind on the
thread, I use a ring spanner to equally contact the sides of the nut,
but a socket of the right size will do the job, just apply the pressure
slowly and it will turn eventually (if not I do have some spares).


thanks - just need to locate a socket set - seems to be one thing I
forgot to pack in the move from UK to Brasil ! Do you happen to know the
right size - is it 16mm ?


its either 16mm or 17mm, I remember the spanner I used and it had one of
each size. maybe the 17mm - just gone and checked and its definately a
17mm I had one loose in my bag of spare bits, and the spanner was also
in the box.


got the socket spanner - removed the nut - and to my horror find that
the motor assembly has sheared and come away from its mounting - see the
attached jpeg, if you can bear to look...

I'll see if the motor actually turns - although clearly it's not
engaging with the gear mechanism.

In the meantime, any advice - super glue ? Or do I need a new casing for
the motor ?


Mike here: The article "Repairing ETX-60 Azimuth Drive" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page might be useful.


Superglue might do the job, you can reinforce it by glueing a paperclip
flat onto the back, make sure it is perfectly clean of grease, if you
still have problems email me your address and I will put a complete
motor unit in the post for you (Free of charge all I ask is you pass the
favour on to someone you can help sometime down the line, I have had a
great deal of luck to get all these spares and really dont want to jinx
it by selling the parts and making a profit), the only problem is I cant
guarantee the motor works, but you should be able to get one working
unit from the pair.

oh and if you have any really small drills drill a small hole in each
part and glue a piece of paperclip in to also help reinforce the joint.
(into the broken ends that is).


what a star man you are !
Let me have a go with superglue etc and take it from there. If that
fails, I may well take you up on your offer. I'll be passing through UK
in July, so we still have plenty of time for me to screw up and call on
your offer of a new motor assembly....
Best regards

Subject:	Meade ETX-70AT telescope
Sent:	Wednesday, May 20, 2009 14:24:52
From:	Ken Notestine (
First of all, let me thank you for your wonderful website,  As comprehensive as it is, however, I still
couldn't find the answer to my problem.

Around 5 years ago I purchased a Meade ETX-70AT telescope.  Though it
received lots of use for the first 3 years (without problems), it has
been sitting around unused for the last 2 years.  Today I brought it
out, replaced the batteries and discovered the following problem:

When I manually try to adjust the telescope "left, right or down", using
the Autostar Arrow keys, there's no problem.  When I try to adjust the
telescope "up" using the Arrow key, it doesn't rise.  I can hear the
motor running (without any difficulty, it seems), but the telescope
won't elevate.  I've tried loosening and tightening all of the
applicable knobs (based on the Owner's manual), but to no avail.  I'm
probably not using the correct "technical" terms, but I hope you can
understand what I'm trying to describe.

When I called Meade, all they wanted me to do is trade it in and buy an
ETX-80 for $150 more!  Ugh...

Any help you could provide (including a link to a previously documented
solution) would be greatly appreciated !
Best regards,
Ken Notestine
Avon, CT
Mike here: When you say you replaced the batteries, I hope you meant you inserted new batteries and didn't leave older batteries inserted all those years. Otherwise, you might have some corrosion you need to deal with. As to the specific problem, have you tried a CALIBRATE MOTOR, followed by a TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes)? If that doesn't help, try a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES. If the problem persists, check that the Altitude Lock is actually engaging; when you lock it with the telescope tube raised, does the tube tend to want to fall back down to the base?


Yes, I meant I put new batteries corrosion problems that I can

I just tried your suggestion:  CALIBRATE MOTOR,  followed by a TRAIN
DRIVES (on both axes), but no luck.  Then I tried a RESET, CALIBRATE
MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES...still no luck.  The Altitude Lock is firmly
(but not too firmly) tightened (it doesn't fall down to the base), as
evidenced by the controlled lowering of the telescope tube when I press
the down arrow on the Autostar unit.  But when I press the up arrow, all
I get is the normal sound of the motor and no movement by the telescope

Your next prognosis Doctor?  :-)

Many thanks,

Mike here: When you did the TRAIN DRIVES in Altitude, did the tube move in both directions?


No.  It moved down, but not up.  
On the Az. TRAIN, it moved both left and right.
Mike here: What happens when using the faster slew speeds?


Same thing.  No movement upward, no matter what the speed.

I've seen on your website (and others) photos and descriptions on how to
take an ETX-70 AT apart.  Not being mechanically inclined, I'd be a
little nervous.  On the other hand, I'd quickly get over my nervousness
if my only other alternative would be to write Meade another check for

Do the symptoms I've described sound like something I'd need to take the
telescope apart for?  It's strange that the telescope easily moves down
but not up.  You'd think if the motor was working and the gears were
engaged, then it would work in both directions, wouldn't it?
Mike here: If the motor/gear is disengaging in one direction, then it is possible that the gear housing is loose. You have to open up the right fork arm to check. Since you say the motor is making a noise like it is turning, this would be a good thing to check on.


I'll take a look at it and let you know what I find.  Thanks so much for
all you help Mike.  I really appreciate it.  I'd love to get my ETX-70
working again, now that the summer months are upon us.  My son and I
went to a local observatory here in Connecticut last weekend and got a
great view of Saturn, its rings and one of its moons.  It sort of
inspired me to break out the ol' telescope and head out for some star

Thanks again for your help.  I'll let you know how I make out.

Best regards,



Good morning!  By the "right" fork arm, I assume you mean the side with
the Vertical Lock (as opposed to the Dec Setting Circle) ?  I also
assume I'll need to open up the telescope from the bottom, right?  Is
this the best link in terms of understanding how to get into the ETX-70:

Thanks,  Ken
Mike here: Yes, that's an excellent guide. Follow the instructions there.


And the "right" fork is the one with the Vertical Lock?  That's where
I'll find the gearing for the Altitude control?
Mike here: Yes.

And: the saying goes, I've got good news and bad news... First the
bad news:

I wasn't able to get very far with John Cooney's guide.  I didn't have a
small enough allen wrench to remove the focusing knob, so I gave up on
trying to remove the Optical Tube.  Next I tried opening up the drive
base but couldn't tell what John meant by "Remove the 'clutch nut' from
the locking lever shaft".  As I mentioned, I'm not very mechanically
inclined. But next comes the good news...

Then, out of desperation, I removed the Vertical Lock and Declination
Setting Circle lock to see if there was any way of getting into the Fork
Arms that way.  Not having any luck, I put the locks back on and
tightened them down (a little firmer than I had done before).  Guess
what?  When I hit the "up" Arrow key on the Autostar Handbox, the
telescope went UP!!  Don't ask me how, but at that point, I didn't care!
Perhaps I just needed to tighten the locks more, although that doesn't
explain why the telescope would go down without any problem, does it?

I celebrated my good fortune by taking the telescope out to my front
yard and enjoyed about an hour of star gazing!

Mike, I want to thank you again for your help and interest.  Just having
you and your website available made a real difference.  If you're ever
in Avon Connecticut please let me know and I'll take you out for a beer!

Happy Star Gazing,


Subject:	Adding LNT technology
Sent:	Wednesday, May 20, 2009 10:43:09
From:	Jason Rader (
I've read a couple articles in the tech tips which seem to indicate that
adding a LNT module to an ETX-125AT is possible.  Is this still
possible?  Is the DS2000 LNT module the unit to get?

Thanks and love the site.  This site is what convinced me to jump on the
125 after Christmas.

Mike here: Yes, it is still possible. I would suspect that any LNT model can be mounted; you just need to route the wires and make the connections, and of course, find a way to physically attach the LNT/SmartFinder module.
Subject:	newbie with a etx 70
Sent:	Tuesday, May 19, 2009 22:50:33
From: (
I just bought a used ETX 70, although the guy said it had never been
outside the house. The autostar works well, but I'm not seeing very much
with this scope.  I live outside LA and so light pollution is a problem.
But tonight I took the scope up to Mount Baldy where the northern and
western sky is quite dark.  Pretty much the same view as in town, esp.
of Saturn and I think, perhaps, Jupiter rising?

With the 25mm lense, Saturn looks like a bright star and I can't get it
in sharp focus.  With the 9mm lense and a 2x Barlow, it's not as bright
but still no details at all.  It just looks again like a bright
polychromatic star, pulsing slightly.

Is this what I should expect or am I doing something wrong?  I've used
the etx 70 to look at the moon and it was great.  Quite a bit of detail
and in focus.  Any tips on the planets appreciated.

Mike here: You might want to read my ETX-70 comments on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page as well as those from other ETX-70 users on the Helpful Information: User Observations page. Keep in mind that the ETX-70 is a short focal length telescope with a small aperture. This means it can perform great as a wide field instrument (especially from dark skies) but is less capable of magnifying objects (like planets).
Subject:	Re: Meade #883 tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, May 19, 2009 18:21:58
From:	Leonard Castro (
Mike, thanks for the info again. I tried Meade but that was useless. If
its not too much to ask, could you please shoot a photo of that azimuth
adjustment bolt/pin on the #883 tripod. I think if I see what it looks
like I can make one. I sure would appreciate it. Thanks, Leonard.
Mike here: Here's the photos:



Sorry, but i meant the pin itself. I know that means taking the tripod
head off to take the pin out to take a photo of it. If its too much, I
understand. You've done much more than most would've. Thanks, Leonard.
Mike here: Sorry but that won't happen anytime soon.
Subject:	Meade #883 tripod
Sent:	Saturday, May 16, 2009 20:40:04
From:	Leonard Castro (
Recently I bought a used deluxe field tripod. I think there's something
missing. I can't micro-adjust azimuth. There's a hole next to the N on
the top of the tripod hinge. Do you have any closeups of that tripod or
a schematic of the tripod head? Thanks for any info you can give me.
Mike here: It sounds like you are missing the Azimuth adjustment bolt. You can read a review on the Accessory Reviews: Tripods page. There is a manual online at And here is a photo:



Thanks for your reply! Guess I'll have to contact Meade or fashion one

Subject:	Upgrade: ETX-90 RA->EC->PE
Sent:	Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:28:32
From:	Jrgen Blust (
from time to time I read messages from visitors of your site regarding
Meade's poor customer support.
My experiences with the customer support of Meade Europe are completely

I bought my ETX (the RA model) about ten years ago.
In 2004 I sent it in to get it upgraded to an EC model. I got it back
with the new base with motordrive in both axes and a #497 AutoStar
controller. Yesterday I went to Meade Europe to upgrade my ETX with an
LNT module. A technician checked the OTA and the mechanics and stated
that everything is in perfect condition. He then put a new LNT module on
my ETX. Also the software on the AutoStar was upgraded.
The ETX has now exactly the same functions like a new PE model.

The LNT module seems to be the one for LX-90 telescopes and comes with
an external cable that has to be plugged into one of the AUX ports.

Best greetings from Germany :D


Subject:	Etx 70 autostar for a etx 125?
Sent:	Friday, May 15, 2009 15:53:55
From:	Nadon, Christopher (
I have an ETX 70 with the Autostar base.  Is it possible to mount the
ETX 125 optical tube on this?  Thanks.
Mike here: No. Too heavy. Too large.


Thanks for the quick reply.  Nice site.  

Best, Chris

Subject:	Will ETX-90 fit in an ETX-60 mount?
Sent:	Friday, May 15, 2009 09:52:29
From:	jonathan joaquin (
I have a full ETX-60 BB setup. I have looked at some used ETX-90 OTA and
see that they are very reasonable. Will that OTA fit in my ETX-60 setup?
Or would it be better to sell my ETX-60 rig and purchase a full ETX-90?


Mike here: See the article "Putting ETX-90 on ETX-70 forks" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. However, if you can afford it, you may wish to keep the ETX-60 as a nice wide-field instrument and get a new ETX-90.
Subject:	ETX RA lock knob
Sent:	Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:32:15
From:	Rori Baldari (
The plastic silver handle on my RA lock has popped off. Can yo recommend
a good way to re-attach?
Rori Baldari
Mike here: There are some articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page on that.
Sent:	Wednesday, May 13, 2009 09:06:27
From: (
Mike here: First, please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site home page; especially the note about ALL CAPS. Thanks for understanding. What "unit" are you asking about?


Sorry about the caps-lock!
At this point thinking the ETX60,70.
There is a 70 on e-bay just now.$150.00 US.
Big concern,will a 70 give me a closer,sharper image of the ships;then
the 25x70 bino? Also a lot of grey/harbour  seals use the isle as a
summer holiday area.See Basking sharks quite often! A seal sounds just
like a dog! Do wish I could take the Questar,but will not fit in the
overhead compartment.
Your thoughts?
Bye for now.
Mike here: The ETX-70 can be used as a terrestrial telescope with some caveats. The standard eyepiece with the ETX-70 is a 25mm or 26mm. That would provide about 14X magnification. To increase the magnification you would need some shorter focal length eyepieces and/or a Barlow Lens. Also, for terrestrial use you would want an "erecting prism" to make the image in the eyepiece right-side-up. When I took my ETX-90RA to Australia, the case I used (softsided) fit into the overhead compartment. So I would think the Questar 3" would as well, given the proper carrying case.


Forgot about the terrestrial problem. A "Sea Truck" 
upside down might look a bit odd!
Plan B..
Dismount the Questar Duplex,and make it into a field model.
That should fit into a carry-on. The 25x100 Bino are mounted
on a very heavy tripod.
Ref:Our dark sky.. The nearest big city is Belfast N.Ireland.
Most of the street light are turned off between 1200hrs,
and 1 hour before sunrise.
We often see the Northern Lights during winter.
That's in between the severe gales off the Irish Sea.
thanks for all your help.
Bye for now.

Subject:	ETX-60 and ETX-90 Power requirements the same?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 13, 2009 04:39:03
From:	jonathan joaquin (
I have an ETX-60, and It uses 6 AA batteries in a box that has a nine(9)
volt connector. I purchased a Meade #607 from a Ritz Camera that is
going out of business for $4.00. It has an N connector on it. can you
tell me if they both scopes are driven by 9 volts? If so then I can just
cut the N connector off, and replace it by a 9 volt connector.

You can also tell your readers that Ritz Cameras is closing half their
stores, and this is the last month of business for those. up to 90% off
on items. I also picked up the AutoStar #497, since my ETX60 came with
the #494, and it was only $30.00

Thanks again for the site!!

Mike here: The "9V" connector does not mean that a 9 volt battery will provide sufficient power to the telescope. It just happens to be the style connector that was used for the battery pack. The ETX-60 will take 1000mA and the ETX-90 will take 1500mA. 12VDC is required in both cases. Sorry to hear about Ritz but those are good deals.
Subject:	re: Motor Failure on ETX 80-AT: accessing the motor mechanism
Sent:	Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:54:10
From:	Peter Ashby (
there is a small allen screw in the azimuth adjusting / locking handle
(on the other end of that screw thread visible) - remove this and you
will see a hex bolt head, this is the head of the bolt you see the
thread end of in the picture, loosen this and you will loosen the clutch
and the casing will come loose once the screw is disengaged allowing
access to the insides.

Subject:	RSS Feedback
Sent:	Sunday, May 10, 2009 19:03:07
From:	jchpharmd (
Just wanted to let you know I am using your RSS feed.  I just bought my
first telescope (ETX 90PE) about 15 minutes ago.  I am excited!  I am
also a very avid Mac user.  Typing this on Apple Mail, iMac 24".


Subject:	ETX-125 Will Not Power Up - Red Dot w/o Autostar?
Sent:	Saturday, May 9, 2009 21:29:30
From:	Eric Gajewski (
I just purchased a used ETX-125. I found it on Craig's List with an
asking price of $700. He claims it was never actually used. He
eventually found a generic 3x Barlow and an Meade Electronic Eyepiece he
would include at $630. I made the drive to meet him. I decided to pick
up some AA batteries to give it a real test.

Indeed, the scope looks mint. The seals on some pieces were still
intact. However, it would not power up. I was bummed. I asked if it
could be used as just a manual scope.  He said yes and asked me to make
him an offer. I offered $300 and he took it.

I was still a bit leery until I got home and set it up. The views are
awesome. The optics seem to be perfect.

Everything I read seems to state that the red dot and Autostar work
together, is that true? Can I get the red dot to work without it? Also,
any suggestions in where to start troubleshooting it? I pulled the
bottom cover off and the connections from the battery pack to the switch
circuit board are fine. I was hoping for a quick fix, guess I'm not that
lucky. When you turn the switch on, nothing happens. No red light, no
Autostar screen, nothing.

I really like the quality of the 26mm "standard" lens. The 3x Barlow is
not so great. What would you suggest as an eyepiece for it?
Thank you for time.
Eric Gajewski
Mike here: Try reversing the AutoStar HBX cable. Sometimes that can help strange problems. But since there is no power light, it could be that the battery cutout switch is stuck or defective. See the article "Repairing Battery Cutoff Switch" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Or the battery compartment wires could be broken. See the article "Repairing Broken Battery Wires" on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Those are the easiest things to check.


Thank you for the quick reply. The cutoff switch theory sounds good.
While checking around, my battery pack wire fell off (cold solder joint)
but it wasn't the main issue. Just something else to fix. Does anyone
have a schematic on that board? I Can't seem to find the 2 grounds. I
figured I'd just jump them to check.

Also, what about using the red dot solo? Is that just a 12v input in the
side of it? Positive center?
Mike here: The AutoStar controls the illumination of the Smartfinder red-dot. Without the AutoStar and without power, I suspect you would have to wire a separate power source. Check the Telescope Tech TIps page for lots of info on power, disassembly, and the Smartfinder.


Just purchased a 12V power supply at Radio Shack. Power light comes on
with it, but still no response from the Autostar remote. Is it worth
going with the Meade Ultra wide angle 5000 series for a 5.5mm eyepiece.
I also just realized my 3x barlow isn't generic, it's an Orion. I am so
pleased with the 26mm, I don't want to sacrifice.

Thanks again,

Mike here: If the AutoStar is not working, check the cable connectors and jacks. The pins should not be dirty, too depressed, nor bent sideways. Sometimes disconnecting and reconnecting the cable (at both ends) can help. Also, sometimes, reversing the cable helps. As to an eyepiece, I don't have that one but the Series 5000 eyepieces are excellent. See the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page for more on eyepieces. Keep in mind the theoretical maximum magnification (see the ETX FAQ page if you are unsure how to calculate that or magnification). Regarding the Barlow Lens, the ETX works best with a "shorty" style; otherwise you may have difficulty reaching a focus.
Subject:	May I have advice?
Sent:	Friday, May 8, 2009 23:55:58
From:	Yoshi-K (
Several months passed after the Meade general selling agency in Japan
had gone bankrupt.
It is a situation in which the whereabouts of Meade in Japan is not seen.

I'm sorry for being not able to speak English.

The Meade user in Japan loses whereabouts now.

Yoshikatsu Kida
Mike here: There is a Meade dealer in Japan listed on Meade's International Dealers page ( It is Zizco Corporation (
Subject:	Motor Failure on ETX 80-AT: accessing the motor mechanism
Sent:	Thursday, May 7, 2009 08:24:41
From:	Joe Cavanagh (
I have a Meade ETX80-AT which I bought in the UK. I recently moved to
Brasil, and my telescope followed by sea freight.

On arrival, the start-up procedure on Autostar now reports a motor
failure - the up and down movement works fine, it's the rotary motion
that fails - the motor whirrs but the unit doesn't turn.

Meade in the UK were good enough to send me a new Autostar but this
didn't do the trick (I didn't think it would).

I've been reading the previous posts on your excellent website, and I
can see that the problem could be a trapped wire or other obstruction;
compacted grease; or disengagement of the gear mechanism. The unit
swivels quite freely so I suspect the problem is one of the latter two

However, my problem is that I'm not sure how to get access to the
mechanism. I enclose a Jpeg of the underside of the unit (I've removed
the small central hatch to reveal the fitting underneath). There's a
large central fitting, and I'm worried that if I remove it the whole
caboodle will fall apart. Other posts seem to suggest that I simply need
to unscrew a few retaining screws, but they're not obvious - are they
hidden under the rubber feet ?

I'd welcome any thought on whether, and how, I should try and access the
internal motor mechanism.

many thanks

Joe Cavanagh 


Mike here: I'm not certain how similar the ETX-80 is the ETX-60 and ETX-70 models, but see the articles "ETX-70 Disassembly", "Inside the ETX-70AT", "ETX-60AT Tuneup", "ETX-60 Repair", "Repair ETX-60 Azimuth Problem", and "Repairing ETX-60 Azimuth Drive" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.


many thanks for these tips - I'll follow them up.

Are there any regular ETX80 subscribers who might know ?

Mike here: Yep, lots of ETX-80 site visitors. Hopefully, some of them will respond.
Subject:	ETX 125 focus problem
Sent:	Wednesday, May 6, 2009 08:54:35
From:	ben (
I just acquired a like new 125 AT telescope. I have noticed though, that
the focus knob is loose and does not turn the focus shaft. The shaft no
longer protrudes enought to reinstall the knob. zis there a quick and
easy fix for this problem?
Mike here: Well, not an easy fix but it can be done. See the article "Focus Shaft Fix" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. That should let you get the shaft positioned correctly. As to the knob, it could be that the setscrew is not touching the shaft or it is stripped. You might have to replace the knob.


I will check it out. Looks like the knob was never tightened and the
shaft moved into the telescope just enough that the set screw will not
reach the shaft.

And an update:

I think I am ok. Got the shaft with a pair of pliers and turned it all
the way clockwise. I reinstalled the knob and it seems to focus. Will
try it tonite. I am shocked that a manufacturer would ship a scope this
way. The fellow I bought it from had obviously never even unpacked it.

Subject:	ETX-80 and external Barlow
Sent:	Monday, May 4, 2009 12:11:54
From:	Sven-Ove Auno (
I tried to use an external Barlow lens (2x) with my ETX-80, but I was
not able to focus on e.g. the Moon. Do you know if it is feasible to use
an external Barlow lens in such a way, or is the use of this telescope
restricted to the internal one?

Best regards,
Sven-Ove Auno
Mike here: The ETX models require a "shorty" style Barlow Lens. I suspect that is true for the ETX-80 model as well. Was the Barlow Lens you used a "shorty"?


Thank you for your prompt response. I don't know exactly what a "shorty"
style Barlow Lens (BL) is, but the Barlow I used was from a Bresser
Sirius refractor (900 mm focal length). The length from the top of the
BL to the actual lens is approx. 40 mm and the total length of the BL
assembly is 80 mm.

And I must say that I admire your web site. It is so exciting to take
part of the wealth of information that you have gathered. Many thanks
for your job in managing the site!

Regards/Sven-Ove Auno
Mike here: My Meade #126 Barlow Lens (for the ETX) is 60mm long, with the lens at the end (opposite where the eyepiece inserts). I've used it with my ETX-70 refractor and it worked fine.
Subject:	ETX 80 - crayford
Sent:	Friday, May 1, 2009 11:49:23
From:	Edgar Arocutipa (
Hi, your page is excelente for people that use all etx, i use a etx 80AT
but i like your opinion, i can use a crayford and adaptor thread ETX to
SC,(for converting a dual knob and obtenin better image). I hope your


Edgar A.Arocutipa Pinedo
Gelogo de Exploraciones
Minera Cerro Dominador 
Mike here: Well, you could use one BUT there could be focusing difficulties. If the eyepiece in the Crayford focusers + SCT adapter is too far from the ETX-70 focal plane, then you would not be able to focus the eyepiece.


Thanks you, for your advice. And now i am quiet, i was thinking buy that
accesories. I order him a big hug.


Subject:	Meade Series 5000 18mm UWA eyepiece & EXT125PE
Sent:	Friday, May 1, 2009 02:17:01
From:	Ade (
I've recently purchased a Meade Series 5000 18mm UWA eyepiece which I've
not yet used in anger on the night sky with my ETX125PE and will not be
able to for a couple of weeks.

Upon arrival of the eyepiece I placed it in the eyepiece holder and
focussed on a distant building roof. Two things immediately struck me:
1)       the eyepiece does not fit all the way into the eyepiece holder
because of it's barrel size and, given I've only tried it in daylight on
a hot morning, I'm unsure if this will cause focussing or other problems
on the night sky?
2)       Again only on the basis of 5 minutes use in daylight, there was
an orange colour fringe around the edge of the field of view which was
off-putting but not affecting the actual image. Does this indicate a
problem with the eyepiece and/or the ETX?
Thanks for your great site.
Mike here: There are eyepieces that won't go all the in so it is not surprising that the larger Series 5000 eyepiece does not. As long as it is secure and focuses, there should not be a problem. Unless that building was close, since you could focus on it I suspect you'll be able to focus on astronomical objects. As to the color fringing, since it was at the edge (where light fraction is more obvious, especially on wide-angle eyepieces), I doubt there is a problem. You might notice it on a bright extended object like the Moon but for DSOs and star fields, you probably won't see it.
Subject:	re: Meade 4504 Motors GEM Mount
Sent:	Thursday, April 30, 2009 21:39:42
From:	richard seymour (
Other good spots for this kind of work is the Yahoo group:

have fun

Subject:	Re: Help for ETX-70 parts
Sent:	Thursday, April 30, 2009 20:55:12
From: (
I've been all over your site, and I see you refer to this page(s) a lot,
but I cannot find it at all, even with your search function. I don't see
any link for "helpful information" at all, and I have yet to find these
two pages on the 70 and the 90. Got a direct link or advice?
Mike here: Are you looking at the ETX Site home page? If so, about mid-way down the left side you'll see a bold topical section entitled "Helpful Information". In that section you'll see the link to the Telescope Tech Tips page. Click that and then you can use your browser's "find" function to look for specific articles I mentioned. If you are NOT looking at the ETX Site home page, go there first ( By the way, it would probably be useful to read the "Site Guide"; the link to it is below the large image at the top of the ETX Site home page.
Subject:	handy reference for product availability and market value
Sent:	Thursday, April 30, 2009 19:40:46
From:	Mike Pilgrim (
Mike, as always you are performing yoeman duty on this web site.  I
often wonder how you find time to do all that you do.

In recent perusal of the site, I see a rising number of questions asking
where to find a certain product, such as the recent query from a fellow
seeking a 884 tripod, or some who seek advice regarding what a ETX-90
should be worth on the resale market.

I have long ago learned that a great starting point for answers to those
questions is  A simple search argument on "Meade" yields
hundreds of hits, or a specific argument, such as "Meade ETX-90" narrows
the list.

I personally have purchased three ETX scopes off of eBay, and found many
offerings for tripods during a phase of need.  While one can locate
literally every possible Meade product, I find also that  by reviewing
and monitoring offer prices and sales prices, one can get a darn good
measure of true market value of a given product.  I highly recommend
eBay as a good overall source of information.

While I have your attention, I keep reminding myself of a question I
need help with.  Tonight I saw a comment about the new ETX-LS F/10
scope.  If I may reveal my ignorance, what is the meaning of the "f/10"
in that reference?  Better yet, can you please point me to a possible
tutorial or "education for dummies" which helps to understand the
meaning and value of the "f designation".  As a novice shutter bug with
digital photography, I see and am beginning to understand "f-stops".  In
the telescope world, are we talking the same animal?  I'd really like to
Keep up the good work.
Mike Pilgrim
Boca Raton, Fl
Mike here: Regarding f/10, that is the ratio of the focal length to the aperture. It is the same as your camera focal ratio. The "faster" the system, the lower the f/ number.

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