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In Praise Of The Meade ETX-60

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#1 Tom Duncan

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 09:46 AM

I'm not a fan of the Meade ETX series mounts as they are poorly designed, their Achilles Heel the declination lock which is easily broken and not really fixable. As a 'vendor' I've had about a dozen or so come my way and I think I've thrown the mount away in all cases but two. The OTAs however are usually quite good throughout the line. 

 

However I have changed my tune a bit in favor of the ETX-60, especially as a first time scope if it comes with either Autostar hand controller. The OTA is light enough that perhaps it doesn't load the declination lock as badly and the goto and optics are great. The icing on the cake, and the reason for posting this in the beginners forum, is the ETX-60 is common, cheap, does a good job of introducing the user to computerized go-to and is often found on Craigslist for $100 or so with an Autostar hand controller, tripod, hand controller and eyepieces, sometimes the case for the scope.

 

I recently got an ETX-60 with the simpler Autostar 494 hand controller (no 1-9 keypad) and decided to pretend I was a rank beginner. I set it up in my backyard and followed the instructions. Even with just a one star alignment it found what I wanted (using the widest FOV eyepiece of course) and the views of the Moon and Jupiter were very satisfying. By satisfying I mean if I had not seen them before with my own scope I would have been pleased and certainly felt I got my $100 worth. A great way to get into computer controlled go-to observing for the first timer. 

 

I haven't had an ETX-70 yet but I suspect the same praise will apply to it. 

 

Tom Duncan  

 

 


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#2 gkarris

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 05:13 PM

I'm not a fan of the Meade ETX series mounts as they are poorly designed, their Achilles Heel the declination lock which is easily broken and not really fixable. As a 'vendor' I've had about a dozen or so come my way and I think I've thrown the mount away in all cases but two. The OTAs however are usually quite good throughout the line. 

 

...

 

I haven't had an ETX-70 yet but I suspect the same praise will apply to it. 

 

Tom Duncan  

 

No, not in the least bit, I called it my "Disaster Scope" and it turned me off to Astronomy...

 

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#3 Taylor

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 11:03 PM

Looks like there is a 3D printed part available for the ETX declination repair: https://www.thingive...m/thing:1887453

 

A good way to save these old mounts. I still love my old ETX90. If the declination clutch ever breaks, I'll probably just print a new one and fix it so I can keep my original ETX trucking along.


Edited by Taylor, 17 November 2019 - 11:04 PM.


#4 aeajr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 11:40 PM

I have an ETX 60, 80 and 125 and like them all very much.  Very simple to set-up and use.

 

And because Meade's GoTo systems are so consistent, when I was given the opportunity to use a Meade LX200 14", it was so easy.  Basically works just like the ETX scopes.

 

I think they are great entry level scopes. 


Edited by aeajr, 18 November 2019 - 10:22 AM.


#5 sg6

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:36 AM

The problem with the early ETX was the instructions that said "Tighten the clutches".

People seemed to have the idea of clamping mole grips on them them leaning all their weight on the end.

They broke.

 

Instructions were changed.

 

The problem I have is that I was buying a scope at the time and ended up with the 70. From memory both Celestron and Meade had much the same troubles - bits broke and broke with regularity, generally always the gears. Neither was better then the other. Have a somewhat vague idea that Celestron withdrew their scopes for a short while.

 

Oddly still have the 70, still going well. Occasionally wonder how long the data in the handset is valid for. Suspect one day to get the message "Year not recognised". Scope is very good for outreach. Simple, goto, wide, easy. Suppose it has the problem of most goto's - the operator!


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#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 05:06 AM

I owned an ETX-70 for a while, and wasn't very impressed. As it happens, the optical quality of my particular unit was poor, which was the deciding factor in my getting rid of it. Nowhere near the quality of many $100 non-goto 60- and 70-mm refractors, for instance. I assume that my experience was an outlier, otherwise more people would complain of the same.

 

The other big problem was the focuser. It's fine in principle; the Orion 80-mm GoScope has the same design and it works like a charm. But with the ETX-60 and ETX-70, you have to crank the focuser around multiple times just to switch between the stock eyepieces. The change as you crank is so slow that I had great difficulty telling whether the focus was getting better or worse as I turned it.


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#7 clearwaterdave

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 05:54 AM

I had the 70mm back pack version.,after a week of listening to it grind it's way ever so slowly across the sky I gave it to a neighbor with two boys.,And as Tony stated the focuser was more than annoying.,lol.,

  I never recommend them to anybody.,period.,ymmv.,



#8 NYJohn S

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:58 AM

I had the ETX 70 for my first scope. I was using binoculars at the time and one came up on CL for $70. I figured for that money I'd take a chance on it. I remember turning it on for the first time and hearing all of those strange beeping noises coming from it. It sounded like it was sending a message to the mother-ship and I was sure it wasn't going to work. Much to my surprise the goto worked and it tracked objects reasonably well.

 

I viewed my first DSO through it, M3. You can imagine what a tiny, faint cotton ball it was but I was very excited to see it. I viewed M81 & M82 with it and that was it, I was hooked. Even though they were barely detectible little hazy spots, I couldn't believe I was looking at something outside of our galaxy with that little telescope. It wasn't long before I wanted more aperture and moved up to a bigger scope but I do have some fond memories of the ETX 70. I kept it as a second scope for a while and even took it to a dark site on a few occasions. I started to learn it's strengths, like viewing M31, 32 & M110 together. M45 was nice in it. The goto with a wide field scope was a bit odd because it's the type of scope you really want on a manual mount so you can do some sweeping. I was going to de-fork it but I ended up getting an 80mm apo with a 2" focuser for wide field. 

 

It was working when I got rid of it. The only thing that broke was one of the locking tabs on the tripod. After owning a Celestron 6SE the Meade goto system seems outdated to me. With Celestron there's no to need to point north and level the OTA. You just pick 2 stars and you're off and running. 

 

Although it worked out for me I don't recommend them as a first scope. I feel like I was one of the lucky ones and too many have had problems with the plastic parts failing. I also think it's better to start with a little more aperture.

 

They come up so cheap I could see using one as second scope or a travel scope when space is tight but I would recommend just getting an ST80 with the metal focuser. That on a inexpensive photo tripod should be trouble free for many years.


Edited by NYJohn S, 18 November 2019 - 01:10 PM.

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#9 Dwight J

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:13 AM

Isn’t this a refractor?  


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#10 aeajr

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:17 AM

The ETX 80 was my first scope when I returned to astronomy 5 years ago.  I live in a VERY light polluted location.  Much of my sky is almost blank of stars even when the moon is not out.  But that ETX scope showed me lots of open clusters, planets and other things.   

 

The sky is too bright for a good view of most Nebula, but it showed me the Orion, Ring and other very bright nebula.

 

I still have it.   Fitted with a solar filter it tracked the Sun for me during the solar eclipse and I just used it for the transition of Mercury.  And this is my favorite outreach scope.

 

Tony, 

 

You are right about the slow/fine focuser.  If you switch between the eyepiece and the flip barlow you have to crank your life away.  I learned to use this as "high range" and "low range"  so that I stayed within a good focus range for the Plossl eyepieces and Meade Zoom.   Later added a 2X barlow and that problem was eliminated.

 

Certainly shows CA, but I mentally filter it out.  I know there is no colored ring around the Moon.   Frankly I don't even notice it anymore. 

 

The ETX 60 and 125 were given to me by someone who's child no longer used the scopes.  They are at least 12, maybe 15 years old. 

 

As SG6 pointed out, the ETX 60 clutch dial for the Alt was broken.  It had been cranked down too hard which snapped the outer dial from the threads.   I fixed that and now it works fine.

 

The ETX 125 worked fine when I got it but later stopped.  I just took it apart and found that a bracket that holds the gears had broken and in the process popped a wire connection off.  The lubrication had all melted away from this point.  I fixed it and it is ready to be put back together. 

 

However, before I put it back together, I took advantage of two mounting points on the OTA/diagonal assembly and put a Vixen type dovetail on it. It is now on a manual AltAz mount.   I am going to play with it on that for a while.   I used this set-up for the Mercury transit, next to my ETX 80. 

 

These scopes are not perfect, but for the price, I think they offer great value.  But, like any low priced GoTo scope, they can be broken by operators who don't read the instructions and treat them roughly. 

 

I think most of the problems we read about are caused by, as SG6 suggested, the operator.  But there is not doubt that these are targeted to a price point, especially the 60, 70 and 80.   The 90, 105, 125 are, I think, a bit more robust. 


Edited by aeajr, 18 November 2019 - 10:23 AM.

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#11 gkarris

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:20 AM

The other big problem was the focuser. It's fine in principle; the Orion 80-mm GoScope has the same design and it works like a charm. But with the ETX-60 and ETX-70, you have to crank the focuser around multiple times just to switch between the stock eyepieces. The change as you crank is so slow that I had great difficulty telling whether the focus was getting better or worse as I turned it.

LOL.

 

At least yours focused!!! ;)



#12 aeajr

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:24 AM

Isn’t this a refractor?  

The ETX 60, 70 and 80 are F5 achromats.   Yes, this is in the wrong forum. 

 

The ETX 90, 105 and 125 are Maks. 


Edited by aeajr, 18 November 2019 - 10:54 AM.


#13 jgraham

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:28 PM

I can see where some have had problems with the little ETX refractors, but I have always enjoyed mine. I They are simple, lightweight, and give nice, wide, binocular-like views. I particularly enjoy using this time of year to star-hop across the rich star fields and open clusters from Cassiopeia eastwards across Perseus and Auriga and then southwards into Taurus. I have even done some imaging with my ETX-60...

 

Frozen ETX-60 (12-2-2011)-1j.jpg

 

...one tough little scope!

 

 

I have also used my ETX-60 and 80 for EAA using the Revolution Imager 2...

 

ETX-80 RI2 (9-24-2016)-2.jpg

 

It takes a light touch and a bit of patience, but it has been a lot of fun. :)

 

 


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#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:35 PM

I owned an ETX-70 for a while, and wasn't very impressed. As it happens, the optical quality of my particular unit was poor, which was the deciding factor in my getting rid of it. Nowhere near the quality of many $100 non-goto 60- and 70-mm refractors, for instance. I assume that my experience was an outlier, otherwise more people would complain of the same.

 

The other big problem was the focuser. It's fine in principle; the Orion 80-mm GoScope has the same design and it works like a charm. But with the ETX-60 and ETX-70, you have to crank the focuser around multiple times just to switch between the stock eyepieces. The change as you crank is so slow that I had great difficulty telling whether the focus was getting better or worse as I turned it.

 

I bought an ETX-70 from OPT and it also had poor optics.  I sent it in for warranty repair but it came back no better. The one thing I remember is that I was unable to split Castor with it. At the time, more than 15 years ago, Castor was closer than it is today but it was still over 4 arc-seconds. 

 

Castor is a benchmark for me. My 50mm SV F/4 finder splits Castor rather easily.

 

Jon



#15 belgrade

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 01:13 PM

I had the ETX60 and it was a fine little achromat. Go-to and tracking were actually fine and quality of image as expected from a fast 60 mm cheap leans. It was quite enjoyable for a quick grab-n-go viewing. I’ve got what I expected, I guess. When I needed something better I sold it for under $100 and moved on. It should not be praised but it’s unjustified bashing it either. We want perfection for next to nothing? C’mon... get real. This scope wasn’t even designed and manufactured for serious amateur astronomers but very young novices who’ll spend most of the time observing the moon, brightest planets and nebulas and, with a proper solar filter, the sun. It is (was) what it is.

#16 Peter_D

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 02:22 PM

Coincidentally, I received a used ETX-70 today. Like others, I live in an area with high light pollution where navigation is troublesome. I want to see how easy using a 'go to' system is and evaluate if my next scope should have the capability or not. We will be going to the Baltic Sea next summer so hopefully it is a good little travel scope too.

Daytime showed the optics to be relatively sharp to my eyes. Mechanically, it's clear that it's not a premium scope. But as someone who is back enjoying astronomy this past year after a long break, I really can't get over how such powerful 'go to' technology is in such a modest system.

Edited by Peter_D, 18 November 2019 - 03:17 PM.


#17 jgraham

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:02 PM

Speaking of light pollution... the little scopes make great Point-To systems. Just add a laser pointer and then use their GoTo capability to point the laser at targets in the sky. Locate the beam in the finder of your main scope or the scope itself and follow it out to the end. Voila! A Point-To system that works with any scope, binoculars, or just your eyes.

#18 Peter_D

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:24 PM

Speaking of light pollution... the little scopes make great Point-To systems. Just add a laser pointer and then use their GoTo capability to point the laser at targets in the sky. Locate the beam in the finder of your main scope or the scope itself and follow it out to the end. Voila! A Point-To system that works with any scope, binoculars, or just your eyes.

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately for me I live close to Köln-Bonn airport (thankfully not under a main approach but still busy skies) so a laser pointer is not an option for me.



#19 jgraham

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:27 PM

That would be bad. :(

#20 Steve Allison

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:01 PM

I briefly owned 60 mm and 80 mm versions and really wanted to like them because they were compact and were refractors. But the plastic cell and retaining ring on both would not hold the otherwise good objectives in alignment. Both showed very noticeable astigmatism which I was able to adjust out, but even slightly handling the units would case the lens components to shift. I finally gave up out of frustration. I can't stand star images that are not perfectly round.



#21 RRMichigan

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 12:46 PM

I briefly owned 60 mm and 80 mm versions and really wanted to like them because they were compact and were refractors. But the plastic cell and retaining ring on both would not hold the otherwise good objectives in alignment. Both showed very noticeable astigmatism which I was able to adjust out, but even slightly handling the units would case the lens components to shift. I finally gave up out of frustration. I can't stand star images that are not perfectly round.

From my experiences, the ETX line of scopes are very inferior made, over priced plastic toys. Drive and controllers are prone to failure, and OTA parts are prone to breakage. The focus mechanism is the biggest jokes in telescope history, both in use and from a mechanical standpoint. Unit is underweight, and vibrations, wiggles, and the erratic and unpredictable Alt-Azi movements (used manually) are abhorrent. I realize a lot of people like these, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how, unless they have never before used another telscope, not even a cheapo from a department store, and thus do not know any better.


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#22 RRMichigan

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 12:51 PM

I owned an ETX-70 for a while, and wasn't very impressed. As it happens, the optical quality of my particular unit was poor, which was the deciding factor in my getting rid of it. Nowhere near the quality of many $100 non-goto 60- and 70-mm refractors, for instance. I assume that my experience was an outlier, otherwise more people would complain of the same.

 

The other big problem was the focuser. It's fine in principle; the Orion 80-mm GoScope has the same design and it works like a charm. But with the ETX-60 and ETX-70, you have to crank the focuser around multiple times just to switch between the stock eyepieces. The change as you crank is so slow that I had great difficulty telling whether the focus was getting better or worse as I turned it.

 

Your experience is not as an "outlier". The ETX line of scopes are just about the cheapest made, prone to fail and/or break telescope ever made. I own two and I know.



#23 Glass Eye

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 02:52 PM

From my experiences, the ETX line of scopes are very inferior made, over priced plastic toys. Drive and controllers are prone to failure, and OTA parts are prone to breakage. The focus mechanism is the biggest jokes in telescope history, both in use and from a mechanical standpoint. Unit is underweight, and vibrations, wiggles, and the erratic and unpredictable Alt-Azi movements (used manually) are abhorrent. I realize a lot of people like these, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how, unless they have never before used another telscope, not even a cheapo from a department store, and thus do not know any better.

Since I bought a ETX 60 for my son many years ago ( he is now 30 ) at a toy store, it could be considered a toy. It is still fully functional. My new toys are nice too!


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#24 gkarris

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:29 PM

From my experiences, the ETX line of scopes are very inferior made, over priced plastic toys. Drive and controllers are prone to failure, and OTA parts are prone to breakage. The focus mechanism is the biggest jokes in telescope history, both in use and from a mechanical standpoint. Unit is underweight, and vibrations, wiggles, and the erratic and unpredictable Alt-Azi movements (used manually) are abhorrent. I realize a lot of people like these, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how, unless they have never before used another telscope, not even a cheapo from a department store, and thus do not know any better.

I remember when I first got my ETX-70, I knew enough (from using telescopes at school) to want to change out the diagonal and hook up a camera.

 

You couldn't on the ETX-70 it has some weird flip mirror and you had to get a special ring to hook it up that built-in diagonal.

 

Dissapointing.. :(



#25 RRMichigan

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 03:39 PM

Since I bought a ETX 60 for my son many years ago ( he is now 30 ) at a toy store, it could be considered a toy. It is still fully functional. My new toys are nice too!

Problem is, those scopes were not marketed as, nor priced as a toy by Meade. That's the disappointment. They are surely built like a toy, not nearly as bad, but close to the various dollar store, Chinese made kids toys that work once and then fall apart.


Edited by RRMichigan, 16 January 2020 - 03:39 PM.



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