Steps to Set Up the Mead LX200/GPS Telescopes in ALT/AZ Mode

Note that you must be trained by Tammy Smecker-Hane or the Observatory TA before using the Meade LX200 GPS Telescopes! People who have not been trained should not setup the telescope nor touch the drives or keypad. The telescopes are complex, delicate and expensive pieces of equipment that are easily damaged and very costly to repair. Both the 12" and 8" telescopes operate identically, and the manuals for each are identical.

General Notes:

(1)  Scan through menu items using the Up/Down arrows at the bottom of the keypad.
(2)  Select a menu item by hitting ENTER.
(3)  To slew the telescope, hit SLEW (1 on the keypad) and then a number, where 1 is the slowest (normal guiding) speed and 9 is the fastest speed.
(4)  The higher the focal length of the eyepiece (e.g. 40 mm), the smaller the magnification and the larger the visible field of view are. Most star clusters and galaxies are best viewed with the 26 mm eyepiece,  while objects like Jupiter and Saturn are best viewed with a 13 mm eyepiece. Larger objects, like the Orion Nebula and some open clusters, are best viewed with the 40 mm eyepiece.


  1. Set up the tripod. Make sure the legs are fully extended otherwise the screw and spreader will not fit properly. Align the tripod so that the prong (if there is one) is facing North. Using the level, adjust the legs to level the mount.
  2. Put the telescope on top of the mount with the Control Panel facing South. Place the telescope tube horizontal with the opening facing North. Take the cover off the tube. Make sure the RA and DEC drives are locked. The DEC drive lock should be turned until firm, but do not over tighten the lock on the drives if you do so it can lead to  stripping of the drives. This requires a very costly repair. If you use the hard dew shield then you should use counter weights to balance the weight. The better option is to use the Kendrick heating coil and controller.
  3. Screw in the spreader. The easiest way to do this is position the telescope over the hole by looking from beneath with a flashlight to get good alignment between the holes in the mount and telescope. Then insert the screw. If it is not grabbing as you screw, then have a partner slowly move the base of the telescope around until you catch the hole. Be very careful not to strip the threads on the hole! When you're aligned correctly then  you'll feel the base of the telescope turn as you screw. This is easy to do as long as you're aligned well. If not, pull out the screw, look up from the bottom agin and realign. Screw in until the telescope is firmly secure to the mount. Do not over tighten.
  4. Align the finderscope and the telescope + 40mm eyepiece, which has the widest field of view. This can be done during the daytime using objects on the horizon.
  5. Make sure the power switch is in the OFF position before plugging in the electrical cord, otherwise you can seriously damage the electronics. Plug in the handpaddle and install the paddle holder on the handle across from the finder scope. Plug in the microfocuser. Turn the telescope on. When the message warning about looking at the Sun appears, hit the SS key to continue the setup. Contacting the GPS satellites should only take a few minutes. If not, be sure you've got the telescope pointed horizontally so the sensors have access to the sky.
  6. Be sure the telescope mount is set for alt/az and not equatorial mode. Setup-> Telescope-> Mount-> Alt/Az.
  7. Every few months the drives need to be retrained and sensors recalibrated. Do not do this unless the last time you used the telescope it did not point accurately and you're sure the mistake wasn't caused by human error! Under the Setup -> Telescope, choose the Train Drives menu and follow the directions for retraining both the ALT and AZ drives. You'll be asked to point the telescope to a terrestrial object (something which doesn't move with time) and hence this can be done during daytime. Under Setup -> Telescope, choose the Calibrate Sensors and follow directions. In the final stage, you'll be asked to point the telescope to Polaris.
  8. To align the telescope on the sky, choose SETUP -> ALIGN -> 2 STARS. You will be prompted to choose two stars on which to align.  Decide on this before you begin by consulting the Sky Maps at the back of the manual. Double check to be sure you've correctly identified the stars. It is an easy mistake to make! Use the up/down keys at the bottom of the keybad to scroll through the star names. Hit enter to select a star. After the telescope has finished slewing to the star, use the up/down/left/right arrows in the middle of the keypad to center the star in the eyepiece. Hit enter to go to the next star and repeat. If alignment was not successful, then double check that you've correctly identified the stars and redo this step.
  9. To move to objects in the database, hit a key and enter the number of the object, i.e, M = messier catalog, NGC = NGC galaxy catalog, SS = solar system objects. Enter the number of the object or scroll through the solar system menu. Hit Enter, and once the position is calculated hit the Go To button and the telescope will slew to that position.
  10. When changing eyepieces, blow off the dust using the air cannister before installing them. Be sure to safely put away all eyepieces either in small, individual, plastic cases or in the red tool box at the end of the night.
  11. At the end of the night, put the star diagonal in its box and inside the plastic kit for the telescope. Store the 26 and 40 mm eyepiece in the plastic kit, but put any others in the red tool box so that it can be used with other telescopes.