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ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 April 2000

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	advice
Sent:	Saturday, April 29, 2000 20:41:29
From:	Adamantzs@aol.com
i have a celestron co114, am looking at etx125,or the celestron 8. wht's
your thought on the better of the two, & does anyone discount them?
Mike here: I have no experience with Celestron scopes. Of course, larger apertures yield higher magnifications and/or fainter objects but at the price of less portability. So, it depends upon what you want to do with your telescope. As to discounts, except for sales, the ETX-125EC is usually not discounted; too popular apparently.

Subject:	 ETX 125 focusing problems
Sent:	Saturday, April 29, 2000 18:15:17
From:	xeriterran@HAWAII.RR.COM (Coleen Cory)
I'm a newbie so this may be obvious... if so sorry.  Bought my wife a
126 for her big 50, and I think I have proceeded to break it upon
setting it up for her!  Arrrrgh.

I installed the motor focusing device and all was fine.  When I put a
Nikon on the T-mount to test it out the focus had to move quite a long
ways, but OK.  Then it made some peculiar skipping sort of noise, as
though it had hit the stops?   I removed the motor drive to see what was
amiss, but it appeared all right, if a little stiffer than I would have
imagined.  Now after removing the camera, I cannot get back to focus
with the eyepiece!  I removed the gear and the damned shaft started to
creep out of site, though I caught it.  Now I have the hand knob back on
but cannot find focus?

Did I blow it?  Help!

John Learned
(yes I am a physics professor... and no excuse really).
Mike here: It sounds like you may have disconnected the focus shaft from the rear mirror mount (which is the part that moves to achieve focus). This is not an easy fix. However, there is another possibility. If the knob is hitting the back plate before achieving focus, loosen the setscrew and slide the knob a little further out on the shaft. Retighten the setscrew and try to focus.

Added later:

Thanks for the quick response... in the interim I have made some
progress. It seems the real problem is that the focus shaft is too hard
to turn for the little motor drive.  I took that apart and aside from
the fact that it was not assembled quite correctly (a little solder lead
on the circuit card was preventing the case from quite closing and it
would appear that the little nylon idler gear was bottom side up though
it does not seem to matter much in this case), it seems to be OK.  When
the going gets tough, apparently, the little nylon gears just skip,
making a nasty noise (and doubtless self destructing if one continued,
and which has not happened yet thankfully).

In case anyone else runs into the disappearing focus shaft, all one has
to do is face the telescope upwards and the shaft will reappear.  Then
turning CCW the shaft apparently re-engages and one is back in business.
Whew! Everything is now fine by hand.

However, it seems that as one gets a long way back from infinite focus
the focussing is a little stiff and is not smooth either.  I have no
experience with this telescope so do not know what to expect, but it
feels as though there is a little catching...   I could not find any
help on Meade's page about such matters.  Familiar problem?  I am
reluctant to lubricate not knowing what is inside.  (I'll call em
Monday).

Thanks again for your help.  Gotta get things ready as Coleen wants to
see planets at sunset!  Aloha,
Mike here: Glad you got things working. On the ETX-125EC I have the focusing is smooth from close up to infinity.

Subject:	 questions about etx-125ec random slewing problem 
Sent:	Thursday, April 27, 2000 13:22:24
From:	richard.dorfner@netapp.com (Dorfner, Richard)
First off, thank you for a wonderful web site!

I have been thinking about buying an etx-125ec. Then I found your site
and noticed all the complaints folks had about a random slewwing problem
they have with their etx-125ec's..

Naturally, this caused me a bit of concern. So I called meade. What they
had to say was that it was power spikes in teh 12volt supply that was
causing the problem and was typically only with folks using a supply
other then a battery.

Now, call me skeptical, but I'm skeptical.  How common *IS* this
problem? I scanned your web site for examples of "I have an etx-125ec
and I NEVER see this happen" but you know, I didn't see a single
instance of that. I saw an AWFUL lot of 'me too' notes though. Should I
be concerned? *ARE* there any folks who have an etx-125ec who are
perfectly happy with them and do not have any problems with them and
have never seen this random slewing problem? And do you know if the ones
who do have the slewing problem are using power supplies other then the
aa batteries?

Any and all information would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Richard dorfner
rickd@netapp.com
Mike here: I haven't done an exhaustive study of the reports but since it seems to strike at random, anyone might experience it (I did after several sessions of it not happening). Batteries or AC doesn't seem to matter although AC may be more prone if voltage irregularities are a culprit. But so far as I can recall, only Autostar users have experienced this. I don't believe there have been any reports of it occurring with just the standard controller.

Subject:	 ETX-125 Random Slewing
Sent:	Thursday, April 27, 2000 12:22:36
From:	pedroja@terra.com.br (Pedro Junior Ashidani)
Well,
I had the same problem with my etx 125 and I was very upset. Problems
with goto, problems with keeping a object for more than 20 seconds on
FOV. I built a regulated power suply ( a non regulatede 15v + 7812
regulator). But the problem still exist. So I repeated the training
drivers process, at night, after 1 hour waiting the etx decrease the
temperature. And bingo! It srtats working well and every time it has
some problems I do the training drivers operation again.
I hope that this might help Gary Honis.
===================================================================
                    Pedro Junior Ashidani
                 e-mail: pedroja@terra.com.br
           Visite Araxa: http://www.aax.terra.com.br
===================================================================

Subject:	 ETX-125 Random Slewing
Sent:	Wednesday, April 26, 2000 14:19:36
From:	ghonis@epix.net (Gary Honis)
This is an update on my ongoing attempts to get a working ETX-125.
Having just received my 5th ETX-125 from Meade, I was hopeful that I
would finally get a scope that worked properly.  I was told by a Meade
service representative that he would take the scope home to check its
operation and collimation before sending it to me.  The first night out
with the scope it went through the initial easy alignment with a
successful alignment.  After a successful GOTO to M13, the scope had a
high speed random slew upward in declination.  I went through the
alignment process again, and did a GOTO to M13.  It centered M13 pretty
well in a 22mm panoptic, but after a few minutes it had a high speed
slew upward in declination again.  I repeated this process nine more
times, each session ending with a random slew, so I gave up.  I checked
and rechecked all cable connections and removed all possible sources of
interference.  I read on your site the possibility that random slewing
may be caused by a power source exceeding 12V.  I tested the 12V sealed
lead acid battery I was using and it was 12.8 volts.  During the day I
connected the scope to a regulated 12V power supply and I got the same
random slewing problem.  The random slews are occurring now during the
alignment process in both the upward and downward directions in
declination.  If the random slew is a short one, I get a "motor unit
fault" message on the Autostar.  If the random slew does not stop on its
own, I have to kill power to the scope.

It would be good to hear of any fixes for the random slewing problem.  I
am getting tired of all the scope returns to Meade.  Others have
suggested getting my money back on the scope as they have done but Meade
told me that they cannot do that.

I attended the Northeast Astronomy Forum held in Suffern, NY on April
16.  Celestron had the Nexstar 8 on display, turned on and slewing
quietly in a demo mode.  Meade had an ETX-125 on display but it was not
turned on.  Wonder why?:)

Gary Honis
Sugarloaf, PA
ghonis@epix.net
http://members.tripod.com/~ghonis
Mike here: Sorry to hear you are still having problems. It does make me wonder what can be triggering the slew. Line noise, RFI, voltage fluctuations, UFOs, politics?

Subject:	ETX-90EC vs ETX-125EC
Sent:	Sunday, April 23, 2000 12:58:58
From:	Tides98335@aol.com
I am interested in buying the 90EC or 125 EC.  I want the most bang for
my bucks, so I am steering towards the 125.  But, is the 125 that much
better than the 90?  Is it better to save $300 and go for the 90?  I see
that the aperature is bigger for the 125, but will that make a big
difference?
Mike here: Depends upon your idea of what "big difference" means. Yes, you'll be able to use higher magnifications and see fainter objects with the larger telescope. But if you live in a heavily light polluted area and don't plan to take your ETX to dark skies, then the extra aperture will do you no good. Portability may also be a factor. Both models are portable but the -90 is more easily carried.

Subject:	 Missing  mode screws (re: ETX-125EC electronics controller (below)
Sent:	Thursday, April 13, 2000 09:59:38
From:	teddy.johnson@springs.com
This is how my 125 shipped.  I robbed a screw holding the hand box
together to get by untill the folks ar Natural Wonders sent replacement
screws. Looks like the "web-a-thon" is doing ok!

Teddy Johnson

Subject:	 ETX 125 Base ?
Sent:	Thursday, April 13, 2000 06:31:10
From:	bob.brannon@owenscorning.com (Brannon, Bob)
	GREAT SITE !
	I have my ETX-125 with N on tripod in the "North" direction AND the
Control Panel on the EAST  side of the tripod.
	I do not have any problems with tracking or finding objects.
	I got my scope in November 1999.

	Comments ??
	Thanks

      Bob Brannon
Mike here: Hum. Odd.

Subject:	 Meade heavy duty field tripod
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 20:36:29
From:	dcampbell.unibeacon@worldnet.att.net (Donald Campbell)
Do you have any reliable evaluation of the Meade #887 fixed height heavy
duty field tripod, wedge, and tripod adapter for the ETX-125EC?  Since
it sells for about $360, I assume it avoids some problems reported on
the Meade #883 field tripod.  Is there any information on whether or
under what circumstances it would be worth the extra cost?

Don Campbell
Mike here: I believe this is the same tripod as used on Meade's larger scopes. So it should work well with the ETX-125EC. It is worth the extra cost? Depends on whether you need that extra stability or not.

Subject:	etx 
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 11:15:56
From:	Astro1807@aol.com
in the archives i read that new etx 125's had less primary mirror
obstruction, only about 30% instead of sky and telescopes reported 40$, 
do you know if this is true?
clear skies
chris
Mike here: There has been a lot of discussion about the obstruction figure. Search the site for "obstruction" and you can read them all.

Subject:	 ETX 125 in for service
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 14:45:42
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
Well, I'm sending the 125 back to Meade AGAIN to correct the random
slewing problem, which in my case happens at least once every thirty
minutes of tracking. This time they swear they have a fix. We'll see.
I'll let you know what happens when I get it back, probably at least a
month from now.

Bill Collins

Subject:	 ETX-125EC electronics controller
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 10:51:45
From:	jimm@tgf.tc.faa.gov (Jim Mauroff)
Just purchased an ETX-125 and I am in the process of reading the manual.
On page 11 under using the mode screws the manual mentions removing
either mode screw a or b to select the hemisphere and polar align the
scope.  The problem is the controller was shipped with both mode screws
removed.  Is this a problem?  As soon as I'm done digesting the manual I
am going to setup and try to polar align the scope.

Thanx,
jim.mauroff@tc.faa.gov
Mike here: Well, it could be a problem. According to the online manual: "Leaving both A and B screws in place (or removing both screws) keeps the telescope in its original Alt/Az mode." So with both screws missing you are stuck with alt/az in the Northern Hemisphere.

Subject:	 views in etx-125 vs 8" Dob
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 20:42:35
From:	robisimo@earthlink.net (ROBERT HALSEY)
For the last four years I have spent a lot of time at sea as a coast
guard officer and have learned my way around the sky during celestial
navigation exercises and binocular observation.  Having recently been
transferred to a land based job, I'm now looking into purchasing a
telescope to continue my interest.  I have narrowed my choice  to that
between the etx125 and an 8 inch dob.  I've really researched
throroughly and know the advantages and disadvantages with the following
exception .... what will be the viewing difference between the 8" and 5"
aperature in terms of concrete images I can understand?  I have gone to
star parties where I used the Dob, but no one had the 125.  What will
the viewing difference be?  I have been unable to find this information
on this site or in any "how to buy a telescope guide".  Obviously I
understand that the larger mirror collects more lights and thus more
images, but can someone translate that into the language of a neophyte
astronomer?  (ie does that mean I can see jupiter's red spot with one
and not the other, nebulas with one and not the other).  Thank's for the
excellent site!

Rob Halsey
Mike here: Glad you like the site. As to what you can see with a 5" vs an 8" the answer is simple. More details, brighter images, higher magnifications. Of course, what you give up with a Dob vs other telescopes is the mount and/or drive systems. You can add drives to a Dob mount but that adds to the cost. If you want computer control and if you want to do piggyback astrophotography, go for the ETX. If you just want to see more and work harder at finding objects, go for the Dob. Of course, will the visual improvements be that much better in the 8" vs the 5". Only you can decide that. Good luck.

Subject:	 To ETX or not to ETX that is the question
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 14:40:19
From:	georgeb@fdn.co.uk (George M Barrow)
Surprised and delighted to find this site as I am trying to decide
whether to go for the ETX-125EC or save up some more and go for a larger
aperture telescope.  It seems to be a classic problem, a smaller
portable scope I can take away from the city lights or a larger aperture
that will have to cope with them. The ETX seems like a really good
smaller aperture option and I have read MANY comments about it from
current users along with S&T reports etc.  One thing that puts me off is
that I have only really heard reference limited photography of Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon, a pretty limited range.  Would anyone know
where I might see any examples of user's attempts at deep sky objects to
see how they turned out?  I would be thinking of using both film and
CCD. Hearing (and viewing) your experience in this area would be really
useful to all trying to make up their minds. Many thanks to any who
respond and congratulations on setting up a really useful and
informative site.

George Barrow (Manchester, England)
georgeb@fdn.co.uk
Mike here: Check out the Astrophotography Galleries on my ETX site. Most examples were done with the ETX-90 models but more recently there have been ETX-125EC photos. Of course, if the -90 can capture it so can the -125.

Subject:	 Question about the "125"
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 11:21:40
From:	MFRiesco@directvgla.com (Riesco, Michael F)
The folks at my local "Nature Company" tell me that Meade has supposedly
fixed the random slewing problems associated with early versions of the
"125".  Yet, from a source none other than yourself, I now read that
random slewing is apparently alive and well and still living in
"today's" 125s (at least in yours!).

I am very interested in purchasing a "125", and have decided NOT to
purchase a "90" (which I was all set to do, until the 125 appeared on
the scene).  BUT, how long will I have to wait until Meade finally,
ultimately, completely gets its act together on this 5-inch marvel?!  It
seems every time I think/hope/pray that all the "bugs" have finally been
worked out, there's another posting on your site to make me believe
otherwise.

Any ideas on when the true "non-Beta" 125's will be available for
purchase??

Thanks a bunch, and please keep up your great site!!

	  Mike Riesco    (mfriesco@directvgla.com)     
Mike here: Obviously I don't know when the fix is in nor do I know why after several near perfect sessions with the ETX-125EC, it went bananas once. Like you, I thought this one would have not had the problem. Now I have to try to get it to repeat.

Subject:	 ETX-125 Random Slewing
Sent:	Sunday, April 9, 2000 20:15:38
From:	ghonis@epix.net (Gary Honis)
> Oh there it is, several degrees away. Lousy way to start. GOTO Saturn; same results. So,
> thinking maybe I really didn't have Daylight Savings Time set, I powered off and on and redid everything. Yep, DST was set.
> Easy Aligned OK. GOTO Jupiter; in finderscope FOV (whew). Then GOTO Saturn; in finderscope FOV. While one of my
> guests was looking at Saturn, the scope decided to slew several degrees away from Saturn!
>
Hi Mike,

I noticed the above in your report of 4/3/00.  I have had the random
slewing occur on my ETX-125; I did not notice the location of the hand
controller at the time.  The scope was returned to Meade after two
unsuccessful attempts to repair it.  The text from my letter returning
the scope to Meade is as follows:


> The telescope continues to have a problem with the RA(AZ) drive.  The RA
> drive does now move to commands from the hand controller or autostar. (Earlier
>
>  the scope was locked up in RA/AZ)
>  The autostar was returned to me with version 1.3 installed instead of version 2.0
> as per RGA# PM3646.  When I tried using the scope with version 1.3, the first
> GOTO object selected was off center by 3 to 5 degrees in RA.  Following this
> with additional GOTO selections resulted in objects being even further removed
> from center.  There is a large amount of backlash/slop in the RA(AZ) drive that
> makes training the drive like playing a game of ping pong.  I made numerous attempts
> to correct this by calibrating the motors and training the drives.  The DEC drive
> works well.  The RA drive is very difficult to train because of the backlash/slop.
>  A training session consists of pressing the RA controller button, waiting a few
> seconds for the drive to engage, seeing a sticking effect as the drive begins to
> move, then the drive jumps quickly and with the RA controller button depressed,
> the object drifts past the center mark.  I have upgraded the autostar to version 2.0h
> from your web site and this did not correct the problem.
>
> The telescope has also been experiencing random slewing.  Sometimes the RA drive
> continues to move without stopping.  On two or three occasions the DEC drive moved
> quickly on its own off the object that it was tracking.  The autostar display gives a
> motor unit failure message.
>
Mike, you didn't say if you got a motor unit failure message after the
random slew.

After returning the ETX-125 to Meade with the problems described above,
they shipped me a new scope.  It had a bad RA drive and was out of
collimation.  This was the third scope shipment to me from Meade after
returning my original scope! A Meade representative will now take the
next scope to be shipped to me home with him and test the drives and
collimation.  I think this is a great gesture on Meade's part but surely
this can't be done for all the ETX-125's that Meade is shipping.  I have
had a few messages from others that have read about my earlier ETX-125
problems on your site and they reported similar multiple scope returns
to Meade.  Maybe we are the unlucky few that have experienced problems
but based on my experience with trying to get a working scope, I wonder
about the long term durability and operation of the ETX-125, if I ever
do get one that works.

Gary Honis
Sugarloaf, PA
ghonis@epix.net
http://members.tripod.com/~ghonis
Mike here: I didn't say that I got a motor unit failure message because I didn't.

Subject:	 125 random slewing
Sent:	Tuesday, April 4, 2000 14:01:48
From:	jah@helix.nih.gov (John Hanover)
I read with interest your observations with the Autostar and the ETX 125
EC on the night of 4/3/2000. As you know from several of my postings, I
am a fan of the ETX 125. I too have found that the pointing accuracy is
remarkable for a scope in this price range; it rarely misses. That
random slewing problem you described happens with my unit about every
3rd night out with Autostar.  It goes off several degrees ( usually in
Dec) and stops.  I have found that the only solution is to realign and
then everything is fine.  I don't believe it is related to power supply,
easy-mount or RFI.  My bias is that is some debris which is dislodged
and interferes with the optical encoders.  How annoying is it?   I have
had my returned scope since December and, as of yet, it has not prompted
me to return the scope to Meade just for this fix.  However, since I
teach school children using the Autostar,  that may be in my future. 
Fortunately, the quick realignment usually gets me through the rest of
the night.  Of course, the quirks seem to come out in any scope when you
are doing a demonstration....maybe the microprocessor gets nervous.

Thanks for your great site!

John

John A. Hanover
Chief, Laboratory of Cell Biochemistry and Biology
NIDDK
National Institutes of Health
Bldg 8 Rm 402
8 Center Dr MSC 0850
NIH Bethesda MD 20892-0850
Ph: (301) 496-0943
FAX : (301) 496-9431
e mail: jah@helix.nih.gov
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/intram/people/jhanover.htm

Subject:	 Hello from Mexico
Sent:	Sunday, April 2, 2000 20:03:39
From:	accrama@yahoo.com (Mario De Leo)
Hello,

I was thrilled to find your page and know that such a thing existed for
ETX 90/125 users around the world. I live in Mexico City and own a ETX
125 EC since January 2000.  In case you wanted to know, my ETX has an
Autostar computer, two eyepieces (can't remember the mm. right now, but
they are 76X and 150X), the deluxe field tripod, the hard carry case.
I've just bought the adapter for the camera, but have not bought the T
ring adapter for that !

The use of the ETX is very limited because of the light pollution caused
by Mexico City (20,000,000 inhabitants) and rarely can one see objects
beyond magnitude 10 that are not stars.  I can see the Orion Nebula
perfectly, Saturn and Jupiter with considerable detail, but things like
the Sombrero Galaxy or the Eta Carinae nebula still elude me.

The day before yesterday (march 31st) I went to a friend's house at the
outskirts of the city, so I could have a lower light pollution for the
yearly "Messier Marathon".  I am not, by far, the best sky
searcher/seeker in the world, but I could just spot 31 of the 110
objects with the telescope.  Mostly I could spot star clusters, one
globular cluster, one star nebula and plenty of other regular nebulas. 
It was fun, none the less, but 5 inches perhaps is just not enough.

I'll see what results I get having the T ring adapter for the camera
(hope to get it soon).

Other interesting observations I have made were: The lunar eclipse of
Jan. 20th.  That's about it. It is a nice telescope, in design and in
functionality.  The price could have been better, being in Mexico the
price skyrocketed about $200 US dollars for customs and taxes (telescope
only), the whole package came up $400-$500 dollars more than in the US.

Oh well...such thing for third world countries.

I had my doubts between the ETX and the Nexstar, but the Celestron
telescope just seemed to horrible in design and badly built (don't ask
me why).  Plus, most magazines do suggest you have the Autostar computer
for bad searchers like me !

Ok, I won't make this mail too long.
Thanks for your time,

Mario De Leo
(age 19)

=====
"UNDERSTANDING IS HAPPINESS"
-Arthur Charles Clarke
http://travel.to/rama
ICQ: 11387665

Free Tibet from China !

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