ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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 and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject: Re: ETX drive problems. Sent: Monday, April 30, 2001 16:01:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: Ron The wires going up through the RA bolt are the most delicate part of the telescope assembly; you should use upmost caution there and only unscrew the bolt UNTIL you can back off the threaded clutch plate instead; that way the wires do not have to turn. It does sound like you may have sheared one.....there is a guide to getting the top "turntable" off on Mike Weasner's ETX site www.weasner.com/etx under the Tech Tips...it has to do with needle bearing replacements. It can guide you through getting the turntable off without any further damage....HOWEVER, have you checked to make sure that you simply have not pulled the blue plug off the prongs in the base??? On the other end there is a small plug with the four wires that plugs into a base circuit board...check that first. Best of luck; that is a bad spot for a wire break. Contact me if you need help. Clay Sherrod -----Original Message----- From: Ron Clay, I've been contemplating the "Tune up" tips for my ETX125 for a few months now as I seem to have quite severe dec and RA sloppiness. Tonight I checked through the varying points you sugest may cause problems and decided that the RA clutch may be greasy (it was). On re-assembly, after cleaning with isopropyl alcohol, I found the RA drive worked OK but the dec drive doesn't work. When I press the dec drive buttons on the standard handset, I can only hear a click from the dec motor but get no motion. My Autostar reports motor failure. I suspect that when removing the RA clamp bolt I may have damaged the wire harness to the dec motor at some point. Is there any way that I can get access to check the wiring to see if I have nipped it anywhere under the top cover? I intend to perform the modifications you sugest on your site later this week. Hopefully you may be able to give me some guidance. As you and others have said, the ETX range are fine telescopes - pity about the mechanics. Thanks in anticipation RonMike here: Just another reason owners should use caution and not go into this type of surgery unless they are willing to accept the risks.
Subject: N / S switch question Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2001 22:30:48 From: EXXBEAR@aol.com Great site!!!!! I am new to this and i have a question. I just purchased an etx- 125 with 883 tripod. In the directions for the tripod set up it said your north / south switch must be set . I understand this but i can not locate it on my etx-125. Does it have one? Is it only on the etx-90? For the life of me I can't find one. Where is it if etx-125 has one? If not, how do you set from north to south hemisphere? Thank you for your time. Don, from the northern hemisphere of floridaMike here: Only the original ETX (now known as the ETX-90RA) has the N-S switch. Your scope is probably already set for the Northern Hemisphere. If you use just the standard handcontroller (not the Autostar) see the manual for how to change the hemisphere with the handcontroller.
Subject: Testing the 125 after Meade Repair Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 21:41:44 From: email@example.com (Thomas Brown) I feel a bit like the Hubble team after the optics were repaired! I'm finally getting the results I hoped for from the 125 after Meade fixed the optics. I've only had a couple of good nights, but Thursday was one of the best ever, and I was rewarded with great views of the crescent moon [with earthlight making some features of the rest visible. Detail that I had trouble with before the collimation by Meade is crisp and clear [e.g. little craters like Picard and Pierce in Mare Crisium, the rays from Messier A. Also a good crisp edge to the moon with black space beyond, no washout of the image! Just how bad the pre-fix images were is only becoming clear to me now [a little bit a reverse of your editorial for this month, I kept trying to convince myself that it was my eyes, conditions etc rather than the optics]. As for favorite deep space objects, and double stars, as I mentioned in my last message Castor is now easy to crisply focus, even tonight when the clouds were rolling in. I also resolved the companion to Polaris for the first time. Even though they were visible in the scopes original condition, seeing crisp images of easy but spectacular doubles like Cor Caroli and Algeiba makes looking a joy [no longer having to wonder if it's my eyes or the scope sure helps!]. Had good looks at deep space objects like M 81 and 82 and M 64 [black eye nebula], although my suburban location isn't ideal for dim galaxies or nebulae, these are treats and are quite a lot brighter than they were with my ETX 90. But the biggest and best surprise came last, I took a look at M 13 the Great Hercules cluster for the first time this season. Last Year I had the 90 and could only see some mottling, no clear star images, because high magnification in the 90 mm scope made the image just too dim. With the 125 I got clear star images, and not just around the edges, but had a definite sparkling in the heart of the cluster as well! Then my Autostar blanked on me, no idea why, but I'd had a great night and whatever Meade did, it seems to have worked wonderfully! Incidentally Clay's observing guides to Leo, Bootes and Ursa Major, are the kinds of things I love [lists of things to check out, suggestions of how challenging they are] definitely I'll print these out and have them in hand the next time I go out! Once again thanks for the great site, as has already been mentioned here, you were robbed by S&T not mentioning this site! Tom Brown
Subject: confused Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2001 20:12:27 From: Nick.Babaniaris@Halliburton.com (Nick Babaniaris) I am still waiting on my etx 125 ec to arrive from the US, although I have received the autostar controller. How do you know that you have bought the latest version of these products, although I've been told from natural wonders that the scope is the latest version, as the previous version had many problems which have been fixed. Is there a run-down of the first to lastest etx 125 ec scopes and autostar controllers, what problems they had and what fixes have been done? Does Meade list somewhere on their web-site or their boxes which batch you have bought, its date and model number, and differences to the previous models. It is difficult to keep track of changes and fixes if you do not know what vintage model you actually own. Any information would be appreciated. I have read previous articles from your website on various problems some scopes have such as random slewing etc and would like to know if successive models had these problems fixed by the manufacturer. Also how does one know that they have bought the latest model. thanks Nick B Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: When you connect the Autostar to the scope and power-on you will see the version number. Go to Utilities->Statistics menu to see the full version number. The current version on Meade's web site is 2.1ek. However, I suspect you'll see 2.0(something). If you have the download cable, you probably want to update to the current version. As to the scope itself, there are some numbers on the outside of the shipping box that Meade can decode to determine the manufacture date. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the one NW shipped you is old. If there are two pieces of foam between the rear of the telescope tube and the base then you should be OK. If those pieces of foam are missing, well, good luck. And other than the Autostar help file, there is no complete listing of mods and improvements.
thanks for the quick reply! So if you do not get 2 pieces of foam between the tube and the base, then does it mean its not the newest version? NW told me recently that they had problems with their old stock and replaced it with new. Also what do you mean by good luck, and what can one expect? How do you access the autostar help file to get the list of mods? thanks Nick BMike here: Meade started shipping ETX-125EC scopes with the foam in mid-late 1999 (I think it was). That was to correct a shipping damage problem that was occurring. The scope would get out of collimation during the shipping. The foam added more protection. You should retain this foam for future packing. The other problem that was corrected at the same time was excessive image shift during focusing. If you have foam and you don't see excessive image shift then you should be OK. You access the help file from the Autostar Updater in Windows.
Subject: great news on your scope Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2001 04:35:09 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Loran - What a great report on Mike Weasner's ETX site, and thank you from all of us for the nice comments. The web site is an encyclopedia not just for ETX users (but primarily so!), but also for amateur astronomers with any type of scope or interest. I am delighted that your scope turned out so well....it is good to hear positive feedback like this. As you very well said, these telescopes CAN perform the way they are advertised and designed.....they just need our help, it seems! Hope you keep have such good results...keep us posted! Clay Sherrod
Subject: ETX Performance Enhancement Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 04:17:07 From: email@example.com (Loran L. Anthony) Just writing to confirm Bobs comments on the ETX Enhancement techniques recommended by Mr. Sherrod. First off I must say that fortunately my 125 didn't come with most of the problems I hear many ETX'ers complain about, it was a pretty tight scope to begin with, and for the most part still is (Knocking on Wood). It would more or less, more times than not, put objects within the fov of the finderscope if not always the fov of the eyepiece (26mm), and would track considerably well in polar mode with minor adjustments. After reading Mr.Sherrod's outstanding series on his techniques for the perfect Go To ETX, I was a little leery of messing with a good thing, but took the plunge anyway, and must say I'm happy I did. Since my 125 was pretty tight mechanically I downloaded and installed the new firmware from Meade (2.4 & 2.1EK, talk about nerve racking, you would have thought I was making a decision that would affect world peace...), which went well, and proceeded to update my tours, asteroids, comets etc., also no problem there. From this point I followed Mr. Sherrod's advice too the letter inclusive of using my 12mm reticle for precise alignment in polar mode, the stars used were Procyon and Alderbaran. The results were........ Phenomenal!!!! After the motors kicked in and started tracking Alderbaran, I decided my first test would be Jupiter since its close, with bated breath I punched up Jupiter on the Autostar and pressed Go To... slewing was smooth and quick in the right direction until it stopped suddenly and did what I guess is a precision alignment (surprised me) and then beeped. Upon my first look into the finderscope I didn't see Jupiter were I usually expect it to be, somewhere within the fov, so I shifted my gaze unexpectingly toward the crosshairs of the finder, and to my surprise there was a yellowish glow dead center, I said to myself... no way (slightly edited), I then proceeded to look into the eyepiece (26mm), and there, dead center, was Jupe in all its glory, not slowly drifting in either direction but dead still,... ok even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes so I punched up Saturn, not dead center but touching the crosshairs of the finder, Beta Mon, M44, Castor, M35, Rigel, Mintaka, M42 (Trapezium slightly off center, but beautiful), Gamma Leo.... all in the fov of the 26mm none no more than slightly off center, all tracked without drift. Pretty good. But lets put it to the test. Switching from the 26mm ep to my 15mm ep (Y Leo... beautiful double in the 15mm, diffraction rings around both stars) I first slewed to Betelgeuse (right there), waited for the beep and then directly to Jupiter.... very slightly off center in the 15mm, outstanding. I then centered Jupe and went in the house for about 20 min., returned, and was it still dead center.... yep!!! Houston, the ETX has landed...... Gentleman if this scope continues to operate to these standards, this will be the scope we thought we bought (:. Mike, thanks again for this very informative site, and please give many kudos and best regards to Mr. Sherrod for all his time and help. Actually I think Meade needs to do some serious butt kissing to both of you guys for snatching their giblets from the fire. And for those of you who have yet to enhance your ETX through Mr. Sherrod's techniques, please do so, and enjoy your investment instead of dreading it. Dark Nights and Clear Skies Thanks Again, Tony
Subject: ETX-125 back from Meade Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 18:49:28 From: DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland) Mike and Clay requested I post the results of preliminary testing of my scope after it is returned from Meade. I originally sent the scope into Meade with a random slew problem in Declination. That seems to be cured. But when I first set up the ETX after reset, retrain. recalibrate etc. pointing was accurate for a while but then seemed to degrade. I realigned it and tried it again. Pointing seemed worse so I tried setting alt/az percentages. Didn't help. Transparency was getting much worse so I parked the scope. Woops! It parked about 10 to 15 degrees short on RA and a little higher on Dec. Do you know what would cause that? I thought that maybe it was because I adjusted the alt/az percentages. Night before last I tested it again. Used one star alignment from my Condo porch and pointing was much better this time. Aligned on Spica and then went to Algorab (nice double in the ETX-125 by the way) and was almost perfectly centered. Admittedly not far from Spica. Slewed to a few other stars and found all within the field of view. Parked OK this time. Maybe the grease is being redistributed, who knows. By the way I noticed before I adjusted the Alt. percentage it would slew briefly in the opposite direction when I used the "up" arrow. Do you know what would cause that? DonMike here: Did you check all the settings in the Autostar? If you sent the Autostar to Meade it may have come back slightly different. Other than that, I'm at a loss.
Checked all the settings; correct site, time, daylight savings, telescope model, date you name it. Just brought the telescope in now. Tested it again. Didn't point well so just for the heck of it I slewed back to my align star (Spica) and it was at least 5 degrees off! Looks like Mr. Sherrod is going to have some more business.
Subject: Results of Meade repairs (ETX-125) Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 15:05:46 From: DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland) I finally got my scope back from Meade (3 weeks) and decided a preliminary pointing test. Followed Clays instructions e.g. Reset, Trained, Calibrated and set Alt/Az percentages. One thing I noticed was there seemed a lot more play in the RA than before I sent the scope back. When I finally did the Az percentages it needed a 50 percent change! It's been cloudy here when I get home so I decided to test it on landmarks during the day. When I was having random slew problems before I sent it in for repairs, it was pointing at terrestial objects perfectly. Now it's a half a degree to a full degree off, sometimes to the right of the object sometimes to the left. No consistency. I'm discouraged and though it's a brand new scope, I'm thinking of sending it to Clay. DonAnd an update:
The ETX-125 is now pointing properly again, at least for terrestrial landmarks. I decided to reset, retrain and recalibrate in accordance with Clay Sherrod's instructions (always follow his instructions to the letter). The acid test will eventually come when I get clear skies here in So. Calif. One thing of interest, when I got the scope back the RA clamp seemed to be a little stiffer. Consequently I didn't tighten it as much as I could have. causing obvious slippage or play as I called it in my last message. I realize it's made of plastic and can be broken but making sure it's tight is important too. I'm not messing with the Alt/Az percentages until I can star align the scope. It's pretty clear to me it's not going to need a 50 percent adjustment this time. I'll keep you posted. A sincere thanks to Clay and Mike for all the help. You guys are great!Mike here: Glad to hear you got things working properly. I wouldn't have touched the percents until actual sky testing showed it was necessary. In fact, I have not adjusted them on mine (which still has a slight creep after slew; so maybe one of these nights I will adjust them).
Subject: thin needle roller thrust bearing for ETX125 Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 05:08:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thomas Meier) First I want to thank you and "Dr. Clay" and all the others for your great work! Andy Papathanassiou described on Monday, April 16 a modification idea with a thin needle roller thrust bearing of similar diameter to the base of telescope. I have done that mod last week. I have not tested well yet, but the mod seems to be very successful. I took a FAG bearing Type AXK150190 (Outer diameter 190mm, inner diameter 150mm, 5mm high) with two thin "counterpart washer rings" (I don't know the right word for german "Anschluss-Scheibe") type AS150190, 1mm thick. They are fastened with a strong double sided duct tape. The total thickness is 7mm, 1mm more than before. I think SKF has the same type numbers. Total cost here in Germany about $100. The base seems to be much more stable and _without_ any "play" and nearly no friction. The assembly is not very difficult - I have documented it in some pictures. All you need is a bit mechanical experience and a stout heart ;-)) You have to cut a bit metal off the ribs of the upper part away and 6 small niches for the upper screws. In the next days I will sent a pictured article to you which describes all. ************************************** *!! But be aware - the warranty will be lost !!* ************************************** Furthermore Andy wrote: >install it in place of the three "plastic" pads currently used for >stability and slip between the main telescope base and the fork arm That takes me wonder: I found in my 125 just a ca. 5mm thick teflon washer with an outer dia of about 70-80mm... >It would certainly be more stable and might even allow smoother >rotation of the scope through its range of motion whether the load is >through the middle of the base, as in Alt-Az mode, or offset in the YES! >The bearing and race >can be coated with teflon-like substances that will make them >rust-proof, for the most part, so no grease will be needed. I hesitate I took white lithium grease, combined with molycote powder. >First, I'm not sure that the two halves can be totally separated >so that the bearing can be centered on the base. They can. The big nut in the center is fixed with loctide but can be loosen.. >Are there any wires or other parts in the way that would make it >difficult to completely separate the two base halves? Just the 4 wires of the DEC. They can be loosen from the plug in the base and slipped through the hole of the clamp screw in the middle. >Secondly, you have so many great ideas from people on your sight, I'm a little >skeptical that no one has mentioned this idea before. Maybe it was >asked and answered before my time. Now, done ;-) cu Thomas -- GMX - Die Kommunikationsplattform im Internet. http://www.gmx.net
Subject: ETX 125 and 883 Questions Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 20:08:42 From: email@example.com (Nick Petranovic) I have been enjoying your site for the past few months since becoming the proud owner of an ETX 60 and 883 tripod combo for Christmas. I want to thank you again for all of the info you make available to us newbies. Your site, contributors and Clay's informative articles helped influence my decision to recently purchase an ETX 125 from the local Natural Wonders going-out-of-business sale. I was able to score the scope and an Autostar for a reasonable sale price and they gave me another 883 tripod for 1 cent! I couldn't pass it up! The 60/883 will now go to the kiddies! The crummy Michigan weather broke a few nights after the purchase and was able to get some first light. From a heavily light polluted rear yard I could make Jupiter's larger cloud bands and see Saturn's rings. I was very impressed. I have yet to attach the Autostar since I can only visually see a few stars from this site. I'll continue to use the standard controller for awhile and learn the in's and out's of the basics before moving onto the fancy stuff. To get to my question/concerns: Clay routinely advises against the 125/883 combination due to the offset center of gravity in the polar mode and the overall lightweight design of the tripod. I must say I have to agree that the basic tripod is just a little too unstable to trust in the polar mode (not that I am there yet...just planning ahead). I mounted the 125 to the 883 that is stiffened by the addition of the tray I constructed following the instructions in "Another Meade Tripod Modification." I must say that this additional tray really keeps the tripod legs spread. I have no fear of little feet bumping one leg out from under the top heavy setup. I added my leg straps to the setup and feel even more stability is gained, however I do not extend the legs out at all because of the kids. My first question is: Has anyone ever experimented with securing or stabilizing a tripod to the ground using tent stakes set between the legs and short rubber tie downs looped over the bracing arms and hooked to the stakes? (It seems to me that that may help prevent a tip over, but since it's not anywhere on your site it's probably a bad idea, right?) My second question is: Has anyone used or evaluated the JMI Megawedge? They advertise it as being able to fit the "Meade Field Tripod" and working with the 125, but they do not specify which model of Field Tripod it fits. Since the EQ head comes off of the 883, will the Megawedge fit there? Is the 125 / 883 / Megawedge combo more stable? The Megawedge appears to move the center of gravity back over the tripod where it belongs and looks like it may be a good solution to putting the 125 into a stable polar mode. The JMI ads only show Celestron products in use with the Megawedge and reviews on your site only cover their Megapod and older Wedge. Clear skies, NickMike here: I don't have any problems with the #883 tripod and the ETX-125EC, but then I don't have the leg extensions extended and I mount in Alt/Az mode. I seem to recall seeing some telescope users tie their tripods down with something like tent stakes. See like a reasonable idea in high traffic areas. Don't recall any JMI Megawedge comments.
Subject: separating the ETX base and fork arms Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 05:06:22 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.com Andy - Mike is correct; do not attempt to do what you are describing. I work on about two ETX telescopes daily and the most difficult repair or "enhancement" job is that requiring separation of the telescope's base. It is this juncture that also creates the greatest number of electrical wiring problems. YES, there is a bundle of wires that passes through your main telescope axle up into the right fork arm for your entire altitude (DEC) motor and circuitry assembly; these are very small wires and are EASILY sheared from simply moving them. To remove the base from its fork arms requires that a spanner wrench be applied to a large lock nut inside the base through which the wires are routed; they also pass through a 1/2" slotted bolt very tightly and in many cases are already damage from normal rotation when I see them. You will most certainly damage (or be required to cut) these wires to do what you are attempting. Furthermore, I have found NO alternative that provides and more stability and smoothness than that already installed; the telescope assembly that rides on those three plastic pads is so light....if it were a heavy piece of machinery, I could possibly see the need for heftier support. It simply will be overkill on your ETX scope. While the warranty is still intact (and it is a good warranty), simply enjoy the "outside" world of the scope...once the warranty has expired, the first thing I would do would be de-greasing and total "tune up!" Good luck, and I hope this helps. Clay Sherrod
Subject: Thrust bearing for ETX-125? Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 13:34:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Andy Papathanassiou) Thank you for a great sight. I am a new owner of an ETX-125 and find the information on this sight to be invaluable. I have not performed Clay's tune up yet, although I plan to do that before long. I was wondering if, in your opinion, it would be OK to get a thin needle roller thrust bearing of similar diameter to the base of telescope and install it in place of the three "plastic" pads currently used for stability and slip between the main telescope base and the fork arm base? It would certainly be more stable and might even allow smoother rotation of the scope through its range of motion whether the load is through the middle of the base, as in Alt-Az mode, or offset in the Polar position. Bearings can be purchased through any automotive parts dealer that stocks SKF or similar type bearings. The bearing and race can be coated with teflon-like substances that will make them rust-proof, for the most part, so no grease will be needed. I hesitate to try this for two reasons. First, I'm not sure that the two halves can be totally separated so that the bearing can be centered on the base. Are there any wires or other parts in the way that would make it difficult to completely separate the two base halves? Secondly, you have so many great ideas from people on your sight, I'm a little skeptical that no one has mentioned this idea before. Maybe it was asked and answered before my time. No need to try and reinvent the wheel while wrecking my scope in the process! Thanks, in advance for your response. AndyMike here: That's an interesting concept. But as a general comment, especially with a new scope, I would not rush into making serious mods. See how the scope does over time.
Subject: Fw: Celestron tripods Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 02:58:46 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: scott The tripods sound like a good deal...I wish you would reconsider on the hefty Meade #887; it is absolutely ideal for the ETX 125. Nonetheless, if you choose to go with the Nexstar tripod, by all means opt for the model #93497; otherwise, you are getting no better support (which is nil for the ETX 125) that offered by the Meade "Deluxe Field Tripod #883. You will find that - with some minor in-home ingenuity and adaptations - this tripod and wedge will be a very good platform for your ETX 125. Good luck and let us now how it turns out! Clay Sherrod
Subject: Nexstar Tripod for ETX 125 Sent: Friday, April 13, 2001 09:29:39 From: Scott.Messing@cendant.com (Messing, Scott) I have been reading about using the Nexstar Tripod for use with the ETX 125. I am looking to replace my Deluxe Field Tripod and think this may be a good alternative for a lot less money that the #887 tripod. I found that Celestron has two tripods available for the Nexstar 5. One is the Nexstar 4&5 tripod #93497. This model has the tubular legs and comes with the wedge. The other model is #93593 and looks similar to the Meade Deluxe Field Tripod I already own. I found the model #93593 at a local Natural Wonders for $49.00, but they don't have the #93497 (tubular model). Interestingly enough, the tubular model w/wedge, generally sells for less than the model similar to the Deluxe field tripod. $149 vs. $189. My question is, which one would offer the most stable platform for the ETX 125? and are they good alternatives to the #887? Thanks, Scott Messing
Subject: Ready to purchase etx-125ec Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 20:02:11 From: Guitar@adelphia.net (Eric Michalowski) Been reading for a good hour or so through your site. I found a new in the box 125 with field tripod and autostar on ebay for 900.00. I was looking because I want to get one and get into gazing the heavens. The price sounds good, should I buy locally from a dealer or save the 350.00. Also I'd like to know about the set ups you do (37 point) or whatever its called. Thanks I'll be at your site often. EricMike here: If you get the used one you might want to consider Clay Sherrod's Tuneup Service (the 37 points you mentioned) on the Telescope Tech Tips page. But do that after you learn whether it even needs it or not. Clay's service is good insurance when buying a used scope. On the other hand, you can get a new one, in warranty, from an established and trusted dealer (many listed on the Astronomy Links page) and feel better at the start.
Subject: Nexstar Tripod For ETX 125 Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 15:56:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeffrey Kilmer) I recently went to a Nature Store's closout sale and bought a Nextstar 4 tripod for $109.00. It is a very solid tripod and works great with my ETX 125. All I needed to do was drill some 1/4 inch holes in the base and I used some 3/4 inch length screws to secure the ETX to the tripod. The Nexstar 4 tripod works so much better than the 883 tripod proiding a very stable mount for my telescope. Damping times were reduced from over two to three seconds to less than a second with the new tripod allowing me to view Jupiter at high magnification and to actually focus the telescope with much greater control. With the tubular aluminum legs my telescope now looks like a mini version of the LX-90. My wife thought that the telescope looked cool, and that's high praise coming from my wife who has no real passion for machinery. Now if I can just get the rubber banding under control I will have the telescope that I originally dreamed of. Thanks for the great site. Jeff Kilmer Akron, Ohio
Subject: Broken motor wires Sent: Saturday, April 7, 2001 12:41:43 From: email@example.com (Richardson, John) To: firstname.lastname@example.org ('email@example.com') Dear Dr Sherrod, I am writing to you because it sounds like your the kind of guy who could help me with my problem (ie. not afraid to get your hands a bit dirty). I bought a lovely ETX 125EC in Chicago and brought it back to the UK (I saved about $600 that way). I took it out of the box and the declination motor didn't work. I sent a fax to Meade and got no reply. I got quite tired of waiting (I had already waited for a year to get the thing) and had a look at the inside myself. I found to my amazement that all the leads to the motor had been sheared off at the head of the bolt that leads to the clutch plate for RA drive. Making repacement wires isn't a problem but fitting them is. I can't get new wires to go from the centre of the base (the top of the bolt) to the fork arm. Do I need to take the big nut off the bottom to separate the base? We tried that and it's stuck so hard with that damn locktight we didn't try too hard for fear of breaking something. Is locktight disolvable? Once I get the wires through, how do I tighten up the clutch bolt without shearing off the wires again? We asked Meade all these questions but they told us the warrenty was now invalid, and that it would cost $200 to fix, not to mention the shipping. Talk about unhelpful. Anyway I hope that you can help with some quick advice. All the best from blighty (the UK)! John Richardson.And:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) John - your problem is not all that uncommon; but for a new scope it is. It sounds like you might have gotten a return. LockTite cannot be dissolved or loosened without heat, and you do not want to attempt that. If you could sketch exactly WHERE the wires have sheared I can probably help you more...I suspect that by loosening the clutch plate a bit, you might be able to tie onto the existing wire and PULL THROUGH (whichever way) and then splice either in the drive base area or up in the fork arm itself. That is a bad place for a wire problem. Here is the trick on the clutch plate removal: ONCE THE PLATE IS LOOSE, as per using the lever as a tool to "unscrew" DO NOT unscrews the bolt anymore; rather, unscrew the PLATE from the bolt and leave the bolt where it does not turn; there are two grooves in the clutch plate that must align when you reattach, so once you clear those you can loosen the plate and NOT the bolt....loosening the bolt is what has broken your wires. Running the DEC wires is such a way is a huge design flaw on Meade's part; it invites damage, even if the drive base is not opened, putting the wires entirely too close to the drive gears; there have been several reports of wiring being chewed up by those gears. Let me know how much wire you have left to splice to...where is the break....and maybe with a stiff wire "lead" we can shove some new wiring up into the fork arm. Do not attempt to remove the large bolt, as I feel you would further damage the fork arm alignment and integrity to the scope; if worse comes to worse (I wish you were not overseas where I could help) you CAN re-route the wires via a small drilled hole directly beneath the right fork arm and stick the wires up through that.....they do NOT have to run up through that dad-gummed bolt! Get back in touch....we'll get you through this! Clay Sherrod
Subject: your ETX and Nexstar tripod Sent: Saturday, April 7, 2001 12:34:06 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org The Nexstar tripod is a good and solid unit and sure beats all but the Meade #887, particularly if the price is right. You certainly can adapt the scope to fit this tripod, but not via the mounting plate which you said you have; there will need to be two holes (for 1/4" bolts coming in from the underside of the tripod base) drilled into the tripod head. These holes MUST line up with the two mounting holes on the base of your ETX 125 (I would suggest that you use the Meade mounting plate as a template to actually draw the positions of each hole prior to drilling. Then, merely go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy one piece (6-8" piece will do) of 1/4-20 threaded rod (in the bolt and nut section) and cut to the length necessary to reach from UNDER the tripod head, through it, and adequately (I always use 3/4" depth in the telescope) to secure the scope once tightened. You will need to set all of it up to determine. While at Lowes or Depot, pick up two (2) 1/4-20 "bar knobs" that you will attach to the end of EACH (2) cut rods; screw them on at one end after applying a little bit of LockTite or simple fingernail polish; I sometimes use a lock nut to jam up against the knobs to secure tightly. These two long threaded rod assemblies will allow you to set the scope on the tripod base, and then pull it down via the handbolts that you just made. Good luck - I am sure you can make it work for a good price! Clay Sherrod
Subject: Nexstar 5 Tripod for ETX 125 Sent: Friday, April 6, 2001 19:07:25 From: email@example.com (Ron Millstein) I have an opportunity to pickup a Nexstar 5 Tripod at a very good price and was wondering if you know how much trouble it will be to convert it to handle the 125? Can the mounting plate that comes with the 125 screw into the Nexstar tripod? Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks Ron
Subject: ETX125 and the Messier Marathon Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2001 21:01:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (msd60) I have been visiting your site now for about 8 months. I have an ETX125 and was happy with it until I read your site and found all the things I took as "just the way it is" that I really could fix. Initially I had some image shift, and then began getting motor faults. I called Meade and $60.00 later they had my telescope. In three weeks I got it back. The optics were even better than before and all motor faults dissappeared. I then noticed that the azimuth was slow and the accuracy was about 50% (amount of time the image was in the 26mm eyepiece after slewing). I followed others issues on this site and after a little more tweaking and tuning, I brought the telescope to the Arizona City Messier Marathon on March 24th. Low and behold I got all 110 Messier objects in one night!!. I kept up with people who were using 10", 12", 16" and above telescopes. The Mighty ETX performed almost flawlessly for 9 straight hours. I even slept for two hours waiting for more objects to come up and when I woke up the galaxy I had centered was still perfectly centered in the eyepiece and I could continue on... I use the 12V adapter hooked into my minivan and it doesn't draw so much power to affect my battery, so I would recommend this setup to anyone. I also use the #883 tripod withe the telescope in alt/az mode and it has worked perfectly in the Arizona desert for 8 months now. Anyway, I am now in the Hall of Fame as being one of a few who have actually completed the marathon with all 110 objects. By the way, the night was perfect and 25 folks that night observed all 110 objects. What a night and what a telescope!! Thanks for all your help even when you didn't know who you were helping. I hope to contribute to your site soon on the pledge page. Thanks again Marshall (email@example.com)
Subject: 125 Polar alignment Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2001 17:45:27 From: RLPCLI@aol.com After receiving my 887 tripod with wedge, I have made several valiant efforts at observation using polar alignment. I get a good lock on Polaris, but when I use a two star alignment, choosing Sirius (which I can clearly see in the southwestern sky) as the "one star" or the first of two, the 'scope does it's little dance and ends up pointed at about a 25 to 30 degree angle at the ground, facing more or less north. Even when I get a successful alignment, using "easy," one star or two, I seem to have less accuracy than with Alt/Az mounting (and yes, I am keying in "Polar" for the mount on the Autostar). I updated the Autostar program from the Meade site, and it seemed to "take," but I'm not sure it improved my situation. I seem to recall some comments on your site earlier about aligning the 'scope so that the control panel, which I presume means where all the gizmos plug in, is oriented toward the west. Did this apply to Polar, or just to Alt/Az? With the location of the electric focuser and its cord, it somehow seems to be an unnatural position in Alt/Az, and it just doesn't seem like the controls can even be oriented west in polar mode. Help? Thanks, Bob ParkeMike here: The control panel does need to be on the West side, even in Polar mode. You also need to put the ETX-125EC in the Polar Home mode (having done the rotation to the proper hard stop and back). Also, check the Date/Time/Daylight Savings Time/Location settings in the Autostar.
Thanks, Mike. The ETX owner's manual descriptions leave a lot to be desired. Just to make sure, please give me the thumbnail of "polar home mode," particularly which hard stop to rotate to and return from to get the control panel on the west side. I couldn't pull up your page tonight for some reason, or I would try to get the answer to this without bugging you further. FYI, I just installed a nifty little program called "Starry Night Backyard." Among other things, it provides the opportunity for zooms and closeups of objects viewed during the evening on the 125, but which can't be resolved in nearly the detail shown on this program. Many of the images seem to be computer generated, but others appear to be photographs. It is a really useful tool in making printouts of the sky at varying time intervals (I use 1/2 hours) in the direction(s) to be viewed. At $50 from CompUSA, it makes a very nice addition to the accessory box. Thanks for being there.Mike here: Put the control panel on the West side first. The follow the steps on the Polar Alignment Page on the Autostar Information page
Between you and Clay, I think I have finally seen the light! With all due respect to Meade for an excellent product, I think they could do a whole lot better in their manual. My Onkyo receiver manual has better descriptions, and it was written by the Japanese and translated into English! I would like to give kudos also to Jordan Blessing at Scopetronix. Like you, he is patient and always willing to listen and make suggestions. Bob Parke
Subject: New ETX-125, various topics :) Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2001 14:09:24 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jay Freeman) Thanks so much for providing such an excellent site. I got an ETX-125 about 2 weeks ago. My "first light" with it was about an hour and a half out in some really cold windy weather. I had it sitting on a rickety clone of a Black & Decker Workmate. Despite the shaking from the wind (me & the telescope :) and the water in my eyes I was able to observe the Orion Nebula, the Pleaides, and quite a few stars before I gave in to the cold and packed it in. Last Saturday the weather was much nicer and I set it up in my back yard, which unfortunately resembles a pit due to the trees all around it. I had a good view of Jupiter, the Orion nebula again, and I spent some time looking at the Moon. I took a few pictures by holding my Olympus C3030 up to the eyepiece, which I've attached. [on the Guest Astrophotography - Moon page.] After my first viewing session I decided I needed a good tripod and I ordered a JMI Megapod from Sight & Sound Camera. They shipped it out very quickly. The wedge plate was bent over at one corner however, and I contacted Sight & Sound, who had JMI ship me a new one, which arrived today. These are a couple of good companies, and deserve a good mention for their customer service. I've attached a photo of the ETX in polar home position on the Megapod. The Megapod is quite sturdy and seems well balanced too. I had managed to straighten the original plate enough that it was usable, so I tried it out last night for my first ever view of Saturn. That sure was cool! I also first used an Autostar last night. It came with version 2.0, so I built a cable from the instructions on your site and updated it to 2.1ek. My ETX seems to track fairly well, and I have not attempted any of Clay's mechanical tune ups yet. My Goto was a little off, but I don't think my original polar alignment was too precise, either :). I was getting objects in the finder, but just a bit outside the eyepiece (standard 26mm). I'll be able to post a review of the Scopetronix Digi-T adapter for my Olympus soon. I've also set up a corner of my web site that I'll put astronomical photos in if/when I take some good ones, at http://www.j-freeman.net/photography.html . Take care, Jay ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jay Freeman - WT9S email@example.com http://www.j-freeman.net/ Info on mail lists hosted here at: http://www.j-freeman.net/mailman/listinfo
Subject: ETX125EC - First Light Sent: Tuesday, April 3, 2001 18:54:57 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Helps) After a number of weeks of looking at this site and others, did the deed yesterday and bought a 125EC. Already had an autostar that I used on my DX60. After setting everything up first light occurred at 2010 3 April 2001! Even though it was a hazy night the view was pretty good. Nice view of Jupiter and Saturn. The Moon's terminator was well located to view mountain tops and crater walls and such. Did not have any problems with the scope (although I have not pushed it to the limit yet) except for what appears to be significant delay when changing horizontal direction. I will read more of the tech tips and see if I can't sort it out. I will be building a pier from a composite of the designs listed on your site and will send photo's when done. Over all I am pleased with my choice and a big thank-you for the information available on your site which helped a lot. thanks JT Helps
Subject: New ETX 125 Sent: Tuesday, April 3, 2001 12:08:56 From: RotunnoRon@aol.com I wrote about six weeks ago regarding the purchase of an ETX 125. I purchased the scope last week and have had it out four times. The optics perform nicely (since I haven't purchased the Autostar yet I've been targeting Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon). Next step after purchasing the Autostar is either an additional eyepiece or a Barlow. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I can appreciate the views that the 26mm eyepiece gives but for smaller children, bigger is better. I also picked up the table tripod, at some point I'll add the #887. Best Regards, RonMike here: Congrats on the new purchase! Enjoy it! As to additional accessories, see the Buyer/New User Tips page and the various Accessories page. Lots to choose from!
Subject: ETC:125 OR CELESTRON NEXSTAR 5 Sent: Monday, April 2, 2001 09:57:36 From: email@example.com (RAHİM KOEK) Hİ, İ'M FROM TURKEY(MİTTLE EUROPE) AND İ WOULD LİKE TO BUY A TELESCOPE.İ WOULD LİKE TO ASK YOU FOR HELP ME FOR WİCH TELESCOPE İ MAKE A DECİSİON.İ'M İNTERESTED İN THE ETX125EC END THE CELESTRON NEXSTAR5. İ HOPE YOU CAN HELP ME FURTHER. REGARDS, RAHİM KOEKMike here: You can see some comparison articles linked from the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.
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