Last updated: 30 April 2001

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:	sherrodc@ipa.net (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

Best of luck; that is a bad spot for a wire break.  Contact me if you
need help.

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Ron
    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

    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
Mike 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 florida
Mike 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:	teb1013@hotmail.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 hbeng@smartchat.net.au  
Mike 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 B
Mike 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:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	spudtech@msn.com
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:	spudtech@msn.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

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,  

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

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?

Mike 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.
And 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:	thomas_meier@gmx.de (Thomas Meier)
First I want to thank you and "Dr. Clay" and all the others for your great

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

>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 ;-)


GMX - Die Kommunikationsplattform im Internet.

Subject:	ETX 125 and 883 Questions
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 20:08:42
From:	np149@tir.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

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,

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,
Mike 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:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	andypap@yahoo.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:	andypapa@yahoo.com (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.
Mike 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:	sherrodc@ipa.net (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?


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.   Eric
Mike 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:	nolrun@earthlink.net (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:	john.richardson@ic.ac.uk (Richardson, John)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net ('sherrodc@ipa.net')
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

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.
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (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

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

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:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	ronone@home.com
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:	ronone@home.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.



Subject:	ETX125 and the Messier Marathon
Sent:	Wednesday, April 4, 2001 21:01:59
From:	msd60@email.msn.com (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  (msd60@msn.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.



Bob Parke
Mike 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

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

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:	jay@j-freeman.net (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 Freeman - WT9S jay@j-freeman.net  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:	jeffhelps@home.com (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.


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,
Mike 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!

Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 09:57:36
From:	rahser@hotmail.com (RAHİM KOEK)
Mike here: You can see some comparison articles linked from the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.

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Copyright © 2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2001 by the Submitter
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