ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK - AUGUST 1999
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to the original ETX model, ETX-90EC, and the ETX-125EC are posted on other pages as appropriate. 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: ETX 125 back from Meade Sent: Saturday, August 28, 1999 21:51:21 From: email@example.com (Mike Romine) Opt had sent my telescope back to meade for me for the typical collimation and image shift problems that everyone was having. Now, about a month later, I got it back. First the good news: The image shift has almost been eliminated! There is still a little movement, but it is more than tollerable. It is an order of magnitude better than when I sent it to them. Good job meade! Now the bad new: COLLIMATION IS STILL OFF! Well I guess I will have to give meade the benefit of the doubt and blame it on shipping. It is better than when I sent it to them though. I am not sure, but I think they may have returned a completely different scope than the one I sent (not that it matters). One clue is that I forgot to take the batteries out of the old one when I sent it in, and the returned one has no batteries. Conclusion: Although image shift is almost nil at this point, collimation remains out. Hence, it is going to have to go back to meade again! This time, I may drive it up to Irvine myself so as to remove UPS from the suspect list. If that doesn't fix it, it will be time to exchange it for something else. Mike
Subject: ETX 125 - Have Meade Shot Themselves In The Foot Sent: Friday, August 27, 1999 01:58:11 From: Tony_Ward@gillette.com On holiday in Cornwall,UK, I popped into South West Optics and was simply amazed by the ETX90. I have always had an interest in Astronomy but never got around to actually purchasing a telescope. I spent the whole holiday reading up on the ETX and purchased every magazine I could find! I then decided to get a demo with a view to purchasing the ETX90 and went to the shop only to find that it had been sold to non other than Patrick Moore who was in the area for the Eclipse!! I went home rather dissapointed and decided to enquire about the ETX125. I called Broadhurst Clarkson and Fuller who are the UK importers only to be told that I could expect delivery sometime around June 2000 "if your lucky"!!!! What the hell is going on?. I wish to purchase a product that appears in the Meade catalogue (but not on the web site) but cannot find any in the UK. I then stumble across this website and start reading only to find that I may be better off not bothering at all. How can a scope be sold with sloppy gearing, backlash, optical errors, poor finish etc etc etc. I don't care how cheap it is, there is no point in doing it unless you do it properly. How is the scope going to behave in a couple of years time I wonder? How sloppy will the gearing have got? Will the elctronics have packed up? Will I have broken one of the flimsy plastic parts? We live in an age where materials technology is sufficiently advanced that it should be a relativly easy prospect to produce a high accuracy instrument with very high tolerances for a reasonable cost. CNC equipment can churn these things out to exceptionally accurate and repeatable amounts with no problems. I am amazed that Meade chose to use nylon gears in such critical areas and this can only be viewed as a cost cutting exercise which has failed miserably. There should be NO slop whatsoever. It is unnaceptable and unnecessary. I would rather have fewer slew speeds to decrease the gearing complexity if it got rid of the slop. The baseplate should have been much stronger also as it is the primary means of mounting and the accuracy and safety of the instrument is dependant on it. The tripod is a complete joke - far too flimsy for the job intended and too costly. The worst aspect is the requirement to remove the accessory tray before folding it down. What a poor design. Meade you should be in the process of redesigning this NOW. Autostar is a touch of genius and Meade should be congratulated. Software bugs are a part of everyday life and unfortunately in this instance, Meade has been caught out somewhat by releasing the kit without sufficient testing. In addition IMHO I think that a lot of the problems would be solved if Meade fitted proerly toleranced gears and better motors / encoders. The Autostar will work fine with an accurate mechanical partner but is always going to be less than perfect with the current ETX mechanicals. In addition, the alignment proceedure is not wonderfully intuitive to say the least!! I also cannot understand why Mead did not simply add two buttons identical to the standard hand controller to allow assisted focusing to be as easy as possible - very bad ergonomics Meade you simply have to get your quality control up to standard as it is killing your reputation and turning customers off. Things like grease on encoders and marked / poorly aligned optics are simply not on at all. Stop and think for a minute and decide if the public in general would rather pay a £50 increase in price to have a better built and properly tested instrument than the current sub standard one. You are to be highly commended for having the forethought to produce such a fantastic concept but PLEASE realise that with just a few minor revisions, it could be simply outstanding. You also need to have an e.mail address. It is no good "hiding" because you think you will be overwhelmed with angry customers - be pro-active and take the plunge. If you don't I'm sure that you are losing a significant number of customers especially from outside the USA who find it too expensive to keep trying to talk to someone on the telephone. I am not going to purchase my 125 now and think it is such a shame. Sorry Meade but you just lost at least one sale - unless that is you sort out the problems............I will be watching carefully. Good luck everybody TonyMike here: As Meade has noted on their web site (www.meade.com/support/etx125users.html), there was a problem with shipment damage. As to overseas supply and demand, what can I say.
Subject: Some more ETX vs. NexStar Sent: Thursday, August 26, 1999 10:37:20 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary) Hi Mike, and Welcome Back! I don't even want to imagine how flooded your mailbox is/was. Celestron has the NexStar owner's manual online, in Adobe (pdf) format - it took me about 6 tries to get a complete, error free download. From reading the VERY NICE manual, i was able to glean a few things: 1) The NexStar DOES NOT NEED TO BE TRAINED! 2) There does not appear to be a method to update the software 3) There does not appear to be satellite/comet/asteroid parameters 4) The scope does not appear to center on the 88 constellation "centroids" 5) The user is expected to input a value for "backlash" - something like 20 to 50 to compensate for backlash (this appears to me to be one of the features what the meade drive training accomplishes) 6) The NexStar controller appears at least superficially similar to the Autostar, with fairly similar functions. One interesting feature is the "cord wrap" to avoid rotating the scope more than 360 degrees when using an ac adapter - i believe the meade will go about 720 before a hardstop the manual also had some semi-decent star charts, and suggesting when aligning on the stars, TO ONLY ALIGN USING UP AND RIGHT, AS THIS WOULD REDUCE THE BACKLASH - I had often thought that "jumping around" while aligning might introduce more errors, so this method may help create more accurate etx alignment I find it interesting that Celestron can put out a scope with enough factory accuracy that the drives don't need to be trained - i don't know how the scope would be in usage, but it appears (at least from the excellent documentation) to be more robust. the instructions also mention the possible need for collimation, and how to proceed. As a downside, it appears the NexStar software CAN NOT be upgraded - it is my understanding one of the meade improvements in their software was a more intelligent application of the autofocuser, etc. if there are problems with the NexStar controller, i wonder if the controller, or entire scope must be returned to the factory, rather than the intelligent ability to upgrade. This might also explain why the NexStar does not have comets, or objects with decayable orbits. The NexStar catalog is bigger than meades (about 4,000 more SAO objects) but hey, with 14,000 objects on the meade, i doubt anyone would really notice a few (ok, 4,000) missing entries. All in all, the NexStar APPEARS (hey, never touched the thing) to be a well thought out unit, with a lot of nice little touches, but the ETX seems better thought out in the upgradeability, etc. it will be interesting to learn feedback about the NexStar's accuracy, and if the users face the same frustrations as us poor meade chaps. The all metal construction (at roughly the same weight of the ETX 125) is a real improvement, in my humble opinion. I do wonder about the stress placed on the vertical support (only 1 support, but looks nice and funky). Some last comments - the NexStar comes with a daisy type finder (ok, a $20 add on for a meade) but no magnified finderscope - i like having both on my scope. Also, the NexStar appears to be faster, but it has a maximum useful magnification of about 300 (i thought the 125 can go to 500 or 600 ish). All in all, it appears the NexStar will give the ETX a real run for the money - the NexStar is about $300 more than the 125, and lacks software upgradeability (from what i could gather) - unless their software is 100% glitch free, i think that can be a real detriment. Also, i like the POSSIBLITY of catching the space station, starshine, and other goodies not possible with the NexStar. Now, I just wish someone would tell me why the AutoStar doesn't have some sort of lithium battery so i wouldn't have to enter the time every time! Happy Seeing, Gary
Subject: ETX-125 Working Just Fine! Sent: Friday, August 20, 1999 22:28:22 From: email@example.com (Robert Lonn) My ETX-125/EC is operating perfectly. Very Very slight image shift but have no problem focusing on a faint star or Whirlpool Galaxy. Autostar unit will track stars and go-to with almost precise accuracy. I got mine at a Discovery store in San Diego. Have had it only about 2 weeks and just discovered this site, so I am reading after the fact, all the problems folks are having. Meade now claims 9 months backlog and has pulled advertising off the web site. I was just glad to get a unit with many months of summer left. Downloaded latest software, great feature! I am new to all of this, and all questions to MEADE customer service has been answered very professionally. With the moon now at 1/2 and some ambient light in East San Diego county, I am amazed at what I have been able to see. Hope to travel 60 miles east to the High Desert to get in total darkness at the SAN DIEGO astronomical observation property. I am only using it in the ALT-AZ mode, but hope to play around with the POLAR mode as well. As for the comment on using the allen wrench to loosen the focusing knob, well I looked at mine, and see no securing screws or anything else, focus was smooth and precise right out of the box. Then again IRVINE (home of meade) is only 90 miles to the north of San Diego so it only traveled a short distance in the hands of UPS. Now I have to decide on getting on the air with my Ham Radio station or look at the stars?? I guess it will depend on how bad the weather gets outside in sunny and warm southern california! Happy Viewing Robert Lonn WA6PHN
Subject: ETX5 vs NexStar 5 Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 1999 07:59:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thierry Lombry) Here is an Excel sheet (members.xoom.com/_XOOM/nexstar/n5vsetx.html) comparing the ETX5 with the new NexStar5. Thanks. Thierry
Subject: ETX125 First Time Out Sent: Sunday, August 15, 1999 16:51:39 From: CTZERBE@aol.com Someone from our astronomy club brought his new Meade 125 ETX to our last observing session for "first light." The collimation was way off. Even at 70x stars had a huge flair. The out of focus star was a severely lopsided donut. He will send back to Meade to get it fixed. Craig Zerbe
Subject: ETX Manual Sent: Friday, August 13, 1999 12:27:40 From: Rob_Orr@tivoli.com Great Site!! I noticed Celestron put their manual online. Is there anyplace I can get the ETX 125 Manual online as well ??? RobMike here: Meade has nothing on the ETX-125EC on their web site. Once they do, I expect they will put the manual online.
Subject: ETX-125EC Focus knob. Sent: Thursday, August 12, 1999 07:21:08 From: email@example.com.McMaster.CA (Clive Gibbons) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Sir. I just read your comments posted to Mike Weasner's ETX website. I'm curious about this "focus lock" feature. This is because the two 125s I've had a chance to try out didn't exhibit this action. Are you sure this is an intentional thing on Meade's part, or perhaps there was some binding in the focus action of your ETX, which was remedied by removing the knob? Just curious... Clive Gibbons Technician, McMaster University, School of Geography and Geology.
Subject: Another confirmation that Meade has suspended deliveries. Sent: Thursday, August 12, 1999 00:49:40 From: GSEALOHA@aol.com I stopped by the Nature Co. in Hawaii and when I asked if they could confirm that Meade had suspended shipment due to the collimation and focusing errors, the store rep. stated that they had received 2 memos regarding this issue stating that futher shipments would be delayed until Meade could rectify this problem. She also said that the wait expected should not be that long. I am not too concerned with the wait since right next to the shopping mall is the only "Hawaii authorized" Celestron dealer, Francis Camera. They expect the NextStar 5 within 2 to 3 weeks. I will try to do the best comparison I can. (That store also has an ETX-90 - and I will be basing my comparison between that and the NS 5). Aside: To Mr. Hodgson, who purchased the ETX-125 at the Nature Company at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu. I have also had several opportunities to speak with Lori (the store manager), and I can vouch for your statement that she can be a very curteous and helpful person, and I could certainly see her as being an asset when dealing with Meade. However, as good as her sales pitch is, she has voiced to me that she has very little experience/knowledge working with telescopes, but that she is currently looking for a replacement staff member who is fairly proficient with telescopes, their resident "expert" who I found to be fairly useful, had recently left the company. My suggestion is to take Lori's suggestions with a grain of salt. If you are looking for other sources for information when it comes to accessories, I recommend the online test reports from Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines (www.astronomy.com & www.skypub.com). Finally, I'd like to mention that of the different review sites for the ETX-125, similar in format to this one, this site has been the most sophisticated and reliable of the lot!! Thank you Mike and everyone else who has contributed to this information site! G. :-)
Subject: image shift Sent: Wednesday, August 11, 1999 13:30:09 From: Hajj9@aol.com I spoke to a Meade Technician about the image shifting while focusing. He assured me that this is a common in maskutov design. He said that he belonged to an observatory that uses a 16 inch maskutov scope and they experience the same image shifting. This shifting is due to the weight of the lens in maskutov design. I told him that I had previously owned an etx 90mm and did not experience that problem. His answer was that the 90mm is a small lens and does not weigh that much. He did stress that if the image moves more than a quarter way then it is excessive and I should return it. Hope this will answer some questions... Regards James
Subject: etx125 Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 1999 17:45:38 From: Hajj9@aol.com Well, I finally got my scope. It's been a long wait. The first thing I noticed was a cracked 26mm lens. secondly it would not fit in my 126 2x Barlow lens. It did fit in the scope. Lastly, every time I turned the focusing knob the image would shift the opposite direction. Is that common. Should I return the scope because of the image shifting? regards jamesMike here: Image shift has been a common reported problem on the ETX-125EC Feedback pages. I don't know if it is being fixed by Meade or not. Check with the dealer.
I was just doing that, reading what others have said on your site. Yes it does seem a common problem. The scope is beautiful, but unfortunately i have this image shift problem. I guess back to Meade after waiting since april to recieve it. Anyways, thanks for your time and to a great job you are doing. Meade should Reward you for all your efforts...
Subject: Meade ETX-125/EC and a bit on the Celestron NexStar-5 Sent: Monday, August 9, 1999 20:58:36 From: email@example.com (Welles G Hodgson) I writing you again this time with some info on the Meade ETX-125/EC and a bit on the Celestron NexStar-5. I finally received my ETX-125/EC from the Nature Company here in Hawaii last Tuesday. I was the first on the waiting list of about 20. I also bought the following: #497 AutoStar Computer Controller #505 Connector Cable Set #126 2x Barlow Lens #932 45 Erecting Prism #905 Variable Polarizing Filter and the 8mm-24mm zoom lens, all Meade products. I ,as others, also had some problems with the quality of the ETX-125/EC. These problems included: 1.) Major image shifting during focusing. This made it difficult to align and later sync the AutoStar to any particular object. 2.) Very loose focus control - seemed the internal linkage was too sloppy. This made it almost impossible to focus on a star with such a small focus point. It was also difficult to focus on terrestrial objects during the day. 3. )The fork arm plate which has the horizontal (or Right Ascension) lock was not level to the drive base and so the (R.A.) setting circle tape would bind and almost pop out of the track as the scope rotated. (OK so you wont really use the circles with the AutoStar I could live with that.) 4.) The AutoStar could not get the selected object into the field of view. (I know this is a problem with the scope since I had practiced with an ETX-90/EC and had no problems. I suppose the encoder wheel may have had a problem or the batteries were too low 78%.) 5.) The corrector lens had two spots that look like finger prints in the Meade EMC super multi-coatings on the INSIDE of the lens. (Boy this surprised me. This was suppose to be a sealed box directly from Meade. Actually my scope went through the Nature Company distribution hub in Kentucky and wasnt actually sealed.) 6.) The right-angle view finder had the "bars" in stead of the cross-hairs. 7.) The optical tube did seem to jiggle excessively long in the fork arms. Now some good points: 1.) AutoStar updated to version 1.2g with no problems. Love the Flash PROM! 2.) Scope looked beautiful as usual, dark purple color. 3.) Optics excellent (except for the two spots inside) and perfectly collimated. 4.) No color shift observed. 5.) All parts included. 6.) Very pleased in the overall construction and operation. But the problems with the scope finally motivated me to returned the scope to the Nature Company. I know, mixed emotions. That is just how I felt. Collmination perfect, scope in the hand, looked beautiful, no missing parts, spots on the lens, focus problems, tracking problems. Which way to go? My wife then said "Your paying some big bucks and should get what Meade advertises." This was what helped me to make the decision. Being in Hawaii, I wanted to avoid shipping charges that can add up very quickly shipping the scope back and forth to Meade. The Nature Company does not charge for shipping items carried in their store. The shipping cost just for the variable polarizing filter, the zoom lens and the cables, not items usually carried, was $28.00. So this is why I brought the scope back to the store to save shipping. The manager Lori A. at the Nature Company has been excellent and has been working with me since the beginning. She is familiar with scopes and knows the problems with first production products. I am going to write the Nature Company and ask the company to commend this employee for her excellent service. I am glad she is there. As others have said, there is no other place to buy the scope except The Nature Company! So now I am back on the side bench like the most of your readers except, I want to be here! I want to wait for a scope later in the production cycle after the bugs are worked out and I am confident they will be. The Scope is beautiful and just the right size. A side point. I have also been researching the NexStar5 and discovered that Celestron has just placed the NexStar5 instruction manual available for download 57 pages. I went through it and discovered that the hand control does not seem to be as good as the AutoStar. There is nothing mentioned about being able to upgrade the ROM in the controller. The control unit must be built with Flash PROM to be upgradeable, like the AutoStar. The manual states that the RS-232 port is for controlling the scope by a computer, nothing about upgrading the ROM. Does Celestron expect to get the software out perfect the first time? True the optical tube is the same as the G-5 and tested/true but the clear aperture is a little smaller and if the Meade optics are correct, the Meade scope is better. So As I am thinking now, I am still a Meade customer. The other items from Meade, and particular the 8mm-24mm zoom lens are perfect. Hoping to look at the stars again Welles in Hawaii.
Subject: ETX-125EC Focus knob Sent: Sunday, August 8, 1999 22:40:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Meade doesn't tell you this in their manual, but the ETX-125 comes with the optics locked for shipment. The focus knob will not turn or is very hard to turn and will not focus an image. You have to remove the knob with the allen wrench provided with the scope to release the lock. You'll hear a pop, then re-attach the knob. Now you can focus. Like I said the manual doesn't mention this, and neither does the Meade web site......please pass on...Bill Spearow
Subject: ETX-125 Item of possible interest to your readers Sent: Saturday, August 7, 1999 16:30:52 From: email@example.com (Frank Goldner) As with many others, I am very impressed with this ETX site which has been a great help to get me over the fears of dealing with the new ETX125 system. Thanks a lot Mike. Last week I obtained an ETX125 from my local Natural Wonders store, after previously having purchased the Autostar controller (still using version 1.1J). After three sessions, I finally got the system to work and am very impressed with the system. The following observations may be useful to others in getting started with the system: - After aligning the finder scope, and not having a reticle to use with the eyepiece, I trained the scope motors in daytime looking at an automobile hubcap around 100 yards distant with an approximately 5mm effective eyepiece (10 mm plus 2x barlow). The hubcap nicely filled up the field of view permitting easy centering during training. - Prior to performing alignment at night, I used a circular bubble level resting on the roughly horizontal tube to permit fine-tuning of the tube in the horizontal position; Mike, it is my feeling that only the optical tube has to be horizontal, and pointing north, and it is not necessarily for the base to be horizontal in alt-az alignment. Is that true? - I used a "locator compass" (compass mounted on a rectangular clear plastic base) which can be placed horizontally against the protecting lens cap of a previously levelized tube for a reasonably accurate north positioning (prior to removing the metal protector cap). A piece of night-glowing tape mounted underneath the clear base assists reading the compass. - I thought I had right ascension problem with the motor slipping during training and first use, but learned I just didn't tighten the Right Ascension lock adequately. - focusing at high power seems tricky without jiggling the image. Although I think collimation was okey as there was not much star shift during slight focusing (or defocusing), changing focus turning direction caused some disturbing shift. I think an electric focuser when available will be a great help. - while setting up or observing, I'm having some trouble with my nose running into the right-angle finder while using an eyepiece in the 90 degree eyepiece holder, or, when using the 2x Barlow which nicely raises the eyepiece and eliminates the nose problem but then makes using the finder hard as the head runs into the eyepiece tubes. The 45 degree Erecting prism mounted on the photo-port may be needed to solve this problem. - I was impressed with the battery status indicator (accessed by holding the mode key two seconds or more) and wonder how it works? Mike, do you know how? I haven't as yet figgured out what to do for a tripod. Nevertheless, after seeing the moon, Jupiter and some stars, I am still very happy with my new telescope and dreaming of many future stellar journeys. A wonderful skychart reference that might interest your readers is: Star-Hopping for Backyard Astronomers by Alan M. MacRobert, Sky Publishing Corp. Of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It's a wonderful assistannt to plan viewing sessions - especially if viewing time is limited. Best regards to all. Frank Goldner, Bethesda Md.; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. (301) 564-1072Mike here: Since the rotation axis is the item that is important, base leveling is important. For Alt/Az you want the Altitude rotation axis to be horizontal and the Azimuth rotation axis to be precisely vertical. Some leveling errors are tolerable and correctable by the Autostar but I don't think you should Polar mount the ETX and try for Alt/Az aligning. I presume the battery indicator just reads the voltage across the lines. For a tripod, you might want to check out the large wedgepod from JMI.
Subject: etx 125 Sent: Saturday, August 7, 1999 14:45:27 From: email@example.com (adam raimond) I have been watching your site for about 6 months now and it has greatly helped me decide what my first telescope should be. I really wanted the etx90ec, but when I heard about the 125 I decided to wait and watch. I have to admit that I am dissapointed in the lack of quality in the first release of the 125, but am REALLY anxious to hear from users how it COMPARES IN THE FIELD visually with the 90. I know Meade will fix the problems of the 125 and I want to know if it is worth waiting for. Thanks, Adam
Subject:Mike here: Haven't see a real, hands-on, comparison yet.
Sent: Friday, August 6, 1999 00:58:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (lehuron (Alain Gliksman)) Recently I read a comparaison between the new ETX-125 and a C5 Celestron. I try to find it again but with no success so far. Can you help ? Thanks and compliments for your work lehuron (Alain Gliksman) L'ternit c'est long, surtout vers la fin (X)
Subject: ETX-125EC Dissatisfaction Sent: Thursday, August 5, 1999 23:11:02 From: DigitWhiz@aol.com I purchased an ETX-125EC last week at Natural Wonders and took it back the next day because of two problems: 1) Since I use my right eye, the star finder got in my way when using the 9.7mm eyepiece, and 2) the collimation was off and I could not get the scope focussed right. The motor noise was reduced significantly from the ETX-90EC when slewing across the sky, so that was a big improvement, but not enough of one to make me want to keep the ETX-125EC. I had purchased the ETX-90EC the month before, but took returned it for a refund with the ETX-125EC because it was too noisy and had a spherical abberation problem. Guess I may have to try Celestron's products to see if they are better, as some of my friend have told me. I really wished the ETX's had worked out for me, because I liked the Autostar's capabilities and the portability of the ETX's. I haven't really seen many good comments about the ETX-125EC, and maybe by next year the bugs will have been worked out. Keeping looking up! Jim
Subject: 125ETX Sent: Thursday, August 5, 1999 21:54:50 From: VALMA22@aol.com Just received and star tested my 125 last night and here are my results. The optics in my scope are excellent, collimation is dead on, inside and outside if focus is very similar, no color fringing, and no baffeling problems. However, I do have a serious focusing(shifting of the image) problem. I contacted Meade and asked if I could just send in the tube assy but they insisted on the whole scope being shipped back. I'm sure they will do a total inspection before shipping it back to me. Because of the excellent optics I decided to go this route. Meade was helpful and responded very positively. I'm sure they will do what is necessary to make it right. BTW, since shipping the complete scope back is very expensive Meade told me they would pick it up and ship at thier expense! Can't beat that. This ship and return cycle should take about 3 weeks according to Meade. With a little luck I may have my NextStar5 by then and report back with head to head testing.
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 14:09:16 From: email@example.com (John Hanover) Thanks for your great site. I picked up my 125 last Thurs from Natural Wonders; I have been on several waiting lists but this one came in first. Overall, after several nights of viewing with the scope and some rudimentary mechanical and star tests I am delighted with it. The focus shift problem on the unit I have is less a problem that it was for an older Celestar unit I have used. I have observed no color fringing or other obvious problems thus far. I did not yet opt for the Autostar but the drive seems to be quiet and user friendly. I have to remind folks out there that they are dealing with a very inexpensive piece of equipment with the ETX. I run a confocal microscope facility where objective lenses and eyepeices cost upward of $ $5,000 each. I think those of us who adopt the 125 early may owe it to the community to balance our assessment of the intrument with this in mind. A brief glimpse of the ring nebula or other planetary through these gorgeous f/15 optics are worth a little consternation. Thanks again, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.niddk.nih.gov/intram/people/jhanover.htm
Subject: ETX 125EC Sent: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 12:06:02 From: email@example.com (Ron Smith) Dear ETX users and buyers, I received notice from Natural Wonders in Menlo Park, New Jersey, that my ETX 125 would be shipped out this week. I was number 3 on their list. As soon as it arrives, I'll give you a report on the optics, collimation, and image shift during focusing. Hopefully, some of those initial problems have been corrected by the factory. Also, I have an ETX 90 spotting scope and would like to mount a small finder on it. Does anybody have the ETX 90 standard plastic finder mount with the attachment screw. I'd love to buy it from you. Thank you, Ron Smith firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: You might consider one of the red dot or 1x finders reviewed on the Accessories - Finders page.
Subject: ETX 125 Problems Sent: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 09:14:54 From: TSpina@sr.csg.com (Spina, Tony) OK the good news is my local Discovery Channel store got in three ETX-125 in yesterday. The bad news is they are all bad! The first box we opened to make sure things were in order had one of the forks unattached! and the DEC wheel loose (Spin the DEC and guess were it will stop! bets anyone?). The second ETX had a loose DEC wheel and the optics off alignment. The third one had the Dec wheel loose (Meade I think quality control team needs to be fired!). So wanting to try my luck I purchased this one got it home tightened the DEC and tried it out. The good news was the optics were sharp, but the DEC motor is bad. I had to over-tighten (In my opion) the nob to get the DEC to move up (down is fine) using the hand controler. The second problem was when tracking, the drive made a whining noise (plastic rubbing plastic) Too noisy to listen to while observing. The third problem was the slack when changing directions in both axes. The delay was about 1.5 secs. So what have I learned besides that the people at the Discovery Channel in Pleasanton CA are very helpful and understanding. I have learned that you need to have a cool head when dealing with Meade products. If you don't succeed the first time try, try, try again, and again!
Subject: ETX 125 Polar Alignment Note Sent: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 08:54:03 From: michael.a.cefola@bellatlantic.COM I thought it warranted posting that where the ETX 125 may be polar aligned using a table top set-up with the optional legs, the celestron nexstar has no such means and the only way use it in the polar mode will be through an optional tripod and wedge set-up. Part of the joy of the ETX to me is the ease of use including quick table top polar set-up. Meteormik@aol.com
Subject: ETX-125 Recall Sent: Wednesday, August 4, 1999 08:21:59 From: email@example.com (David P. Boedeker) There have been numerous comments in various newsgroups about Meade recalling the 125. You seem to have connections at Meade. Do you know if this is true or not? Thanks.Mike here: I have no info (yet).
Subject: ETX-125EC - Just a few comments Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 1999 22:44:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wayne Gatschet) I'm just binding my time waiting for my ETX-125EC, but I do have a few comments on some of the things said on this site. My whole life I've had an interest in astronomy, but unfortunately the only two scope I've owned were "TRASH" scope with alt/az mounts. My dreams was to one day own a scope with good optics, would automatically track objects, and even find them for me. But such scopes did not exist or cost thousands of dollars. unjustifiable to my budget. Then I discovered the ETX. I was set to buy the 90 when I learned of the 125. I thought it a good compromise between size, cost, portability, quality and easy of use. I read a lot of people are canceling orders for ETX's, but Meade appears to be a good company, willing to make things right for their customers. In my mind if it aint right return it until you get one that is, or send it in till Meade fixes it. It may be a hassle, but in the end you'll have a good instrument, and years of stargazing ahead. It may be toy like in the base, but for the price, what can you say. You get what you pay for. If I lived in the country, away from the light pollution, had a place for a dome and five or six grand to blow, I'd go a different route. From what I've read Meade is working on the image shift problem, and future shipments should be much better. The Culmination problem, Mike said was probably caused by shipping. Meade needs to either change shippers, or pack the scopes with better protection from shock, or both. Meade defiantly needs to work on their image. Quality control appears to be a problem, scope shipped without focus knob? Sounds like disgruntled quality control person(s). Meade need to update their web site, was there the other day, still nothing on the 125. They have a real communication problem with their customers if they have to go this site to see whats wrong with their products. Sounds to me they should take the hint and open their site to user feedback. They don't have to post it, just read it!!! No e-mail address to report problems/flaws, they are missing the boat. Lock knob breaking on the 90 due to fault material/workmanship. They should consider product recall. They should take a lesson, before releasing a new product to the public. Send the first few scopes out to a few dealers who know their stuff, and people like Mike to be reviewed, tested, and debugged. fix the problems then release to the public. It would save a lot of tarnish to their image. I think its called product testing. Listening Meade? I'm sticking with the 125, in the end, although its sometimes hard to see, Meade does appear to care about and for their customer. And thats worth a lot.
Subject: ETX-125 comparisons Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 1999 21:52:56 From: email@example.com (H. Willy Chu) I would like to second Val's suggestion of expanding the scope of your site (no pun intended) . I can understand your time limitations, but it appears that you are manually copying incoming email to your website. I am sure this is time consuming. Perhaps some new software such as the excellent discussion forum format used at the Ford Diesel Website (www.ford-diesel.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi). Postings appear automatically & there is high activity with long threads on numerous topics. The owner of this website was able expanded its capabilities through donations, users contributed 5, 10, or 20 bucks. The response was so overwhelming he was able to upgrade his hardware as well. Something to consider. I think the potential is there. I have had trouble finding a discussion site as informative as yours. Could you list some of these other sites you mention that might deal more with scope comparisons. Thanks from all of us for all your hard work. -- Willy firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Some discussion groups are listed on the Buyer/New User Tips page on my ETX site. At this time, I'm not planning to expand to interactive forums on the web site. There are other mechanisms available to users. I have automated some of the process of moving email to a web page using Applescript. I keep telling myself that I need to finish adding even more automation capabilities (since Applescript supports so much) but haven't done that yet. I still have to manually edit out extraneous items.
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 1999 11:35:22 From: email@example.com (Joe and Shelli Lewis) I got a call that the new AutoStar hand controller and ETX 125 scope that I got on the waiting list for at my local Nauture Company store is in. I have decided to wait and hang out with my local astronomy club (which I just found out about) for a while before I make any purchase. I am extremely new to this hobby and I may not know what I want at this point. I know I want to do astro-photography with whatever I buy. Do you know of anyone who is dying to get their hands on this setup? I could go ahead and buy this one and ship it to them for $50 more than what I paid for it, if they want to pay the shipping. I know there are many people who are really anxious to get the 125 and I think it would be fair to charge $50 for my effort. Do you think this is appropriate? I would need to know soon because I don't think they will let me wait for too long. I was the first guy onthe list here for this initial shippment. Joe Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Meade ETX 125 VS Celestron Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 1999 11:09:37 From: email@example.com (Craig Zerbe) While I can understand your reluctance to open up the discussion into areas not directly related to the ETX (i.e. My 6" dob vs ETX...). I think you may be missing one of the most valuable services your site performs. There are probably over 1000 ETX 125 on order as we speak. Celestron has introduced what is very arguably a scope that is almost identical in its application to the 125 ETX. While I would not argue that you make this site into a Celeston NexStar site, I think there is valuable information to be had in the A/B comparisons that your readers have to report. One could use your same argument for not including 90mm ETX VS 125mm ETX comparisons. Or for that matter limiting your site to the 90mm ETX only. I for one would hope that you do not shut off Celestron VS Meade dialog. I would however agree that comments related exclusively to the NexStar not be appropriate. Thanks again for the valuable service you provide. Craig ZerbeMike here: I do plan to continue posting comparisons, as noted further down this page.
Subject: ETX-125 no. 2 checked out... Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 1999 10:34:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org.McMaster.CA (Clive Gibbons) Here's a "quickie" review of the 2nd ETX-125 my local Meade dealer recieved. Please feel free to add it to your feedback page. FWIW, I'd be surprised if Meade had only shipped 20 units initially. Just based on Astronomics recieving 10 and my local dealer getting two, there must have been more than 20 to go around. Clive. >My local Meade dealer recieved two ETX-125's in his initial order. >To recap; >The first unit had approx. 2.5 arc min. of image shift, poor collimation >and some chromatic aberration visible. > >Yesterday, we had a chance to check out the 2nd ETX-125 (during daylight). >This unit also had a collimation problem, but to a much lesser extent than >scope #1. The secondary mirror shadow was a wee bit low, when observing >an out-of-focus solar reflection. Not too bad, but not quite "bang on". It >would probably adversely affect the diffraction image at high mag. to some >extent. Image shift was about 2 arc. minutes. This was close to what the >first 125 exhibited. >A bit of spurious colour could also be seen in this unit, but it seemed >less obvious than what the first 125 showed. >The mount's gearing seemed to be a bit "tighter", with less play evident. >However, the biggest surprise was the complete lack of a focusing knob! >Just the shaft sticking out the back of the scope... no knob there, or >anywhere in the shipping box. Sigh... does Meade do *any* sort of >inspection before the equipment leaves the factory??? > >So, overall, this ETX-125 looked to be the better of the two examples >tested (despite the missing hardware
). > >It might be a while before #3 arrives... > > > >-- > Clive Gibbons > Technician, McMaster University, > School of Geography and Geology.
Subject: etx125 Sent: Monday, August 2, 1999 10:45:11 From: Hajj9@aol.com First let me congratulate you on this very informative and interesting site. I had put an order for an ETX125 over two month ago at the discovery store. I was told last week that shipments would arrive this Tuesday the 4th. I called today to check and the manager informed me that they got a fax saying that shipments will be delayed because Mead is checking all ETX125 scopes for focusing problems. I am happy that Meade has realized this problem and fixing it now and I think your sight must have brought this problem to their attention. keep the good work. Regards James
Subject: Meade ETX-125EC vs Celestron NextStar5 Sent: Sunday, August 1, 1999 18:28:37 From: VALMA22@aol.com Mike, I've been following your site since the 125 was announced and have found it very valuable in making decisions. However, I am very dissapointed in your decision not to post 125 vs NextStar5 opinions. This is a very crucial time for potential buyers to analyze frontline unbiased reporting. This is the only site that can provide this forum now! By airing these reports, this remains the best feedback to Meade to improve this product. If that means criticism in competition, so be it. It helps ALL constituents and astronomers. I'm sure Meade reads these postings and knowing that potential customers are cancelling and switching to Celestron can only improve thier product. I know how dedicated you are to the ETX and it is commendable. I also feel you are missing on a great chance to expand your site to a "small scope site" and would be doing an injustice to yourself by not grabbing the lead and run with it for a while. Please let these comparisons continue for now. Val BinkowskiMike here: Val notes:
>I also feel you are missing on a great chance to expand your site to a
>"small scope site" and would be doing an injustice to yourself by not
>grabbing the lead and run with it for a while.
This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I just don't have the time to fully support such an expanded role for the site. As I noted when announcing this last month, there are more appropriate forums for users to "share their decisions and experiences with non-ETX telescopes" and readers and contributors should feel free to post items there. In the past, I have posted actual user comparisons between the ETX and Questar and other telescopes. I expect to continue this. Comparisons are welcome from anyone who has actual and thorough experience really using both the ETX-125EC and the NexStar5.
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Sunday, August 1, 1999 13:53:50 From: LooneyRoo@aol.com Went to Natural Wonders and they had already sold the three 125's that they received. They also said that they are hoping to get five more in the next two or three weeks. Looks like it will be a while till the demand diminishes. ~Noah
Subject: ETX-125 Sent: Sunday, August 1, 1999 00:09:59 From: email@example.com (Tim Taylor) Great site - thanks so much for your efforts! I got on Astronomics waiting list for the 125 back in April (number 170). When I spoke to them last week they told me it would probably be late Sept. or early Oct. On a hunch after reading some of the posts here, I called the local Natural Wonders store & they told me they were expecting units in within a week or two. They didn't even have a waiting list yet, so I became #1 on their list and canceled my order with Astronomics. My scope arrived late Thurs. and I picked it up yesterday. Setup was straightforward with no surprises. Viewing last night was pretty limited due to some cloud cover that rolled in early, but I did get a chance to put it through the basics - very impressive unit. I did notice a slight image shift when focusing in/out as others have mentioned, but the collimation looks OK. It looks like we'll have better viewing conditions for the next several days - it will give me a chance to put it through it's paces. The light pollution can be pretty bad around here (Portland). As luck would have it my scope arrived the day we returned from vacation in central Oregon - might head up into the hills next weekend if the weather holds. FYI, it looks like the secret is out - the NW store where I purchased mine now has about 10 folks on their waiting list.
Subject: ETX-125EC is available Sent: Sunday, August 1, 1999 05:57:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Holzapfel) Friday I picked up an ETX-125EC at the Natural Wonders store at Northpoint Mall (North Atlnata). I decided not to keep it and returned it yesterday, so it is available to anyone who wants it (assuming someone else hasn't gotten it). I checked out the unit before returning and it is in excellant condition mechanically (I didn't check out the optics other than a physical examination). I returned because I already have an 8" SCT, and I decided I didn't need a 5" scope. If interested, the person at the store I bought it from is named Cathy and the number at the store is 770-475-8804. Dick
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