ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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.
Mike here: I talked with Meade on 28 December regarding the random slewing problem that has been reported here. Any owner experiencing the problem should contact Meade Customer Service. A fix is available.
Subject: Re:NexStar & ETX- 125 Sent: Thursday, December 30, 1999 11:29:34 From: email@example.com (budoman) I truly enjoyed reading your comparison on the two telescopes. We are considering buying the ETX 125 EC for our 12 year old son , he has a true interest in astronomy and has had this interest since he was 6. I have a couple of questions to ask you I hope you don't mind. Would we be able to see the gases in Orions nebula ? Should we consider buying a Ultima 2000 for a larger aperture ? Can we see the bands in Jupiter and the red storm with the ETX 125-EC ? And will we be able to look into deep space with the ETX 125-EC and take photos ? Thank you so much again for your article. And any help you can give us. Yours Truly Angela & Darryl Lamont P.S. The telescope really is for our whole family not just our 12 year old we always have loved star gazing.Mike here: You can see the Great Orion Nebula with any telescope. Larger aperture telescopes will allow you to see more of it (but still not like it appears in a long duration photograph). You can see bands on Jupiter with most telescopes and when visible, the Great Red Spot (although it is very pale right now). Deep sky objects look best in larger aperture telescopes but again, don't expect to see them they way they look in photographs. As to astrophotography with the ETX-125EC, see the various Galleries on this ETX site. Most of these were done with the ETX-90 model and so you can expect to get similar-to-better results with a larger scope.
Subject: Good Scope Review Sent: Thursday, December 30, 1999 10:42:23 From: KKurber025@aol.com I personally thought the side by side review you did was good and impartial. In some cases it was obvious the Nexstar was better in some areas than the ETX125 and vice versa. As well as a loyal Celestron user helping with the comparison. Just seems some people have a need to try and pick something, anything out to argue about when a product they are comfortable using seems inferior in any respect to another. Yet you said a number of times that both scopes are very good, its only the user preference at this point that decides which to buy. Yours just happens to be Meade, after all you are entitled to an opinion like the rest of us. The table you drew up shows very clearly the strengths and weaknesses of all scopes involved, which I liked. And if Celestron did not or would not at the time furnish a test scope, and their competition did, what else can you do? Its not like anyone is paying for this test anyway. Perhaps some of these Nexstar loudmouths would like to send you their scopes for review? Or will they just keep crying about Meade sending a unit that is unlike the Golden units they bought for themselves? This is a free sight, and very informative for any users...and I am sure many more people appreciate your efforts and time than not. So unless the loudmouths want to send their own perfect, quiet, and flawless units to you for testing for a month or so at their own expense, I say they need to just accept it or go to a Celestron site where they can get their astro egos fed properly so they can feel better about their purchase. Personally, this site has been so informative to me, and you have never asked me for a penny for all the time and work you put into it all. I appreciate all the work here, and the personal expense and time to keep it going. Have a great one Mike, and a great New Year as well! P.S.- I believe in your friend..he surely does exist! Keith Kurber
Subject: Reliability Sent: Thursday, December 30, 1999 05:04:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Reidnour) Well, I knew I spoke too soon about reporting in my last message the wonderful, perfect night I had with my 125. Tonight was a disaster! Between 2 "Motor Unit Failure" messages in which I had to Reset Autostar twice and train again twice and the "sudden slew" coming back again to say hello either during the alignment procedure or the second or third target objective, I am wondering just how "reliable" this scope is. Of course I had friends with me for the "big show" this time and got nothing of the perfect performance I got myself the other night. It was very cold, and the Autostar did get cold. I tried keeping it in my pocket and it did help some, but the sudden slew problem is a bummer. What is also a bummer is that I didn't receive a call back from Meade yesterday in response to the sudden slew message I left on the gentleman's answer machine. I am having a hard time getting answers out of ANYBODY as to what's going on here. This is getting really frustrating.Mike here: I know that Meade has received a TON of phone calls in the past few days thanks to all the telescope gifts that have been received around the world. Calls vary from the real problem (like this random slewing) to "which end of the telescope goes up?". All calls have to be handled. As long as your call doesn't get lost in "VoiceMail Hell" (gee, I didn't think to check if their VoiceMail system runs on Windows...), you should get a call back.
Subject: Re: availability Sent: Thursday, December 30, 1999 03:57:23 From: email@example.com (Jim Bruton) I called/emailed Discovery (Nature Company) Stores on 29 DEC 99 about the availability of ETX-125EC. Interesting response below, FYI... >>Thank you for your recent correspondence. >>In regard to your inquiry, we regret to inform you that Meade was having >>problems with the ETX-125. Therefor we have none to offer in exchange. >>We regret any inconvenience this may cause. If we can be of any further >>assistance, please feel free to contact us. >> >>Sincerely, >>Christopher >>Customer Service Representative >>Discovery Channel Shopping Too bad! I was thinking about exchanging my ETX-90EC... Best, Jim BrutonMike here: Meade is catching up on deliveries but not all dealers will have sufficient stock for a few weeks.
Subject: ETX-125 review S&T Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 18:56:52 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Lonn) Well, after reading the SHOWDOWN of the nexstar and the ETX-125/ec I can tell you that it all boils down to this. Should I get a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry???? I chose the Honda because I just like the way it looked and it handled. I chose the ETX because it looks more like what a telescope should look like. I don't think I ever read any comments about style on this web page? These folks at S&T know how to NOT burn the bridge behind them, and thank God they took into account the fact that this is only a $1000.00 telescope. After all, we would all like the 12 inch LX-200 or better said the SL-600 Mercedes Benz at only a measly $135,000.00. Nice convertible to haul around the LX-200. So with all that said, it gets down to that very common statement, You get what you pay for. And as for my own ETX-125, can't say enough good things about it, and folks if you get out that carpenters level and level the Scope and not the tripod you will see an improvement in pointing accuracy. This is a recommendation in the users manual of no less, THE SKY software. Y2K, here we come!!!!! Happy New Year everyone....See you in 2000!!!!!!
Subject: Meades Slewing Fix Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 12:37:43 From: email@example.com (Ezra E. Ashkenazi) I called Meade's Customer Service dept about the random slewing "Fix". The representative at first didn't know what I was talking about. After checking with someone he told me I had to send back both the Autostar and the 125 to resolve the problem. I asked him why both?. He didn't know the answer.Mike, I'm pretty wary of sending back the scope without knowing whats really going on. It could come back in much worse shape (shipping damage etc). Perhaps you could investigate and tell us more about this "fix". Thanks again EzraMike here: The answer you got is consistent with what I was told, depending upon the symptoms.
Subject: telescope Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 10:49:45 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Davor Kapelina) I am considering purchasing a telescope and was hoping you could give me some quick advice. Do you think it would be better to buy the ETX 125 or the Celestron Nexstar 5 - they seem to be similar in function, features and quality. I was first drawn to the ETX but it appears that the Celestron get slightly better reviews. Any opinion? DAVOR KAPELINAMike here: You can read my NexStar5 and ETX-125EC comparison report online. It should help you, no matter which scope you decide on.
Subject: 125 slewing fix Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 07:46:29 From: email@example.com (Gary) I haven't experienced the runaway slewing problem, but I'd appreciate any information about it, including what was done to correct so I can keep aware and determine if it's worth fixing before the problem occurs - any info would be greatly appreciated! GaryMike here: You need to contact Meade Customer Service for the details.
Subject: Sudden slewing Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 1999 21:00:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Reidnour) Can you clue me into who you spoke with at Meade Customer Service regarding the sudden slewing of the 125? I am going to call them tommorrow. Did it have to do with the AC adaptor? Sounds like you are onto something. Thanks!Mike here: Wasn't a customer service rep but someone higher up. AC Adapter had nothing to do with it.
Subject: Purchase of an ETX125-ec Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 1999 15:47:31 From: email@example.com (Matt Lydon) I've been searching the web for ETX related materials after extorting my family into buying me a 90 for Christmas. I'm seriously considering upgrading to the ETX-125EC. I spotted an email on your user feedback pages, from a man who purchased his ETX90 from Learningsmith at a very good price. I can't find them on the web, and have just learned that the company went out of business (probably from discounting too much). I would very much appreciate it if you could share with me any suggestions as to where I can purchase one CHEAP! Thank you in advance, Matt Lydon firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: The ETX-125EC is in high demand and so it is going to be difficult to find any discounting not associated with store sales.
Subject: Meade ETX125 Sent: Monday, December 27, 1999 23:30:37 From: email@example.com (anthony waldbillig) I am looking for my first telescope, and was interested in the Meade 125 EC. After reading your comments page, it seams like the 125 has many porblems that shouldn't exist for such a price, and such a company. Do you have any further news of improvements? Should I look at Celestron? Your web sit really is great. Thank you for the work you put into it. TonyMike here: Have you read the latest NexStar5, ETX-125EC comparison report? It has my opinion pretty well expressed.
Subject: Confessions of a newbie with a brand new Nexstar Sent: Monday, December 27, 1999 20:14:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Lewis) Before last week, I had only once looked through a friends department store telescope, but have been viewing the skies with binoculars for some time now. I have been visiting your site for about 9 months. I had previously ordered an ETX-125 in the spring, but cancelled my order when it came in because I had read the reports about the problems with the first shipments. I was not willing to go through the problems it was having. I was uncomfortable with the poor quality control and the responses I heard people were getting from Meade. I heard about the Nexstar at about the same time and decided to wait until I knew more about each. After looking into reviews and postings about each on your site and on several others, I decided on the Nexstar. I intended to wait until sometime in the Summer to buy it although I really really wanted one now. Merry Christmas surprise for me, my wife bought me a Nexstar!!! I opened it late Christmas Eve. I rushed through the setup instructions and took it out from a room at about 75 deg to the 40 deg outside. I had no tripod, so I just set it on a tool box on the back of a trailer in my father's driveway. Within 10 minutes altogether, I had it aligned, tested the collimation, and was showing my father a stunning view of Jupiter. I was amazed at the crisp image and the detail I was able to make out. I have 20/12 vision (as of my last flight physical), but I didn't expect to be able to make out cloud bands clearly right away. The confession part of this is that because I didn't actually read all the instructions, I didn't align the starfinder at all. I did the alignment with it just the way it was when I mounted it to the OTA. Being in a small town and having no info other than what was in the manual, I had to use the lat/long from a town 30 miles away, and I roughly guessed at which direction North was. I found out the collimation was dead on by accident when the Nexstar slewed to the first alignment star. I had cranked the focus knob far to the close focus position when I was looking at the scope in the house. When the Nexstar stopped on it's first alignment star, I started cranking the focus in and saw a perfect pattern as described in the manual. It happened to be centered on the star. After it went to the next star, I realized my error with the starfinder. I didn't start all over though because I had an alignment that put my target right within the 25mm field of view at each slew anyway. I was impressed!! I found the slewing to be smooth and quiet. Very nice. The starfinder was very easy to use. The focus was easy to manage and the scope very stable. Any vibrations I imparted by focusing or bumping the trailer went away very very quickly. The scope had no problem cooling off quickly and providing outstanding views. I have the version of the software that includes the moon and found it to work very well. I found the whole experience to be easy and intuitive once I started playing with the controller. I centered Saturn in the 25mm eyepiece and went in to drag my wife out to see the magnificent image. When I got inside, I found out that my 5 month old son was suddenly ill and it took us about 35 minutes to get to the point where he was calm and I could take my wife out for a quick look. When we got there, wham-o, there was Saturn, still centered. Beautiful! I am very pleased with the Nexstar and I consider myself lucky that I didn't buy the ETX-125. It's a personal choice, but I feel much more comfortable with the Nexstar. I would be nervous owning a 125 and always wondering what I'd have to tinker with next to fix it myself. I'd be afraid to send it off to Meade and wait forever for it to come back, possibly still flawed like some of your readers have seen. Your site is great and I know it helps many ETX owners get their scopes working. Unfortunately, it seems like they need a support group to help them get around their ETX's many shortcomings and faults. There seem to be lot of problems requiring people to jury rig their scopes. That's something a beginner like me doesn't always want to do. I've logged on to many sites over the past 9 months while I researched this and I haven't seen Nexstar or C5 owners scratching in need of help. I haven't run into the "It has a million problems, but some day after we all suffer together through the problems it will be a great little scope" syndrome like I really feel exists here for the ETX. Again, it's a personal choice. I am impressed with the Nexstar and it's packaging, it's look, feel, noise level, accuracy, cooling characteristics, ease of use, and stability. It is a solid piece of gear and I'm proud to own one. My impressions differ greatly from what you reported in your comparison. I have to say that either you got a really bad Nexstar or I got the best one Celestron made this year! I am very grateful to you and all your efforts on this site. I visit it very often and will continue to do so. I helped me very much in my quest for a first scope and I am very pleased with where I ended up. Clear skies and best wishes, Joe Lewis
Subject: Sudden slewing (cont.) Sent: Sunday, December 26, 1999 19:05:18 From: email@example.com (Larry Reidnour) Yes, one of these days I will start talking about something else, but I am bound and determined to get to the bottom of this problem because I do believe in this scope (ETX 125 EC)and I want it to work the best that it can for me. Tonight she got an A+ after 2 hours out and then I quit for the night. (analogy for me would be scoring 2 under after the first 5 holes on the golf course and wanting to walk off before I go to pieces!) Yep, I packed her up after finding all of the 12 objects in my 26 mm eyepiece that I went after without one case of sudden slewing! What did I do different tonight that from every other night when the sudden slewing would occur within the first 15 minutes? I ran her off the batteries instead of the AC adaptor. Now I am not putting all my eggs in one basket after one fantastic night, I will try it again on the batteries, but believe me, there was a big difference in that it didn't happen! This baby was on the money tonight and that included Jupiter, Saturn, The Orion Nebula, M78, M52, Sirus, Rigel, Dipha, M31, and a few others, a good mix. I am really wondering if there is a connection here with this AC adaptor and the sudden slewing. I have not tried the 12 volt adaptor yet. This is the first night the sudden slew went away with an added bonus of the scope being extremely accurate. I will keep you posted.
Subject: ETX/Nexstar review Sent: Sunday, December 26, 1999 08:34:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Randall) I read your ETX/Nexstar 5 review and like to address a few points you made in the review. This isn't a bashing of the review! Although I am a Nexstar 5 owner I DO read your site and you do a fantastic job with it. I even include a link to your site from mine. I'd just like to make a few comments, you can use them on the appropriate page on your site if you wish. I assume the ETX-125 page. 1) "a potential gotcha: you have to move the OTA (optical tube assembly) to a near horizontal position to be able to access the battery compartment (according to the manual)." This is false, moving the tube just a few degrees upwards makes the battery compartment easy to access. It does not need to be near horizonal at all. You didn't really check and clarify that in the review. 2) "The bulk of the NexStar5 base rotates as the scope moves in azimuth (or Right Ascension). The connection points for the controller and AC power cord thus also move. During my setups inside the house and on my first star alignment outside, this rotation almost pulled the power cord out of its socket as there was insufficient slack in the cord. This is something to watch out for in use, especially in the dark. During my tests outside I found that I had to continuously monitor the power cord and controller cable. [The ETX-90EC and -125EC base is fixed and does not rotate. The ETX has hard stops to avoid internal cord wrap.]" The Nexstar has a cord wrap setting in the menu to prevent this problem and it works very well. You didn't check and clarify this. 3) "The NexStar5 drive was louder than the ETX-125EC drive during tracking but much quieter when slewing at high speeds. The focus knob was easy to grasp and rotated smoothly but its size made it necessary to grasp it firmly, yielding more vibrations." If you used that little table in the photo than no wonder you had vibration problems. The focusing on the N5 is buttery smooth and I have had no problems with vibrations at all. A more solid table (if a table is used) solves this. It's only going to be as solid as the surface it's sitting on. I find the focuser size just right, not too small and not too big. Plus it's rubberized for a more positive grip. 4) "The second star chosen by the computer was behind an obstruction. I tried to skip this star and that is when I discovered that, unlike with the Autostar, you have to wait for the NexStar5 to finish slewing before you can skip the selected star using the UNDO button." Pushing an arrow button stops this process, you do not have to wait. 5) "I then selected M13, the Star Cluster in Hercules, which was below the horizon. The NexStar5 went there anyway. The Autostar tells you when a selected object is below the horizon but the NexStar5 will merrily slew to this hidden object." Correct, the easy way around this is before pushing the enter button (once a selection is made) push "info" and it will tell you the object's altitude. If it's below the horizon or too low just hit "undo" and select another object. 6) "On subsequent viewings, I found the following. One time when trying to GOTO M1, the Crab Nebula, the NexStar5 began slewing. The scope rotated about 90 degrees in RA and 45 degrees in DEC, then stopped about 150 degrees short of M1's position. The display still stated that it was slewing and the motors were running but the scope was not moving!" After the Nexstar slews fast to an object it goes into a very slow find slew mode to center it. It may have been doing this, look in the eyepiece next time this happens, you should see the field of view moving as it fine tunes. It seems to me also that the initial alignment you did was not that good as well, that probably explains not finding certain objects you tried to goto. I can state with no problem my Nexstar finds everything I ask it to goto. I take the time to level the tube and carefully center the alignment stars in the 25mm eyepiece. 7) "...the size of the focus knob made it difficult to quickly get a good focus; it was necessary to adjust the focus, wait for the vibrations to dampen out, then do a little more adjustment, wait for the vibrations to dampen out, and keep repeating the process until a good focus is reached. It seemed to take more work to get a good focus with the NexStar5 versus the ETX-125EC." I can not understand why you are having such trouble with vibrations. I (as well as other users on the Nexstar list) have no problems at all with vibrations. Like I said in point #3 a stable platform should be used. 8) I have to wonder why Meade lent you a Nexstar. I'm not a Meade basher, heck I OWN a 2045 and a 8800 but it seems a bit odd to me. I would have waited to do the review until either Celestron let you see one, a local dealer maybe let's you check one out, or a friend or someone at a star party let you check out their's. Having a competitor lend you another brand just smells funny to me. In any case I thought I'd throw in these few points just to clarify things a bit from my own side of the fence. I would like to see the site expand to all small scopes, it seems there are no small scope sites on the net. Keep up the fine job on your site, it's excellent. Tom Randall Tom Randall -- email@example.com (Remove the "P" to e-mail me) Amateur Radio - KB2SMS - ARRL / 10-10 / QRP-L #1965 Member: AAVSO Solar Division My Astronomy/Ham radio site: http://www1.mhv.net/~trandall/welcome.htmlMike here: Many thanks for the comments. I'll try to address some of them. On the battery compart vs OTA, I was just following the instructions in the manual. On the cord wrap, do you mean that the base DOESN'T rotate in the cord wrap OFF mode? I guess that wasn't clear in the manual. The table used was stable enough. It was also on a different style table on other nights. I suspect the slewing glitches were just that. Typical glitches that can occur at random times. Doesn't matter whether an ETX with an Autostar or the NexStar. Some times people get perfect results and sometimes they don't. Meade lent me the NexStar5. Celestron declined. If Celestron wants to supply an ETX and a NexStar for evaluation, that is fine with me. Since there were no takers on my request for assistance with the evaluations, one has to assume that there were no NexStar5 owners local to me. If there had been I am certain they would have volunteered. Sometime (in January probably) there will possibly be a NexStar5 page (or pages) on my site.
>On the battery compart vs OTA, I was just following the instructions in >the manual. I understand that. What I meant was that a quick small movement of the tube would easily show you don't have to move it far to install batteries. >On the cord wrap, do you mean that the base DOESN'T rotate in the cord >wrap OFF mode? I guess that wasn't clear in the manual. No, the base does move but cord wrap turned on won't allow the scope to do a 360 turn, it will go only so far and then the other direction to prevent wrapping.Mike here: Given that the manual states that you have to use the controller to move the OTA, is moving it any distance manually a bad idea? As to the base turning, it will still pull on the cord then and so the user will need sufficient slack. Just something that the user has to watch out for.
>But given that the manual states that you have to use the controller >to move the OTA, is moving it any distance manually a bad idea? Oh, you mean without power? I understand you can move it in Dec if need be. I was talking about under power. Sorry. >But it will still pull on the cord then and so the user will need >sufficient slack. Just something that the user has to watch out for. I never had a problem with it. I use 12v 4ah and 7ah batteries with homemade power cords. One thing some people suggest is to spread the center pin a bit to make the fit a bit tighter. I haven't had to do that however.
Subject: Re: Temperature and pointing problems.(Degrading) Sent: Friday, December 24, 1999 22:13:10 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Silver) About your comment about the alignment 'degrading', and how it may be related to my ETX tracking problem. (I am now trying my third Autostar/1.3c, same results in ALT/AZ mode.) RA: - My ETX125 tracks in RA 'perfectly' over long periods. DEC: - But the DEC motor occasionally 'stops' while tracking (I can hear that it stops running), noticeably causing stars to obviously drift "perfectly-vertically" out of the (26mm) eyepiece. But for LESS-NOTICEABLE DEGRADING, by carefully listening to the DEC motor, I am also convinced that although the DEC motor keeps tracking, it periodically 'sounds' different ('weaker', more sporadic)(As though the DEC motor is now getting insufficient drive signal). At these times the stars also drift (albeit very slowly) vertically out of view, and the scope alignment degrades (also very slowly). The Autostar acts "unaware" that the scope is out of position. All stars are now shifted vertically by the same, new DEC error. My RA drive motor has no such problem, staying "locked" to the star RA alignment. I will be getting together with another ETX owner in the next week or so to compare our two scopes together, before I send mine to Meade in January. Thought you might be interested. Ron P.S. My ETX125 still does sudden-slewing (DEC-only, up approx. 5-degrees) but seems to be independent of temperature. Happens indoors or out, warm or cold, about once or twice an hour.
Subject: table-top legs Sent: Friday, December 24, 1999 07:55:35 From: email@example.com (John Hanover) I just received the table-top legs for the ETX-125/EC and I wanted to pass along a tip given to me by my friends at Pocono optics. The legs were shipped with the screws too far in so that they would not make contact with the metal base of the ETX. A 1/8" Allen wrench will allow you to extend these threads so that they fit nicely into the base. Some of the readers may be interested in this little bit of ETX-lore. If you think there is any interest, I would be happy to review this product for your site. Let me know. Have a happy holiday. Thanks for all of your efforts! John Hanover P. S.- I received my refurbished ETX125 last week! Perfect collimation....Looks great! 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: your nexstar 125 review Sent: Thursday, December 23, 1999 10:02:11 From: email@example.com I thought your review of the Nexstar and ETX125 was excellent. I felt the methodology was properly thought out, and the document well written. I was especially impressed with how you acknowledged the limitations of the tests and the limitations of your setup. The only way it could have been completely objective is to get Consumer Reports use a ton of cash to hire some astronomers and purchase the equipment brand new. Even Sky & Telescope is biased since they are reviewing two of their major advertisers. I personally have much more respect for the opinions of someone without a monetary interest in their recommendation. The people who are complaining are skipping passed you explanations and ripping apart your opinions simply because you didn't agree with them. I for one applaud your efforts and your extensive report. Thanks and Happy Holidays! David Kaufman
Subject: 125 collimation and runaway declination slew Sent: Thursday, December 23, 1999 07:36:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Sorry for the long email - I have three items: 1) I read with great interest Tony Costanzo's tech tip on ETX collimation. My Meade-recollimated 125 still has the obstruction shadow slightly (emphasise slightly, noticeably less than before repair) offset to 5:00 o'clock - just as Tony describes. I emailed him asking a couple of specifics and a little clarification. He graciously replied and I appreciate it very much. My question to you is: in out-of-focus high power images of stars in your 125 is the secondary obstruction shadow perfectly centerd in the defraction rings (as I had seen in my 90) or is it slightly offset as I indicate above. Cold, cloudy weather has severly limited my evaluation opportunities and what planetary views I have had look very good so I don't want to jump to any conlusions. 2) The couple of nights I've had my 125 out I've used it with just the standard controller, not my Autostar; and with the scope in polar alignment. A few (warmer) nights ago I used the standard controller with the left screw removed so it defaulfed to polar mode. Scope tracked fine. Last night it was colder, very cold (below zero). I used the standard controller with the screw installed so it defauled to Alt/Az and I used the Mode & Speed switches to set it to Polar mode. The RA motor would dulifully begin tracking. But the declination motor also kicked in - as if it thought it was in Al/Az mode. I tried resetting the controller mode - same problem. I turned off the scope and went back in to re-read the manual and verify again how to set the controller in polar mode. Still same problem - declination motor would run. I should have tried removing the left set screw and try a 3rd time but I was just too cold to be motivated (below zero outside, frost bitten fingers toes, etc - nice warm fire inside, promise of much warmer temps in a few days - even die hards have limits). But this would seem to collaborate with others' suspicions that there is some kind of intermittent cold tempurature induced run-away slewing problem with the 125's declination drive. 3) I ordered the Flexifocus from Scopetronics. As advertized, it provides the ability to focus when OTA is aligned with fork mount (as when pointing near zenith in Alt/AZ mount). It also has another unadvertized benefit- you can now use a clothes pin for very presice focus. The Flexifocus is still a hand-turned knob with direct contact to the scope - so it does induce some vibration (though much less than original knob) and with such a hand turned knob one still hunts a little for precise focus point. However, the Flexifocus attachment collar is small and one can now use the wooden clothes pin technique for precise focus whereas the original knob was too big. So the Scoptronix Flexifocus - wooden clothes pin combination make for effective, precise focus in any position. Mike: I would sincerely appreciate any response you care to provide on point 1, and I will update point 2 when Mother Nature affords me an opportunity to do a better evaluation and confirm results.Mike here: I'll have to defer to others for checking the out-of-focus condition. The loaner ETX-125EC is being packed to be returned to Meade.
Subject: 125 vs. N5 vs. Weasner Sent: Thursday, December 23, 1999 05:50:29 From: email@example.com (Gary) Gee, I didn't have to be a rocket scientist (pun intended) to predict the bashing would begin - it seemed to me there were more positives than negatives from your reviews (geez, I wouldn't get into these hot topics even if i were paid, let alone volunteer for it - a glutton for punishment!) One disgruntled former reader (a.k.a basher) accused you of making up your professor friend - if he really doesn't exist, can I have his C5? Pretty please? Don't let the !@#$!@ get you down! You are providing a valuable service - I just hope the agita you receive doesn't outweigh the benefit you provide. Happy holidays, Gary
Subject: Re: re review Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 21:09:39 From: Dr. Martin (who assisted with the comparison report) You can please some of the people all the timem and all the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time so do the next best thing... tell them to piss off! The reason for comparing with the C5 was to establish that the schimdt-cass optics were good, which I thought we established, not that the nextstar optics were worse than the c5 optics. The c125 still wins on planets thanks to f-ratio. As we found, the nextstar tube bounced and oscillated during focusing, bad backlash or something, but perhaps just the luck of the draw -- unit to unit variation. Most of the critiques are nuances, both are c125 and nextstar are pretty good, but different people prefer different nuances. Which is fine and should be the goal of your page. It might be interesting to compile statistics rather than ancedotes. Perhaps a table of characteristics and 1-5 rating? As time goes one could track statistically quality (how do the ratings change with time, is there indication of quality control problems?). Anyway, good stuff and keep up the good fight! Dr. Martin
Subject: Review: Review Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 15:38:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rob and Karen Elgert) Hey Mike: Loved your review. Don't take this too seriously but it almost sounded apologetic for preferring the ETX125 to the Nexstar. If anyone gives you any grief, tell them to PISS OFF! These Nexstar people take this way too seriously. Anyway, after my last scope came back and I determined that it indeed was also out of collimation, I returned it for a refund. I believe that 6 months and 4 scopes was ample opportunity for Meade to get this thing right. While I still like the ETX125 concept, I am not prepared to be without a scope for extended periods. If I honestly thought Meade would have got it right with number 5, I would have given them one more chance. As it was, I was embarrassed to go back to my local dealer over this as he has been trying so hard to resolve this and Meade has ignored him as well. Anyway, as I won't have anything else to contribute to the ETX125 site, you won't here from me again. I'll just say thanks for your help in the past and I'll enjoy reading your site from a distance. With that, I'll just wish you long life and clear skies - Rob Elgert -
Subject: ETX 90EC vs 125? Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 13:34:11 From: MFRiesco@directvgla.com (Riesco, Michael F) Firstly, GREAT JOB! on your website -- it is obvious how much time and effort you put into it, and it is very much appreciated. I particularly enjoyed your recent update regarding the NexStar5 vs the 125. I am completely new to amateur astronomy (have not yet invested in a quality telescope), and have decided to purchase either a Meade "90" or a "125". In short, the price differential is not a decision "swinger" for me. Either way, it's around $1K, plus-or-minus accessories. SO, the insight I'd appreciate from you is: which of these scopes would be better for me? I understand the differences in focal length, aperture, beamwidth (field-of-view), etc. But it is still not clear to me whether the "increased" parameters of these types associated with the 125 outweigh what I sense to be the "superior" qualities of the 90 (i.e. sharper overall optics performance, smaller primary-obstruction-to-aperture ratio, etc). From what I've read, I sense that the 90 was "a gem", while the 125 tries to be "a gem, PLUS", and in so doing its reach exceeds its grasp. I may be interpreting things wrong, but that's the general impression I get. Basically, I want to use my scope for lunar, planetary, and occasionally terrestrial viewing. Of course, I'd also like to look at deep-space objects as well (perhaps implying that I should get the 125 over the 90), but, in reality, am I going to see a distant galaxy "wonderfully" with the 125 and "fuzzily" with the 90, or will it not be that different between the two? Alternatively, if I look at, say, Saturn, is there really going to be that much difference between the 2 scopes? (i.e. super-sharp ring definition with the 125 and so-so definition with the 90), or will they really be somewhat comparable? Any "qualitative" insights you could provide would be greatly appreciated. It's just not that clear to me, from what I've read, that "bigger" is necessarily "better" (i.e. the 125 over the 90). If it is, then my decision is obvious (the 125). But if it's only a small difference, and if the 90's overall performance, design, and optics are really superior, then maybe the 90 is, in an overall sense, the "better" scope. Hope to hear from you, and happy holidays!! Mike Riesco email@example.com OR Mike.Maureen@worldnet.att.netMike here: Only YOU can make that decision. There are many good things about the ETX-90 models, the ETX-125EC, and the NexStar5. Portability and usability are just two factors to consider. You seem to have a good grasp of WHAT you want to do. Just keep in mind that no visual work will come close to what you've seen in some popular photographs (except for maybe the Moon).
Subject: N5 vs 125 review Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 13:30:06 From: Dan.Odom@mcd.com I take back all the things I said about you being honest and forthright. Your review was so screwed up with misrepresentations, inaccuracies and what I have to call just blatant bias that you have lost me as a reader of your site. I have owned both the 125 and the N5. You clearly didn't understand how to use the N5 ... or, using the one provided by Meade again(!) you had a flawed scope. I now know several people with N5's and none of us experience the problems you say you had. I feel you are going to lead young impressionable astronomy hobbists to the 125 by hood-winking them with your cozy-up to Meade review. You might have tried at least using the same power when viewing objects... didn't that sink in on the first "star party" review!!! I have used an ETX 90 and it does have nice optics, but mechanically it is a piece of junk. To compare it to the N5 is like comparing a Yugo to a Lexus. I'm too disturbed by your tainted review to go on. I had such hopes that your site would be a rational, reasonable platform for idea exchange, obviously you are too closely tied to Meade for that to happen. So long, DrDanO@sprynet.comMike here: I would have loved to have used the same magnifications on all the scopes for all the comparisons but I have a limited supply eyepieces. Same with funds to purchase outright test equipment. You must have missed the fact that there was someone else helping with the comparison and he even owns (and prefers) a Celestron C5+ over the Celestron NexStar5 or Meade ETX. But then, since you question my honesty, you probably believe I lied about him. But since he does exist, he'll be sorry to learn that someone believes he is a figment of my imagination! As to the rest of your message, thanks for expressing your opinion. Good bye.
Subject: ETX 90RA, ETX125, Nextstar 5, and C5+ comparison Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 23:05:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bud Bishop) I just finished skimming through your ETX 90RA, ETX125, Nexstar 5, and C5+ comparison. Some comments: 1. Checking the collimation on the Celestrons could be very helpful. Start out with bright stars and low power. Count diffraction rings on each side of the bullseye as you move in and out of focus. Adjust the secondary mirror as the Celestron owners manual instructs. Now its time to go a step or two further. More power and progressively dimmer stars, using the same process. With my Celestar 8, an 11mm Televue plossl, at F-10, using diffraction patterns from one of Jupiters major moons seems to do the trick. Ive been amazed to find, through personal experience, how sensitive to collimation a Schmidt-Cassgrain really is. Bump the scope around a few times when setting it up requires that you check the collimation again. 2. I own an ETX 90RA with a Microstar dual axis drive corrector system. I even replaced part of the R.A. drive coupling with a sealed roller bearing. This ETX 90 tracks about as smoothly as the basic engineering of this scope will allow. Forget about comparing this scope to any other scope for prime focus astrophotography. Forget about deep space prime focus astrophotography with this telescope, period. Just read the owners manual, the ETX 90 is even slower then F-14.8 or whatever. The T value on this scope is, depending on accessories, somewhere between T-18 and T-22. Thats real slow. To slow for prime focus deep space astrophotography. When using a Meade off-axis guider, decent guide stars are all but impossible to find, and the slop in the drive train, plus the flex in all that plastic, makes accurate guiding impossible. I did use a focal reducer designed for Schimdts to speed up this slow little scope. I was able to get a 12 min. exposure with Konica 3200 of M-42. It looked like M-42, but it was incredibly grainy, very red, with little detail, and I still dont know how I tracked for that long with all the gear slop in the drive. It really kept me on my toes. All this at a focal length of about 790mm. Also on other images where I didnt attempt any corrections star trails resulted. The point being the star trails pulsated with vibrations in the ETXs R.A. drive. A bumpy ride. If your are skeptical of what Ive stated, try a little prime focus deep space astrophography with an ETX for yourself. If the drive train doesnt get you, the slowness of the basic optical system will. The above mentioned scope does okay for piggyback photography, out to about 300mm, but it does require your complete attention. Mike, remember your guiding tolerances. For a 300mm telephoto, you need to keep your guide star in the central box of a 9mm guiding eyepiece. Think what your guiding tolerances are for 1250mm. Sincerely, Bud BishopMike here: In the report I do mention that I checked the NexStar5 collimation per its manual. I agree that the ETX-90 is not ideally suited to deep sky prime focus astrophotography, but it can be done. My point in the report was that any telescope can do it given the proper equipment, even if challenging.
Subject: NextStar: First Impressions Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 22:05:20 From: email@example.com (John Martellaro) Tonight, I spent about two hours inspecting a friend's new NextStar indoors. (It was snowing.) This is a very cursory, first blush report. 1. The fit and finish are superb. Unlike the Meades, in my opinion, it is a handsome instrument. Like an iMac, it creates a certain sense of pride in its craftsmanship. 2. We put the Questar tube next to it in a moderately lit room. Peering into the Questar, we saw nothing but black around the mirror. On the NextStar, the interior of the tube was well lit, and there were reflections from lights in the room shining into the interior of the barrel - which seemed gray instead of jet black. I wasn't impressed. 3. The NextStar cannot be operated without battery power or an external AC adapter - which is what we used. (It takes 8 AA batteries.) There are no setting circles or manual slow motions. The telescope must be operated electrically with the hand controller, and we used it exclusively to move the telescope barrel around. My feeling was that this was rather awkward. But for some, it's probably more fun than Lionel trains slewing the telescope with the electric motors. The motors seemed quiet and smooth. 4. The nexrad-type finder was very cool. Obviously well thought out. That was a good decision for this size telescope. 5. It comes with a single 25 mm plossl and prism star diagonal. No solar filter. Standard procedure. 6. We didn't try downloading any software, connecting the hand controller to a computer, or anything like that. We just poked at it and compared it to the Questar in fit-and-finish kind of way. Interestingly, my friend was awed by the technical look of the Questar and thought it had a nautical or sextant type look. Hey, Lawrence Braymer! Not bad for a 52 year-old design! My overall impression is that the NestStar is a classy and very beautiful telescope. For amateur astronomers who have a computer background, they'll probably be very comfortable setting it up and then letting the computer move the system to the desired object. Most casual users and beginners will be proud to own this instrument. But for an old-timer like me, I prefer more physical control over the telescope. I'll take a 6 inch Orion Maksutov on a Losmandy mount any day. I think Celestron has created the iMac of telescopes. Advanced amateurs will probably want more flexibility. It remains to be seen how the (apparent lack of) light absorbing material on the interior of the barrel affects image contrast. John Martellaro Denver, CO
Subject: ETX125 EC and N5 comparisons Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 21:35:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joseph Spratley) I wanted to start off by saying that you have a great site, I have been following it for several months and it has been extremely informative and helpful. I wanted to let you know the results of my comparison between the N5 and the ETX125EC. I have both temporarily, although I will be taking my ETX125EC back in the next day or two and keeping the N5. I wanted to get both scopes so that I could test them out and see which is the better of the two. I tested both tonite and also a few days ago. I mainly looked at Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon. Here are my impressions: Eyepiece Nexstar 5 ETX125EC -------------------------------------------------------------------------- JUPITER 25MM Sharp view, 2 cloud bands visible The second band did not Go all the way across The planet (GRS?) 26MM Sharp view as well, it looked virtually the same as in the N5 9.7MM Excellent view, Planet appeared slightly large and bright larger than N5 (it should could see cloud though higher Mag), however detail and festoons the view was not as sharp The interruption in the could make out little Cloud band did appear cloud detail. Was not as bright To look like the GRS as N5. 9.7MM Somewhat fuzzy but Large fuzzy blob. Could barely and Barlow still decently sharp make out the two cloud bands. could still see cloud detail. Appeared Large SATURN 25 MM Cassini barely visible sharp. 3 moons visible 26MM No Cassini, 2 moons visible (Possibly 3 just too hard to tell) 9.7MM Sharp, crisp, Cassini One cloud band, Cassini, sharp, crisp 9.7 MM Large, Cassini, cloud Large, fuzzy (To be fair clouds and Barlow band, sharp were moving in on this one.) Moon Looked equally impressive in both scopes Did not get a chance to try the M42 test. Clouds rolled in. Both scopes were given about an hour and ten minutes to thermally equalize. As far as the focuser goes I like the N5 much better. It is larger and much easier to manipulate. Focusing is very smooth and I can get a sharp image. The ETX focuser is much more touchy. It is hard to get a precise focus (This may be due to the jiggles). There is almost no focuser induced jiggles in the N5. I think this is the worst part of the ETX (certainly the most frustrating for me because I am afraid to touch or even get close to the scope because of the instability). The N5 I had only required me to enter the date once at the beginning of alignment. After that I could slew to the moon and planets without entering any of that info again. What version did you have? For alignment I used a compass and level to make sure the scopes were properly aligned. The Nexstar picked two alignment stars(I dont remember which ones). It came fairly close to these (They were in the finder) I centered and aligned them. The alignment was successful. The ETX choose two stars but the scope was no where near the stars. I centered them and it said alignment successful. The N5 put Jupiter in the FOV of the 25MM near the edge around 7 oclock. Then I slewed to Saturn and it put it dead center, then the moon dead center. The Pleaides centered as well as the Hyades. The ETX missed the targets (just Jupiter and Saturn, I didnt try any others because these two were so far off.) On previous nites the ETX accuracy was bad as well (this is on the new one they sent me, my original had decent accuracy, I am running ver 1.3c of the autostar?) The Autostar seems to hold up better in cold weather than the N5 computer. The N5 worked, however, the second line which is the one that scrolls was gibberish and the display was very slow to respond. The autostar display responded much quicker. The second line was also gibberish but for some reason it would stop scrolling every couple of seconds and I could read the line. The temp here in Chicago was around 0. With the wind chill a little below zero. I find the N5 finderscope very easy and quick to use. The ETX is difficult because it is showing a smaller portion of sky and the autostar seems to not want to put the target in the finder. The motors on the ETX exhibit a high pitched whine. The N5 purrs. Neither of which is a big deal to me, although the ETX does seem to be louder. The N5 seems to slew much faster and takes less time to lock onto its target. Also the backlash in my ETX is about 3 seconds at speed 9 when changing directions. The Nexstar seems to move almost instantaneously. The cord issue with the Nexstar can get annoying although I understand why they built it this way (No hard stops required) The Lat and Long of cities built into the autostar is a nice feature over the N5 The reversed keys at different speeds on the N5 can be confusing The tour mode on the N5 points to objects below the horizon which is annoying. I also like the N5 ability to directly enter an object versus menus on the ETX. One last thing which has sold me on the N5. The Red dot finder I received with the scope did not work. I called Celestron last Thursday and the phone was answered by a live operator. She put me through to tech support without a wait. They told me they were going to send me a new one and did not even need the defective one back. They said it would take about two weeks. Low and behold it showed up on my doorsep today. Only 4 business days later. What great service. This is the exact opposite of what I received from Meade. You are correct in that everyone will have to pick each scope for themselves. I believe the N5 is vastly superior to the ETX in all of the critical categories, that is why the N5 is the better telescope for me Hopefully my experience, yours, and everyone else's will give others enough info to help them choose one. Keep up the good work. Merry Christmas! Joe
Subject: ETX125 vs Nexstar Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 19:41:05 From: email@example.com (rick8172) Your second comparison between the two scopes is decidedly more comprehensive than the original, but it appears the Nexstar provided by Meade is not representative. You report several problems that I've yet to see reported anywhere else: 1. Focus difficulty (hard to turn with dead spots). Not a single citation of this in the unofficial Nexstar site run by John Steinberg. Sky & Telescope also reports the opposite - ETX125 focus not as good as the Nexstar. 2. Excessive noise. Again, same comments as above, and same conclusion from S&T. 3. Image quality not as good as the C5. It's the same OTA! Either the collimation was off or some other problem. Diagonal quality has been questionable, and some reports of bad ones at John's site. Also reported by S&T. I suggest that your readers carefully read the Sky & Telescope comparison in the February issue for a more fair comparison of the two scopes before making conclusions or purchase decisions. Better yet, go to a star party and check out both for yourself! best regards, Rick RobinsonMike here: As I noted, not all scopes are the same even when the same make/model. We suspected a NexStar5 diagonal problem so exchanged it with the one from the C5+. Images were still better on the C5+ than the NexStar5. So that removed the diagonal as a culprit. The C5+ made a good comparison scope since it is (supposedly) the same OTA as the NexStar5. As to whether the NexStar5 I had was representative or not, who knows. Celestron declined to provide one for comparison. I'm looking forward to reading the S&T report. I've not yet received my issue.
Subject: "Runaway slewing" cont. Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 13:14:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Reidnour) It does seem pretty apparent that this is a common problem the more people register in with their comments which I have been following very closely. I think logically we may all narrow down on this problem before we get any response back from Meade as to what they think the problem is and what may correct it. I would hope that they would acknowledge this by saying that "we hear you and we are working on it" rather than just taking it case by case and offering rather simple suggestions that do nothing to make it "go away". I think you may be on the right track by suggesting to the respondent on your 12-20 update that this may indeed be a 125 EC problem rather than the Autostar. I am just another you can add to your list that did not have this problem with the 90 EC at all. Not once! It may be a deadly mixture of the Autostar and the 125EC that produces this phenomenon that is not there with the 90EC, who knows? It does seem, and I agree with you that this isolated to the 125's. I have yet to get a response from my e-mail to Meade Tech on this. One respondent reported success by keeping the Autostar warm inside his jacket (above 40 degrees) and that solved the problem for him. Another said that he experienced the problem with warm temperatures. Go figure! Next chance I get I am going to try the keeping the Autostar warm theory and see if it works for me. As common as this is starting to sound though, I know there has got to be a common solution. I don't think this is an "every bodies telescope is different kind of thing". I truly believe there is a glitch that hopefully can be corrected by an Autostar update (1.3d possibly?) My point is that I would feel a lot better if Meade would at least admit the consensus says there is a problem and we are working on it.
Subject: RE: ETX 125 Cooling ... Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 11:15:26 From: email@example.com (Rglobal Support (Joseph Barti)) A follow up on cooling I'd like you to share with your readers: I once again spoke with the same guy from Meade and gave me a tip for "Cooling". Pop off the cap on the back of scope and point the scope down to let the warmer air flow out of the back end. I tried this the other night. I started about 9:30pm PST and it was about 72 in the house and took the scope straight out and let it sit with the cap off and scope pointed down. I put a small sheet over the hole just so nothing would fly down in there. The temperature was about 27 degrees. After about 25-35 minutes I put the cap back on and began viewing and noticed a huge difference. Still wasn't perfect, but after about another 15-20 minutes, it's been about the best I've seen!!! Hope this might help some of you!! Thanks, -Joey
Subject: ETX-125 / Nexstar5 Part 2 Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 08:36:04 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kevin P. Kretsch) (I've spent my afternoon making corrections to a research paper, so excuse me if I have my referee's hat on here!) All in all, you've done a very nice job on the Nextstar/ETX report. The report reads very well and will no doubt be of great use to many people. Naturally, everyone who reads it, myself included, will have their comments, but there are no serious omissions. The performance table (ETX-90, -125, Nextstar and C5+) is great and sums things up nicely. Can we assume that Dr. Mark collimated both the C5+ and Nexstar5 on the same night? If close doubles were observed, how does the comparison of the scopes go in this regard? I hope to have the ETX Astronomy Log Book webpages published over the next few weeks. I'll keep you informed. Many thanks for all your help and advice during the year. Have a great Christmas, and my very best wishes for the new year. Merry Christmas to all, and clear skies, Kev. - - - - - Kevin P. Kretsch Photonic Materials Group, Department of Physics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND. Tel: +353 1 608 1324 Fax: +353 1 671 1759 E-Mail: email@example.comMike here: Question 1: nope. Question 2: One of those tests that didn't get done. Sorry.
Subject: ETX-125/EC vs NexStar Review Part 2 Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 08:23:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (T. Miller) I just read part 2 of your ETX 125-EC vs the NexStar 5, and would like to commend you on well-written up, and very objective report. I look forward to relying on your site as a continued source of information on these scopes, as well as looking forward to my hopefully upcoming purchase of an ETX-125/EC scope. A point that you mentioned several times in your report, and that is that the 125 has a much longer focal length than competing scopes, is important to me, since this allows for greater magnifications. This, in addition to the Mak-Cass design, fit my bill perfectly for a small scope that will perform well on planetary viewing. Merry Christmas! Tracy Miller email@example.com
Subject: 125 v. N5 yet again Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 1999 06:25:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary) Wow - what a bunch of work, let alone typing in your review! I wouldn't be able to get the chart to line up straight! Anyway, your review seemed to find more similarities in performance between the scopes than differences, which agrees with the review of Sky & Telescope which had their shootout - although they didn't really give one scope the "clear advantage" my read of the article was that they really wanted to say, "Buy the N5" - perhaps they have to be politically correct to keep the meade account. I felt a little better that the N5 didn't have the perfect tracking i had thought based on my reading the N5 newsgroups. I found it very interesting that the arrow keys reversed directions depending upon magnification, it would probably be a nice feature if that was user selectable. I still have my 125, and the horrible weather in New York has made it more of a paper weight than a scope for me right now - I still cringe at the idea of using autostar with it, because of prior bad experiences with my 90s and the one or two times i took the 125 out. I bought a rigel quickfinder, which will hopefully make the alignment quicker and easier (i felt there was parralex (spelling?) with the red dot sight) In all, I wanted to thank you for your unbiased review - I'm sure they'll be weasner bashing for it, but that's the price of fame, eh? Happy seeing (and happy holidays), Gary
Subject: 125 vs nexstar review Sent: Monday, December 20, 1999 16:15:13 From: Dean@cwdi.com (Dean) I am wondering when you're review of the 2 scopes might be done? I am on my 3rd 125 and am still having problems. The focus problem is much better but the accuracy is not nearly as good as my 90. I even went out and bought another autostar so that I wouldn't have to change it back every time I changed scopes. The 90 gets at least 90+% in the eyepiece even with both autostars, the 125 gets progressively worse in accuracy the more it is used. Meade said the encoder must be defective on the last unit and hand picked one for me. This one is better but still not good enough. I have been monitoring the nexstar chat group and see that they are having a bad runaway slewing problem that seems like it may be tied to the power supply. Also there is much concern about software versions in the scopes that may have been returned then 'reconditioned' and sold as new. The overall accuracy of the nexstar sounds like it is pretty good though. Vibration does not even seem to be an issue either. Maybe one should wait until both scopes have gone thru their growing pains. Your review will help alot of people decide. Not too much pressure, the world just awaits your thoughts. Thanks, DeanMike here: Report is now available. I am surprised that people are reporting that Celestron is selling "reconditioned" products as "new".
when I said reconditioned, I got the impression that some users felt that since Celestron removed the version number of the software from the controller they seemed to think that the returned units may have found their way back with minimal software upgrades or none at all if ti was a mechanical problem.
Subject: 2X APOCHROMATIC BARLOW IMAGE BLURRY Sent: Monday, December 20, 1999 08:55:27 From: email@example.com (Steve Zabek) First of all, this site is absolutely great in terms of educating and informing on ETX 125EC problems etc. I purchased the 125EC from Wheaton Camera in Worcester, MA and am very happy with the purchase. The package was all in tact with no (apparent) problems in collimation, allignment etc. For terrestrial viewing (I live on a lake) it has been fantastic with very clear and crisp images of my nearby surroundings. I am a little disappointed in the night time star/planetary views however. My friend has the 90 spotter scope and it appeared that the view of Saturn and Jupiter were more crisp than the 125. My biggest gripe is the 2x barlow produces a very hazy view of both planets. Mike, is this to be expected or should the image be clearer. Even the moon is not as crisp as I would have would have thought especially when reading the advertisement for the barlow. I admit I haven't allowed 2 hours of having the scope to get acclamated to the outdoor temperature. Is it possible that the barlow may have a defect? Thanks, SteveMike here: Anything is possible. The scope had not yet temp stabilized, the Barlow has a defect, seeing was just bad that night, the scope has a problem, the eyepiece used has a problem, or the scope could have been on a shakey surface.
Subject: ETX 125/EC followup Sent: Monday, December 20, 1999 07:15:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Last week I received back from Meade my new ETX 125/EC, sent to be re-collimated. Weather here in Minnesota has been cold with mostly cloudy skies, and unsteady air during short times of clear skies. So I haven't had much time to evaluate the scope since I received it but I think I can reliably make two observations: 1) The scope does indeed take a long, long time to cool down. The first night I took it from indoor room temperature outside to temp around 20 degrees F. Even after 1.5 hours images were still quite poor, and very noticeably worse as the image was near the edge of viewing. The second night I took the scope out from its location in an unheated porch where it was all day at perhaps outside temp + 10-15 degrees. After a cool down of an hour it produced much better images, and quite consistent to the edge of view. It would be nice to get a "why" explanation from Meade for the 125's long cool-down time as compared to the 90. 2) The 125 does not produce the same crisp text-book perfect star images of the 90. The out of focus images seem to be concentric but elongated slightly to one side. The in-focus image seems to have the star in the middle of the defraction rings but the star image wasn't the perfect dot as in the 90 and the defraction rings were more extensive and irregular than in the 90 and were dancing a lot. The stars were "twinkling" quite a bit that night (by naked eye) so I'm hoping the poor conditions were the cause. I didn't pull my 90 out to compare with. I think I will the next viewing chance I get so I can compare the two. On the positive side, views of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon were superb! In moments of steadiness I could see distinctly more than in my 90. I saw a moon shadow on Jupiter. It was so large and distinct that at first I thought it was a spot on my eyepiece. And the views are more pleasurable to "dwell" on. With the 90 I found myself using averted vision and waiting for those moments I could pick out a feature and sort of burn it into my memory. With the brighter, more distinct images of the 125 I could relax and look straight at the image. One final note: With the 125's weight and flexible plastic fork arms instead of rigid aluminum, you do need a heavy, rock-solid mount sitting on a rock-solid base (e.g. heavy steel pier on concrete) and protected from any wind in order to get steady views. Sorry for the length - hard to say in less words.
Subject: Tripod Sent: Saturday, December 18, 1999 13:15:18 From: BIGORTHO@aol.com I mount my old ETX on a heavy duty bogan 3033 tripod by the 1/4" bolt. Can either the new nexstar or etx 125 mount to this tripod, or do they need a special tripod? Thanks, BarryMike here: The NexStar5 base has a central mounting hole but the ETX-125EC does not so you would need some sort of a mounting bracket (ala the Shutan Easy-Mount, discussed on the Accessories - Tripods page) for it. However, for stability I would recommend a bracket for the NexStar5 as well.
Subject: Temperature and pointing problems. Sent: Saturday, December 18, 1999 07:10:25 From: email@example.com (Ells Dutton) Last night was too clear and calm to pass up, again. Outside temperature was 26F and the coldest the ETX had seen, but only by a couple degrees. Taking the scope outside from 70F, I could easily watch the diffraction pattern distortion grow from nothing to a spike (dark, pushing out from center on one side of focus to bright, pushing in from outside edge on the other side of focus with the two spikes being 180 degrees out of phase) as opposed to the lobe shapes I previously reported. However, with good seeing conditions and wanting to try some new Autostar alignment and pointing hints I had received, I carried on with the focusing capability somewhat less diminished than some previous nights. Then lo-and-behold, after about 2 1/2 hours, the diffraction distortion was gone and I was getting fantastic views of Saturn, Jupiter, and the moon at 450x with stars being about as sharp as I have ever seen in the ETX-125. I have a voicemail return-call from Meade that I have not been able to return, yet, but I had sent them pictures of the diffraction distortion problem after talking to a more-or-less knowledgeable person there who had had no immediate response other than to ask me to send the pictures (my hand sketches). I'd bet that the other temperature-change/focus problems being reported to Weasner are similar. More on pointing and tracking - I also talked to Meade about the lack of pointing accuracy (Alt/Azi mode) that I had been experiencing and previously reported to this site. They said two things, one that did not make sense and the other that did. First, they said I should get a very accurate initial north position ( I claimed to have the base surface "perfectly " level.) This didn't make much sense because that is what I thought the setup stellar alignment process should adjust for. If it is perfectly level and pointed perfectly north and I put in the right Lat./Long (I use a GPS) and time, then it shouldn't need stellar re-alignment! Mike, isn't there a simple rotation of axis that the software does to account for initial position errors? Second suggestion was to greatly defocus the alignment stars so that they almost fill the field of view, then it is easier to center the star during the initial alignment process. So, I did, both, even caught Polaris at meridian transit so got "perfect" north for initial alignment. Then I went to first "easy" alignment star, Capella, and it was about 1+ degree off (go figure, I have trained the drives on a distant Mt. peak at high power so that's not it), centered Capella, went to next star, Rigel, centered that, and then, damn, if it didn't then hit the next 10 objects that I selected well within the field of view of the 26mm eyepiece - WITHIN Meade SPECS. But, not such a happy ending; after using the scope a while longer, about 2 hours into the session with both of us getting pretty cold, I had a brand new experience that some others have talked about, and that is sudden slewing. (previously I had seen some excessive drift immediately after aligning an object, but I had been jumping on the Autostar correctors before the "all clear" beep) The sudden slew occurred repeatedly just after getting an object aligned and was tracking, then about a 1 to 2 degree sudden slew in azimuth. After manually correcting this a few times, soon the GOTO capability was lost to the point the objects were not coming into the field of view of the FINDER! I can think of two things I did that I had not done before, prior to these sudden slew errors and then loss of reference; One, I had tried switched to the Lunar tracking rate for a while but still had the moon drifting at 450x. (Autostar does not give a positive identification of which tracking rate has been selected, like a ">" in front of the current selection for some other options on Autostar.) The other thing Idid differently was that for some reason I decided to try to point the scope directly at the north celestial pole (must have been thinking about the perfect north alignment that I had and must have thought t that it would be neat to have perfect tracking with the motors not running) I drove the Autostar Alt/Azi display as close to Azi = 0.0000... and Alt = my GPS latitude. And then BINGO display reads "Proj. trap 2" and is locked up completely, no response, no nothing. Required power down, power up and all seemed okay, but I lost my perfect moment and reference. When I did the realignment, I did not take so much care in the north reference and everything went well for a while until the sudden slews. Shortly after, I gave into the cold and called it a night. Not sure if there is a Autostar temperature problem like some others have reported, or a 125 drive temperature problem, or if I've messed up the Autostar with the "trap 2" experience. Despite all this, I still think this a great scope for the occasional great views of brighter objects at high power, and the degree to which Autostar does function. I have an abundance of clear, calm, and sometimes stable evenings at 5400 ft ASL so I have been able to do a lot of observing while dealing with the idiosyncrasies of this wonderful but temperamental baby, provides a bit of a challenge to figure out what is going on; mechanically, electronically, optically, thermally, atmospherically, and yes even astronomically. Clear skies and few bugs, EllsMike here: I believe the Autostar will account for slight mis-leveling and HOME position NORTH pointing errors. However, I would expect that over time, the alignment will degrade if the base is not level. What is strange about the reported slewing problems is that it seems specific to the ETX-125EC and not the Autostar. Many users had the Autostar back in the late winter, early spring and I don't recall any reports on similar problems with it on the ETX-90EC. So, perhaps it is an ETX-125EC encoder or electronics issue.
Thanks. I have been rather obsessive with the initial alignment because I really wanted the best possible alignment and tracking, and overall I'm not too displeased since I can do a lot more with this scope than I could with my old Astroscan (not a fair comparison since they are in totally different categories of scopes), however, I think that the ETX-125/AS-1.3c GOTO alignment could and should be better than what I have experienced. The temperature stabilization is a real problem, both in the time it takes and the focus distortion. I figure it might be unrealistic to think that Meade can fix any of that, but I need to wait until I can call Meade back before I say more. The diffraction pictures I sent Meade were just rough sketches that probably don't warrant wider distribution, especially if when I talk to them they say, "What the heck is this figure!". However, the phenomena is easy to watch, if there is sufficient temperature change and a person wants to spend the first 2 hours outdoors looking at diffraction patterns and can distinguish the problem from the thermal refraction noise. The sudden slewing is a new problem for me with 1.3c. It only happened to me before with 1.1c. Sure seems like it could be a temperature problem since I had no problems until last night, along with the others mentioned. I'll monitor it more before contacting Meade. Probably will take the cautious route and keep the Autostar warm as a reader suggested, which should help isolate whether it is the AS or the 125. The "trap 2" error must have to do with a singularity in converting RA/Dec coordinates to Alt/Azi at the pole. You'd think the developers would have put a soft path around such conditions, another which can occur at the exact zenith, which I won't intentionally try. Thanks again for your comments, it is helpful to know the the 90s with AS don't have such problems. Sounds like a dilemma for Meade, once they realize and accept what is happening; "Worlds largest selling scope.", and all.
Subject: ETX-125EC Sent: Friday, December 17, 1999 20:44:56 From: DWest2314@aol.com I was thinking about getting one of those ETX 125's but after reading some of the posts on your site I am having some serious trepidations. It sounds like a great scope and the perfect next step up from my slightly smaller equatorial reflector with manual controls but now I'm not so sure. Your posts are somewhat dated. Is there any news that Meade has corrected the image shift and other less significant problems described? Please let me know your opinion. It's not often a sight dedicated to a product itself contains such criticism for the product. Thanks for any advice you might have, David S. West, Esq.Mike here: It sounds like you've missed the ETX-125EC Feedback pages for the last few months. Meade has fixed the mechanical problems. Check the current and recent ETX-125EC Feedback pages for updated status. Also, my updated report should be going online within days.
Subject: (CORRECTION): ETX125 and Autostar 'Common' Tracking Bug? Sent: Friday, December 17, 1999 19:51:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Silver) Sorry for the error, but I checked and while I was having "sudden slewing", my Autostar was running version 1.3-B ! I have upgraded it and I did not see the sudden slewing for an hour or so of tests last night between clouds. Will give you more definitive answers later. However I don't think 1.3C has corrected the random-stopping of my declination motor. Again, let you know more when the skies clear again (near Philly). Ron
Subject: ETX 125 Cooling ... Sent: Thursday, December 16, 1999 19:07:24 From: email@example.com (Rglobal Support (Joseph Barti)) I've been reading a lot about the people that have having problems with the ETX 125 in Cold weather ... I'm located in the High Desert of Southern California and we've been dipping into the teens some nights, but mostly in the mid 20's. On several occasions I've taken the scope out and hour to two before viewing. Only reason I did this is reading about this problem before I got the scope (Oh yeah, I'm a newbie ... ;) on your page. The first couple nights were rather exciting having seeing things I've never seen before, including Jupiter & Saturn though it was quite a pain to focus. Having never seen these objects in a telescope, it's hard to set a bench mark. Well last week I took the scope out to Santa Barbara and went scoping about 10 miles in from the beach. The temp was around 45-50 degrees. I was truly amazed to see how much more remarkable the detail in the scope was. Focusing was far easier. I was actually sad to take it home to view. Well after reading more and more, I decided to call Meade. The first girl I spoke with was absolutely no help and left me on hold for about 25 minutes. What an annoying hold beep they have on their phone system too... Anyways, She transferred me to a gentleman who she informed I could not see through my scope. So he first asked if I took the cap off ... I had to laugh ... I'm new, but not stupid ... So I explained what had happened between here and Santa Barbara. He informed me that the Scope should actually work Better in cold weather (never heard/read that from any source yet) and that perhaps my focusing knob needed to be "Reset". He told me to try turning the knob all the way to the left and back all the way to the right about 5-6 times to make sure the lubrication was evenly spread out. So I tried it, Same problem ... I just thought I should inform you and all your other readers about this theory ... Maybe it will help some of your readers, not me ... So the saga shall continue ... Thanks, Joseph Barti
Subject: ETX 125 ?'s Sent: Thursday, December 16, 1999 11:52:40 From: Mark_Fleming@3com.com I finally recieved my 125ETX and would like to get a hard case for it. I have read all the reviews posted and it seems most of these are for the ETX 90. Can you give me any recommendations as to where I could get cases for the 125? Also, what is your impression of the Astro Software? I am a first time Telescope owner, so I may not understand everything quite well. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Regards, MarkMike here: There are some hard cases available. Meade has one (covered on the Accessories - Cases page) and I believe JMI now has one. I've only used the Voyager II v2.0 astronomy software (anxiously awaiting Voyager III...). TheSky and Starry Night have received good reviews.
Subject: Re: [Re: Re: [Re: Runaway slewing]] Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 18:38:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Reidnour) Good News! I edited the Autostar to precise location based on the GPS coordinates for my home in Newport News, Va. This differed from the default location for Newport News by about 4 minutes lon & lat. It put the Moon dead center in the 26mm eyepiece!!! From now on, I take my GPS and will use precise location wherever I go. Thanks for your advice!
Subject: Have a Cigar! Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 17:53:28 From: email@example.com (Rob\Karen Elgery) Well, my baby finally came home to me. It came out of the box clean as a whistle. Only one problem. Despite the fact that I was assured that one of the technical reps at Meade would personally look after me and send my new scope, no one bothered to fricken collimate it. Not just a little out but ............... lets just say alot out. To be fair, the one night I had to star test that was clear was very unsteady. As we all know the best way to encourage clouds is to buy a new scope. When defocused to 6 diffraction rings, you can see six rings on one side and only four on the other. I'm hoping for the best but to be honest, I am expecting the worst. If my fears are confirmed and collimation is indeed out, I will have to give up my ETX for the last time and request a refund from my local Meade dealer. I won't say anymore regarding this as I believe it would not be appropriate to falsely accuse Meade even though they have treated me like crap. Just out of curiosity Mike, have you ever tried to collimate an ETX yourself ( I know it will void the warranty ), or is that just too big a job? Love to hear from any other readers regarding this. Despite the trouble I've had, I really like this scope and want to make it work if I can. When it does work, there's nothing like it (not even a nexstar). Here's Hopin - RobMike here: I've not attempted to collimate the ETX myself.
Subject: ETX 125 Blurs Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 09:51:56 From: BMartin615@aol.com Just a followup on my experience with the 125 a few days ago. I suspected that some of the problem was that the scope was not cooled down enough, even though it had been outside for over an hour and a half. When viewing at out of focus star images, I could see a lot of angry dancing around of the 'donut.' Last night, I put the scope out at 8:00, watched TV for a while, went on the 'net,' for a while, went and did some Christmas shopping and finally got to the scope around 11:30. The thing finally seemed to stabilize after 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Also, it wasn't as cold out, maybe 58 degrees. The images were dramatically improved. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not get a clean spit on Castor (sort or my baseline guide star). I still get a definite 'figure 8' with no clean separation, even using an electric focuser. I could almost always get a clean, definite separation with the ETX 90 I used to have, so I still have some sharpness issues to deal with. I will say that the planetary performance seems to be pretty good once it cooled down. What I especially like is the ease of setup and alignment, and the pointing accuracy even after only a half-assed leveling and pointing to north starting position. The thing will slew halfway across the sky, and find a faint galaxy in Los Angeles light polluted skies in a few seconds that would have taken me FOREVER to find with a manual scope. Now if I can just get these optics fine tuned, I'll be a happy camper. So I guess the keywords here are LONG COOLDOWN PERIOD. Thanks for the great site Mike Bob
Subject: ETX125 and Autostar 'Common' Tracking Bug? Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 00:20:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Silver) I purchased an ETX125 & Autostar one month ago, and have been experiencing a tracking problem similar to ones described by djhodny (Nov 8) and edutton (Nov.11th). My new Autostar will goto, and track, objects VERY accurately in the Alt/Az mode (FOR AWHILE)(3 to 20 minutes). (Problem-A) - After 3-to-20-minutes, the Declination-motor seems to 'stop' for several minutes, causing the tracked star to drift vertically out of view. If I "jog" the DEC (up-down) buttons on the Autostar it will begin tracking again, but the internal star-map alignment has been shifted by the amount of declination lost until I did the jogging. If not 'jogged', the stopped DEC motor may not resume on it's own for 'at-least' several minutes. This is not too serious a problem if I happen to be watching at the time the DEC motor stops (I just jog it back on). And if I am continuously 'star-hopping' I may not see this problem at all! - - BUT if the scope is tracking while I am not-paying-attention, when I return, the object may be FAR out of view, and the alignment needs to be re-done! (Problem-B) Another (more unusual??) problem occurring while the ETX has been tracking accurately and smoothly for 3 to 20 minutes; the DEC motor suddenly/spontaneously 'slews' the scope upward about 5 degrees!! There is no-stopping this event while it occurs. When it's finished, again the entire internal star-map alignment is shifted 5 degrees, and the ETX needs re-aligning. My own guesses are: (1)-Bad Autostar electronics (But I've tried two Autostars, with the same results), (2)-An intermittent circuit problem in the ETX DEC-motor circuitry, (3)-An Optical Encoder problem in the DEC Circuitry. Meade Support will send me another Autostar to try, and if that doesn't solve the problem(s) asked me to send the ETX back to them for repair. The Meade Support person I spoke to also said he personally had never heard of my complaint(s) before, but I think they sound similar to the folks mentioned above. I'm very interested to know if these problems sound familiar to other ETX/Autostar users! Thanks for your great, and NEEDED Site!! Ron P.S. Just noticed two other folks on your Autostar page (ggreaser, Nov.12 and Eashkena, Nov.30) that describe my (#2) 'sudden slewing' problem too! My sudden slewing problem also occurs at room temperature. By the way my Autostar is running version 1.3c.
Subject: "Runaway slewing" Sent: Sunday, December 12, 1999 18:36:33 From: email@example.com (Larry Reidnour) I was so glad to have discovered your website the other day! I thought I was going through all this alone! I have just recently upgraded from a ETX-90EC to the ETX-125EC with the #497 autostar. There was a dramatic improvement from all the "weird stuff" that was happening with the 1.1 version (I didn't know about statistics to reference what letter version it was at the time) to when I got another Autostar from my dealer with the 1.3 version installed. I spoke to an engineer at Meade about the first problems and he told me that I needed 1.3 with the 125. The version was 1.3b and I had a problem simular to what I have read from your other respondents as to "runaway slewing". It will happen during the 2 star alignment procedure or any particular goto just as it is slewing in on the object before the beep. I never know when this is going to happen. It will all the sudden, "rev-up" and move 5-10 degrees in any particular direction and then beep and start tracking what it thinks to be the object. This throws the alignment completely out of whack and I have to repeat the alignment procedure. Tonight, it actually reset itself after one of these "quirks". When this isn't happening, it puts the scope right on, rarely out of the 26mm eyepiece on stars or planets. You mentioned to another gentleman from previous feedback that Meade didn't really have an answer for this and that you had heard of this happening with other 125 users. Have you heard of a solution to this yet? I was dissapointed that 1.3c didn't correct this. Please help if you can and I appreciate and enjoy your fine site. Thank You! P.S. I do have a problem with getting the moon in the eyepiece. It consistantly misses the 26 mm eyepiece, but shows up in the viewfinder about 8 o'clock from the center of the crosshairs halfway between the center and the outer rim. No problem with the planets and even more consistant with stars and Meiser objects. From what I have been reading on your site the last couple of days, I guess I don't have a lot to complain about! I think this is a fine scope and I am very pleased with the optics!Mike here: The slewing oddity is still that. As to the Moon, be certain you have the correct location and day/time input. Obviously, errors in those will make a significant difference in the Moon's calculated position.
Thanks for the quick response Mike! Please keep us posted if you get the inside track on a remedy to the slewing problem. I'll use the GPS and fine tune my location to see if that helps with the moon. Good to be aboard!
Subject: CCD on ETX-125EC Sent: Sunday, December 12, 1999 16:29:50 From: Tgargiulo@aol.com I was wondering if anyone has experience with hooking up a CCD to a 125. I would like to either connect a digital camera or a CCD imager to the scope, but I would like to hear some experiences prior to making the investment. Thanks, Tom GargiuloMike here: CCDs and digital cameras have been used with the ETX-90 models. The experiences should be similar with the -125. You can search the site for "CCD"; you'll get lots of hits.
Subject: Fwd: ETX 125 Sent: Sunday, December 12, 1999 14:03:38 From: BMartin615@aol.com I think I am not alone with the problem I described. One of your readers responded to me regarding my problem and describes almost exactly the same problem (I guess). My problem exists with Los Angeles area temperatures between 45-50 degrees. Bob ----------------- Forwarded Message: Date: 99-12-12 09:21:41 EST From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ells Dutton) Dear Bob, I've had my ETX-125 for about one month. I see almost exactly the problems you reported to the Weasner site when the outside air temperature is below about 40F. Stabilization usually took more than two hours at warmer temperatures. Yesterday I kept the scope in my unheated garage all day at about 40 degrees and then took it outside at dark into 30 degree temperatures and same problems persisted, even after a couple hours, before I got too cold and gave up. Seems like it is a summer scope, which is a big disappointment. From the sounds of things, hope of getting much help from Meade is unlikely, unless you want to return the scope and wait maybe until next spring to get it back, which is what we might be doing anyway. I'll watch the Weasner site for your response from Meade. I probably will call them also. (added later) I have done a little more investigation of the ETX-125 cooling effects while monitoring, visually, the diffraction patterns of the "Christmas ornament" test. When taking the scope from 70F indoors to 35F outdoors and shading the scope from the direct sun, I watch the diffraction pattern go from well centered concentric circles to a pattern that has a dark lobe on one side of the focus and a bright indentation on the other side of the focus, taking about 15 minutes for the gradual transition which persisted for about an hour at which time I had to quit monitoring. But , I did leave the scope outdoors in shade the rest of the day (8 hours) and then by 3 hours after sunset when I got back to it, the star diffraction patterns looked okay. Seeing conditions at the time were not the best but I could barely, maybe, resolve the four components of Epsilon Lyra, Maybe the cool-down required is on the order of three or more hours for these temperature differences with the problem being some sort of distortion in addition to the usual side-wall effects. Ells
Subject: Nexstar 5 First Impressions Sent: Saturday, December 11, 1999 21:25:05 From: Naptownman@aol.com I just wanted to write and give some first impressions of the Nexstar 5 that I recently purchased. I also may be able to help the individual that had problems getting theirs to work with batteries. I got the scope home from the store and opened the box. Found another box! Celestron double-boxes this scope for shipping. Inside the second box was the scope packed very well using expanding foam and plastic. I removed the scope from the foam and saw that Celestron had wrapped the optical tube with tissue paper. No sweat here except that it was wrapped before the tube was mounted on the fork arm. So there was paper under the attachment area. I applied a little pressure to cock the scope and "most" of the paper came out. It's hard to tell if any was left behind under the attachment. I looked over the optics - really I gave it the flashlight inspection and didn't see anything gross. There are a few pinholes or other blemishes in the mirrors but I know this is the most severe inspection you can give so everything appears to be worse than it is. I did have to clean one small smudge of fingerprint off the corrector. One note: for anyone who has read earlier reviews of the C-5 will know Celestron was gigged on their lens cover. Well, it's still the same. Hard to remove, hard to replace. The felt on mine is already curling from snagging on the front of the OTA. I gave the manual a quick look-see and grabbed a pack of batteries and installed them after first powering up with the AC adaptor. Pulled the plug on the adaptor and my Nexstar when dead. My heart stopped! I pulled the battery cover and double-checked that the batteries were in correctly and they were. Tried to power up again - no luck! I then got back into the battery compartment with the power on and made sure the springs were pressing the batteries against the terminals. Seems that the batteries were just a little fat or the battery holders were a little small as I noticed they didn't slide into place very well and the springs are weak for the amount of friction. My Nexstar came to life again!! To make a long story short about battery power, I found one positive battery terminal that was staked too tight and the nylon cold-flowed. In other words, the terminal was lower than the surface of the battery holder it was staked to. The terminal is a smaller diameter than the battery so when the battery is in place all it touched was nylon. I took a small screwdriver and pried the edge of the terminal along its circumference so it was above the surface of nylon and haven't had a problem since. First light was a joy. It was a very cold evening in Indianapolis and after giving the scope a half hour to cool down (probably too short of time) I aimed at Jupiter with a 15 mm saw distinct banding though not all the time. The view was bright and contrasty - though maybe a little less so than what my ETX-90 RA would provide. Still a very good view. Saturn was also very good. The Cassini Division would drift in and out. There were some signs that the scope wasn't fully cooled down. I did a quick star test and noticed that I was ever so slightly out of collimation. The views will only get better after I take the time to tweak this. Celestron provides a page in their manual on how to do this. All in all, I was very happy with this short first light episode. I was really impressed with the silky smoothness of the focus knob. My ETX-90 RA is really grundgy to focus but I lived with it because the optics were outstanding. The optics on my Nexstar are very good and will improve when I take the time to tweak the collimation. Are they as good as my ETX? Hard to say..but I'm very happy with the purchase. Did I bring it home from the store in perfect condition? No. Am I concerned about some pieces of tissue paper under the OTA mount? Yes, though I didn't notice anything wrong with the motion of the drive motor. I think that Celestron and Meade (now that they seem to have corrected their problems with the 125) both have great 5" scopes. I bought Celestron for my own reasons... which may not be valid for other people. And so far, I'm pleased. Now if they'd just start shipping the tripod..... Don Pamachena, Indianapolis, IN
Subject: Re: Re: Nexstar problems. Sent: Saturday, December 11, 1999 18:48:29 From: email@example.com (Caleb Parson) Please add note: A combination of prompt action on the part of Celestron and extremely good service from StarSafaris.com resulted in a new scope being sent my way as an exchange. I am very satistfied that both companies did everything in their power to resolve an infrequent problem with minimal inconvienence to me as a customer. -- Caleb Parson PO Box 1036, Rota, MP 96951 Northern Marianas Islands firstname.lastname@example.org FAX & Voice message: (877) 890-4338
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Saturday, December 11, 1999 16:04:05 From: BMartin615@aol.com I just bought my ETX 125 last week. This is my second ETX, the other was a 90RA. I also had an LX50 7" Mak for a while. My first observation was that the fork assembly is not as rigid proportionally as the 90 and does flex a little bit more, although it doesn't seem to affect the scope much unless you are touching it (I have an electric focuser). The goto seems to work pretty well, and is quick and easy to align. I find that the scope and the Meade tripod are almost as portable as the 90 used to be. I usually just leave it on the mount, pick up the whole thing and walk outside for a quick setup. Now, the bad news, and maybe some of your readers might also have some input. My 90 would need about 15 minutes to stabilize, and the LX50 a good 30-45 minutes with the fan running. The 125 never seems to stabilize, and in fact the image gets worse as the scope cools down. Stars take on the look of snowballs instead of pinpoints. Its not dew, or fogging of the eyepiece or anything obvious and everything is perfectly clean. I have used the erecting prism, and so have tried it with the flip mirror in both positions. Also, I know that the problem in not due to any atmospheric conditions. I also aimed the scope at the Christmas lights on my neighbor's garage 150 feet away, and again I could not bring it to a sharp focus after the cool down period. The in and out of focus star test looks OK and symmetrical, so I don't think the problem is collimation. The only thing I can think of is that the mirror exhibits gross spherical aberration after the cool down. Go figure, I'm stumped. The only thing I can think of is a defective primary mirror. I will call Meade this week, and write back with any information I receive. I would appreciate any information that you or your readers might have. Thanks Bob email@example.com
Subject: Looking for your review Sent: Saturday, December 11, 1999 02:29:23 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Roger) First Great site!! I was wondering if your review of the 90 125 etx and the Nexstar 5 was on your site yet. I cant seem t find it. I am trying to talk my wife into the ETX 90 for Christmas.Mike here: The expanded comparison is being typed up inbetween answering emails and doing the regular updates to the site and working and doing other things in life. Sorry for the delays. I am hoping to get it online in about a week.
Subject: Evaluating ETX 125 optics Sent: Friday, December 10, 1999 08:26:13 From: Scott.Messing@cendant.com (Messing, Scott) About a month ago I purchased an ETX 125, and was very impressed with the quality of the optics. Lately however, Jupiters bands and Saturns division don't seem to be as sharp as they once were. I am concerned that the optics might be out of allignment. How can I tell to see if it is just me or the scope. Also, if it is the scope, is there anything I can do to make some fine adjustments. I would consider sending it back to Meade, but with all the horror stories of people being without their scopes for extended periods of time, I'm not in any rush to go that route. Thanks in advance Scott MessingMike here: You can do the "Christmas Tree Ornament" test. Search the site for that phrase and you'll find the reference. You might also check the optical surfaces for a residue (dust, moisture, etc.). Of course, variations is seeing from night to night can affect the quality of the views.
Subject: Nexstar problems. Sent: Friday, December 10, 1999 04:31:54 From: email@example.com (Caleb Parson) We recently purchased a Nexstar 5. It works with the AC adapter but not with the 8 AA alkaline batteries. The new batteries were ok and we triple checked the installation of the batteries. Have you heard of any electronic problems with the nexstar? Do you know of any good Nexstar sites? There is no email contact for celestron or 800 number for costumer service. Thanks for your earlier response about the etx 125 sincerely Kurt Woolslayer & Caleb Parson Classroom Teacher /Technology Coordinator Rota High School - CNMI/PSS Rota Island Commonwealth of the Marianas IslandsMike here: Since I'm contemplating moving the site from being an ETX oriented site to being a Small Telescope Web Site, I'll post your message on the next site update. It will be on the ETX-125EC Feedback page. I won't be doing a NexStar page until I make my final decision about changing the site. As to NexStar sites, you can start with "The Unofficial Nexstar5 Resource Site": members.xoom.com/nexstar
Subject: telescope selection Sent: Wednesday, December 8, 1999 20:06:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Barry German) I eagerly await your article on the ETX-90EC, the NexStar5, and the ETX-125EC.as I am interested in one of these three, but have not found much feedback on the NexStar5. When will you be posting? Thanks in advance. BarryMike here: I am typing up the report now. It will take some time to finalize but I hope to have it online in about a week.
Subject: Warranty or Not Part II Sent: Wednesday, December 8, 1999 17:56:40 From: email@example.com (Rob\Karen Elgery) Here it is one week later to the day since I left my sad story with you. Since then, I have left repeated messages with the Meada customer service (oxymoron) people. Despite my pleading, not a single soul could be bothered to call me and let me know of the progress regarding my scope return. I am not sure what goes on down there in SoCal but it obviously is not customer support. At this point I am beyond mad and just now sad. All I know is that I forked over $1000 to Meade Instruments Corporation and they took the money and ran. I guess I can hope that my scope may show up before the new year. At least I don't have to stand out in the cold looking thru a frozen eyepiece. Anyhow, I'll just keep tuned into your site and see how much other people are enjoying their ETX's even if I am being denied mine. At least I may learn something that way. Well, I have to go. The sky is clear and I think I'll break out the sco..... , oh yeah, I forgot that I don't have one. Thanks for nothing Meade Instruments (literally). Clear Skies to You Mike - Rob (being screwed up in Canada) Elgert
Subject: Your web site Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 1999 18:55:41 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Roberto Botero) I just needed to thank you for maintaining such a wonderful site. I received my brand new ETX-125 just two weeks ago. I had found your page some two months ago, but as my scope took almost three months to arrive (I live in Colombia, South America) I didn'tt pay much attention to it at the beginning. I have found it superb. It has everything a beginner in the use of telescopes needs. I will implement some of your listed tech tips (perhaps the focus knop softener would be nice...). I have found that the improved ETX-125 works much better than the old one. One cousin bought another in July and he's had problems with tracking noises and focus. But so far mine works perfectly. The only problem is with too much sensitivity at the focus knob. We (my girlfriend, my brother and I) went out two sundays ago (the weather has been dreadful here) and saw first light in a very dark spot. We could perfectly see M31, M42, Jupiter and Saturn, then my batteries died, but we were amazed!!!!. Ok enough for now. These holidays I expect to go to a really tiny island in the Caribbean so I am preparing for it!!!!. Thank you again for your excellent site and for sharing all this helpful information with some very excited new sky watchers.... Sincerely, Roberto Botero
Subject: Re: ETX-125EC vs NexStar5 Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 1999 11:12:47 From: Scott.Messing@cendant.com (Messing, Scott) I have become an avid follower of your web site and am looking forward to reading your evaluation of both scopes. Some people have suggested that I look into an eight inch scope, but I think that I will lose any portability I currently have with the 125, even if it just gets setup outside the house. I usually just carry the scope from my front door to the side of the house. Also, my budget only allows for around $1300. Oh well, so much for dreams of LX200's dancing through my head. Thanks again, Scott Messing Scott B. Messing Project Manager Information Technology Cendant Corporation (973) 496-5146
Subject: I just got my ETX-125EC and: Sent: Sunday, December 5, 1999 5:16:59 PM From: GrumpaBob@aol.com (Bob Fandrich) I got my new ETX-125EC in early November and had no problems with it as received. Everything worked well, everything was properly assembled, there was no shipping damage and I am more than satisfied with performance. The drive motors are not too loud, focusing does not "flop" the mirror and stays on target. The design deficiencies were expected so I had no unpleasant suppresses. I am working on modifications to improve the support stiffness and other known problems, which I will post if I solve them. I suspect there are many happy customers like me who, basically have nothing to say so they don't. I wrote because I don't want readers to think all the 125's have problems. Bob Fandrich GrumpaBob@aol.com PS Mike, keep up the good work, you are much appreciated.
Subject: Warranty or not? Sent: Saturday, December 4, 1999 10:10:17 AM From: email@example.com (Rob\Karen Elgery) I have a tale to tell you and your readers. It is a tale of woe with all the elements of a great tragedy. It all began almost 8 months ago when a certain large faceless corporation proposed a bold new product for the astronomy marketplace. Of course I am speaking of the ETX125EC. I first heard of the wonderous now telescope with the goto fuction from my local science shop owner (who has been the only saving grace in this little soap opera). He spoke of the expected quality of this scope based on it's predeceasor the ETX90 and the reputation of Meade corporation. Well what's not to like? A quality product produced by a reputable company distributed by a first class retailer. I placed my order then and there and waited patiently. Skip ahead 3 months............ On August 8 of this year, my new baby arrived. No tripod but at least I had something with an eyepiece to look thru. I was in astroheaven. I got the chance to really put it thru its paces about 10 days later. Much to my disappointment, that first scope was out of collimation and well as having focus shift problems and drive trouble. So back it went to the store for an exchange. The same day I walked out of the store with scope #2 under my arm with great expectation. Boy was I wrong. Before I got to the car with it, I heard the telltale rattle of an ominous, evil sound. Many of you know my pain as it was the sound of a secondary baffle bouncing around the inside of the tube. Back I went, undaunted, to the store with my $1000 infant toy. The retailer had no other scopes and poor prospects of receiving a new one before Christmas(they still don't have another one). So this one had to be sent back and I would have to wait for a new one to return from Meade. Skip ahead 9 weeks ( yes you read it correct, 9 weeks)...... At this point I am a little panicked as Meade customer service could or would not help. Where was my scope? Would I ever get a new one? Does anyone at Meade really care? Apparently not! Once again, the only saving grace was the help of my local Meade retailer. Finally scope #3 showed up and I was once again happy and surprisingly optimistic. Then I opened the box. The list of defects included: i) A finderescope in three seperate pieces that I had to reassemble. ii) A broken right ascension tape. iii) A hand controller just thrown into the box and rolling around loose for two thousand miles(it never did work properly). iv) Every component was cover in a fine white gunk. Yes it was on the corrector and even inside the scope. These were problems I was willing to attempt to correct myself as the last wait was almost 3 months. I was afraid if I sent it back, I might not get #4 scope untill Christmas. I should also point that every time this scope crosses the boarder, I will be faced to pay $70 in brokerage fees on this side. I should also point out that this scope had two seperate return numbers on it. Obviously it had been to two different customers before me and failed. At this point I am desperate to make this scope work but alas I could not clean the gunk off the corrector(everything else I could repair). So I called Meade and talked to customer service after being on hold and having to pay long distance charges because this corporation doen't have the forsight to have a fuctioning 1-800 number for its paying customers. Well customer service fellow "Ed" tells me that I should send the scope back and they will send me a new one. I request that they will send one to my local retailer and when it comes, I will exchange mine with the retailer. That way at least I will have something to use until a new scope comes."Ed" tells me that this is unacceptable and that I will have to send mine back and just wait. He did promise to send a new scope immediately as soon as the old one was received at the factory. Meade received my old scope last Monday at 8:47 am according to UPS tracking. I called "Ed" this friday and asked when to expect my new scope. He told me that it was not yet sent. I asked when it would be sent. He told me sometime next week but would not commit to anything definite. I guess this is another example of a large corporation holding the little guy ransom. At this point, I will be 6 months thru my warranty and not have a scope to show for it. So here I sit in astrolimbo waiting not so patiently and very, very angrily go my baby to come home. Everyday closer to Christmas means a longer wait as we all know that deliveries back-up at this time of year. It is apparent that Meade could care less about my plight. By the time I get my scope back and factor in all the long distance, shipping and brokerage fees, I probably should have saved my money and bought a Celestar 8 deluxe (although I have not ruled this option out once I receive my ETX). I am sending this information that you may all read about the way in which Meade corporation looks after its customers. Every word in this story is factual and true. Despite the horror of this story, let me assure you of it's authenticity. I would like to e state for the record that I have owned nothing but Meade products in the last 5 years and have been very satisfied. However this last episode has left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I am willing to give Meade one final chance to correct this but it better be fast and it better be right. I am not holding my breath............clear skies to those of you with scopes ( it must be nice). Annoyed - Rob Elgert Mike: I would really appreciate if you would post this letter. I am totally at the end of my rope on this. I have never been treated so badly and I think that all potential Meade customers should be aware of this issue. I am hoping that maybe awareness of this problem may invoke change at Meade. You're a good, honest person and I really appreciate all the hard work you do on this site. Keep it upMike here: Sorry about the problems you're having. It is unfortunate when such things happen. However, as we all know, such experiences can occur with any company, whether it is Meade, Microsoft, Mazda, or whatever. On the positive side, I expect your real warranty will arrive when you receive the final scope.
Subject: f10 vs. f15 Sent: Thursday, December 2, 1999 15:25:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (ostergaard) Just to join the ETX vs. NestStar fray, a quick question: f10 for the NextStar vs. f15 for the ETX15EC--how will this impact on the "average" user? The general wisdom, I gather, is that a longer focal length allows better resolution of bright bodies, such as planets and the Moon. It also implies a greater absolute magnification. A lower f-stop, derived via a shorter focal length for the same aperture, will lead to brighter views of any object, such as Messier or deep sky objects. What do you think? What are the tradeoffs? Quite frankly, I've been more than happy with my ETX90RA, as you know. I usually aim it at planets or the Moon. When I've tried for deepsky objects, I've been disappointed by dimness. I've also noticed that most larger telescopes tend to be in the f10 range. You refer to this briefly in one of your reviews, but I have not found any other references to this factor on your site. I'm interested in your thoughts and opinions. Thanks, as always, for being the keeper of the ETX flame. Bob -- Bob Ostergaard email@example.com "How many anarchists does it take to rule the world?"
Subject: ETX90 vs ETX125 Sent: Thursday, December 2, 1999 05:50:06 From: Smiledock@aol.com I can't decide whether to purchase an ETX90 or an ETX125. I'd call myself an advanced beginner astronomer. The scope would be used for family viewing. I travel throughout the northeastern USA by boat and would use the telescope for sky viewing as well as for bird watching. Is the ETX125 going to give me significantly better viewing? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.Mike here: If you can wait another week or so, I'll have my report online discussing the ETX-90EC, the NexStar5, and the ETX-125EC.
Subject: 125EC Sent: Wednesday, December 1, 1999 20:15:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Harry.T) I received my ETX 125 about 4 months ago and am now on my 2nd one, I find Meade products to be nothing more that poor quality junk, I don't know why we have to accept this piece of trash, Meade calls a telescope. Maybe Japan will have to start selling Telescopes so Meade will have to put some QUALITY into their products. Please people don't throw your money away.Added later:
I just want the consumer to get what they paid for. Your web site is very good by the way.
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