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.
Subject: ETX 125 Spec Sent: Monday, January 31, 2000 16:05:34 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve & Cathy Bedair) Thanks for all the great info! and a great webpage! I am on the ETX waiting list and hope to have one in a couple of weeks. I am converting a tripod to use for the 125. Would you happen to know the diameter of the base of the 125 ? And the spacing of the attaching screws ? I have photos of the base but no measurements. Thanks Again and keep up the Great work!! Sincerely, Steve Bedair / Longview Tx.
Subject: ETX 125 question Sent: Sunday, January 30, 2000 02:05:58 From: email@example.com (Joseph A. Cota) My wife recently bought me a ETX-125EC. Thankfully, I have not yet experienced the terrible problems that some other users have had. I do have one question though. Mine came with a heavy metal adaptor that mounts between the "Deluxe" field tripod and the base of the scope. It must have been an afterthought as the ETX manual does not discuss it or include it in the parts list. However, an addendum sheet was included that shows the two table mount covers on the side of the base pointing AWAY from the "N" tripod leg. The operating instructions for the tripod, however, indicates the two table mount hole covers should be positioned above the "N" leg, which is 180 degrees from what the addendum sheet says. Which is correct? Does it matter one way or the other? Thanks Joe CotaMike here: If you think about the orientation that the table top legs would put the ETX into, you'll realize that they support the ETX when tilted to the North (in the Northen hemisphere) and the single table top leg points South (coming out of the ETX base). This would indicate that the two mounting holes on the side of the ETX base should be on the North side when the ETX is attached to the tripod. Nice to hear a positive report on the ETX-125EC.
Hi Mike, right you were about the field tripod mounting. I have another question about my new ETX-125EC. Today I installed an electric focus motor. It makes an incredible difference, especially while using higher power lenses. It is so much easier to get a clear, sharp focus because the vibration from focusing by hand is esencially gone. The only thing is that it squeels like a pig and I'm sure it's installed correctly. It sounds like the brass gears are grinding, and it doesn't look like there is an easy way to adjust them. I took it off several times to check the gears and they look OK (ie. no scratches or metal filings), but they sure sound like they are grinding. I don't think that the electric focus mechanism could hurt the focusing shaft even if the gears are grinding, so it is probably no big deal. If the gears wear out it is easy to replace, although somewhat expensive at $119.00 for the unit. Do they all make the squeeling, grinding sound or is there a way to adjust? Thanks, Joe Cota
Subject: RE: ETX125 Sent: Saturday, January 29, 2000 14:29:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rob\Karen Elgert) I haven't talked to you in a long while but I still read your site regularly. I am beginning to wonder about the integrity of Meade regarding the ETX125 issue. As you may remember, I'm the guy who had 4 of them that failed and the guy that Meade ignored for 6 months. Anyway, I am still getting people(who are reading the archives) calling me (e-mail) to ask if those things really happened. These scopes have not been redesigned or improved yet Meade continues to ship them. Are you hearing good reports that you are not posting? I read thru the site and some of the archives and almost 100% of the reports complain of shortcomings with the ETX125. And the Autostar appears to be one large nightmare. I see guys like Dick Seymour (who apparently is a computer geek and knows his stuff) still having major problems with the Autostar and downloading new firmware. It seems to me that this scope is going to give people new to astronomy, alot of grief. I cannot imagine a "newbie" being able to work thru alot of the problems that the ETX125 presents. In the end, these problems will drive potential astronomers away from the hobby. This is bad for the rest of us as with less astronomers, there will be less good sites from which to observe. Only with greater numbers of amateurs will we be able to preserve the noght sky. The optics are mediocre (according to the Sky and Telescope review). The mount is flimsy at best (getting the vibrations out are a challenge even for an experienced amateur). The drive is unreliable over a range of ambient temperatures. The scope will take in excess of 2 hours to reach thermal equalibrium making it unusable as a spur of the moment scope. The Autostar does not work reliably. In the cold, below freezing, it does not work at all. I won't even bother to comment on the tripod. I was stunned to see that Meade is now selling the LX10 tripod as a solution to the ETX125 vibration woes. Is it a coincidence that this happened the same time the Sky and Telescope review came out? Only a fool would believe that. Meade fousted this tripod on the S&T reviewers because they knew the ETX125 would fail miserably on the standard tripod. If I still owned and ETX125, I would be furious that Meade now has a solution to the wobble woes after I had spent $200 on the standard Meade ETX tripod. More evidence of Meades total lack of concern for their customers. I believe that endorsing this scope to anyone (I am not singling out you Mike) is not good for astronomy in general. The frustration factor is high for experienced observers so I cannot imagine the effect on a novice. Meade needs to wake up down there and discontinue this product until it is redesigned. They won't do this as long as people are buying them in large numbers. We need to get the word out that this scope is inadequate and that Meade customer service needs a new manager. As my previous letters stated,customer service has apparently not improved. I am still getting mail,from people who read the archives, indicating Meade is still providing shameful service regarding warrantee. There was a letter in your posting of Jan 28 stating that Meade did not answer their phone or return the customers calls. I just wish that people reading this site would interpret the letters with a little more wisdom. I know you liked the ETX125 Mike but the truth be known, it could be alot better for very little more money. I am sure for another $150 the mount could be upgraded and the electronic components as well. The same with the Autostar. Another $25 and this could be a phenomenol product rather than a $150 pain in the ass. Lets send a message to Meade regarding this product. Call or write a letter and tell Meade about the inadequacies of the ETX125 and the Autostar. Maybe then they will improve it. Clear Skies - Rob ElgertMike here: As I have previously noted, those who've had problems tend to be the most focal. But there are also positive reports (why would I not post them?). I must have overlooked the comment in the S&T review that the "optics are mediocre". Where was that stated? You are right in that many have had problems but I don't believe we can assign a percentage to that. Afterall, we only know about those who've written in, both positive and negative. I would expect there are many users, happy or not, who are not on the Net so we don't hear from them. And demand still seems to outpace supply.
Subject: No ETX 125 Recall Sent: Friday, January 28, 2000 21:24:43 From: email@example.com (MOTO) This message is in response to some of the messages that you have posted on your website. First I would like to thank you again for maintaining a top-rate website and for posting some of my previous e mails. I work for Natural Wonders in the Roosevelt Field Mall and we have been receiving the ETX 125's on a regular basis over the last couple of months. To my knowledge there is NOT a new recall as our company sold 70 units this week. We are expecting our next shipment by 2/14/00 of approximately 60 units. At this time the demand is still very high but we have been filling more orders then most of the other dealers out there. If you have any readers that are in search of a ETX 125 we are taking orders for the next batch. Of course, the price is $895.00 + shipping and tax if applicable. I listed my telephone # below if anyone is interested. Natural Wonders Roosevelt Field Mall Garden City, NY 11530 (516) 248-0642 Charlie or Michael
Subject: ETX 125EC Availability Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2000 16:44:41 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Chesley) I gather that Meade has done a recall and reengineering on the ETX125EC. Dealers I have talked to have said that it will be available in widely differing time frames, from February to November. Meade hasn't answered their phone in 30+ minutes OR returned my call. Anybody know the real skinny? What was the problem? Also, it it safe to have it shipped from outside California to avoid the sales tax? BobMike here: Don't know about any NEW recall; last I heard dealers were receiving shipments. But demand is apparently still exceeding the supply. I order a lot of stuff mail order (including my new Power Macintosh G4/450 that arrived today).
Subject: I am very disapointed ! Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2000 06:50:06 From: email@example.com (Alain Sfera) I just want to give you my opinion about the ETX-125. By reading in the astronomical reviews the good reports on the ETX scopes (90 and 125) I decided to buy the 125... Now, I think now that I have wasted my money (more than 2000 $ since the prices of Meade's product are much higher in Europe than in US). The whole telescope looks very fragile. The deluxe field tripod is totally unstable. The focus is hard to do because of the vibration of the scope. The compartment for the batteries is not easily accessible so you must remove the telescope for the tripod to change them. In my case, I have also some problems with the 12V-DC plug (for the power supply): it is difficult to plug the power supply and almost impossible to remove it... The autostar is not accurate even after the calibration of the motors and is totally useless when the temperature is low (now I prefer not to use it at all and use the electronic controller instead with a polar alignment...). The optic of the telescope is good even if it is obviously not perfectly collimated. My father and I have no less than 4 telescopes (a Celestron 8, a Meade 10" LX200, a NexStar 5 and the ETX-125) and none of them was as disappointing as the ETX-125. Well it is the cheaper one but it does not justify all the defects of this scope. By the way I don't agree with the results of your comparison between the ETX-125 and the NexStar 5, the later is far away the better: the images are perhaps a little bit sharper in the ETX but the GoTo functions of the NexStar and especially the stability of this scope outperform the ETX and since it is a SCT it can be collimated quite easily without voiding the warranty! The LX200 10" is a very impressive scope so I hope that Meade will do its best to improve the ETX-125 in the future... But for the moment I won't encourage other people to buy it... Best regards. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr Alain Sfera Centre Interdepartemental de Microscopie Electronique (CIME) EPFL - Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) CH-1015 Lausanne Tel: (+41 21) 693 48 30 Fax: (41 21) 693 44 01 -
Subject: Am I going to be disappointed? Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 21:09:27 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carl Stanland) Greetings, First let me say that I find your site very informative. I have an ETX-125 on order through a local hobby store and they're expecting it to be in this March. I have always enjoyed astrononmy and this would be my first real telescope in my 27 years,but after reading all the problems that have been experienced with the 125 and Autostar,I'm beginning to have second thoughts. I'm not rich by any means,and I can't afford too much more on a scope and I'm afraid I will be disappointed not by what I do or don't see,but by annoying glitches I've read about such as out of collimation,flimsy mounts and tripods and random slewing for no reason. Is it really as bad as it sounds? I don't want to get my hopes up and get so frustrated in it that it's going to end up in the closet. I don't have the sky "memorized" yet,so that's why I wanted an Autostar system,to help me get the most enjoyment. Am I going to be let down by these glitches? Thank you for your time and thank everyone for being so honest in your experiences. Keep up the excellent site! Sincerely, Carl StanlandMike here: If you are worried about it, don't get one. On the other hand, keep in mind that there are many positive reports along with the negative ones.
Subject: ETX-125EC Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 20:04:25 From: DFin121906@aol.com I must say your web pages are absolutely superb. I am seriously considering purchasing an ETX-125EC or ETX-90EC. Your web pages are most valuable for Novice like me entering in to "store bought" telescopes. I note I can ad a few more dollars and get an ETX-125EC? Can you tell me just how much this scope weighs? I understand the 90EC weighs about 8 lbs. Would you recommend the 125EC for a first time purchase. Best Wishes to You and Yours David Finnell Hurst, TXMike here: Unfortunately, I do not currently have an ETX-125EC to check its manual for the weight. And I couldn't find its manual on Meade's web site. But according to Sky and Telescope's review (linked from the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page), it weighs 19 lbs. When mounted on a tripod, it is certainly more difficult to move from the house to the yard than a -90. But not that difficult. As to whether you would get more use from an ETX-90EC or an ETX-125EC, only you can answer that. As I and many others have stated on the various Feedback pages, the buyer needs to decide what their requirements and expectations are. The -125 is not as portable as the -90 and so can become less used than a -90 at a moment's notice unless you are really serious about using it.
I found where you have more data about the 125EC .... very interesting but still wonder what it weighs?? Apparently it is "hefty" since U state U have to be careful when lifting the scope from House to backyard. Sounds like U recommend buying the ;125EC if it does have problems. Man ... what a fast answer and many thanks ... so it weight 19 lbs ... Maybe I would be better off with the little 90EC and have MORE fun. U & I have another things in common ... I was a Flight Instructor during WWII and love flying ...Mike here: The -90 is a mighty scope! I enjoyed flying but no longer do it. Still miss it occasionally. I still look up when a plane flies overhead.
Subject: 12V power cable problem Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 16:16:11 From: email@example.com (Eric Jacobsen) I have just started using the 12V powercable from Meade with my 125 ETX. I have had problems with the connection to the scope. I have to wigle the plug before I get power. I haven't had time to see if the problem is in the plug ( i hope). It is a real pain if you bump the connector and lose power, you have to go through alignment again on the Autostar. Has any one else had this problem? The plug fits very tight, there is no play when it is connected. Do I need to remove the AA batteries when I use the 12V cable? THanks. BTW: I had a 10 minute window to see the lunar eclipse here in So. California. The clouds parted during totality and I was able to take 5 photos.Mike here: I hadn't experienced that problem during the short period of time I had the ETX-125EC. Don't recall anyone else mentioning it either. Sounds like something is loose somewhere. And no, you don't have to remove the batteries while using the AC Adapter.
Subject: 125EC Availability Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 13:38:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (robert.masse) For all those that are looking for an ETX125EC but can't seem to find one, I just found out that Natural Wonders just got a large order from Meade and are holding them at their Warehouse until after their yearly inventory is done (this was told to me by one of their regional managers). After talking with her for a little while, she made one available to me in Dallas. I am now the proud owner of an ETX 125EC (I traded in my 90 for the 125...what a difference) although the 90 was much more portable. In either event...if your looking for one and dont want to wait 6 months (Astronomics has a waiting list 600 people long), then call your nearest Natural Wonders and find out when they will be available. If you have trouble with your local store...call the store in NY...they, I believe, sell the most of the 125's in the country for Natural Wonders. They will definitly know. Good luck hunting
Subject: Re: ETX-125EC STORES IN FLORIDA Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 09:33:16 From: MENAGE@atlantis.co.ac (Menage's on Ascension) Thank you very much for the help. I've already been contacted by one reader who has had an awful experience with Meade (3 instruments returned as faulty, shoddy service, etc). I'm really put off the thing now. Yours, Colin MenageMike here: As with most things, those who've had problems speak the loudest. When the product works you usually don't hear about it. Fortunately, with all the controversy surrounding the ETX-125EC and NexStar5 products, many ETX-125EC users have written on their positive experiences. The positives along with the negatives are posted on the ETX-125EC Feedback pages, current and past. You should read those completely, as well as my and Sky & Telescope's reviews, and the reviews elsewhere, keeping in mind that the negative comments are the loudest. This is not meant to dismiss the negative comments as they are certainly valuable inputs.
Subject: I'm not amazed! Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2000 09:41:36 From: Nagy@mail.utexas.edu (Bob Nagy) Greetings all, I know this is just a...venting... of my experiences on the ETX-125 so far, but I think that prospective buyers of the ETX-125 should hear an unfiltered flow of comments on it. I fell for the advertising. I read the reviews and overlooked the shortcomings. I got on the list and waited for months. I have been out with my ETX about 8 times now- and I packed it up last night with mixed emotions. I've spent $1500 so far and I still feel like I am operating a scope which barely out of the Toys R' Us class. The plastic forks are so flimsy that a gentle 4 MPH breeze shakes the image at 125x. The $200 tripod is so unstable (even after all posted modifications were done) that it takes 5 seconds to calm down after touching the scope. The focus knob has about a 1/4 inch dead-band which makes focusing at high-power impossible. Then there is the Autostar. Lands up, it is quite well aggreed now that the software it shipped with- is actually incapable of doing what it says (version 1.1j). Now I have to buy a cable set and re-burn the firmware. The slop in the drive gears (gauged from the delay in slewing from the manual control) is tremendous. When you are done moving the scope to a new star, the tracking motors start up again and before the slop is taken out, the star has moved out of sight. If this product is looked at in high regard...as well as the the company who created it, I can only guess that the majority of scopes offered must be total garbage. I am ready to drop kick this toy and buy an 8" SCT or newtonian. I see that some other people are doing just that. Bob Nagy
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Monday, January 24, 2000 11:04:18 From: email@example.com (jpswann54) A great site and particularly useful to someone like me who is new to ETX. I have now had my ETX 125 for a couple of months and give below a few observations and queries. Like many others, I experienced problems with unexpected slewing. This now seems to have been corrected since I downloaded ver. 2.0g but only when using batteries. I still get random slews when using an AC adaptor. Do others have the same experience? The ac connector is right next to the HBX port and maybe the Autostar picks up some stray currents. Also I am not using the Meade adaptor. Is this likely to be any better? Using rechargeable Nimh batteries I get about 25 hours, but changing them is a pain. All in all I am very satisfied with the 125 despite the initial problems. The optics are great with no collimation problems and the service and advice from my local dealer the the Meade main agent in London were great. -- John Swann, Rosemary Cottage, Mill Pond Lane, West Ashling, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8DY, UK Tel/Fax: +44 1243 575611 Mobile: +44 411 005364Mike here: From your description I suspect you may have one the ETX-125EC scopes that needs a fix for the random slewing problem since it occurs with AC power. I'm guessing; only Meade can say for certain.
Subject: Autostar random slewing fixed Sent: Monday, January 24, 2000 11:02:55 From: Dave.Hodny@lawson.com Just a note to let you know I received back my autostar which I sent to Meade to fix the random declination slewing problem with my 125EC. I was surprised to get it back so quick (sent it to Meade on 1/4/00). I performed the same two hour test in my (unheated) porch as I did in diagnosing the problem and there was no random slewing problem So it seems like it is fixed - and the problem is indeed just with the autostar and not with the scope. If someone contacts Meade with such a problem with their autostar and Meade requests they send in the scope as well, perhaps it's worth questioning the service rep about it a little more. What Meade had sent me was not my original autostar but another one - I suspect from stock. Perhaps they are repairing in-stock autostars and using them to replace autostars returned for repair. Additional note: It has the 1.3 version of software.Mike here: Apparently some ETX-125EC scopes have a problem that needs fixing to cure the random slewing and others can just have the Autostar replaced. Only Meade can make the determination of what is required.
Subject: Guiding Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2000 10:18:45 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Antonio Alberto Vidal) I have a question about guiding... Is it possible to use a autoguider like Meade Pictor 201XT CCD Autogider in the ETX-125? I sure hope it is, but if it isn't is there something I could buy to be able to connect it to my ETX-125? Thanks Mike! By the way Great Site!
Subject: etx-125 Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 14:28:39 From: email@example.com (Richard Hayes) the 125 is pretty much everything i'm looking for in a scope, but i'm worried about those damn plastic mounts. i'm concerned its not stable enough for astrophoto, how has your's been? -- Richard Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.comMike here: Depends upon what your expectations of astrophotography are. Don't expect to do 4 hour exposures. Don't expect to do 5 minute eyepiece projection photography without some additional aids (like an off-axis guider). But you can do astrophotography with a telescope like the ETX-125EC. On the other hand, if your expectations and usage requirements are higher, you may need to go to LX200 model.
Subject: Collimation and Update Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2000 12:21:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Roberto Botero) I almost got all my problems solved now. After having turned off my Autostar during update to version 2.0g, I finally recovered my lost data. I had to drag the tour archives but when I did this, my asteroids, comets and satellites went down to zero!!!. So I had to download those other ephemerides from Meade's web site and after dragging them to the respective buttons I had to send the new ephemerides data twice for each kind of object....There you have Meade's great eficiency in making user-friendly software...Their telescopes are great but they have a long way in software development...that's understandable though. On the other hand I finally decided to collimate my ETX-125EC with the help of my girlfriend (poor girl....) and got excellent results. The diffraction rings are almost concentric now and I will check the optics tonight during the eclipse. It wasn't so difficult after all, but it is a matter of patience and great accuracy and care. I had to draw all the screws' position, count the amount of degrees I turned each one (I had to move all, moving just the three small ones won't work) and after some hours I got a better position of the mirrors. Perhaps if one has the opportunity of sending it back to Meade it will be better but in my case it was almost impossible. Anyway I had to thank you again for all your help and advise, and for keeping such a wonderful site on. Sincerely, Roberto Botero email@example.com
Subject: ETX-125 "fix" update Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2000 05:17:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Reidnour) Just wanted to keep all posted on the status of my 125 since I returned it to Meade for the "fix". I mailed it back to Meade along with the Autostar on Friday the 7th. I called them on the 18th to see how things are coming along. The customer service rep after I gave him my RGA number told me that it had just been receive "yesterday" (the 17th). It didn't take me long to figure out that it sat in the warehouse for about a week before they got to actually "receiving it". (I am not complaining, I am sure the scopes received pile has been getting larger and my turn finally came up) So figure on about a week for now before they even get to your scope if you take the plunge like I did! I want all to know how much I am missing the excitement of loading this new 2.0g to my Autostar!!! I just read the updates and, well, let me say this, I called Meade at 7:30 AM yesterday morning est and left a message on their answer machine of course stating that since they already have my scope to PLEASE upload the new software on my Autostar! I gave them my 800 work voice mail number and asked them to PLEASE call me to confirm they got my message. Sure enough, I got a call yesterday afternoon that they did get my message and will most certainly upload the new software. Whew! If they don't get it right, then I know what I would be facing. Sounds like if I had my scope that I would wait a little bit until they get it right before trying to upload. I still hope it will only take about a week to fix my scope and get it back to me and then the real test will come. Considering the problems and the amount of scopes they may be getting back, so far so good I guess. I will keep all posted.
Subject: Interesting item on eBay web site item#240802579: Meade ETX 125 Scope - Hard to find!!! Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2000 06:04:44 From: email@example.com I'd appreciate if you could post this on the 125 section - much thanks! Gary Title of item: Meade ETX 125 Scope - Hard to find!!! Seller: firstname.lastname@example.org Starts: 01/18/00, 14:06:22 PST Ends: 01/25/00, 14:06:22 PST Price: Currently $555.00 To bid on the item, go to: http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=240802579 Item Description: This is the incredible ETX 125 telescope, new revision (i.e. the shipping had stryofoam)! I have used it about 3 times, and it is in perfect condition - no scratches inside or out. It is optically perfect (I have not done the x-mas ornament test). If you're a beginner, this can be a great first and last scope - if you're seasoned, then you know more about this than me. It's too darn cold in New York for me, and although I'm fascinated with astronomy, I'll stick with the computer and binoculars for a while. The scope comes with the right angle viewfinder, and I am also throwing in the Scopetronix Lightsite - in my opinion it's a must have - i didn't care much for the right angle finder. All the manuals and little boxes are included - this really is practically new. Buyer pays shipping, I'll ship with whatever method is preferred. I also have the tripod and autostar - if there is enough interest for the scope i'll post those items (or make other arrangements) - i didn't want to list as a package in case someone just wants the scope. It of course comes with the electronic controller (not the autostar) - the electronic controller has the 4 buttons for electronic operation, and will track in Polar mode. I'm really bad with HTML, so my ad isn't fancy - for more info you can check out www.meade.com, or www.anacortes.com, www.shutan.com, and some other sites i can't remember. This is a hard to get scope - big waiting list. If someone wants this shipped out of the US, please advise method - my shipping skills aren't much better than my HTML :) Please e-mail with any questions - this is an expensive item, so let's do it right! :) Please note - the picture is of the ETX 90, the 125's "little brother" - the 125 looks virtually identical, but is a bit larger, with a 5 inch apeture, and weighing about 17 pounds. My cost was $895 plus tax, i'm trying to recoup most (if not all!) of that, so the reserve is set relatively close to the cost. Hey, at least I made sure it worked!!! Visit eBay, the world's largest Personal Trading Community at http://www.ebay.com
Subject: S&T Review of NexStar vs ETX Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 16:38:02 From: FirstName_LastName@cc.chiron.com (FirstName LastName) I just read Sky and Telescope's review of the Celestron NexStar and Meade's ETX 125. The reviewers would not declare a clear winner in this contest. I believe that this is because both Meade and Celestron pay for advertisement space in the magazine. From the review, the NexStar was the clear winner in GOTO capability, finding it's target 100 percent of the time. The construction of NexStar's motorized parts sound superior to Meade's, and they liked Celestron's design better. However, I believe that the Meade won the contest in the more important areas. Its Autostar was somewhat easier to use, and its tutorial was far superior to the NexStar. This would be important for beginners. But the most important thing in comparing these instruments is the optical quality and, to me, it sounded like the optics of the Meade were far better than the Celestron, even though the reviewers downplayed the serious flaws found in the NexStar scopes. Some people have complained that the collimation cannot be adjusted in the Meade ETX, but these arrived from the factory in perfect collimation, while the Celestrons were out of adjustment. Also, the star diagonals of the NexStar were of poor quality and had to be replaced. So, in the important area of optics (after all, telescopes are optical instruments), Meade won the contest, although the reviewers played it down. By the way, I own a Celestar Deluxe 8. I went to the store with the idea that I would buy an 8 inch Meade. The salesman said that both scopes were identical optically. Both Meade and Celestron scopes were out on display. While looking at the two scopes, I could see that the Celestron 8 inch scopes were built slightly better than the Meade scopes. So I bought the Celestron. So even though I am Celestron owner, I am not biased in favor of Celestron. It sounds like, overall, the Meade ETX is better. John H.Mike here: The email address for this writer is bogus.
Subject: Collimation Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 14:09:43 From: email@example.com (Roberto Botero) It is again me. Reading all that complaints about collimation problems, I decided to do the check recommended by Tony Costanzo in that letter some years ago in your TechTips and sadly discovered that my until now almost perfect ETX-125EC is out of collimation. It shows that little shadow around 5:00 and the secondary mirror is really offset at around seven when doing the daylight test. I also read the two following letters by the french guy and the other who tested Costanzo's method and where the latter got a good (but difficult) result. As I live down here in Colombia, South America, and my next chance of visiting Meade would be in about 1000 years (even more mail for this scope is bloody expensive...), I was thinking of doing that collimation procedure myself. I haven't done anything with telescopes before (I mean mending them) but I am good using my hands. What would you advise me on this matter? Should I wait the thousand years or should I take the risk and mend that little problem of mine? Actually I only noticed the odd diffraction rings when looking to very luminous stars such as Sirius, Aldebaran, Procyon, etc. When having Jupiter out of focus, the central shadow does not look so bad, but when looking through the back of my scope, the misalingment seems huge.... Thank you again for taking the time to read all this boring stuff and for keeping such an up to date web site. Sincerely, Roberto Botero firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Sorry to hear this. Of course, there is "out of collimation" and there is "OUT OF COLLIMATION". If views are satisfactory, then I wouldn't touch anything. If views are unsatisfactory, and given your location, go ahead and try collimating; just be careful and patient as you make the adjustments. All you can do is make it better or worse. If better, then you win. If worse and it was unsatisfying anyway, then you'll know you want to get it fixed (either locally somehow) or by Meade.
Subject: Meade ETX Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 10:37:16 From: email@example.com (Co van Buuren) I am Co van Buuren from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I am a beginner at astronomy. (6 months) Ik own a Meade 4500 114/910 Newton and I am looking for a more portable telescope. I saw the ETX 90 EC on your site. But I heard there is a ETX 125 EC. Do you know this model and is it much better than the ETX 90? What should I expect to see with it? Thanks in advance for your reaction. I don't know who to turn to in Holland. The shops here sell only a few models and they are very expensive too. Co van Buuren.Mike here: Lots of info on this ETX-125EC Feedback page, including links to specs and reviews and user comments.
Subject: 125 wiring Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 08:17:26 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary) Hi - I read where Ells Dutton wants to learn the wiring sequence inside his unit - perhaps the posting by Jordan "Mr. Scopetronix" may help - www.scopetronix.com - i don't know of too many other intrepid souls ready to crack into their babies - hope this helps! Gary
Subject: Little accident with ETX-125 Sent: Monday, January 17, 2000 14:52:56 From: email@example.com (Ells Dutton) Because of a very unfortunate stumble in the dark, I need to know the most basic information on the wiring of the ETX-125 declination/elevation motor. A Meade representative said they don't give out that information, but he would look into it and I am waiting. There are four wires that run up inside the yoke from the base to the declination motor, they are blue, yellow, red and black. I can see where they all attached in a row at one end of a small circuit board in the yoke next to the dec motor. Only the blue one at one end of that row is still attached in my unit. Can anyone tell me the order of the next three? Please! If anyone out there has had the interesting experience of peaking inside the electronic side of this scope, I'd sure like to hear from you. I haven't given up on Meade, there have been some very helpful people there in the past but for some reason this might be a problem from them. I definitely don't want to send the scope back to Meade for such a simple problem, besides, it won't be a warranty repair. I have discovered that the scope works real well on other mounts... E Dutton
Subject: ETX Feedback Sent: Monday, January 17, 2000 06:27:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Devine, Matt) Hi Mike, and group. I had purchased an ETX 125 in November of 99. This was one of the "new and improved" models. A quick test showed it was out of collimation (central obstruction skewed to one side slightly, and extrafocal diffraction rings not even). I called Meade to report the problem, and they requested I return it for repair. They were very helpful and professional, but I was disappointed that this made its way past quality control. The scope was returned in less than three weeks fixed. The optics are in perfect alignment. So far, driving 85 miles a number of times (some of it off-road) to a remote observing site, has not effected the alignment as it is still dead on. I too have experienced the "sudden, or runaway slew problem". It has been very intermittent, and only seems to effect the declination drive. Will slew upwards about 5 deg. off target during a "go to" for no reason. I know that Meade is aware of the problem, and offers a fix, however I was told by Meade if the scope is not experiencing any other problems, and if this runaway problem does not occur with the manual hand controller (only the Autostar), then only the Autostar may need to be modified. They recommended I send in only the Autostar for repair. I asked the representative I was talking to if he would mind verifying this, which he did, and this was the case. We'll see. I do not mean to imply that anyone should argue with Meade about what to return, as symptoms may necessitate the return of both, but I just wanted to pass this on. The ETX was purchased in Nov. 99, but the Autostar was purchased in May of 99, so it was not a current release (don't know if hardware changed), although the software has been upgraded to 1.3c. I was going to use it with the ETX 90EC, but then the 125 came along. When it comes back, I will let you know if the problem has gone away. As a reference to other possibilities for this problem, readers should take a look at the Autostar feedback archives (Jan 2nd-posting from Ron Silver, "user induced sudden slewing"). I have tried this on the test bench, and found this not to be the case with 1.3c. Using the up-down/left-right keys while the scope is performing a go to, seems to stop the RA and DEC drives. The scope is left thinking it has found its target, and will eventually "beep", but it is way off. It does not continue on after the "beep". Since this is not normal operating procedure, better to keep the fingers off the keypad until after the scope has found the object via a go to. My 125 is performing well, even with some of the "new product bugs" that are to be expected. I had thought that the pointing accuracy would be average, but was surprised to find how good it is. Users should make sure they level the tripod, and use a level on the OTA when they set up their home position (Alt/Az). Don't forget to factor in "true North" for your area, as it will vary. Occasionally I will "re-sync" on certain objects in the area of the sky I am observing to maintain accuracy. I use a Celestron 20mm non-illuminated cross hair eyepiece to train the drives, and for initial star alignment. I performed the tripod modifications by Scott Cameron, and Matt Curtis (Tech tips section), along with Scopetronics upper tripod clamps, Flexi-focus, and the Celestron vibration pads. Between all of this, vibrations are now cut down considerably. It's a BIG improvement. Since I don't use the battery compartment, I used longer screws to permanently attach the metal plate to the scope base. I no longer need three hands to install the scope on the tripod. I also use a Meade camera "T" adapter with a small fan attached to the end. This draws air down through the eyepiece tube and out the rear port, and seems to greatly assist in cool down time. This is still kind of an experiment. I set the fan up to run while I am going about other things, and waiting for the sky to get dark (about 20 min.). The fan is removed for viewing. When I get a chance, perhaps I can check cool down time with and without. Mike, thanks for a great web site. Matt..
Subject: ETX-125 slewing problem Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2000 10:13:07 From: email@example.com (jpswann54) Have read with interest about the above problem. I have an almost new 125 and have experienced slewing with both motors (only one at any one time) The problem seems worst when I use an AC power adaptor, but still expeience it occasionally when on battery power. Does the fix mean sending the scope back to the USA or will the UK dealer be able to fix it? When I mentioned the problem to the dealer, they did not know it existed. I have referred them to your page. Many thanks. -- John Swann, Rosemary Cottage, Mill Pond Lane, West Ashling, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8DY, UK Tel/Fax: +44 1243 575611 Mobile: +44 411 005364Mike here: I suspect your dealer will have to return it to Meade.
Subj: Available ETX-125EC scopes Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 21:24:26 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Being a new comer to the ETX world and always having an interest in the astronomy world (after taking a class or two in college) I finally got a telescope for x-mas (ETX-90EC). I am thrilled with it so far (have not yet purchased the autostar but that is next). In either event, getting back to the response...my ETX came from Natural Wonders..and although they do not advertise it on their web site...they have ETX 125's in stock (they are begging to get them out the door). They don't put them on the showroom floor, so you have to ask for them. I can't promise you that they will still have any...but they had 2 when I was there last (this is in OKC)..you may want to call them and check. Anyway...Mike...keep up the great work...being a mechanical engineer...the modifications that you show I find facinating and have already begun making a few of the mods advertised...what a difference. I look forward to many years of great use of my 90EC. thanks
Subj: Which tripod is best for the ETX 125 Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 18:42:51 From: Wfeagin@hotmail.com I just purchased the ETX 125 at the Discovery Channel Store in my city. My first impressions are favorable. However I am having a difficult time deciding which tripod to purchase. At first glance the Meade ETX tripod strikes me as a bit flimsy. It appears that it was designed primarily for the ETX 90 and was never intended to support the weight of the ETX 125. Meade is now selling a heavy duty tripod and wedge which is not height adjustable and does not appear to be very portable. Also the price is $349. I am very interested in the JMI Megapod but have never seen one in person. I wonder if you or anyone can tell me if it is more rigid and stable than the Meade ETX Tripod. I would appreciate any input. Thanks. WyattMike here: The new Meade tripod is actually the same (with a different head) as used on their larger, more professional scopes. There is a user review of the JMI Megapod on the Accessories - Tripods page.
Subj: ETX90/125/N5 Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 11:11:51 From: email@example.com I am in France and I read with much interest your headings. To summarize your point of view and that of a certain number of amateurs, it seems that the best compromise between the various scopes is the ETX90EC taking into account its price, its portability and performances. This seems confiming the narrowness of the market of the "five inches" which have a price close to that of telescope of "heigt inches" are not completely satisfactory in term of optical compromise (N5) or mechanic compromise(ETX125). To be continued... Regards from France Laurent Labourie Bottom note : sorry for english... You can improve it !... Laurent Labourie F6DEX mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/f6dexMike here: There is something to be said for the small size of the ETX-90 models. It was and remains a MIGHTY telescope.
Subj: "ETX Blues" Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 21:22:05 From: email@example.com Well I took the plunge! I sent my ETX-125 and Autostar in the hard case back to Meade for the "fix". I got the ETX blues! I haven't read where anybody has actually sent theirs in for the "sudden slew, motor unit failure fix" yet, so maybe I'm the guinea pig on this one. Sent it in last Friday. Sitting here looking at an empty tripod and some eyepieces. Clear Skies to all! The way I figure, I was disgusted, maybe a better word would be disapointed with her because I know she can perform. I wouldn't have pulled her out of the case or had any desire to after the nightmare of the last two times I had it out. So it might as well be at Meade getting the "fix". In my letter describing the sudden slew and the motor unit failure "freeze", I ended by saying that I just wanted the scope to do what she was meant to do. I am trying to be optimistic. I didn't want to send it in either as a lot of you have expressed your concerns. I know, I was in the same boat. There is no compromise though as far as I am concerned. I want the scope to perform CONSISTENTLY and I don't think I am asking too much. I cannot accept having a great night and then a horror story the next. It might as well be at Meade getting the "fix". I'm not quitting yet. I don't give up that easily. I am giving Meade their chance to make good. Yeah, all you Nexstar users are laughing at us (some do show some empathy), but the ETX is in my heart man! I got the ETX blues right now, but it will get better, right Mike? I JUST WANT MY SCOPE BACK!!!!!!!!! Some of you out there have been there. You know the pain. I sincerely hope to come back and report that the "fix" is the FIX and hopefully help with some of the decisiveness. Until then, I pass the time with heavens-above.com watching the satellites (MIR was unbelievable tonight -1.0 mag!) Will keep all posted!MIke here: Whether our telescopes, our computers, or our cars, we expect them to work as they are supposed to. When they don't, we are disappointed, frustrated, and generally unhappy.
Subj: Availability of ETX 125EC Date: Monday, January 10, 2000 21:18:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I've contacted approximately 12 Meade dealers (and reviewed 30 dealer Web sites) in the last two weeks looking for an ETX 125. I'm told that there are long waiting lists for 125s expected to have shipping dates ranging from 3 months to 12 months. Who would you recommend I contact to find an ETX 125 that can be shipped to me in a reasonable period of time?Mike here: It is true that demand is high. Larger Meade dealers probably have larger allocations.
Subj: Quick check for 125? Date: Sunday, January 9, 2000 12:13:23 From: Jeremy.Shervell@gbr.xerox.com I've been dipping in and out of your site for around a year now, gleaning as much information as I can. After what seems an eternity I finally have a reserved ETX125 ready for me to collect from a dealer here in the UK. Although a complete novice, I've been after a telescope for some time now and postponed purchasing an ETX90 when I heard about the 125 last year. I know the 125 got some bad press with its initial problems and it seems like there are still some ongoing issues. I don't really want to part with my money if the 'scope is not OK, so can you help me? I'd like to know what to look out for when I go and see it at the dealer - nothing too complicated, just a few checks to run through to make sure its all OK. Remember I'm new to all this, so keep it simple! Hopefully I'll be waiting for clear skies very soon...... Thanks in advance for your help and more importantly for you excellent web site. Great job. Regards, Jeremy ShervellMike here: There really isn't much you can do except star test it. Testing in the store probably won't show any flaws, or to more correct, it would probably show all kinds of flaws (heat sources, windows, etc). But you can run the drives (with or without an Autostar attached). You should look down the tube to verify everything is clean and inplace. Nothing should rattle if you shake it.
Subj: Meade FIX for Slewing Problem Date: Saturday, January 8, 2000 22:55:57 From: email@example.com I will be contacting Meade next week to discuss sending my ETX-125 back for the DEC-motor Sudden-Slewing and Motor-Hesitation conditions (very likely related). I read WITH GREAT INTEREST your note on your ETX-125 User Feedback page stating: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- "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." -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- MIKE, I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHAT THE FIX IS, AND WHAT EXACTLY IT DOES!! (I'm an electrical engineer). Did Meade give you any information (that you can share) concerning their FIX? Does it require returning the scope to Meade? Is it a change to the Autostar? Is it an additional "box" between the two?(Unlikely). The ETX has 'dumb' electronics (according to MEADE), and (for me) seems not to care which (of my three) Autostar is connected. So I think the ETX is adversely "affecting" the Autostar operation. It's possible that the ETX-125 is putting out electrical (motor?) "noise" on the power-or-signal lines to the Autostar memory/controls, in which case better noise-filtering might be their solution. Or the ETX electrical interface input-signal amplitude/duration settings on the ETX-125 may be 'borderline' (for the Autostar output), in which case they may need to adjust ETX input sensitivity, or amplification. Has Meade described their FIX? Ron SilverMike here: >Has Meade described their FIX?
Subj: Nexstar5 pages on your site Date: Thursday, January 6, 2000 16:45:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Although I opted to purchase a Nexstar, I still read your site often. I appreciate the large amount of time you put into the site, and the benefits that result to all small telescope owners. I read on your site that you might put up one or more Nexstar5 pages. I strongly encourage you to do that. It would be most useful, and would provide a forum that is unavailable today. Don ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Don Delisi Northwest Research Associates, Inc. 14508 NE 20th Street Bellevue, WA 98007-3713 E-mail: email@example.com Telephone: (425) 644-9660, x307 Fax: (425) 644-8422 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Subj: Switched from ETX to NexStar Date: Thursday, January 6, 2000 00:37:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for your updated ETX and NexStar comparison. I went ahead and did my own comparison of the 90, 125 and N5. My findings differed somewhat from yours and prompted me to leave the etx and join the nexstar community. My observations of all 3 scopes follow: -------------------------------------------------------------------- After using a Meade ETX-90EC for a couple of months, then moving to the Meade ETX-125EC, I finally decided to get and stick with the Celestron NexStar5. I am certainly no expert in the field but I do hope that my long winded observations come in useful to whoever bothers to read them! Meade ETX-90EC For anybody looking for a very portable, 3.5" Mak-Cass, this telescope is an absolute winner. This is a small aperture scope but the views are incredible. I could consistently see the two major cloud bands on Jupiter, and Saturn's rings. On good nights I could see a third band on Jupiter and hints of the Cassini Divide in Saturn's rings. Also pushing the scope, all four components of the double-double (Epsilon Lyrae) could be resolved. One of my favorite tests is to try and resolve the 1 arc-sec double "eta" in Orion. On good nights the etx90 actually shows two spheres slightly overlapping each other - amazing! The stock straight viewfinder is totally useless due to orientation so the right angle view finder is a must. The stock controller can only track the sky if the scope is equatorially mounted so it is necessary for the user to buy the table top legs or the etx deluxe tripod. For the goto abilities and tracking in polar or altazm modes, the AutoStar controller is necessary and well worth it. If aligned correctly, the goto accuracy usually puts the object of interest within the viewfinder. Cool down time tended to be only 15 minutes thanks to the small size of the scope. Meade ETX-125EC This is the scope I originally wanted. After trying its little brother (etx-90ec) I was very excited to see what it could do. Unfortunately the etx-125ec was plagued with problems from its release. Meade claims that they have fixed the problems but I have found this to be untrue. The etx125 looks exactly like the etx90, just bigger. Engineering wise, the scale up did not work very well. The mount is quite flimsy, goto operations not very accurate, optics readily go out of collimation (must be factory adjusted), takes a very long time to thermally equilibrate (2 or more hours), scope's dec motor mysteriously slews up while tracking every 20 minutes or so, focusing mechanism exhibits a quarter turn dead spot, significant amount of image shift while focusing, etc.. The first unit I received had optics that seemed to be in good collimation but there were problems with the mount, focus mechanism and motors. I was able to squeeze a couple of views of Jupiter, Saturn and M42 before sending it back to Meade. The views were amazing! High contrast, high detail, and significantly better than the 90mm. (Watch out! If you are using the Meade ETX deluxe tripod, the legs tend to collapse under the weight of the etx125 [another bad design]. Be sure to reinforce the legs at the clamp point before trusting it with your etx125). The second etx125 I received was out of collimation, and also suffered the rest of the problems I described above. I have talked to the Meade representatives numerous times. In short, they say all the problems are due rough handling during shipping. This was unsettling to me because Meade seems to not want to take responsibility for its bad design of the etx125 (which also may indicate that they will not be actively improving the design for a long while). It sounds like the current version of the etx125 is too delicate to be moved/transported without knocking it out of adjustment, which of course cancels out the advantage of it being a "portable" telescope. I was considering giving up on the etx125, my mind was made up completely when I called Meade asking for a replacement leg for my etx deluxe tripod (which was getting crushed under the weight etx125 as I explained earlier). The rep I talked to told me that they had never heard of this problem before. This was an outright lie. I have decided to walk away from the Meade ETX-125EC and all its problems. Celestron NexStar5 I did some research on the Celestron NexStar5. The NexStar is a direct competitor with the Meade ETX-125EC. I have had the chance to use it a few nights. The NexStar is a Schmidt-Cassegrain where the ETX is a Maksutov-Cassegrain. I think the views from the mak-cass are a little sharper, higher contrast and more detailed than the Schmidt-Cass. On the other hand the schmidt-cass gives brighter images than the mak-cass. So I think the ETX optics are a bit better suited for viewing planets and possibly terrestrial objects where the NexStar optics are better for deep sky viewing. The Meade AutoStar controller has significantly more bells and whistles than the NexStar controller. BUT, the biggest and most important difference between the two telescopes is the mount/motors. Mechanically, the NexStar is leaps and bounds more rugged and stable than the ETX125. The motors are much quieter and seem more accurate, there is no dead spot in the focus mechanism, there is no image shift due to focusing, the scope cools down within 40 minutes, user can collimate optics, goto operations very accurate (targets often show up in 9.7mm ep, wow!), etc. I can just split the double star in Orion "Eta" with the NexStar5 (9.7mm ep w/2x barlow), the ETX seemed to resolve the double a bit better. It looks as if the NexStar dumps a bit more of the gathered light into the diffraction rings than the ETX. The red dot viewfinder included with the NexStar5 is very nice. I find it much easier to use than the viewfinders included with the etx scopes. The location of the eyepiece on the NexStar5 (with diagonal) is more comfortable than on the ETX scopes where the user's face would tend to get in the way of the viewfinder and/or eyepiece during viewing. There are advantages and disadvantages to both scopes. Meade's great mak-cass optics don't do the user any good if they are installed in a highly unstable package (ETX-125EC). Celestron's good schmidt-cassegrain optics are installed in a very stable and mechanically superior package called the NexStar5. With all things considered, I must recommend the Celestron NexStar5. Yes, I have now purchased the NexStar5 (from Lumicon) and returned the etx125. It was almost perfectly collimated and worked right out of the box. I made a foam lined carrier for the scope that fits in my backpack so I can bring it with me to remote locations. I feel comfortable doing this with the well made NexStar5. I would have been concerned that the simple act of walking with the etx125 would have thrown it out of collimation. The NexStar5 has a couple of small quirks but it is a rugged feeling scope that I believe will function to specs and bring me enjoyment for years to come. Final Notes: The Meade ETX-90EC is a great little scope. If a 3.5" aperture is sufficient for someone, I highly recommend this scope along with the AutoStar goto controller. I do not recommend the Meade ETX-125EC due to all of its design problems. Hopefully it will be redesigned in the near future. The customer service I received from Meade was 50-50. Some of the reps were helpful, some were far from it. One person I would like to point out as being very helpful and responsive is Meade's - Scott Byrum. Though sometimes hard to get a hold of, he did go the extra mile to help me out. Again, I recommend the Celestron NexStar5 (obviously, since I bought one!). There certainly are drawbacks about this scope but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Meade did spoil me with the ETX mak-cass optics. Wouldn't it be cool if Meade got together with Celestron and put the ETX mak-cass optics into the NexStar5 package... oh the possibilities to ponder. In the mean time I will enjoy my new telescope! -Joe (email@example.com)
Subj: New ETX-125EC report Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2000 23:12:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I received my ETX 125 and Autostar for Christmas. Even though my observing conditions were less than optimal due to light pollution (in the front yard of my house, less than 50 feet from a street light, in the middle of town), I noticed that the bands of Jupiter and the division in Saturn's ring were visible when observed with the Meade SWP 18mm lens and the 126 barlow (effective magnification of 210). I checked the collimation of the 125 and it appeared to be correct with no observable out-of-roundness of the doughnut pattern in the Christmas ornament test and also did not see any alignment problems when visually looking through the rear port. Dave Rounds
Subj: Need Advice Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2000 11:35:49 From: LesSechler@aol.com I am getting ready to make my first leap into telescope world and I was sent to your web site by the Meade people, who I live close to. Wonderful is the term I would use and like many of us who have benefited from the site I say Thank You for putting in the time and expense. My question is this: The stores where I can shop here in the area near LA tend to push me away from the Meade ETX-125 I want and towards a Celestron unit. I am told that the 125 does not have the same performance as the 90 and that there are "bugs" in it. Do you have a view on this? Should I consider a Celestron over the Meade? Naturally, they can deliver a Celestron now where I would have to wait for the 125. Is this a case of them trying to sell what is in stock? The Meade people tell me that all is well with the 125 and that I could get delivery in perhaps 90 days or so. Of course you would expect them to say that. I am a beginning novice who can afford anything up to $2000 and I do not want to have to trade up for at least 5 years, and maybe not then. If I get really into the hobby I want a scope that will perform, if I lose interest I want something that will be easy to sell as a used item, and the 125 seems perfect for this. Since your site is oriented to the ETX I am not suspecting you to come back and say not to buy a Meade, but I thought maybe you could forward some thoughts on what others may have said to you recently about the 125 specifically. Hope to hear from you soon. LesSechler@aol.comMike here: I suggest you read my NexStar5 and ETX-125EC report Part 2.
Subj: ETX/Nexstar specs... Date: Monday, January 3, 2000 15:57:58 From: User100995@aol.com Could you address the following problems. They stem from a careful reading of the S&T review. What, exactly is the focal length of each scope at the visual plane. As I'm sure you know, S&T measured the Nexstar at 1350mm/F 10.8, while the ETX was 1675mmat F13.4. DiCicco and Seronik posted their measurement techniques under SCT on AOLs Observers Outpost after I critiqued their numbers. Second, in the Meade website specs and, I assume, in their catalogue, they advertise the central obstruction as being "(diam.;%) 9.6%". This is false. 9.6% is the area, not the diameter. Have you been aware of this mistatement by Meade? Though I am a comparative novice in optical theory, I am given to understand that the ratio of diameter of obstruction to diameter of clear aperture, has certain "benchmarks" that help to measure the contrast performance with Cassegrain systems. A 20% obstruction gives very good views while a central obstruction of 15% or less is almost refractor-like. I know of no commonly accepted % ratio for areas of obstruction to clear aperture. If this is so, doesn't it appear that Meade has deliberately misstated the ratio? Thanks for any reply. Jim Phelps User100995@aol.comMike here: I only know what I read in the manuals and the S&T review. Yes, they have different values for the focal lengths of both telescopes. As to the central obstruction, as S&T noted, this is somewhat overblown. I don't believe Meade misstated the value (but I don't have an ETX-125EC anymore to measure it); they just used one statistic. Others may use a different statistic.
I still don't understand the focal length difference, but of one thing I AM sure, in all of the Meade catalogues and their website, they state the AREA of their central obstructions for ALL their cassegrains to be the DIAMETER of their central obstructions. This IS a very misleading thing for them to do, and I intend to write John Piper today and find out the reason. I do not believe this to be innocent. Thanks for your response, I really enjoy your website.
Subj: Autostar random slewing Date: Monday, January 3, 2000 07:50:25 From: email@example.com Thanks for the heads up on your site about Meade having a fix available for the random slewing problem. I tested my 125 scope with Autostar and with the standard controller extensively the last few days in a porch with temps about 25-40 degrees F. I found that in a two hour test period I would consistently get one or two random declination slewings with the Autostar but never with the standard hand controller. That verifies the problem is with the Autostar or at least Autostar / scope combo and not the scope itself. So I'm ready to talk to Meade about the problem. Then to my dismay I read farther down in the postings on your site that Meade requires one to send the scope and Autostar in for repair. That's really disheartening. Imagine the delays and potential "screwups" that could occur with all the scopes that have the problem being sent to them and they having to return a properly fixed scope. I've already sent my scope in to get collimated only to get it back better but still not like it should be, and I had to do it myself (with insight Tony Costanzo's posting on your site's tips location). I dread letting Meade get their hands on my (now finally finely collimated) 125 again, let alone paying for shipping again and being without it yet again for many weeks - each day only hoping they get it right this time.
Subj: ETX 125EC Play in R.A. Date: Monday, January 3, 2000 03:53:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Great Site, after reading for a few months I decided on an ETX-125EC. My first night out was a bit disappointing. Is it normal for there to be a lot of play in the R.A. gears / motor (backlash). When I change direction from left to right the motor seems to run awhile before the scope move. I think this problem might have something to do with my failure to get the autostar to align (easy align) despite repeating it several times. Regards KevinMike here: There is some play in the ETX (and the Celestron NexStar5) drives.
Had my first decent night with the 125, I'm sitting on the oter side of the globe at 20 05 093 N and 49 33 711E, Jubail Saudi Arabia. I also bought a 90 (much more fun than the 125) and an LX200 which I have not tried yet. Your site is a Godsend, expect me to be frequently visiting and harassing you.
Subj: A few more experiences with ETX-125/AS-1.3c Date: Sunday, January 2, 2000 21:29:54 From: email@example.com Following on previous messages, thought you might be interested in my latest adventures-- After continuing to have some annoying drift problems after first aligning an object after GOTO, as I reported to the Weasner site in my first comments on the scope, I though I'd try the polar table mount instead of Alt/Azi. With only a little more effort on the home position setup it appeared to work pretty well, with alignment and pointing accuracy about the same as in Alt/Azi, but sure enough there were far less image drift problems, probably because of the tracking only dealing with backlash on one axis. Much better experience. Besides, I figure that it will be better to make adjustments and slews in RA/Dec when star-hopping and trying to find the dimmer objects using star charts. Clouds rolled in and I left the scope tracking Jupiter (had excellent image with a new 6.4 mm S Plossl). When I returned the temperature had dropped to 32F and Jupiter was still near the center of the fov (10' at 297X). However, when I attempted to make a small adjustment in RA the motor kept running after I released the button. Pushing several other buttons stopped the motor but behavior was erratic when pressing the correctors. Then, all stopped, locked up with the display showing "Proj. trap 5", which required power down/up and loss of all alignment. Only other abnormality that I had noted prior to the malfunction was that the sidereal time display was way off, by several hours even though local time and site were correct; which is a problem I have noticed once or twice before on other nights. After the trap error and power up and re-setting the local time, sidereal time and all else was okay but I called it a night because of clouds. More mysteries. I see Mike W. says that there is a Meade fix for sudden slewing, still looks like a temperature problem to me much of the time. Nothing so bad as to want to part with scope for an indefinite amount of time. Need to monitor the problem more. Still waiting for a real cold night to test. Ron - hope Meade's fix will take care of what ails yours. Cheers, EllsAdded later:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Ron, Thanks for the CC: I note that Ron quotes Ells who says he got a Proc Trap 5 [five!!] this time. That's the IRQ vector... a direct connect from one of the computer chip's external pins. Coincidentally, I took my Autostar apart (again) a few nights ago to see what Meade had wired to the IRQ pin... and it -looks- like it's not connected to -anything-. (that's bad design... they should at least ground it). I was not willing (at that time) to poke around with a ohmmeter to see if i could find the "other end" of any circuit board trace buried out of sight. I like the "stored slews" explanation... i'll chase that in the programming. Since i knew from experience that the Autostar ignored user-slews -during- a GoTo, i'd already modified my personal behaviour to first press Mode to break it from a GoTo, before attempting manual control. Ells: if Meade really doesn't wire the IRQ line to anything (other than ground, and especially if they do tie it to ground), this points to either noisy power, or locates the problem in the Autostar, not the 'scope. So you could keep looking up, whilst Meade wonders why you sent them a Handbox. Thanks lots --dick seymour
Subj: re: etx 125 random slewing fix Date: Sunday, January 2, 2000 15:23:18 From: email@example.com Whoa! Don't leave us hanging... is it a software patch (hence desirable for etx90 owners), or a hardware fix? Since some of the users' follow-on comments indicate "return everything to Meade", it's still vague. --dick (enjoy MacWorld)(and the HUGE mailbox you'll return to...)Mike here: Depending upon what the user says in answer to the questions from Customer Service, they may have to return the ETX-125EC and their Autostar. There is no software "fix".
Subj: ETX-125 EC Date: Sunday, January 2, 2000 14:45:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I am a newcomer to astronomy and love your sight. I've done my homework and am ready to purchase my first telescope. I've chosen the ETX 125 EC. I've been to the Discovery Stores in my area (Santa Monica, CA) and the ETX is 4-6 weeks on back order. Too long to wait. I've visited some online sights but have found the service shaky at best. Could you or any other enthusiasts recommend a local store or online sight for purchase of the scope and accessories? Thanks. email@example.comMike here: The ETX-125EC is a rather popular item. Although not exactly local to Santa Monica, you might try Oceanside Photo and Telescope. I've been to their store and it is a nice place. Just down the 405/5.
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