Last updated: 1 February 2000

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:	bedair@tucomm.net (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!!
       Steve Bedair  /  Longview Tx.

Subject:	 ETX 125 question
Sent:	Sunday, January 30, 2000 02:05:58
From:	jacota@earthlink.net (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?

Joe Cota
Mike 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.

Added later:

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

Joe Cota

Subject:	 RE: ETX125
Sent:	Saturday, January 29, 2000 14:29:33
From:	relgert@datanet.ab.ca (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 Elgert
Mike 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:	okubosan@earthlink.net (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:	rchesley@soca.com (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?

Mike 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:	alain.sfera@epfl.ch (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:	stanland@wilmington.net (Carl Stanland)
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!
Carl Stanland
Mike 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, TX
Mike 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.

Added later:

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:	isochronos@yahoo.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?


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
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:	rmasse@mmcable.com (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

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


Colin Menage
Mike 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:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (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

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 005364
Mike 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:	friend4u2@usa.net (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:	dick@inficad.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
Mike 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:	rbrrobledo@hotmail.com (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.


Roberto Botero

Subject:	 ETX-125 "fix" update
Sent:	Thursday, January 20, 2000 05:17:32
From:	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net (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:	gbgesq@earthlink.net
I'd appreciate if you could post this on the 125 section - much thanks!

Title of item:	Meade ETX 125 Scope - Hard to find!!!
Seller:	gbgesq@earthlink.net
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:	

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!!!

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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:	rbrrobledo@hotmail.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.


Roberto Botero
Mike 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:	covanbuuren@compuserve.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

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:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (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!

Subject:	 Little accident with ETX-125
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 14:52:56
From:	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net (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

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:	mdevine@nuera.com (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.


Subject:	 ETX-125 slewing problem
Sent:	Saturday, January 15, 2000 10:13:07
From:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (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 005364
Mike 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: 	rmasse@mmcable.com
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.


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.

Mike 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: 	f6dex@compuserve.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
Mike 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: 	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net
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: 	richard.smithjr@worldnet.att.net
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
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.


Jeremy Shervell 
Mike 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: 	ronsilver@erols.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

  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  
"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."
    --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  

(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 Silver
Mike here: >Has Meade described their FIX?
In a word, "yes". Is it something I would attempt to explain here so that anyone could try it? "No!". Too many variables. Contacting Meade and giving them all the details will let them determine the proper steps to be taken.

Subj: 	Nexstar5 pages on your site
Date: 	Thursday, January 6, 2000 16:45:19
From: 	don@nwra.com
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 Delisi 
Northwest Research Associates, Inc.
14508 NE 20th Street
Bellevue, WA 98007-3713
E-mail: don@nwra.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: 	joelee5@home.com
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

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

-Joe (joelee5@home.com)

Subj: 	New ETX-125EC report
Date: 	Wednesday, January 5, 2000 23:12:42
From: 	drounds@hughestech.net
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

Hope to hear from you soon.
Mike 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
Mike 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.

Added later:

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: 	djhodny@uswestmail.net
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: 	kevin_sterling@bigfoot.com
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 Kevin
Mike here: There is some play in the ETX (and the Celestron NexStar5) drives.

Added later:

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: 	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net
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.

Added later:
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
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

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: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com

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.

(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: 	dabew@earthlink.net
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?


Mike 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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