Last updated: 31 January 2001

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX 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:	 Old model ETX 125 vs. New
Sent:	Tuesday, January 30, 2001 14:15:26
From:	joshua.parker@nellis.af.mil (Parker Joshua L SrA 99 SPTG/DET 1)
Is there anyway to tell if I have the new version or old version of the
ETX 125??  I have the image shift problem when focusing and bought a
Flexifocus hoping it would fix the problem.  It helped a little but not
as much as I thought...  Now, I'm thinking about buying Meade's Electric
Focuser to see if it will work better...  (I think Meade does that on
purpose just so you'll buy the electric focuser!) And, if I do have the
old one can I return it to Meade to get it fixed??

Thanks for all your help!

Mike here: The focusing method (knob, cable, or electric) has nothing to do with the image shift during focusing. If extreme, i.e., a star crosses the entire field of the 26mm eyepiece when moving from one side of infocus to the other, then you should exchange it. If your dealer won't exchange it, then Meade will fix it. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any way to tell whether the unit is old or new.

Subject:	 Counterweight
Sent:	Tuesday, January 30, 2001 12:37:01
From:	tomjbor@netzero.net (TOM BORKOWSKI)
Thanks for the site. Purchase an etx-125ec. When i attach camera do i
need counterweight? If so can you recommend any and site thanks. Haven't
received it yet. Tommorrow i am hoping
Mike here: Depending upon where you attach the camera, its weight, and the orientation of the telescope, you may or may not need a counterweight. But having one is better than not. Check out the Scopetronix Piggyback Camera Mount; it doubles as a counterweight.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, January 30, 2001 11:32:15
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Christian Mller
Christian -
Great....I hope you are able to find a good dealer near you; there are
many reputable "mail order" or e-mail Meade dealers throughtout the
U.S.A.; Meade is very careful who they select to represent their

I know of several who stand behind their scopes 100% (in case you have
problems) and can assure very fast - if not immediate - delivery.  Let
me know if you cannot locate an outlet close and I will be happy to
recommend some that you can trust over the Internet; it seems to be the
way to do business these days!

I know you will like the ETX 125; please contact me if I can be of
assistance in carefully selecting optimum accessories to supplement the
telescope and its capable performance.

Let me know how it works out!  It's good to have another 125-er out

Clear skies - Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Christian Mller
>Hello Clay,
>thank you very, very much for your detailed e-mail and that you responded so
>soon. If I can find a Meade-dealer near Rochester I probably will go to get
>one. Your statement about the ETX-125 really impressed me and I am really
>curious about it.
>Thank you very much again,

Subject:	 Help wanted to make a choice between Celestron Nextstar and Mead ETX 125EC
Sent:	Tuesday, January 30, 2001 06:03:51
From:	astefos@ccf.gr (A Stefos)
Dear Mr Weasner,

I have been hovering around your interesting site for the past 3 weeks
trying to get as much info as possible on the ETX 125 EC model.

After a month of deep internet searching (taking into account that I am
a novice in amateur astronomy) and
all-kind-of-astronomy-specialist-consulting I have come to the
conclusion that the best quality/price ratio is offered by the etx125ec
model. However, before I take my final decision I would like to hear
your opinion concerning a question that is troubling my mind:'Why is the
Mead etx125ec $200-300 cheaper than the Nextstar 5, since they seem to
be offering - in my humble opinion, the same attributes? Is it because
Mead is more price competitive or is there a difference in quality?'

Sincerely, I would appreciate your giving me your point of view on this

Thank you very much for your interest and help.

Best regards

Thanos C. Stefos
Mike here: Some of the price difference is due to materials and some likely the design of the computer controller and its software. Also, keep in mind that the computer is optional with the ETX-125EC and standard on the NexStar.

Subject:	 Mac Cable
Sent:	Monday, January 29, 2001 20:41:58
From:	rmuller@pirouline.com (Work)
The site is great! I just got an ETX-125 and have a question.  I may get
SkyChart III Software to use on my Mac.  Do you know the wiring needed
to make a cable to control the scope?  I made one for downloading to the
autostar from my PC and actually have a too for the phone/handset end.  Thanks for any help.

Robert Muller
Mike here: There is some info on cables on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Monday, January 29, 2001 16:00:54
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Christian Mller
Hello Christian!
Having owned an ETX 90, I think you would be absolutely amazed at the
difference in clarity in the planets with the ETX 125;  I also use the
90, which gives very nice sharp planetary images, but the difference in
the scopes is remarkable.

My personal ETX 125 outperforms all 8" Schmidts I have compared to, and
gives slightly better images than a 6" Unitron refractor on planets and
double stars.  The only explanation is in the incredible optical design,
careful baffling of the secondary and the razor-sharp correction.

I use mine in the Polar mode (still use the GO TO and Autostar in that
mode, however) since this seems to give much steadier tracking and the
overall vibration of the telescope mount is substantially reduced; it
also eliminates some random slewing problems that have been occuring in
Alt-Az in many scopes out there.  The random slewing, if you are into
high power work, is particularly bothersome.

This is by far my favorite scope, combining rich optical performance
with extreme portability.  I use a combination 15mm Plossl with a barlow
for about 250x and on the very best nights a 12.4mm Plossl and the
barlow; do not use very short focal length eyepieces with this scope, as
it makes your observing comfort difficult.

Keep in mind that the planetary images are a combined result of the
optics, the tracking and - very importantly - the atmospheric steadiness
of our air; if the night quickly gets cool and the stars "twinkle"
rapidly, the air is unsteady and you will be limited to about 100x for
maybe deep sky observing. Only on the steadiest nights should you
attempt to use 250x or above on ANY telescope.  With the 250x, my view
with the -125 is incredible on planets; the GRS is clearly visible
(faint right now) on Jupiter along with double belts, equatorial wispy
festoons and many white spots in the S. Equat. Belt. On Saturn, the view
is astonishing.  Cassini's division is easy; Encke's division is clearly
visible with 310x on steady nights;  last time out, I could discern 4
Saturnian belts clearly, the shadow of the globe on the rings, and
EASILY distinguish the Crepe ring all the way around the ring cusp.

High power on bright stars reveal a clearly distinct perfect Airy
pattern, with mine showing four to five Airy rings on a steady night. 
color correction is impeccable, and there is absolutely NO COMA in my
scope, even with a 40mm wide angle Plossl (still can't get all the
Pleiades in, though!)

Yes, I highly recommend the ETX 125; many of the mountings - including
my own - arrive with backlash and clamping problems.  It seems to be all
too common; nonetheless, through Mike W's ETX site, you can quickly
learn how to rectify those problems and tune your scope up as I did into
a firm, steady and first-class instrument.

If you so chose the ETX 125, I can assure you (if you get as good a one
as did I) you will not be disappointed...just be patient and "fine tune"
it to make it perform to YOUR expectations.

Let me know how it turns out!
Good skies and steady seeing....
P. Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Christian Mller

>Dear Clay,
>I just read your report on Weasners ETX-site. I am a postdoc from Germany
>at the University of Rochesters Chemistry Department and I owned an ETX-90EC
>one year ago. I really like it but since these telescopes are much more
>cheaper here in the U.S. I consider to buy an ETX-125 as well. I would like to
>know if you can for example see Jupiters red spot and Saturns Cassini Division
>with the ETX-125. What kind of eyepieces and filters would you suggest to
>see these details?
>I would really appreciate it if you could e-mail back.
>Thank you very much.
>Christian Mueller

Subject:	 Eyepieces for the ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, January 29, 2001 04:30:43
From:	John.Bothner@sds.no (John Bothner)
Post this in the hope someone ca give me a useful hint:
I recently bought the ETX-125-EC with the Autostar. Currently I have 2
eyepieces: SuperPlsel 26mm and 15mm.   I have decided I want more
magnification. But I cannot figure out the sales material from Meade on
eyepieces. They operate with SuperPlsel, Super Wide Angle, and Ultra
Wide Angle. I cannot make out the logic, what is the real difference
between these three? Also SuperPlsl seem to have high magnification?

What seems odd to me is that a 4.7mm eyepiece labeled as
"UltraWideAngle" has the highest magnification (404X for the etx125). 
Is this not a contradiction???   In my view such high magnification
should imply an "ultra SMALL angle". There is obviously some point here
I am not getting !

What I want is the best eyepiece for:
- Seeing smallest details possible on Saturn
- Seeing smallest details possible on the moon

Thanks for helpful advice,

John Bothner,  Oslo, Norway
Mike here: Different eyepiece designs can result in varying fields-of-views, regardless of the magnification. So, it is not necessarily a contradiction that a short focal length eyepiece can have a wider field of view than another eyepiece of the same focal length. However, there are many variables in what you can actually see with different eyepieces. For example, atmospheric seeing, local conditions, whether or not the telescope has reached "thermal equilabrium", quality of the eyepieces, whether or not the telescope optics are collimated, and even your own eyesight. With that said, pushing the ETX-125EC to its maximum magnification may not give you the results you expect (true for any telescope, not just the -125). I have used the Meade 9.7mm eyepiece on Saturn with nice results; doubling it using a 2X Barlow Lens gave an OK view but was less than satisfactory. You can see my report on linked from the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.

Subject:	You have a great website!
Sent:	Sunday, January 28, 2001 13:54:46
From:	DNEEFE@aol.com
Thanks for the great informational website for the ETX scopes. I just
purchased a ETX 125 and have had problems with the horizontal movement.
The same problems are on your site which I have had to correct with my
scope. Loose set screws and a bad clutch. Thanks again!

Duane Neefe
Hockley, TX.

Mike here: I finally have been able to use the repaired ETX-125EC and Autostar 2.1ek (loaded by Meade). This report was delayed by my trip earlier this month, then a cold that I caught, and then bad weather. But fortunately the skies cleared for a couple of nights and I was able to check things out. The repair was the fix the random slew problem. And so far, during the few hours of usage, the random slew did not occur. Prior to returning the system to Meade in late December 2000, the problem was beginning to occur several times during a session. So, it seems they found the problem (in my case). If your system is experiencing the random slew problem, contact Meade per their announcement.

Subject:	 MEADE ETX-125EC OR MEADE LX90?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 23, 2001 07:59:14
From:	tomjbor@yahoo.com (TOM BORKOWSKI)
I have been looking at both these scopes and am wondering which will
give me more "bang for the buck". If i get the 125ec, what eyepieces are
best. Was thinking of the 40mm and 9.7Mm super plossl plus the 2x
barlow. Is the etx-125ec good for astrophotography? (Less than 10 minute
exposures) on a jmi megapod tripod and wedge? I don't like the idea that
with the lx90 the wedge is extra.
Mike here: Well, I have no experience with the LX90. Certainly more aperture has its benefits as well as drawbacks. I use those same eyepieces and Barlow with the ETX-125EC. And you can see some examples of ETX astrophotography on this ETX site.

Subject:	 Problem when focusing my new ETX-125EC
Sent:	Monday, January 22, 2001 22:05:53
From:	omar@cards.cncdsl.com (Omar Mohamad-Bernal)
Please help me…I just bought a new ETX-125EC Telescope and I think
some is wrong with it, every time I rotate the focus knob to get the
viewing object in focus, I notice a shift (left or right) of the object
in view and it opposite to the rotation of the focus knob. I am thinking
of returning it ASAP, I just hope that this is not a known problem with
the ETX-125EC. Thank you in advance for your help.

Ps. What a great website you have.      

Omar from Chicago, IL.
Mike here: Glad you like the site. There is some image shift in this telescope design. The original model ETX-125EC had a lot of shift which has been corrected in the current models.

Added later:

Thank you for answering my email.
I just returned it (ETX-125EC Telescope) for a new one, and you right,
it's image shifting during focusing is hardly noticeable.


Subject:	 ETX purchase
Sent:	Monday, January 22, 2001 15:27:32
From:	srife@swbell.net (Stan Rife)
I have read quite a bit of the information available on your web site
(thanks for the site, by the way) and believe that I have come to an
informed decision on what telescope to buy. I am brand new to astronomy
and do not have a scope of any kind at this time. I have purchased and
am in the process of reading the excellent book by Guy Consolmagno,
"Turn Left at Orion". Based on this book and the info on your site I
think I have decided to go for the ETX-125EC scope, and the JMI Megapod
tripod/wedge. Do you think this is a good combination? If not, what
would you recommend?

How much better performance will the 125 give me over the 90? From what
little I have read so far, I know that the 125 will give more
magnification with the same eyepeice, due to the longer focal length
(?). More magnification equates to more detail, and a bigger lense will
capture more light, but I know that there must be a point of diminishing
return as well. As far as the mechanics of the subject go, what limits
the amount of magnification that you can use on a given night, on a
given star/planet? I want to buy a scope that I will not be disappointed
with. Not having any experience I do not know what to expect...and some
of the comments I read led me to believe that the ETX-90 might leave me
somewhat dissatisfied. There sure seem to be alot of happy ETX-90 owners
out there. Can you give me some insight on the differences, as far as
actual viewing results, between the two?

You must get alot of email, but if you could find time to give me a
nudge in the right direction I sure would appreciate it.

Stan Rife
Houston, TX
1999 Gold Wing (Red Ryder)
1999 R 1100RT (The Batcycle)
BMWMOA 86491
AMA 274008
TMRA 33117
TSRA  111251
Mike here: If the size (somewhat reduced portability) and extra cost doesn't bother you, go for the -125 over the -90. Besides seeing fainter objects (more light gathering power), you can use higher magnifications with the -125. The theoretical max magnification for any telescope is typically double the aperture in millimeters (or 2x127=254X) or 50-60X per inch (250-300X). However, on brighter objects you can exceed this by quite a bit before the image gets too fuzzy.


Thanks for the reply Mike. One more question...would you recommend the
JMI Megapod over the Meade 883 tripod?
Mike here: The Megapod is probably more sturdy than the 883 but I have no direct experience with it. By the way, I recently used a 9.7mm eyepiece plus 2X Barlow Lens on the ETX-125EC on Jupiter and Saturn. There were many fine moments of excellent seeing even at this 390X. Saturn's shadow on the Rings was readily apparent along with the Cassini Division, as were some details on Jupiter's cloud bands. And this was without any filters attached.

Subject:	 Recent Weasner posts
Sent:	Saturday, January 20, 2001 09:03:25
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net


Concerning some of your recent posts on Weasner:

Thanks for the suggestion of covering the ETX with a pillow case for
storage.  I live in a high, drier climate and didn't think too much
about storing the scope in plastic bag in my unheated garage but think
the cloth might be better. We do get some occasional condensation

Also is good to get your ideas on planet filters.  I had messing around
with them some but will concentrate on your suggestions.

I tend to agree with you on the ~ 400X limit on the 125.  I have had
excellent views at that power and have been tempted to go much higher
but did but did not see any more detail.  At 400x (14 mm UWA + 3x
Barlow) the view can be quite sharp with intermittent acceptable seeing
conditions, at 5000 ft ASL.  There have been times where I was satisfied
with 450x to 500x+ but was mainly ogling over how big Saturn was.  Will
be going after some tight doubles and hopt to see where that useful
power limit is.

There is a mistake in your field-guide posted on Weasner-- etx-125
powers, 20 mm is given as 190x.

These are just a few highlights.  Really appreciate you taking your time
to share your experience and ideas with us.  And thanks to Mike, once
again, for the great site.

And more from Ells:
With some addition use, I have noted significant ghosting in the UWA 14
mm when used with a Barlow for planetary viewing, especially at 3x.
Multiple ghosts are seen but rather easily ignored since even at 400x
the field of view is still 13'.  Occasional quite satisfying views,
seeing permitting, are had with this configuration in my ETX-125.
And from Clay:
Please note that Ells is correct and I will send a NEW ETX 125 chart via
JPG tomorrow at the latest!  Sorry.  CLAY
Mike here: Updated on 20 January.

Subject:	 Magnification and the ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, January 19, 2001 16:52:23
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Regarding eyepieces and power, I strongly feel that about 300x to 350x
is maximum for the ETX 125, and nearly every other scope on the market
no matter what size.

Keep in mind it is the ATMOSPHERE, and not your telescope (unless the
optics are really inferior, which I doubt that the Meade scope has, that
determines the limit on useful magnification.  On nights when even the
BRIGHTEST stars do not twinkle at all are the nights that are perfect
for high magnifications.

Usually - and this is a good rule of thumb to remember - the clearest,
deepest-dark nights are the ones that are the most unstable and hence
unsuitable for higher magnifications.  On the other hand, you will find
that nights which have smog, fog, and stagnant air are by far the best
for double star observing and observing the planets with high power. 
"Inversion layers" put a cap on the thermal air currents rising off the
earth during such nights; it may be a night when only the brightest
objects can be seen, but incredibly steady.

On the ETX 125, because of the finder and the physical restrictions of
the scope, I have found that it is better to USE A BARLOW and a lower
power eyepiece to achieve the power you want; that way you have
excellent eye relief (don't have to mash your face against the eyepiece)
and the point of view is extended high above any obstructions on the
telescope.  I regularly use a 15mm + 2x barlow (about 250x) for
planetary viewing.  I find that you can see just as much - and more,
except on "perfect nights" when I can go upwards to 400x  - if you are
patient and learn to look for the small features that planets exhibit.

Good luck tomorrow...I hope the weather holds for you!

Best regards,
Clay Sherrod        Conway, Arkansas

Subject:	 ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, January 18, 2001 18:33:56
From:	gtr1956@hotmail.com (Glenn Richards)
I have the ETX-125 and was wondering if the Meade 3.3 focal reducer will
work with the ETX-125. My intentions were to tweak the ETX-125 from 15fl
to 4.95fl if it will work.

Glenn Richards
Central Valley, Ca. 
Mike here: Might work but I suspect you'll need an "SCT Accessory Adapter". There is one discussed on the Accessories - Miscellaneous page. If you try it out, let us know the results.

Subject:	meadeeeeeeeeeeeearg
Sent:	Tuesday, January 16, 2001 09:28:00
From:	CF57UK1@aol.com
after looking long and hard i decided to buy an etx125.
i had listened to all the comments on your site. but ordered my 125 it
came today 16 jan opened box took out my scope everything ok so far.
checked it all out ok a little wear on the plastic but thats ok. put in
eye piece nothing oh dear they forgot to put the flip mirror on the
adhesive that holds it or it came off.
what can i say has anybody had this problem i never got to use my new
scope. phoned warehouse express "very good service" and they are sending
me a new scope tomorrow so hats off to them at least they know the
meaning of customer care. give them a mention.
ps i think meade do care human error and quality control are to blame 
????????? and i will stick with it till the end my scope that is.
Mike here: You mentioned some wear on some plastic area. That almost sounds like a used scope. That could also explain the missing flip mirror. Just a thought. Glad you are getting an exchange.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125EC?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 16, 2001 04:22:17
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Good morning Ron -
Thanks for writing; being a student the choice is probably tough (for a
lot of reasons) as to the ETX 90 vs. the ETX 125; having had both (and
an array of scopes of all types and apertures) I have found two things
to be of the upmost importance:

    1) performance, both optical and mechanical; and,
    2) convenience.

If you don't have BOTH, or some satisfying proportion thereof, you will
not be happy with your telescope, and you will find every excuse not to
use it. I think that is why folks spend so much time tweaking their
"new" telescopes to get them "just right" for their needs.

It sounds like the "convenience factor" may be a strong one for you
since you are:  1) a student and on the go; and 2) you have been looking
at two of the most "convenient" telescopes on the planet.

But all the portability and convenience - indeed, even all the glitz and
bells and whistles that come with many of today's telescopes - if it
does not SHOW YOU what you expect to see, you'll never be happy.

I still have BOTH the -90 and my newer -125.  Love them both.  I had
considerably more problems with the ETX 125, but having been into
astronomy for nearly 30 years and having retired in it, I learned a few
things about NOT being modest when it comes to tackling mechanical and
optical problems.

The ETX series of scopes is by far the most interesting and advanced
series I have ever seen; the technology is simply staggering.  They set
up in an instant and - once you have mastered and overcome your initial
bewilderment and frustration with the computer end of it (which you
will) - are an absolute pleasure to use.

First, besides the remarkable cutting edge technology, let me tell you
the best part....no matter which - the ETX-90 or -125 you choose, you
will be getting the best optics you could buy at ANY price.  I do not
say that without merit, as I have used scopes up to 120" in diameter (I
still prefer smaller instruments).  My 90mm and 125mm out perform vastly
larger scopes at star parties and in backyard gatherings in the deep
woods; in BOTH, star images present a perfect Airy pattern, and limiting
magnitude is ACTUALLY AT THE THRESHOLD in dark conditions, as is
steady-seeing resolution.  The planets are fantastic, even with the 90
at well over 250x; I routinely have the ETX 125 up to 400x on very
steady nights with excellent planetary and double star images; tracking
can be a problem however, with both ETX models.

That brings me to the downside, and I am going to express my personal
opinions here, since I have experienced the result first hand.  I
personally believe that - right now - Meade is making TOO MANY ETX 90
telescopes, and it is affecting both the -90 and the -125 quality
control.  That is the key: quality control.

Buy whichever one from someone you can have a no-questions-asked return
policy if something is not right with the scope; they will send it back
to Meade and Meade will take it; you, in turn will get a replacement
scope on the spot and not loose any time; if you, on the other hand have
to send it BACKT TO MEADE, it becomes a long, arduous process.  On the
"up" side of sending it back to Meade is the fact that from what I have
learned of others on Mike's site, when the scope comes back, every
problem is fixed.

I still would not hesitate to buy one; the wonderful users who post on
Weasner's site will be happy to assist you through any problems you may
have; indeed, there is already an encyclopedia of knowledge for either
of the scopes on the site!

My ETX 90 has been a perfect scope;  but I am very, very glad I went
ahead and got the ETX 125.  The difference is phenomenal;  a lot of
users report the advantage at power, but in by book, the BIG advantage
is two-fold:  1) light grasp - my -125 outperforms many 8"
Schmidt-Cass's on the same night in deep sky performance; 2) resolution
- I have used all sizes of refractors and owned a 7" Questar 17 years
ago.  The ETX-125 resolution puts them all to shame!

Size matters;  however, the -125 is still one of the most portable and
lightweight scopes of its capability ever produced.  If money and weight
were no object, I would personally opt for the Meade LX-7, the 7"
Maksutov. That's how sold I am on the 125's performance.

I still take it everywhere I go, but I do use mine in the Polar
position; I had tremendous "creeping" and backlash in my drive/computer
system that - even after rebuilding the guts of the driving mechanisms -
I could not totally eliminate.  Going to the POLAR alignment did the
trick, with NO backlash nor creep whatsoever.

The only downside to Polar mode is that the ETX-125 is not suitable for
teh #883 tripod, as it leans a bit too far north for its center of
gravity;  I would suggest the #887 VERY HEAVY (like Meade uses on the LX
models) tripod that comes standard with an ETX 125 mounting plate and

Be sure you either get, or download the new version to Autostar,
whichever size you get.....the newest is ROM 2.1ek and there is a
download application posted on Meade's Computer Update web page that you
also need to have installed on your PC to download the new 2.1ek.  The
new version smooth tracking and slewing considerably and takes up
backlash much better as you match it to the peculiarities of your
particular scope.

Be sure, after you get your scope, to see if you can match any problems
with those others have experienced on Mike's ETX site, thereby saving
you a lot of grief; a lot of what may seem to be major problems are,
indeed, very easy to fix!

Both scopes are portable, and both perform optically the best you can
possible get.  There have been some problems, but nothing that should
scare you away from either.  Just have a firm understanding on return
from whomever you purchase.

Right now, I would not get another ETX-90 for the simple reason as
stated above:  it is so popular that there are too many being made right
now.  As fast as they are going out the door, with free tripods, and new
lower prices, any problems we had before in my opinion are going to be
multiplied simply by the sheer proportions of the numbers out there.

I also would not hesitate too long; regardly of which one you choose, do
it soon, while the stock of the dealer you select (I have my personal
favorite that I will be happy to recommend as honest and
straight-shooting) remains PRIOR to that of the special promotions that
Meade now has going.  I believe the rush to get them out the door will
ultimately lead to production problems, not just for the ETX 90 but for
the ETX 125 as well.

Expect to not get much help from Meade customer support; Weasner's web
page is much better, and a heck of a lot cheaper than waiting at your
expense long distance for someone to pick up the phone in California.

Good luck; either one is great and I would not trade either.  My
personal favorite is the ETX 125, and even with a "lift and carry"
handicap that I have, it is easy to transport, setup and use.

Best regards...if I can help you further, please do not hestitate to

Clay Sherrod
794 Drake Drive
Conway, Arkansas  72032
And more:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ron -
Glad to help.  Hey, we're all students for the duration of our lives.
Particularly if we have children (I have five, all grown).  Let me know
what you decide; the upgrade on the larger tripod is well worth the
investment if you go to the -125 (the #883 is fine for the ETX 90);
another consideration with the ETX 125 (if that is what you opt for) is
the Meade electric focuser....worth its weight in gold and plugs in with
the Autostar so everything is operated off one hand unit.  You get a
great deal of focusing vibration from touching the knob at medium power;
it is not as noticable in the -90 however.

The Meade ETX is a GREAT scope for the family....it's nice to look AT,
as well as through and does great for terrestrial.  Once you have it
mastered (the Go TO configurations) it is a joy to use.

Please keep me posted.....Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>    Thank you for the great information. I really appreciate it. It sounds
>like you really like the optics. I think that's a good call on the heavier
>tripod. Also, I need to clarify, I'm a "student" of astronomy in that I 
>read and observe whenever family and work obligations permit.
>Part of the reason I became interested in the ETX is because it would
>provide a great way to get my wife & children involved in my hobby 
>(although I have to admit, my oldest who is seven is already pretty
>Thanks again for your help (It sure beats reading and rereading the 
>same catalogs),
>I'll e:mail you once things progress!

Subject:	 Meade ETX-125 vs LX 90
Sent:	Sunday, January 14, 2001 23:57:41
From:	derekemmett@home.com (Derek Emmett)
great web site!

I have been looking to buying a ETX-125, but wanted to handle a unit
before purchasing... I recently got a chance to handle a 125,  and was
amazed at the poor mounting of the unit to the tripod?  Lightly touching
the tube of the 125, sent the unit into a several second oscillation...
My impression was that focusing and tracking would have problems... If
there was any wind, forget having any fun... The shaking of the unit had
little to do with the tripod and everything to do with the rigidity of
the base construction... At any rate, the ETX-125 stability problems
look to be at the redesign level, and I do not want to spend all my time
doing Meads work. In other words, I do not want to fight my scope, to
view clear, stable images!

I had a chance to handle the LX 200 and I was immediately impressed at
how stable this scope mounting was... I was then interested at looking
at the LX-90 and how rigid and stable it's design was?  If you have the
optics of the LX 200, at only $300-400 bucks more than the ETX -125
(fully featured), it seems we have an easy purchasing decision, with the
exception of portability...

Do you plan on doing a head to head comparison of the ETX-125 and the
LX- 90? I have not had a chance to handle the LX 90 yet, but if it is
anything like it's brother (LX200), with just a small price jump over
the ETC-125, I'm all over it... Can you tell me what the early word is
on the LX-90?

Mike here: Many users find the ETX-125EC acceptable when properly mounted. Yes, there are focusing vibrations that need to dampen out (but do so quickly). There are no tracking errors related to mount stability. As to the LX90, I have yet to work with one but the reports on various newsgroups seem to give it a "thumbs up" on its own.


Thank you for responding so quickly... I have not been able to locate
any news groups discussing any field trials with the LX90... Would you
mind pointing me to articles you have come across, I would really
appreciate this...

Derek Emmett
Mike here: The LX90 eGroup is linked from my Astronomy Links page and is at: http://www.egroups.com/group/lx90.

Subject:	 Re: -90 vs -125
Sent:	Sunday, January 14, 2001 16:11:06
From:	johnschwab@webtv.net (john schwab)
great answer.  I sprung for the larger 125etx scope.

bought the carrying case so portability not really a problem.

thx for the reply.  you offer a great service and it's appreciated.

john schwab, marina, CA

Subject:	etx125 & lx10
Sent:	Sunday, January 14, 2001 14:11:52
From:	Billp21316@aol.com
first I want to say I think your site is great, there's alot of feedback
both good & bad about the etx.  I have to say that as a newbie to
astronomy and telescopes I was very pleased to find the etx 125. Dollar
for dollar I think it's one of the best buys for someone who dosen't
know the sky very well. I purchased my 125 back in november, I had to
return it the next day because of problems with the drive unit. The
retailer I purchased it from didn't have another so I had to go to
another location to pick up a replacement, since then I've spent many
sleepless nights looking up. I guess not long after I began to suffer
from bigger is better syndrome, ( I hear this affliction is rampant in
the astronomy circle ) so I purchased the lx10 yesterday, but
unfortunately this unit suffers from the same problem as my original
125,  needles to say after leaping for joy and skipping out of my local
camera shop all my plans for a great night of seeing were drowned out by
the endless humm of a train drive which won't engage and a declination
motor which will not turn it's shaft. I just have to know before I go
crazy, is this a common problem with Meade products or have I just been
very unlucky. I purchased a Celestron 114 for my son for christmas and
haven't had a single problem with it yet. I'm returning the lx10 on tues
and I'm considering the lx200 as a replacement but I'm worried about the
same problems, and considering I'm going to have to wait for 4 weeks for
delivery I would hate to have to send it back. Do you have any words of
wisdom to share before I change my view of meade products and run to my
local celestron dealer for the nextstar 8.

Mike here: I don't have that broad an experience level with Meade products but from what I've read the LX200 line is good. Probably due to the higher-end audience it is aimed at.

Subject:	 Electric focuser for ETX 125
Sent:	Sunday, January 14, 2001 13:27:14
From:	alec917@hotmail.com (Alec C)
I got that pesky set screw off.  But not until I grinded a slightly
larger allen wrench down to fit the set screw snuggly.  The wrench that
was supplied with the electric focuser appeared to be slightly too

As a back up I'm taking that set screw (original) to a tool shop to get
the correct size wrench.


Subject:	 Help lining up a Meade ETX 125
Sent:	Sunday, January 14, 2001 10:34:18
From:	Bob@3DInventions.com (Bob Gruen)
I hate to bother you with this, but I am getting frustrated trying to
line up my ETX 125 correctly and I was wondering if you could possibly
help a little.

I have been using my new ETX 125 now for a few weeks, but I have a few
(hopefully simple) problems.  BTW, I have followed the Meade's
instructions for training the telescope using a terrestrial target.

The telescope is mounted on the Meade Deluxe Field Tripod.  When I take
it out, I first put the leg marked N so it is pointed north (I line it
up using a compass so it is accurate) and I then level the tripod.

Next, following the instructions given by Autostar, I put the telescope
in the home position.  To reach the home position I rotate the telescope
counterclockwise until I reach a hard stop and then clockwise until the
tube is looking North and then level the tube to 0 degrees.  Having set
the tripod up for living in Cincinnati (39 degrees) the telescope is
pointed at the ground in the home position.  Is that right?

Next I perform the one star alignment using a star from Orion as my
alignment star.  The alignment is always successful, but this is where I
have my problems.  First, the telescope doesn't quite track the area of
the sky I point it at.  I can always notice the object "walking" across
my field of view.  Second, using the Autostar's GoTo feature, I try for
an easy object like Jupiter or Saturn.  The telescope normally get's
within 30 - 40 degrees of the selected planet, but I don't think that is
very close.  And sometimes I notice the Autostar trying to rotate the
telescope past a hardstop.

It seems like it should be a little easier to line up so that all of
this works correctly.  I have been through the manual several times, and
I have tried and tried to align the telescope, but it seems to fail.  It
produces wonderful images of things when I steer towards them manually,
but on these cold nights it would be much nicer to let AutoStar help me
out and find and track objects for me.

Any advice would be highly appreciated.

Bob Gruen
Mike here: There is a problem with your alignment technique. Since you have mounted the telescope on the tripod in the polar position you have to tell the Autostar that you are using the Polar mode AND use the polar HOME position. In the polar HOME position the ETX OTA is pointed at the True North Pole (not the magnetic pole, which can vary several degrees from True North). So the tube is 90 degrees, not zero in Declination. Try that and let me know how it works out. By the way, many users have better results in the Alt/Az mounting mode.

Added later:

I will give your suggestions a try and let you know.  Thanks again for
your assistance!!

Subject:	 Electric focuser for ETX 125
Sent:	Saturday, January 13, 2001 20:22:49
From:	alec917@hotmail.com (Alec C)
To:	Sgauger@aol.com
I was reading Weaver's archives (Dec2000) on the ETX 125 looking for a
fix regarding the Electric Focuser for the ETX 125.

I too have the same problem,... I know the allen wrench is inserted all
the way in because I can compare the depth of the wrench from when it
sits on top of the screw vs. when it is seated within the hex.

It almost appears as though the supplied wrench is just a hair to small.
Did you ever a resolve your problem with removing the set screw?  If so,

Kind regards,
Alec, California

Subject:	 re: Drive corrector for ETX 125
Sent:	Saturday, January 13, 2001 18:52:07
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Steve.Murphy@Learningco.com
There **will** be a drive corrector coming from Meade.

Kind of.

The LX90's accessories include a #909 Accessory Port Module. $50.
(not yet in stores)

It has jacks for an illuminated reticle, the 1206 electric
focuser (for the LX90... looks like it's not an rj22 plug)
**and** a CCD AutoGuider.

The APM appears to merely be a connector box (with active electronics)
that'll hang somewhere.  And it provides jacks for the above listed
items.  (above info extracted from LX90 manual)

The 497 Autostar used on the LX90 is the same as the one you have on
your ETX125 (and my ETX90)... soooo it --should-- be able to
accept/control the 909 APM.  
The current firmware doesn't know about autoguiders,
so there'll have to be an update there, too.

OH... then i noticed your follow up questions:
The Autostar has "always" had firmware for both focuser -and- 
illumintaed reticle... that's one reason they have two AUX ports.
And (sorry, Mike) the AUX port -is- a bi-directional I2C bus.
So you can hang many things on it (in fact, the Starfinder ties
all of its 3 datalines together... Motors and AUX equipment share
the bus).
There are a lot of planetarium programs which speak LX-200.
The only things "missing" from the Autostar's LX-200 command set are
the "guide speed" commands... but so what? You can run the beast
with LX-200 commands at the slowest speed, which is basically 
"stop" in anit-sidereal, and 2x in forward-sidereal, or just let
it move in sidereal.  Dance around those values at a one-per-second
rate and you'll probably stay fairly close.  In Polar mount.
But maybe when they bring out their autoguider, they'll add the
guide-speed command set.

--dick (who? me? crossed fingers? held breath?)
Mike here: I stand corrected.

Subject:	 -90 vs -125
Sent:	Friday, January 12, 2001 13:47:28
From:	johnschwab@webtv.net (Schwab, John)
I am torn between getting the ETX 90EC and the ETX 125EC. The 90 costs
$499 and the 125 costs $899.  Is what you can see (or how you can see)
in the 125 worth the extra 400 dollars??

I like that the 90 is cheaper, less heavy and hence more portable, but
am willing to put up with the heavier 125 if you think it's worth the
extra cost and weight and more subject detail.  I am beginner -- my
first scope was a 50mm refractor as a kid.

In other words, as an amateur, will I be just as awed by the images I
get in the 90 as the 125, or would the bigger scope be better?

Your thoughts, please.  Thanks.

John Schwab
Monterey, CA 
Mike here: Well, you will be "more awed" with the larger scope. You'll be able to go to higher magnifications, see more details, see fainter objects. You'll have somewhat less portability and somewhat less money. So the decision depends upon your expectations and how you plan to use the telescope.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, January 12, 2001 10:59:57
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Dick....good to hear from you.  Your description of the worm gear
assembly flexing in the plastic fork bracket is all too familiar; I too
have noticed this and sat many a Saturday morning just looking at it,
flexing it and trying to come up with a solution.  So far, nothing but
several pots of coffee.

As to the azimuth slop, I think that is more dominant in the ETX 125
than with the 90's, probably due primarily to the mass being driven by
essentially the same gearing and physical mechanisms.  I have loaded
mine a bit (both Alt & Az.) and that takes A LOT away; I have no play
nor looseness in Azimuth, only the delay as the drive train kicks
in....that is something I think I can live with.

Bob Thompson, who has had bad luck with his -125, re-timed his and had
NO MOTION at all at "1" and "2", 11 seconds with "3", 8 seconds with
"4"......WOW!  Anyway, I just heard from him.  He took his back to "The
Knowledge Store," and got a brand new one!  No questions asked, and a
big apology!  Wow, what a place to do business.  My hat's off to them.

By the way....degreasing helps (almost) everything, at least with my
scope. It made a ton of difference in both the Altitude lock and the
precision of its tracking!

More later - have a great weekend!        Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>My ETX90 has always had over 3 degrees of mechanical slop
>in the ALT axis.  Only recently have i done the degreasing,
>which brought it closer to a degree.  Part of the slop if from
>flexure of the fork plastic itself, permitting/caused by the
>entire worm cage rotating dur to torque (or load).
>My barrel is currently a little unbalanced...
>(matches the operator... i know, i know...)
>Sometimes by stacking barlow and such in the rear, but
>now-a-days by having a rig holding a right-angle viewfinder on
>the nose of the barrel (hence, i have -two- viewfinders).
>Fuzzy photo to be posted soon.
>> The even distribution of weight on the OTA of the ETX 90 is
>> PROBABLY why you are experiencing the backlas in the ALT axis,
>> similar to
>> that I describe (1-11-01) for the ETX 125 azimuth axis.
>I have noted a number of people complaining about Az slop.
>I've (almost) never had it... the only time it was noticeable
>was with the default hand controller (not the Autostar)... and
>the few seconds it would take for reversals to take effect at
>slow speeds.  Solved by AUtostar backlash compensation.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, January 12, 2001 04:47:23
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Good morning, Dick -
Your dec. axis backlash is a surprise; I have heard from so many people
- even a Meade tech rep. - who have indicated a very solid slew in Alt.,
but the same backlash in Azimuth.  My ETX 90 has very little OTA
differential weight from front to back, like yours; therefore I was
surprised how MUCH exists in the heavier front-heavy ETX 125.  As a a
matter of fact, it is advisable for -125 users to very carefully unlock
the Alt. (DEC) clamp and always hold onto the tube, as it "crashes"
forward rapidly from its own weight; of course the internal stop limits
from hitting, but it does come down hard.  The even distribution of
weight on the OTA of the ETX 90 is PROBABLY why you are experiencing the
backlas in the ALT axis, similar to that I describe (1-11-01) for the
ETX 125 azimuth axis.

Regarding Alt.; I have no problem in either scope with Dec. (Alt.)
backlash - essentially NONE.  On the other hand, as you are well aware,
my problem in that axis is "creep," which I actually think your
"fooling" the training and the azimuth adjustment might take care of; I
will try soon.

Thanks....be in touch!
Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>All of my catch-up and backlash problems are in the ALT axis,
>not Az. My Az has historically been rather solid.
>(it's beginning to wear)
>But ALT is where my mechanical backlash is.
>You can fiddle with the quick-takeup amount by cheating on
>training, and by adjusting v21ek's Az Percent value.
>My ETX90 isn't "balanced" by a long shot, but it's not heavy enough
>to bias in a gravity-centric way.  I have to manually push the nose
> down to fully remove backlash.
>good luck

Subject:	 Counterweight
Sent:	Thursday, January 11, 2001 14:23:40
From:	joshi_nitin@hotmail.com (Nitin Joshi)
Hi Can you post this in user area for help

I have a ETX125 and when I attach Pentax k1000 with a T adapter the
setup becomes unstable. The camera is attached to ETX at the back by
meade T adapetr tube. Do I need counterweights ? if so how / ehere do I
do it or Do I have to get the meade table top tripod with
counterweights? If possible I would rather save that money

Mike here: Counterweight will certainly help. Scopetronix has a Piggyback adapter that does double-duty as a counterweight system.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, January 11, 2001 05:04:20
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Good morning, Bob -
Just for your information and to save you some trouble (and perhaps
concern) I ran a little test on both my ETX 90 and ETX 125 last night to
examine the delay in azimuth response.  Here are the results and I am
CC'ing Mike Weasner on this because I think that all ETX users should
know what is and is not expectable response (delay) time in tracking.

First, there is a considerable difference - in my opinion in what we
call "slewing" and actual "correction."  Most of my slewing, except at
very high magnification, is done between settings "5" and "9" on my
Autostar.  Almost all my observational tracking and "adjustment" I do
between "2" and "4"; rarely do I use "1".

You had mentioned a delay time of 3.9 seconds on your ETX 125 at speed
level "4" at which I first though might be excessive.  Here are the
results in NOTICABLE (very important word, as the effective delay is
still there, albeit not noticable at faster slewing speeds) delay times
(average combined results of four tests each - VERY LITTLE TO NO
DIFFERENCE IN ETX 90 and ETX 125).  Note that these star tests were
conducted at 225x on the -90 and 211x on the -125 in azimuth only.  I
have found little appreciable delay in altitude response time at any
setting (although there is a considerable amount of "creep" and drift in
DIRECTIONS (4 tests, each direction).

Speed Setting    ETX 90 delay (sec.)    ETX 125 delay (sec.)

"2"                        3.1 sec.                        3.3 sec.
"3"                        3.1 sec.                        3.2 sec.
"4"                        3.0 sec.                        3.2 sec.
"5"                        3.1 sec.                        3.3 sec.
"6"                        2.6 sec.                        3.2 sec.
"7"                        1.4 sec.                        1.7 sec.
"8"                        0.8 sec.                        1.2 sec.
"9"                        0.5 sec.                        0.8 sec.

Therefore, I am suggesting that with your setting of "4" - and the fact
that your scope is nearly new (therefore the motor seating has not quite
developed fully) - I suggest that your delay you are now experiencing is
not out of the ballpark as far as at least my sample demonstrates.  I
suspect the small advantage of faster response time in the ETX 90 is due
entirely to the smaller mass necessary to move by the smaller motors and
the initial torque necessary to initiate that move.

Just though you might like to know.  I can live with mine (well, I have
been for some time!) since I do not use either for any long-exposure

Clay Sherrod
Conway, Arkansas
Mike here: At the slower speeds, I wonder how much of the delay is due to the slower gear turning to take up any backlash versus the higher speeds where taking up the backlash is faster. There is no obvious ratio in the delay vs speed numbers but it sure seems that way.

And Clay's thought on that:

Mike -good point.  I suspect that there is an inverse proportion of the
slewing/tracking speed to the takeup time for gear backlash, the lower
the number (slower the speed), the longer the backlash exists in the
system.  I tend to believe that this is the major contributor to the
factor of delayed response when the correcting button is pushed.  The
only this that this DOES NOT address (time in backlash, that is) is the
fact that it ONLY occurs in Azimuth, a point for which there is a good
answer.  In Altitude (DEC.), the telescope is constantly in a "positive"
torque situation, with either the front or the rear of the OTA in an
off-balance situation, resulting in one end heavier than the other. 
(There are a few points in the sky where this IS NOT the case, as the
tube might be perfectly balanced, depending on accessories). Because of
the end-weighted situation, the torque allows the altitude motors to
"preload" against the weight, thereby resulting in a more positive
gear-to-gear transformation of movement once power is applied.  One
would expect the reaction time of altitude to be faster in one direction
(that in the direction of the heaviest offset) than the other, as a move
opposite the torque would require a "taking up" of gear slack.  In
azimuth, the telescope rotates with the center of gravity resting on the
pivot bearing, thereby allowing that gear system to "free float", free
of any offsetting load and EQUAL in both directions, unlike that of

May be wrong, but it seems logical to me!  Let me know what you think. 
Even though I am experiencing a 3.5 sec. delay, and some people longer,
I would hestitate to engage my azimuth gear system any tighter; I like a
little slack for motor (and gear) longevity!
And more:
From: Bob Thompson (110641.1527@compuserve.com)
According to the website for "The Knowledge Store," they accept returns
within 30 days "for any reason."  I'm going to retest at a couple speeds
& compare with your readings. If my scope is still at the high end I'm
taking it back.  Maybe the next one will be better, & this will be a
quick solution for the finder scope that doesn't focus correctly.
I'll let you know how it works out.
And Clay's reply:
Bob - If it were me, particularly since your are not happy with it, I
would go ahead and exchange for another one if your outlet is willing. 
My experience has always been that - if you develop problems when it is
brand new - new problems arise as time goes on, just like in an
automobile.  You might even check the finder and some basic things, like
the az lock, etc., before you leave with the new unit!  I would
definitely exchange before I got into the drive mechanism, however.  On
the other hand, I experienced EVERYTHING that could go wrong with mine
mechanically and had to almost rebuild the drive train and clamps.  Why
did I not exchange?  The OPTICS WERE THE BEST I've seen in this size; I
would not part with these optics, so it was worth my effort.
Good luck!        Clay Sherrod
And Bob's:
I did another evaluation of my scope this morning & compared with your
numbers above.
"1" - No movement at all
"2" - > 11 secs
"3" - 5.6 - 6 secs
"4" - 3 secs
"5" - 1.5 secs
"6" - .9 secs
"7"-"9" - < .5 sec

With these readings & the focusing problem with the finder scope, &
considering that I had no more than another 48 hours to take advantage
of the the "return within 30 days for any reason" policy at The Store of
Knowledge, I packed it up & took it back today.  The store manager asked
me what the problem was, I told him, then he apologized for the
difficulty & handed me a new one.  The whole process took around five

First Lesson for novice buyers new to astronomy:  Read ALL of the posts
at Weasner's site & collect the facts necessary to do decent
troubleshooting on the scope.

Second Lesson: Unless you really know what you're doing, buy from
someone with a good return policy.

Three:  Let someone with a bigger hammer deal with Meade Product

Many thanks to Mike Weasner, Clay Sherrod, & others that have emailed me
with useful advice. Thanks to The Store of Knowledge for cheerfully
standing behind a clear return policy - I recommend them to anyone
considering this type of purchase.

Now, if the sky will just stay clear tonight...........
Bob Thompson
And from Clay:
Bob - That is GREAT news!  Sounds like - based on your study of delay
times you, indeed, did have a big problem.   Pass my appreciation on to
"The Knowledge Store" for their great customer satisfaction....man, what
a great place.  Best of luck with the replacement....I know you're
excited.  Did you ever get the electronic focuser ordered?  You will be
glad when you add that on.

A word of caution about the electronic focuser - the little Allen wrench
with comes with it is worthless; Meade put two in with your scope, the
smaller one is the one for this knob.  CAREFULLY untighten the little
Allen screw or you will strip the wrench -it has happened to nearly
everyone who tries to remove the existing knob!
Good seeing, and the best of luck....be sure to report back!
Bob, Just in case it hasn't occured to you I wanted to remind you that
your Autostar will need to be "Reset" and re-initialized with "english",
location, scope, etc. and the motors will re-calibrate (after
"English").  Be sure to re-train the motors, since you are using an
Autostar trained on the old unit; this will re-calibrate the computer
and the tracking motors.  Again, I suggest training the ETX on Polaris,
rather than a terrestrial object to put a little forward torque on the
unit, plus it allows high magnification to be used in training, thereby
increasing your accuracy and resulting satisfaction with the new scope.

Hope it all goes well and the unit performs perfectly for you; if it
does better than my -125....then we've got trouble.

Clear skies!   CLAY SHERROD
And some good news:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Man, sounds like you've got a good one!  Maybe the trouble you had was
an "omen" that you needed another scope; remember the "lemon car."  Just
keeps on getting worse.  I hope your optics are great, 'cause the rest
of it sounds wonderful....wish mine had been so good, but I'm really
happy now that it's all fine-tuned.

I'll bet you a dollar to a donut that your locking screw is somewhere in
the box, or the plastic bag - have you looked there?  I have a plastic
one I can send in the meantime, if you think it might be a while....let
me know; need your address as I will put in envelope.  Good luck, hope
it's clear....we've had cloudy and icy nights since one week before
Really bad weather.        Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Thompson (110641.1527@compuserve.com)
To: Clay Sherrod (sherrodc@ipa.net)
Date: Friday, January 12, 2001 2:46 PM
Subject: Re: ETX-125

Message text written by "Clay Sherrod"
> Did you ever get the electronic focuser ordered?  You will be glad when
you add that on.<

Yes I did, from Michael Webb.  Also ordered a 15MM eyepiece. 
Unfortunately the focuser is on backorder but the lens in enroute to me.

I've set-up the new scope, reset the Autostar, trained the gears,
aligned the finderscope, and I'm ready for tonight.... WOW, what a
difference.  No lag at all in Alt.  The lag is azimuth is minimal. 
Finder scope is crisp & clear with terrestrial objects so it will
probably be fine with celestial objects too.  The Azimuth lock knob
locks firmly with minimal travel.  The scope doesn't droop when locked
in alt with minimal pressure. I think that I finally got what Meade said
they were selling, but the proof will be in the viewing tonight.

So far, only one defect - the knurled knob that secures the eyepiece is
missing.  Not a biggie, but I'll have to be careful until I find a
replacement.  I've disassembled every piece of packing material in the
new box without luck, so I guess it's one more call to Meade.....
I'll let you know how tonight works out.  I'm optimistic.
Thanks again for the advice.
P.S.  My wife found it this morning under the couch near where I
unpacked the scope.  Guess I was enthusiastic....
And now for the results:
Sent:	Friday, January 12, 2001 18:26:32
From:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Tonight I spent 1.5 hrs with the scope until my feet were frozen. 
Warmed-up for a while, then did another session over an hour.

To sum it up, this replacement ETX-125 is everything that I hoped it
would be.  It focuses clearly with minimal image shift.  The azimuth
slewing, even at "3" & "4" has only minimal lag, well under 3 seconds. 
There is none when altitude slewing.  The finder scope focuses nicely
and is now perfectly aligned with the scope, having spent some doing so
using Polaris. This scope is Great!

And the Autostar?  Using Alt/Azimuth mode and doing a two star alignment
(Polaris & Sirius), it went to three planets, many stars, the Pleiades,
Hyades, M42 - and it was alway dead-on in altitude, & very close in

Thanks for the help.
Bob Thompson
And from Clay:
Congratulations, Bob...I can tell by your message that your made the
right choice....and with only 48 hours to spare!  Perhaps the concern
and your time was well worth it.  Now you know some of the good points
and can appreciate the scope (with all its precision) for all it's
worth.  In a situation like this, frozen toes are sometimes worth it. 
Really glad to hear of your success!  You would really have been in a
panic if the sky had been cloudy for the next few days!
Keep in touch....CLAY SHERROD

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, January 9, 2001 18:41:44
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Bob- glad I got your message before you left.  Let me answer as best I
can your questions:

1)  Finderscope - Yes, it should focus reasonably well; have you checked
the front (objective) end to make sure it is screwed in tightly to the
tube? Also check the threaded portion of the rear cell that threads into
the tube to see if it is secure.  You should be getting a good image; if
not, call Meade and insist on a replacement ASAP at their expense; tell
them you will return the defective scope as soon as you receive a

2)  Michael Webb's phone # is: 931-484-1511 (after 10 a.m.) @ the Sight
and Sound Shop in Crossville, TN.  Michael works until midnight some
nights to catch up on e-mail inquiries so you will probably be hearing
from him yet tonight.

3)  What you want for the moon is the Wratten #58 medium green filter
(or close); they are available from Meade and many other sources; 
Michael also carries filters.

By the way, have you TRAINED and CALIBRATED your motors (see the
Autostar Instruction manual for training; use Polaris and not a
terrestrial object. Part of your azimuth delay could be in improper
motor training.  I still think some of the "newness" needs to wear off,
but we'll keep after it until we get it fixed.  Four seconds is way too
long; 1 to 1.5 seconds is average at "4" slewing.

And, yes, the weather has been nothing short of disasterous here in
Arkansas, and our worst season is yet to come.

Get in touch when you get back!        CLAY SHERROD
-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Thompson <110641.1527@compuserve.com>
Good evening.  I got your message after doing a little moon viewing out
in below-freezing temps.  It performed as it has since new. After
reading your message I went down & exercised the scope manually & by
slewing per your instructions.  Then I timed the "jump." At speed "4" it
took 3.9+ seconds before it moved. I did this check by centering the
viewing scope on a hole in a pegboard, depressing the slew L or R, &
depressing the start button on a digital stopwatch.  Then I stopped the
watch as soon as the scope started moving off the pegboard hole.  Did
this several times & averaged the readings with the result slightly over
3.9 secs. Business intrudes & I'll be away from home until late on
Thursday, but I'll exercise the scope & time the "jump" every night that
I'm home for at least a week & see how it goes.

1.  Should the viewing scope be able to focus clearly on the moon?  Mine
will not.  It has very good close-in focus but seems to run out of
travel before it can focus clearly on very long-range objects.  It isn't
horrible, but I assume that it should be clear.
2.  I did not receive a reply from mshwebb@hotmail.com.  If you have his
phone number please send it via email & I'll call him tomorrow.
3.  Unfortunately I deleted the email where you recommended a particular
green filter for moon viewing.  Please give me that info again. Thanks
again for the advice.  I won't be in any hurry to open-up the ETX, but
am eager to get it running right.  So far, I've done everything in
Alt/Az mode, but look forward to a nice, clear night (hopefully above
freezing) and the first polar alignment.
Having seen the news from Arkansas & talking with colleagues that work
there, I'll spare you any further complaints about our cold weather.
Bob Thompson
And more from Clay:
Bob, I have been reviewing your problem and similar situations that I
have read from many others on Mike's web site.  It sounds like there may
be another possibility if all my quick-fix remedies (new scope blues)
don't work.  There seems to be a recurring problem at Meade in regard to
securing one of the plastic drive gears in the Azimuth drive train.

Fortunately my scopes have not had this problem.  Look on Mike's site
under ETX TECHNICAL TIPS "ETX 125 Right Ascension Drive Fix" kby R.B.
Ingersoll. He was having the exact same problem you describe, due to a
gear not secured to its shaft with the tiny locking allen screw.  There
is an excellent photo of just which gear was involved (I would check
them all while in there).

However, this should be a Meade warranty issue if that is what it is,
regardless of what the Tech rep. says;  4 seconds is entirely too long
for azimuth hesitation.  If the newness does not wear off and take care
of this delay, I firmly believe that is what your problem might be.  It
is all a matter of whether you wish to send the scope back to Meade (I
would ask for an exchange immediately from whomever I bought the scope
from, saying it is defective!), for repair (about 3-4 weeks right now),
or get into it by yourself using the Tech Tip I just mentioned;  I will
be happy to help you any way I can.  If you send back to Meade, there is
a chance you'll get it backk with a statement that "...nothing could be
found" wrong with your drive.

Let's try to work the scope in first before we panic.  Let me know what
I can do to help....CLAY

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, January 9, 2001 14:58:39
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Bob, I have a suggestion that we might try on your ETX 125 aximuth
hesitation based on your latest feedback.  Your scope is very new and
the ETX, from the input I have read on Mike's site as well as personal
experience with two of them, is prone to "stickiness" (I can't come up
with a better word.  When I examined my drive gears I noticed that Meade
does not use cold-resistant lubricating grease and that the grease
spreads very easily in warmer and hot temperatures.  This indicates the
opposite is possibly true during colder weather, even for a scope kept
indoors - that the grease becomes gummy in cold temps.

I know that mine does, or actually DID until I clean the gearworks and
replaced the lubricant with non-thermal inhibited Lithium (white)
grease.  I do not recommend at this point that you get into the gear
guts of your 125. Please advise is your telescope seems to TRACK well
sidereally (after aligning, put something in at medium-high power and
let it go for a while.

Before going further, the ETX 125 is notorious for slipping clutches and
sometimes you really have to secure the azimuth clamp tightly (not too
tight!) to make sure you CAN SEE movement of the mount.  Your clutch may
take several weeks to actually seat against the friction plate in the

Let's try this for now, and I think it will greatly help in the long
run; it may take a couple of week's use for you to realize the benefit. 
This is a two-step process that will help "grandfather" the lubricants,
the gear-meshing, and the electric impulse to the motors.

1)  Before using for the next several times, unlock your Azimuth and
rotate your telescope slowly all the way around until you reach each
stop; return and do again a total of three times.  This can be done
indoors at your leisure.

2)  Lock azimuth clamp (also can be done indoors) and initialize
Autostar so that motors will engage (the arrow buttons - we do not need
the sidereal tracking motors at this point).  Using your azimuth slewing
arrows and your speed set at about "7", slew the telescope (make sure
the clamp is engaged tight enough; you could have a slipping clutch if
too loose) in one direction for 180 degrees and return to home position;
rotate azimuth again in opposite direction.

Over time, this will help distribute the lubricants and allow the
gearwork to "mate" in their situation; I truly believe that this is a
case of a very tight new telescope, and one that will work out in time.
Let me know about the tracking tonight, and do this exercise for the
next several outings, or simply during the day.  I think it will greatly
help. Good luck and good seeing!        CLAY SHERROD

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Thompson <110641.1527@compuserve.com>
I came home a little early & just finished checking the azimuth slewing.
I can definitely hear the motor noise as soon as the button is
depressed, before the OTA starts to slew. It's real cold out there so
I've got the scope outside cooling-down.  I'll take your advice about
two hours before viewing. Look forward to hearing from you.
Bob Thompson

Subject:	 Re: ETX question
Sent:	Tuesday, January 9, 2001 13:09:16
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Hi, Bob - My feeling about a focuser is that it should be just that....a
focuser and concentrate on doing the best job it can;  I have nothing
against any other brand, but I know what works and stick with it. 
Regarding the moon, a Wratten Green #58 filter is best anyway.

I suspect that your motors are slewing during your hestitation period,
but let me know after you check them out tonight and I'll get back to
you. Regards, and good seeing - CLAY

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Thompson (110641.1527@compuserve.com)
To: Clay Sherrod (Sherrodc@ipa.net)
Date: Tuesday, January 09, 2001 2:34 PM
Subject: ETX question

Mr. Sherrod,
Thinking about your comments, I'm less certain that I heard the gear
motor running before the scope started moving.  I won't be near the
scope until this evening & will check that right away.  I do know that
it operated exactly the same whether with the standard controller or the
Autostar controller, and whether it was inside & warm or outside & cold.
I'll check carefully before using your instructions.

Did you have any opinion about the Kendrick Kwik-Focus?  I suspect that
with the electric focuser it won't be as necessary but if it also works
as a "moon filter" it might still be useful.

Thanks again,
Bob Thompson

Subject:	 Re: ETX-125 questions
Sent:	Tuesday, January 9, 2001 10:48:03
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Hello Bob -
I am glad your wrote, sounds like you really are ready to get started.
Sorry about the comment from Tech Service, but it does not surprise me. 
It all depends on who you talk to out there....there are some really
good folks, and some really poor reps.  Let me take your questions
one-at-a-time and see if I can help you.

1)  Slewing - it should NEVER take four seconds to begin a slewing
sequence. You probably have some looseness between the worm gear and the
drive wheel gear that has to be taken out before you can reduce this,
but do NOT attempt until you provide a couple of clarifications.  First:
which axis is hestitating?  I would guess, based on everyone else's
experience (and mine) it is the AZIMUTH axis.  Second:  Do you HEAR the
motors of this axis DURING the hesitation, or only after the scope
starts to move?

Send via e-mail the answer to these two questions ASAP and I think I can
help you.  The ETX Tune-Up on Mike's site is absolutely wonderful, but
the 125 is slightly different and your situation may or may not be
rectified by the tune-up.  Advise on the two questions.

2)  FOCUS - By all means, take this advice, regardless of what you have
heard.  I have both the ETX 90 and the ETX 125 and have used all of
Meade's LX series with ELECTRONIC FOCUSERS.  Since you have invested so
much in a great scope (once we get you working!), you should not skimp
on focusing. The vibrations you are experiencing are VER COMMON in the
ETX 125 when hand-focusing.  I do not recommend the flexible focusers
(when you let go, the flex has momentum which is transferred into rotary
motion, thereby "focusing" your scope, which you don't want!  ALSO, I do
not recommend any of the aftermarket electric focusers, based on
experience.  I HIGHLY recommend the Meade focuser.  A great source, at a
good price is my supplier:  mshwebb@hotmail.com who is a very reliable
Meade dealer.  I have the Meade focuser on both ETX's and love them. 
REMEMBER...you simply plug the electronic Meade focuser into your
Autostar hand control and have nine (9!) focusing speeds with NO
VIBRATION.  Trust me on this on.

3) AUTOSTAR ROM2.1ek - Yes, the update is a much better version, but it
is a real trick to load.  Not only will Meade NOT do it for you (at any
price), but they make it as tough as possible for you to do yourself.  I
have the newest version loaded on my PC; if you ever decide to upgrade
and do not feel comfortable doing yourself, I would be happy to do it
for you, but it would require that you send your scope, Autostar and all
(I have the cables).  The biggest problem appears to be the conversion
as you download from Meade's web site to your own PC; if not done
properly (it took me five times), you can crash your Autostar.  Please
be in touch before you attempt and I will let you know what I learned
from Dick Seymour, a very proficient engineer with much computer
experience with the ETX Autostar software.

4)  I wish you had gotten the Meade 2x shorty barlow, it is really a
better unit.  Nonetheless, let me say that your next eyepiece should be
the 15mm; sounds like product loyalty, but I LOVE the Meade 4000 series
Super Plossl eyepieces.  I have used them all, and for the price, you
can't beat them. After than, perhaps the 9.7mm.  But, with the barlow,
you can go a long time with the 26mm (my favorite) and the 15mm.  By the
way, there is a GREAT 40mm Plossl that works super with the ETX 125
available at a great price (I think I paid about $78 for mine) from

I have found that there is NO SUCH THING as a truly parfocal eyepiece;
once you get your electronic focuser, it won't bother you that much
anyway.  No matter how much you pay....you still have to focus!

Good luck; advise on the answers to #1) above and clear skies!
Clay Sherrod
Conway, Arkansas
-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Thompson (110641.1527@compuserve.com)
To: Clay Sherrod (Sherrodc@ipa.net)
Date: Tuesday, January 09, 2001 10:21 AM
Subject: ETX-125 questions

Mr. Sherrod,
I read your interesting post on Weasner's ETX site, and am taking the
liberty of contacting you directly for some advice.
The ETX-125 is my first telescope & I am a new, but enthusiastic
skywatcher.  I purchased the scope in mid-December & the weather has
been miserable ever since, but I've had a few decent nights to get
familiar with the scope & the autostar (many "dry runs" in the basement
have helped.) I've tried talking with Meade product support but their
most frequent answer is "if it worked better than that we'd have to
charge more for it." I'd appreciate your comments on the following:
1.  Sloppy slewing - at speed "4" it takes @ four seconds before the
scope starts to slew. (Meade says that's within limits)  The Autostar
compensates nicely for this, but it's a pain when trying to keep an
object centered. I've printed the ETX RA drive fix & your post, and as
soon as I work-up the nerve to risk losing warranty I'll open her up &
give it a try.
2.  Focus - I mount the scope on a JMI Megapod & use the metal plate,
but trying to focus by the direct "hand on knob" is very hard.  The
slightest touch causes jiggles that quickly dampen, but make it
difficult for a novice.  Next weekend I intend to make a flexible focus
attachment, but if I'm unhappy with the results I'll pay the silly price
& purchase one.  I dislike the idea of an electric focuser for the
simple reason that it's one more battery-powered device to drag around,
but if you disagree let me know.  The Kenrick Kwik Focus device sounds
interesting as a way to set focus correctly and be used in lieu of a
moon filter - ??
3.  Autostar update - you make it sound very rewarding, but while my
mechanical skills are good I hate fiddling with software.  That will
wait until I find someone locally who can help with the process.  I
asked Meade if I could send the unit back to them for loading & was told
that they aren't ready to do that yet.
4.  Eyepieces - I have the standard 26mm and a 2x Barlow.  I've assumed
that a full spread of eyepieces would include a 9.7, 15, and a 40. 
Which one should be next?  Assuming the ETX is the only scope I'll ever
own, how much should I pursue quality in the eyepieces?  Is the Mead
Series 4000 the right price/value for an amateur?  The Shutan salesman
convinced me to buy the Celestron Barlow rathan than Meade's product. 
It isn't parfocal with the meade 26mm standard - how do I know which
lenses will be parfocal? BTW - I checked the DC output of my Meade AC
adapter & it is 15.57 volts DC.

I live in central NJ, with a decent view of the SE sky from my front
yard but have to travel a couple of miles for decent viewing of anything
else. I'm really looking forward to attending the first local star party
in the Spring & meeting some local amateur astronomers.  I thank you for
any advice that you have to offer.
Bob Thompson
And Bob's reply:
Message text written by "Clay Sherrod"
>First:  which axis is hestitating?  I would guess, based on everyone
else's experience (and mine) it is the AZIMUTH axis.   ANS: Yes, it is
the azimuth. Second:  Do you HEAR the motors of this axis DURING the
hesitation, or only after the scope starts to move?<  ANS: I do hear the
motor during the hesitation

>you simply plug the electronic Meade focuser into your Autostar hand
control and have nine (9!) focusing speeds with NO VIBRATION.  Trust me
on this on.< I do trust you & will order it today.

>Yes, the update is a much better version, but it is a real trick to
load.< .... I'll wait on this one..

>I wish you had gotten the Meade 2x shorty barlow, it is really a better
unit.<     That's what I get for listening to the Shutan salesman.  I
think that the Meade even cost less than the Celestron.....

Mr. Sherrod,
Thanks for the excellent advice & I look forward to hearing from you.
BTW, I do come to Little Rock on business from time-to-time since my
employer has a facility at the airport there.  Unfortunately, the ETX is
a little large to tuck under my arm on a business trip.
Bob Thompson

Subject:	 eyepiece
Sent:	Monday, January 8, 2001 14:02:23
From:	angelsnine2000@yahoo.com (Angel Seven)
I recently decided on and bought an ETX 125 scope after reading your
site.  As a newbee in Astronomy can someone out there please help me
with choosing a 2nd eyepiece.  I'm torn between between going with the
UWA 6.7mm or the SWA 13.8mm .  I know the 6.7 translates to 284x and the
13.8 translates to 138x.  My plans are to use it for planetary use.  Yes
I have read your eyepiece section, however I was hoping that yourself or
someone out there might offers some reasoning over one eyepiece.

Thank you

Subject:	 Drive corrector for ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, January 8, 2001 10:42:52
From:	Steve.Murphy@Learningco.com (Murphy, Steve)
Great site! I just got an ETX-125 for Christmas (Santa was very good to
me) and after a few frustrating attempts to get the Autostar up and
running (I had to return a bad Autostar unit) I finally have it pointing
in the right directions. Go To functionality is very nice and I really
am enjoying the optics on this scope.

I'm a bit bewildered at why Meade hasn't set this scope up for drive
corrections (specifically autoguiding with a CCD camera.) True, the
scope has slow optics at f15, but Meade has teased us with a fairly
decent drive setup for photography with a Flip mirror (which is only
good for photography), and two Aux ports in the control deck!!!

If there is any scope begging to be setup for autoguiding, its this
scope with slow f15 optics!!! There really is no way to get decent
pictures manually tracking this scope for more than 30+  minutes at a

It doesn't seem like it would be such a huge leap to incorporate guide
corrections through the Autostar serial port. Has anyone on this web
ring considered taking on such a project? I wonder if SBIG has any
suggestions. Doesn't the Autostar closely mimic the LX200 controller?

-Steve Murphy
 Petaluma, Ca
Mike here: How much more would you be willing to pay for drive correcting ability? Since the ETX line was not intended for astrophotography (although that hasn't stopped many of us), it is not surprising that this is not officially supported (yet).


I have about $3000 burning a hole in my pocket for an SBIG 7E CCD setup.
If I could get a drive interface for a few hundred dollars I'd jump at
the opportunity.

BTW - do you know why the ETX 125 controller has two Aux ports? I called
Meade and the rep was very friendly, but not very helpful. He chased
someone down to see if they knew how to interface the 125, but all for
not. I wonder if the guts of an LX 200 would fit into the ETX 125?

Thanks for your help and response! I'm sure there are other ETX owners
that would like to walk down this path as well. It would be nice to get
something to work.

I was thinking about posting my initial findings/impressions on my ETX
on your site. My father has a 10" Meade Cassegrain that he rarely takes
out unless the sky is very clear because it can be a hassle to setup (it
weighs a ton) The Etx goes up in a few minutes... I really love this

I was hoping to use the CCD with both the ETX and my fathers scope.

Thanks again for your quick response-

-Steve Murphy
Mike here again: Second AUX port just allows more add-ons. Since it is not a bus, you can't easily daisy-chain items. Just a guess however.

Subject:	 Re: movement of mirror during focusing
Sent:	Monday, January 8, 2001 08:03:39
From:	iking@c2i2.com (Lori King)
Thanks Mike for the fast response. I have a ETX 125EC bought fresh out
of the box around August of 2000. I don't have any other lenses so I
will go to a star party and possibly use someone elses to see if that is
the problem.
Again thanks for the help

Subject:	Request for Info
Sent:	Sunday, January 7, 2001 21:59:27
From:	Dralff@aol.com
I found your excellent web site with a lot of useful info regarding my
latest purchase - the EXT125EC with AUTOSTAR #497 AND 883 TRIPOD.  The
first time I used it, it aligned okay and found some of the heavenly
bodies.  The cold weather here in FL has kept me inside a few nights,
but I finally got around to using the scope again the past 2 nights.

BUT, after initializing the AUTOSTAR and entering the date, time, I
enter the section for SOLAR SYSTEM, and use GOTO for the moon as a
"test" for the scope.  The moon has been nice and bright here the last
several days, even at 1st quarter.  .  I start the scope in (hopefully)
the (North) polar mode.  I know where North is from my driveway and even
used a hand held compass to comfirm North.  But, the scope slews down
rather than up, and slews west rather than east to find the moon.  It
stops itself when it reaches a down slope, pointing at my driveway.  I
tried to align the scope again, after turning it off for about 15
minutes.  but same results and no better luck tonight.  The AUTOSTAR
even told me the moon was below horizon tonight when I hit the GOTO.

I am not familiar with the AUTOSTAR hand held device, but did not find
anything really complicated in the directions.  I did notice a
contradiction for instruction in the 883 to mount the scope to the
tripod.  One instruction (addendum) says to mount the scope with the two
holes for the optional legs above the 883 "North" leg.  Another 
instruction paper says to mount the scope with the two holes opposite
the 883 North leg.  I also saw a comment saying, "Be sure to switch the
N/S switch for the proper hemisphere."  I cannot find any such N/S
switch and none is shown in the scope pictures included with the 125.  I
do find the note to remove screw A on the controller included with the
scope.  But, I do not use this controller.  I did find the section in
AUTOSTAR allowing me to select North for hemisphere.

I hope you can recognize the problem and are able to advise me about the
problem of slewing in the wrong direction.  (Starting from North, the
scope slews down to the ground and to the west rather than up into the
sky and to the east to find the moon.)
Mike here: Regarding to the problems you are experiencing, there could be several causes: check all the settings in the Autostar (location, date, time, DST, telescope model, telescope mounting method). Then be certain to start with the ETX in the proper HOME position for your mounting method. Let me know if this helps? By the way, the N-S switch was only on the original ETX model, not the newer ones.

Subject:	 Meade Fixed It!
Sent:	Saturday, January 6, 2001 16:34:22
From:	arlan@webzone.net (Scott & Mary Johnson)
I just wanted to let everyone know that Meade did a great job correcting
the mirror shifting problem that I was having w/ my ETX-125EC.  They
also corrected the little bit of play in the RA drive (I didn't mention
it to them as I didn't feel it was a problem).  I got the scope back
before Christmas (speedy service...I sent it to them just before
Thanksgiving !), but just now have been able to use it (we have been
having atrocious Winter weather in Oklahoma!).  I am extremely pleased
with the scope repairs and Meade's friendly and fast service.

Kudos to Meade and to you, Mike, for your great ETX site !

Scott A. Johnson

Subject:	etx
Sent:	Saturday, January 6, 2001 11:02:18
From:	CF57UK1@aol.com
dear mike 
thinking of getting a etx 125 
a good buy or not? your thoughts are  welcome
Mike here: Have you visited my ETX site? Lots of user comments on the various ETX models. There is a link at the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page to a report on some of my personal experiences with the ETX-125EC versus some other scopes.

Subject:	 Final results of ETX 125 Tune Up, Autostar 21ek download
Sent:	Saturday, January 6, 2001 06:14:05
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Good Morning -
Well, it is now A.D. (After Download) and all has finally gone well. 
Because the two of you - any many, many faithful ETX users out there
through Mike's site - perserved with me through the agonizing
adjustments and new ROM 21ek software download to my Autostar, I thought
I would share an analysis of just how improved a Meade ETX scope can be.
 Pity the poor person who does:  1) not fully understand telescopes and
computers; and, 2) is not mechanically inclined and sheepish about
"getting into the guts" of a telescope drive center.

1)  DOWNLOADING NEW SOFTWARE - After reviewing input on both positive
and negative feedback on Mike's ETX site about upgrading to the Meade
ROM21ek software (Dec. 13, '00), I decided that the attributes far
outweighed the risks.  I had considerable "creep after beep", backlash,
and overall very jerky slewing and center in both axes, and this was the
primary reason to upgrade; I had been informed by R. Seymour and many
others that this was a true advantage of the new version.

Downloading is impossible for the novice; without the help of Seymour, I
could not have done it.  I am a retired professional astronomer, but new
to the GO TO technology; the ETX 125 was my retirement present.  My best
advise is to VERY CAREFULLY STUDY the entire process (Both the Meade
instructions and the array of feedback on our ETX site).  DO NOT PROCEED
unless all doubts are reconciled.  It took me five (5) attempts to
download over my existing Autostar program!  It turns out that - due to
downloading the new software off the Meade site, I did not entirely
transfer all files, and my downloading process was reading both old
(existing in Autostar) and new (21ek) files.

If your Autostar crashes (which mine went DEAD twice)  be sure and have
ready the instructions for the FLASH LOAD (see Mike's Autostar update
sites, or Meade's "Read Me" files which come with download).  You will
know when it has actually taken the new program, because a "beep"
informs you to go to your Autostar and begin Initialization; I knew I
was there when my scope came up as an ETX 90 (instead of -125), my
location was again Afganistan, and I was back in December '00.  Do the
proper initialization up to "Setup/Align."  Turn off power and
disconnect cords.  After a moment turn the Power back on (with Autostar
hooked up to scope); your first readout will say "Copyright 00 Autostar
v21EK" if you loading has been successful.  BE SURE TO RE-TRAIN MOTORS.

2)  ETX TUNE UP - Find on Mikes "tips" section; this is a must-do
provide gratiously from ScopeTronics for serious users.  Tells you how
to de-grease so that DEC clamp holds, how to adjust sloppy gears (all
mine were), how to torque the clutches for firm grip and accurate
slew/track, etc. Do NOT overtighten the worm gear against the small
drive gear as this will overstress the small motors; however, the gear
DOES need to be "loaded" against the drive to prevent excessive
backlash.   DO THIS BEFORE DOWNLOAD, as motors will have to be retrained
anyway after motor adjustments.  BE SURE WHEN PLACING OTA back on
support arms to NOT OVERTIGHTEN the four allen screws holding tube on,
or this will CERTAINLY break the OTA support arm sockets (they are not
reinforced).  Put a piece of rubber inner tube (available in the bicycle
section of Wal Mart for 0.78 as a repair kit) along the curved FRONT of
this OTA support arm to prevent "walking" of the OTA in the cradling
support arms.  In addition, I have found that a hard fiber washer
between the DEC circle and the fork arm assists greatly.  While at this
location, remove the right (DEC) OTA support arm and apply Lithium
grease generously on the pivoting axis; my scope from Meade had NO
lubrication here and it was binding badly.

3)  RESULTS:  After the adjustments and new software download, here is
what I experienced.  I essentially have an absolutely
wonderful-operating scope, the way it SHOULD have been shipped from the
    a)  Autostar initialization and data output (scrolls):  The Autostar
    readouts are much faster and response time (after "entering", etc.)
    is immediate.  The data base is fantastic and accurate, so far as I
    have been able to tell so far.
    b)  Alignment - The Autostar is now picking stars much farther apart
    for more accurate alignment (it even used Fomalhaut + Capella) last
    night - what a pair!  After aligning for the evening, my test runs
    were PERFECT.  I slewed completely from one end of the sky to the
    other and each object (Jupiter to Venus, Venus back to the Orion
    Nebula, the Orion Nebula to the Moon, the Moon to Andromeda -
    objects quite a distance away from one-another)  IN EVERY CASE, each
    object was in the CENTER of view of my 40mm SP!  Much better than
    before, when it was nowhere close.
    c)  Slewing - Slewing is vastly improved; before the slewing was
    very jerky and hesitant, with much clatter and rattle from both
    motors. Now, the motors are barely even heard, and the scope moves
    in a smooth, even sweep much faster to each object.  This is not an
    exaggeration, it was a vast improvement.  When the scopes stops
    fast-slewing it STOPS....no messing around, with only minor
    adjustments at low speeds until the beep, and the object is
    d)  Tracking - Tracking in RA (Azi.) is perfect, but I still have
    minor (much less) backlash in that axis than before.  In DEC (Alt.)
    I am still experiencing a "creeping", from the declination motors
    wanting to overcompensate after center my object.  At high power
    (i.e. 250x) the object is moved (you can hear the motors kick in)
    for about 15' arc and then they stop.  The object becomes
    stationary; if I center, it does the same thing.  EVENTUALLY THIS
    STOPS and it may be the "newness" of the gear train is responsible.
    e)  Polar Mode - If you set your scope in Polar Mode and have
    tripod, please anchor the BACK TWO legs firmly to something to avoid
    tipping.  I use rubber tie-downs (elastic) and drive tent stakes in
    the ground and fasten the hooks at each end to those, running the
    elastic rubber over the cross braces of the tripod.  In Polar Mode,
    the tracking is PERFECT (provided you are properly aligned).

    a)  Power Sources - I have found that the scope works entirely
    better on DC power than converted AC.  I am still looking for an
    adequate AC adapter that will not result in weird glitches in my
    drive system, a problem inherent in even the Meade unit.  Actually
    it appears that 12V or 16V (as is Meade's) is way to high for the
    unit; ETX users have reported 10V is better for more consistent
    b)  TRAINING THE DRIVES - DO NOT USE A LAND OBJECT as recommended by
    Meade.  USE POLARIS, as it - for all practical purposes - is also
    stationary, much farther away (for accuracy), a point source, and is
    tilted higher in the sky than most terrestrial objects.  The high
    angle allows the front weight of the scope to properly torque the
    motor training.
    c)  TAPE THE AC female plug (if used) into the scope's computer
    panel.  Very important, as if the plug comes out (it can be easily
    knocked out be either the Autostar cord or the focuser cord, if
    using electronic focus).  If it comes out after you have initialized
    and aligned, chances are you'll have to start from scratch; glitches
    HURT Autostar.
    d)  COOL-DOWN TIME.  I hear comments on this web site about
    disappointing images.  Having been an astronomer for 31 years, I can
    tell you two things that lead to disappointing images.  Both the ETX
    90 and ETX 125 have EXCEPTIONAL OPTICS and provide photo-quality
    images at high power.  In my -90 and -125 both I can plainly see
    Cassini's AND Encke's divisions on Saturn, the crepe ring, and the
    shadow of the rings on the globe;  two equatorial bands are clearly
    visible at 220x in the -90.

Most problems with poor images (no matter what scope size) come from
"seeing," a problem not fully understood by those new to the hobby.  You
can easily test your night when you first go out by looking at STARS
(not planets) overhead.  If the brightest ones "twinkle" rapidly, you
have BAD seeing, air currents disrupting the path of light from the
celestial object.  In that case, forget getting good images.  The
"twinkling" will get worse as you near the horizons at which point even
Venus (the disk of the planet) can be seen twinkling.  To test, chose a
bright star overhead and put it a ways out of focus; the bright disk you
see (with a dark disk in the middle) should remain calm and steady. 
However, in bad seeing conditions, this bright disk will "wiggle" like
jello and disruptive streaks will intermittently move across; it looks
like a round Amoeba in motion.  No planets nor moon that night.

In addition - and VERY IMPORTANT - is "cool-down" time for your scope. 
The optics and metal (i.e., the tube) should be at close to the same air
temperature as possible.  On very cool nights I recommend one (1) hour
for the ETX 90 and two (2) hours for the -125.  If you don't do this,
then don't expect good images of the planets or moonn at high power.

Putting the scope out that early makes it susceptible to dust, dirt, dew
and frost.  Cover the scope with a large PILLOW CASE to protect it until
ready to observe.  NEVER COVER YOUR SCOPE WITH PLASTIC, either while
cooling down outside or inside in storage; condensation will build under
the plastic which can damage or ruin every aspect of your investment!

Just some random thoughts now that my ETX 125 is up and running
properly.  For most of your serious problems (except replacement faulty
parts) I recommend Weasner's web site and the valuable user input.  Like
many users, I have found that the Meade Technical support is seriously
lacking in sincerity and knowledge of both their products and
PARTICULARLY astronomy and the actual use of a telescope.

This user input on this site is like an Encyclopedia; if you don't look
it up, you will never learn your 'scope.  Don't just rely on Meade and
the instruction manuals they provide....you'll give up the wonderful
hobby of astronomy well too soon.

Good skies and happy slewing!
P. Clay Sherrod
794 Drake Drive        Conway, Arkansas 72032

Subject:	 Motor Fault
Sent:	Friday, January 5, 2001 13:10:56
From:	kardrak@hotmail.com (Eduardo Lopez)
Motor Fault  ETX 90EC and ETX 125EC

In my own personal opinion is the most important and myterious problem
of all...

Theres no any patern one can notice and thats why is very very difficult
to diagnose the problem.

After all i am positive here at your web page i will find the


Eduardo Lpez
Mexico City

Subject:	 Etx 125 Motor failure
Sent:	Friday, January 5, 2001 12:56:43
From:	bernard.fournier12@wanadoo.fr (Bernard Fournier)
Kourou, vendredi 5 janvier 2001 20:50 Utc
Kourou, friday,january 5 2001

Bonjour Mike,

I have bought an ETX 125, Autostar (upgraded to 2.1 Ek (Thanks Dick Seymour
for the step by step method)) and electric focuser a month ago.
Using it during 3 night sessions I found it amazing operating in ALT/AZ
Saw Jupiter, Saturn, M42 and so on
Then the troubles came...
After a correct "easy alignment" and some viewing came the message "Motor
unit fault" during the slew to a next object.
Reseted the scope, calibrated, retrained the drives many times: always the
same "Motor unit fault".
The incidents occurred when the optical tube was facing more or less to the
west, at Those times the AZ motor noise was like if the motor had
to move the scope.
Went through your site and searched for Motor unit fault and didn't find any
really actual responses.
Living in Kourou French Guyana (N 5.10 W 52.39) it is difficult and
expensive to sent back the scope to France.
So I decided to have a look inside the base and  found some misadjustments
to the worm gear assembly: I think the worm was too tight and some of the 3
screws maintaining the assembly were loosened.
I have adjusted all that as good as I could and now the noise is constant
when slewing 360 degrees around.
The scope is now running on my desk for many hours on a fictive alignment
going from an object to another and seems to be working OK. Hope for a long
I think that it might be interresting for someone and all comments are
If something in my explanations is not clear (as you probably have noticed,
English is not my native language) feel free to send a mail to ask.

Once again thank you Mike for the great job you do on this site and thank
you too Dick for providing all these unvaluable informations.

Bernard Fournier

Subject:	 Re: EXT125 in Polar Alignment
Sent:	Friday, January 5, 2001 12:29:03
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	djhodny@uswestmail.net
Great to hear from you, and thanks for the comments regarding Polar ETX
use. I have grown tired of sloppy declination sidereal compensation and
poor high-power tracking.  More and more on Weasner's site, I have seen
references to the advantages that you elude to, mainly ease of set-up,
quietness and efficiency in tracking sidereally.  My biggest problem
with my -125 right now is one you hit on the head....the tripod and
offset balance.  We have tried (with the hand controller) putting the
scope in Polar mode and it is, indeed, very shaky at best.  The
slightest nudge could send it toppling.  Portability is a key factor for
me, as I do a lot of RV-ing and have sought to make things as quick and
simple as possible for set-up so that I can utilize my time observing
and relaxing!  Also, because of a handicap, I am not able to lift and
carry more weight than just about the 'scope & tripod combined.  Would
love to see photos of your pier.
Thanks again, and keep in touch!
794 Drake Drive
Conway, Arkansas  72032
-----Original Message-----
From: djhodny@uswestmail.net 
To: sherrodc@ipa.net 
Date: Friday, January 05, 2001 2:11 PM
Subject: EXT125 in Polar Alignment

>Hi Clay,
>I saw your question on Polar alignment for your ETX 125 as I was viewing
Weasner's site. I just thought I'd give you a few of my experiences and
insights. I run my ETX125 in Polar mode. I've tried both Polar and Alt/Az
and I find the Polar mode better for several reasons:
>- It's quieter.
>- It's more accurate.
>- I can use the AutoStar & GoTo or the hand controller for a quick view.
>The last Item I find the most important. I can just quickly set the scope
outside, plug in the hand controller and turn the scope on - and I'm ready
for siderial tracking, for planets, moon or objects that I know how to find
myself. Can't do that in Alt/Az mode.
>I find no need for any drive retraining going from mode to mode.
>Polar alignment settup is just as in the book.
>1) (You probably already know this) Tilt the scope so it points at the
North Star. That means first tilt the mount the same degrees from vertical
as your latitude is less than 90. So if you're at 49 degrees latitude, tilt
the scope mount 41 degrees from how you have it for Alt/Az. My latitude is
45 degrees so it's real easy. Imagine - at the North Pole Polar and Alt/Az
are the same, and at Equator the scope would be horizontal!
>2) Fine tine this with Polaris. With the OTA in line with the fork mount
and pointing North (eyepiece of course pointing up) fine tune the tilt (and
direction) so Polaris is about centered in view.
>As you know, at this point it's now properly aligned to start using the
hand controller for manual slew and siderial tracking or to align the
Autostar. For Autostar I presume you have gone through the its Setup options
to set the scope mount to Polar. Just turn it on and go to the star
alignment method you want. I Use the easy two star. Yes, it picks two stars
other than Polaris, and it works just like as in Alt/Az.
>I hope you find my comments helpful, and I think you will find, as I did,
Polar Alignment works better and has greater flexibility like hand
controller tracking option.
>The downside to Polar is the Offset balance of the scope on the tripod when
it's tilted. I have a (decently heavy, solid) portable steel pier with a
tiltable top plus a wooden wedge I built that sits on a flat surface of a
concrete mounted steel pipe that comes up through my deck. But I know the
ETX125's weight is a real problem for less than robust tripods and piers. If
you'd like, I can email you pictures of what I have.

Subject:	 RA Setting Circle Fix
Sent:	Thursday, January 4, 2001 18:44:41
From:	Teddy_Johnson@EnronFM.com
The RA Setting Circle in my 125 became progresively larger and one cold
night began slipping off of the base.  I did a close examination and
discovered that, as I suspected, it was glued together.  I rubbed on the
joint to warm it and, with a sharp knife, seperated the joint.  Then it
was a simple matter of replaceing the tape a bit tighter.

Hope this helps,

Teddy Johnson

Subject:	 Polar 125s
Sent:	Thursday, January 4, 2001 09:02:11
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Hi Clay, Guess who?

You're gonna hate my first answer: v21ek fully explains Polar
(and Alt/Az) setup and alignment... it's part of the improvements.

that said (got a cable yet?)...
here goes...

>1)  In the POLAR MODE, once I have intialized my mount as "Polar",
> do the motors need to be re-trained?

> 2)  Also POLAR, how to I begin alignment?  Do I center the scope on
> Polaris and then let Autostar find two additional stars? 
> "Instructions" say "....two other stars in addition to Polaris."
Three alignment modes (one lies):
 Easy Align: almost like Alt/Az.  before turning on, set in Alt/Az 
  HOME position (i.e. the CCW stuff, power switch to westward and Az
   to zero,).  Raise barrel to point at North Celestial Pole (hence
   Alt to 90).
  Power up.  It'll choose and (try to) goto two stars.
  Center and [enter].  Done.
 Two Star: as above, you choose the two stars.
 One Star: set home as above, Power up, but then it'll spin the 
    Az (pardon: RA) and beg to be pointed at Polaris.  Then it'll
    let you choose the "one star".  (i said they lied...Polaris is a
     star last i looked)

> 3)  Or, does the Autostar even WORK (i.e., computer GO TO, tracking,
>  etc.) in POLAR mode?
It won't track satellites, and the (hold-[mode]-for-two-seconds) 
  Alt/Az readout is bogus.  Some versions of the firmware have some
  other amusements in the Polar mode, but i forget what they were.
  Other than that, it works quite well.  Many swear by (or at) it.

> 4)  Once aligned - and assuming that the GO TO function from Autostar
> does, indeed work in Polar Mode - is the operation (going from one
> object to another via computer) exactly the same as in AltiAzimuth?
see answer (3)... otherwise: yes (stored Landmarks are -not- rotated
 to become accessible in Polar)
Oh: one other thing: if you try to look at something too far south,
 it'll warn you that you might run into the lower travel limit
 -before- it moves.  And it lets you say "do it" or chicken out.
  Nice touch, that.

> 5)  Or, is it necessary for me to revert back to the little electronic
> hand controller that comes as standard equipment with the 'scope?  By
> the way, it tracks BETTER in polar via the standard hand unit than it
> does (by far) in Alt-Az with the Autostar.
"necessary"? I don't know... you'll have to try it and see.
If you use Easy or Two Star alignment, it may still toss in an 
occasional nudge of Dec adjustment if it thinks your Polar axis
 isn't -exactly- aligned.  But that's a tiny, tiny nudge.

You -will- be favorably impressed by the v21ek improvement in its 
on-screen walk-through of Polar setup.  I was.

oohh... update... if you visit 
there's a PHOTO of someone's ETX90 set up properly in Polar Mode
(for 30 Latitude, that is)... that might help.
good luck
And Clay's response:
Dick, once again, THANKS!  I should have my #505 interface cable in
today's UPS.  I'll let you know how many parts fall out of the box when
I open it (hopefully, just joking).  I appreciate the quick study on
Polar mode; I think that the "Easy" method is pretty much what I
suspected.  I am having some trouble, I believe with my AC power source
(NOT the Meade brand).  It puts out a pretty accurate 12V and gins out
up to 900 mA, which I know is more than required (but can this mA
potential create inherent problems with the circuitry of these
scopes???).  However, the drive(s) wants to do strange things when it is
connected to this power source vs. the internal battery power.  This
even happens using the "standard" hand control in lieu of the Autostar,
where the declination (AZ) takes slewing on its own as soon as power is
turned on!  Does not do with battery power.  Ever heard of this before? 
You think I should invest in (arghhhhh!) the Meade AC adapter?  I was
trying to save $$. I remember reading from a user on Mike's site
something about the motors "liking" less than the noted 12V, that his
did radical things at that voltage.

Anyway, if I get the cables I am going to try to download either tonight
or tomorrow morning.  I will touch base A.D. (after downloading) or
perhaps B.C. (botched computer, if it doesn't take the download.

Thanks again....more later, guys.        CLAY SHERROD
And an update from Clay:
A quick question.  Since the Autostar manipulates the coordination of
the driving motors and adjusts for backlash, gear slop, etc., I would
think it would be necessary to RE-TRAIN the motors once the downloading
to ROM 2.1ek is done (got my 2nd set of cables tonight - they are all
fastened together correctly this time).  Yet, I can find no reference to
this; should I reset the entire scope once the new program is
successfully (note the intense Southern optimism here) installed and
consequently re-train the motors?  Please advise.

By the way; after several hours of intense adjustment, cleaning,
lubricating and basic fondling of the declination drive system, I have
actually gotten my ETX 125 to track in Alt-Az PERFECTLY.  I was watching
the gibbous moon at dusk tonight at about 400x (absolutely beautiful
with perfect seeing) and the motors - once they danced around a bit
after locking on - did not deviate within a total of 20 minutes, other
than the expected "wandering" from the countermotion of the moon itself.
I am pretty impressed!  Now I hope my new software gives me an equally
"warm and fuzzy" after I am done with it tomorrow morning.  You'll know.
If it screws up, listen carefully on your south horizon for the insane
laughter and cries emanating from a Techno-Meade-Crazed Arkansan.  It'll
be me; if all is silent, then things went well, and you'll hear from me
in more conventional ways in the morning.        Thanks Again!  CLAY
Mike here: Retraining after a download IS a good idea. Retraining whenever things get flaky is also a good idea. And a reply from Clay:
Mike - thanks for the quick reply; I thought it probably was a good
idea, even though it is not mentioned.  All it can do is help....it sure
can't hurt!  I'm about to get the little scope whipped into shape and
running smooth as a sewing machine.  The optics, as I have said, are
beyond comparison for its size and then some.  Most of the shakey
mechanical problems can be ironed out in time.  I have very much
appreciated your help and that of your patrons, and - of course - Dick
Seymour.  He's a good one to have on board alright.  Got some
replacement OTA support arms from Meade today; found out that the
original ones had cracked from looseness during shipping.  The cracks
were at EACH (4) hole where the small screws secure the tube to the
support brackets.  The screws were loose when I got the scope, but did
not spot the damage until I did your recommended "tune up" two weeks
ago.  It was causing a slight amount of looseness and play in the OTA in
the fork.

I'll let you know how my download progresses tomorrow - Wish me luck!
Thanks again -  CLAY
And more:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net
Thanks for the comments; I was ready to attempt the Polar mode tonight, but
"freezing fog" developed right at dusk.  So, the declination motors still
labor, even in Polar tracking?  I have used polar mode prior, but had used
it with the standard hand controller that comes with the scope (not
Autostar) and tracking was quiet and smooth.  On the other hand, I have
worked hard internally trying to adjust the declination both for clamping
and tracking and seem to have gotten the problem fixed to a degree.  I pity
the poor soul who is not comfortable dissecting the mechanical guts of a

The "easy" method, utilizing two stars as in Alt-AZ is what I expect I'll
use and have carefully read over the users' comments on Mike's site. Wish me
luck!  Thanks again for your comments and input!
-----Original Message-----
From: Ells Dutton 
>The polar mode works great with only the Autostar, but the declination
>motor does run more than you would expect, probably attempting to
>correct for imperfect polar alignment.  The instructions Weasner
>provides should do it for you.  Once understood the process is quick and
>simple but I don't recommend the "one star" method.
And from Dick
As a final step in the download process, the Autostar gets a RESET
command from the Updater... so you get to reenter your Site data,
tell it that you own an ETX125, etc.etc.

And, yes, retraining is advised.

(it actually -assumes- some "typical" backlash value... i actually
found -that- value quite servicable for my ETX for a number of 
versions of the firmware... i'd eventually only retrain when it
really seemed to -need- it.

Like i said: ingineers are lazy.

You also asked (in an earlier message) about power lumps etc.
I use an unregulated RadioShack 12v lump, rated 500ma.
It puts out 15v when not loaded by the scope being on, 
maybe 12 to 13v under ETX load.  Never a problem.
The Meade unit (Mike measured it for me many moons ago)
puts out 16v unloaded, and is rated 1.5 amps.

ETX125s have historically had far worse "randon slew" problems 
than ETX90's.  (i only get random slews when i'm on batteries,
and they're falling below 55%)

Indeed, Mike's ETX125 is currently back at Meade because it's
exhibiting occasional random or erratic slewing.

I remember the "it works better at 10v" posting.
If i had such a beast, and suspected the supply, i'd try
one or two things: (a) hang a decent filter capacitor across
the DC power line going to the scope... (b) measure the DC -and- AC 
(yup... AC) voltage impressed upon the DC line going to the
scope... it's possible the powerlump is having filtering 
or regulation problems (maybe a dead diode?).
(c) try another lump.  (which using batteries effectively does).

> It's tracking perfectly!!!
er... is this a case of "if it ain't broke..." kicking in?
Do you really want to change versions now?
(you've got the cable... you've shown it you're serious...
it's deciding to straighten up and fly right (is that Right Ascension?)

Good luck
And from Clay:
Dick, again thanks.  Thanks for your analysis of the DC current
situation. Last night it worked fine in the Al-AZ mode, after extensive
gear adjustments, lubrication and prayer.  That was on the AC/DC lump. 
Your closing remarks empathize my feelings right now:  (...if it ain't
broke,...).  You're right -it SAW the cables, I waved them in front of
its dangling corrector plate while I did the Zimbabwian Backlash
ceremony to the tune of "A Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On."  Definitely
seemed to have an effect last night.  Nonetheless, I've come this far
(with your and Mike's help) and not going to back down now.  (I have put
in a standing order for a replacement Autotstar unit with my supplier -
he is waiting at the Fed Ex terminal, cell phone in hand).  Here I
And Clay reports success at last:
Good morning. Yes....it is a good morning (barely, almost afternoon). 
After my FIFTH attempt, two major crashes, two pots of coffee and much
less hair, it appears that my Autostar has graciously accepted (at least
for now) the download of the Meade ROM2.1ek update.  The Autostar is
even showing a 2000 copyright, and Version 21EK!

I set the scope up in a "dummy" (appropriate, huh?) position in my sun
room where I know exactly where north is.  Knowing the locations of most
objects at 6 p.m. for this evening, I initiated a trial alignment
inside, simply hitting "Enter" after each guide star was slewed to.

After "alignment successful" I wanted to see if the scope would slew to
approximately where my steel-vault memory told me certain objects would
be at 6 p.m.  Sure enough, the scope took off and went right to the
(assumed) positions.  In fact, the slewing was MUCH more direct and
TIGHT; much faster.  The most interesting thing (particularly since I
have mentioned the problems with the declination (ALT) motor) is the
SIDEREAL TRACKING, which is considerably less noisy, with a lot less
declination "Clatter."

For your info, I had to return to the Meade site and completely start
from scratch after my first two attempts.  I erased the folders
completely in my PC as the download would not recognize them at first
(the Autostar totally went dead and I used Mike's message from this
morning to activate the FLASH LOAD, which did the trick).  I downloaded
from the web, reinstalled and un-zipped, and after five trys, it finally
"beeped" after about 35 minutes and - -lo' and behold! - my Autostar was
asking me to Initialize it!  I knew I was home free, because my scope
came up as an ETX 90, my site was Afganistan, and my time zone was "8" 
After re-entering my data, latitude and longitude, etc.  All is great.

By the way, my third download attempt came up entirely in GERMAN!  Since
I can read German, I tried to find out if I could reset; NOPE.  It
stopped once I got to "Setup."  The fourth download came up in scrolling
MARTIAN text which I tried again to second-guess to get to the
"download" command; no luck.  That's when I decided it was time to scrap
EVERYTHING and  start over with the web site.

So....5 hours later, I am a new man.  I have new software, and a new
lease on life.  Interestingly, now that my 2.1 software seems to be
working, my scope seems to be tracking properly, and I can clamp my
declination, what's the point?  I feel like I have nothing to
do......guess I'll go look at the stars for a while and figure this out.

Thanks again, guys.....you've been quite a help!  Let's get together and
tell ETX stories over a sniffer of Brandy, and recollect about he
"good-old-days" and how we licked all these problems and saved the free

More later....A Much Calmer and Relaxed, CLAY

I look forward to trying it out tonight.

Subject:	 Re: ETX 125 in Polar Mode - Need Advice
Sent:	Thursday, January 4, 2001 03:58:39
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - Thanks for the response.  I do not remember seeing it as I have
scrolled through your site so many times; I will check it out this
morning. Perhaps I missed it earlier because I was not looking to use
the scope in the Polar mode originally; still to do have the kinks
worked out to identify the sidereal tracking problem in the altitude
axis.  As I have said the motors sound as if they are working (I cannot
tell any difference in resonance nor tone when the scope tracks PROPERLY
vs. when it fails to move in Altitude.  The curious thing is that - even
when it fails to TRACK sidereally - the slewing (at all speeds) works
fine.  I am concerned that the worm wheel might be engaging the drive
wheel too tightly and binding at low speed torques and have attempted to
"back off," but to no avail; that still seems to be the most likely
culprit however. Any further advise from anyone else who is having
similar problems is welcome.  It is bound to be something that can be
fixed, since once I finally seem to get the alititude axis to actually
track at a sidereal rate, it tracks dead center for long periods of
time.  This is not a situation of "creeping".....the telescope just
simply QUITS TRACKING in that axis when using Alt-Az. Thanks again.  I
appreciate your help.        CLAY SHERROD

Subject:	 EXT-125/Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, January 3, 2001 19:44:25
From:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Tonight was the first time that I tried the Autostar since purchase shortly
before Christmas.  I wanted to be comfortable with the scope first, then
the weather here in NJ hasn't cooperated very much.  
Weather still wasn't good, but I was able to do a two star alignment using
Betelgeuse & Capella.  It worked & it was fun.  The location wasn't great &
clouds were setting-in, but it went from Betelguese - Jupiter - Saturn -
Rigel - Moon - Capella, and each time the object was within the viewfinder.
I'm going to contact Meade for the following items: 
1.  I don't like the "jump" in azimuth when slewing.  The "gear training"
obviously compensated for the gear slop, but it's a pain when trying to
keep an object centered.  Alt is okay.  
2.  It's cold outside, so the scrolling info in the Autostar controller is
scrambled, but it should be able to handle 20 degrees F.
3.  The Autostar softward is 2.0g.  From your site it's obvious that the
newer version has been out for a while.  I want to know if they are
delivering that version "new in the box," or if it is only available via
download & update.
Focusing still takes a soft hand.  I think that a flexible focusing stalk
or an electric focuser is going to be a "must."
Mike here: Unfortunately, unlike some beer and food products, there is no "born on" or other dating when purchasing products like the Autostar. So you really have no way to know how long it has been on the dealer's shelf. Since 2.1ek has been out less than a month, I doubt that very many dealers have received shipments with the new software installed.

Subject:	 Slewing to hard stop
Sent:	Wednesday, January 3, 2001 14:41:01
From:	spudtech@msn.com (Loran L. Anthony)
first of all my congrats on and absolutely wonderful site, very
informative without being "snippy" as al says.... no recount needed
here..... you da man.

I own a 125 and love it, quirks and all


I was wondering have you or any of your faithful had or are experiencing
what i call "slewing to hard stop". It only seems to happen during
tours, It doesnt seem to happen all the time, but it seems to have
started (or i only noticed) after i began using a 3ah 12v rechargable

Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated Thanks

BTW... it only took me 3 weeks to figure out the directions and pictures
for setting up the etx in polar mode were wrong. (:

Mike here: This sounds like it could be related to the random slew problem. I had it go to the hard stop on DEC once with the loaner ETX-125EC (that Meade is now checking out). I hope to have a report on this soon.

Subject:	 RA setting circle on ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, January 3, 2001 09:02:59
From:	Bobby.Boulware@EDS-GS.com (Boulware, Bobby)
I have run across a problem with my ETX 125 (purchased about two months
ago) in that the narrow strip of plastic around the base of the unit is
loose. This is the graduated band that is used for the RA setting
circle.  I understand the circle is designed to be moveable but the
strip on mine is so loose that a few slewing motions of the unit results
in the strip falling off of the base and onto the tripod.  I can
probably fix this by separating the strip and regluing it with CA glue
or the like.  What I need to know beforehand is what this strip is made
of and would trying to peel it apart result in tearing it.  I don' t
want to use a glue that might melt the strip.  Any ideas on this?  I
have searched your site and haven't seen this mentioned.


Bobby Boulware
Mike here: I'm not certain but I suspect that rubber cement should probably be OK. Just don't get any into the groove that the strip sits in.

Subject:	 ETX 125 in Polar Mode - Need Advice
Sent:	Wednesday, January 3, 2001 04:38:35
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike, first of all let me tell you that your ETX site gets more
informative, comprehensive and even more "entertaining" with every
update.  There is something to be learned by all amateur astronomers
whether they own an ETX or not!

Anyway, I need to pick your brain for a minute, as the Meade
"instructions" do not cover this topic at all well.  I am about to give
up attempting to track at high magnification with my ETX-125 in Alt-Az.
mode, as the declination (Altitude) axis nearly always fails to engage
to compensate as the azimuth moves.  The motors on the DEC are working,
but it fails to track.  I have done the tune-up, adjustments and all
clamps firmly and the gears appear to move, but not the scope.

So....I am going to try the ETX 125 in POLAR mode, yet the
"instructions" leave out the details, so I am asking for your help.

1)  In the POLAR MODE, once I have intialized my mount as "Polar", do
the motors need to be re-trained?

2)  Also POLAR, how to I begin alignment?  Do I center the scope on
Polaris and then let Autostar find two additional stars?  "Instructions"
say "....two other stars in addition to Polaris."

3)  Or, does the Autostar even WORK (i.e., computer GO TO, tracking,
etc.) in POLAR mode?

4)  Once aligned - and assuming that the GO TO function from Autostar
does, indeed work in Polar Mode - is the operation (going from one
object to another via computer) exactly the same as in AltiAzimuth?

5)  Or, is it necessary for me to revert back to the little electronic
hand controller that comes as standard equipment with the 'scope?  By
the way, it tracks BETTER in polar via the standard hand unit than it
does (by far) in Alt-Az with the Autostar.

I would prefer to use the GO TO and Autostar, but like the idea of
sidereal tracking with one motor for the accuracy.  Can I do this in
Polar Mode?  Please step me through this if you will take the time.  The
instructions really skirt this issue badly.

Thanks again.....and Happy New Year!        CLAY SHERROD
Mike here: Have you checked the "Polar Alignment Tips" on the Autostar Information page? Let me know if it doesn't answer your questions.

Subject:	 etx 125
Sent:	Tuesday, January 2, 2001 16:54:25
From:	n2zgb@yahoo.com (miller miller)
Dear mike,in looking at your web sight,a man asked about looking at
mars.I could not find your reply to this man,i am thinking about buying
a etx 125,but have not done so because one of the the astronomy mag.said
the optics were not good " lack of detail" when the 125 was pointed at
mars.has the 125 been undated as far as the optics gos?.mars in one of
the planets I am interrested in looking at in detail, but for the price
of the scope if the optics are not good I will buy a other scope.any
info you can give me on this will be appectioed,thank you donald miller.
e-mail address, n2zgb@yahoo.com
Mike here: The optics on the ETX-125EC are good but it will be sometime before Mars presents a good opposition for great views in a small telescope. But when it does you'll be able to "see" the polar ice cap, perhaps dark areas, and maybe even dust storms. But don't get your hopes up too high. Using filters will help but the biggest help will be waiting for Mars to get closer. If you don't plan to use the telescope for anything but Mars, wait. Either prices will come down (maybe) or aperture/capabilities will go up. For info, this Summer Mars will be about 20 arcseconds in apparent diameter, whereas in August 2003 it will be 24 arcseconds. I used the Ephemeris Generator at ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eph for these calculations.

Added later:

thank you for the info i will buy the etx 125, and will use it for star
hopping. and wait for mars clear skys. donald n2zgb

Subject:	 Trouble installing the Meade #1247 electric focuser
Sent:	Monday, January 1, 2001 20:15:15
From:	tony@p-c-net.net (Anthony Melton)
To:	Sgauger@aol.com
This is in response to Art's e-mail on Dec 29.

When I received my ETX-125 I noticed there were two allen wrenches in a
smal plastic bag inside the larger bag with the instructions booklet.  I
called Meade and asked them what they were for since there was no
mention of them in the paperwork.  They sounded confused and finally
said they were for making adjustments to the scope if needed.  A couple
of weeks later I ordered and received an electronic focuser and
experienced the exact same problem you are experiencing.  I too though I
had stripped the set screw. I called Meade again and once again got the
confused response.  The problem with Meade customer service is that the
person who is allowed to talk to you on the phone has no idea what they
are doing and they are acting only as a relay between you and the
engineer.  They finally said that the wrench that came with the focuser
was the wrong one and they said they would send me another.  Later that
evening I remembered the two wrenches that came with the scope, I pulled
them out and believe it or not one of them fit perfectly and worked like
a charm.  Perhaps that is why the wrench was there in the first place
and the customer service folks at Meade just didn't know (or care) to
tell me about it.  By the way, that was almost two months ago and I
never received the wrench they said they would send me.  A word of
warning to anyone considering buying a Meade, don't do it if you are the
type of person who relies on customer support to resolve problems, if
you are not a do it yourselfer, forget it.
Mike here: Of course, if Meade's ETX and DS customers want to rely on this site, that's fine with me!

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