ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject: Old model ETX 125 vs. New Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2001 14:15:26 From: email@example.com (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! JoshMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 hopingMike 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: email@example.com (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 products. 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 there! 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, > >Christian
Subject: Help wanted to make a choice between Celestron Nextstar and Mead ETX 125EC Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2001 06:03:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 matter. Thank you very much for your interest and help. Best regards Thanos C. StefosMike 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: email@example.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 MullerMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 > >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, Sincerely, John Bothner, Oslo, NorwayMike 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: email@example.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. Thanks TommybMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
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. Thanks, Omar...
Subject: ETX purchase Sent: Monday, January 22, 2001 15:27:32 From: email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org 1999 Gold Wing (Red Ryder) 1999 R 1100RT (The Batcycle) GWRRA BMWMOA 86491 AMA 274008 TMRA 33117 WD5EWA NRA CLH6808H TSRA 111251Mike 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: email@example.com (Ells Dutton) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Clay, Greetings. 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. Cheers, EllsAnd 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. CLAYMike here: Updated on 20 January.
Subject: Magnification and the ETX 125 Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 16:52:23 From: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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 wedge. 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 ask. Clay Sherrod 794 Drake Drive Conway, Arkansas 72032And more:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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----- >Clay, > 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 >interested). > >Thanks again for your help (It sure beats reading and rereading the >same catalogs), > >I'll e:mail you once things progress! >Ron
Subject: Meade ETX-125 vs LX 90 Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2001 23:57:41 From: email@example.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? Cheers Derek...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... Cheers Derek EmmettMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. email@example.comMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 small. As a back up I'm taking that set screw (original) to a tool shop to get the correct size wrench. Alec
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. Thanks, Bob GruenMike 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.
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: email@example.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, how? Kind regards, Alec, California
Subject: re: Drive corrector for ETX 125 Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2001 18:52:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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, CAMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) >Clay, > >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. > >--dick
Subject: Re: ETX-125 Sent: Friday, January 12, 2001 04:47:23 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (email@example.com) >Clay, > >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 >--dick
Subject: Counterweight Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2001 14:23:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.comMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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 altitude on the ETX 125. THE FOLLOWING IS A MEAN FROM RESPONSE IN BOTH 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 photography. Clay Sherrod Conway, ArkansasMike 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 Altitude. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) Clay, 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. BobAnd 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 SherrodAnd Bob's:
Clay, 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 minutes. 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 Support. 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 ThompsonAnd 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!And:
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 SHERRODAnd some good news:
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Christmas. Really bad weather. Clay Sherrod -----Original Message----- From: Bob Thompson (email@example.com) To: Clay Sherrod (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.< Clay, 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. Bob 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: email@example.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 azimuth. Thanks for the help. Bob ThompsonAnd 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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 replacement. 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> Clay, 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 email@example.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 ThompsonAnd 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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 motor. 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> Clay, 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: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 ThompsonAnd 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: email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 time. 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, CaMike 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 thing! I was hoping to use the CCD with both the ETX and my fathers scope. Thanks again for your quick response- -Steve MurphyMike 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: email@example.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 Brian
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.) JD RATLIFF Dralff@aol.comMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com
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 welcomeMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) To: email@example.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 factory: 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 centered. 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). 4) SOME TIPS 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 results. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 solution!... Greetings! Eduardo Lpez email@example.com Mexico City
Subject: Etx 125 Motor failure Sent: Friday, January 5, 2001 12:56:43 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 mode. 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 difficulties 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 time. I think that it might be interresting for someone and all comments are welcome. 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: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org 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! CLAY SHERROD 794 Drake Drive Conway, Arkansas 72032 -----Original Message----- From: email@example.com
To: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com (richard seymour) To: firstname.lastname@example.org 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? No. > 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 http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackJan01.html there's a PHOTO of someone's ETX90 set up properly in Polar Mode (for 30 Latitude, that is)... that might help. good luck --dickAnd 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 SHERRODAnd 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! CLAYMike 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 - CLAYAnd more:
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 telescope! 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! CLAY SHERROD -----Original Message----- From: Ells DuttonAnd from Dick
>Clay, > >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. >
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 --dickAnd 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 go...... CLAYAnd 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 world. 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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Nice. 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: email@example.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 Question? 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 battery. 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. (: spudMike 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. Thanks. Bobby BoulwareMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 SHERRODMike 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: email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.orgMike 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.
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: email@example.com (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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