Last updated: 29 March 2000

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	 RE: ETX 125 Wiring
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2000 12:58:35
From:	jimvail@pe.net (Jim Vail)
The pictures helped, but after I hooked things back up, the DEC drive
was dead.  No idea what I did.  Anyway, it's back at Meade for help.

Jim Vail

Subject:	 ETX 125 Wiring
Sent:	Sunday, March 26, 2000 16:44:21
From:	jimvail@pe.net (Jim Vail)
I just had to look in the bottom of my new 125 to see if there was any
way to help with having to REALLY tighten the RA clutch to get the scope
to move.  Well, that's not a problem any more.

Somehow, the connectors attaching both the RA and DEC motors to the
power panel both came off when I removed the bottom cover.  I now have
no idea how they were attached.  I've looked through your site for any
pictures of that area, but can't find any.  Should I just fess up To
Meade, or do you have any other advice?


Jim Vail
Mike here: You might check the Scopetronix ETX tune-ups page: http://web.archive.org/web/20100105230338/http://home.att.net/%7Ejblessin/etx.htm. There are some photos there. I don't know if there is any problem reversing the wires other than if you get it wrong, you'll want to switch them around. I haven't opened up the base on my -125 so can't help.

Subject:	question
Sent:	Saturday, March 25, 2000 15:28:17
From:	USMarshal384@aol.com
I am new at this and would like to start this as a hobby.

I really like the Meade ext-125ec and the Celestron Nexstar5

Was wondering what you thought of these two and which you would prefer.
Mike here: You can see my comparison reports by clicking the links at the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.

Subject:	Meade etx 125ec
Sent:	Wednesday, March 22, 2000 21:07:38
From:	Europa1980@aol.com
Hey.  My name is Brian.  I just bought a etx 125 ec and I cant figure
out how to align it.  I am new to the skys and dont know much.  I live
in las vegas where there is a lot of light pollution.  Also the images
that I get when I look at saturn and jupiter are very disappointing. 
They are very small.  The meade catalogs say that the cassini division
of saturn is clearly visable with the 125 adn I have to squint just to
make out that it is saturn.  Is there some way to zoom in on the
eyepeice?  There has to be something that I am doing wrong.  Please help
me out!

Thanks for your time,

Mike here: Aligning takes some practice but is easy once you grasp the concept. And the method you use depends on whether you have the Autostar computer controller for your ETX-125EC or not. Learning the basics of the sky does help you get oriented (the manual has some information). As to Jupiter and Saturn, right now they are low in the West and so suffer from a lot of atmospheric turbulence. You can add eyepieces or a Barlow Lens to increase the magnification. Look through this ETX site and you'll find lots of information to supplement the Meade manual (which you should thoroughly read and practice with).

Added later:

thanks for your help Mike.  I appreciate it.  I'll try to get this all
figured out.

Thanks for your time,

Subject:	 ETX 125 - Bill Dean
Sent:	Tuesday, March 21, 2000 16:58:57
From:	petevas@breathemail.net (Peter Vasey)
Just a pedantic niggle, but perhaps it should be mentioned for the
benefit of 'newbies'.  Bill Dean said he split Pollux.  Presumably he
meant Castor.  But if someone who didn't know tried (and failed) to
split Pollux, they might think their 'scope was rubbish.  Peter.

Subject:	ETX125
Sent:	Sunday, March 19, 2000 21:49:40
From:	JoyandVic@aol.com
Jeez, with all the blather I was paralyzed with fear as I read the back
and forth about the 125 vs. the Celestron 5".....so it took me 8 months
to decide.

Bottom line, did both, and they booth work great.

Figured the ETX was easier to hold value and resell... so I kept it. 
brought the celestar back to the dealer.

You guys and gals are worrying everyone to death with the tech fears....
I recommend that a little encouragement would help the newbies, urging
them to deal with a local dealer who will promise to take it back (and
credit your account in full) if you are not happy, and just go outside
and have some fun.

I'm happy.

I'm having fun.

My 125 works just fine.

Vic Preisser

Subject:	ETX-125EC
Sent:	Sunday, March 19, 2000 19:30:22
From:	JMcLenegan@aol.com
Is there a way when purchasing an ETX-125EC to determine if it is one of
the "new design" units? I have considered buying a used instrument, but
have also seen a stack of new boxed telescopes at a local Discovery
Channel store.

Thank You, 

John McLenegan
Mike here: Dealers should only have the new ones now. One possible way to check is to open the box and look for the extra form packing at the rear of the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA). You can see a photo of that on my ETX-125EC comments.

Sent:	Sunday, March 19, 2000 16:11:45
From:	windy7c@attglobal.net
One other contributor mentioned the short screws supplied by Meade for
attaching the ETX-125 and supplied plate to the tripod.  I experienced
this also.  The dangerous part is that these screws catch about two
threads, which is a setup for the whole scope falling off the tripod.  I
replaced mine with SS cap screws and a washer.

I was also diapointed with the stability, even with the plate installed.
My soloution was to bolt the plate to the tripod with four 10-28
machine screws and friction nuts.  This substantially improves stability
as well as making mounting of the telescope much easier.  Now, all I
have to do is set the telescope on the tripod mounted plate and bolt it
down at my leasure.  No more trying to balance and align three pieces.

I also had a problem with the legs not staying in position.  Close
examination showed the locking screw was in as far as it would go.
Apparently, the steel screw either chews into, or dents, the aluminium
leg, hence the outer strut no longer clamps the inner strut.  My quick
and dirty solution was to place a shim between the clamp screw and the
outer strut.  I used a 12 inch hack saw blade, broken into three 4 in.
pieces, as shims.  The hack saw blade is hardened, and does not deform
easily.  I used duct tape to hold it into position (I told you it was
quick and dirty).  Now it locks down satisfactorily.  I can lean about a
hundred pounds worth on each leg and it doesn't move.

The only problem noted with the telescope itself is the clutch for the
Az axis.  I have had to tighten the clutch twice now, and I am still on
my second set of drive batteries.  I wonder how many flats I can tighten
the clutch before it needs replacing.  Hopefully, it will wear in and
not require such frequent adjusting.

I did have several iterations, during slewing with Autostar, where it
lost sync.  This may have been precipitated by the slipping clutch.  The
solution was simply to realign.  I usually began from scratch, turning
the power off, then on, and then initializing.

The optics are great.  The fist night out I was observing M42 when a
meteor or satallite went through the field of view.  What luck.

I did the defocus test, centered and near the edge in all quadtrants.
The result was a nearly perfect circle at both focus shifts.  I am a
satified customer on the telescope, and with the modification, the
tripod also.  I have not used the tripod in polar mode yet, and won't
until I devise a way to attach some counter-weight on the south side.

I hope this information helps some-one.



Subject:	 GoTo Accuracy
Sent:	Saturday, March 18, 2000 17:40:44
From:	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net (Larry Reidnour)
I had better luck tonight with the 125 in regards to the goto accuracy
from previously nights in which I have reported.  I "think", and I put
emphasis on the word think (or assume, or guess, or conjecture, or
hypothesize) that I had some horizontal clutch slippage that resulted in
the inaccuracy of selected goto objects on the horizontal axis ONLY
(note from my previous reports that there has never been any problem
with the vertical axis accuracy).  From several tightenings of that
little horizontal (what looks like metal, but is really plastic) clutch
knob, it now takes about 2/3 of it's total movement capability to lock
firmly in place.  Using the small Allen wrench, I removed it and rotated
it counter clockwise to compensate for one side of the hex nut and then
reinstalled and tightened the Allen screw.  It now starts to tighten and
engage the horizontal clutch immediately.  My point is that now I can
really give it a good firm lock and I noticed during the first alignment
procedure that it was now putting the alignment stars in about the same
position in the view finder.  What differed from before was that it
would put the first star of the 2 star alignment say just left of center
in the view finder and the second star, WAY left of center in the view
finder.  I felt like I was doomed from the beginning and sure enough, a
majority of my goto objects would wind up just outside FOV to the right
of the 26mm eyepiece. Again, always putting the object almost directly
on the horizontal cross hair in the view finder indicating no problem
with vertical goto positioning.  Now, after the knob procedure and a
good twist of the knob, I had a MAJORITY of objects wind up somewhere in
the 26mm eyepiece.  Of course, tomorrow night I will be back reporting
that this was a fluke, but can go to sleep tonight thinking she did ok
and maybe start doing something really fun like tracking satellites or
something.  Until next time!

Subject:	 Li'l Ed's back!
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 22:54:32
From:	billdean@home.com (Bill Dean)
Got my ETX-90EC back from Meade Wednesday just in time for all the fog
down here in San Diego. Finally cleared out enough to use it tonight to
check if the vibrations in my mount had been fixed- there wasn't any
indication from Meade about the "fix" only that it had been repaired.

No more jigglies! Funny thing is the 'scope now sounds completely
different when slewing in declination, much smoother and higher in
pitch. The seeing was horrible with lots of moisture in the air and the
bright moon and all but I was able to split Pollux with ease as I had
before the vibrations started up. I could almost swear the collimation
was improved during the stay at Meade but that may have to wait for
better conditions to properly judge. So far the "fix" is a success and
I'll keep my fingers crossed that it remains so. It's a shame Saturn and
Jupiter are getting so close to the horizon now that I have the ETX back
but I'm looking forward to really putting the screws to Li'l Ed by
trying to track some satellites now that the Moon's nearing full.

I managed to hold off on purchasing the LX-200 so far ( still waiting to
see what those folks up on Oak Canyon have in store ) but I did pick up
a 10" f/5.6 Discovery Dob during the wait so I could use the new Radian
for something other than a very expensive paperweight. Aperture is a
very good thing but the little ETX more than holds it's own for
sharpness and contrast and it really makes a great pointer for showing
me where to aim that Dob.
Added later:
I think I may have been a bit hasty with my follow-up from Friday- looks
like I'll have another one for you shortly. Went out last night only to
find my Dec axis non-functional. The brass insert for the right OTA
mount spun out of the support and Li'l Ed now just flops down in the
mount. Hopefully Meade will be able to send a new  right OTA mount to me
rather than send the 'scope back. I suppose that might explain the
difference in slewing noise I noticed initially.

I hope to have a report on the Meade #905 variable polarizing filter and
some various eyepeices for your when repairs have been completed.

Subject:	 More ETX-125 Problems
Sent:	Friday, March 17, 2000 19:47:19
From:	ghonis@epix.net (Gary Honis)
On February 9, 2000 you posted my message about having to return my new
Meade ETX-125 two times for repair.  Well, the story gets worse.  The
scope will be going back to Meade for the third time.  I received the
scope back from Meade repair and did the first tests at night.
Collimation is out.  The bad RA drive is now operational but the goto
with Autostar is inaccurate.  I think it is because of an excessive
amount of slop in the RA drive.  I tried retraining the drive a few
times but it did not help.  Meade was to upgrade my Autostar to version
2.0 but it came back as 1.3b.  The Meade representative (Ed) said that
version 2.0 was probably not available yet.  I think he needs to read
your site:)  I emailed Dave Hodny who posted on your site about the
problem of version 2.0 displaying as 1.3, and when I did the check of
the Autostar that he suggested, my software is definitely version 1.3.
The 26mm eyepiece I returned with the scope was missing when I got the
scope back from Meade; they did return the eyepiece box but it was

I ordered this scope in May of last year.  My experience with this scope
has been very frustrating.  All I want is a working scope but Meade
hasn't been able to provide one.

Thanks for all the information on your site.  I have found it to be a
much more reliable resource than contacting Meade.

Gary J. Honis
Sugarloaf, PA

Subject:	 Meade service on my 125
Sent:	Thursday, March 16, 2000 13:50:42
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
I sent the scope to Meade on 3 January, got it back mid-February with
the random slewing still a problem. Maybe they didn't figure out a fix
until after that date?

Bill Collins
Walnut Creek CA
Mike here: That's possible but I don't know when exactly the fix was determined.

Subject:	 Magnification with a Meade ETX125EC
Sent:	Thursday, March 16, 2000 09:25:27
From:	David_Havican@psdi.com
I have the Meade ETX125 and a basic question. If I used a Tele Vue 14mm
Radian (60 degree apparent field) eyepiece along with a Meade 2X barlow
lens, resulting in roughly 316X power, can I expect clear images of the
planets, nebulas and galaxies or am I pushing the scope too far. I ask
this because I am trying to figure out what size Tele Vue to buy. At
roughly $240 bucks a shot, I want to make sure I get the most power
without getting too fuzzy.
Mike here: I've used 404X on the -125 on planets. Images were nice (good seeing). However, most galaxies and nebulae will not go that far. Even at 300x, galaxies and nebulae will appear as faint fuzzy blobs. For extended objects lower magnification (brighter images) is better.

Added later:

So should I buy it and also think about a low power wide angle as well
when my wallet can accomodate?
Mike here: That's up to you. But that is a lot of money; you could get more eyepieces and filters for the price of one eyepiece. Just a thought. On the other hand, the better the optics, the better the views. Something else to think about.

Added a little later:


On another note. I noticed a lot of discussion on your site about the
sudden slewing problem where the etx125 slews upward randomly. I have
experienced this and had a request. You commented in someones message
that the 'fix' was too complicated to post on your site. The person that
asked for it was an engineer. I too have an electrical engineering
degree and I am currently a software developer/designer. I was wondering
if you could forward me this information directly since you feel it is
not appropriate for the general public on your site. Any help would be
greatly appreciated. I would not hold anyone liable if I screwed
anything up.
Mike here again: I have not posted any fix since the whole issue is too complicated. Sometimes the problem is the motors, sometimes it is the Autostar, sometimes it is the combination. Hence the advice to contact Meade. That is what Meade asked me to tell everyone.

Subject:	 ETX-120 !!!
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 16:39:25
From:	sean@northrock.bm (Sean Watkins)
I just purchased an ETX-120 with the idea to do long time deep space
astrophotography! I havn't received it yet.. I spent 3 weeks checking it
out.. now I am reading all aobut how the mount is micky mouse... not
stable enough. What about the ETX-120 EC (The new model.. I believe mine
is that one)

Oh well... listen, I am in a very dark sky area (Bermuda... island out
in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean).. do you believe that will make any
difference? I might be purchasing a 216 XT CCD.... I have the Autostar
controller already.

I guess I might not be able to use it... what about for 30 second
exposures? Its amazing what a CCD can pickup in a 30sec exposure. Or am
I wasting my time... I guess I might have to go upto a 8" LX50
Mike here: I presume you're talking about the ETX-125EC. The telescope is not really intended for long duration astrophotography, especially through the telescope's optics. However, it can be done with the patience and the right accessories. You can use a CCD (again with the right accessories) and get good results. But the shorter the exposure the better. Search the site for "CCD" and you'll get lots of hits.

Subject:	 motor drive fault
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 16:18:28
From:	astro.shack@lineone.net (Astro)
Own ETX 90 and recently purchased 125.

1st night out with 125, used standard hand controller, worked OK in
polar mode (northern hemisphere, screw removed). Pleased with visual
results albeit lowsy seeing.

Have autostar (ver 1.1) that i use with 90. Works no probs.

Connected autostar to 125 (reset et al). When I try to calibrate motors,
or autostar enters test motors routine, get "motor drive fault" error
message. I have tried all Meade suggestions and do not believe the power
supply to be a prob, all to no avail.

The scope will slew in both directions in declination, but only anti
clock in RA.

Autostar also will not recognise polar mode when selected and always
defaults to Alt/az.

Any comments, known faults/bugs or do i really have to do the 'back to
dealer' routine? (in england, this aint an easy option!)

As an aside, the documentation would suggest that the dec circle should
be factory set. On initial set up, this was found to be loose and able
to 'freewheel'.

Is this a known fault(s), or have i been unlucky?

Great web site,

Mike here: Since you've indicated you've retrained when you switched the Autostar from the -90 to the -125 (which is required when changing telescopes), and since you indicate the RA drive only runs in one direction, I suspect something mechnically is wrong. As to the DEC scale being loose, so was mine. Since it is made to be adjusted as needed, it can work loose due to vibrations. Of course, it could have been that way at the plant too.

Subject:	 ETX 125 spurious slewing, etc.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 10:02:33
From:	wdcoll@pacbell.net (Bill Collins)
I've been using this scope since last August and love the optics but am
not thrilled with the mechanics or electronics. Just learned of this
great site today, so thought I'd list some questions and observations.

Re: Teddy Johnson's message about R.A. "jumping" by 1/4 degree when the
left arrow is pressed, my scope does that, too, but only when the
standard controller is being used, never when the Autostar is plugged
in.  I'm convinced that it's a software "feature" designed to remove

Speaking of the Autostar, there is some weird stuff going on. It will be
tracking perfectly in either alt-az or equatorial alignment when BAM!,
the drive takes off in declination (altitude). The scope moves a degree
or two at a moderate slewing rate, then stops. Alignment is shot and my
patience is shortened. I've tried three Autostars, have updated its
software to 2.x from the Meade website and have shipped the scope and
peripherals back to Meade, with their authorization. But the problem
persists. Anybody experience this problem?

I've also noticed some bad interaction between the Autostar and the
electric focuser. Once in a while the whole system will freeze when the
focuser is being used. The only recourse is power off/on, which then
requires a new alignment.

Also, for those of you planning on adding the "deluxe" ($200) tripod: If
my experience is typical, don't bother. It's not strong enough for the
125's weight, especially when it's in equatorial configuration. The
clamps do not hold the leg extensions securely and you're in danger of
toppling the whole scope. I have to use small C-clamps to prevent the
lower leg extensions from sliding. Maybe the heavy duty tripod would do

Despite all of the above, I still think that the ETX series is a
remarkable achievement for the money. It's just too bad that early
buyers have to be Beta testers.

Bill Collins

Mike here: The random slewing was a frequently reported item a few weeks back. But Meade developed a fix (hardware); when was your scope and Autostar sent back? And yep, the -125 can be a bit much for the ETX deluxe tripod (which can from the -90 days).

Added later:

Mike ... sorry for yesterday's e-mail message. Had I looked at the
Feedback Archives first I would have seen that my problems with the 125
have been thoroughly discussed.
Mike here: No apology necessary. There's a lot of reading material here!

Subject:	 Suggestion for your upcoming 125 posting
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 06:18:47
From:	MFRiesco@directvgla.com (Riesco, Michael F)
I'm a long-time reader of your terrific site and, like many others, am
"on the verge" of making a serious scope purchase.  I know that you
recently got a "125", and that you'll be posting your "first light"
report in the near future.  I wanted to suggest that, as part of your
posting, you cover the issue of "what you can see with the 125 vs the
90".  I believe that there are many people, like myself, who were
planning on buying the 90, and then the 125 came along.  Obviously, the
larger aperture and longer focal length are pluses, but there seem to be
so many "minuses" associated with the 125 that we wonder:  is the 125
really worth the aggravation, or is the 90, which seems very
trouble-free, "good enough"?

I'm not talking about the price differential (which is not a swinger
either way, in my opinion) -- I'm only referring to this:  does the
125's undeniable superiority over the 90 (aperture, focal lenth) really
result in radically improved seeing, enough to warrant putting up with
the long list of problems that it seems to have (i.e. slewing, too much
plastic for the weight, higher % obstruction of primary mirror,
instability on field tripod, collimation errors, etc)?

Obviously, the 125 will show me more things, but will the difference be
truly dramatic, or will it just be an "incremental" improvement over the
"90"?  THAT is my basic question.  I'm interested in mostly lunar and
planetary viewing, but am interested in some deep-sky as well.  That is,
although I mostly care about the Moon and, say, Jupiter/Saturn/Mars, I'd
like a scope that will also enable me to distinguish, for example, a
galaxy as a "galaxy", as opposed to just a "dot" of light similar to a
star.  I'd like to be able to see some structures in nebulas, etc, again
as opposed to just more "areas of light".  Is the 90 adequate for this,
or am I being unrealistic?

Any insight you could provide re: "125 vs 90" would be a great help to
me, and I believe to many others as well.

Thanks for your patience with this rambling e-mail!!


Mike Riesco



Mike here: See my original comments on the ETX-125EC for a short comparison with the -90. It's linked from the top of the ETX-125EC Feedback page.

Subject:	 ETX-125 and CCD Camera's
Sent:	Wednesday, March 15, 2000 03:09:10
From:	secondwind@alltel.net (Second Wind)
First, just let me say that people like you are such a boon to people
like me ! Your website really helps me compare and figure out what I
really want to do with a scope.

I have a 6" newtonion at the moment, and it's nice for what it is. But,
I live in Jacksonville Florida, a fairly light polluted place,
especially now as I am 2 blocks from a baseball field that really lights
up the sky at this time of year. So I am looking for something more

I thought about the Meade LX-10, but I don't feel that it would be any
more portable.

I also would like to eventually do some photography with a CCD camera. I
have a great laptop already, I love computers, and this seems like a way
to combine two great hobbies.

So my question is, can I use a CCD camera, such as the Meade 216XT, with
the ETX-125 ?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

Lee D. Crenshaw
Mike here: With the proper accessories, any CCD can be used with just about any telescope, so yes, a CCD can be used with the ETX models. Search the site for "CCD" and you'll get lots of hits.

Subject:	 ETX-125
Sent:	Tuesday, March 14, 2000 09:42:44
From:	rllewis@earthlink.net (Robert L. Lewis)
I bought the ETX-90, but am thinking I should exchange it for the
ETX-125. Do you know of someone in my area who has an ETX-125?  I'd like
to look through it to see the difference.

I live in Woodland Hills, Ca. in the West San Fernando Valley of LA.


Robert Lloyd Lewis

Subject:	 ETX-125EC
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 17:18:29
From:	rshooer@pgh.net (Robert J. Shooer)
I just today purchased the ETX-125EC and found that the tripod bolts
were too short when using the adaptor plate.  Has this been a problem?
Are there different length bolts when using the plate?
Please advise.
Thanks Mike.
Mike here: Contact Meade. They will send you longer bolts. Or you can run down to your local hardware store and buy a couple. The ones with my ETX-125EC were OK.

Subject:	 newbie question
Sent:	Friday, March 10, 2000 12:35:43
From:	jsyaruss@csd.upmc.edu (J. Scott Yaruss)
Wow -- great site. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this

Im about to be a new owner of an ETX-125...Ive read everything I can on
your site and others, but I still have a question. Ive read that many of
the units seem to be out of collimation when first purchased. Now, as a
beginner, Im not about to try to do anything about it myself, but Id
hate to have to send the thing back to the store or to Meade right out
of the box. So, heres the silly question...is there any way to determine
whether the scope is properly collimated while still in the store? The
dealer is willing to bring the box out to me so I can check it out
before taking it home, but Im not entirely sure what to check out.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

J. Scott Yaruss, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh
Co-Director, Stuttering Center of Western Pennsylvania

4033 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA  15260
Phone:	(412) 647-1367	Fax:	(412) 647-1370

Email:	mailto:jsyaruss@csd.upmc.edu
Dept. URL:	http://www.pitt.edu/~commsci/people/yaruss.htm
Center URL:	http://www.pitt.edu/~commsci/stuttering_center
Mike here: All recently shipped models should not have the collimation problem. If your dealer returned any earlier shipments they should have been fixed. As to how to determine collimation in the store, that's hard. You would have to find a distance (about 20 feet or more) object that presents a star-like point. But a simple test for GROSS out-of-collimation is to look into the eyepiece hole without an EP inserted and the objective cover off. If what you see looks symmetrical then it is likely OK. If things look really off-center then it is out-of-collimation.

Added later:

Thanks much for the response...decided to bring the thing home to do the
test, so...it's here! I haven't done much other than stare at it for
now...glad to know that the collimation problems are a thing of the
past...will look forward to reading your experiences with the 125 when
your skies clear and may have something to submit of my own soon.

Subject:	 new user
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2000 22:28:17
From:	logos77@optonline.net (Jonathan Weingarten)
Just purchased a ETX-125EC and am a newbie.  I'm up and running. :) 
Tonight... no moon :( but the Orion Nebula was clear and distinct.  Same
with Jupiter and Saturn too. :)  I'm glad to have found your site, I see
I have a bit of reading to do. Thanks again and if I drop a question or
2... hope ya don't mind.


Subject:	 Dec. PCB and Handbox jumps
Sent:	Sunday, March 5, 2000 17:32:47
From:	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net (Ellsworth G. Dutton)
Just a comment on Chris Howard's message of 4 March (further down this
page).  Anybody who owns a ETX-125 better keep that message and those
figures handy.  With the little tumble that mine scope took, the only
problem I couldn't fix myself was because of the dislodged PCB card that
Chris mentions, which then took out the optical alignment wheel, broke
it into two pieces. The wheel is teflon so would not glue back together
like the rest of the base.  (Good news was the optics took a good hit
too and survived the best I can tell.)  Meade sent me a new wheel and
all works as good as new...  I'm not a electronics type but it is
amazing just how that board is attached, or, is not attached.   (Meade,
why didn't you put a wiring connector to that board like you did on the

As for Teddy Howard's comments on the RA jumps, I believe that he is
talking about using the standard handbox (electronic controller).  It is
not backlash if it is the same as mine, the motor actually runs for
about 0.25 deg at the slightest touch of the direction button, then
returns to the original spot on its own. (Discovered this while waiting
for the Dec. optical alignment wheel mentioned above since the unit
works, sort of, without the alignment wheel using the handbox.)  The
handbox RA jump still occurs even though everything is once again as
peachy as ever with AS/1.3c operations.  I now use the handbox for solar
tracking since the setup is easier.   Probably what a lot of 125 owners
with AS have not learned is that in the polar mode the ETX  does a
pretty good job of sidereal tracking, with speed adjustments (slow it
down one click to get almost solar rate, but heed all Meade warnings),
and with 2-axis correction, but with this crazy RA jump.  The problem
that Teddy mentions is a real annoyance, maybe was intended to address
some backlash problems but I doubt it.  Was wondering if anyone else had
experienced it, sounds like another one for Meade engineers to log.

By the way, I have come up with a couple ways to stiffen the 125's base.
One method would help on tri-pod mounts, both help if the base's three
little feet are used.  Have observed now in 10 -15 mph winds and have
little image wobble even when focusing, but using Scoptronix's
Flexifocus, just in case anyone is interested.  I am mounting to a very
solid semi permanent pedestal.


Subject:	 ETX125 Hard Stop problem
Sent:	Saturday, March 4, 2000 09:24:19
From:	chris_howard@ie.ibm.com
I don't know if you saw my posting to the ETX mail list a week or so ago
about my new ETX125 hitting the hard stops on alignment, but I have
found a fix.

Before I start, I must say that I have definitely invalidated my
warranty doing this, but based on the fact I would have to pay the
postage myself from Ireland to Meade and back, and not have the scope
for "n" weeks my warranty is not worth too much (just hope the optics
never give up as I probably wouldn't be able to fix them).

I have included below some images that you might want to place on your
site for other ETX owners benefit (even if its just to see how "poor"
Meade engineering in the ETX really is).

Basically when I tried to do an easy, one or two star align the scope
would start rotating in the vertical until it hit the hard stop and
would continue to try past the vertical 90 degree mark. I also
encountered lots of noise from the scope (the reason is obvious later)
and motor failures.

Doug Crinner and I both came to the same conclusion (first thinking it
was the Autostar), but then realising it might be the optical alignment
sensor in the fork that was either fault / dirty etc.

I took the scope apart by following the "Tune Up" instructions on Jordan
Blessing site, and discovered that the PCB that controls the motor in
the dec. axis was out of alignment with its plastic mounting
(Imga0001.jpg). This is down to the fact that on the left hand side, as
you look at the PCB, the mounting does not a rear support, thus allowing
the board to slip backwards and downwards out of the mount. This is made
more likely as the cable leading from the PCB to the base is very tight
with very little slack, almost putting pressure on the board to move

As you can see in imga0002.jpg this has allowed the PCB to move
sufficiently so that the optical alignment wheel is now cutting in the
board (hence the noise), and there are PCB filings inside the case.

Imga0003 shows the board back in place and as a comparison to Imga0001
you can see the amount that the board had moved in the mount.

One of the other reasons for the board shifting was the amount of play
in the two halves of the plastic mounting, on inspection this was partly
due to the -ve cable from the motor being trapped in the mounting edge
by one of the screws. This can be seen in Imga0004, where I have removed
the cable. The cable clearly shows pressure damage from the mounting.
This is a simple case of bad assembly by Meade in the first place. Its
also worth noting that the screw shown in Imga0004 with the white collar
around the head (next to the +ve motor cable) was completely threaded,
with the plastic hole it was screwed into shattered. This gives little
or reduced support to the plastic motor mount when the motor is running.

Finally I have included a shot of the top end of the fork that shows the
metal plate that is sandwiched inside the fork behind the worm gear. I
believe that this is different from the ETX90, and is obviously included
to improve the fork rigidity.

Hope this all makes sense.

PS. Thanks for a great site, for a newby to the ETX like myself its is

Best Regards

Chris Howard, CISSP
Security Specialist, Tivoli Security Solutions EMEA.
Internet: Chris_Howard@ie.ibm.com

Subject:	 Scope "jumps" in polar mode
Sent:	Thursday, March 2, 2000 17:32:41
From:	teddy.johnson@secondsouth.org (Teddy Johnson)
I've been reading your fine site for the past few months and have
learned quite a bit from it. I'm concerned with an issue I have not seen
discussed and that is my ETX 125, a new and improved model, jumps about
1/4 of a degree and returns if a left correction is made while in the
northern hemisphere mode.  The right direction does not jump, the motors
stop and restart.  The movement is in the RA axis and is in the opposite
direction if in the southern mode.

The magnitude of the movement is the same reguardles of the speed
selected. The declination axis is fine.  This requires me to over
correct by 1/4 degree any correction made in the affected direction.  If
I press the button quickly the cycle takes about 1.5 to 2 seconds while
the scope moves 1/4 degree, the motors stop, and jumps back to almost
the starting point when the motors restart.  This is with the standard
controler, not the Autostar. Meade said this is normal and is a result
of the backlash and engagement of the gears.

The scope tracks fine, I had the Crab nebula centered in the 26mm ep for
a timed 30 min!  I could not tell that it moved.  Hated to move the
scope after I saw how well it was aligned!

This is my first scope and I'm new to the hobby but this seems more like
circuits than a gear problem.

Are you getting the same results from the loaner?

Teddy M. Johnson III
Second South Carolina Regiment  (A Rev War Historical Group)
Mike here: It sounds like the drive "backlash" that you are describing. Backlash seems to be normal for low-end scopes like the ETX and NexStar. What I can't compare is the amount you are seeing to mine. I'm still clouded out!

Subject:	 Air travel with ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, March 1, 2000 20:26:42
From:	dcampbell.unibeacon@worldnet.att.net (Donald Campbell)
I'm not sure whether your "travelling with the ETX" comments refer to an
ETX 90 or 125.  So I'm asking for a bit more help.

I have an ETX125, which I would like to take on a multi-leg trip to
Colorado and Montana, if possible.   The Meade hard case seems larger
than airline carry-on luggage limits.  And I certainly am no willing to
entrust the thing to airline baggage treatment.

Have you found a good way to travel safely with the telescope on an
airline? What would you recommend?

Thanks for all your help.

Don Campbell
Mike here: Those comments of mine are old and refer to the original ETX (90mm). However, search the site for "airline" and "travel" and you'll get some more recent info.

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