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ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 March 2001

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


Subject:	ETX 125 tune up
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 02:15:20
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Because of the heavy inquiries and requests, I have begun taking in
scopes on a FIRST COME, FIRST-SERVED basis for a 37-point mechanical
tune up which includes everything from your camera plate, focus shift,
clutches and drives to marrying your AutoStar to the scope.  Nothing
else is needed after you get it back.

The demand is pretty heavy right now, so call or e-mail and get the
facts first.

Regarding the tripod:  the #883 should not even be offered with the
expensive ETX 125 as it is too light and prone to disaster.  If you plan
on keeping for a while, I would certainly suggest a heavy tripod upgrade
for observing enjoyment and scope safety.

On focusing, anything is an improvement; the flex knobs work well and I
just love the electric focuser as there is NO vibration whatsoever with
it; it does not have a really slow speed, however.
 
Good skies!
 
Clay Sherrod
Mike here: See Sherrod's Tune-Up Service for more information.

Subject:	Re: My New ETX-125
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 01:55:12
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Henry
Henry - by ALL means use that great DC power source!  If it has a
cigarette-type plug on it all the better; the Meade DC cord will get you
going!  The ETX 125 loves voltage OVER 12 V and most of the jump power
sources put out about 13-14V which is great!  A far better cry than the
batteries....I never use the internal batteries at all, either AC/DC
(meade's puts out about 15.2V) or my power pack like yours.

Regarding "supercharging" other folks ETX's.....I do it all the time!

I have a 37-point inspection and tune-up sequence for the ETX (-90 or
-124) that takes about four days total to: 1) check the entire system;
2) find warranty issues that must be addressed as far as missing
components, broken components, image shift (focusing and quality),
motors, drives, training, AutoStar matching, etc....and, 3) complete
degreasing, clutch adjustments and tune up base on the 37 areas of most
concern.

There are some pretty nicely-operating ETX's out there!

You will be pleasantly amazed how much better your ETX 125 will operate
once you have carefully trained the motors...be sure to do a RESET
first, however (under "Setup" on AutoStar).  The initialize and "Train
Motors" the "Calibrate Motors."

Last, but certainly NOT least, is the shaking going on during focusing. 
This is perhaps the most common complaint about the ETX scopes; there is
simply no way to focus without shaking the scope.  You will be surprised
how vibration-free the ETX 125 can be if you can keep your hands off of
it!  There are two remedies for shaking during focusing:

1)  Scopetronix (see Mike's Product guide on the ETX site..) makes a
nice little flex cable that attaches to the focuser that helps a lot;
but you still must touch the device to focus;
2) I use the Meade electric focuser which is the best investment you can
make in a -125 scope assembly.  They are NOT perfect, as the slowest
speeds are still too fast, but they are totally vibration-free; you can
use with either the standard hand controller (that comes with the ETX),
the small one that comes with the focuser (uses a 9V battery) or plug
into the scope base and use with AutoStar and focus through that.

Good luck....if you ever need your ETX 125 supercharged for the big
race, you know the mechanic!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Henry
    Clay,
    
    First of all I want to say thanks for doing what you're doing as far
    as all the ETX info!

    I'm a new ETX-125 owner. I very happy with it but after reading your
    tips I'm eager to tune it up.

    Have you considered providing a "tune-up" service for the ETX for
    those of us that are mechanically uncertain? - for a fee of course.

    If not, then as a new owner what would you suggest I do first? What
    are the basic things you think MUST be done to create the "perfect
    little scope"?

    The main things I noticed were wrong when I used it were: 1) at 300x
    I kept loosing the image - but I then found out my batteries where
    loosing power - I also haven't trained it yet.

    2)at high powers there is LOT of shaking when focusing - which
    focusing aid would you recommend? Any way to strengthen the fork
    mount / stabilize the scope?

    Also, I have a portable jump-starter for my car which has an
    accessory outlet "12 volt DC recepticle" (cigarette lighter outlet)
    that accepts any accessory up to 12 amps - can I use this to power
    my scope?

    Thanks for your time!
    Henry

Subject:	ETX 125
Sent:	Tuesday, March 27, 2001 00:02:53
From:	Henry8008@home.com (Henry Diaz)
First of all your website is absolutely fantastic! I can imagine that
there's quite a bit of cost involved and i'm all to happy to make a
pledge.

I have an ETX 125 and I love my scope! I went to my first star party
this weekend where there were approx. 50 people with all different size
and type scopes. I got to look through everything from Meade 8" LX200s
to 22" Obsessions.

People with larger scopes were amazed with the 125's performance. I even
had a fellow with an 8" Celestron offer to buy my scope.

It was my first dark sky use of the scope and my first use of the
autostar and at high powers I was getting a lot of image shift across
the field of view and even losing the image at times. I found out later
I was losing battery power and I also haven't "trained" my drive yet so
i'm hoping that will help. Will it?

Aside from that my main question is this: Considering that my technical
and mechanical engineering skills are non-existant, is there a place
that you know of where I can send my scope to for a "tune-up" ? I've
been reading your site on making your ETX into a perfect scope but think
i'd rather have someone with more skills in the area help me out with
it. Also, I really do NOT like the Delux tripod - durring my star party
night I had to change batteries and it was a disaster, I almost dropped
the scope twice trying to re-mount it. So, i'm considering the mounting
plate offered by "Scopetronix" but i'm not really sure if that is just
to help organize the eyepieces or if makes mounting the scope easier as
well.                               Does it?

(later on down the road I'm thinking of also getting the 8" LX90 or
LX200, which comes with the better tripod so I don't want to just buy or
make another tripod).


Thanks Again, 
Henry

PS - would you recommend the electronic focuser? or would the
"flexifocus" from "Scopetronix" be good enough.
Mike here: If the scope/autostar have never been trained together, you should do that. Don't know where a tune-up can be performed. Could be a nice after-market (out of warranty?) service that someone might want to take up. Don't know about the Scopetronix plate. As to focusing, I have both an electric focuser (JMI on my ETX-90RA) and FlexiFocus (Scopetronix on the ETX-125EC). Both work but there are still some vibrations with the cable since you are still touching the telescope. But they are minimal and certainly less than with the standard knob.

Subject:	ETX 125EC reparation
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 06:59:38
From:	nunosilva2000@yahoo.com.br (Nuno Miguel de Freitas Silva)
I'm writing to tell you how my ETX 125EC is working after the
reparation. It took about a month to get my scope repaired but now i can
finally report something about the results.

The scope seems to move more freely at the azimuth axis than before and
i dont have to tighten the RA lock too much to engage the motor drive
clutch. However, the azimuth encoder wasnt working properly at full
speed (speed 9 of the autostar; at lower speeds it worked properly). The
autostar detected a 10 degree rotation when the scope actually moved 30
degrees (2 hours at the R.A. setting circle), for example. Sometimes it
wouldnt detect movement at all. So i  decided to open the telescope to
see what was wrong. What i found was a huge mass of lubricant at the
diode of the encoder. I detached the circuit and cleaned the encoder and
then i attached it again. Fortunately, the problem was fixed.

Here are some azimuth accuracy results for a 360 degree rotation at full
speed (5/s):

Az0=00000'00" 

clockwise rotation      counterclockwise rotation
Azf=00003'22"           Azf=00001'35"
angle=36003'22"         angle=36001'35"

I used a setting circle line and a white drawn line at the base and i
estimated an observation error of 11'. Since this error is greater than
the one i could detect with the autostar coordinates, i can conclude
that the autostar coordinate error is fewer than 10' per 360 of
rotation, which is very good! The slop error was not included because
the Az0 position was achieved by slewing the scope at the way the drive
would move.

NOTE: dont chage the drive ratios, as the results will change
dramatically. My etx 125ec ratios are: Az Ratio = Alt Ratio = +01.36889

About the azimuth slop and slew hesitation i can say that there was no
improvement. The delays continue to be excessive when changing the way
of the rotation (i used 2x barlow + 26 mm E.P.):

autostar number    velocity    delay (in seconds)
     3              8x sideral     28.0
     4             16x             13.8
     5             64x              4.0
     6             0.5/s            2.2

Last night i tested the autostar goto accuracy. The autostar version was
2.1EK, which i downloaded from meade website. I trained the drives using
a terrestial object (2x barlow + 26mm E.P. as the optical setup). I did
the easy two star alignment. The accuracy was pretty good when compaired
to most of the observing sessions before having my etx repaired. When
the scope slewed to an opposite area of the sky (e.g. from east to west)
the object was just a little bit out of the field of view (FOV) of the
26mm E.P.. When i sycronised the scope in the virgo cluster region and
pointed to some galaxies i was amazed by the goto accuracy. It placed
all the objects of that region of the sky very near center of the
eyepiece FOV. In some minutes i saw about 20 objects such as M84, M86,
M87, M89, M90, M91, M88, M99, M98, M49, M51, M65, M66, M95, M96, M105,
M104, M53 and M97.

I'm going to continue reporting my etx and autostar accuracy and i'll let
you know.

See you soon!
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Hi!  Great to have you back, and glad your scope is fixed.  I have some
comments that maybe can help you:

1)  Your reported delay times in azimuth are WAY too large;
2)  You mentioned the ALT and AZ 'RATIOS"; YOU ARE RIGHT do not ever
change those!  The values you provided are correct and should be left
where they are.
3)  What DOES need to be changed for you is the AZIMUTH PERCENT (it is
found by scrolling PAST AZ/ALT "Ratio" listing, and past "Mount"; the
next scroll is the percent; it sounds like your ALTITDE percent is okay;
change your AZIMUTH PECENT to start at 25% and that should take up a LOT
of the delay; if it is too much, go to 15% and keep trying until you get
it right.  If the delay is still too long, you might try even 45% and
working your way down.
4)  I am glad you have uploaded v2.1 into AutoStar; however, DID YOU
RESET "AFTER" you downloaded and then do a "TRAIN MOTORS?"  It sounds
like you might not have; if you will do the reset and start all over by
going to Train Motors and entering your location again, I think it will
take out a LOT of the azimuth problems you are having.

You should be able to use "4" speed and have about a delay of no more
than 2 seconds; and none at "5".  Keep working on those
percents....however, be sure to RESET and RETRAIN FIRST before entering
the percent changes (they will default ot 01%).

Good luck and keep us posted.  We are glad you are up and running again!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Response to question -- Case for ETX/125
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 17:37:13
From:	jporter@topdownconsulting.com (Juan Porter)
I have been reading your web site ever since getting a 125 this past
Christmas. Thanks for all the great information.

The following question was posted...

   Subject:	Case for ETX/125
   Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 15:19:23
   From:	atti@abag.ca.gov (Atti Williams)
   I was hoping you or your visitors could help me determine which case
   my little gem might feel comfortable in, knowing its on the way to
   the baggage check counter.  I feel bad about checking it in, but I
   cant see them letting my carry it on.  Any prior experience or posts
   would be helpfull.

   Thanks and clear skys for all . . .
   Mike here: Oh no, remember those Samsonite commercials of a few years
   ago??? The gorillas who throw checked bags around...
-------------------
My response...

The ETX/125 Hard Case has fit perfectly in the overhead bins on United
Airlines. It even slides right through the sizer templates United uses
when you go through the security check points. I have succesfully
carried my ETX/125, storing it in the overhead bins on 737 (United
Shuttle to Pheonix) and 757 (United to Hawaii) with no problem. Just
make sure you get on early. I have found it much easier to transport the
ETX/125 through the airport using Wheelies, instead of lugging it
around. Also, the 883 tripod when collapsed fits directly behind the
ETX/125 hard case in the overhead bins.

Juan Porter
TopDown Consulting, Inc.
404 Gold Mine Drive
San Francisco, CA 94131
tel: (415) 860-1115
fax: (415) 550-7895
email: jporter@topdownconsulting.com
Mike here: Did you ever try the case in those bag size checkers? Some airlines will ask you to slide bags into one if they think it might be oversized. If it fails to pass the test, it gets checked.

And:

So far I have never had anyone at the gate ask. I am currently in
Scottsdale to watch a little baseball and enjoy some dark skies, and
carried on the ETX/125 in the hard case, the 883 tripod, and laptop. I
know I was over the "2 bag" limit but no stopped me. I just put the
tripod in the overhead first -- which fits nicely into the back of the
overhead bin, which isn't used for much more than blankets and jackets,
then put the ETX right in front of the tripod (a perfect fit, with about
an inch or so to spare (laptop went under the seat in front of me).

Unless the gate agent is just having a bad day, it should not be a
problem. Besides, most garment bags don't fit in the bag size checkers
either (very little actually does).

Juan

Subject:	NexStar tripod for ETX125?
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 15:36:15
From:	archfamily@juno.com (John G Arch)
Awesome web page!

I saw a NexStar 5 tripod on sale at a World of Science store that is
going out of business.  Any idea if it can be used on an ETX125? 
Thanks!

John Arch
Mike here: You might have to make an adapter.

Subject:	Removing the RA drive gear
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 08:45:30
From:	mebutler@jorsm.com (Mark Butler)
Great site.  The tips I found here have truly helped and I'm now
"go-toing" with the best of 'em.  I've read that a few people have had
problems removing the flat RA drive gear when cleaning the clutch.  I
had the same trouble on my first cleaning job.  I didn't want to force
it so I just left it alone and cleaned it the best I could.  I was very
disappointed by my next goto attempts.  I hit nothing and tracking was
the pits.  So...I tore it apart again and this time I spent a little
more time trying to remove the gear (you'd think it would just shoot out
once it was loosened because of all the grease). I found that if I spun
the large plastic grear near the motor (the only one I could move with
my finger) it spun the worm gear just enough to lift the stuck gear out
of its position.  After removing the gear and cleaning out the offending
grease I reset and retrained as in Clay's guide and what a difference. 
I hit 95% dead on in the 26mm eyepiece. Tracking was much improved also.
Clay's guide is great and is now my "bible" for my ETX 125.  Thanks
Clay and Mike for all the help and I hope my little tip comes in handy
for anyone who's tired of slipping through the skies.

Clear skies
Mark

Subject:	ETX-125EC swapped
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 19:36:28
From:	samedm@bellsouth.net (Sam Edmonds)
Just a brief note to let you know, I took the first ETX back and tried
the ones on the shelf at Dicovery Channel.  One had a damaged EP, the
next would slew CW ok but seemed to be binding when slewing CCW and the
last one worked perfectly.

I cannot say enough good things about the employee, Jackie, that helped
me at the store (Baton Rouge, LA).  I would suggest anyone that buys a
scope 1000K+ should look locally and try it out as soon as possible in
case there are any problems, such as the ones I encountered.

I went out last night about 6:30pm and came back in around 3am this
morning. The only problem I had was, I wore the batteries out about
midnight and went to the WalMart to get a 12v converter.  Plugged in and
realigned.  99% of all objects well within the FOV and realigned well,
with no creep.  RA drive much more quiet than the Dec.  I can live with
that.

I'll try Polar alignment tonight and look for the Tmount for my Olympus
OM1 tomorrow.

Beautiful optics!

Sam Edmonds

Subject:	Case for ETX/125
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 15:19:23
From:	atti@abag.ca.gov (Atti Williams)
I was hoping you or your visitors could help me determine which case my
little gem might feel comfortable in, knowing its on the way to the
baggage check counter.  I feel bad about checking it in, but I cant see
them letting my carry it on.  Any prior experience or posts would be
helpfull.

Thanks and clear skys for all . . .
Mike here: Oh no, remember those Samsonite commercials of a few years ago??? The gorillas who throw checked bags around...

Subject:	random motion inherent in ETX 125 standard hand controller
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 07:33:55
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	wynne_michael@jpmorgan.com
Your situation with the standard hand controller, as Mike Weasner
indicated, is a fairly common one.  I sometimes prefer to use that
controller over AutoStar if I am observing: 1) the sun; 2) a particular
object such as a comet or planet for an extended length of time.  You
are right, the responses are somewhat more precise with that controller
over AutoStar.

My standard hand controller experiences the SAME problems you describe. 
It begins just as soon as the unit is turned on for the beginning of a
night's (or day's) observing;  as I am not an electronics expert I will
not pretend to know what causes it, although mine appears to be from
lack of proper contact, as I can avoid the problem by many times holding
the plastic connecting plug firmly in place when turning on the power.

Here is how to get rid of the problem:

1)  Turn on scope's power; scope likely will slew shortly to calibrate
    the motors;
2)  Many times the telescope motors will not activate and you will
    experience a random slew;
3)  Push any speed key (I use "2" or "3");
4)  Then press one of the arrow keys, then another; makes no difference
    which ones;
5)  When you stop, random motion will be gone and the motors should
    begin tracking.

I have heard from several other ETX 125 users (never from an ETX 90, 60,
70 or LX 90 though) who have the same situation....I just "live" with
mine as I now know how to circumvent the problem.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX-125 image shift
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 05:29:53
From:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
I've really been enjoying the ETX-125. The scope that I have now works
"like a charm" and the Autostar not only works well, but is a great
educational tool.
The only problem with this unit is image shift.  I gather from other
posts that some is normal, but how much is too much? With the std. 26mm
eyepiece and Polaris centered in the field of view, if I use the
electric focuser and take it in and out of focus the image will move out
to within one image diameter of the edge.  Refocusing will bring it back
close to the original location, but not exactly. I've learned to live
with this, but is this normal for the ETX-125?
Bob Thompson
Mike here: If you are saying that the central portion of the in- or out-of-focus image moves from the center of the field-of-view to edge, then that's too much. If you have an older ETX-125EC (no way to really tell), then it should be returned to Meade (or your dealer) for repair. Meade fixed this extreme image shift problem shortly after the ETX-125EC was released in the Summer 1999.

And:

I was afraid you'd say that.  Everything else about the scope works so
well & I hate the downtime, but I'll call them & see if they'll give me
a return authorization.
And later:
I called Meade Customer Support about the "image shift" problem with my
ETX-125.  The rep said that the problem is usually a result of cold
grease coagulating & leaving dry spots.  He suggested that while the
scope is warm, the focus be cycled all the way in, then all the way out,
then back to focus.  This will spread the grease evenly while it is warm
& the problem will go away - OR, the problem is mechanical and this
exercise will make it get "much worse, immediately."  It did get "much
worse, immediately."  The focus rod went all the way forward and will
not move out.  Now it's back to Meade for work.

Subject:	A question about ETX125EC
Sent:	Thursday, March 15, 2001 09:40:49
From:	graesser@planet-h.com (Andreas Graesser)
I found your website after a long research for a technical information
about the ETX 125 EC Telescope. I hope you can help me. I bought the
telescope 2 months ago and I'm relly new in this stuff. When I move the
horizontal motor from one side to the other, for example .. fist I move
right and then to the right side with a low speed, it needs a couple of
seconds until the telescope really begins to move. That means the motor
needs some time until the gear wheels find grip or something like that.
I think such a behaviour is normal, but I think it's to much. When the
horizontal axis is locked by the locking knob, I can move the telescope
1/2 degree back and forth. Is this really normal ? If yes, can I do
something to make it lesser ?
Thanks for your feedback
Regards, Andreas Graesser
Mike here: What you are reporting is the normal gear "backlash". The "play" value you report is actually very good. But if you want to try to improve things, see the Performance Enhancements on the Telescope Tech Tips page. The mechanical modifications will likely destroy the scope's warranty so don't try it unless you are willing to take the risk.

Subject:	125
Sent:	Thursday, March 15, 2001 02:34:00
From:	wynne_michael@jpmorgan.com (Michael D Wynne)
I have a couple of ETX-125 questions you might be able to help with.

I am based in the uk.

I am new to telescopes, the etx-125 is my first.

When I turn the telescope on with the normal hand controller attached
all 4 leds blink as usual. I hit a key and the motors slew a bit then
stop as normal. However, sometimes when I then try to change the slew
speed the telescope motors carry on slewing all by themselves, and
sometimes the declination motor does not seem to change speed to a
slower slew.

If I turn the telescope off and on (maybe a few times), this problem
does not happen. To me this seems like a microprocessor reset problem,
and it seems to take a few resets before the system comes up and starts
correctly.

I have not tried this as of yet with the autostar controller which I
also have.

Should I accept this or take the telescope back to the dealer.

Secondly, I have looked at Jupiter and Saturn a few times this year on
nights which I thought were quite clear, but although I am using very
expensive ultra wide angle eyepieces in place of the standard eyepieces
Jupiter appears as a disk but featureless, and saturn appears
featureless but obviously I can see the flat disk of the rings but make
out no detail. Now since I have no experience of other telescopes am I
expecting too much, is the sky not as clear as I imagine, is there
something wrong with the ETX. I know you cant do much if you have not
seen with your own eyes, but any help would be appreciated.

BTW: Great web site

Regards

MIchael Wynne
Mike here: There have been a few reports of bum standard controllers so you might want to see about swapping at least that. As to observations, I suggest you read the various articles on the "Observational Guides, References" page, especially the ones about seeing and viewing the planets. They detail what might be affecting you as well as what you should expect to be able to see.

Subject:	ETX 125 Tripod
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 19:28:38
From:	poolt@bellsouth.net (Trevor & Heather Pool)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
I bought my ETX125 in December of 2000.  I am new to amateur astronomy,
but I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Mike your web site is great.  The
comments that you and Clay have made have been very useful.  My scope
does not track the greatest.  Sometimes its right on and other times it
is way off.   So I'm making some mechanical tune ups as suggested on the
site. I hope this takes care of all the problems.  Clay you mentioned
that you switched to the heavy duty tripod (#887).  I am considering
switching from the 883 deluxe tripod to the 887 also because of
stability issues, but I have a couple of questions first.  Has the fact
that the 887 is a fixed height tripod caused you any grief?  If I am set
up on an incline will the wedge allow me to level everything out?

Thanks.

--
Trevor  Pool
Winston-Salem NC

email:  poolt@bellsouth.net
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The heavy duty (but still portable and manageable) #887 tripod and wedge
is the best investment I have made for my ETX 125, particularly since I
like to torture myself and use in Polar mode.

Do not use the wedge to level out, in either E-W or N-S; use board
cutouts as shims (even flat stones) to achieve a level tripod top plate;
 once the tripod top is level, THEN you adjust the wedge to your
latitude;  it is only there to polar align.  The non-adjustable legs is
a shortcoming, but one easily overlooked after you have used the tripod
several times.

The height is not a problem and is very comfortable actually for
observing from a short camp stool or the like.  I very much like the
height, even though my permanent pier I use behind my home is about 15"
taller overall that the tripod.  My observing area here is so limited
that a stool or chair would be cumbersome, so standing is ideal.

Trust me on this one....you will love the #887; it will be the
difference in success or not, night after night.  I could not believe
the difference, particularly over the flimsy #883 unit.  And to top it
all off, the big tripod folds up and is just as easy to transport -
wedge and all - as the little one!  There are slow motion adjustments on
the wedge/tripod for both altitude and azimuth tweaking for polar
alignment which is also very nice. It is a really well designed unit,
much more so that the #883 which really is a perfect tripod for the ETX
90 scope.  i would NEVER use the ETX 125 in Polar with the lightweight
tripod.

Good luck....I think you might even agree it would be worth missing a
couple of steak dinners for the big tripod.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Re: Motor noise
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 06:10:51
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Paul M
Does the noise sound like a "grinding" that comes in pulses?  Can you
almost keep time with the pulsing of this noise?  If so, then you have
"normal" ETX noise!  It can be very irritating at first, but you get
used to it.

For your information, I have used the LX200 7" Mak and the LX 200 16"
and BOTH make just as much noise as the smaller ETX does.  Actually,
this works to your advatange at star parties and out camping or at a
park when using your telescope....I have found that people are
fascinated by the sound of the telescope, both when slewing ("...way
COOL!") to just tracking ("man, that's like, you know, something, you
know....from OUTER SPACE!").

I think what you have is normal; after three decades of using telescopes
I have NEVER heard one so noisy, but for all the work and ciphering it
can do (to keep us from having to!) it can make all the noise it wants
to!

By the way....I often use my ETX behind my house and I have had
neighbors at 1:30 a.m. until dawn turn on their porch lights and peek
out the back doors to see what all the commotion is about after I slew
from the Orion Nebula to Messier 81!  I checked once and - sure enough -
in the still of the late night, I could hear my ETX 125 slew (my wife
ran it while I went up the street!) a full BLOCK AWAY!

It's only a matter of time before the cops come get me.....first it was
"peeping Tom," and now it's "disturbing the piece."

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
>It makes the noise all the time when moving in RA at sidereal or very slow
>slewing. Polar or Alt-Az.
Mike here: Better get one of the portable observatories! See my comments on the "TeleDome Portable Observatory" on the Accessories - Showcase Products page.

Subject:	ETX / autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 05:17:23
From:	samedm@eatel.net (Sam Edmonds)
I purchased an etx60at in Dec. to see if the autostar would work as well
as touted.  Worked great.  I purchased an etx125ec this week, with
autostar and I see I have some (or all) of the problems noted on the
site associated with the autostar.  I downloaded the updated version and
setup the scope to see if some of the ills could be cured.

The biggest problem I have is the drift after aquiring the target.  The
object drifts out of the FOV (Az) and can only be centered by
overshooting to the other direction and letting it drift back.  I
haven't had problems with the accuracy of the autostar as far as
aquiring the target.  After easy alignment, hits targets very close to
dead center, but then the drift.  Alt seems ok. There also seems to be
quite a bit of hesitation when I try to slew left or right.  This is
with the autostar only.  The hand controller that came with the scope
responds quickly with little deadband from left to right.  As a
machinist, I have a pretty good understanding about the mechanics of the
gear drives and after putting a dial indicator on one of the arms, the
response using the manual controller is almost instant.  Using the
autostar, you hear the motor run briefly, then the scope rotates. 
Seemed like slack in the gears at first, but as I noted, it doesn't do
that using the manual controller.  The lower the speed setting, the
longer it takes to move the scope.

I have tried some of the "fixes" noted here, and I'm afraid haven't
found anything yet that makes a difference.

Something else that I noticed is after loading the updated autostar, the
scope has hit the stop and continued to run (clockwise) when trying to
find a target.  I remember seeing a FAQ somewhere about home position. 
This may be something I am doing wrong,please let me know. 

First night out, optics absolutely wonderful.  If I could get the bugs
out, even "more better"!

Thanks
Sam Edmonds
Mike here: You do have to put the ETX-125EC into the proper Autostar "HOME position" prior to aligning it. Unlike with the ETX-60AT, this means you have to rotate the ETX-125EC (and ETX-90EC) to one of the hard stops first. See the Autostar manual. If you need more info, see the various aligning and HOME position tips on the Autostar Information page. The "creep after slew" is a known problem with the Autostar 2.1ek version. You can minimize problems by properly training the ETX-125EC/Autostar (first set the ETX OTA to an up elevation of 45 degrees if mounted in Alt/Az mode). You can also adjust the alt/az percentages; see the tip on the Autostar Information page.

And:

Thanks for the quick answer.  I knew I saw the home position somewhere,
Meade's sight, buried in the sales stuff.

Haven't tried the 45 degree angle for the training.  Hmmm.  I did try
resetting the Az percentage.  Got better response when set for 90%. I
talked to the Meade support dept. today and after describing the
problems I had, his response was, " take it back for another ".  Since I
got it from Discovery Channel, I called and they said, "no problem, we
have plenty". Guess I paid a little extra for the "minor" problem.

Again thanks and maybe I'll get lucky.  If not, you may be hearing from
me.
Thanks again.

Subject:	New ETX 125 Owner
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 21:03:19
From:	ronone@home.com (Ron Millstein)
I ordered my ETX 125 from Natural Wonder's Web site and it should be
here in two days.  After finding your site and reading the "tune-up"
recommendations, I have a few questions for you.  First, are all new ETX
125's made today affected by the problems described in the tune-up (ie.
too much grease, etc)?  Can I tell based on the serial number or am I
going to have to determine if my ETX requires the adjustments after some
field testing?  Also, if I encounter a problem and want to keep my
warranty intact, isn't it better to send the telescope back to Meade and
tell them to follow the "tune-up" steps and described on your site!!! 
This may sound ridiculous to suggest but you don't know me and I am that
type of person who will gladly push some buttons and upset some people
at Meade if I have too!  You would think they would be happy to make the
changes to their product as quickly as possible.  Of course, Celestron
would prefer they didn't!!??  Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. 
Lastly, your site is fantastic, thank you for being out there to help
all of us.

Ron M,
Seattle, WA
Mike here: My recommendation is to learn your scope, don't assume the worse, use it, and see if it performs in a way you are comfortable with. Any product can be improved in some ways but it is not always necessary if it works for you as-is. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell whether you have a recent model or one that has been sitting in a stockroom for months.

And:

Great advice.  Thanks for the fast response.

Ron

Subject:	Re: Motor noise
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 07:06:17
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Paul
You did not indicate which mode of tracking you are using.  If it is
Alt-Azimuth, it likely is the declination circles DRAGGING from improper
lubrication against the plastic bearings under the circles; simply
remove the clamps and spread sparingly some Lithium grease where you can
see the wear patterns on the inner part of the circles.

[there will be a complete Enhancement tip coming out soon on
Mike's ETX site on this very subject, so please pull it up and make the
adjustments to provide you with much better motion in the Altitude
axis!]

The main drive gear should appear motionless, except when fast slewing. 
I doubt that this is where you are having any trouble, unless you are
tracking in POLAR mode.  Please specify which.

The motors DO make a lot of noise, but the "creaking" you describe
sounds familiar and is attributable to metal rubbing against plastic in
the ETX....I had the same thing in my Declination axis when slewing (I
use Polar) as the setting circle was dragging (hence the new
"Enhancement Guide...").

If you ARE using Polar and hearing this creaking only during routine
sidereal tracking, get back with me.....you could have your primary RA
axis binding from the large nut being overtightened (let's hope not).

Let me know and I'll walk you through it....

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
>Just a quick question.  My 125 makes sort of a creeking noise when it tracks
>at sidereal rate.  This is VERY annoying.  Is this noise normal?  I pulled
>of the bottom panel and it seems the large gear is almost quantized in its
>motion.  Thanks
>
>Paul

Subject:	New 125....Black Dot
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 17:07:21
From:	bonobf@hotmail.com (bob frost)
I just purchased the 125 (my first telescope).

I am concerned with a black dot that is in the middle of my view. Have I
done something wrong? Do I have it set up incorrectly? Or, most
disheartenly, is this something that is supposed to be? I have looked at
your site for the past month, and have not heard mention of this or seen
this in any of the photos that are at your site. Please tell me what
could possibly be wrong. I hope that I didn't spend all of the money
that I did to get an obscured view.

Thanks,
Bob Frost
Mike here: You didn't mention what eyepiece you are using when you see a central black dot. If you are using the supplied 26mm eyepiece you should not see this when an object is in focus. What you are likely seeing is the secondary mirror that is mounted on the inside of the corrector lens on the end of telescope. But under normal use it should not be seen with most eyepieces.

And:

Thanks for the response, Mike. Yes, you are correct, the eyepiece I was
using was the 26mm. I didn't really play with the focus knob. I just saw
the spot and freaked out. I will try to focus more clearly the next
opportunity that I get.
Mike here: Just like with your eyes, an infocus image is much better than an out of focus image.

Subject:	Re: color fringing on 125
Sent:	Saturday, March 10, 2001 21:09:35
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
I have had some concern about the images on my 125 since I got it back
in Nov.  Based upon Clay's postings, I have tried to assure myself that
there is "nothing wrong" but I still have a concern seeing that double
stars like Castor aren't as cleanly resolved as they were with the 90
which I owned before trading up to this scope.  It seems the problem is
particularly noticeable with bright stars.

Anyhow, some time ago I had noticed that Jupiter experienced color
fringing, with one side appearing red, and one side appearing blue. 
Tonight, before the big planet gets too low for me to observe it, I took
some time to confirm this effect, even though the atomosphere was pretty
turbulent [turbulence has nothing to do with the effect which I noted on
still nights while the planent was quite high, but kept trying to
ignore].  Tonight, I observed through the 26mm Super Plossel with and
without the 126 barlow, and with a 15mm Lanthanum with and without
barlow.  There was no lens fogging or fogging on the meniscus lens.  In
all cases the existence of a red fringe on one side of Jupiter and a
blue fringe on the other was clearly visible.  I rotated the eyepieces
while observing but it had no impact on the orientation of the color
fringing.  Any ideas?.   I never saw this type of thing with the ETX 90
nor have I heard anyone else mention something similar.  As always your
help is much appreciated.

Tom Brown
Mike here: I have not see this either on the -90 or -125. Have you tried rotating the corrector lens to see if it has any affect on the position of the fringing? Since you have ruled out the eyepieces, the lens should be the only other source of light refraction.

And:From: sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod) Sounds like your spurious color problems may be a little more than normal. However, even though you noted that the atmospheric conditions did not seem to matter, the type of spurious color that your are reporting on the PLANETS (with blue on on side and red opposite) is VERY typical in very rapid heat differential loss from the ground, particularly early in the evening; with Jupiter, Venus and Saturn now getting lower to the west (the last direction for differential cooling) you will see more and more of this. What I am concerned more with, however, is your double star resolution; with Castor, you should be getting very CLEAN separation with about three-four diffraction rings at about 140x to 200x; seeing of course will cause poor views regardless of eyepiece and/or magnification. If your are not seeing two very equal blue stars separated by a clean "break" of black then you may have some optical problems. My first guess is collimation, which is something that you cannot work on yourself. If the meniscus lens is skewed to the primary mirror (which is what it is beginning to sound like), you would have both the optical problem (poor resolution) and the refractive color offset that you are seeing. One more thing to check before you panic...and it is very important: how much "play" is there in your eyepiece receptacle (the opening at the back in which the eyepiece slides and locks into place. Many eyepieces do NOT fit snugly enough to maintain proper axial optical alignment; rotating the eyepiece will NOT indicate the problem, as the axial shift is maintained if the eyepiece, barlow or whatever is slightly tilted from the lock screw. This is not a common problem, but most definitely can affect your images the way you describe. My ETX 125 had this problem so bad that I had to re-machine the tube that hold the eyepieces to take out the looseness. Such a tilt of the eyepiece relative to even a great optical system can give you the refractive colors you are experiencing. Keep in mind, though, that with the planets now approaching closer to the western horizon - particularly in the winter when the air is chilled - you are going to get the refractive color separation NO MATTER what type of scope is used; you will see this particularly on extended objects such as planets and the moon. Good luck - check the eyepiece holder; if that doesn't help, then you probably need a computer collimation from Meade (you could send in JUST the tube assembly to expedite). Wishing you the best! Clay Sherrod Mike here: Since Tom felt the problem was there a few months ago I suspect a collimation problem with the lens. That's why I'm hoping to hear what happens when he unscews the lens a little bit. And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - that is a good idea.  There may be a tiny pressure point causing
some optical flexure on the meniscus as well; many times glass flexure
can lead to serious chromatic aberrations just as he describes.  In the
long run, I think he might be better off getting a fresh collimation,
even considering down time.  It's the double star problems that worries
me....mine is so crisp it makes me think (since he's had experience
through his -90) that the problem is apparently pretty obvious and
recognizable and not just a fluke.

Another very important consideration when it pertains to chromatic
problems is cool-down time; rising heat currents within the optical
system can result in the differential refraction just like our air can
do.  If there is a "hot spot" in the OTA, it will be seen through color
distortion.

Clay
And:
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Sadly, putting as much pressure as I dare on the lens, I can't unscrew
it. I had unscrewed the meniscus inadvertently with my 90, but the 125
won't budge at all, even though I put as much pressure on the OTA as I
dare, I don't want to damage the mount.  I'll check things out tonight
with a really long cool down time, but if the problem continues I'll
give Meade a call.

Once again thanks for the suggestions.

Tom Brown
Mike here: Well, I suppose that is good that you can't unscrew it! Avoids inadvertently unscrewing it when removing the cap!

And this final word for now:

From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Today I gave Meade a call and the person I spoke with suggested that the
symptoms I described, particularly the ghost imaging indicated an off
center secondary mirror, and this would retire a return to Meade.  Hate
to have the scope down for this long, but if this finally resolves the
problems I've been having it'll be worth it.  I'll report on the
results.  Turn around is supposed to be about 3 weeks.  Thanks for all
of your assistance.

Tom Brown

Subject:	you ETX 125 moon shots
Sent:	Wednesday, March 7, 2001 14:41:54
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	bernard.fournier12@wanadoo.fr
Just saw your new shots of the Moon with the ETX 125.  WONDERFUL and
congratulations!  I suspect maybe your got that polar alignment down
pat.  These are excellent photographs and you are to be highly
commended....I look forward to more of your astrophotography posts on
Mike's site.  It looks like you have a truly great scope (and pretty
nice pier, too!).

Good skies and great photos!
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX Performance Enhancement
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 19:57:33
From:	rlestesm@bellsouth.net (Bob Estes)
By now, everyone should know the value of Clay Sherrod's enhancement
advice. A few observations from my experience with the ETX-125 which I
bought for my teenage son for Christmas:

1. The RA clutch mechanism was not too terribly over-greased, though the
plastic gears were, and this was probably the source for "Motor Drive
Failures" as described in Jordan Blessing's "ETX tune-up." My clutch
plate had 4 dimples rather than 2 as described by Clay. Sandpaper, steel
wool - worked great.

2. The clutch plate for the alt drive in the fork arms was absolutely
smothered in grease - hard to believe that the thing could track
anything at all (pre tune-up performance was miserable); and some of the
grease on the worm-gear was actually lacquered - I had to scrape it off
in chunks with a tiny screwdriver. Guess it had been sitting in the box
at the Knowledge Store for some time.

3. I found the rubber patch support placement for the OTA to be
potentially frustrating. The rubber cement absorbed quickly into the
patch and didn't set up too well. I had to repeat this and then very
carefully ease the OTA back into the mount to avoid displacing the pads.
I cut mine fairly small, just slightly larger than the width of the
surface to which they are glued (roughly 5-6 mm). It will probably be
easier to cut them a bit wider before glueing.

4. The Autostar "reset after upload" is most important - then calibrate
and train the motors, and if you "overshoot" on one of the alignments,
reset and start over. Makes a BIG difference.

This was the first clear night here in Middle Tennessee following the
tune-up, and the scope hit every one of "Tonight's Best" which were not
obscured by trees in my back yard. Frustration has been converted to
pure viewing pleasure. I can't thank Clay enough for, basically, saving
our telescope investment.  Bob Estes

Subject:	RE: ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2001 16:44:36
From:	kentoliver@mindspring.com (Ken Toliver)
I received the new ETX-125 last Friday.  Ready to go at it!

First off, I have to say that Meade is improving the product.  Looking
at the internals of the 125 compared to the digital photo's of the 90 on
Mike's site makes it clear that they were building a higher quality
unit. Unfortunately, the QA/QC at the factory does not exist.

Problem #1; the RA motor was not securely fixed to the base plate and
was providing some slop.  One screw had never been tightened.  Easy fix
there.

Problem #2; the RA clutch was slipping like crazy!  I proceeded to
perform the RA clutch tune up per your 2/16 email.  One point I'd like
to make; it is much easier to do this if you remove the OTA first.
Grease, grease, and more grease!  It was on every surface that you
pointed out.  Cleaning it up fixed the lock problem.  However, like you,
I will do it again.  I'm still not quite satisfied with the movement.

Problem #3; next I proceeded to the Dec clutch.  Once I got the 5 cover
plate screws out of the Dec motor arm and removed it, I saw actual
damage. The Dec worm gear bracket is pretty much the same as the RA
bracket.  It includes two small allen screws that, when tightened, place
pressure against a second bracket that is cast to the base (see "ETX-125
Backlash Tuneup" by Steve Brightman under the Technical Tips section). 
Well, the "base" on the Dec assembly is the plastic OTA fork; and the
"cast" bracket is also made of plastic.  Sure enough the allen screws
had been tightened enough to actually snap the plastic "ear" off of one
of the two sides.  At this point in time, I believe that I'll just call
Meade and request a new fork.  I am NOT shipping this back again.  So
far, I really don't see that these tabs provide much more stability
anyway (hey, they're plastic for crying out loud!).  If I notice any
slop as a result of this, I'll place a small plate of 1/32" metal across
both plastic tabs and re-tighten the allen screws. Sorry, but I don't
have a digital camera.

The clutch was not slipping, yet, but it had enough grease smeared on
the whole assembly to lube my Isuzu!  Cleaned all that off.  Now the Dec
clutch is PERFECT.  It locks with hardly even a hint of slop. I did not
do the inner tube fix for the OTA arms.

I'm pretty much there with the exception of the second tweak to the RA.
I'll feedback some more once I get through alignment and a test run.

Talk to you soon,
KLT

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