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ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 26 May 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:	ETX125 "funny crack sound"
Sent:	Friday, May 25, 2001 05:55:50
From:	Lang.Michael@Orbital.COM (Michael Lang)
I set up my new ETX 125 the other night, but just decided to use the EC
instead of the Autostar. I let it cool down a couple hours then star
tested it and was quite pleased with the results.

Took a look at Mars, but it was so low, and the atmosphere so churned
up, it wasn't great. But for brief periods I could see some dark areas.
This scope has potential !

HOWEVER,  last night, since it was raining, I dug into the Autostar
manual (off the web), performed a "daylight alignment", then pretended
to GOTO and track various objects. Since Pluto and Mars were the only
objects above the horizon, I slewed to them.

After tracking Mars for about 15 minutes (Alt-Az), the scope made a
fairly loud "crack !" sound, kinda like a binding plastic on plastic
strain that's builds up, and then crack !,  it releases.

So I shut down power, unlocked the Dec & RA (one at a time) and
carefully tried to moved the OTA to check for binding. There was none.

So I re-aligned to HOME position, applied power & aligned, then repeated
the steps that had resulted in the crack sound.

Same thing, 15 minutes or so, and a crack sound, but this time, I got a
"motor fail" message, and text that suggested check batteries, check for
obstructions, etc..... It also said "when you press MODE after this
message, the scope will reinitialize, and you must realign it".  I also
think it said something about motor  recalibration, but it was late and
I was beginning to panic, so I shut down for the night, went to bed and
had nightmares.

This morning I connected the AC power supply to the scope, and operated
it with the EC - I just "slewed it around" (avoiding the hard stop at
7PM on the RA) to limber it up, and perhaps, help break it in, as your
test report suggested the drives were very tight and would require some
break in.

After 15 minutes or so of that, I went back to the Autostar and repeated
last nights adventure.

Seems to be "better".  Although It made 2 or 3 semi-loud crack sounds
over 35 minutes, none resulted in a motor-fail message.

So what do you think ?

thanks !

Michael Lang
LANG.MICHAEL@ORBITAL.COM
Mike here: By any chance were you looking through the scope when the crack occurred? Did you notice any "jerk" in the object position or other movement in the OTA when the crack occurred?

And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Michael - I know exactly what it is....I have seen about six such scopes
in the past two months with identical symptoms;  you have either (or
both) the RA or DEC worm driver gear very tight and that is causing a
temporary load on the reducer gears and the motor; eventually you will
see that this should go away.  The system is very tight right now and
will loosen with time very well.    For now, I would set up the scope
indoors and slew both axes generously back and forth to allow the gears
to "seat" adequately.

I ran the scope for about 40 minutes hard on the night it was tested and
did not get any of the "cracking sound" and certainly not a motor unit
fault (those are common and usually because of power too low - what kind
of power source are you hooked up to?).

If you are using internal batteries I would suggest that you forget that
and invest in either the Meade 541 AC converter (great at 15.2 volts) or
a good portable DC power station like you can buy at Wal Mart or
similar....Michael can probably suggest a good one.

I think you are fine, just need to work the scope just a bit.    The ETX
125 is "famous" for making the most horrible noises.  But first off, I
would get a reliable power source that puts out at LEAST 14v, as the
"12V" is not adequate for the ETX 125.

Let me know if I can help!

Clay Sherrod
And:
From: Michael Lang (Lang.Michael@Orbital.COM)
Thanks Clay !

In fact, at the time of the motor fault crack sound incident, I was
powering the scope with 8 NiMh cells (only around 10 volts).

Afterwards I went to a Lab Bench Supply, but limited it's output to only
12.0 volts. So that seems to explain the reduced cracking sounds and no
fault motor operation.  (and Mike W: I was indoors at the time of the
crack and wasn't observing, so I don't know if there was any position
jump)

I'll crank up my power supply to 15.2 volts tonite and slew the scope
around for more break-in.

Must I re-train or re-calibrate the motors as a result of this incident
?

Is there any risk or value in using the manual EC at the highest slew
rate, versus the Autostar set to slew from one object to another ?

Also, do you know what the max voltage input limit for the scope is ? I
was thinking of assembling a 16 volt pack using some small 5 amp-hour
UPS lead-acid gel cells. If critical, I could assemble a simple voltage
regulator circuit for precisely 15.2 volts.

thanks !

Michael

p.s. Maybe I missed this in your notes on Mike's site, but I think a
useful message to all ETX newbies would be to utilize your "Daylight
Use" instructions and setup/operate a new ETX in the comfort of your own
living room. It was so easy to get the hang of the Autostar by flipping
thru every page of the on-line manual, and playing around with all the
A.S. menu's and functions, all without the pressure of wanting to rush
to observe.
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I think you will find tremendously greater response and much less
trouble with the higher voltage.

1)  Never use more than 15.7 volts max.

2)  It would be a good idea to "recalibrate...." but not need to retrain
the motors.

3)  Slew with whichever method you choose, there is no advantage nor
disadvantage to either.

4)   Your idea for the DC power source is excellent; just keep it below
15.7 volts

5)  You should see noticably less "cracking" and unpredictable behavior
with increase voltage....I doubt that you were actually even receiving a
true 10V off the batteries, probably more like 9.2V is customary, which
is way too low.

6)  Keep working the scope but do so conservatively....it is ready to go
and should be working very well for you with some proper voltage!

Enjoy!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Re: ETX 125
Sent:	Tuesday, May 22, 2001 12:24:58
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	David
OPTICS:  if you are getting a uniform Airy disk around a medium-bright
star then your optics are great; turn it a bit out of focus and look at
the "donut" shape....if the dark center is centered against the bright
Airy pattern, then your collimation is excellent.  Be sure and use a
night of very steady air and high power; the star should be nearly
overhead for your test;

MECHANICS:  put the scope on Arcturus right now and center at medium
high power; go off and let it track for about 15 minutes and look at the
drift. If the RA is tracking well, you should see some minor drift
east-west, but not much.  If it drifts North-South, then your alignment
is off and has nothing to do with the scope's motors.  A little eastward
drift is normal.

TRIPOD:  The #883 tripod is NOT adequate for the ETX 125; a lot of
problems in vibration prevent you from enjoying the perfect optics of
these scopes. You can stabilize a bit by adding some weight (about 10
pounds) right in the center where the eyepiece "table" is located.  This
will add much stability, but you will still get vibrations.  I suggest
saving your $$ and working toward the wonderful #887 tripod and adapter
kit from Meade.  Best investment you will ever make!

Good luck and thanks for writing!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
Dear Clay,

I enjoyed your review and field test of the 125 on Weasner's site.

I have had my 125 for @ 18 months but am unsure whether my scope is
running perfectly.  I don't have the Autostar since I want to be a
purest but it can get very trying, especially when a cool evening
decreases patience.

I can make out the "Airy" disc around stars before perfect focus so I
assume it's collimated decently.  However, I do have the 883, and also
think it falls short.

My questions are:

1) Could you offer any test tips which I can perform to see if my scope
is running, focusing,... adequately?

2) Do you have any tips as to how I could add stability to my 883
tripod?  (I did put rubber feet on each leg)

Any info or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Clay, and keep looking up.

David
Mike here: I would add that NOT extending the tripod leg extensions at all helps a LOT with stability with the ETX-125EC.

And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - I totally agree and it also affords - as you have said so many
times in the past - a most comfortable height for sitting while
observing as well; in my opinion the #883 tripod is risky at best on the
ETX 125, but extending the legs is really dangling that 17-pound jewel
on the end of a thin chain.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	re: problem with new ETX125
Sent:	Wednesday, May 16, 2001 21:38:24
To:	joeblevins@hotmail.com
I saw your note on Mike's site, and remember from the dim and
dusty archives that there have been a (very) few reports of
Meade having assembled the telescope with the internal battery
wiring -backwards- (plus to minus and vice-versa).

You may have that case.

IF your dealer was local, i'd scurry over and try an in-store swap.
Otherwise, it's off to Meade...

(well, there is the "open and look" or "try an AC adapter instead
of battery" test sequence we could wander through... but who knows
what (if backwards wiring is the case) got fried?
Some folks -have- successfully resurrected their scopes (one by
simply inserting the batteries backwards... NOT recommended without
other testing to demonstrate that such is indeed the problem.)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Problem with a New ETX-125
Sent:	Monday, May 14, 2001 19:42:39
From:	joeblevins@hotmail.com (Joe Blevins)
Nope, the light does not come on.  And nothing appears on the
Controller. No power at all.

I am going to return it for Warranty Service tomorrow if I can't get it
working.  I already have my RGA# number.

Joe
----- Original Message -----
> In article <8iFL6.10457$Pp1.4644643@typhoon.southeast.rr.com>,
>  "Joe Blevins"  wrote:
>
> > Help,
> >
> > I just opened my new ETX-125.  I know NOTHING about telescopes so please
> > forgive me if I say something stupid.
> >
> > I opened it up and put the batteries in.  But i can't get it to power on.  I
> > am using new batteries and yes I did put them in right.  I locked the
> > telescope like the instructions said.
> >
> > Does anyone have any ideas?
> >
> > Joe
>
> Does the LED on the base come on when you flip the switch on?  Do you
> have the Autostar?  Does its display come on?
>
> Mike Weasner

Subject:	Introduction
Sent:	Monday, May 14, 2001 10:51:27
From:	rdenis@lucent.com (Denis, Ronald J (Ronald)** CTR **)
I have just discovered your site on the web and was excited to see a
place for discussing the ETX 125.

I purchased the ETX 125 yesterday.  This is my first telescope (been
wanting one since I was a child).  I was wondering if you could suggest
any web sites, news groups, etc. where complete novices could go to
begin to learn about astronomy in general and using the ETX 125
specifically?

Ron Denis 
E-mail : rdenis@lucent.com
Consultant
Lucent Technologies Inc.
Mike here: There are many general astronomy sites on the web. Many are linked from the Astronomy Links page on my ETX site. And of course, don't forget your local library as a source of good books on astronomy. As to using your ETX, you've found the best place to begin ONCE you've read and understood the manual and then have practiced using your new telescope.

Subject:	ETX 125 Tuneup by Clay Sherrod
Sent:	Monday, May 14, 2001 9:14:36
From:	charless@turbopower.com (Charles A. Suscheck)
I just had my ETX125 tuned up by Clay Sherrod.

I wouldn't have known what to do.  I'm really glad I sent it to him.

The RA was in poor shape even though it was a new scope.  The worm gears
were binding against each other and the whole unit was swimming in
grease.

Clay did a fine job of fixing the problems and now the scope is pretty
darn good.

I'd recommend his service to anyone who gets and ETX125.  No one should
perform open heart surgery on oneself nor should anyone dig into the 125
without being very familiar with it.

Dr. Charles Suscheck, Ph.D.

Subject:	Re: ETX Blast Off
Sent:	Wednesday, May 2, 2001 02:44:32
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Murray
Just came in from a full night of less-than-ideal observing, but good
nonetheless.  Gathering some "field looks" for my upcoming constellation
Guide for Lyra!  Did a nice sketch of M-57, the Ring Nebula.

I will go out on a limb and suggest that you go ahead and download the
v2.2ed firmware from Meade and upgrade.  With the ETX scopes (I am
getting ready to do another complete upload to my LX 90) including my
own ETX 125, the new version really appears to be VERY good....no
problems with the ETX like I, and many others, have reported with the LX
90.  Regarding your "rubber banding," this new v2.2ed seems to pretty
much eliminate it....and make your GO TO's a LOT more accurate.

If I were you I would go ahead and do it....can't hurt, as you a can
always reload v2.1ek if you need to!

Remember to go back and edit in your tours, comets, asteroids,
satellites, etc.  Dick Seymour has suggested that....if you simply leave
the scope and upload alone long enough....it will completely load all
the ephemerides and perhaps even your user data as well.  I am fixing to
find out if that does work.

Great that you are having such success with the scope.  By the way, the
26mm + barlow is giving you about 152x with your ETX 125.  Great for the
moon and double stars, but a "bit" too much maybe for deep sky.

Keep us posted!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Murray
    Clay,  I finally got everything working tonight for a quick look at
    the stars.   Mechanics on the scope were just great--no slop in
    either DEC or RA.  Minimum clamping required.  Setting circle went
    right from "0" to my lat. at Polaris with only one degree (32
    degrees vs 31) slippage.

    Tracked Castor for about 25 minutes (time to make and drink a cup of
    coffee inside with the wife) with 26mm and a 2X shorty barlow, and
    though not centered, was well inside the EP FOV when I looked back. 
    Very satisfactory especially since I used the ALT/AZ mode tonight.

    The optics were just fantastic.  Resolved Castor [I never knew she
    was a binary--checked  in my atlas on Starry Night Backyard and sure
    enough]   Worked on the Moon for a couple of hours and really
    enjoyed the contrast and the sharpness [ same EP setup- don't know
    the mag just yet] not to mention the landscape itself.  Felt like I
    could see the American flag is I just knew were to look!  Almost
    anyway.

    The GO-TO  was a little less than satisfactory considering the reset
    and retrain  off of Polaris I did just before the Easy alignment
    --No Kochab Clock tonight--in Alt/AZ mode also but the scope only
    put the object/star in the Finder Scope's FOV and not the 26mm on
    the Scope (no Barlow).

    LOTS of rubber banding in the DEC and some overrun in the Slew in
    the RA.  The DEC was really a lot worse as the night wore on. 
    Difficult to use the Barlow and keep the Star in the FOV.  Read your
    comments on the 2.2ed "upgrade" and will just wait until you have
    time to review before I do anything.  I have 2.1ek you remember--you
    helped me download the silly thing.

    Clay, since I don't intend to use anything but polar mode it's no
    big deal for me on the rubber banding but I would like to know if
    anyone comes up with a "fix", but Mead's 2.2ed  doesn't sound like
    the one I'm looking for.  Mead's electric focuser leaves a little to
    be desired.  Fast and faster is right  and no manual if it quits. 
    JMI has a new "better" focuser out, but like a refrigerator that's
    working you usually keep what you have until it quits.

    The nite's results were very rewarding for me and the help I got,
    from you mostly, and the others made it possible.  I have really
    enjoyed tuning the little scope and with a little work on the
    autostar it will be "the perfect ETX".  I agree wholeheartedly with
    you on the optics of this little scope.  I attended 5 monthly star
    parties here and did a lot of research on all type of scopes and I
    firmly believe the ETX is the best scope out there for even double
    the money.

    P.S.  Downloaded your Constellations series and I will study all
    four articles.  Three ring binder coming up--with indexes yet.

    No need for a reply--you must be really busy now that you are
    retired.  I was just excited about the results and never had to
    experience the bad stuff thanks to your Maintenance Tips.
    
    Murray

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