ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject: Question: ETX-125EC focus Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 11:34:15 From: email@example.com (Joe Lee) Mike, I hope you don't tire of all the thanks your readers express for your efforts on the very "Mighty ETX Site". Information you compile and put on the website from your own experience and that of countless readers has been a tremendous guide that held my hand as I took my first steps into the world of astronomy with the etx. What a fantastic place, thanks! I just received the etx125ec, yippie! -Scope looks good out of the box. -All baffles attached and in position. -Christmas tree ornament test reveals good collimation. -Resolution test: small ruler placed 110ft away from etx125ec, using 9.7mm ep and 2x barlow (390x), I could see the 1/64 inch markings on the ruler. Wow! That is about 0.16 arc-sec resolved (if my calcs are right). Impressive.. -Image shift while focusing: less than 1/4 fov (ota horiz) Mother nature has thus far only allowed me a single small window descent night viewing but during that time.... Saturn, Jupiter, Moon and Orion Nebula - incredible. A significant increase in the level of detail over the etx90ec. I am happy I switched to the 125. Warning to new etx125 users: if moving scope from warm indoors to cool outdoors there will be thermal turbulence that REALLY dIsTOrT your images. My scope needs about 45 minutes to stabilize (much more time than the etx90). ----- I do have a question about the focus on the 125. Manual states that "Near Focus" should be about 15ft. The nearest I can get this scope to focus is about 41 feet (tried with all my eyepieces). Is this a symptom of the recent fixes to the 125 by Meade or is this a defect? I also noticed that when the ota is pointing straight up, the focus shaft exhibits a significant amount of play and up to 1/4 turn "dead spot" while focusing in and out. I need to wait for a clear night to see if this causes increased image shift and focus drift. The problem does not occur when the ota is parallel to the ground or pointing downward. Has anyone else experienced this? or, again, does it look like a defect? If another etx125ec owner could check these focus issues on their scope and tell me the results - that would be great. Thanks, -Joe (firstname.lastname@example.org)Mike here: I just checked my loaner -125 and there is a difference in tension on the focus knob in the vertical vs horizontal position. Like you, I'll have to wait to get it outside to see what the operational impact of this is, if any. As to near focus, I don't have a manual. Could that really be 15 meters instead of feet?
Thanks for the quick response. I double checked the manual regarding the near focus specification. It indeed says: 15ft (4.6m). It has been raining here but the skies partially cleared last night for about 45 minutes which gave me a chance to bring the new etx125 out, point the ota almost straight up to an overhead star and test the focus. Unfortunately the following is what I found: 1) there was over a 1/4 turn "dead spot" in the focus shaft making fine focus difficult 2) about have fov image shift while focusing using 9.7mm ep 3) excessive radial play in the focus shaft while focusing in and out Big bummer, especially since the optics looked so good. I have decided to try and exchange this scope for another 125 because for $1000, these quirks are not acceptable. The near focus being so far out of spec is also suspicious. Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on a fully operational scope before Christmas.
Subject: Piggyback adapter for ETX-125EC Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 16:26:41 From: email@example.com (Method (Joseph Barti)) First off Great site!!! I'm getting my ETX 125 tomorrow and found your site a great source of tips and such ... I was interested in the JMI Piggyback for my coming ETX, but cannot find any sites that are selling it. Can you please lead me in the right direction as to any online shops that might be selling this product? Any help would be appreciated ... Thanks!!! -JoeyMike here: You can purchase it directly from JMI at their web site: http://www.jimsmobile.com/. Scopetronix (http://www.scopetronix.com) also sells one.
Subject: ETX-125 Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 10:47:27 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Philip Short) I've read the criticisms of the ETX-125 by some of the readers on your site. I, just like them, was quite concerned by the early reports of problems with this scope. I decided to stick with it and did not cancel my order from May 1999. I received my scope about a month ago and have had nothing but enjoyment out of it. I found the collimation was fine, the tracking excellent, the rigidity of the scope was fine, and I am a bit confused by the complaints of motor noise. I have had a number of people observe through my scope and have specifically asked them to comment on the noise. They and I noted no annoying motor noises that detracted from the viewing exprience. The focus has been smooth. I initially had the Meade deluxe field tripod and while I was happy with this I was concerned about reports regarding the unreliability of the leg clamps and so I got the JMI Wedgepod and this is a nice solid mount for the scope. I also have the Autostar and found it to be reliable, with easily over half the objects in the 26mm eyepiece field of view and the rest within the finders field of view. I am running version 1.1j and plan to upload 1.3c, which I already have in my PC, as soon as I get my #505 cables from Astronomics. I would recommend to your readers that they read as much as they can both in the document sent with the Autostar and the online manual from Meade to get the most from the Autostar. I think it is good that there are two choices for moderately priced 5 inch goto scopes, and I am sure the N5 is a good product. I just thought it would be good for your readers to know that my experience with the ETX-125 has been a joy and to realize that most of the correspondence you receive is from a selected population, who are mostly people who are having trouble with their scopes and are asking for help. Would I recommend the ETX-125 to anyone? I already have, to a number of friends who are looking for a great goto visual scope. Would I buy an ETX-125 again? In a heart beat. Keep up the good work Mike! Clear Skies, Philip Short
Subject: How does one tell if the ETX is a corrected one? Sent: Sunday, November 28, 1999 22:00:48 From: email@example.com (Louis Chesler) I got an ETX 125 on 11/24/99 and noticed that it has a couple of the problems that people have been mentioning, that were supposed to have been fixed in the new 125 scopes. This one was advertised on the site for the store that supplied it to me as "one of the new and revamped ones". I have noticed that there is a focusing shift and also that the gears are noisy, other than that, the Autostar I got with it had version 1.1 software on it, which makes me suspicious that both pieces of equipment may be old. How do I verify that the instrument is a newer "corrected" version? Thanks, lou ------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Chesler 1223 Lattie Lane, Mill Valley, CA 94941 (415) 388-5065 phone/fax firstname.lastname@example.org -------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Best Place to Buy a Meade ETX125EC Sent: Sunday, November 28, 1999 08:58:30 From: email@example.com (Tim McBrayer) I am the father of two little girls: agest 7 and 10. I am interested in purchasing a Meade ETX125EC because I think it has the best combination of quality/features/price/ease of use and portability. The accessories I want to buy with the telescope are the autolocator, the t-mount for a Cannon 35mm camera the hard carrying case and the tripod. Because funds are limited can you suggest the best places to shop on line in terms of price and reputation for good service. I would be very appreciative of any help you can provide. Obviously, this is a family Christmas item. Do you kow if the 125 will be available by Christmas? Tim McBrayerMike here: Most dealers do not discount the ETX-125EC. Demand is too high. However, some dealers do have sales which can apply to the ETX line. I suggest you try the various dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page. Availability may vary by dealer.
Subject: ETX125 Sent: Saturday, November 27, 1999 07:15:14 From: KKurber025@aol.com I purchased 125 model, already having owned a 90ec. I was taken back by the size of this thing in the box, its definitely much larger than the 90 which I had been using. I hooked up my autostar and set it on a strong table befre trying a heavy tripod. The GOTO worked very well, almost dead on every time, for a scope that size I was impressed by that. There were a couple of things I didnt like however...one was the noise. I have read much about Meade making these more quiet than the 90ec, but I didnt see much difference. A different pitch, but still enough to get the dogs around my neighborhood barking. The second thing was the shakiness due to the motors.....it creates a real nice light show at times due to vibration. If you turn the motors off, stars appear out of nowhere! Or they sort of pop inand out hwile viewing, which can be irritating. The optics are vey good quality, but that doesnt seem to offset the views that change rapidly due to vibration. Putting it on a VERY stable tripod helps..I have an LX10 tripod I put it on, but it still gets shaky here and there. After using it for a period, I came to a conclusion that my 90ec seemed alot more stable, and the images seem just as crisp...just cant see as much with the smaller scope. So, for a scope that size in the price range its in...I think I will stick with my 8" sct and my 90ec. Sold the 125 and am now looking at the Nexstar as a replacement for the 90ec. Since I have only owned Meade products up to now and have been happy with them for the most part...I think maybe what I have read about the Celestron model...it seems a better value for the money. I had a couple as of late run ins with Meade Customer Service that are starting to make me think they do not care much about the consumers, it did not used to be that way with them. But for the meantime I will stick with my trusty 90 and my 8" sct and when I get the Nextstar I can see if Celestron is really any better or if this is all just a preference argument between the 2! Thanks for a great site Mike, I really appreciate the job you do here! Keith
Subject: ETX and Nextstar Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 21:06:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I have been reading this site for a long time now trying to decide which scope to buy, either a ETX125 or a Nextstar. I have owned 3 meade telescopes already and my current scope is a ETX90 (a great scope). I hate to say it but due to the quality control problems listed here about the 125 and other sites too, my brother and I both canceled our orders for the ETX125 and bought the Nextstar from a local place in town (Orlando Fla.) I have to admit I was concerned about the single arm mount of the Nextstar but it is solid as a rock. I know this is not a Nextstar site we are both vary impressed with this scope, rugged, quite, and built to last. There is a lot of plastic on the ETX125 which concerned me. Both my brother and I are engineers and we did a reading on everything we could find about both scopes, electrically and mechanically. In are opinion the Nextstar is a better built scope. I can expect to take this scope out in 10 years and it will work as well as it does today. Well enough about that. I did some comparisons between the ETX90 and the Nextstar. As expected the Nextstar is brighter and has better resolution but the ETX help up its own very well. This is why I decided to keep the ETX90 as my portable scope and use the Nextstar for more serious viewing. The size of the Nextstar in not exactly what I would call all that portable however still small enough to put on my night stand (next to my ETX90). Views of Jupiter, saturn and moon were very good with this scope. Deep sky objects were hard to see due to light pollution since I live in the city. Accuracy of the scope was impressive. It, so far, has always put the object in the field of view of the 25mm eye piece. Set up easy and I purposely did not read the manual on this section to see if I could do it just by the instruction on the hand controller. No problem, worked the first time out. Collimination was right on. If I had any drawbacks on the Nextstar it would be that the firmware/data base is not stored in Flash memory. Also Meade has a lot more bells and whistles in there firmware which I would like to see in the Nextstar. But then again Celestron did a good job for the first time out with this product.
Subject: Re NexStar 5 Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 12:34:03 From: email@example.com I have been reading your site regularly for a number of months. It prompted me to purchase a 125 after the initial fix of the the many QC problems. My "fixed" 125 turned out to still be out of collimation and soooo noisy. So I traded it in on a NexStar 5. I still read your site because it just has a lot of good information for amateurs. I've noticed a number of questions from people about the NexStar. I have used mine for about a month now and here are some observations that may be useful to those considering both telescopes. My NexStar was purchased from a local astronomy shop in Houston. It has the original software 6-12-12-6. Celestron Says they will make upgrades available as soon as there are enough changes to make it meaningful. The scope weighs about the same as the 125, but being the owner of an excellent Meade 10" 2120 the weight isn't an issue (my 10" weighs ini at about 65 pounds). Sturdiness: The NexStar is built! You can "feel" the quality of metal used throughout. Nothing feels flimsy about it. The focus is smooth as butter. I use an old tripod or just set it on a picnic table. There are no shakes from focusing or bumping the scope with a nose or hat brim. (bump the tripod is another story). There is "0" image shift even at 250 or 300 power. Noise: the NexStar is very quiet compared to the 125. When slewing it is much quieter softer sound and tracking the NexStar sounds like a cat purring. I was really disappointed with the noise level of the 125... it made our dog bark... in the house! GoTo: You don't have to train the NexStar. It was ready to go out of the box. I set it on my picnic table (not level at all) let it select two stars for alignment and began asking it to go to M objects and NGCs. They were in the eyepiece FOV every time! It still works the same, night after night that I use it. You may find this hard to believe, but it is none-the-less true, I often use a 15mm with a 2X barlow (thats about 170 power) and usually leave it in place when slewing to a new object and the object is in the eyepiece FOV almost every time. You can also select 2 stars that you want to align to if you prefer. You can do a "third" star alignment if your observing session is long (that just lets you replace an existing alignment star). I like the computer hand control having "list" buttons so you can just push, say NGC and it allows you to enter the number and push enter and off goes the scope, quietly and effectively finding the object. Oh yes, I read people talking about the "below the horizon" issue. That is the NexStar will slew to objects below the horizon. If you are not sure the object is visible all you have to do is push the "info" button and it will tell you how high above the horizon the object is... that is very useful to me because of trees and houses around my backyard. I know if the object isn't between two numbers on the altitude above horizon readout I would not be able to see them. So far me it is pretty neat. Also the readout will tell you how far below the horizon some object is so you can determine how long it will be before it is visible (objects move at about 15 degrees per hour accross the sky) If you push the up or down buttons after the info button you get information (varying amounts) on every object in any data base or list. Optics: I can't say much about the 125 optics, mine was out of collimation and that would not represent what it can do. I am sure, however, based on comments from users on your site that the 125, if collimated precisely has the great optics a Mak is famous for having. Wish I would have had the chance to see it. The NexStar I received was out of collimation out of the box as well. Not a big deal at all on a Schmidt-Cass. The provided allen wrench took it to perfect collimation in about 5 minutes. Just a note on collimation... it is critical in any telescope. There is a huge difference between good collimation and perfect collimation in what you see. Especially true when viewing planets. So take the time to do it right, or if you can't collimate, like with the 125, look critically at the collimation at very high power and if it isn't perfect then send it back! The views through the NexStar are great. Jupiter is crisp and sharp at high powers (200X, and even at 280X when the seeing is steady) I see color in the planet and cloud belts, festoons, spots, several bands and shading. Tracked a moon transit as well. Saturn's rings have shading and the cassini division is sharp and black all the way around the planet. Shading and ring shadow is clear. Both of the clusters of the double cluster fit beautifully in the provided 25 mm eyepiece, but my 32mm sets them apart from the rest of the sky (darkness around them) even better. I enjoy double stars and have split the double-double in Lyra easily. and have split (at really high power) a 1" double in Perseus (just about the limit for a 5") so I am very happy with the optics of this telescope. Red Dot Finder: Simply put, I love it. I have used Telrad red circle finders for years, so this was easy for me to use. I love the Telrad, except it is so large... just not esthetically pleasing. The red dot on the NexStar is the right size for the scope and works great. The hand controller even flashes to remind you to turn it off after you have aligned since you won't need it while slewing from object to object. I have not done a goto that the object wasn't somewhere in the eyepiece FOV. Overall: I guess you can tell, I really like this telescope. It does everything it is advertised to do and does it, in my experience, very well. I would buy it again in a heartbeat. I am sure that a 125 owner that has one without bugs would probably say the same thing about their scope. Note that I opted to buy the 125 first. I just got bummed out by the collimation problems and the noise... and frankly, I didn't like the plastic very much. But isn't it great that two major telescope companies have produced two different telescopes at the high quality level of the 125 and NexStar and you and I have the chance to choose between them. Thanks for a great astronomy site, I am a fan of yours if not the 125 DanO
Subject: 125 & N5 yet again! Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 07:24:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary) I've just read some additional questions on your site asking about the N5 over the 125, etc. - I do read the N5 message board religiously (not as a spy, there are germaine issues to both scopes such as power, objects, etc.). For the most part, what I've seen on the N5 board is that the scope is generally well made, tracks well, and the users are generally pleased. It also seems to eat batteries voraciously. On the negative side, I've read where MANY of the scopes occasionally have minds of their own - they'll slew continuously, lock up, etc. Some people thought it had to do with software revisions, others thought it was the external power supply, whether the contacts were loose, etc. I think it's still unresolved - for the most part, it seems even those with scopes that occasionally act up still love their scopes. Once in a while, I've read someone gets a scope that doesn't work right out of the box, whether a motor problem, or loose parts inside (these posts are rare). From what I've read, I think the N5 is probably a better made scope, however that lack of software upgradability is a real concern (at least to me) - at least 2 users confirmed that at least one messier object had incorrect coordinates, and the early versions of the software did not include the moon - external computer control (once drivers are written) should take care of those problems, but the inability to upgrade the controller has really caused me to wonder about that route. Regardless, I wanted to point out that although the meade users are not alone in manufacturer's flaws with their scopes. Personally, given the choice between the meade's flaws and the N5's, if I had to do it again I'd choose an N5 unhesitatingly. Hope this was informative, Gary
Subject: In the holiday spirit... Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 08:06:41 From: Vincent.Nagy@gianteagle.com (Nagy, Vince) I've made a few very interesting associations since following your site, and have learned more than I could have imagined! In thanks would like to possibly help someone out. I've come across a new unsold etx-125 at a local store (Natural Wonders ph 412 369-7227 ask for Susan). With availability what it is I thought someone might appreciate hearing about this. Unfortunately they have only 1 (as of 11/23)! Have you ever considered a new section of your site.. "sighted in stores".. might help people get theirs for Christmas. By the way, I have no affiliation with the store at all, just happened to have an open eye. Happy Holidays to all, and happy viewing! Vince
Subject: RE: I'm about to buy a 125EC, BUT. Should I get the N5? Couple of questions. Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 03:44:30 From: email@example.com (Neuringer, Jeremy) I'm glued to your site every day looking at all the comments on the various ETX's . Many not too flattering, especially about the drive. Seems that there are no complaints about the optics. Is the drive really that unreliable, and can anything be done about it (with confidence)? Any chances of sneak preview (your second look comments) about comparing this specific issue with the Nexstar 5? (as opposed to the 125EC).. Who win's in the optics (after you adjust for focal length difference).? Also, I wonder if someone who has influence at Meade reads the comments made on your site on a regular basis. Perhaps these drive issues are something that can be addressed in subsequent models? Jeremy NeuringerMike here: No sneak previews at this time. Remember, normally complainers yell louder than non-complainers. The drive does its job. Could it be better? Of course, but then the scope would cost more. Would the extra cost be worth it for a 90mm model? Meade does check the site.
Subject: help me understand Sent: Monday, November 22, 1999 17:12:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (nelson) I know i have an order for an ETX-125EC, but what do you think about the LXD 500, do you think is better than the ETX for planetary and galaxy, stars & nebulas viewing. The price right now is 895.00 and it looks like a good deal, except it does not carry a computer like the ETX. Please let me know if what i am thinking is not a good idea and i should stay and wait for the ETX-125EC. Thanks, p.s. you had been a great help for me, thanks again.........Mike here: I have no experience with the LXD500; perhaps someone else will respond. You could also post your message on the MAPUG mailing list or the alt.telescope.meade newsgroup.
Subject: Hi Mike Sent: Monday, November 22, 1999 17:03:42 From: email@example.com (Robb) When you planning on giving us another article about the 125 scope? I didn't think your first one covered much.. perhaps a little more in depth, personal opinions on improving the scope, etc. Im considering buying it, or the Nexstar. The only reason the Nexstar has not already been purchased is the fact that its database is not software upgradeable. The only reason I havent bought the 125, is that its build more poorly then the Nexstar. Critisisms from sites your likes motive manufacturers to make improvements in their products. -RobbMike here: I'm still working with the ETX-125EC and the NexStar5. Right now I can't say when I'll be posting the report. Depends upon the weather and my time. I'm hoping for around mid-December however.
Oh well, I'll be awaiting :^) Remember that your webpage is influencial, as its probably the single most read ETX webpage out there... Use it to push both companies to improve upon their products... PS, I like the site. I read it daily. I fully support your suggestion to meld it into the "small telescope site". Maybe initially start with an opening page that either forwards you to the ETX, the Nexstar, the DS series, the baby Dobs, the Tascos-n-Bushnells, etc Or something like that... twould be cool.
Subject: Re: ETX-90EC vs ETX-125EC Sent: Sunday, November 21, 1999 17:35:26 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Applegate) Thanks Mike....the site is truly a godsend for a rookie astronomer! Here's where I'm at with all this right now... I need to transport a scope to be able to do most viewing. Backyard has very limited sky due to close proximity of tress...etc. Like the sound of not dealing with tripod setups and such....so putting a scope on a solid base such as a birdbath base and punching in an object sounds great. To just find and look at objects in some fashion of impressive detail is really what I want. Not interested in extended tracking or astrophotography although I would use it for terrestrial viewing on occasion. Had an import 4" and was bummed out by tiny objects in fuzzy detail. Like the price and portability of the ETX-90EC...but really want to be able to get detailed planetary views of some size..so I'm afraid I'll only get the same tiny view of distant planets with the 90 and lose all the detail when cranking up the power. I like the ETX-125EC especially after reading your comparison review with the NexStar5. The increased focal length of the 125 would seem to offer a big advantage over the NexStar5 as long as the optics hold up at high power. The only reason I'm considering the NexStar5 is all the negative publicity on the 125 with quality control. Sounds like a crap shoot to get one without any problems. Although I haven't read NexStar5 reviews from sources that have put the scope thru it's paces (other than you're review which admitted lack of experience using the NexStar5). I'm sure you're tired of getting this same query from rookies agonizing over this but I do appreciate your input. But to reiterate...a good size, sharp, quality image is the bottom line to me. Also is there someplace I can see comparison images of a planet (say Saturn or Jupiter) thru the 90, 125 and NexStar5 at comparable power. This would really help me to view what I can really expect to see thru these scopes. Thanks again.Mike here: If possible, I suggest you wait for my second round of NexStar5 and ETX-125EC comparisons. That is currently in work. If you can't wait, then, as you pointed out, the longer focal length of the ETX-125EC does have its advantages. As to negative comments vs positive, note that there are also many positive comments from ETX-125EC users. Those with negative comments tend to scream louder (whether it is a Meade telescope or Microsoft software).
Subject: 90 & 125 Review Sent: Friday, November 19, 1999 10:52:26 From: email@example.com (Formisano, Paul) I just purchased the ETX125EC, and I've had it out three clear nights so far, side by side with the ETX90EC. Here are my observations. The 125 is too heavy for the thin plastic fork mount. Vibration with a 26mm eyepiece is OK, but focusing with a 9.7mm at 195X is difficult, and every time you bump the eyepiece against your face you get a "laser light show" effect. I mounted the scope on the Meade tripod in the lowest position so that I could observe sitting down, and that improved my ability to avoid bumping the eyepiece. I suppose an electric focuser would help to reduce focusing jiggle at least. I haven't used Autostar on the 125 yet, partly because it's tuned up for the 90 and is working perfectly now and I don't want to screw it up! By the way, if you're using the Meade tripod support plate, it's much easier if you tape the plate to the bottom of the 125 before you try and mount it. I placed my car battery on the eyepiece table to give the tripod extra stability with the top-heavy 125. Anyway, I set up the 125 in polar mode, and used the standard hand controller to turn on the tracking. With 8 half-spent AA batteries, the 125 was able to hold Saturn in the 9.7mm eyepiece for about a minute--since I had to correct about once a minute. On another night, with my car battery, it was absolutely perfect! I put Saturn in the eyepiece, then went inside to warm up while the scope cooled down (in the 30's outside). About 10 minutes later I went back outside and Saturn was still dead center! The 125 takes a lot longer to cool down than the 90. High powers are unusable until the 125 has been sitting outside for about an hour. Now onto the viewing -- The 125 was awesome with the moon in the 26mm eyepiece--breathtaking detail! I used a Meade neutral density filter because the image was so bright. In a side by side comparison with the 90, it was a substantial improvement in resolution. I really couldn't do a true comparison because the focal lengths differ and I don't have enough eyepieces to get the magnifications the same. Jupiter was also very good. Even with the moon nearby, the 125 gave enough detail to see 3 bands right away at 195X. Saturn: After the 125 had stabilized for at least an hour, I could make out the division in the ring and some barely visible banding on the planet. All in all, I spent more time looking through the 125. It's hard to go back to the 90 after experiencing the improved planetary views in the 125. So will I part with my 90? Probably not. It's very portable and a lot easier to set up because it's so lightweight, and vibration is a lot less than the 125. It's too bad Meade didn't make a better mount for the 125. Paul
Subject: ETX 125 EC Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 14:27:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Okubo) I e-mailed you a few weeks ago about the ETX 125 EC to let you know that we had them in stock. No less then a day after you posted my e-mail two readers called to place an order. I'm glad that I was able to help out a few fellow astronomers and sell a couple of telescopes at the same time. I'm e-mailing you once again to let you know that we have two more in stock and are receiving six more by next Friday 11/27/99. I attached a link to my webpage if you know of any one else who is in search of an ETX 125 EC. I've also attached a few pictures that I took over the last month. Thanks Again Michael Okubo http://home.earthlink.net/~okubosan/index.html www.naturalwonders.com Natural Wonders Roosevelt Field Mall Garden City, NY 11530 (516) 248-0642
Subject: Meade ETX 125EC / Autostar 1.3c Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 10:03:32 From: JBlomg@aol.com I was recently steered to your site by reading the file accompanying the Autostar 1.3c download. After reading several subscriber comments, I feel compelled to put in my nickel's worth. I have sufficient experience with Meade products to seriously question their quality control or lack thereof. My 4500 reflector was fun and had no optical defects, but I found several minor oversights to be quite annoying. I had to tighten, adjust, grind, and reshape various tripod and mounting components before all the slop was gone and the tube could be rotated easily enough for various eye positions. Something as simple as the r.a. and dec. set screws which collided with the adjusting mechanisms should never have left the factory. My second ETX 90 EC was also a lot of fun. The first 90 had to be returned almost immediately after I discovered a seized rear port cap. They use poorly machined aluminum-to-aluminum threads, which are extremely vulnerable to cross threading or binding. (I did not cross thread mine!) I also had to exchange an eyepiece which refused to accept the threads on my Oxy III filter. I see a potential similar problem with the front cap on the ETX's. I bought my 90 to fill the time I suspected it would take to sort out the problems with and deliver the ETX 125EC which I had on order. Actually I was surprised by quickly receiving one of the first 125's out, but like the first 90 it went right back with a secondary baffle rattling around loose all over the primary mirror. Good thing, after finding out about the other problems. Meade must have gotten their marketing ideas from Microsoft; promoting a product long before it has been debugged! My current version ETX 125EC arrived almost three months later. I have had little viewing time because of poor weather, but enough time tinkering with it to report a few observations. First of all, I had to manufacture my own "long enough" tripod mounting screws using hardware store components - a little problem, but annoying. Next, I countersunk the pre-drilled holes in the included "sandwich" plate, purchased appropriate length screws, removed the three base plate screws, and mounted the metal disc directly to the scope base. This is a minor inconvenience for battery changing, but does improve the mounting considerably. In the process of making the above modification, I couldn't help poking around inside the base to see why the Meade drive mechanisms don't appear to be as precise as those on the Nexstar. I am reporting only on the AZ drive, I haven't yet been into the Alt drive. The reduction gears in the base are made of plastic, but that shouldn't be a major problem. I think the final gearing is. The final gearing is a metal to metal worm drive, which is good. The worm drive gear has a funky spring clip at either end to minimize end play and to hold it in close contact to the driven AZ gear. This is also good. But the oversize holes which support the worm gear shaft allow the screw to walk slightly up and down the driven gear before any radial movement occurs. The result is backlash, particularly when reversing direction. This alone could explain inconsistencies reported with Autostar "go to's". The driven AZ shaft gear should have been considerably larger in diameter. This would increase the final drive "mechanical advantage" over the ball bearing preload and the heavy scope assembly. A larger AZ gear would also minimize the net resulting azimuth error from any play in the reduction gear and worm gear assembly. Of course, reprograming the electronics would have to be done for any changes in overall ratio. Again, I haven't looked at the Alt drive yet. Probably the same story there too. Oh, one tip; really tighten those drive clutches before doing alignment. The AZ clutch is as wimpy as the drive gear!! (I am hoping that some Meade engineers are monitoring your site.) Don't get me wrong. For the money, this scope is great and a lot of fun. I just think that Meade may blow it with the competition over obvious little oversights. Perhaps more attention to the mechanics and small details should be paid before some products are released. I am a mechanic by the way, not an optical engineer. I would gladly accept any Meade products for review. Hey Meade guys, how about an LX200 !! Great Website Mr. Weasner! JBlomg@aol.com
Subject: ETX-125 and Autostar Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 09:49:37 From: email@example.com (Ryan M. Flunker) I wrote you a few weeks ago thanking you for the web site and telling you that I had just received my new ETX-125. Now I am writing you about the first serious use of my 125+Autostar. My first impressions of the Autostar's performance were great. I slewed to Jupiter, Saturn, Andromeda, Orion Nebula, and a few other stars. In all of these cases Autostar placed the targets in "close to center" view of the fiewfinder, but not in the eye piece. I didn't feel that this was too bad; all I needed to do was center the object and I was all set. Alignment was fairly easy. I chose Easy Align in the Alt azimuth mode and the scope slewed to Capella and then to Rigel, pretty impressive I thought. The ETX's optical performance was superb. Jupiter was crisp and clear and Saturn's rings shown brightly in a lens of only 40mm. The greatest view of the night was the Orion Nebula, which I have never seen better, even with my light polluted skys. Andromeda was sadly about as good as I have seen in other telescope of lesser aperture, but I blame it on the light pollution. The only problem this night (other than a crappy leonid shower) was on a slew where the telescope moved to it's vertical limit and then kept on trying to move, but couldn't. I stopped it and tried another target; then it seemed to reach it's horizontal. limit and could not slew any further. Any suggestions? One more thing, could you explain to me or point me to where you have already explained it on how to check for collimation errors, or a Diffraction pattern in Resolving power? Thanks for your great site and your help. Clear skys here, Ryan FlunkerMike here: Search the site for "Christmas Tree Ornament Test" and you'll find this collimation tip. Also, there is a collimation tip on the Tech Tips page.
Subject: I'm about to buy a 125EC, BUT. Should I get the N5? Couple of questions. Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 1999 08:35:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Neuringer) This is my first telescope. I've seen a 90EC in action, and was impressed (negatively) by the noisy motors. I hear that the 125 is also noisy. I also hear the N5 is much quieter. Should I just get over this in view of the many other benefits of the 125? Is there anything one can do about the noise? Also, I'm interested mostly in direct viewing, (not photography at this point). I like planets and deep space objects such as nebulae etc equally. Is there a "contrast" issue I should be concerned about with the 125, or is it (in your opinion) great. Under what circumstances would you think I'd be better off with the N5? Many thanks for your help, Jeremy Neuringer email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: If you can wait, I'll be able to better answer your questions when I complete and post my updated comparisons.
I've decided to wait. Your help is much appreciated..
Subject: Doubts now about etx125 Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 1999 14:40:42 From: email@example.com (sydney turnbull) I live in Canada, Medicine hat Alberta and am just getting into ameture astronomy, i have at present a celestron c-90 mounted on a manfrotto heavy duty tripod, and Steiner 15x80 senator binoculars mounted on same. I have read all the reviews published by telescope dealers on the 125 and indeed was on the verge of putting a deposit down and trading in the c-90, then i stumbled on to your website. One more thing i also noticed that Meade has no information on the net on its "product" section. I had managed to find out that the early 125s had motor drive problems and was considered to be top heavy for the delux field tripod, but these problems were now supposedly corrected, also the dealer who i have contacted in Canada assured me that all was now well, so, after having spent most of the afternoon reading reports on your website i am now convinced that this would be a very risky investment to say the least, i am not a telescope expert nor an authority on astronomy but would like to have a good quality instrument that would provide me with an all round terrestrial and astro capability especially the "go to " autostar. There are obviously many problems here, wrong length mounting bolts, weak plastic fork arms, flimsy tripod, unreliable built in software on the atustar(1.1 as opposed to 1,3) lots of cases of out of colmination, noisy and not too reliable gear and drive systems, and worst of all numerous cases of damage due to poor packaging prior to shipping, and lots of customers having to return items and therefor being subject to lots of inconvenience. My conclusion is that anyone thinking of purchasing this item would be taking a hell of a risk, and what is more many people reported great difficulty in unpacking and basic set up, so imagine how a complete novice like me would feel by being confronted with these many and seemingly not to be rectified in the near future problems, it appears in this case that you "pay your money and take your chances" So now i think i will reconsider, and keep up the great work on your website, it has certainly given me food for thought Regards, S.TurnbullMike here: Actually, Meade does have info on the ETX-125EC on their web site. It is on the Products listing page.
Subject: 26MM Standard Eyepiece with ETX Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 1999 14:18:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clinton F. Gatewood) I just purchased the Meade ETX-125EC from The Nature Company. Although they had none in stock at that store, the store manager called many other affiliates and finally found one in Berkeley, CA. I received it the very next day, along with the hard case, via UPS. He was just as responsive with the accessories I ordered as well, as I received all of them the day after that. Great service!!! I am busy learning to use my new telescope, but the weather is not cooperating, so I am studying all of the literature and all of the websites I can find that relate to this line of telescopes. Thank you for establishing and maintaining this one. My one concern so far is why Meade includes an eyepiece that is not parfocal to the others in the line (and they don't tell you that up front), as this then requires multiple focus adjustments if the 26MM is used as the base eyepiece before jumping to greater magnifications. Have you encountered any rationale from Meade about this strange substitution, besides the rather lame references to esthetics in the Instruction Manual? Regards, Clint Gatewood E-Mail: email@example.comMike here: While I don't know the rationale for providing a non-parfocal EP, I assume it is related to wanting to keep the cost down for the ETX line.
Subject: ETX 125 EC First Views Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 1999 06:07:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brannon, Bob) What a wonderful Web site !! I've had a 10" Meade 2120 for 10 Years. It's a good scope, but not very portable For my 50th Birthday ( Nov. 10th ), My wife FOUND an ETX 125EC at a local " Natural Wonders " store. She knew I wanted a more portable scope. She purchased the Scope, Autostar, Field Tripod and Case !! What a surprise. The scope was built on Sept. 22, 1999. The Attaching screws for the tripod were not in the box--I contacted Mead and their " In the Mail ". The moon, Jupiter and Saturn are just GREAT. I'll admit I haven't given it a lot of time, But so far, everything to work very well. On Friday ( 11/12/99 ) I ordered the Cable and Tripod leg adapters from " Scopetronix " On Monday ( 11/15/99 ) They ARRIVED !!!! What GREAT SERVICE !!! I have questions regarding the Autostar Download Procedure. My version is 1.1. There does not seem to be a central area, with simple, step-by-step instructions. Some of the stories I've read seem like horrible experiences. If the download does not work--is the Autostar DEAD, or does it revert back to V 1.1 ? Are there TRUE reasons to Update ? In computers, Updating a working system, can, and often, leads to TROUBLE. I'll send in more feedback after I get my JMI moto focus, and SACII CCD camera. Thanks again for hosting a GREAT PLACE for info. Bob Brannon Bob.Brannon@owenscorning.comMike here: You should upgrade your Autostar. If anything goes wrong you'll be able to put it into SAFE LOAD mode and redo the download. Check the README for details but it should just work.
Subject: updated feedback on ETX125-Nextstar 5 review Sent: Monday, November 15, 1999 12:46:33 From: email@example.com (Skinner, Glenn) Having been one of the people arguing against the objectivity and conditions of your first review. I wanted to say that you did an excellent job handling the issue. You objectively and professionally posted opinions both pro and con and reserved your personal opinions for you new editorial page. Although my opinion of the first review itself has not changed, your handling of the issue has restored my faith in the objectiveness of your site. I am glad Meade has loaned you the two review scopes so you can review them under different conditions. I look forward to reading that review. Glenn SkinnerMike here: I'm still working with the ETX-125EC. Will start on the NexStar5 soon. Celestron is considering my request for a loaner from them.
Subject: 90 vs. 125 Sent: Monday, November 15, 1999 09:26:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary) Just thought I'd drop a note on a slightly different tangent - I had been drooling over the proposed 125 since I read on your sight around March that the Autostar mentioned a 125, and your review absolutely convinced me that's the scope to get (I had back luck with my 3 90s - Autostar never did it's thing, slop, etc.). I felt the improved light gathering would be welcome, and the brochure/web info from Anacortes Bird indicated some specs, includind increased magnification over the 90 - in general, I think the formula is on the order of 50 times apeture size in inches, which in itself would be useless for stars, but more beneficial for nebula, etc., and especially planets. The 125 feels like a much more substantial scope, and I do like the ball bearings version non on at least one drive axis. I've only taken the 125 out once (bad weather and bad scheduling make for just plain bad stargazing!) I'm in very light polluted skies (New York) and do intend to drag the scope to dark skies when time permits. I'm not sure what benefit I'll experience regarding light gathering in my light polluted skies. When I viewed jupiter, I was almost blinded (ok, exageration) and I do intend to crank up the power for saturn on a clear night. In all, this seems to be a long winded way of saying I think the 90 did a fine job for what it is, and it is MUCH MORE portable, in my opinion (mind you, with the 90, I took the Dosckocil Seal Tight Extra Large case, my tripod in a bag (which now won't close because of additiona clamps, but still servicable), the scopetronix power supply, and a soft case which held the tripod tray (poor design!), lenses, Nightwatch, charts (never used in the dark!!!), flashlights, and my rabbitt's foot (still hasn't gotten autostar to work right!!!) I'm deciding if I shoudl sell my Doskocil case (paid about $70, figure worth about $50), or if I should pick up a 90 RA one of these days, for when portability is more important than autostar/light gathering. Basically, my warning/opinion to the users of the site is to consider size requirements when considering the 125 over the 90 - it really is funny how SIZE INCREASES DRAMATICALY WITH APETURE! I don't regret getting the 125 - it's still 4 cases for me to take when going to a site, however I don't think I could fit myself and 3 people in the car when bringing the 125, as I could have with the 90. I have no doubt as I leave the Newbie stage I'll apprecate seeing fainter objects, however right at this moment I think it might be more scope than I need (mind you, if there was a 7 inch ETX I'd probably be on the waiting list....) Happy slewing, Gary
Subject: Feedback ETX 125EC Sent: Friday, November 12, 1999 17:41:12 From: email@example.com (Michael L. Turney) Well after taking for so long from this web site it is time to give something back. Received my ETX 125EC about a month or so ago and reported then the optics are superb and collimation dead on. For the price of the scope I believe it is of very high quality and I am very satisfied. I was manually guiding the planets at first and had not yet used the features of the Autostar. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to train the drives and use the tracking and Go To feature of the Autostar and here is what I have experienced. After pointing the scope north, leveling the tripod, placing scope in home position and setting the optical tube assembly (OTA) to zero I proceeded with the Easy Align function for Alt/Az. After I was prompted that Alignment was successful I attempted to Go To Jupiter, Saturn and some other obvious targets in the sky buy none of them even came close. Only occasionally would they even be near the edge of the view in the view finder and of course not once in the eyepiece. I decided to download the newest version of the Autostar software 1.3C since my Autostar had come loaded with version 1.1. To my frustration I had the same difficulty finding objects. Convinced the problem was with the way I was setting things up I resolved to nail everything down before proceeding to search out objects with the Autostar. I retrained the drives a third time. (I had retrained them for the second time immediately after loading version 1.3C). I made sure the tripod was ABSOLUTELY level. I used a compass to point the scope almost EXACTLY at the north star and I readjusted the declination circle calibration by using a bubble level to set the OTA EXACTLY to 0 degrees level. The results were quite different this time finding objects. After going through the Easy Align process I was able to center many objects almost in the center of the eyepiece and often when using a 15mm eyepiece. It was a glorious experience as I slumped back in my chair and scrolled through the data base, finding something interesting, asking the Autostar to tell me a little about it and then pushing Go To and having the object come into view in the eyepiece. It was wonderful. Last night I decided to repeat the experience and followed the same procedures as previous except I hadn't retrained the drives again since all the slewing since last time. Unfortunately I got results closer to my first experience with the Autostar. Objects would USUALLY come into the field of view of the viewfinder but not always. Never in the eyepiece. For the life of me except for not retraining the drives again I still am bewildered why. Next time out I will retrain beforehand and see what happens. Sooner or later I will figure it out. A side note. With advice from Jim Berry I took a couple of Color QuickCam shots of Saturn last night. As most of you know Jim's pictures are the "standard" by which all photos should be measured. Well, though my picture of Saturn doesn't even come close to Jim's it was a fun first effort and am including it to demonstrate to first timers like me what's possible and to thank JIM. Camera was a modified Logitech Color QuickCam set in the eyepiece of the 125 without a barlow lens. Isn't this fun stuff.
Subject: eyepieces Sent: Thursday, November 11, 1999 06:40:21 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Smith) I have a 125 EC and love it have had no prblems whatso ever with it but that 1900mm is hard to buy eyepieces for. was wondering what powers you recommmend for viewing with the 125 EC (I have a sirrus 10mm and 17mm and a meade 26mm and a rini 52) I was looking for good quality low price eyepieces. (arent we all) I already have a 52mm rini and like it alot for big stuff like pleades But saw that rini now makes a 13mm 82 Degree FOV and sieber also makes lower prie eyepieces just not sure if they are worth the savings not sure how much quality i give up please help me with this conflict thanx mark ===== _/ _/ _/_/_/_/_/ _/_/_/_/_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/_/_/ _/_/_/_/_/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/_/_/_/ Rusty Rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Mike here: Check out the eyepieces at ScopeTronix. I've used a 4.7mm on the ETX-125EC and it gives nice views of the planets.
Subject: First experience with ETX-125 Sent: Thursday, November 11, 1999 06:08:26 From: email@example.com (Ells Dutton) Thanks for the site, has been very useful in just getting the ETX unpacked (firstname.lastname@example.org, Nov. 5) and knowing that some of the performance characteristics are similar to other users (Howard Long, Nov 8). I have been enjoying the scope immensely, with some disappointments with initial tracking and alignments (Alt/Azi) with Autostar 1.2c. I've improved things a bit by paying more attention to the rigidity of the mounting and even going so far as to bolt the unit to the level surface using the two hard points on the bottom of the base. There seemed to be a little too much "flexibility" in Alt direction even when the scope sets on a perfectly rigid (level concrete) surface and the two bolts took care of that. As for tracking, my experiences were identical to djhodny (Nov 8) where after acquiring an object it quickly drifted outside the FOV at higher powers, it is even better to just stop the drive. I have found that just sticking with it and keeping the object centered with the controller for maybe a minute or so, that tracking will lock on and I have now had objects within 211x for over twenty minutes without any adjustments, very impressive for Alt/Azi mode. I don't think that I'll bother with polar alignment. I contacted Meade about some of the alignment problems, it has missed objects by more than the FOV of the finder (before I was completely "trained" and bolted), and they suggested the upgrade to Autostar 1.3c, which I am in the process getting the cables for so I can. I'm a little disappointed with accessibility of certain less popular accessories, like the cables. Dealers don't tend to carry them and Meade doesn't seem to want to sell them direct. I have had excellent service from the Discovery Channel Store in Denver where I final found the scope and they will order and ship free (slowly) I have question on the tracking speed adjustment, What are the units on the adjustments that can be made under "custom" on the menu system under Setup/Telescope/Tracking speed? I'd like to do some solar observing, after finding suitable filters and finder scope cover. I'm afraid I'll miss the Mercury transit, Nov.15, since neither of those seem to be too readily available or even at all from Meade. Thanks again for this site and any comments. Ells
Subject: ETX Manufacture Date Sent: Monday, November 8, 1999 11:52:28 From: email@example.com (Craig, Tom) On 11/3 Bob Brannon asked from the 125EC page: Is there a way to tell by Serial # if an ETX 125 was made after the modifications ?? I have looked all over my scope and can't find a s/n. However, the box my old-style 125EC scope came in had a 2 stickers on the side of the inside section (not on the lid). One is the manufacturing date (open coded- e.g. 061899) and the other is the work order number. (99-4080). My discussions with Meade when I returned mine for repair confirmed that August 15th was the cutoff date for production with the old-style internals. Hope this helps. Tom Craig
Subject: Re:nexstar scope Sent: Monday, November 8, 1999 07:46:22 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Maria Lucia Carvajal) Dear Mr. M. Weasner: Why don't you make a text report on the NexStar 5? I know a lot of people who are waiting for it in order to buy this scope or the ETX-125. And they are in a hurry because we don't have too many good days for observation. Thanks in advance, Mara L. Carvajal P./S. I have a 7" Astro-Physics but I want also a portable and computerized one.Mike here: Please see the page "ETX-125EC & NexStar5, Part 2".
Subject: ETX 125EC - First Impressions Sent: Monday, November 8, 1999 07:44:02 From: email@example.com I'm an experienced telescope user, many years ago having owned a 3" refractor and a Celestron C8. Last Friday I received my ETX 125 which I had ordered from Woodland Hills Camera late in Sepember. I'm upgrading from my venerable ETX 90RA. Here are my first impressions: - I know 5" is more than 3.5" but it sure does look a lot bigger and is a lot heavier than the 90 - kinda make the 90 look like a cute little toy by comparison. - Manually slewing the scope on its RA & Dec axes: It's super smooth! It has none of the sticky, "stiction" characteristics of the 90. It's as it should be for a scope of this price, just wasn't expecting it to be so good. - The 25X8 right angle finder looks so small and cheap, but in practice it's a great improvement over the 20X8 straight through finder on the 90. - Motor noise: In testing the movement controls before viewing and in actual viewing I found the motors to be rather loud and having an annoying irregular sound. The first night I had the 125 and my 90 out together. Next to the noisy 125 I could appreciate the 90's almost totally silent operation. The motor noise was noticebly more annoying the first night in Alt/AZ mount with both RA & Dec motors running while tracting (I purchased the Autostar). The second night in polar alignment on my heavy steel pier it was less annoying with just the RA motor running. But I sure wish Meade would have paid more attention to this noise aspect. - GoTo: The first night in Alt/AZ more it hardly ever put an object within the 28MM field of view. But the desired object was always close and easily centerd using the finder scope. That's ok if the object is bright enough for the finder but... The next night I set the scope up in polar alignment. Every object I picked (Planet, Nebula, double star, cluster, etc.) was within the 28mm eyepiece field of view. Very impressive, and enjoyable compared to my previous experience with the 90 and my C8 years ago laboriously using setting circles, calculating time, etc. - Tracking: Rather poor in Alt/AZ mode with annoying amount of looseness and delay in the drive before tracking after slewing and fine-tuning position. It was not easy to position objects at high power and they would not stay in view for more than a few minutes. The next night in Polar alignment was much metter. Once positioned and tracking, objects remained in view for many, many minutes, and the delays in the drive were much more managable. I guess that's partly because I'm so familiar with working in Polar alignment. - Autostar: The software version I received was only 1.2! dissapointing but I suppose the dealer had Autostars sitting there while the 125 was backordered and I suppose you can't expect them to upgrade in-stock items. I was able to figure out all its functions in quite reasonable time but why doesn't Meade include the full manual they have on their web site!? - Focusing: On the positive it's quite smooth and there is near zero image shift (only barely noticable at over 200 power). On the negative the mount is not rigid (reinforced plastic is just not the same as aluminum) and at high power just touching the focus knob sends the image into a wild lazer show. It was quite a bit less on my heavy steel pier the second night but still an issue. Also, you just can't focus with the OTA in alignment with the mount, near Zenith in Atl/AZ mount or near the pole in polar alignment. I've ordered the Flexifocus from Scopetronix on the basis that they advertise it corrects both maladies, and from feedback from another partron at your web site. One does need either flexifocus or electric focus or some other mechanizm. - Image quality: Views of Jupiter and Saturn were very nice, even more improvement over the 90 than I thought, until the viewing deteriorated. The 125 being bigger is slightly more suseptable to viewing conditions than the 90. Now on to some double stars - and to my (near crushing) disappointment the scope is out of collimation (alignent)! I had really appreciated the perfect airy disk and symetric defraction rings image from the 90 - just as you should expect from a properly collimated Maksutov-C and better than from any Schmidt-C I've seem. The 125's focused star image was of broken defraction rings offet to the left of an oblong airy disk. And the out of focus obstruction disk was noticable offset left of center. This morning I will work with the dealer to determine how to proceed, dealer replace or Meade fix. Either way very disheartened. I got bit by Meade's QA deficiencies. Overall my impressions are mixed, with positive and negative. Once the collimations problem is corrected and the 125 produces the same superb airy disk and defraction pattern as my 90, I'll be quite happy and satisfied. I (and my neighbors) can live with the noisy drive, and flexifocus should take care of the focus access and jitters. And then I can look forawrd to years of pleasure with my Meade ETX 125EC that is a great blend of viewing power, portability and convenince.
Subject: ETX buyer Sent: Monday, November 8, 1999 00:31:20 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kurt Woolslayer) Great web site. Do you know the shipping dimensions of the ETX-125 box? I live on a small tropical island in the middle of the pacific ocean which has a US post office. Shipping here United Parcel Service costs a bundle. I preordered an etx-125 from focus camera. thanks, Kurt Woolslayer P.O. Box 1297 Rota, MP 96951 Tel # 670-532-9665 Time : PST+17 GMT+10 Coordinates: 14.2 N 145.2 E
Subject: ETX 125 Spotting Scope Sent: Sunday, November 7, 1999 19:28:47 From: Sirius820@aol.com Great site, Mike! I read the updates regularly and truly appreciate your efforts. I assume the backlog on the ETX 125 EC is continuing, but I'm interested in acquiring the 125 Spotting Scope version. Do you have any knowledge of the timing of the release by Meade on this scope? Rick Miller
Subject: ETX 125 Availability? Sent: Saturday, November 6, 1999 20:28:25 From: email@example.com (Tracy Miller) Kudo's on the continued success of your site...I have been a frequenter for several months in my quest to decide on a scope, which looks like it's going to be a 125mm ETX. Can you tell me if you happen to know of any retailers that actually have a 125mm unit in stock? Thanks! Tracy Miller firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Some retail stores have them and probably many of the mail order dealers. Check the various dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject: Re: Meade tripod and the ETX 125 Sent: Saturday, November 6, 1999 11:57:23 From: email@example.com (sjv) RLibby@aol.com wrote: > Has anyone come up with a better plan for mounting the 125 on the Meade > tripod? I assume you have found out that the mounting screws shipped with the Meade Deluxe Tripod are too short to reach the threaded holes in the base of the ETX 125 through the adapter plate. I called Meade - and they are aware of the problem and are mailing me two longer mounting screws to replace the original ones. No questions asked. The "adapter" plate seems like it is more for structure. I did not contemplate any structural problem with the scope until I thought about setting the tripod in polar mode for the first time: The weight of the scope may cause too much stress on the plastic base when tilted. The larger footprint of the metal adapter plate may diffuse those stresses somewhat. At least that's my theory. Anyhow - great site Mr. Weasner. -sjv
Subject: Autostar & ETX125 tips from a brand new user Sent: Friday, November 5, 1999 07:30:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Howard Long) A few tips that may be of help to people (especially complete novices like myself) running a new ETX125-EC and ETX Autostar configuration. ETX125-EC Notes o Read _everything_ carefully and make sure you understand! It'll save time in the end. All the following are the results of my past two evenings' experience, and insufficient reading. o If you're a complete novice like me, the Quick-Start guide is not enough. o For a novice, there's plenty to do before you start looking at any celestial objects. So get started whether it's day or night, clear or cloudy. o Check you are familiar with all the physical scope features. o There's two basic scope modes (or orientations): Altazimuth [Alt/Az] and Right Ascension/Declination [R.A./Dec.]. Alt/Az is when the scope is sat with the base level on a horizontal surface. RA/Dec requires the telescope mounted at a certain angle. o If you're a complete novice like me, you only need to be concerned with the Alt/Az mode. o If you're a complete novice like me, you won't need to use anything to do with Polar Alignment, Celestial Coordinates, Right Ascension (or R.A.), Declination or Equatorial mounts. o Check you know how to unlock (take out of gear) both the telescope's axes (Horizontal [left & right] lock and Vertical [up and down] lock) when unpacking. There's a couple of bits of hard foam packing between the fork tines which won't come out unless you unlock the Vertical lock. Or you can spend hours chewing the foam to pieces like I did with some wire cutters to no avail. o Physically on the scope, the Vertical Lock is also known as the Declination Lock. The Horizontal Lock is also known as the Right Ascension (R.A.) Lock. o Note that if you unlock the Vertical lock you may want to re-align the Declination Setting Circle later as it will slip (that's the graded circle with numbers on it on one side of the scope). The ETX Autostar and ETX125-EC o Check you know how to Home your Scope. For the record: Orientate the scope's Computer control panel to face in front of you; Unlock the Vertical lock; Level the scope tube to be horizontal (I used a bubble level); Lock the Vertical lock; Unlock the Horizontal lock; Turn the scope counter-clockwise until it hits its end-stop; Turn the scope about 3/8 of a turn clockwise so that the tine of the fork is directly above the Computer control panel (it doesn't have to be exact); Lock the Horizontal lock; Pick up and turn the whole scope including base and any mount together to point North (Use a compass but take into account that true north isn't exactly magnetic North). o Tip: to skip the Sun warning when you switch on the scope with the Autostar, press the 5 key on the number pad. o When aligning, I couldn't get the scope to Slew correctly at all. It even hit the end-stop sometimes. In fact, it was almost random even though the same star was chosen each time. I also kept getting motor faults. Tried Resetting, Re-Training, Re-Aligning numerous times. I checked the Alt/Az by holding the Mode button for a couple of seconds. Both Alt and Az were wavering about all over the place without the scope moving. Helpful guy at Meade Customer Support suggested software upgrade (lucky I have a PC and bought the Connector Cable Set too). I got a warm comfortable feeling that the guy from Meade really did know what he was talking about. Upgraded the software from 1.1j to 1.3c and voila! o Upgrading the software: Software download of Autostar Update Client Application for Windows from www.meade.com was easy; Unzipping the AUTO.ZIP file was easy; Setting up the Autostar Client Application for Windows was easy; Getting the Autostar Update to recognise I'm using COM3 wasn't easy. It wouldn't recognise my Autostar on this port. The ASReadMe.txt file from www.meade.com suggests setting the registry HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Meade\AUTO\COMPORT to COM3 which worked. Mike, your site has already helped my no end!!! Thanks. Regards, Howard
Subject: Meade tripod and the ETX 125 Sent: Wednesday, November 3, 1999 20:36:49 From: RLibby@aol.com Has anyone come up with a better plan for mounting the 125 on the Meade tripod? I can see where this "adapter plate' thing is going to give me a headache. Has anyojne any success in permanently attaching the adapter plate to either the tripod, or to the telescope itself? Before I collect my remaining brain cells to figure it out, I would like to hear of others solutions. Ralph Libby
Mike here: Recent events here have generated interest outside our little ETX community. See In Search of the Perfect Truth (macopinion.com/columns/utopia/99/11/02/index.html).
Subject: ETX125 Sent: Wednesday, November 3, 1999 12:52:40 From: email@example.com (Brannon, Bob) Is there a way to tell by Serial # if an ETX 125 was made after the modifications ?? Thanks, Bob BrannonMike here: Not that I've heard of but I'll check.
Subject: Repaired etx 125. Sent: Tuesday, November 2, 1999 21:02:09 From: Appleden@webtv.net (Dennis A Traverso) Hello again Mike, and once again thank you for your great web site. I appreciate your comments and those of all the other contributors to this site who have provided answers to questions as well as tips and advise on the etx scopes. I have been helped immensely. I am sorry for all the heat you took a few weeks ago for your comparison report, which I for one appreciated, and learned from. I hope you will do it again when the need arises. When I last emailed you, I had sent my etx 125 back to Meade because it was one of the first ones shipped, and had the focus shift and vibration problems. I was promised a new one and about a week later it arrived. However when I opened the box I found it was not a new one. It was a used one that a previous owner had returned. I was not pleased with the way it was packed. It was dishevelled and smudged, and when I removed it from the box the R.A. tape for setting circles fell off, and something inside was loose and rolling around in the base. There also were a few other small problems , so I called Meade and told them that I would not accept it. ( I should interject here that I take really good care of my things. I still have my first telescope, an 80 mm. Japanise spotting scope with three eyepieces mounted on a revolving turrent that looks & works flawlessly like the day it was bought from Edmunds, light years ago.) Anyway Mike, I spoke to a gentleman at Meade by the name of John Piper. This man was very concerned about my problems. He assured me he would find out why I got a scope back in that condition etc. He also promised me that if I would stick with Meade he would personally pick a new scope for me and he would personally test it for optical quality as well as cosmetically and he would personally guarantee that I would be satisfied. He did and I was! He took one day to check one out and than overnighted it to me and had the other one picked up, all by the next day. It is clean and crisp and the optics look good to me. I do not detect any focus shift and the collimation appears to me to be perfect. I do still find the base / fork mount and tripod to be unstable. While viewing Saturn and Jupiter a few evenings ago, at one point I removed the scope from it"s 883 field tripod and set it on a slate block on the ground and still had to wait several seconds after touching the focus for the jitters to stop in order to see anything with any more power than a 9.7 mm. eyepiece. (196x) When the electric focuser becomes available I guess I will have to buy one. Did John Piper go out of his way for me? Did he really care? You bet he did. Does that mean Meade stands behind what it sells? Yes, I think so. As company policy, I cannot believe they are not trying to tighten up their quality control. I do believe that the etx 125s were in such demand that they were released without proper field testing and Meade has paid the price. One thing I can tell you for sure, one Meade employee, Mr. John Piper went out of his way to solve my problem. As an overview, I still feel that the etx 125 is the ultimate all around instrument for a person like myself who enjoys viewing the moon and planets on a clear night, as well as wild life, ships at sea, or just for the hell of it reading the manufacturers name on the bolt that holds the insulator on top of a high tension pole more than 1/4 mile down the road. Keep up the good work Mike. Regards....Dennis.
Subject: ETX-125 on eBay Sent: Tuesday, November 2, 1999 13:34:10 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Hartley) cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=188843040 Now where have I seen this picture before?? -- ====================================================================== Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - email@example.com 12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI 02882 - vox 401.782.9042 Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappaMike here: Hum....
Subject: Comment On Your Site Sent: Monday, November 1, 1999 12:47:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jindra, Steven J.) I've been enjoying your site for over a year now. I had an ETX-90RA for a while, but sold it after purchasing a Nexstar 5. I had a tough decision between the Nexstar 5 and the ETX-125, but liked the focal length of the N-5 better. After Meade's corrections, it seems to be a win win decision either way. To get to my point, if you decide to support other small scopes including the Nexstar that would be great. The other sites for this just haven't quite matched the quality of yours. Either way I'll continue to glean good pointers from this site. Thanks again and keep up the good work. Steven Jindra Deer Park, Texas
Subject: Re: ETX-125 central obstruction, yet again (again!). Sent: Monday, November 1, 1999 10:00:10 From: email@example.com (Kevin P. Kretsch) With regard to JK Saggese's questions, 31st October ETX-125 feedback: My comments and those of Clive Gibbons are saying exactly the same thing. The Maksutov corrector does indeed act as a weak meniscus lens. This slightly diverges (Clive) or flares (me) the light outward to correct for spherical abberation of the primary mirror. I've included a small diagram to clarify the situation. I have omitted the reflections from any mirrored surface, just to keep things simple. I have drawn two sets of rays entering the telescope. The red rays are at the edge of the corrector, the blue rays are near the centre. The amount that the rays are affected depends on where they meet the glass. The red rays, being at the edge of the corrector, are affected more than the blue rays. The blue rays, being affected so little, are not flared enough to miss the secondary mirror baffle on an ETX-125. So the blue rays in the diagram would never actually reach the mirror. You can also see why the primary mirror is oversized on the ETXs. If the mirror was the same diameter as the corrector, then the red rays would miss the mirror altogether, and a little less light would reach your eyepiece. In our case, the diameter of the corrector plate determines the performance of the telescope, not the diameter of the primary mirror. I could make the primary mirror as big as I liked, but no more light could go in the front of the scope and diffraction from the aperture of the corrector would limit the resolution. If on the other hand the primary was SMALLER than the corrector, THEN it be the limiting factor. I hope this helps. BTW, I'm always happy to answer any questions. Just drop me a line. (My e-mail address is below.) And please don't call me Mr. Kretsch, Kev will be fine. *smile* Regards, and clear skies, Kev. -------------------- - - - - - Kevin P. Kretsch Department of Physics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND. Tel: +353 1 608 1324 Fax: +353 1 671 1759 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
From: email@example.com (JK Saggese) Mr. Gibbons emailed me earlier saying essentially the same thing, that he had thought your posting agreed with his. After his explanation a little lightbulb went on over my head and I finally understood that the periphery of the corrector lens diverges the light enough to require an oversized primary mirror, but that at or near the center of the lens, the divergance is not enough to significantly compensate for the flared baffle of the secondary mirror. Consequently, the effective net central obstruction is close to two inches (total cross section of the secondary baffle), even though the light is diverged enough to require an oversized primary mirror. As I said to Mr. Gibbons earlier, this is what happens when you have an accountant who decides he wants to be an optician! :-) I appreciate your reply and Mr. Gibbons's reply to my rookie questions. Thanks, JK Saggese
Subject: The ETX 125 vs. Nexstar Comparison Sent: Sunday, October 31, 1999 18:49:22 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (carl) It's been a good while since I checked your site or dropped you a line. That doesn't mean I don't think highly of the work (or play!) that goes into this site. Naturally, I was shocked by the flaming you received. As I read through the details and the letters, I understood, but absolutely do not condone the attacks. I too, was shocked by your impressions, and even more shocked that Meade had supplied everything. I do not think anyone has the right to question your integrity--you've proven it again and again by not letting Meade get away with anything, nor by denying the obvious limitations of the ETX. I have a early ETX, that has been flawless, and a 10" LX-50. Meade has generally been wonderful about any problems I have had with the scope, and can say honestly I have no complaints. My little Frankenstein ETX (add JMI setting circles and Jordan Blessing's upgraded motherboard and you get--A LOT of wires sticking out--but a great package) travelled to the Black Sea in August and carried two cameras, one on top for wide-view shots, and one at the back for blowups of the sun. It carried both cameras like a sherpa and the only fuzziness is due to the "ground" shaking--it was the deck of the Vistafjord. So I think the ETX is great. Now I come to the sticky part: When I first saw the adds for the 125, I thought "are they kidding?" It had all the flaws of the ETX (limited fork travel, can't polar align with anything on the back, lousy positioning of the view-finder--can't polar align with it either) all wrapped up in a package that was MUCH larger and heavier and less portable than the little ETX. On top of this was a much slower speed due to the large obstruction and long tube length. I found it totally unattractive and decided I didn't need it. Then I saw the ads for the Nextstar. I have never been a Celestron user, although I equal respect for their products that I do for Meade. I saw that Celestron had looked at the ETX, seen that it was a WONDERFUL idea and decided to copy it, and try to correct the flaws of the ETX in order to have something that could compete--after all, why try to market a product that was clearly no better than what was out there? No limits on travel, polar alignment, camera mounting or viewfinder, all wrapped up in a 5" F10 scope. I just can't justify buying a third scope. But if I only had one, or if the need arises, I want a Nextstar. Brand loyalty must follow logic and preference, not just emotions. Back to the test. Mike, what I think happened is you got snookered. As a Mr. Odom pointed out, business is business. This is what is called a Conflict of Interest, and in business, if investors see that, they run like hell. The Amazing Randi had a lot of fun sending trained plants to universities doing paranormal research. They never detected his plants. I don't know what you do for a living, but clearly, you don't expect anything but honesty from people who have always been honest with you. But skepticism in testing, extreme skepticism is critical, and somehow, Meade got you to bypass their obvious conflict of interest, probably through soft-speaking and the technical competence of their reps. But they still had a conflict of interest and that was obvious to the readers and is why you got flamed. Meade invested a lot of money in the ETX-90 and ETX-125, and the Nextstar is the first offering to give it serious, and I mean serious, competition. The Televue Ranger and Pronto, while exquisite scopes, are very difficult to set up as equatorial scopes and run up the tab doing so quickly. The Questar, while clearly blowing the ETX out of the water into the Sahara, only costs six times as much! So the ETX had the field to itself. Even if they tried to present the test in good faith, they should not be trusted. I can't imagine the Meade people giving the love and dedication to ensuring the Nextstar was correctly and optimally set up that they would to their own scope. They are the biggest scope manufacturer in the world and have an ENORMOUS incentive to cook the tests and fool the tester. How anyone could attempt to convince you that plastic gears were superior is an argument that Jordan Blessing's sale of metal gears belies everyday but also demonstrates their bias, not yours. With that, I'll close and say keep up the good work. If it wasn't for you we couldn't have these online discussions. All the best, Carl DashmanMike here: I still don't believe that Meade did anything dishonest (like messing up the NexStar5). We'll see what the next round of more extensive usage shows.
I know you don't think Meade did anything dishonest, but the only way you would NOT have gotten "in trouble" would have been if despite that you STILL found the Nextstar superior. That's the problem with a conflict of interest--you can't win. Maybe if Jordan set up and lent you a Nextstar, and you got a 125 as well, you could re-run the comparison. As for me, I'm not buying either just yet--my ETX Astro with the frankenstein wiring is just fine. I finally have a stable, easy platform for it: A Bogen tripod, a Bogen Junior geared head, and one of Jordan's ETX-to-photo-tripod adapters, with a second hole drilled to fit the 3/8" bolt in for two point stability. It's fast, easy, and stable. Oh, yeah--it cost a bunch more than Meade's tripod--you can't have everything. ATB, Carl
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