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ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 1 December 1999

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:	joelee5@home.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 (joelee5@home.com)
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?

Added later:

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:	method@method.net (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!!!

-Joey
Mike 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:	pshortmd@hotmail.com (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:	chesler@itsa.ucsf.edu (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
chesler@itsa.ucsf.edu
-------------------------------------------------------------

Subject:	 Best Place to Buy a Meade ETX125EC
Sent:	Sunday, November 28, 1999 08:58:30
From:	jtmacb@mindspring.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 McBrayer
Mike 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:	reim@magicnet.net
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:	dan.odom@mcd.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:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (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:	jeremy.neuringer@gs.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 Neuringer
Mike 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:	npny@gis.net (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:	robb@kc.rr.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.

-Robb
Mike 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.

Added later:

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:	japple111@worldnet.att.net (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:	formisano@email.mc.ti.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:	okubosan@earthlink.net (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
Jupiter

Saturn

Moon


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:	s1253639@cedarnet.cedarville.edu (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 Flunker
Mike 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:	jeremy.neuringer@gs.com (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
jneuringer@kpmg.com or jeremy.neuringer@gs.com
Mike here: If you can wait, I'll be able to better answer your questions when I complete and post my updated comparisons.

Added later:

I've decided to wait.  Your help is much appreciated..

Subject:	 Doubts now about etx125
Sent:	Tuesday, November 16, 1999 14:40:42
From:	syd-t@webtv.net (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.Turnbull
Mike 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:	daprez@worldnet.att.net (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: daprez@iwon.com
Mike 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:	bob.brannon@owenscorning.com (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.com
Mike 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:	g.skinner@neccsd.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 Skinner
Mike 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:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (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:	mturney@innercite.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:	wallacefan@rocketmail.com (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:	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net (Ells Dutton)
Thanks for the site, has been very useful in just getting the ETX
unpacked (djhodny@uswestmail.net, 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:	tom.craig@reichhold.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:	marca@sinfo.net (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:	djhodny@uswestmail.net
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:	kurtwool@gtepacifica.net (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:	hal-9000@home.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
hal-9000@home.com
Mike 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:	vanzo@aol.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:	howard@howardlong.com (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:	bob.brannon@owenscorning.com (Brannon, Bob)
Is there a way to tell by Serial # if an ETX 125 was made after the
modifications ??

	Thanks,
Bob Brannon
Mike 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:	jh@brainiac.brainiac.com (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 - jh@brainiac.com
     12 Emma G Lane, Narragansett, RI  02882 - vox 401.782.9042
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa
Mike here: Hum....

Subject:	 Comment On Your Site
Sent:	Monday, November 1, 1999 12:47:31
From:	steven.jindra@lyondell-citgo.com (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:	kretschk@tcd.ie (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.

Mak

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:  kretschk@tcd.ie

From:	jks@saggese.net (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:	dashmanc@idt.net (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 Dashman
Mike 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.

Added later:

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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