Last updated: 30 April 2002
Subject: ETX Supper Charge! Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2002 9:21:42 From: JRPowell59@email.msn.com (Joseph Powell) It's been awhile since I E-mailed you (Joseph Powell NJ. AAI). I wasn't happy with the performance of my ETX-125. But thanks to your web site I sent it to Dr. Clay Sherrod for a Supper Charge. I just got it back on 04-26-02 and its working better than new! :-) The dec lock was totally stripped out. I had first light with it on Friday although it was a full moon I had the best view of Jupiter (even at low magnification) than I had when it was new. It barely moved when I put my camera on it. So now its a pleasure to use, and it has the very latest Go To features installed on it. So now I can use it for what I bought it for, Astrophotography! Hope to have some good shots soon, I hope to have some good picture to send you soon! Talk to you later. Thanks again to you and Dr. Sherrod! :-) Clear skies, Joseph R Powell
Subject: ETX125 Old vs. New Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2002 12:30:32 From: MellowshipSlinky@aol.com So the old vs. new debate continues. I liked your analogy in a previous feedback concerning cars and would the dealer let you swap last years model with for this years and I agree with you entirely that things are constantly upgraded and improved at the manufacturers discretion, I do, however, think that in (as Clay Sherrod puts it) "vastly" improving the ETX125 whilst still distributing older models, Meade have not only compromised some customer loyalty but also caused a major headache for their Stockists world-wide. Here is an excerpt of a letter I have sent to Meade after picking up my brand new ETX125 (which was ordered for me directly from the Meade factory) earlier this month only to find a distinct lack of steel bearings in the fork arms; '.......If you visited a car showroom, looked at this years Grand Cherokee and ordered it on the basis of what you saw, only to find that when you returned to collect your new car, the dealer had taken delivery of an older model, a lot of questions would be raised.... the air would probably turn blue in fact. In any other field, be it cars, TVs or Clothes, an outdated model is sold at a lower price and the consumer is allowed to make a choice. Anyone wishing to purchase an ETX125 does not have this choice. There aren't any obvious differences between a pre or post September 2001 model and getting most dealers to agree to unpack and take the declination setting circle off to check for bearings (thus potentially losing a sale) is, understandably, difficult. So there you have it, we are at the mercy of your (Meade) dispatch and marketing departments....I, for one, came off worse.....' Er, so you get the gist of the letter. The quality of the product is not in question, for, even though I say I came off worse, I am delighted with the scope and I included this fact in my correspondence - before I started ranting. Meade will probably file this under waste paper but I do feel that if they continue to receive letters such as this, it may open their eyes to how unfair and unethical this practice is. If they cleared the decks of old scopes before dispatching new ones, this issue would probably never have been brought to the fore. Enough said. Now, having read all the feedback reports regarding the 125 on your site when researching the scope before I purchased it (I really should spend more time with my wife!) it seems to me that most of the problems encountered by 125 users are down to user error. The ones that aren't, seem, primarily, to be clamping problems which can be fixed with a minor adjustment. Granted, when buying $1000 dollars worth of telescope, you would expect it to be perfect out of the box, but the law of averages says that every once in a while a lemon is going slip through and, as people posting on your feedback page generally only do so when they have a problem, this is not a fair representation of the quality of the product. The other main quibble seems to be the aforementioned new/old dilemma. My heart goes out to the fellow who is in correspondence with Meade after being assured his dealer was being sent a new type and when he opened it up, found an old type. I really hope Meade come through for him and get him that new scope. I have a masters degree in Mechanical engineering and work in a precision/prototype engineering firm. In my line of work, a certain amount of knowledge regarding properties of different materials is vital and I am positive that steel bearings have no advantage over acetal in this application. The only instance that acetal will fail is if any kind of cleaning agent is introduced to them, in which case they will rot. I haven't had any reason to get into the guts of my 125 yet, but I would be very surprised if the engineers at Meade (who by all accounts seem to have a surplus of lubricating grease and slather it on our telescopes with reckless abandon) have applied any kind of lubricant to these bearings as this could cause problems. If anyone knows different, I would be most interested. The bearings on the pre-Sep. model appear to be in a sealed unit thus preventing any alien substance from reaching them, so unless anyone actually cracks the case and gets in there to 'service' them there should be no problems, now or ever. I would even go as far as saying that there is a slight advantage with vibration dampening on models with acetal bearings.....though I wouldn't swear to it! If I'm reading the spec in my manual correctly, the older models are zinc reinforced. If Meade have replaced this with aluminium there can be only one reason - cost. Zinc is generally more expensive than aluminium (depending on the grade) and just as efficient in this application. So if shipping weight is a factor in their decision to change the spec, the compromise would be a lighter fork arm support and heavier bearings. This is all just conjecture, I've racked my brains trying to figure out why Meade would alter the design and all I can suggest is that when the 105 was introduced a general overhaul of the model was decided....does anyone know if the new ETX90 has steel ball bearings in the fork arms? If anyone knows what the other 'undisclosed' differences are, please post them. Onto more interesting stuff, I finally got to use the autostar properly last night....i've had a couple of less than successful attempts over the weekend before upgrading to v2.4e from v2.00 on Sunday (mainly to get the alt./az. backlash compensator on the telescope setup menu) but yesterday was the first night I have had time to do a thorough alignment. At about 8:30pm I was good to go. I put the scope in alt./az. home position, only levelling the OTA by eye as I don't have a bubble yet. When I started aligning it was still a little light and not many stars were showing mainly due to the 3/4 moon. The first alignment star was Arcturus...no problems there (with the help of a planisphere just for reference) the next one was Spica. I couldn't even see it! With a little perseverence, slewing the scope around to find the sickle shape I took a guess. Boy did it pay off! After the align successful message I tested on jupiter (high precision was off by the way) and bang, it was right in the centre of the eyepiece. My wife and I spent the next three hours observing, took a guided tour, which even informed us that as the moon was so bright we wouldn't see much, and every object was in the eyepiece - if not dead centre. Tracking was perfect, I went to make some tea, took a phone call, came back and Regulus was still dead centre. The only object the scope (just) missed was the moon and when I did centre it, after about ten minutes it started leaving the FOV I understand this is fairly common though. All in all a great evening, even with the moon...I can't wait for the next dark night though. So there you have it, my "old" model ETX125 mounted in alt./az. mode on an #884 deluxe field tripod with v2.4e Autostar software gave me a perfect evenings viewing. If anyone's interested, I changed the backlash percentage to 15% RA/AZ and 10% ALT/DEC (after a reset but before training as recommended by Richard Seymour in "Using the Meade ETX") and this seems to have made a tremendous difference in the response time of the scope. I do have one quick question. I've read in past feedback postings and in your book, that the ETX125 had problems with image shift when focusing. This was supposedly addressed and corrected by Meade. Last night, however, I noticed that when focusing on small bright objects, there was a distinct movement around the eyepiece. I have done several star tests and the scope appears to be perfectly collimated, so I know that this shift is caused by the focus knob moving the mirror it is attatched to. With a little upward or downward pressure on the focusing knob I could make the object completely disappear from the field of view and when I let go it popped right back into the centre of the eyepiece. Is this normal or do you think my scope is way older than even I thought it was, i.e. one of the first 125s off the production line? Furthermore, do you think that investing in the electronic focuser (I can already feel my credit card trying to jump out of my wallet and run away) would resolve this? Thanks for reading my ravings! Regards, RobMike here: You make excellent points. Certainly if you ordered a "new" model then you should get a new model. I'm just not certain whether the dealer can actually commit to that although some will to keep the customer (hopefully) happy. As to your image shift, applying side pressure on the shaft is not normal so any image movement from that is to be expected. The original issue with the image shift was that it was excessive under normal focusing. Some image shift is normal with Maksutov-Cassegrain designs.
Subject: NEW MODEL ETX125 Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2002 9:11:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (JOHN W DOROTHY SINNAR) If you order a 125 with the new coatings will it for sure be the new model......?Mike here: One assumes that.
Subject: To return or not to return.... Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2002 14:17:45 From: email@example.com (Rob Ortenzi) Hi there. Im totally a beginner with an ETX-125 and all this talk about pre-Sept 2001 ETXs with ball bearings and what not has me a little worried. I bought an ETX-125 in May of 2001 and just recently my focusing knob just quit on me. I saw that it came with a 1-year warranty so I called The Nature Store (or Discovery Store) where I got it from and they said even though they changed their return policy, they would take it back and give me another since they had them in stock. Seemed good to me, so I did that. Of course, that night I was looking at your site and found out about the metal-fork fiasco. Do you think I should try to take it back again and ask if they have one of these newer models? Also, I cant seem to get the little viewfinder in focus I dont get it. Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks for your time!Mike here: Well, I wouldn't call it a "fiasco". More like swapping your computer for a better one everytime a better one comes out. Is it really worth it? I still have an original model ETX-125EC as well as my original model ETX (now known as the ETX-90RA). Both work fine. As to the finderscope, focusing to a sharp image across the field of view is impossible. Just try for as sharp a focus as you can get in the center, near where the crosshairs cross.
Subject: ETX 125 Should I buy a New or Old Model? Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 19:34:41 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (sandy litvack) I've been studing your book and ll the great tips from people on you web site about degreasing and fine tuning the ETX scopes. I just got my tax refund, which is earmarked for an ETX 125. My question is: Does it matter if I get the new model or the old one? I am not buying the extra coatings. But, is the new model with metal parts better/ Is the new one full of grease and slippage, and can it be tuned up by an amature? Here in Jacksonville there are no new models, but I can get one if I drive to Orlando. Is the new one really a big improvement, or will I be stuck with grease and slippage in both Dec and RA? Thank you. SandyMike here: Your mileage may vary with either old or new model. Certainly, getting the newer model is the preferred choice, assuming you have a choice. If you end up with the older model, don't feel like you have to rip it open and make adjustments. Most users probably never make any changes nor ever notice any need for changes.
Subject: RE: Declination Lock Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 10:55:04 From: email@example.com (Mike Francis) Dear Dr. Sherrod, This is an update on my problem with the declination lock on my ETX125. I did use the dremel cutting wheel on the dec. knob and it worked out great. First I cut into the knob vertically thru the knurled part to get to the "spokes". Then I cut thru the face plate with the Meade logo, enabling me to get at the plastic part that holds the head of the screw. Then it was just a matter of wiggling the dial back and forth and it came right off the screw. I will say that it made quite a mess and strongly suggest anyone trying this to cover up the scope with plastic to protect it from all the fine dust. The "fake" aluminum setting dial seem to be collapsed inward toward the fork arm side causing the binding and the inability to unlock the declination axis. Is there any way of reinforcing this area to prevent this from happening again, such as with a washer, etc.? Again, thank you and Mike very much for all your help. The transplant was a success! Clear Skies, Mike ----Original Message----- From: Clay Sherrod [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 11:23 AM To: Mike Francis Cc: mike weasner Subject: Re: Declination Lock Hi Mike - YES, you can cut into that with the Dremel tool....a very good way of getting it off and I highly recommend it if you take your time and go slowly. Thanks for the kind words and best of luck!! Clay ---------------------------------------- Dr. P. Clay Sherrod email@example.com Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.org ----- Original Message ----- > Dear Dr.Sherrod, > See Prev. communication: > This is clearly a case where the small protruding threaded rod which holds > the locking knob onto the fork trunion has stripped completely out of the > knob inside....this is a very difficult thing to remove once this > happens....you really stand a danger of breaking the OTA right support > arm, > the fork arm itself, or the hard stops inside the fork. > > You must hold the OTA assembly with one hand and gently pry under the > fake > setting circle with a very large blade screw driver while turning the > knob > counterclockwise....it takes a long time and you MUST go slow or you will > break something inside....but it will eventually come off. > > Call Meade and tell them what happened and order a right knob/declination > axis lock knob for your scope.....they will be happy to send you one! > > Clay Sherrod > ----- Original Message ----- > From: firstname.lastname@example.org > To: email@example.com > Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 7:05 PM > Subject: Fwd: Declination Lock > > > > Clay, doesn't sound like a stripped lock. Thoughts? > > ---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ---------------- > > Date: 3/20/2002 6:01 > > Received: 3/20/2002 6:42 > > From: firstname.lastname@example.org > > To: Mike Weasner, email@example.com > > > > From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Francis) > > To: email@example.com > > Help! My 3 1/2 month old 125Etx seems to have a stripped declination > lock. > > On tightening it the other day,it turned a little too far and now it > > won't > > "unlock". the declination axis is locked,I can slew up and down and the > > knob > > on the fork moves when I move the OTA. The knob turns, but not freely. > It > > will go with equal stiffness in either clockwise or counterclockwise > but > > won't unlock the Dec. axis. I searched your site and found one similar > > problem by a j pedicini back in Oct. 27, 2000 but am not sure if the > > problem > > is identical. The knob does rotate when I move the OTA up & down, But > > even > > if I hold the OTA I can't unlock the Declination gearing. I have the > > "old" > > model 125ETX. I'm hoping I don't have to send the whole thing back to > > Meade. > > It was purchased at The Discovery store in Southfield, MI. > > I received the new declination lock and metal circle from Meade,and upon > looking at it I was wondering if there was a way of drilling off the old > knob or cutting it off with a high speed dremel cutting wheel,so that I > wouldn't put so much pressure on the fork arm trying to remove it. I was > also wondering if it is possible that the brass locking screw on the knob > might be stuck into whatever fitting it threads into on the fork arm. This > would present another challenge once I removed the knob. Any help here would > be greatly appreciated. I was amazed at your prompt response to my previous > inquiry and am forever grateful for your help. I only wish I had my 125 when > I was in Arkansas at the Diamond Crater state park last fall. I would have > dropped it off for a supertune which I plan on doing as soon as the warranty > runs out or as soon as I learn all the do's and don'ts with this scope. > Thanks again.The world need's more people like yourself and Mike Weasner. > Mike Francis > firstname.lastname@example.org
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) Hey Mike - that is great to hear! You are now certified....you can prevent that setting circle binding by placing a very flat Fender washer between the circle and the lock knob...believe it or not, it helps. If you put it on the OTHER side (toward the fork arm) it results in much slop in the firmness of the OTA to the fork. Great job! Thanks again... Clay
Subject: HELP!! ETX Dec Lock Problem Sent: Friday, April 19, 2002 22:42:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: email@example.com Dear 10k arm... Soemthing Mike didn't mention is the need for a **counterweight**, instead of simply relying on the Dec clutch... the motors will appreciate it too... If you're going to hang heavy things on an ETX (or any scope), it's a very wise idea to hang something else on the other end of the barrel. There are also elaborate "2d" and "3d" counterweighting systems which allow for countering off-side loads which aren't adequately handled by simple "ankle weight sets wrapped around nose" solutions. good luck --dickMike here: Good point. Some cameras will need to be counterbalanced by a weight. My Coolpix 995 doesn't although the scope shifts a little bit when I first add it, requiring a resighting on the object.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) email@example.com (Doug N.) said: > Right now my problem is fixing it, not figuring out 'why' it happened. > Frankly, I am a bit surprised that the tube is held on the fork with a puny > , soft, #10 brass screw! After seeing it, I am sure it does not take more > than a 10lb arm to shear it off! ;-) If you read the older postings, you'll see that the plastic shaft holding the threaded insert is what -used- to shear off... i'd far rather have it be the brass screw... MUCH easier to replace/fix. > A stainless steel screw would avoid the breaking, even if the scope would > not slew due to weight! ..or would break in its place... i prefer the brass screw (for example, i use nylon screws as my base-to-tripod screws... so i know i will NOT strip the threads in the scope's base...)... i'm a EE.. i like the concept of fuses. > Again, if you can direct me to some of those more serious counter-weighting > systems, I'd appreciate it. I have no direct experience with them (on the rare instances i photo-shoot, i suspend the camera independently of the scope). And most of the postings i see for them are in the LX90 and bigger groups. But i'll look around, and send what i can find. > If you know of a way to counter-balance a near-vertical tube, I'd appreciate > the hint! The "vertical" question is (almost) easy... the counterweight is also on an arm, just extending in the other direction, usually from the nose of the scope. If you think about where the pivot points are, and the center of mass, you'll see that the camera can shift from being a "down" force to an "up" force when it crosses over/under the Dec axle long before the scope itself tips from "east" to "west" side of the meridian. Counterweight systems can get quite complex... the best ones involve a rail mounted along the bottom of the main barrel, with sliding locknuts and arms/ fixtures to hold a selection of weights in various places. And you have to shift and change them for your varying loads and viewing positions. And for a small, under-clamped, scope like the ETX90 or ETX125, they're even more crucial if you've got relatively lots of weight hung out there. While typing the above paragraph, my search system has coughed up the company names of: Losmandy and ScopeStuff, Jim's Mobile, Kendricks, and Orion (so www.scopestuff.com and www.telescope.com . See also: http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackApr00.html Quoting from one of Janet Miller's LX90 postings: >I think you'll find that if you balance the system vertically by >moving the weights closer/away from the OTA, then balance >horizontally by sliding the weights along the OTA, you'll find the >balance point pretty fast. Balancing vertically should tell you if >you'll need additional counterweight. The 2.5 pound weight at it's >farthest point away from the OTA may be enough, then all you'll need >to do is slide the ST80 and/or the weights along the tube to balance >horizontally, or to counter any heavy EP's or cameras/accessories. ..so you can see it's an art and an arm-wave. What some folks do (such as the above example) is hang -another- useful accessory in a way to also serve as a counterweight. The above example is using a small telescope (ST80) as a partial counterweight for the camera. (OTA=optical tube assembly... the main barrel) The "piggyback" camera mounts (for letting a camera point at the sky while the scope spins it with the stars) usually have a counterweight arrangment on the other side of the clamping ring, too. Whomever sold you the eyepiece adapter probably also has counterweights (and they should have suggested them...) good luck --dick
Subject: re: HELP!! ETX Dec Lock Problem Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 18:08:54 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug N.) Thanks so much for the quick response! I guess I would have found it had I looked more closely, but I was so frustrated! With the unique planetary alignment this month, and finally getting all my equipment ready to document this event, I was sure that I was just going to miss it. Thanks to your direction (the picture looks just like my poor crippled ETX) I am feeling more positive about getting this fixed quickly, even at the mercy of Meade. I will call them in the morning! Your directions are very concise, and I am sure I can accomplish the task, although I am still leery of putting the camera back without support. I bought my ETX used, and do not have any of the original tools supplied, but I am sure I can find what is needed at a local hardware store, if I don't already own it. Thanks again for the informative site, and expertise! I am glad I chose to be a supporting member, and will continue to be so! Doug Noyce Janesville, WI
Subject: Re: How not to get an ETX125 across the pond! Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 13:24:30 From: MellowshipSlinky@aol.com I just thought I'd let you know that my 125 made it back to the UK just fine. I was (finally) able to get a look on Monday night, the seeing wasn't that great though - transparency was good but there was a lot of haze (if the truth be known i'd only left the scope outside for just over an hour so thermal equilibrium probably wasn't reached) and even Jupiter was jumping around a little....caused me a few panicky thoughts about bad collimation I can tell you! Last night, however, I did the right thing and got her straight outside when I arrived home from work at 6:30....by the time I started observing (at around 9) it was the clearest (and darkest) sky i've seen in a long, long time - just beautiful. I got good views of Jupiter and Saturn and did some random cluster viewing plus a star test on polaris. Result - perfect. I used the 9.7mm with the 2x barlow (392x) to look at Jupiter and WOW! I know I got very lucky with the seeing but it was crystal clear, very big in the eyepiece and i'm sure I saw more detail than I had any right to be viewing with a 5" scope. I didn't use the autostar for this session as I am still learning the scope (and the sky), I polar mounted it on the #884 tripod and set the controller to tracking mode and it worked fantastically. I'm knocked out by the potential this little telescope shows. Just a quick question, have you got any opinions regarding the #126 short focus 2x Barlow as compared to the 4000 series apochromatic 2x Barlow? I'm transferring to series 4000 super plossls almost exclusively (I have a Meade 18mm WA eyepiece, the standard 26mm and both 15mm and 9.7mm ) and, while the #126 seems fine, i'm wondering if I should invest in the apochromatic and give the #126 to my father who's getting an ETX90 for his birthday. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards, RobMike here: I've not used the Series 4000 Barlow Lens so have no opinion on it.
Subject: Re: Re: Motor Unit Fault Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 7:47:20 From: email@example.com (Tham Chee Chung) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Maybe I'll describe a bit more clearly what I actually did (which I thought was really nothing much), following the instructions in the Tech Tips Tune Up page and Jordan Blessing's guide as well: Opened the plastic base (the one with the batteries housing). Based on Jordan's guide, went through the checklist of the various parts, but I did not tighten anything other than very lightly tighten 1 of the 3 screws holding the worm gear down. I emphasise "lightly" as I was really afraid of breaking something so I did not use force on anything. The nut outside the worm gear, I did not touch at all, as it looked like it was already fairly tight. At this point, I went back to the Tech Tips page: Removed the RA clamp that's just below the OTA, revealing the bolt beneath. Used the clamp to remove the bolt. Now this was the part which differed markedly from what was described. A small plasticky plate with wires running through it loosened when the bolt was taken out. From the descriptions on the guides, I think this would have been the clutch plate, it was a circular plate with 2 grooves on them and a hole in the middle (for the wires running into the scope). At this point I stopped, for as you rightly point out, the entire drive assembly was in a metal housing, and I did not make any try to take that apart to clean the metal flat drive gear, which I thought was inside that metal housing. So what I just did was to put the bolt back, by holding the clutch plate up against the metal housing (fitting it in with the grooves on the plate), insert the bolt on the other side (where the RA clamp is), and then tightening back the assembly. After which I simply put the bottom and the RA clamp back on. So as you can see from my description, I did not take out any wires or tighten the worm gear. With what I had done, did I do any damage? More importantly, did I do anything to contribute to this MUF problem? And most importantly any way to fix it? PS: I'm currently running on AC power, fyi, so it can't be batteries. Finally, thanks for all the help you're giving to ETX newbies like myself! You're a godsend! :) TCAnd:
From: Clay Sherrod email@example.com Oh my goodness TC! You are NOT supposed to take out the bolt in the RA axis!! Only loosen it. I see now what you have done. If you pulled out the bolt and the wires came with it, there is a very high probability that you have dislodged or shorted one of those four wire; those go up inside to the DEC axis to supply power, but it is all wired in a loop such that if the connection to the DEC is broken or intermittently shorted, the entire scope will go into Motor Unit Fault. Since you now know how to take out that bolt, you like are going to have to get in there and do it again....pull apart the base from the turntable (the spinning flat plate that holds the two fork arms) VERY carefully and inspect the four wires that are found up inside of there....careful or you will break more.... Likely you have merely moved one of the wires where it is pinching in certain positions when the scope is either rotated or clamped and this is giving the MUF. Look in there and tell us what you find... Sorry you are having trouble. Sometimes, the BEST tune-up is NO tune up at all if you are not prepared to do a complete rescue of a telescope, and most folks really do not have the experience to do so. Best of luck to you and get back when you have looked inside. I am sure this is what has happened. Clay SherrodAnd this:
Oh dear.. This sounds really bad. Now I'm feeling really stupid - I was having some of the slewing and Goto problems described, and apparently fixed them and was having quite accurate Goto after the "tune-up", but now have introduced other problems (which IMO are even worse than inaccurate Goto-ing)! Sigh.. OK will have a look once I get back home (at work now). I'll keep you updated what the wires look like. I'll also try to see if I can get hold of a digital camera to snap some closeups so that you can have a good idea what I've done and to warn others against doing that! TCAnd more:
OK, I've got back into the base. I'm attaching a pic of the base, the metal base is attached to the turntable with 2 fragile looking plastic rivets, so I have not attempted to pull that apart yet. And as I describe in the picture, the 4 coloured wires run together into 1 black which runs into the drive system. This black wire then runs up the bolt shaft and into a hole at the side of the shaft (couldn't get a picture of that, the angle was too difficult for taking pictures, I only managed to see by shining a torch up into the shaft). Do these pictures give you any further clue as to the problem? Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks! TC
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) Well, not a hint. You have MORE grease on the small reducer gears than I have ever seen in my life!! It is VERY possible that you have grease in the encoder and that is ALL that is wrong! Seriously....I would check that.....there is so much grease on those small gears that some had to have gotten thrown back in there. That would give you the same symptoms as you have described.... By the way, from the looks of it, you did NOT have the metal cover off the drive gear and shaft, right? Maybe the wires are okay and there is grease blocking the encoder light or wheel....use a TOOTHPICK to very gently clean the small lens and plastic white toothed gear that you will find BEHIND the large white gear at the top left of this photo..... Good luck! Clay SherrodAnd this:
From: email@example.com (Tham Chee Chung) Haha, I thought that seemed to be an extremely generous helping of grease too, but not being sure how much was too much or too little, I decided to leave it alone, simply checking the encoder to be sure there was no grease there. Well, now that it's been confirmed it's too much, I'll clean it off slightly (making sure that there is still sufficient to lubricate the surfaces) and check the encoders again. By the way, there are encoders in the Dec axis as well right? I guess I should check the Dec axis encoders as well, it's just I'm having some difficulty taking out the OTA, as I mentioned, cos of the tightness of the allen screws holding the OTA in place. Also I'm not too keen to get into the Dec axis, since the slewing seems to be pretty accurate already (but I do need to clamp pretty tight to hold the OTA though, is that a good 'nuff reason to get into the Dec axis? :-) ) OK will keep you guys posted. Very sorry about this long chain of mailings so far! TCAnd from Clay:
yes, there is an encoder assembly nearly identical in the DEC axis as well; but the disassembly process to getting to that is markedly different than that described for the older models. The motor assembly can be accessed only by removing an additional metal plate in the fork arm...you will see when you get in there. Be very careful when servicing/cleaning around those encoders....do not use metal around them nor exert any pressure as to upset their alignments. Also, I would not attempt any deviation nor adjustment of either axis gears....just get in there and clean off all that horrible grease and carefully clean the encoder wheel and lens. Best of luck! Clay
Subject: HELP!! ETX Dec Lock Problem Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 19:05:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org My "10,000 lb arm" has caused me grief!! Since losing the better portion of the strength in my left arm after a bad fall a few years ago, my right arm takes the brunt of all my work, and has developed to what my wife calls "the 10,000 lb arm" (usually referring to my painful grip when messaging her neck!) Anyway.. I recently received the 'NEW' Scopetronics ETX Camera adapter for my Olympus E-10, and have been waiting to try it out on something simple, like the beautiful crescent moon tonight. (I have a 125-EC) I can't see Polaris from my house, but really did not need to align to get to the moon. With my new adapter mounted, I placed a 26mm Plossl into the adapter, and screwed it onto the camera, trials already accomplished on terrestrial targets. Working great. Sighted in on the moon, popped up the LCD view screen on the camera and started to focus. All well. There it was. As I took my hand from the OTA guidance, the scope started to drift, back down, from the weight of the camera suspended at almost a right angle from the top eyepiece holder. I tightened the dec knob slowly, and the drift slowed. Again I tightened, again it slowed. But not STILL. One more slow turn, OOPS! Now I have the dec knob, and the setting circle in my hand, and the OTA comes spinning down with a crash of the camera against the tripod base!! Bang! (WHEW!! No damage thank Heaven the moon was high! That camera cost me more than my ETX-125!!) Well the "10,000 lb arm" has done its worst! The miniscule bolt that is pressed into the dec knob is sheared in two, and the scope is virtually useless! I am VERY mechanically inclined, but before I take this puppy apart, I sure would like some guidance from those who have accomplished this before. It is apparent I will need a new knob from Meade, but how do I get it? I have never had any luck getting anything directly from Meade. If anyone out there (Mike.. Clay??) knows how I can do this with the least amount of trouble and cost, I would sure appreciate a note from you! The weather here in Wisconsin just got warm this week, and I am ready! Well I was... :-( Now I am not! Help!! Just imagine this poor scope, peering sadly downward at the carpet, like it has a broken neck!! It'll make you cry!! It does me!! Thanks Doug NoyceMike here: Contact Meade; they will likely send you the replacement Right Tube Adapter for free or at low cost. Replacing it is easy; see the text and photos at the bottom of my ETX-90EC experiences page where I discuss replacing the RTA on the -90EC.
Subject: ETX-125 Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 15:04:17 From: email@example.com (divenuts) I have been reading lately about all the 'worry' of potential buyers of the wonderful ETX-125 EC. Perhaps it would help if you reprinted Dr. Clay's first review, (Clay Sherrod's ETX-125EC Experiences (1/31/01). I just re-read it for the first time in months and found it extremely informative and 'comforting'. Thanks again for your efforts, Chuck CallaghanMike here: It is always linked from the top of the current "ETX-125EC Feedback" page.
You are absolutely right.......however, most people (like me) usually just read the updated info and have a tendency to forget the wealth of information previously posted. Lately, the majority of e-mails are common user problems and the 'big deal??' on whether you have a 'new ' model or not. Personally, I never had a problem that wasn't user correctable. Dr Clay can make a newbie with problems feel like a veteran for $200 with his 'supercharge' service. Chuck
Subject: Motor Unit Fault Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 9:15:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tham Chee Chung) Thanks for the great site, has been an excellent source of info for me since I got my new 125 a few weeks back. However, just to make my little contribution, I'd like to report that my experience in opening up my 125's RA drive (as described in your Tune-Up section) was a little different than described. Removing the RA clamp and then the long tightening bolt on the base of the drive, did not disassemble the whole drive system as described. It only loosened the clutch plate, but the rest of the drive system still seemed to be "stuck" together in 1 piece. Remembering the parable of Humpty Dumpty, I hastily backed away from trying to pull the entire system apart. Even then, reassembling just the long bolt required 1 hand holding up the clutch plate at the bottom, and the other hand to push down on the bolt and twist and tighten it. I'm not sure if all this was because I was reading your site wrong, but I rather suspect it could be due to that this is a new drive system vs what you have reported on. Now my question. I'm having frequent Motor Unit Faults, especially when the scope is tracking objects at altitude of around 10 degrees. If it's tracking at 70 degrees or more, it can actually run for hours without the MUF appearing. Set it at 10, and it pops up after just a couple of minutes. I wonder could it be something to do with the Dec drive, since I did not take that one apart for 2 reasons - 1) the allen screws seemed to be extremely tight, and I was worried of stripping the allen screws, and then what would I do!; 2) after a different experience with the RA drive system from that described on the site, I was also not sure if the Tune-Up suggestions applied as well or not. Is there any other way of trying to fix this MUF problem without taking apart the Dec drive first? I would really like to leave that as a last resort, since I'm really quite worried about the screws stripping. Have you heard from anyone else who's taken apart the supposedly new 125 before? Thanks very much! TC SingaporeAnd from our hardware expert:
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) Actually this does NOT sound like the "new model." At all....for one thing, you cannot get to the clutch period without disassembling the majority of the base. The clutch, drive and worm gear and encoders, etc. are all housed neatly away by a large metal casing....How did he get that off? Secondly, the bearing/gear engagement on the new ETX 125 is different than what is being described here. Motor Unit Fault is typically a power problem...it sounds like when finished in the base, the wires were not snapped properly back into their respective pins....it is very easy to get these confused. Also, a MUF can occur when a person has tightened the worm gear WAY to tight against the driver, causing horrible torque on the small motor and/or gears. The MUF is a direct result of tinkering inside the base and apparently not doing it correctly. From the sounds of this, this is one tune up that should not have happened. To be right about all of it requires MUCH patience and time and this sounds as though the job was rushed....maybe not, but just my overall impression. The MUF is not appearing because of the DEC....that needs to be left alone at this point. With the newer model ETX 125s, I really find it hard based on this description to understand how he got access to the clutch and end of the bolt without disassembling the entire drive base. Clay
Subject: Buying a ETX-125 Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 6:36:54 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (steve roll) So I'm in the market for a "real" telescope. The ETX-125 seems to fit all my needs------big eye and portability. My question are : Has Meade taken care of all the problems from the introduction of the 125? Is the extra $200 for the Ultra-High Transmission Coatings worth itMike here: There were only a few problems that surfaced after the introduction in 1999. Those have been addressed by Meade. And whether the new coatings will be worth the money to you depends upon your use and expectations. See the report by Dr. Clay Sherrod on the Announcements-->Meade page.
Subject: ETX-125 Experiences Sent: Monday, April 15, 2002 17:57:49 From: email@example.com (Jeff Hyde) Like many others around the world, I have been calling regularly to your site over several years and have picked up much valuable information and tips from you and other contributors. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to the USA and decided to obtain an ETX-125EC as a replacement for my ETX-90RA which I have had for several years and been very happy with. I have always been interested to try astrophotography and thought the ETX-125 would give me a little more light gathering as well as the ability to track for short periods. Like many others, I was concerned about getting an "old" model with their reported problems. I did contact you prior to leaving but at that time no clear information was available. On arriving in the States I found many of the local dealers that were listed on Meade's website as official dealers were no longer stocking Meade products and those that were, had no telescopes in stock and could not guarantee to obtain the telescope and all the accessories I wanted in the two weeks I was there. I then resorted to the mail order stores and struck oil with Astronomics in Oklahoma, they were most helpful, having all the items I wanted in stock and said their last shipment from Meade was just before Christmas (2001) and they were certain that the telescopes were of the new type. After waiting the 2-3 days for delivery I checked out the telescope when it arrived and yes, it did have the ball bearings and metal forks as promised. As well, they sent a bunch of additional information on eyepieces, astrophotography and accessories. I can only say they were most helpful and would recommend them to anyone who is having trouble obtaining anything they need. Although I had to pay freight to get it, the freight cost was more than offset by the lack of tax having to be paid due to it being an out of state purchase. Which brings me to a point for others trying to identify old and new types. There has been various comment about what appears on the front of the manual, the dec arrows (or absence) on the fork arms, etc. If I had followed all these I would never have bought the scope I have - my manual has the ETX-90 and 125 on the cover, and dec arrows on both fork arms. The only sure and quick way to check, is to spin off the dec lock knob and graduated disk completely. This does no harm to the telescope but the metal fork arm and ball bearing can be clearly seen once the knob and metal disk are removed. For anyone checking telescopes instore I am sure that would not be a problem if the sales staff were asked first. For those who may be trying to work out the codes on the label attached to the outer top edge of the original shipping carton, my label had a number which could have been a date code. The three numbers that appear are:- MFR# 122001 (possibly a date code 12/20/2001?) 40-6400-05 (?) W/O 0111042-M1 (?) None of these numbers relates in any way to the serial number of the telescope which is found along one end of the battery compartment. My telescope S/N is 4025978 Perhaps if others with old/new scopes could share their number sequences it may easier to id the newer scopes. On the other hand, it may be that this information is a little to controversial to put out in the public domain and could cause problems for Meade and their dealers who may be left with a heap of "old" models. Like many others who have been faced with purchasing a scope in the USA and then transporting it home, I was somewhat apprehensive, (especially as it appears the warranty ceases to apply once the scope is taken out of the USA). I decided that more protection was the way to go and obtained a larger triple wall carton (25x20x28 inches) which gave me room to pack 2-3 inches of shock absorbing foam all around the original carton. I labelled the outer carton fragile and checked it in with the rest of my luggage. It was a great relief to see it undamaged on the baggage carousel at the end of a 28 hour trip! On checking it out back home, it does not seem to have suffered any damage in transit and now I can enjoy all that extra light gathering and goto luxury. Thanks again for a great site and for those who may be looking to purchase an ETX-125EC while visiting the USA, it is worth the trouble but plan ahead, use extra packing for the return journey and if you are having problems locating a dealer with current stock, give Astronomics a call. Kind regards, Jeff Hyde
Subject: Image Shift Sent: Monday, April 15, 2002 14:52:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (JOHANSEN Andrew) G'day Mike I have just received back a swapover ETX 125 after problems with a bent driveshaft somewhere in the RA drivetrain of my original. It is the latest model unit ie metal base with ball bearings in the Az as well as RA. The new OTA i have back appears to be exhibiting significantly more image shift than my old one but i have also got some new higher power eyepieces and a barlow so i realise this will accentuate the problem at the higher powers. I am sure there is a difference in shift, as doing the std out of focus start tests on either side of focus ( using a 26mmSP ) gives a noticable movement in target in the new OTA, whereas my old one had virtually none. ( Its been away for seven weeks so i am going on memory as to absolute magnitudes, but there is definitely a noticable difference ). Hence my question. What is normal? I have scoured your archives and current data re what is acceptable, normal, expected, "within specification" image shift for a 125 but everthing i have found so far talks in non specific terms, or drastically bad. ( I am definitely not in the league of half the FOV of a 26mm etc as some poor people appear to have had in the past.). When i first used the unit i focussed jupiter in a barlowed ( 2x ) 13.8SWA and the image went from centred to just out of view in the EP on reversing the focussing knob. As per clays answers to previous shift questions, I then moved the focus control across its full range half a dozen times and this certainly has reduced the problem relative to its inital state, but there is still noticable residual shift left. There is no binding in the focusser, no apparent bend in the shaft etc and everything operates very smoothly. I do not have the motorised focusser. I have mainly done terrestrial testing with the OTA horizontal, using lead weights on some powerlines approx 1Km away as a target and get the following results 26mmSP ~ 5-8% FOV shift. barlowed 13.8mmSWA ~20-30% FOV shift. The percentages i give above are relative to the FOV visible when my eye is centered in the EP and not moved. Based on some rough calculations this would give me shift in the order of 2-4 minutes The shift appears worst when rotating the focussing knob CCW as the target moves further to the right in the EP whilst there is torque on the focussing knob and then moves back a bit to the left when the knob is released. I can't tell whether or not the actual focus is direcly affected /distorted at this point as i have to wait for the tube to stop oscillating before my eye can focus on the image correctly. Focussing CW, the image just moves left and stays there without any backlash when the focussing knob is released Secondly, when focusing, it appears easier to focus when rotating the focusing knob CW vs CCW. ( I can still achieve clear focus in both directions but it is easier when going CW as there is no reverse movement when released.) Once focussed the optics appear OK and defocussed star images give clear concentric rings etc, but the shift really is distracting at the higher powers. Doing in focus star tests is rather difficult as i have not had any good clear still nights since getting the unit back. Did i just have a really good tube before and an average one now or does this one appear to be out of spec? What are the absolute values in arc minutes / seconds i should be expecting from a scope like this? PS I noticed it was quite easy to achieve a fine focus by using the mirror to get a rough initial focus and then using a jury rigged cam to allow me to move the EP in and out a bit ( +/- 2mm) to achieve the fine focus. This was all done with the OTA horizontal using gravity to hold the EP in but the focussing appeared to be much more forgiving this way and it also proved that a fine focus could be quite easily achieved. Do you know if there are any proper accessories available for the ETX that simulate this. I dont want to send the unit back if i dont have to and doing fine focussing this way would appear to eliminate a lot of my problems Ie unsteady hands on the knobs? Yours A Johansen Melbourne AustraliaMike here: The image shift I see with my ETX-125EC (an old one) is certainly not the diameter of Jupiter using any eyepiece. It is much less in fact. I haven't measured it but I would think anything more than Jupiter's diameter in the eyepiece would be excessive.
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2002 2:25:53 From: email@example.com (Peter van Camerijk) Here some regards from Holland. I really love your Site: it is great. I have to look over almost every day to see if there is something new. I am the proud owner of a ETX 125 (old model) and I am so happy with it!!!! I did upgrade my ETX as descriped at your Site and that worked very well. Unfortunately I am living near a Shoppingcentre with lots of Light. I am also forced to view the Heavenly Bodies from my Balcony and that is not so nice although the views from Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and M42 (with the broad band nebula filter #908B ( it cost a lot but it makes all the diference!!!!!). Fortunately we are planin gto move to a much better place with a nice garden with a very good view. So I can't wait. Ysterday I did some "blind" work with the Autostar, that is without really polar align with Polaris and without seeing the align stars!!!!!! And still the Autostar perfomed rather well!!!!! Is n't that amazing??? I did use Enter to sync with every Object!!! I am using the #883 tripod but I changed some parts of it. I made a Polar wedge from an old Loudspeakerstand and some parts of an old refractor telescope!!! You see I always keep old parts to use it someday (my Friend does not like that!!!! This stuff is always hanging around in our Home!!! That is what bothers her and as a matter of Fact she's right but I won't tell here that!!!). I changed the accesoiretray with a triangle of wood and I filled the aluminium legs with wood as well. Now it works very fine!!!! By the way, I used Felt to get rid of the play between the OTA holder arm and the mounting fork. You can buy it at a supermarket!!! It is exactly the right thickness and it has a adhesive layer on one side!!!! It workes very, very good: no play what so ever!!!! I als o did the degreasing part and everthing is working very well. I think what's the problem with some People is that they are tightening the clamps to hard!!!!!! Included I send you some pictures to look what i have been doing. This is the tipod and the wedge (don't look at the mess in the room but that is my room!!!):
This is the part to fine tune for the Polar alignment (from the old refractor!!!): The complete Setup: Have some really nice clear nights!!! Peter
Subject: re: My new ETX125 experience Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2002 6:32:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: Brian.Christensen@SunGard.com > Any ideas what made the scope slew around in circles and fail to align? easy: you had not -calibrated- the scope, (Setup > Telescope > Calibrate) So it wasn't seeing the encoders properly. When you get the MUF (motor unit fault) message -and follow the instructions-, it -does- a calibration (that short up/right slew) for you. Problem solved. (read the background poop at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html ) Setting the wrong Telescope Model (i.e. gear Ratios) can also cause this, but the self-correction is teh Calibration clue. > Is the included 26mm strong enough to "see" galaxies? try M82, too... it's a faint line, an edge-on view. have fun ---dick
Subject: How not to get an ETX125 across the pond! Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 13:43:35 From: MellowshipSlinky@aol.com I write regarding my previous e-mails (subject; ETX125 paranoia) having just returned from New York after collecting my 'new' ETX125. It goes without saying that the first thing We did after landing at Newark and collecting our rental car was visit the dealer I had ordered my scope with (Photo Works in Pleasantville NY...more about them in a moment) and sure enough, there it was, sitting in its box on the shelf, untouched by Ken (the proprietor), who, like me, thought that rather than check it out he would leave it boxed, fresh from Meade so no harm could come to it.....how wrong we were! Alarm bells rang as I got it back to our hotel and unpacked it only to be greeted with an old instruction manual - no ETX105 on the cover ...having visited your site many times now, I know that it's safe to assume that i've got a pre - September 2001 model - I cannot believe Meade are still sending out old models. Surely many people buy these scopes on the basis that the drive has been modified. After all, while being a relatively small scope, it is by no means cheap and I feel that it's the responsibility of a company like Meade to ensure that their customers get what is being advertised. I'm not sure about the trade description laws - but I don't think they should be allowed to advertise one thing and sell another - regardless of cost. Anyway, C'est La Vie, I know many people continue to use the old type of drive and are more than satisfied with what it can do...it's just a bit of a disappointment when you don't get what you could have. My disappointment grew considerably when I loaded the batteries, plugged in the Controller and flipped the switch.....nothing, nada, not a flicker! I took the batteries out, reloaded them and tried again (three times)...still no LED and no movement...so at 5 o'clock Friday afternoon (having looked forward to a weekend of observing I returned the scope to the dealer, hoping that I was just being an idiot and that there was some simple explanation for the problem...not a bit of it. Ken (an experienced ETX user) couldn't make it work either so he called Meade...only to discover that they had closed for the weekend...we were both getting a little peeved at this point, understandably I think. I left the scope at Photo Works, unsure as to whether I was going to be coming home with a telescope...or just a useless hard case, tripod and some eyepieces but luckily Ken really knew what he was doing and, having checked that it worked with a 12v adapter investigated the battery compartment. He found that a jumper had been omitted when the scope was put together and on replacement the drive started to work. Do Meade have a quality control department? Now, I don't know if I can endorse a Meade dealer on your site, but I feel it pertinent to say that, if you are in the Westchester area and considering buying any Meade instruments or accessories, you could do far worse than go to Photo Works at 60 Washington Avenue in Pleasantville NY; just north of White Plains, take the Taconic to route 117. They are on the Meade website as an authorised dealer and carry a large stock of Meade equipment...though for larger items you may have to order them in. I cannot say enough about how helpful, understanding and genuine both Ken and his Wife were. He went beyond the realms of customer service and I am so grateful to him, not to mention relieved that I didn't go somewhere else which may have resulted in me coming home empty handed. The return journey : As I mentioned previously, I had ordered the hard case for the 125 to be delivered at a friends house in NY, thinking this would be the best way to get it home. I called the airline to warn them that I had a large piece of carry on luggage, gave them the dimensions and was assured that as it was the only thing I was taking on board, they would do their utmost to stow it in the crew lockers for me. When I got to the check in desk, all that changed...since September 11th, understandably, check in procedures have changed dramatically and I was told that there was no way, I could take it on the plane due to the weight more than anything....even when I offered to put the scope in a holdall (brought along in case of this eventuality) the scope was still too heavy and I had to check it! The airline made me sign a release when I told them what it was worth and assured me that it would be hand carried to and from the plane, they seemed genuinely concerned and promised they would do all within their power to make sure the telescope reached England in perfect working order - that said, i'm sure you can imagine what an uncomfortable 7 hours that flight was for me! When I retrieved, my case (it was the first thing on the carousel and was standing upright so maybe the airline made good on their promise) the first thing I did was check for any dings or signs of mishandling on the outside. Apart from a few cosmetic scratches, there was no sign of any rough treatment so my outlook improved but I still had a two hour journey home before I could check it out properly. When I got home, I finally got the 125 out of its case and gave it the once-over.......the drives still work but more importantly, the optics don't seem to have come to any harm...I did a little terrestrial observing and everything seems ok but I haven't had a chance to do a star test yet, or use the autostar to see if it slews correctly but by the looks of the weather today, I should be able to get out there tonight and properly check if my ETX made it through its perilous journey...wish me luck! Sorry this mail has turned into a bit of a saga, but I just wanted to get across to anybody wanting to travel with the ETX125 that it is not feasible to fly with these things...For myself, I'm just hoping all the stress it caused me was worth it when I finally get to do some observing. I'm an engineer by trade so I'm probably going to perform the tune up operation outlined in your book, 'Using the Meade ETX' although, I fear for anyone not mechanically or technically minded who attempts this as it seems very involved. Best Wishes, Rob Vanderpere-BrownMike here: Glad things have apparently worked out. Before you decide to tackle any enhancements be certain your telescope actually NEEDS an enhancement. For many people, no enhancements are required (telescope or body).
Subject: Meade ETX-125EC 'know your weapon' question... Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 9:00:08 From: email@example.com (Or Dubnov) Bravo for the site of course, it's so interesting and informative I found out I knew some thingies even more experienced observers didn't... so I guess that must mean something due to my limited experience (yep! Im a newbie...:) 1) I wanted to ask how can I tell by looking at an ETX-125EC, what exact model it is? I saw repeated talks, on this page too, about various things like 'new style scopes', ones having ball bearings, metal in fork arms or other helpful differences within the model. What should I look for when buying this baby, and how can I check? 2) Also various AutoStar software and firmware bugs/fixes. I understand software can be updated by user, but is there any other part of the automated system that I need to be aware of? Thanx!Mike here: Unfortunately there are no known foolproof external things to look at which can determine old vs new. Things like the DEC scale arrow pointer, whether the manual says ETX-90, 105, and 125EC, whether it just arrived at the dealer, are all things that have been thought to be indicative and then later found to not always be true. So the only sure-fire method is to open it, thereby voiding the warranty (something the dealer is not likely to let you do before the purchase). However, it you get specify one with the new UHTC coatings I suspect you'll get a new one. As to your second question, I'm not certain what you are asking.
Subject: RE: focussing the ETX 125 Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 3:44:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (C Letts) I tried that too but our 'pins' (pegs) are a little too small for the diameter of the focus knob. Yes - my problem with the switch can happen even indoors in the warm, but usually when using the scope it works fine the first 2-3 times I switch on, but after that it's about 50% of the time hence I figured the cold/damp is affecting it. Maybe I should just leave it on all the time I'm outdoors, although that will of course use up the batteries - I don't think Meade supply a mains power adapter that works on our 240 volt supply - the catalogue only says 110 volts - but I'm working on finding one in the UK... My car is even further away from the scope than the house so a 12 volt cord is no use. Your chat pages are very interesting - I think the summary seems to be that if you get a good one, they're great, but on the whole the quality isn't too good, and the support outside the U.S. is lacking. I also didn't know before purchase about 'old' and 'new' so have ended up with an 'old' model (although I did get a discount on it). If I'd read them before purchase I'd seriously have thought twice about going for a Meade. Cheers..Mike here: I'm sure you can find a 240V solution. I do not recommend trying to determine percentages of problems vs no problems from the comments on my ETX Site. Keep in mind that most people only write when they have problems or complain about something. Very few people write it to say how great their system works or to complain about a lack of problems. Meade has several probably tens of thousands of telescopes if not a lot more. If there was a high percentage of problems they would have gone out of business a long time ago.
Subject: My new ETX125 experience Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2002 15:00:45 From: Brian.Christensen@SunGard.com Hello again, Having read a good bit on your site, and your response to my previous question, I decided the ETX 125 was the right scope for me. I will start by saying that if I had not had the resource of your site, its instructions, and encouragement, the scope would be back at the Discovery store. However, I also promised myself that I would be positive, noting how many visitors have complaints or other issues. I am happy to say that I am now elated with my ETX125. My ETX experience: I purchased the ETX125 and the Autostar controller a few weeks ago. The first night, I didn't even take the Autostar out of the box, but used the standard controller. I installed new batteries, installed and aligned the finderscope, then using the directional buttons. It was easy to locate and align Jupiter, two dark bands easily visible. The view was nice, much sharper than my old "department store" scope, which my kids had brought outside but quickly abandoned. Moved to Saturn, it looked good also. Moved to the sword of Orion and easily located M42, something I had never done (or seen) before. Second evening, it was getting dark, I had (re)read the manual and I was going to use the Autostar tonight. I quickly trained the drives using a nearby church steeple. I put the scope in home position, then tried to align. I thought I knew a few stars, but quickly was lost, finally settled on Arcturus (having recently learned "Arc to Arcturus, spike to Spica"). The scope started moving and kept right on going, past Arcturus, doing another 360, and hitting the stop, resulting in a "motor fault" message. I turned the scope off, put it in home position, and tried again, and again. Same result. Now I was upset! I put the scope away for the night. Third evening. I followed your sites (Dr. Clay's) instructions and trained the drives on Polaris. I was very careful and precise. I paid special attention to do both altitude and azimuth, noting the mentioned potential for error there. (hum..., had I done that incorrectly before?) I again tried the align: I think (I don't really remember now) it first chose Polaris, which it only had to move up for and I easily lined up. I crossed my fingers, then I believe it chose Arcturus again. It spun to the right, past the target, another 360, and hit the stop. I just let it go, figuring I'd burn something up and then take it back to the store! But then, several seconds (more than 10!) after the "motor fault" message, instructions started to stream across the Autostar, basically explaining that I should "remove the obstruction" (which gave me a laugh), put the scope back in home position, then press Enter. (I had always turned the scope off before this point in earlier attempts). I followed the instructions as displayed. It performed the same alignment again, only it worked this time! I chose the Guided Tour, it spun to Jupiter, in the finderscope, off to one side, but very acceptable, especially given the previous performances. I centered it, then held the Enter key, a few seconds, then Enter again to synchronize. Next Saturn, not quite in the eyepiece, but close. From there it chose several obstructed "M" items. Then it went to "Praesepe". It was breath taking. Filled the eyepiece with pairs of stars. I stayed out until after 1am looking at things for hours. I truly saw more that night than I had in all of 30 years prior. I was easily able to locate and see several open clusters, and a few "globs", but I was unable to detect/see any of the galaxies. I have used the scope several times since and it has worked great. I am careful to "park" the scope before turning it off. Alignment is almost exact the next night, with little effort. This past Saturday evening (before daylight savings) I quickly looked at Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and several other objects, all before dinner! As I stated earlier, I am now very happy with my ETX 125! A few more questions if I may: Any ideas what made the scope slew around in circles and fail to align? I believe it is an "old" one, it didn't have the 105 on the manual. It also makes a slight (not disturbing) "cicada sound" while tracking. Is the included 26mm strong enough to "see" galaxies? I could not detect any elliptical objects, etc. Is the image with the 26mm and the 2x Barlow nearly as good as a 13mm eyepiece would be? I plan to get the Meade 2x Barlow (for my "second eyepiece" as recommended) with the "Discovery Points" I accrued purchasing the scope! I note, and understand, your dislike for zoom eyepieces (I have three fixed lenses for my old 35mm camera, NO ZOOM there either!) and so imagine that the results with the Barlow must be acceptable. Does the "light pollution" filter really help? I live in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, AL, and there are a lot of mercury vapor, sodium, and even fluorescent lights nearby. (I can't wait to go to the country with the ETX!). I also hunt satellites at dusk and can usually see Mag 3, but no better. I note the suggested use of colored filters for planetary observation, and they are very affordable. However I would like to be sure a $100 filter is worth it. Again, thanks for both your assistance and a great web site! Brian Christensen P.S. I understand you are a Mac user. I am fluent in both Mac and Windows. I make a point of explaining to Windows users that you don't have to "fix things" with a Mac, they work out of the box. I recommend iMacs as "first computers" for families with no experience.Mike here: A couple of questions about aligning process: did you rotate the forks to the proper hard stop and then back about 120 degrees? Does the Autostar have the proper parameters set including telescope model? Don't forget to set the proper Daylight Savings Time value. You can see galaxies with the 26mm, especially M31 in Andromeda. But the smaller/fainter ones will be difficult no matter what eyepiece you use but they can be easier in the 26mm due to its brighter image. Just don't expect to see much more than a faint fuzzy blob. Yes, the 26mm + 2X Barlow Lens is nearly as good as a 13mm assuming you get a quality one (like the Meade and some others). See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page for comments on the various filters. For some objects in some situations they can do miracles; in other situations they may make matters worse. Don't expect to use high magnifications with the LPR filters or any of the darker filters. And yep, I use a Mac, several in fact. I can also tolerate Windows when I have to...
Subject: RE: Supercharged ETX Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 17:16:44 From: Bob To: email@example.com ('Clay Sherrod') Clay, Just wanted to let you know that I have received your e-mail and am busy identifying the observing site locations I want programmed into my autostar and the corresponding coordinates. I should be able to get those to you in within a couple of days. Also, I want to acknowledge and thank you for the unknowing role you have played in my even being able to make this purchase. The story goes like this: Last fall, I picked up an ETX 60 (totally on a whim) at Costco (warehouse club) for $139, then realized that I needed a "few" accessories to really be able to enjoy it. Several hundred dollars (a Meade case, tripod - fortunately I couldn't find a 882 and accepted an 884 on the recommendation of a dealer, finder scope, 6mm lens and barlow) and a couple of months later I stumbled across Mike Weasner's ETX website. On the ETX website I belatedly learned that there were many lower cost alternatives to the money I had spent, but I also began to acquire the knowledge needed to truly appreciate the capability of the ETX 60. Since then I've been enjoying my ETX 60 immensely, but my case of aperture fever has been steadily rising. Well, after completing my taxes and realizing that we would be getting a substantial refund, my first thoughts turned to an ETX 125. The challenge was my skeptical wife. While she has become almost as fascinated with astronomy as I have (she has been involved with all but one observing session to date and was absolutely thrilled with her first view of Jupiter's moons and Saturn's rings) and was grudgingly willing to accept the cost of the telescope itself, she understandably asked if a new telescope wouldn't also require a whole new round of accessory purchases. Fortunately, I was able to explain to her that I can now refer to the ETX website for numerous cost saving tips. I told her specifically about a well know ETX astronomer named Clay Sherrod who made a mounting pier out of PVC sewer pipe, a carrying case out of a $20 trunk from Wal-Mart and a back deck observatory for $300 in materials. Frankly, I think it was the story of your $20 Wal-Mart case vs. the $60 I paid for the ETX 60 case and the $150 Meade wants for their ETX 125 case that convinced her to agree to a new telescope. After the successful marketing pitch to my wife, learning from the ETX website that I could mail order a supercharged ETX 125 for not much more than I would pay locally for an unsupercharged scope (8.8% local sales tax!) was just frosting on the cake. So, thanks to both you and Mike for everything you've done for me so far, and thanks in advance for the work you are about to do supercharging my new ETX 125. Bob -----Original Message----- From: Clay Sherrod [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Hello Bob - Michael Webb at Sight and Sound Shop wanted me to get in touch with you to arrange for some observing site coordinates to be entered into your custom Autostar upload that I will be doing for the ETX 125 Supercharge...if you can send those to me I will be able to go ahead and formulate the new version for you and have ready when the scope arrives. Thanks! Clay ---------------------------------------- Dr. P. Clay Sherrod email@example.com Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.org
Subject: focussing the ETX 125 Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 13:31:22 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (C Letts) I recall a comment regarding the difficulty in focussing without making the scope wobble I too noticed that problem, but physics to the rescue if you locate the allen key in its slot on the focussing knob, the leverage allows you to use it to focus much more accurately with muss less scope movement. My latest problem seems to be the on/off switch which doesnt always switch on the motors, especially when cold (which is a lot of the time here !) Im loathe to return the scope to the dealer because he has told me that due to a manufacturing problem hell be unable to get a replacement for 3 months or moreMike here: Many people have used a clamp type clothes pin to accomplish the same thing. As to the switch, does the problem happen indoors?
Subject: My wonderful ETX-125 EC Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 12:15:05 From: email@example.com I keep reading a lot of your mail that tells of many people having lots of problems with thier ETX scopes. Well, I've had mine for about a month and a half and have nothing but praise for it. I did no research and chose the scope on instinct. I then melted my credit card with the #884 tripod, (solid as a rock with a built in wedge. Mounting is incredibly easy. Just tilt the wedge and engage two hand screws.) 9.7mm eyepiece, power supply, autostar, barlow, hard case and some filters. I know that I have one of the new style scopes with ball bearings and metal in the fork arms. Lucky. My scope is wonderful and works perfectly. It's handy to set up and tear down. Easy to fit in the car for trips to my dark sky site. Every thing looks wonderful in it. My first views of the planets dropped my jaw and the first time I saw the Great Orion Nebula I thought something was wrong with the scope. I never expected anything so BIG. As you can tell I am a total beginner. But I'm learning fast and am totally enjoying my ETX. I just thought I'd make a positive comment about the Meade ETX scopes as so much of your mail seems to be people with problems. I bet I'm not alone. There must be plenty of us totally happy skywatchers who just stay quite and wnjoy thier ETX's. Thanks, Mark P. "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
Subject: ETX 125 Dec Slip Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2002 19:58:10 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jill and Kenny Towne) Compliments on a great site. It was a great source of information when we purchased our 125. We absolutely love it. However, the last ten days it has developed an annoying habit that has me wanting to wring its little blue neck! The Dec axis is slipping frequently. I finally disassembled the fork arm to clean the clutch and gearing per the recommendations on the Scopetronix page. It works just fine and then for no apparent reason it struggles to lift itself from a low dec position. I am at a loss. I really hesitate to clamp down too much on the Dec knob as I already had to repair it once (J-B Weld works wonders!) but I believe it is sufficiently tight. The clutch surfaces have been roughed up as well. I am open to suggestions. It works for about an hour of observing and starts slipping and it's driving me nuts! Is there an aftermarket part to remedy this? I can envision the fix for this problem by "corrugating" the contact surfaces but this is more a solution that would be designed in. Help! Thanks in advance, Ken and Jill TowneMike here: Currently the only "aftermarket" solution is Dr. Clay Sherrod's "SuperCharge" service listed on the ETX Site.
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) This likely is a good example of "over-correcting" a problem. I think what is happening is NOT slipping, but a combination of some slipping and also worm gear binding that is causing the telescope to load up unnecessarily during upward motion as you describe. It sounds like there is much out of adjustment in the DEC drive....good performance is not simply a matter of roughing up the surfaces and cleaning off the grease....it is a balance of adjustment, loading the gears, and aligning all properly so that the response is perfect in all directions. You have a mechanical axis that is badly in need of a complete and thorough adjustment.... Clay Sherrod
Subject: ETX 125 and Nesxtar Comparison Page Question Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2002 11:24:27 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William J. Gollatz) I have a question about that page. Being that the scopes are of the same size, roughly same optics, why does the Nexstar have better deep sky photogrpahy capabilitiy? It seems as though from reviews that the ETX tracks better.Mike here: Depends upon your meaning of DSO photography. Neither scope will do it well but it can be done with either telescope as evidenced by the astrophotography on the ETX Site. It just takes some patience, experience, lots of trial and error, and luck (but that is generally true of astrophotography with many telescopes).
Subject: New ETX-125 x3 Sent: Monday, April 8, 2002 14:45:26 From: AdventureHounds@aol.com I saw your webpage and read all about my new 125. I didn't realize I had an image shift problem till I saw it in the tech pages. I also had a very sloppy vertical fork drive. I had gotten used to focusing and chasing Saturn all around the EP and thought that was the nature of the beast. Today I called up The Discovery Channel store where I bought it 3 weeks ago and they exchanged it for a new one with no hassle. I noticed right away it was much tighter just putting it up on the tripod. I installed the viewfinder and a 26 mm EP. When I went to move the flip-mirror to view I found to my horror it only moved half way. I opened up the photo port a part of the rear mirror was hitting the flip device. I called the store back and they gave me another scope. After I unpacked this one I found some idiot put the rubber feet over the screw holes on the base so the steel plate would not fit!. I shaved them off with a straight razor and reglued them in the proper place. Pretty sloppy Q/C. I recalibrated the motors and trained the drive and now I hope I can see some objects tonight and see if the shift is lesser. Thanks for a great site. Geoff HendricksonMike here: Sorry about the difficulties but nice to hear the dealer is taking care of you.
Subject: Use ETX 60 eyepieces/barlows with ETX 125? Sent: Monday, April 8, 2002 0:31:34 From: email@example.com (Robert A. Miller) I really appreciate your sight and just made a $25 donation to keep it going. I wish I had stumbled across it sooner as it certainly would have saved me both time and money. I currently have an ETX 60 and am about to purchase an ETX 125. Will the Meade ETX 60/70 eyepieces and barlows I already have work with the ETX 125 (focus travel?), at least until my credit card balance recovers a bit? Thanks for the great site, Bob MillerMike here: Yes, the eyepieces will work and the Barlow Lens probably will.
Subject: 4.7mm UWA Sent: Sunday, April 7, 2002 12:44:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Can you tell me how a Ultra Wide Angle 4.7mm (1.25") will work in my ETX125 telescope?Mike here: You will probably not like it as any 4.7mm will exceed the theoretical maximum magnification for the ETX-125EC. So images will be faint and very fuzzy.
Thanks for your input. I am just starting out. I just bought my ETX-125. I know that there are five planets coming up for alignment soon . What eye piece do you recomend for my telescope. I would appreciate any help you can give me.Mike here: I use the Meade 9.7mm eyepiece but other users like other eyepieces. See the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page as well the Buyer/New User Tips page.
Subject: Meade ETX125 Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2002 0:21:29 From: email@example.com (C Letts) Interested to read your comments re this scope. I just purchased one, and my initially impressions were not too favourable considering the not inexpensive cost of the scope here in the UK, I had expected a more robust item. I found it too easy during assembly to leave things too loose and have the scope suddenly fling itself to one side or the other (it doesnt seem too well balanced) I hope the optics can stand some hammering ! As for the mounting on tripod, I was supplied with an 884 tripod which Im told is more stable than the 883. Problem here is that the instruction with the scope still refer to the 883, so having diligently inserted the tripod mounting plate, as soon as I tightened the mounting bolts, the clips holding them in place flew off in several directions ! Its seems you are not supposed to use the plate with this new tripod as the clips foul the base of the plate I finally got to use the scope tonight, and yes, as you observe, it is difficult to do anything such as focus without causing the image to move again as I have said, it seems a little flimsy for its price. Despite a slight mist, I got some great images of Jupiter and Saturn. Unfortunately too misty low down to view the comet maybe tomorrow.Mike here: What did you mean by "I found it too easy during assembly to leave things too loose"?
The manual warns against overtightening, so I guess I erred too much the other way - in particular, the declination lock - when I mounted the telescope onto the tripod, the imbalance caused it to tip over and the tube hit the drive base quite hard - didn't seem to do any damage luckily.....
Subject: ETX125 Goto results Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2002 6:44:23 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Arruda) I just wanted to let you know how great your site is. I recently went through an ETX125 (old style from May, 2000) and made all of the adjustments and modifications recommended by Dr Clay. The only difference was instead of rubber tube patch material for the arms, I used 3/8-inch self adhesive weather stripping material. It worked well. After training, I still wasn't satisfied with the backlash and decided to go back into the drives and adjust the worm gears as described by Mr. Blesssing. I never got a chance to retrain the drives because of the weather. Last night, I took the scope out to try to hunt down comet Ikeya-Zhang. After polar aligning, and failing to find the comet (it was too low in the light-polluted section of the sky), I set the scope to 'high-precision' and went about the Guided Tour. With a Meade 32mm eyepiece, the guide stars were within the field of view. After hitting enter, the selected object was placed dead center in the eyepiece. I thought 'this is cool.' It was better than I ever had it. I haven't decided to retrain yet. I may just leave well enough alone. For anyone who has an 'old-style' ETX, following the 5 steps to the perfect Goto scope will get it working satifactorily. Also, make sure to get into the gears to adjust the worms and tighten everything down. Like I said, this is cool. What used to take hours with 'star hopping' now takes minutes. We spend more time observing than hunting. Clear skies Steve
Subject: New 125/possible problems? Sent: Monday, April 1, 2002 20:35:49 From: email@example.com (Mike Quinn) Just unpacked, aimed and tried out my brand new 125. Haven't hooked up Autostar yet. I have 2 possible problems. First, when I slew to the left, and center my new target the scope hesitates for a second at the new aim point and then goes back to the right far enough to move my new target about 1/4 of the field of view. Is this normal? Second, if you look at the lens straight on, the lower right quadrant looks "dusty" and it appears to be both inside and out. I blew on the outside and it was still there. Is this possibly a problem with the coating on the lens? I sure as heck do not want to take it apart to look at the inside, at least not yet. Do I need to take this thing back. They seem to have a pretty good rep at this store. Thanks, Mike Quinn PS I only got about 5 minutes of viewing before the clouds rolled in.Mike here: Are you overtightening the azimuth lock? With the standard controller there should be no reversal of direction. However, there can be some "slop" in the gear takeup, resulting in what is known as "backlash". But normally this will only be seen when starting movement, not as a reversal. As to the lens, it may or may not be normal. If you are shining a light directly into the tube, then ignore what you see. Shine the light across the lens, not into it.
Thanks for getting back so quickly. I did the light across thing and that seems to be okay. I think I might have them look at it though. Do they sometimes need cleaning right out of the box? Inside and out. Seems unlikely. As for the overtightening, when I first wrote I had the lock at the midway point. I loosened it in steps and the backlash was lessened but still there. I unlocked it completely and it was there, but very slight. There seemed to be nothing on the takeup regardless of where the lock was set. Your site is a great help especially for newbies like myself. Thanks for the help.Mike here: With care, cleaning is rarely required, whether new or used for several years. As to the lock, midway on the lever is not an indicator of the degree of lock-ness. It is more a "feel" thing. Let me know what the dealer does.
Subject: Update on the ETX-125 . Sent: Monday, April 1, 2002 19:16:57 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (steve gilberts) I just wanted to give an update on my ETX-125 situation. My discussion with Scott Byrom on March 12 went very well. His position was that since an upgraded 125 had been specified by Mr. Brunker and myself than that is what I should have and Meade would just make an even swap. Before we ended the conversation he had issued the UPS call tag. That afternoon I re-packaged the old scope and wrote my name, address, and Mr. Byrom's return code on the shipping box. On March 13 UPS picked up the old scope. On March 14 Mr. Brunker emailed me to let me know that a package had arrived from Meade with my name and address on it. Uh oh! I called Mr. Brunker and confirmed that, yes, it was the scope that UPS had picked up from me. There was a code for his shop on the box that UPS had read instead of the new info. He took off the old code to get it ready for the next pickup and I called and left a message on Mr. Byrom's voice mail to let him know about the mis-directed delivery. On March 21st the telescope was still at Mr. Brunkers. That was kind of scary. The next day I talked to Andrew at Meade who gave me the good news that Mr. Byrom had a new model ETX-125 for me. He was going to test it over the weekend to make sure everything was in working order. If it checked okay it would be sent out to me. Andrew assured me that Mr. Byrom knew the old telescope was at Mr. Brunker's shop and since they knew where it was there would be no problem shipping the new one before the old one had returned. Great! On March 29 I called Meade to see how everything was progressing. I talked to Ozzie in technical support who told me that there was a new telescope ready to be mailed to me. They were just waiting for me to send back the old telescope. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I asked Ozzie if Mr. Byrom was in. Ozzie replied that he was, but he was in a meeting, so I said I would call back later. A quick call to Mr. Brunker confirmed that the telescope was still at his shop. Eventually I was able to speak to Mr. Byrom who told me (to my relief) that he had forgotten to issue the call tags for the old scope and the new scope that Ozzie thought was on hold for me had not been up to par. Mr. Byrom said that there were some slewing and backlash problems with it but there were 3 more that he was going to test and that he would be in contact with me when he had a winner. Today I received an email from Mr. Brunker that UPS had picked up the old telescope. I think its all finally coming together. That is the story up to date. Stay tuned for further developments. Sincerely, Steve Gilberts
Subject: BRAND NEW ETX125EC WITH UHTC COATINGS OPTIONMike here: Clay Sherrod has tested the new coatings (but not on an ETX). You can see his report linked from the Meade Announcements page. Since the coating offering is so new there are no other reports that I'm aware of.
- FACTORY INSTALLED........... Sent: Monday, April 1, 2002 13:18:27 From: JimStout@users.com (Jim Stout) I just ordered the brand new ETX125EC with the UHTC lens coatings option from the Meade factory ($95.00 extra). The scope will also have the new metal fork arms and metal roller bearings. Has anyone tested this new scope design with the special coatings ? Meade claims a 20 % increase in brightness and resolution with the new coatings. I ordered the scope today from Shutan and they said I was the first to order this option with the new ETX from their store.
Subject: ETX 125 EC (International) Motors Very Sloppy Sent: Monday, April 1, 2002 9:01:30 From: email@example.com (Harrison HK Kim) I purchased an ETX 125 EC in Seoul, Korea last week and had it replaced with another one this afternoon. I asked the shop to replace it with a post September 2001 model but was advised that none were available here in Korea. The original one from last week suffered a total failure of the vertical motor. The new one suffers from a horizontal motor failure. It slews, but the speed is out of my control altogether and seems to vary from 1 to 9 with rubberbanding of its own volition in a kind of dance. I've trained the drives (both horizontal and vertical) twice with as much accuracy as I could muster. Four Questions: Is this sloppiness in the gears "normal" and therefore not subject to warranty repair? If subject to warranty repair, will Meade ship me a new post September 2001 product to Korea? If Meade won't ship me a scope that works properly, is the fix easy and something I can entrust to a repair guy in Korea? (And so far I have to say that the atmospherics at the Meade authorized dealer in Korea has a bit of a Mad Max thing going on.) If Meade won't ship me a proper scope to Korea, would you think there would be any problem in simply returning the scope for a refund? (I had to buy another eyepiece and a barlow lens from the shop in order to induce them to replace the vertically malfunctioning scope for the one that malfunctions horizontally. They initially demanded that I leave everything with them for a period of time so they could review the situation, leaving them with both my money and my scope into the indeterminate future.) Finally, has the production run for the 90 been more consistent such that I needn't worry about pre or post some timeframe? (I expect that a full refund is going to be impossible at this authorized dealership, and at a minimum I will likely have to buy something from them.) I find all of this rather disappointing. Plastic gears or brass ones, they should still function out of the box within some acceptable parameter. If this were a car (or even a scooter) there would have been a flurry of litigation already. Something that pretends to be a scientific instrument (at least to some level of precision) should to my mind have been built to closer tolerances before leaving the factory. These scopes are twice as expensive internationally as they are in the US, and my experience thus far with Meade is doing nothing for their brand image. If these malfunctions were known to Meade, they should have recalled these products immediately. I certainly hope that they aren't distributing all of their pre September 2001 products internationally, hoping that the international consumers will bite whatever bait is fed them. About the Autostar system: Mine was made in Taiwan. Is this true of all of the Autostar hand controllers? When the cord is slightly taut (not severely so) the controller emits a random command, usually to slew, though my fingers are clear of the buttons. When I let the controller cord fall fully slack again, yet another command is issued and the scope goes into another dance. With the controller in my hand I am afraid, not only of moving, but of stirring even slightly. What's the story? So far, as a toy, the scope has provided virtually no entertainment value. As an instrument or tool, it has failed entirely. I think there should be little doubt at this point that both Meade and its international dealers are taking far too much margin on these products, in a manner completely out of scale with the quality of the goods being marketed. With increases in price there should be proportionate increases in quality. I feel a bit victimised at the moment, as though I've been knowingly stuffed with below-grade goods; and it is my strong suspicion that the non-US market is a repository for products that Meade know to be lower in quality than the goods sold in the US. Yours, Harrison HK KimMike here: Sorry to hear you've had problems. I can only say that some people have experienced problems and some haven't. There are many variables that can affect the Autostar. You didn't specify the power source but low batteries can cause all kinds of havoc. Also, not entering the proper settings in the Autostar or when swapping telescopes, not doing a RESET and RECALIBATION, as well as reTRAINing the drives, can affect its ability to do its job. Bottom line: if you are not happy for whatever reason, exchange it or return it through your dealer. Alternatively, work with the telescope some more to see if operator error could be a factor.
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