Last updated: 26 April 2005
Subject: etx125 pe uhtc Sent: Saturday, April 23, 2005 17:19:31 From: ABNorris@aol.com (ABNorris@aol.com) Thanks for such a great web site! I got my 125 pe about two weeks ago, and your site prepared me well. This is my first goto scope, but I had used a 6 inch f/8 newtonian on an equatorial mount for years, so I was a little prepared for the possible observing/alignment problems. Let me say first that I am pleased beyond words with the scope I got. That is not to say there were/are no glitches, which I will briefly list: 1. The c-rings, washers and spring would not stay on the screws of the tripod. So, I just left them off and the screws haven't fallen out yet. 2. The finder. I had to mess around with the Autostar finder set menu to get the thing to stay on, and it still goes off occasionally, but returns with a press of the light button. 3. I had to put my initial info in several times before it "took." 4. I am by no means a computer geek, but I successfully got it hooked to the computer, after I bought the RS232 to USB connector (Belkin, at local computer warehouse. I showed the salesman the cable connector that came with the scope, and it just confused him. I had to persuade him that was what I wanted.) The only remaining glitch I have is that in the Autostar, the LST (local sidereal time) is off by about four hours. Every time I go through the auto align, the first guide star is off by 15 to 30 degrees, and the second guide star is within 5 degrees. It isn't that big a problem, mainly just a minor nuisance to me, but to others, it could be very frustrating. Is there a software problem in the Autostar program that can be corrected to yield the correct local sidereal time? Having said all that, I am still stunned with how easy this scope is to use, and how impressive the views are. I do not have easy access to a dark site, but with this scope I just pick it up on the tripod, walk it to the drive way with a stool, and in just a few moments I am getting spectacular views. The goto accuracy has been dead on with almost every object I have searched for. I thought that would take away from some of the "real" astronomy of star-hopping, but I can always do that when the batteries run down! Thanks again for the great site and info! AnthonyMike here: The red dot is normally off once star alignment is done. As you note, you can get it to come back on. As to the LST, the latest update (3.3EI) is supposed to fix a bug in LST. I haven't loaded it yet myself.
Wow! Thanks for the quick response. When I get the update, I'll let you know how it works. Anthony
Subject: ETX125PE Problems continue Sent: Saturday, April 23, 2005 06:50:08 From: PBrady (firstname.lastname@example.org) Our saga continues. You may recall that I vented on you a while ago when we purchased a beautiful new 125PE that, out of the box and wearing its inspection sticker proudly, immediately demonstrated a MDF in the alt motor. Back to Meade. Five (working) days on the UPS truck. Ten days at Meade. Five (working) days on the UPS truck. Opened the box... the alt clutch knob is sitting free in the bad next to the tube. Strange (looking bad here)! OK, I'll try screwing it back in (a screw this long does NOT come loose in shipping). No luck. No clutch. I can't even manually point this thing, so we are worse off than when it made its first trip back. This bad boy is heading back to Meade. Of course, there phone system was not quite working on Friday... [is company having financial problems?] I do not know what they are doing out there. I don't really care. There is no excuse for QC at this level... and two blunders IMHO look like a bad quality culture. We WILL get this dealt with. I certainly expect to be chatting with Meade management come Monday. But the terrible issue is that we were looking to pick up a nice and larger scope... I was even toying with those new R/Cs... no way! No way am I going to take that kind of risk with this company. I expect better quality control out of Fisher-Price for Heaven's sake. Intolerable. Hopping mad in Minnesota, Paul
Subject: How to test communications to an Autostar Sent: Saturday, April 23, 2005 00:25:19 From: Steven & Simone Mohr (email@example.com) Dear Michael and Richard, On Friday I purchased a ETX125PE and to my dismay a number of faults occurred. But thankfully prior to my acquisition I had read numerous articles from the Michael Weasner site that covered my two problems. The first was the continuous loss of date, time and location. The second was a non responsive Autostar to PC control. The pin out test resolved the issue and now the unit seems okay. Tonight's the night! Hopefully the unit will align correctly and even if the night is not great for viewing, I'll be happy to have resolved the issues. Thank you very much. Kindest regards Steven Mohr Melbourne, Australia.
Subject: ETX 125 PE Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 21:28:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Great web site! I made a pledge tonight after experiencing the ETX 125 for the first time. I purchased this scope based on all that I read on your web site. I have never owned a scope of this quality and was used to much lower level scopes in the past. I am a newbie to the Autostar hand controller and GOTO scopes. I had to send my scope back to Meade after it first arrived due to the "motor unit fault" death message. I practiced with this ETX 125 scope indoors trying to get used to the controls and practicing setting it up. I would recommend any new user do this as well. When you do an Auto Alignment the scope won't point north when it is seeking it. I may be wrong on this but it rotates back and forth figures out where it is and then moves on to other functions like tilt. Once all the adjustments are completed it slews to the first alignment star. If you are indoors just press Enter as if you were aligned and go to the next star. Repeat. And then play with the menus with the manual beside you. If you get lost/frustrated. Turn the power off and start over. My smart finder unit has me perplexed. I can't even get it close to pointing in the right direction. I see the dot but it is pointing way off and nothing I have figured out can get it even close. I stopped by Wal-Mart and bought a $8 red dot scope for a BB gun and some Velcro tape. I stuck the scope on the side of the scope with Velcro lined it up in about 2 mins and it worked. I used the rest of the Velcro to be able to attach the hand controller to the leg of the tripod HIGHLY recommended and a tip I found on this web site. I took the scope out tonight in a very bad viewing area lots of light and limited viewing area from my balcony. I was able to get a one star alignment. The scope was off the first star by a big margin, which may be my smart finder not being aligned. The second star I couldn't make out and just pushed Enter. I then selected the moon as my first target and the scope slewed right to it. I was not only surprised but also very happy I enjoyed this view for a little while. I then went to Jupiter and to tell you the truth I have never viewed it through a telescope with this clarity before. I had to center it due to my poor alignment but after that the scope tracked it. I spent about 30 mins switching lenses filters etc. The scope tracked Jupiter the whole time. I was very impressed with the ETX 125, as I knew it did this inspite of my ignorance! I am looking forward to tomorrow night as I am going out to a dark area and spending more time with this scope. Even with the problems I had Meade is very responsive and customer service is great. With this web site and all it's contributors you should be able to solve any problems you may have. Craig DeMarisMike here: If you haven't already, take a look at my ETX-105PE comments (linked from the top of the current "ETX Premier Edition" feedback page); I include a comment and photo of a common SmartFinder problem and fix. There are also some SmartFinder tech tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject: Re: Etx 105 pe Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 18:31:38 From: josh rhines (firstname.lastname@example.org) Do u know where I could get these doublestick felt pads? Thanks JoshMike here: Probably your local office supply store.
Subject: Etx 105 pe Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 11:31:03 From: josh rhines (email@example.com) i need some advice. Meade sent me a viewfinder for the original 105 a while ago and unfortunatly because of the LNT module the the bracket for the viewfinder does not not line up with the screw. It is a couple of centimeters too short. I've seen people who make modified viewfinders. Here is my idea (and I dont know why it took 2 months to figure this out) I thought about superglueing the viewfinder bracket onto the back of the LNT module above where it would normally screw into. Conceivably that would work but what do u think. I hope it works because I find it difficult and uncomfortable to lean down that far ( especially when the planats are so high). Thanks, Josh P.S. I just got some rechargeable batteries and I'm excited because that telescope sucks up batteries. Oh yea do u have the deep sky imager? Also when the telescope hooks up to the computer I haven't figured out how to change the speeds for the telescopes from the computer. Do u know how? I also wondered if u recieve ur telescopes for free from meade or at a discount priceMike here: I'd avoid super glue; you could use a doublestick felt pad or something similar that would hold the finderscope. Some companies ship small add-on finderscopes that are mounted using these type of pads. Don't have a DSI. In the Autostar Suite software there is a handcontroller mode; you can change speeds with that. In my reviews I note whether an item is purchased or not.
Subject: ETX125PE Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 21:02:44 From: User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com) ......and the 125PE problems continue...I have yet to get the scope to align...I have done all I can do..I went to Shutan to talk with them. They gave me some other things to try and to no success. No red light on the smartfinder, and no alignment. I did get the ATUM and the Autostar never got a signal from it. This got me thinking a little. I started wondering if the LNT was not working. I called Meade and the first thing he told me was that the telescope may not point to north. I made sure I told him that when it was locating north it stopped facing south. He (the technician) said it did not matter since it only calculates north..I was more confused then ever....Then I started telling him about the other problems with the no red light and the ATUM problem...He thinks that the LNT maybe bad...He is shipping me a new one which could take up to two weeks to get....I have no clue how to install the new LNT, the tech told me that it was easy...I hope he is right... Hopefully the LNT will work properly...Thanks for all the advice from everyone... DanMike here: Keep me posted. I'm getting reports of a new LNT module being shipped (see further down this page).
Subject: ETX 125 PE UHTC Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 17:15:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) I wrote to you a couple weeks ago after getting my ETX 125 PE UHTC scope. At that time nothing seemed to work and I sent it back to Meade. Got my scope back today and everything seems to be working I trained the drives before doing anything (per your suggestion) and even got the smartfinder working but am waiting for dusk to align it. I don't quite understand where I should hold my head to view through it but I have noticed that as you move your view point the red dot will "smear out" into a line and by adjusting your view bring it to a sharp point. I won't be able to get the scope out until this weekend but so far am very happy with it. The optics are very sharp viewing at distant objects in daylight. Craig DeMarisMike here: Thanks for the update. Stand behind the telescope and look along the left side of the tube towards AND through the SmartFinder lens. When you are aligning the red dot to what is in the eyepiece, the dot should be near the center of the lens. And so when you are using it to do the initial centering of an alignment star, the dot should also be in the center as you look through the lens.
Subject: Red Dot Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 15:19:44 From: Ray Noonan (firstname.lastname@example.org) Besides acknowledging the superlative quality of your website, might I plug your book as an indispensable source of information and reassurance especially for new users like me? I set up my scope exactly as you instruct and first time out, Bingo! - there was Jupiter. I might add that this was in sharp contrast to my earlier experiences with a small Newtonian, when it took me two hours to get Saturn in the eyepiece. (I am getting on a bit and have double vision and a sense of humour). Trying to align a target with the red-dot finder was ... well any one familiar with Jour de Fete (driving-in-the-pegs-for-the-flagpole scene) will know what I mean. Incidentally, I don't think my ETX base has any hard stops: didn't find any turning it gently by hand. Many thanks ... Ray Noonan, Chester, England.Mike here: There are two for the azimuth axis, about but not quite twice around from one to the other.
Maybe I should mention that for this (active) 71 yr old, The 105 represents the limit of comfortable portability - with the advent of uhtc that's a lot of virtually instant telescope! As has been remarked before, the most useful scope is the one you use most. My dark skies are an hour's drive away: if I lived in a dark area maybe I would have gone for the 125, but it's a lot more expensive. Thanks for info re stops - found them. Best wishes ... Ray Noonan
Subject: etx premier Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 09:52:27 From: josh rhines (email@example.com) I just got my etx 105 premier repaired from meade yesterday. Should I still train the drives and calibrate the motors or do they do that before they send it back to me. Thanks JoshMike here: Do them.
Today I just recieved my new lnt module for the 105 and I noticed somthing interesting. There is no more cam lock to lock the viewfinder glass in. It looks as if the inside (where the viewfinder goes in) acts like a spring to hold it in place. This seems like a better designMike here: Guess our user feedback made a difference!
And more on the new LNT:
Subject: LNT/SmartFinder Update Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 21:16:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) After 2 1/2 months I received my replacement LNT module today. It actually works!! I got a nice red dot I estimate to be a couple of arc minutes in size. I'm using a microwave tower about 6 miles away as the alignment object and will get a better estimate of dot size tomorrow during daylight when I can see the antenna dish with my LPI. Tonight I used the navigation hazard light on the tower. Meade has apparently responded to the myriad of problems with the SmartFinder by redesigning the LNT module cover. There is no longer a Lens Locking Knob or Lens Alignment screw. Instead, there is sort of a track molded in the plastic cover to guide the lens tongue. It can only be inserted in one orientation and is held in place simply by the tight friction fit. I would say it's fool-proof, but there's probably a fool somewhere that can prove it's not. Related to Murphy no doubt.
During my initial testing, I ran ito a problem I've seen before on your site. The AutoStar software obviously recognizes the presence of the LNT and sets menu options accordingly. This means that after the Sun Warning and info message are acknowledged, it goes to Automatic North, Level, Tilt calibration and then Star alignment. Since I was inside the house and eager to see if things were working, I just accepted everything. Then I set the Date/Time/Daylight Saving and tried a GOTO to the Moon where it happened. AutoStar indicated Moon rise had not yet occurred, even though it had actually come up several hours earlier. After verifying I had set the correct time and date, I powered down and started over. This time everything worked as expected. Bottom line is that after adjusting time/date etc. you should probably power down and restart before expecting accurate GOTO calculations. This is probably unique to the PE series since with earlier models you have to set the parameters each time you start up whereas the LNT retains the info during power off. Adjusting the parameters without reinitializing the AutoStar seems to confuse it. I'm still using v. 33Ef so maybe this is fixed in 33El. Hope this is helpful. Mike
Subject: ETX hand controller Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2005 18:56:09 From: William Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org) After finally thinking that I have figured out my new ETX125PE, and several good nights of observing, had a number key stick tonight. Actually the second time that this has interrupted my viewing. This time I had a Speed =64X displayed and I could'nt get rid of it even by powering down the scope. Repowering, initialized and went to the same Speed=64X display. Was about to quit but took the controller into the house and identified the problem under a light. Number 5 key was stuck in. First time I had something like this happen, blamed it on the cold weather but tonight was reasonably warm. Have two LX200's and never experienced this type of problem, and since the ETX has been around for a long time, wondering if this has come up before. Plan on calling Meade tomorrow, Monday, but would be interested in your advice. Bill EllisMike here: I have heard of Autostar keypads needing cleaning but not with a new scope. There is an article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page but taking apart the Autostar would likely invalidate the warranty.
Subject: ETX 125 PE UHTC ("motor unit failt) update Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2005 13:00:20 From: David & Sherry Wilson (email@example.com) Two weeks and holding as of 4/15/05. Sent this Meade Instruments Corporation 6001 Oak Canyon Irvine, California 92618 RGA # XXXXXX 1. LNT mod. Lose. Bent guide tab. Replace plastic mounting and operationally check LNT/finder. 2. RA motor failure "motor unit fault" accorded when up dating autostar firmware from 30eb to 33ef the program reported a check sum error so I reloaded 30eb then updated back to 33ef. 3. Focuser knob has tight spots in rotation. Please check operational compatibility with an electronic focuser. Please give detailed report on repairs and findingsMike here: Did they give you an estimate to complete?
From the start from Indianapolis IN one week to CA (UPS Ground through Mail Box ETC.) Meade said two weeks on repair. Later talking to customer service approx.. 4/13/05 turn around seven to ten days check on it at the end of the week (4/15/05) It's still in repair. t David P.S. $100 to ship it out.
Subject: ETX 125 PE UHTC Problems with Alignment in Equatorial Mode Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 18:13:36 From: O'Donnell, Roe (Roe.Odonnell@ci.wake-forest.nc.us) First, your site Brilliant! (watchers of Guinness ads should understand). I have recently purchased an ETX 125PE w/UHTC. Whilst I am generally very pleased with the performance of this telescope, particularly in alt/az mode, I am confused by the Meade instructions for setting up in equatorial mode. I am interested in equatorial- mounted alignment because I intend to use the ETX for astro-photography with a Canon 20D digital SLR camera. Perhaps I am too much of a novice to attempt astro-photography, but, as they say, if you're not in you can't win. The directions for setup in alt/az mode are very straight forward and easy, especially with the LNT module in the PE version of the ETX. I don't find the same with the polar mode. I have Autostar 3.3e I have no problem with the following: Setting the latitude Reset/calibrate motors/set telescope in polar mount/set targets to astronomical. All done in equatorial mount. Time, date and Daylight Savings Time (GMT -5+1) have been set. I do have a problem with the following: Polar alignment. I followed the instructions but it says nothing about leveling the tripod. Is this necessary with an LNT-equipped ETX in equatorial alignment? It says don't worry about too careful alignment at this point. Is that right? For Autostar easy alignment the instructions say to choose polar alignment from telescope mount. Having done this it says to follow the automatic alignment procedure. Putting the telescope into the home position, as it states in the alt/az automatic alignment instructions (CCW to hard stop), will end up putting the telescope pointing at the ground instead of at the first alignment star. So easy alignment cannot be performed. If I leave the telescope in polar alignment, as shown in fig. 49, I can align with both stars for easy alignment; however, I cannot do it as accurately as in the alt/az mode. Though, once tracking begins, it is very accurate. The problem then is finding objects that I don't know (I'm a novice) when looking through even a low power (40 mm) eyepiece. The initial accuracy on goto is not good enough for me to tell what I am looking at during, say, a tour of tonight's best. Any tips or procedures that I can follow will be greatly appreciated. Again, thanks for a godsend of a site RoeMike here: Are you saying that doing an easy two star alignment in Polar Mode ends up with the ETX pointed at the ground? For non-automatic alignments the HOME position is with the ETX rotated CCW to the hard stop and then back about 120 degrees to point approximately to True North (not Magnetic North).
Perhaps I am misinterpreting the instructions. Its seems to me that the instructions are telling me after I have polar aligned (fairly approximately by the instructions) to follow the "automatic" procedure as in the alt/az mode for the ETX PE - which admitadley makes no sense whatsoever. But, if you follow Meade's instructions to the letter in polar alignment for ETX PE telescopes, that's what it says to do. There also seems to be a typo since the instructions tell you to to change the mount from alt/az mode to alt/az mode (surely Meade means from alt/az mode to polar mode). In essence I am asking that, in the equatorial mode, must you use the ETX AT procedure (which procedure I am familiar with by playing with an ETX AT some time ago)? LNT align automatic only seems to work in alt/az mode. Trying to follow Meade's instructions in the ETX PE instruction manual puts the telescope pointing at the ground (i.e. for the home position you only go CCW to hard stop. You do not reverse CW 120 degrees as in the manual procedure - again, no sense to me). Thanks for all your help and the great site. Roe O'DonnellMike here: Yes, the manual is confusing. Automatic alignment is only for Alt/Az; for Polar Mode you must use one of the other alignment methods.
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly and confirming that the polar mode needs one of the other methods (not automatic) for alignment. You have a really great site with a gold mine of information. Thanks for all your help. Roe
Subject: Meade ETX Setup Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2005 07:24:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) I read your ETX 105 review on line. Having purchased an ETX 125 PE UHTC last week I was interested to see some commonality in our experiences with the initial setup. I found the same difficulty in setting up the SmartFinder, and after almost an hour, discovered as you did the vagueries of properly setting the tongue. I then went through the setup process only to discovery that the horizontal motor was defective, giving a motor failure reading in the Autostar handset. I returned the unit to the store on the advice of the Meade customer service rep. My second ETX 125 PE had working motors. The initial setup, however, failed to work. After setting it in the home position, fully counter-clockwise, the scope leveled itself, tested the vertical movement, and then tried to rotate further counter-clockwise against the stop with the motor whining away. The Easy setup worked fine, but this is a PE model. I called Meade customer service and, after going through the setup procedures step by step, was advised that I had a defective LNT module. They have these units backordered several weeks, so he suggested I take it back to the store for another exchange. My third ETX 125 PE I brought home last night. This time the motors performed as they should, and the setup align almost worked like it should. But the SmartFinder illuminated as a 'dash' instead of a 'dot." I found that pressing the fiber optic that emits the red light toward the LNT unit changed the shape back to a dot. So gently and repeatedly pressing the the fiber optic, it began to bend to where it should have been and the problem is now resolved. I experienced similar setup difficulties as you with time setting and the scope seemingly being off by an hour. Setting the Autostar to daylight savings time just seemed to locate the scope an hour farther away from Jupiter. But this is just a minor annoyance, relatively speaking. I'm looking forward to getting out this weekend and giving it a go. Good luck with your ETX and I look forward to hearing about your next trip to the desert! - Doug Stewart
Subject: etx premier smartfinder Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 07:09:35 From: josh rhines (firstname.lastname@example.org) I saw ur video demonstrating the lnt technology on the internet. For those of us who have had problems with the smartfinder would u think about doing a video demonstrating how to set up the smartfinder as well as using it to center the alignment stars? Thanks, joshMike here: I do hope to do more videos.
Subject: Autostar Update Sent: Friday, April 8, 2005 17:19:17 From: Ken Hyams (email@example.com) As promised, there's an Autostar update on Meade's site to address some of the problems faced by new PE owners. Any brave, early adopters willing to install it yet? Upgrades to 33Ef Added Zip Codes. Some serial strings fixed. Upgrades to 33El Fixed site problem Fixed LST display
Subject: ETX-125 PE Nightmare Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2005 17:17:34 From: Lorne (firstname.lastname@example.org) Greetings from Canada. Great Website! I have used it very much over the last month. I have an ETX-125PE story for you. I received a Brand New ETX-125PE end of Feb, and it was a nightmare from the get go. Installed Auto Suites Software, got updates, entered all appropriate data including Long & Lat for my location (without any problems). I would put the scope in HOME POSITION (what I thought was Home position), back to lock and 1/4 or better to line up as per manual. Well Meade tells me today that Home for ETX - 125PE are in the Stop Position. Anyway the first time I fire it up to see how it will track to objects and proceed with Automatic setup. It goes to the exact opposite direction (back of scope is pointing in direction of object) So back to settings I go and find it set for EAST instead of WEST. So I reset with the same results (3 times until it finally recognized WEST), So now I try it again inside using the computer for my guide. This time it worked very well, with Home Position being line up the Logo after 1/4 turn or so. I thought we are in Business now, well that evening I went out to test it out. The temp was not bad outdoors (just above freezing) Did everything as I had indoors and the results were not good it would point in the general direction but never close. It would take a few minutes to find the star it displayed, the after considerable slewing I could hit ENTER. Then off to the next star only to repeat itself and miss again. So basically I would go through the motions and end up with a Manual scope. I might add that I did take the time to TRAIN the Motors before looking up into the skies. So when I finally did find Jupiter (which was Awesome) it would not track it properly, I was continually having to track it manually. I also did not have any luck with the SMART FINDER either. That is another story. It took me a while to get that Lens into the Module and when I did I covered Scope with Plastic for dust control and was going to sight it in. I picked it up carefully I thought, but heard a discerning snap and knew the Lens had snapped off! It had caught the plastic and off it came. Try and get that little critter out now, well how about we dismantle MODULE and do it that way, because that is the only way. Needless to say Meade had a good laugh and sent me another Lens FREE of charge along with the Tripod Parts that flew off first time I changed the Batteries (which lasted for 3 Hrs not 20, changed 3 times). The Horseshoe Washers and one spring flew off when attempting this feat. Well that was 3 weeks ago, so I called about. Apparently they sent it to the wrong address, so here we go again. So far my astronomy experiences with the ETX-125PE have been Nightmare to say the least. But last night was the Final chapter of this saga. Lined up the scope with 2 imaginary stars and proceed on to Jupiter low in East, and managed to get it to track reasonably well and observed for a few minutes, then beamed over to Saturn and was blown away by the display there for quite a while, but went back to Jupiter and everything was as before, tracking not bad (tolerable). Then all of a sudden the scope starts drop down then abruptly to the left then up about 45' then to the right until it hit the stops and crashes and burns for less than 3 seconds and "MOTOR DRIVE FAILURE" beeps into view. "Interesting" I mumble to myself "Now What do I do?". So I called Meade (USA) in the AM and they were sympathetic and that was it. Sorry Sir it appears you have a Lemon, so you can send it to us under warranty, of course, and we will repair and maybe get it back to me in 6-8 weeks. OR call Efston Science up there in Canada where I purchased it. Well they were much more responsive to my Dilemma. They did not have one in stock but would ship me a new one ASAP. I get to keep the Semi-Automatic ETX - 125PE until such time as the new one shows up. So you see this story does have a happy ending after all. I will let you know when the new scope arrives. Until Then Thanks again for the GREAT SITE!! Lorne Sutherland Biggar, SK. CanadaMike here: The new PE Home Position is described in the manual. Sorry about the other problems but thanks for the report.
Subject: Re: ETX Technical Tips-Performance Enhancements for the ETX 125PE Sent: Tuesday, April 5, 2005 01:50:23 From: P. Clay Sherrod (email@example.com) Thanks very much Ed.... I totally agree with Mike on this; the newer model ETX scopes are virtually "no man's land" in terms of tweaking and adjusting by the unaccustomed to what is inside...it is a totally different machine than what has been laid out in the Technical Tips. Not only are the drives constructed differently, but Meade has installed safeguards to prevent tampering by those without the tools and knowledge to get inside....thus preventing serious damage. I very much agree with Meade's decision on this, because most of the repair work that I do is a result of those who are uninitiated in the very difficult task of working on these newer model scopes...beginning with the ETX-EC models with metal base and metal fork arms....not just the PE models. They can be worked on by those skilled at it, but not by the average consumer. Thanks for the kind words and enjoy that scope! Dr. Clay Arkansas Sky Observatory Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt. firstname.lastname@example.org MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain MPC/cbat Obs. H45 / Petit Jean Mountain South MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain
Subject: ETX 125PE Sent: Monday, April 4, 2005 21:04:56 From: User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com) Just wanted to share my first PE night; to some it up, horrible.. I have had the scope for over a month and finally got a good night to use it..I spent all day learning how to use it and the problems started immediately. I never got any red light on the smartfinder. I followed all the directions and read everything on the web site...nothing.. not sure what to do about that...maybe off to Shutan for some help...I went out around 930 PM Central (I live just north and west of Chicago) to a clear night....I set the 125 PE to the home position for automatic alignment. And let it do its thing....When I lined it up in the house the lens portion of the scope pointed north and the end with the eyepiece faced south.. Outside it was opposite....Not sure which way should point north..this added to my confusion. After several realignments and more resets it continued to have the eyepiece end point north and the lens point south. So I figured that was correct.. None of the alignment stars were in the viewfinder and with the starfinder not working I could not get anything to line up....I let it finish the alignment and told it to go to Jupiter...Not even close...I wanted to see how it looked with the new scope so I manually found it. I will say it looked much sharper with the 125 PE w/ uhtc then my old 125 EX without the uhtc...That was nice...I then hooked my LPI to it...again I had to search manually for it...I finally got and it showed up as a green dot about the size of a super ball or so....very disappointed....could not get it to clear up, which makes me wonder how people get such amazing photos with the LPI....I tried a couple more resets and they did not work..When I set the location in with a zip code of 60053 and nearest city of Chicago it kept the lat and long.....not sure why it was off...The only thing I did not do tonight was train the motors...That will be done tomorrow...I Just got a little frustrated when it did not work like I thought..I had better luck using my old 125 without the LNT...To get that lined up, I just used Mr. Weasner's book and the web site...Worked like a champ.... I hope you can post this and if anyone has any suggestions or could help please email me; email@example.com... Thanks for allowing me to rant and share my experience.... DanMike here: If you put the ETX PE in the right LNT Home Position (rotated CCW to the hard stop and leave it there, unlike without using the LNT) then True North should be found (but note the manual says and I point out in my comments that it may not end up actually pointing North at the end of the leveling and North-ing process). I would suggest doing the TRAIN DRIVES and then check that location (I had problems with it being remembered). As to the SmartFinder red dot, have you read my PE comments (linked from the PE feedback page) and have the tongue as shown in the photo? Regarding the LPI, keep at it -- it will (or should) work but it isn't like using a digital camera.
I have read all the messages you have posted, which are very good (as usual)..I placed the tongue of the SmartFinder in just about every position possible...I cannot even see the red light on at all. I read the problems you had with the location, I had the same. However after I aligned it I checked the location and it had the lat and long correct... A couple of clarifications for me please; When the telescope finds north, which end should be facing north, the lens or the eyepiece...to make it easy for me, if I were to look thru the eyepiece would I be facing north or south.... If I looked at the picture you provided for the SmartFinder, it looked like the tongue would be towards the eyepiece side of the scope.. The home position for the LNT is rotate fully CCW and that is it...the tube could be pointed up or level.... Thanks for the info.... Dan Just wondering if you could post my last email for others to see.Mike here: The ETX will be pointed to Magnetic North just before it does that last tweak in the North finding (where it slews to True North). So if you stay at the eyepiece end, you would be facing North. The SmartFinder tongue ends up on the non-eyepiece side of the locking plate.
Subject: re: ETX 105PE Report (Update to 33Ef?) Sent: Monday, April 4, 2005 19:41:47 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ken Hyams wrote: " and include list-full errors and other buggy behaviour" Could you describe the "list full error"? It may be "normal behaviour" ... The only spot i'm aware of the Autostar showing that message is when you try to Add (perhaps implied by Select) a Site to the "short list" maintained in the Autostar's as "local sites". Due to memory storage limitations, the Autostar can only hold 4 or 5 sites as "quick picks"... when you exceed 5, it demands that you delete an existing site from that short list. So it's not a "bug", it's a "limitation forced by hardware", and probably won't be addressed in firmware updates. (as an aside, the LX200gps does not have that same tight-memory hardware limititation, but it still only allows 6 sites as the short list) But if you're seeing that message elsewhere, i'd love to hear how you trigger it... have fun --dickMike here: Dick Seymour wrote:
The only spot i'm aware of the Autostar showing that message is when you try to Add (perhaps implied by Select) a Site to the "short list" maintained in the Autostar's as "local sites".That's where I saw the problem when I was first using the PE.
I was going to ask you to describe it... then realized that your PE review talked about it... what i see there is roughly 4 attempts to enter your site data, and then the LIST FULL message. I'm a little puzzled, since i -have- successfully played around with the Zip Code entry method, and it handles western washington fairly well (i tried some oddball Zips i'm aware of). I was able to enter multiple Zip Coded sites, and they displayed properly in the hold-[mode] status displays. (also when checked with Site > Edit to verify the Time Zones). I also tried some Alaska sites. have fun --dickMike here: It seems as though the Autostar stores the entry (using a memory slot) but then can't find any data for that location.
Subject: ETX LPI hardware requirements Sent: Sunday, April 3, 2005 16:59:32 From: stan roberts (email@example.com) I have just brought home my new ETX-90PE. Very excited about using it since tonight appears to be very clear night after days of severe weather. I understood my system was ready for pictures when I purchased it but as I progress I realize more equipment may be needed. I believe I have the latest AutoStar version which I have on my machine is 3.17; after going to help and selecting the about Can one just buy the camera? The pricing for the LPI that I have found is around $149 US, I am not quite ready for the DSI at $299 US just yet. I seem to have the Autostart Suite but when selecting LPI features from the pull down and I am advised that the Suite version is needed. Thus my confusion. Realizing that I do not have the hardware, I thought I could make it through the menus. Can you suggest any options? My first interest is to get the scope sighted into a viewable and discernable image. Being some what of a techie I would like to step into the digital stage of my findings. Thanks for any feedback you may be able to provide.Mike here: You should get Autostar 3.3Ef from Meade's site. The Autostar Suite that ships with the PE models is a stripped down version; the full version comes with the LPI (and DSI).
Subject: ETX Technical Tips-Performance Enhancements for the ETX 125PE Sent: Sunday, April 3, 2005 10:27:05 From: Ed Stuckey (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'm forwarding this message I sent to Clay Sherrod to see if you have any input to the questions I asked Clay. I know you have the ETX 125 PE and would be interested in your observations regarding the scope and have any mechanical and software improvements been made in the last 3 years since the articles were written. I will repeat what I said to Clay, I would like to thank you for taking the time and energy to educate and share your knowledge with everyone interested in this field. Without people like yourself, Clay and others, people like myself would be floundering and probably be less inclined to pursue this hobby. Regards, Ed Stuckey ------ Forwarded Message From: Ed Stuckey (email@example.com) Date: Sun, 03 Apr 2005 13:15:23 -0400 To: "P. Clay Sherrod" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: ETX Technical Tips-Performance Enhancements Hi Clay, I just read all your articles on Performance Enhancement, very enlightening yet disconcerting at the same time. As a novice one would think after spending $1200 for a product it would be in excellent shape. I have a few questions about the articles. Since you wrote these in the 2001-2002 time frame from your experience and talking to other ETX owners has there been any improvements in both the mechanical and software aspects to the new ETX's, namely the ETX 125 PE. I'm not going to take the scope apart I do not feel qualified, however there are 3 areas you might be able to help me with. 1. The backlash problem, do you still recommend setting the Azimuth Percent to 15. I know this depends on each individual scope. Has Meade made any improvements in the latest ETX's? 2. Placing small strips of duct tape on the altitude knob (left hand fork side). Has Meade made any improvements on the mechanical assembly for the declination mechanism? 3. Home position for Polar alignment. The part where the scope is positioned facing north and the the smartfinder(ETX125PE) and eyepiece are positioned under the telescope(down). Rotate counterclockwise until hard stop is reach then rotate clockwise until eyepiece and smartfinder are on top. The instructions in Autostar states this movement is about 180 degrees the manual says a quarter turn, about 90 degrees. In practice it is about 90 degrees. They must have changed in the new scope. My main concern is that your method still be followed so I won't damaged any internal structures. I'm retired and have been interested in astrophotography for years. I have been doing photography for about 30 years as a hobby, so this will be a new venture. The learning curve is quite extensive. Without people like yourself sharing their knowledge it would also be daunting. I would like to thank you for taking the time and energy to educate and share your knowledge with everyone interested in this field. The articles were excellent, well written and understandable. Regards, Ed ------ End of Forwarded MessageMike here: I haven't disassembled the ETX PE to see what changes have been made. But I don't think you should start making "performance enhancements" to the PE models unless you KNOW for certain that something needs improving.
Subject: Meade ETX-125PE First Light! Sent: Saturday, April 2, 2005 06:15:07 From: jeffrey kramer (email@example.com) I received my new ETX-125 yesterday and got a chance to test it out. Here is my observing report from South Florida: I was out in my front yard tonight, in South Florida, with my new Meade ETX-125PE. I tested it and observed for about 2 1/2-hours (from 11:55PM to 2:30AM). It was clear when I set-up, but then about 15-minutes later, broken clouds & haze started moving in which gradually got thicker and thicker. It was also quite breezy and the breezes caused the tube to vibrate a bit. The seeing was average, around a 5. I was able to test aligning the scope twice and I even did a quick training of the drives. The scope aligned itself correctly both times and maintained the time and date after it was turned off. I was only able to go to the following objects due to the clouds & haze: Arcturus, Spica, Jupiter, Polaris, and M13 & M92, briefly, later in the evening. I spent most of the time testing the optics on Jupiter. Jupiter looked very good at 135x (14mm Series 5000 Plossl). I was able to see a shadow of one of the moons on the planet and it was very distinct. Later on, I saw the bright white dot of the moon appear on the edge of the planet and move off. I always enjoy seeing this. The seeing was only average but I was still able to see some detail in the equatorial bands. The problem was that clouds and haze kept moving through so one second Jupiter was bright in the eyepiece and the next, it would fade out completely. I did a star test on the scope and the star test was good. No problems there. The focuser is smooth and it was easy to find the best focus. There was a little bit of image shift while focusing but not all that much. I was able to quickly view the Double-Double as it was rising over my house in the east and I was able to split it, but the split was not that clean, most likely due to it being very low in the sky and the only average seeing. I did get a clean split at 135x and also 211x (9mm Series 5000 Plossl). It will be much easier to split it at lower powers in the future when it is higher in the sky and the seeing is better. The only area of concern I had with the scope was the initial tracking of an object after it was centered. It seemed that if I centered an object, the object would continue to drift for a second or two until it started tracking. I compensated for this by training the drives and that helped a bit. Eventually, I will do a better training of the drives to help remove more of this. The scope did keep the object in the FOV of any eyepiece I used. This is a very nice scope. It is less than 30lbs when attached to the tripod and it was very easy to set the scope up in the house and then carry it outside in one trip and then, only a second trip for my chair and eyepiece case. It will be very quick & easy to bring this scope out for quick looks. Also, the automatic 2-star alignment went quickly and was easy to do. All-in-all, a successful, if not cloudy and hazy first light. Clear skies, Jeff
Subject: ETX 105PE Report (Update to 33Ef?) Sent: Saturday, April 2, 2005 02:06:15 From: Ken Hyams (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just a few comments about our experiences with the PE, downunder. The first scope we were given had a faulty Smartfinder that exhibited a two-headed, short bar in the viewfinder rather than the single red dot. Meade advice: return to dealer. Second day, new scope (from Star Optics in Queensland, Austraia - Lex took good care of us), and the LNT/Smartfinder seems to be OK, but we are now having issues with the Autostar controller and an apparent inability to retain correct time and date information. More calls to Meade, with more specific questions and less tolerance for vague, I-don't know or I'm not sure answers. Much to their credit (and perhaps our persistence), someone from Meade calls back who seems to have some direct experience with the PE, and he reports the following: 1. There are known bugs in the Autostar firmware, as applied to the PE, with respect to the location lists, and since these relate to the time zone offsets, and include list-full errors and other buggy behaviour, may account for some of the issues we'd seen. 2. He reported that he'd "just spoken to the software engineers", and that a new Autostar version should be posted within one to two days (this was on 1 April in Australia, hope that doesn't count!) to replace the 33Ef. We did get in a few hours of viewing, during which my six year old grandson was able to see the bands around Jupiter. It makes all the other stuff seem trivial. Keep up the great work. Jeff Miles
Subject: ETX-PE Sent: Friday, April 1, 2005 14:51:11 From: Colin Lee (email@example.com) I read your experiences with the ETX-105 PE (I got one a month ago from Anacortes) and I had the same problem with losing time and not remembering my location. I discovered that the Lithium battery had somehow discharged itself and was reading less than 1 Volt. After I replaced the battery, everything has been fine since Best Regards, Colin Lee
Subject: Polar Alignment with the ETX 125PE Sent: Friday, April 1, 2005 13:09:48 From: Ed Stuckey (firstname.lastname@example.org) Excellent site. I have read many articles on your site an they are invaluable. I'm a novice at astrophotography and need some help with polar alignment using the ETX 125PE(which I own). I just read Clay Sherrod's article "Clay's Kochab Clock": Precise Portable Polar Alignment Every Time! I have read many articles on Polar Alignments and this is one is within my realm of accomplishing. However I have some basic question that you may be able to answer. 1. I assume the instructions that Clay gives for alignment is with the scopes computer off. Clay also stated the scope has to be leveled. Can you use the leveling technology of the PE to accomplish this or do you have to so it manually as described in the article. 2. Once the scope is polar aligned and the you turn on the scopes computer and it initializes, the scope is then tracking? 3. Can you use the scopes GOTO capabilities when in polar mode? If so How is this accomplished? I appreciate any help. Thanks, Ed StuckeyMike here: You will need to put the tripod into the polar (equatorial) mode and tell the Autostar that that is the mounting mode. You then have two choices. You can manually polar align using Dr. Clay's technique and then just set the Autostar target menu to astronomical to start the Right Ascension tracking drive. OR, after you finish manual alignment, you can then let the PE do its thing. That should give you a really accurate alignment. ALTERNATIVELY, you can skip the manual alignment and just let the PE do its thing. That should give you pretty good results. In any case, the Autostar needs to do its star alignments in order to use the GOTO function. As to the leveling referred to in the article, that is for the tripod head or other mounting plate that is parallel to the Earth's surface. In the case of the #884 that would be the plate that the latitude arm is attached to.
Thank you for answering my questions. You were very helpful it clears up many issues I had. As soon as the sky's clear I will practice these procedures. Again, many thanks. Ed Stuckey
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