Last updated: 26 April 2005
This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX PE (Premier Edition). Feedback on the specific PE technologies (Automatic Alignment + SmartFinder, Level North Technology) will be covered here. Feedback on the Autostar Suite AE (Astronomer Edition) will be posted on the regular Autostar Suite feedback page. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (EC, AT, PE) will continue to be posted on the other appropriate feedback pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	etx125 pe uhtc
Sent:	Saturday, April 23, 2005 17:19:31
From: (
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

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!
Mike 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.

Subject:	ETX125PE Problems continue
Sent:	Saturday, April 23, 2005 06:50:08
From:	PBrady (
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

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.


Hopping mad in Minnesota,

Subject:	How to test communications to an Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, April 23, 2005 00:25:19
From:	Steven & Simone Mohr (
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

Thank you very much.

Kindest regards

Steven Mohr

Melbourne, Australia.

Subject:	ETX 125 PE 
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2005 21:28:53
From: (
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

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 DeMaris
Mike 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 (
Do u know where I could get these doublestick felt pads?
Mike here: Probably your local office supply store.
Subject:	Etx 105 pe
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2005 11:31:03
From:	josh rhines (
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).
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 price
Mike 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: (
......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
Mike 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: (
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 DeMaris
Mike 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 (
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 (
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.
Mike here: Do them.

And more:

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 design
Mike 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: (
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 (
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

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 Ellis
Mike 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 (
Two weeks and holding as of 4/15/05.
Sent this
Meade Instruments Corporation
6001 Oak Canyon
Irvine, California 92618
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 findings
Mike 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 (
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

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

Mike 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'Donnell
Mike 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.


Subject:	Meade ETX Setup
Sent:	Thursday, April 14, 2005 07:24:31
From: (
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

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 (
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?
Mike here: I do hope to do more videos.
Subject:	Autostar Update
Sent:	Friday, April 8, 2005 17:19:17
From:	Ken Hyams (
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 (
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.     Canada              
Mike 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 (
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 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

Thanks for the kind words and enjoy that scope!

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
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: (
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;
Thanks for allowing me to rant and share my experience....
Mike 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 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....


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 (
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

Mike 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
Mike 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 (
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 (
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.

Ed Stuckey

------ Forwarded Message
From: Ed Stuckey (
Date: Sun, 03 Apr 2005 13:15:23 -0400
To: "P. Clay Sherrod" (
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.


------ End of Forwarded Message
Mike 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 (
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

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

Clear skies,

Subject:	ETX 105PE Report (Update to 33Ef?)
Sent:	Saturday, April 2, 2005 02:06:15
From:	Ken Hyams (
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 (
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 (
Excellent site. I have read many articles on your site an they are

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.
Ed Stuckey
Mike 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
Again, many thanks.
Ed Stuckey

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