ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 22 December 2002
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-125EC. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.


Subject:	ETX 125 Saga Continues
Sent:	Friday, December 20, 2002 9:52:18
From:	edelmann@hcst.net (John Edelmann)
You will probably recall that I had this ETX125 which arrived 11/6/02,
only to find that the flip mirror came apart as soon as the mechanism
was operated?

Well, the hilarity of the situation (and no, I'm not taking this well,
despite the timbre of this note) just gets better all the time.

It was returned via UPS to the shop in Irvine on 11/12/02, and received
11/19.    It was finally repaired, but I had placed a hold on it, so
that I could send it to a vacation stop over the holidays (we're leaving
for FL today).

Unfortunately, colossal screwups that they are, they "forgot" or didn't
have the capacity to properly place a hold so I could call to redirect
it in time, so now, my scope is headed to my place of employment,
arriving 12/26, most likely, because they sent it by ground, instead of
2-3 day air.

So... just for the record, I called today and found that it couldn't be
redirected in transit, since it's destined for a depot in Ohio direct
for California.... no inbetween spots.

I really wanted this while on vacation, not so much as a Christmas
present, but because I could spend unfettered hours getting to know it.

But alas, I'll get it when I return to work on 1/4.

So... for my troubles, here's the scoop:

Original order from Discovery Channel:

$1235 (includ tax and shipping)
Less $36 shipping (DChannel allowance for delay of receiving original LXD55 8")
Less $100 discount (DChannel allowance once they found I had to return it for repair)
Less $100 credits from DChannel certificates) used to purchase Dew Shield and variable polarizer)
Less $50 (#1 Filter set direct from MEADE for their ineptitude in following shipping directions)
---------------

So in  the end, the $1235 venture (were I to have purchased all of the
items I got individually/at cost) has only cost me about $900.

Not a satisfactory replacement for not having the scope, but better than
nothing, I suppose.

I suppose I could look on the bright side: at least I don't have to
waste room in the van to Florida with all of the accessories I would
have otherwise taken down...

One of these days, hopefully I'll have something really positive to
report.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays Mike and all...

John Edelmann
And:
From:	drclay@arksky.org (Clay Sherrod)
Interesting...amusing but not particularly "funny."  I sure hope things
get better for you.  Have  a Merry Christmas and a "better New Year"
astronomically speaking!  Thanks for writing!

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
MPC/cbat Obs. H43

Subject:	re: Autostar cable colors
Sent:	Wednesday, December 4, 2002 20:57:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	gillmj@alum.rpi.edu
Your discovery of the Autsotar's cable colors it the correct way
for them to be arranged.  The "A15" and "A16" just identify which
area of the plastic modling equipment produced those pieces.

Cables can be built with all possible shuffles of wires.
The Autsotar cable happens to be wired in the same order
as regular, and 8-wire office, telephone cables (peer at 
either your telephone line cord, or the handset cord, they
both "reverse" the colors).

If you look at computer networking cables, you'll see that 
one pair of colors even bridges over another pair's colors.
(no, you cannot use computer network cables for your Autostar)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Mechanical "Tech Tips" Tune up for ETX-125 with New construction
Sent:	Wednesday, December 4, 2002 19:50:32
From:	AlanM@peoplepc.com (Alan McDonald)
I just purchased a barely used ETX 125 scope through e-Bay, and was all
set to perform the "Tech Tips" performance enhancements recommended by
Dr. Clay Sherrod, only to find out that the scope is of the new
construction.  While this construction is probably stiffer and "better"
than the old construction in many ways, it is still appears to have
quite a bit of slop in it - especially in the ball bearings themselves!

I have searched your sight looking for equivalent tips for the
mechanical functions of the scope (dec and RA clutches, in particular),
but have not found any.  Do they exist?  I feel that the clutches are
still probably slipping from excess grease - it does not take much
pressure on the OTA to make the clutches slip once they are engaged to a
"firm feel", and I fear that it will be easy to lose alignment in the
current situation.  The RA axis seems particularly vulnerable to this
(it is hard to notice much difference between engaged and disengaged,
although the scope moves well when fully engaged).  I am reluctant to
get into the scope without some guidance.  Of course, I could just make
arrangements to send it to Clay for a Supercharge!

Also, the dec clamp has something very peculiar about it, and since the
scope was used, I do not know the full story.  It looks like there is an
loose hub ring spacer in it, the exact diameter and wall thickness as
the hub that the plastic OTA support arm rides on, with squared edges
and about 2.5 mm thick. It almost looks like an extra part, and it has
clearly bounced around in there a lot.  Without it, the dec clutch won't
lock right, but it just can't be made to line up right in there - if it
supposed to be in there like that, it is very flaky, as the load bearing
surfaces can't be made to line up consistently.  I'll need to take some
photos of it and describe it in a later e-mail, as words do not do it
justice.  But I have found that a couple of metal fender washers under
the aluminum setting circle work really well in it's place . . . more to
follow on this when I can get a few pictures (I think I need a digital
camera!).

By the way, quick star tests show that the optics appear to be
fantastic!  I really look forward to getting this up and running to it's
real potential . . . .

Thanks for your great site and outstanding help (I have contacted you
about my ETX-60 in the past).
Mike here: There are no updates for the newer models.

And:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I do not recommend working on the new model....for many reasons and that
is why I have NOT put out any instructions on how to do so.

Meade has made these new scopes almost "tamper proof" with dangerous
consequences for those who do attempt modifications and/or tune-ups. 
They are not easy to work on and there are many safeguards that are now
in place to prevent the casual "home mechanic" from tampering with the
workings of these scopes.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
MPC/cbat Obs. H43
And:
From:	AlanM@peoplepc.com (Alan McDonald)
OK, but it is rather troubling that Meade would make a major change to
the scope, and not get it as mechanically solid as Clay describes in his
Tech Tips.  One would think that if they were going to all the trouble
to re-tool it, they would have made sure that the results were at least
as good as well built version off the old tools.  But I digress.

I accepted that I could not do Tech Tip 1 to get the clutches cleaned up
(even though I think it needs it), but I was desperate to find a way to
do Tech Tip 4 (eliminate much slop form the dec axis).  So I decided to
mess around a bit with the dec axis, to see if I could find where some
of the slop was.  I removed the OTA to see where the slop was coming
from.  I was pretty impressed with the way the tube arms attach to the
tubes, as there was very little movement there.  But the way the tube
arms mount into the fork was another matter all together.  There was
slop in three places:1) the shaft within the bearing (both sides), and
2) side-to-side slop with the arms and OTA assy between the fork arms ,
and 3) the bearings are full of slop, both laterally and rotationally
about the central axis.  Number 2 was particularly troubling, as it
induces more gear backlash in the system, and it will vary as the load
on the tube changes (especially since I love the Meade 14mm SWA
eyepiece, and it is heavy).  Number 3 is pretty bad too, as it magnifies
everything else, and allows the whole OTA to basically wiggle around
inside the forks like it is attached with bungee cords (a little
exaggeration, but it gives you the right visual idea).

The same corrective action fixes both the second and third kind of slop,
and is pretty straightforward.  This can be done entirely on the slave
side (setting circle with numbers), so that you do not have to mess with
the dec drive at all!  This consists of two actions 1) spacing the tube
support arm further inboard with a fiber washer (which I made from thin
cardboard) on the shaft, and for good measure, 2) loading the shaft onto
the bearing, by building a sleeve over the shaft with nylon washers. 
This sleeve must end up sticking out about 0.5mm beyond the end of the
shaft, so that when the declination circle is secured, it loads the
shaft into the bearing. Amazingly, the only thing that keeps the shaft
in the bearing is the outward pressure of the OTA - there is over 5mm of
shaft sticking though the bearing , so the setting circle doesn't touch
anything but the shaft.  I suppose that the second part of this may be
unnecessary because the fiber washer loads the shaft onto the bearing so
much better than before - I might pull it out later to see if there is a
difference, but the setting circle is now held so much tightly.  One
important note with all of this - the fiber spacer and the nylon washers
must not be any wider than the bearing surface, or they will drag and
bind on non-rotating surfaces.

I fixed the first kind of slop (shaft in the bearing) simply, with a few
wraps of Teflon tape on the shaft.

That worked so well that I thought (rather stupidly) that I would see
what I could do with the motor side of the fork.  I must admit, that
there is not much that you can do in there, other than scare yourself
pretty good..  If you remove the OTA support shaft, you will hear two
very scary "clink" sounds as the clutch and gear both drop into the
gearbox.  I thought I was sunk, but they only go a short way down, and
it turns out that it is easy to get the shaft lined up and back through
both items and the two bearings. About all you can do here is clean a
lot of excess grease off the support shaft, and then put some Teflon
tape around the inner most part of the shaft - this rides in the inner
bearing, which is much larger that the slave outer bearing.  This
appears to have helped some.  You can only do a little Teflon on the
outer bearing, as the shaft has a grove cut in it that has is a keyway
for a tab on drive gear - and if you leave any loose Teflon (or have
enough that it bunches up behind the shaft) you run the risk of getting
it caught in the gears, or sliding into the clutch.  Both would be bad
things.  So generally, I think one should leave the dec side alone.  But
there does seem to be gobs of grease everywhere, including on the clutch
surfaces.  It sure would be nice to clean that up some . . . . . but I'm
not willing to pull the gearbox out to get in there.

So I now have the dec axis running really good.  I just need to figure
out how to get the slop out of the RA mechanism.  I have not been in it
yet, and I am real reluctant to go in there.  But there is about two
degrees of rotational slop that is not gear backlash at all.  It appears
to between the table and the clutch, but before the gear.  With the RA
clamp secured, I can manually rotate the scope a full notch on the RA
setting circle.  I can manually move it anywhere within this range, and
it pretty much stays put. There motors never "take up the slack" in this
situation, so it has to be slop before the gears.  It is bad enough that
I don't think I could use the scope in polar mode, because as I cross
over from one side to the other on RA, the torque from the OTA would
result in lost alignment.

Any suggestions on the RA? Would Clay's Supercharge clean up this
problem? If so, I might be inclined to do it.

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 focus (lack thereof)
Sent:	Monday, December 2, 2002 6:59:00
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	gillmj@alum.rpi.edu (Joe Gillman)
Hello Joe and most sorry about the scope; it sounds like the focus rod
has become detached from either the threaded rear cell or the mirror
clip inside the scope; I would insist on a total exchange on this one as
this is nothing to mess with inside the OTA.  Please let us know how it
turns out and if we can be of help.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
MPC/cbat Obs. H43

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joe Gillman" 
> Hey Mike and Clay,
>
> After keeping tabs on updates to the Mighty ETX site for quite some time
> now, I finally bought an ETX 125 with the works (Autostar, Case and
> Tripod) just in time for the eyepiece special. Anyway I pick up the
> scope today, and not four hours later it is back in the box ready to be
> exchanged. The focus shaft just does not do -anything-. I moved the knob
> in both directions many, many turns and the out-of-focus image did not
> change one bit in either direction.  Since I haven't had it a day I left
> a message for the camera store that I bought from to call me back
> tomorrow morning (Monday). I guess I will keep you posted on what
> happens, unless there is some magic fix that doesn't involve me taking
> apart the whole thing (which I doubt) which I won't do since <1 day old
> should qualify for an exchange at the dealer.
>
> Thanks for a great site and hope to have a happier story to post soon.
> Joe
And an update:
My dealer, Camera Concepts in Patchogue, NY agreed to exchange the scope
for me no problem, and is even dropping it off at my house for me. I'll
keep my fingers crossed for the new one.
Joe
And:
From:	gillmj@alum.rpi.edu (Joseph Gillman)
I noticed when I took out the Autostar (just to admire it, didnt get to
use it) that the cable seems strange. When you look down at the two
cable ends, the wires go from red-blue (left-to-right) on one end and
blue-red (L-R) on the other. Is this because the cable plugs in
"upside-down" at one end? I didnt check the Computer Panel on the
telescope since it has stayed in the box. One cable end says "A15" in
the clear plastic and the other, "A16". The standard hand-controller has
totally different wire colors (obviously).

Joe                 

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