Last updated: 31 July 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:	Re: my new etx-125
Sent:	Monday, July 29, 2002 5:23:35
From: (Eddy Lush)
Well I finaly got there still aint fund polaris but the next clear night
i think I have it sussed, anyway I used the last star in the basket of
the big dipper at the end of the basket and got the autostar to line up!
it was cool although it was getting light I just got saturn awesome! It
was small but I could see the rings! Anyway witth my scope it came with
a 26mm eyepiece, what sort and size and how many do you recomend I get
to have general set, I would have thought I could get saturn closer and
bigger. Anyway thanks for your advice as always
Cheers Eddy
Mike here: There are many eyepiece selections (see the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces and the Buyer/New User Tips pages). I usually recommend a 2X Barlow Lens along with one other eyepiece (9mm-ish) for starters.
Subject:	Re: ETX-125 purchase on holiday in the USA
Sent:	Monday, July 29, 2002 3:07:31
From: (David Adriance)
For what it's worth, I have on two occasions carried an ETX-125 from
Nairobi, Kenya to New York and back, via Amsterdam (on KLM/Northwest).
It was in a hard carrying case and fit snuggly into the overhead
compartments.  Only place where they wanted to look at it was at JFK/NY
- but they were easily satisfied with the explanation.

This was all pre-9/11...

Good luck,


Subject:	ETC-125EC Balance
Sent:	Thursday, July 25, 2002 17:59:10
From: (Robert Wolpert)
It seems that Meade delivers the ETC-125EC considerably out of balance
in the dec axis. I've been trying to locate some simple solutions for
balancing the dec axis. So far, I haven't found any. I would love some
hints or to be pointed in the right direction.
Thanks for your help!

Mike here: There are some counterweight ideas on the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page.


Ahhh!...Thanks, Mike.  I should have searched "Counterweights" rather
than "Balance."  Now I just need to find an easy way to melt the lead
from my old scuba diving weight belt!

Subject:	ETX-125 purchase on holiday in the USA
Sent:	Wednesday, July 24, 2002 14:00:54
From: (Gary Culpan)
I live in the sunny (not !) Manchester in the UK and am in the Atlanta
area for a two week holiday in October.

I want to purchase an ETX-125 (+ the Weasner ETX book !) in the US and
bring it back over to the UK.

The cost in the US is $895 as opposed to over $1500 in the UK
(ridiculous prices).

I plan to buy the scope and Meade soft bag and take that back on the
plane with me as hand luggage.

I have never actually seen an ETX in the flesh so am not sure how
convenient it would be to take back as luggage.

Would you recommend this ?

I understand the warranty would not be applicable back in the UK so if I
test the scope in the US and check the collimation then is that all that
is really required ?

I know there are no guarantees but I would assume the scope is very

Any tips would be very welcome.

Keep up the good work on the site !

Kind regards,
Gary Culpan
Manchester UK
Mike here: The ETX-125EC inside a soft (or hard) case may or may not be allowed as carry-on on some airlines. Obviously, if it is checked, the soft case would be no real protection. Check with your airline ahead of time (from the US departure side not the UK side). Generally speaking there will be no issues that you won't detect during testing in the States. However, if you plan to add an Autostar later, borrow one at the dealer and test the telescope with it.
Subject:	RA lock problem on my new 125
Sent:	Saturday, July 20, 2002 16:30:46
It's funny. I work in a hospital as a medical interpreter and it took me
a while to figure out that certain medical conditions which seemed
unexpectedly common through my experience there, seemed only so because
it is in fact A HOSPITAL, as opposed to a random sample of the general
population. This is exactly the rationale that I managed to apply to get
over my fear of buying an ETX scope after reading through all the
problems that many ETX owners and visitors of the website seem to have
experienced (along with the out-of-the-factory work that their
telescopes often seem to need, not only to maximize the scopes'
performance, but to get them to do what they're "supposed" to do
according to Meade) - "It's an ETX website! Of course people will write
about their problems and negative experiences!" The hospital analogy
worked well, and I ordered the new ETX-125 w/ UHTC coatings. Guess what?
Lo and behold, the RA clamp doesn't work! I can't believe it.

So "hello" to Mike, fellow ETX owners, and visitors. Here's my first
query: The RA clamp came positioned all the way to the right (facing
forward from behind the scope) when taken out of the box. I noticed that
the scope didn't move along its horizontal axis, so I assumed that
"clamp to the right" means "locked". (If you come to a new house and
find that a light is on and its switch is in "x" position, you assume
that "x" position means "ON" position). Think again! After sweating to
"unlock" (or so I thought I was doing - I was, in fact, tightening the
heck out of whatever is in there!) the RA lock by struggling to bring
the clamp to the extreme left, I finally made it, but the axis was still
locked; the scope still wouldn't rotate in azimuth. Later on, I read
that Right=Unlocked and Left=Locked. Can you imagine? That's like
someone telling you that the light you clearly saw was ON, was, in fact,
OFF! Now the clamp is part tight, part loose, and completely useless
left to right or right to left. Since you can't get the horizontal lock
unlocked, the scope cannot be set in home position for either Alt/Az or
Eq use. I'm sending it to Dr. Clay for a Supercharge on Aug. 1
regardless of what I am or am not able to fix, but I'd like to enjoy and
get to know the scope and Autostar for the next 10 days before it goes
from Boston to Arkansas. Could someone give me a diagnosis and offer
some suggestion as to how to fix the problem? Is there a risk of
entangling the motor wires due to a horizontal axis that cannot be
manually engaged? Any feedback greatly appreciated. Hanging in there,
Mike here: Using a "doctor" analogy, a "Medical School book" (the ETX manual) says "Loosen the horizontal lock counterclockwise to unlock the telescope, enabling it to be freely rotated by hand about the horizontal axis. Tightening the horizontal lock clockwise prevents the telescope from being rotated manually, but engages the horizontal motor drive clutch for Electronic Controller operation." However, during an internship the doctor learns that some patients (telescopes) need a slight "adjustment" of some internal or external part. This is learned through experience. So, if your reading of the ETX manual differs from actual experience, see the tip "I can not move the Right Ascension (azimuth) lever enough to fully engage the lock." on the FAQ page for repositioning the lock lever.

And an update:

Thanks for the prompt response, and please pardon the slightly
'abrasive' tone of my frustration. I read the FAQ and fixed the problem
by repositioning the RA lever as you suggested - Don't know where I'd be
without your website. I should have mentioned that I got some incredible
views the other night of M13; I didn't expect to see some of its stars
resolved from the middle of Boston, but there they were. Quick question:
Since the horizontal axis came locked, but with its lever in the
'unlocked' position (extreme right), I applied, as I mentioned, an
enormous amount of force unknowingly tightening the screw clockwise
(thinking I was actually unlocking the horizontal axis). Do you think I
might've rotated (clockwise) the metal 'tube' in which that screw sits?
And if so, is it in any way consequential? (I even noticed some grinding
along the top of the metal tube from my using excesive force in
tightening the screw). I appreciate your effort and patience with the

Cheers, Dioni
Mike here: Glad that tip solved the problem. As to any damage you may have caused, it is possible you could have a deformity now. If you still plan to still send the telescope to Clay, he can likely correct it.
Subject:	update - when it rains, it pours
Sent:	Thursday, July 18, 2002 21:52:13
Well we finally got a break in the weather and I took out my scope to
check the collimation. It's a little off. I have contacted Meade and for
$75.00 plus shipping they will clean, repair and re-collimate my scope.
Right now it is livable seeing how I'm half blind anyway with bad
astigmatism and need to wear glasses.

It may be several weeks before I can send the scope off but I will
update upon its return. I'm curious about their customer service, I've
never dealt with them before so I do not know how long of a turn around
they can achieve.

Until then, clear skies
Mike in Texas
Mike here: Turnaround time depends upon workload at the time of receipt of your telescope. Could be short or could be several weeks.
Subject:	Re: Problem with ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, July 12, 2002 3:13:04
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	james
It just unscrews!  BUT, since you have stripped out the holding threaded
piece from the knob, you are going to have to carefully remove it in a
fashion that most would not like to see:

1) wedge a large flat-bladed screwdriver between the setting circle and
the old knob's inner surface plate; push it in as far as possible
without damaging the thin setting circle;  (NOTE:  it helps to put a
thick piece of cardboard between the screwdriver and the circle to keep
it from both bending and scratching)

2) grasp the knob with your right hand and hold the screwdriver with
your left;  it helps to have someone else hold the telescope fork arms.

3) gently "lever" the screwdriver outward to push the knob away from the
fork arms while turning hard on the knob with your other
other words, unscrew while you are forcing the knob out with the

4) it may take some time, but continue to do it slowly and
without exerting enough force to damage anything.  Eventually it will
break free.

5) the new knob will screw on considerably easier than the old one came

And please attempt to not over-tighten; this is the #1 cause of damage
on the ETX scopes!

Glad the new knob came in and good luck with its repair!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Dear Clay,
> As you suggested, I called the folks at Meade and they
> agreed to send me a free DEC knob.  It arrived in the
> mail yesterday.
> If you could tell me how to remove and replace the old
> one, I'd appreciate it.
> Thanks again,
> Jim
> (By the way.   I saw the photos you took of Saturn
> slipping behind the moon.   That was amazing.   It was
> cloudy here in Ohio that day, and I was very
> disappointed I couldn't watch the action myself.)
> --- Clay Sherrod  wrote:
> > Jim - you have stripped out the DEC lock knob; this
> > has nothing to do with
> > the hard stops, which dictate how far the tube can
> > rotate up and down and
> > stop it from going too far; he had broken one of
> > his.
> >
> > This is the threaded rod that is actually part of
> > the large knob that you
> > are attempting to turn to tighten;  it is nearly
> > impossible to remove once
> > it has stripped out like it has.
> >
> > You can get a replacement from Meade (tell them the
> > DEC locking knob has
> > stripped - ETX 125) and when you get it, contact me
> > and I will tell you how
> > to REMOVE the one you have on without damaging the
> > telescope (which will
> > happen if you are not careful) and how to carefully
> > put the other one on.
> >
> > Best of luck!!
> >
> > Clay
> > ----------------------------------------
> > Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
> >
> > Arkansas Sky Observatory
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > > Dear Dr. Sherrod,
> > >
> > > I hope you can give me some advice concerning a
> > > problem I am having with my Meade ETX 125.  On May 15,
> > > 2001, you supercharged this telescope for the previous
> > > owner, Michael Bogdan, who sold it to me last fall.
> > > It has been a WONDERFUL experience using this scope,
> > > but I'm afraid I may have over-tightened the
> > > Declination clamp knob.
> > >
> > > In reading the report you prepared for Michael, I see
> > > that you found a ``broken hard stop'' adding, ``I
> > > repaired firmly, but please be careful and do not
> > > over-rotate into these hard stops.''
> > >
> > > Well, from the day I got the scope, I found it
> > > difficult to determine exactly how much to tighten
> > > this knob.   I never detected the presense of anything
> > > that felt like a hard stop.   Instead, I would just
> > > tighten it enough to stop the scope from moving freely
> > > on this axis.   The horizontal lock wasn't a problem,
> > > of course; I'd just move the lever between the two
> > > white dots you painted.
> > >
> > > Anyway, I've used this telescope many times, and I've
> > > had a great deal of success finding objects with
> > > autostar.   Last night, however, at the end of my star
> > > gazing session, I went to loosen the vertical lock
> > > knob, and nothing happened.   It would rotate, but the
> > > rotation wouldn't loosen anything.
> > >
> > > I can force the telescope to move, so I pointed it
> > > straight up and put it in the case.   Today I crossed
> > > my fingers and tried to loosen it again, but no luck.
> > >
> > > I can move the telescope up and down, but it's clear
> > > that I have a problem.  What should I do? Is this
> > > something I can fix myself?
> > >
> > > Any advice would be appreciated.
> > >
> > > Jim

Subject:	When it rains, it pours.
Sent:	Wednesday, July 10, 2002 21:17:10
I have been reading you web site for some time now and have been
wondering why so many ETX'ers out there have problems with theirs
scopes. I purchased my ETX-125 last year on Ebay and I have had no major
problems with my scope...until now.

I finally upgraded my mount to a JMI Megapod (wonderful mount but I''ll
discuss it some other time). I have been working with it getting it
setup for polar use and getting acquainted with polar mode i.e.
resetting, re-calbraiting, retraining, and adjusting percentages etc.

I live in San Antonio, Texas and for the past two weeks we have had
rain. My part of town alone (near Helotes) had 32 inches in 5 days.
Well, I have been using my scope checking out my aligning using Starry
Night Pro when I notice my Focus cable (from Scope-Tronics) was very
wobbly and soon discovered that somehow the focus rod has detached from
the mirror block. My first thought was "Oh my" [I'm using clean language
here] how do I fix this? WWW. here I come.

I found under ETX Technical Tips an archive article dated 29 March 2000
form Kevin Sterling titled "Focus Shaft
Fix"( His article has
six steps. At step three -- remove the three hex screws from the rear so
you can slide of the plastic cover-This is where I had my first heart

Upon removing the plastic cover, I had the tube held firmly between my
legs with the lens facing down when I heard a sickly sound of the mirror
sliding down the tube "Holy Cow" now what do I do? Back to the web.

Referring back to Kevin's article, step four states to mark a line on
the mirror block and the aluminum tube so you can register the mirror
block back into the housing. He states further that if you do not,
collimation might be affected. He did not mention that the mirror block
unscrews counter clockwise from the tube. Before I realized that I was
turning the mirror block before marking it. Very important-mark the
tube. I return the block back to what I believe was the original
starting point, marked it, then removed it.

Using another link that I found on your site, Doc G's ETX as a guider
(http;// I manage to
reassemble the focuser and tube assembly. Now the big question - How's
my collimation? From a slight break in the clouds I checked it out, and
it looks OK but I'm going to have to wait for some really good seeing
conditions for some intense star testing. I may be "Super Charging"
sooner then I was planning for.

Now for my Questions. 1) Both article's I used was using the ETX-90. I
noticed that it had a steel bushing between the mirror block and plastic
housing that the focus shaft went through. My ETX-125 did not have this
- Should it have?

2) Besides being careful not to turn the focus knob in too far, is there
any modification out there that would prevent accidentally doing what I

I know this was pretty long and I value your patients.
Keep up the great work and clear skies!
Mike in Texas
Mike here: Sorry you have had a problem and that you are fixed for now. Not having disassembled my ETX-125EC I don't know about the focus housing. I wouldn't be surprised if its design was slightly different than the ETX-90. As to preventing the problem, as long as the setscrew remains tight and the shaft inplace, it should not become disconnected.

And from our resident hardware expert:

From: (Clay Sherrod)
Mike is lucky that more serious damage did not occur; I recommend doing
the disassembly procedure he references only as a last resort; anytime
the tube assembly is intruded into, the OTA should be aimed at least a
little bit upward to prevent the mirror from slipping, particularly when
the focus shaft is disconnected.

ANYTIME the focus knob, flex focus, or gear from the electric focuser is
taken off the tube MUST be pointed upward to prevent this....without a
knob or other stop, the focus rod can indeed become easily disengaged
from the rear cell, thereby rendering the entire assembly - and your
primary mirror - loose as a goose.

My words on this are very plain and to the point:  do NOTHING that will
require you to get inside the telescope; take all types of preventative
steps to assure that you do not get in a situation where the OTA must be
taken off, unscrewed, removed from the rear cell, etc.

In my opinion, there are some modest tweaks that can be done with the
ETX....but inside the tube assembly, unless you are a constant tinkerer
and looking to create more problems than you started with, is "no man's

Dr. Clay

Subject:	New 125
Sent:	Saturday, July 6, 2002 18:48:56
From: (Saber Properties Limited)
Has anybody reviewd the new 125 against the old, on your site or
anywhere else?
From: (Clay Sherrod)
I have a brand new UHTC 125 coming in on Monday....I will review and
post of Mike Weasner's site!!  Stay tuned!


Subject:	Thanks
Sent:	Tuesday, July 2, 2002 8:16:59
Thanks for your continued help. I have now tried to make up my mind if i
should get the latest ETX125C or the Nexstar 5i telescopes. If the
choice would be between the old nexstar 5 and the etx125, then, based on
what i have read on the internet, as well as on your site, the choice
would be the ETX125 - mostly because of the much better autostar

However, the new 5i series has a port for an autoguider, which (if i
understand correctly) will enable me to use an autoguider for
astrophotography, which will guide automatically (otherwise i don't know
what that port would be for).

From what i have read, the ETX in it's current form does not support
autoguiders. Can you confirm this ?

It all boils down to wether or not i should wait for the nexstar 5i to
come out.

Thanks so much for your guidance
Mike here: Currently there is no autoguider announced for the ETX line. As to the accuracy of the NexStar autoguider, we'll have to wait for the user and magazine reports.

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