Last updated: 31 March 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:	ETX-125PE with motor unit fault
Sent:	Thursday, March 31, 2005 06:26:41
From:	Matthew Sadowski (
Thanks for the great site, its a big help. I purchased a new ETX-125PE
from my local dealer and received it last week. After getting it out and
setting it up I went to align the scope and during the process I got the
"Motor Unit Fault" warning. So, I tried a couple of the suggestions from
your web site. Like training the drives and calc, still nothing worked.
I then called Meade tech support and he told me to hold the "MODE"
button down for 5 seconds. I did this while I was on the phone with
support after that didn't work. He said to take it back to the dealer
and ship it back to Meade. To make a long story short I called the
dealer up which in turn called his dealer rep. Rep told him that Meade
was having problem with the RA motor wires coming off during shipping.
He was us to take the bottom plate off and see if this is what had
happened. Sure enough that was the problem one of the wires were off. I
installed the wire and the scope is working great.


Subject:	Meade 125PE
Sent:	Tuesday, March 29, 2005 10:00:55
From: (
I have had my ETX-125PE for over a month and I finally got the time to
pull it out of the box and see what it is all about.  The only problem I
am having is that I cannot get a the "red dot" to appear on the
smartfinder.  I have followed the instructions several times to no
avail.  I think I read somewhere to press the 5 button for a few
seconds. I tried that and nothing..  Not sure what I am missing.  I hope
to have a clear night tonight and try it.

Just wondering if there have been other problems with the "red dot"...

Mike here: Have you read my PE report posted last night? I comment on the SmartFinder. And yes, you use the MODE display to adjust the red dot illumination.


Sorry to bother you again.  I am still playing around with the telescope
and found that the LPI function on the software that did come with the
scope is not working. It says the feature is only available on the full
version of Meade Autostar Suite.  I already purchased the LPI and
autostar. Is there a difference in the software that came with the
telescope and that with the LPI?
Mike here: Yep, the version with the PE model is a "lite" version. You need to install the version that came with the LPI.
Subject:	Your PE Experience
Sent:	Tuesday, March 29, 2005 08:05:35
From:	Mike Hogan (
Thanks for sharing your experience setting up your new PE.  It was quite
similar to mine. Regarding the SmartFinder problem, I guess you
overlooked my message from Feb. 16 explaining proper insertion of the
tab.  Another helpful tip is that you can see the tab from underneath by
removing one screw and flipping the whole LNT mount up.  It is the top
left screw looking at the back of the scope.  The larger of the two
Meade-provided hex keys fits.

I had the same problems entering my site location, including the SITE
FULL error. I ended up manually deleting all sites and then adding mine
with name and lat/lon. Worked OK from there.

I had other problems with my LNT and sent it back about Feb. 7.  Still
waiting for a replacement and they keep promising "next week".  In the
meantime, I'm working on a "slip-on, slip-off" mount for a red-dot or
rifle scope as a finder.

Good luck with the PE
Mike here: Yep, saw the report but I wanted to approach my experience and hence my comments, as a new user might.
Subject:	Meade ETX 125PE Motor Drive Fault
Sent:	Monday, March 28, 2005 20:50:05
From:	PBrady (
Received a shiny new 125PE from which is already on its
way to visit Meade because of an mdf in the horizontal drive motor.

Meade's questions on this were simply "did you reset?" [yes] and "what
is the position of the lock?" [somewhat short of center]... at which
point they sent UPS to fetch it.

Reading through the posts here this seems like an all too common
problem, no? Is this to be expected of QC at Meade? This makes me just a
bit nervous.


Paul Brady
Interim Director of Information Services
University of Minnesota
College of Agricultural, Food & Environmental Science
190D Coffey Hall
1420 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Mike here: "Common"? Hard to say since we only get negative comments generally. I didn't happen with my new ETX PE (although I did have some other problems as I reported).


I do note a couple of schools of thought re this instrument. I confess
that I live among those that expect something to work, essentially zero
defect. That IS what I expect from my cars, which are Japanese rather
than German :-) Or my computer. Or my household appliances both major
and minor. So, it is shocking [to me, at least] when something new out
of box (with that big bold inspection sticker) fails instantly, boldly,
and unequivocally.

Granted you prob see inordinate number of problem reports... but, you
know, if you assumed that not all new ETX PE owners visit your site, or
bother to report this... it could be taken that there a bunch of units
out there with drive problems... or not.

I will also say that Meade customer service has treated us well... of
course it would have been far more satisfying if my vendor had exchanged
and dealt with Meade... I'm learning that this community does not behave
the same as the computer world [at least as I live it] or I haven't yet
identified the service oriented vendors. I'll learn.

Appreciate your site. I look forward to contributing something other
than gripes.

Mike here: You said: > That IS what I expect from my cars, which are Japanese rather than German :-) Or my computer.
Agreed. That is why I drive a Toyota Prius Hybrid and use a Macintosh.


Mr. Weasner... lol... we are in absolute agreement! :-)

Subject:	Meade 125PE UHTC  LNT lose/ "motor unit fault"
Sent:	Saturday, March 26, 2005 15:02:52
From:	David & Sherry Wilson (
I've bought a new Meade 125PE UHTC ( ) New verified to
your site links.

I've noted that the LNT mod. lose pulled mounting plastic off to find a
guide tab bent It looks like the scope use to have a sun warning label
possible retro fit to LNT?

And have "motor unit fault" RA after autostar (497) update from firmware
30eb to 33ef found check sum error and reloaded 30eb then back to 33ef.
Performed motor cal. still have "motor unit fault" is this error so
common to warrant sky assurance?

Going to send back to Meade.

My old scope is a Meade 323 refractor  EQ mount 80mm F=900mm gift when
in junior high.

t David
Mike here: As I report on the current Site update, the ETX PE that I received also had a loose LNT module. But I am surprised the Autostar you received had such an old version. It really needs the current version 3.3Ef to work with the PE model). Since you reloaded 3.3Ef, I would suggest doing a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES. Also, do not overtighten the axis locks. Let me know how this works out.


The (c) 2002 for 30eb
reset,cal. motor,train drive
no fault error but no RA drive. Will reliably fault with auto align.
Mike here: For the PE (to use the LNT) you need 3.3Ef.
Subject:	ETX-125 tripod screw
Sent:	Thursday, March 24, 2005 20:32:56
From: (
I just bought a new ETX 125 PE and was following the steps per the
manual to set it up and the screw to attach the scope to the tripod is
bent or I accidently bent it following the steps not sure which. Any
ideas on how to straighten a screw for the mount?

Craig DeMaris
Mike here: Never needed to do that. Contact Meade; they will probably send you a replacement.


Subject:	ETX-125 PE motor default
Sent:	Friday, March 25, 2005 13:17:32
From: (
I was able to replace the bent screw with a replacement machine screw
from the local hardware store. Finally got the telescope set up. The
Smart Finder module lens is not easy to install the first time, very
tight fit. On my first start up I recieved a motor default error on Easy
Align function. Retried it several times same result tried using some of
the tips from your web site. I did notice before entering the Easy Align
mode that I could use the hand controller to slew up and down but not
left and right. I shipped the unit back to Meade after talking with
their customer service. I wasn't too disappointed at this since I had
read your web site before ordering the telescope and was expecting a
motor default error. Thank you for running this web site.

Craig DeMaris  
Mike here: I assume then you tried a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES and didn't overtighten the axis lock.
Subject:	Update on ETX 125 PE faulty motors
Sent:	Wednesday, March 23, 2005 17:22:38
From:	Bruce Lessey (
Interested to read Doug Hatch's experience with faulty motors as well.
Not sure where Dick Syemour gets his numbers of calibration fixing it
98% of the time. It didn't help on either of the first two scopes I
received with faulty motors. I got the third ETX 125 PE yesterday
directly from Meade and it works perfectly. What a relief. It's hard to
believe the inspection sticker if so many of these new scopes don't
function properly. I really want to thank Bob Shutan and his camera
store in Illinois, for sticking with me and making sure that I was able
to finally get this problem fixed.
Now I need a dark and clear night!
Bruce Lessey
Mike here: CALIBRATE MOTORS does fix most of the reported problems, unless there is a more serious problem occurring.
Subject:	ETX PE
Sent:	Saturday, March 19, 2005 08:31:52
From:	William Ellis (
Great that you finally got yours!
I've been working with a LX200 8 and 10 inch, and wanted something a
little easier to set up.

Actually have had a couple of very sucessful, but cold, nights with my
new 125 PE uhtc. Only glitch was Number 6 key seemed to stick a couple
of times and I lost alignment. Could not get rid of Slew Rate display.
(Temp about 28'F)

What seemed to help me the most was positioning the Power Panel West and
finally getting the Smart? Finder aligned. The addendum to the manual
actually states that in the Alt Az mode orientation of the tripod legs
is irrelevent!

Also got a Meade Time Module that, at first, didn't seem to want to go
into the port. Now that I'm acquainted with opening the LNT up, found
that it is just a real tight fit. Same time looked at the
battery.(CR2032) Manual says 2023!

Hoping that I haven't jinxed myself reading about the Drive Motor
Faults. So far I have only set up on the deck and powered off a Radio
Shack 12 V power supply. In the field I use Jump Start Batteries.

If anyone reading this is attending the Delmarva Sky Gaze in April,
would enjoy comparing notes. I'll have the EXT and my 10" set up.
Bill Ellis

Subject:	re: Motor Unit Fault on EXt 125 PE
Sent:	Saturday, March 19, 2005 08:26:14
From:	Richard Seymour (
I am very surprised by Meade's suggestion (press Mode for 5 sec),
i can't think of -how- that would help in this case.
(i'll have to try it.. it may be a new bit of programming)

The first thing to do after a Motor Unit Fault message
is to try the Setup > Telescope > Calibrate Motors   
procedure.  98% of the time, that fixes it (until the batteries
die again).

If that -doesn't- fix it, then yes, a return to Meade may be in

good luck

Subject:	etx 125
Sent:	Tuesday, March 15, 2005 13:16:03
From:	doug hatch (
I was a little premature about my second scope. I was excited, (my
smartfinder was working) so I sent an email in explaining my delight. We
had a clear night, no snow for one evening, and I also had problems with
the motors (motor fault message). I am lucky because Rivers Camera is
only 10 miles away, 3 scopes 5 autostar controllers later it is working
great. Rod Norton at Rivers has been wonderful to deal with.

doug hatch

Subject:	Re: ETX 125 Premier Edition
Sent:	Tuesday, March 15, 2005 12:16:34
From:	Bruce Lessey (
I appreciate you answering my emails. I'm sure you get a lot of them.
The Meade Company will send out a third telescope to me.  I will let you
and your site know what happens.

On another question, I was unable to unscrew the camera port and was
afraid to turn any harder than I was already doing, to avoid breaking
something. It does unscrew to the left doesn't it? The documentation 
doesn't address this and only says 'remove' the cover when attaching a
camera for photography.

Thanks again,
Bruce Lessey
Mike here: The cover does unscrew counterclockwise. Try using a rubber sheet (or rubber glove). Gently tapping on the cover sides may also help.
Subject:	Motor Unit Fault on EXt 125 PE
Sent:	Tuesday, March 15, 2005 09:38:15
From:	Wayne Ellzey (
I have just received my first telescope 3 weeks ago. It was very
exciting when the UPS truck arrived with the package. I have been
following your site and  read the Manuel's directions carefully when
setting  the scope up.  It can be a little intimidating at first, but
your site had some helpful tip's like how to get the little red light to
come on {by pressing the 0 key} on the red dot viewfinder and the need
to train the drives.

Frist Light was  clear and still . We were in our back yard, with my
neighbor's outside spotlight shinning our way. I asked my husband to go
knock on their door and see if they would mind Turing that spotlight
off.  They are nice neighbors.  But he was uncomfortable doing that, so
I just complained about it when setting up the scope. I had just
finished  the automatic alignment when the neighborhood suddenly became
dark.  The power had went out!  The stars  shone more brightly on that
quiet cool February night (we live in the south). I could not belive my
luck! I was still learning how to work the autostar, but it was a night
to remember

The next time I had the scope out in March, it worked flawlessly.  Going
to Tonight's Best, we viewed the planets Jupiter,Saturn, and also a
double cluster. This was great!  But on the third night out, it
happened.  The Autostar message read motor unit fault while slewing
during automatic alignment. Was the batteries low?  We changed them, 
and disconnected the Autostar to reset tht computer, still the same
message. Called Meade, they told me to hold down the Mode button for 5
seconds to see if that would reset it. No change in the message on the
autostar when trying to align. So now we are shipping the telescope back
to Meade.  Hope they can fix it in a timely fashion.  While I was on the
phone with them, I sighed up for the 5 year sky assurance plan.  I hope
that this won"t be a continuos problem. Will let you know what was wrong
with the scope when we hear from Meade.
Mike here: Sorry you had a problem. I will be curious to learn what Meade finds.
Subject:	re: ETX125 Tech Questions
Sent:	Monday, March 14, 2005 22:17:05
From:	Richard Seymour (
Although the barrel is aluminun, there is a permanent magnet DC motor
in the right fork (with the Dec clamp).
Any magnetic compass mounted on the barrel is going to see -that-,
not the earth's magnetic field.

The best way to find north is to sight over the top of the barrel
to Polaris, then drop the barrel to level.  That will give you 
accuracy easily on a par with the compass, and it's direct true north.

The optical axis is coaxial with the barrel's centerline.

have fun
From: (
Thanks Mike and Dick for your info.

I do correct my compass for magnetic variation (called declination by
some people, not to be confused with celestial declination).

My current site, the front patio, doesn't have a view of Polaris. I'm
limited to about 30 to 200 deg. az and 70 deg. alt.  After I have
everything working properly and the weather is a bit warmer I can move
to the driveway.

One more question.  Which object position calculations are most accurate
- AutoStar HBX or AutoStar Suite Starmap?  I have noticed significant
differences when both are configured for exactly the same time and

Regarding compass perturbations by the drive motor magnet, how does the
LNT module compensate for it?  I don't know much about electronic
compasses although my eTrex Vista GPS has one built in.

Thanks again for your help.

What i do in such situations is:
(a) align
(b) tell the scope to GoTo Polaris.
(c) after it beeps, lower the barrel to "level"
(d) make note of where it's pointing (in my case, a neighbor's chjmney)
(e) That's "true north" for future setups.

>One more question.  Which object position calculations are most 
>accurate - AutoStar HBX or AutoStar Suite Starmap?

That entirely depends upon the objects in question.
Consider that Autostar Suite tells the Autostar to GoTo RA/DEC blah-blah.
But it's the quality of the Autostar's idea of where "blah-blah" -is- that
determines the accuracy of the final motion.
For orbiting bodies (planets, asteroids, comets) i'd trust Autostar Suite
(since it can carry them out to better mathematical accuracy).
For Stars, i'd probably pick the Autostar (one fewer player in the mix).
But Autostar Suite has stars that the Autostar doesn't, so "not all stars".

A fine example of: "your mileage may vary"

There is a "Calibrate Sensors" routine in the LNT's Autostar programming,
which has you aim at Polaris.  It then notes the apparent deviation (yet
another magnetic term) from its internally-sensed "magnetic north" position.
So it corrects for its own locally-induced error.

have fun
From: (
I don't know much about electronic compasses ...
If the words "Wheatstone bridge" mean something to you,
then i can recommend a fairly nice, succinct article in the
current (March 2005) issue of Portable Design.

It's available online at:

have fun

Subject:	ETX125 Tech Questions
Sent:	Sunday, March 13, 2005 13:33:09
From: (
I received my ETX125PE about 5 weeks ago and it had a bad LNT module,
which I sent back to Meade at their direction. I have not yet gotten a
replacement and Meade doesn't know when they will be available.  As a
result, I have no finder which makes alignment pretty tough since the
alignment stars are not in the field of view even in my lowest power
eypiece, a 32mm.

I have been using a level and compass to set my "Home" position and
would like to know the following: How closely does the optical axis
match the mechanical tube axis?  If I use a bubble level on top of the
tube, will the optical axis be 0 deg.? Also, is the tube made of steel
or alumnum?  Will it affect a compass (corrected for local magnetic
declination) placed on it?

I level the tripod head with a "bullseye" level so there should be very
little tilt. Time and position are set using my GPS.  I have done Motor
Calibration and Drive Training using a land object.  Still, the
ailignment stars are not in my eyepiece FOV.  Any suggestions?

Regards, Mike
Mike here: See the FAQ page for info on the Declination scale not matching reality. The tube is not steel. Are you correcting for your local magnetic variation? For more on alignment tips, see the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX 125 Premier Edition
Sent:	Sunday, March 13, 2005 03:55:33
From:	Bruce Lessey (
Nice site. I'm a new Meade ETX customer and bought the new Premier ETX
125 with the LNT system. The first one I bought had a defect in the
horizontal motor and couldn't slew ("Motot Fault" message). I sent it
back and received a replacement yesterday. Same results. I thought it
was something I was doing but the dealer ran through the steps and
agreed it too was defective. This seems very strange to me, since they
are inspected before they leave the factory. Has anyone mentioned this?
Bruce Lessey
Greenville, SC
Mike here: Just curious: what "steps" did the dealer do?


He had me reset the computer, basically, and then asked if I heard the
motor running. I could only get it to move up an down but not
horizontally. Its hard to believe two scopes got through inspection with
motor faults. Hopefully the third times the charm.
Bruce Lessey
Mike here: Did he (or you) try changing the slewing speed to a higher (faster) one?


No but I did that without effect.

Mike here: It's here! Thank you Meade and OPT. I will be posting my comments and experiences with the ETX-105 Premier Edition with UHTC as soon as I have a chance to work with it.

Subject:	1247 electric focuser
Sent:	Wednesday, March 2, 2005 20:11:26
From:	Frank George (
Some of the readers have been complaining about the Meade 1247 focuser
and their new ETX-125PE and interference! I just bought a new 125EC and
the 1247 Electric focuser from Science and Hobby the focuser just had
came in on a new shipment from Meade and here are some pics of their mod
to make it fit the new scopes. In the last 2 pics you can see they
didn't even bother to put a rubber plug or even some kind of sealer or
tape on the old one to cover it up!!  LOL  It works I guess. Frank 

photo photo photo photo

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