ETX-125EC USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 25 May 2003
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 Experience
Sent:	Saturday, May 24, 2003 21:11:56
From:	dhester@ec.rr.com (dan hester)
I've got to tell you...when the ETX 125 is working properly, it just
can't be beat.  Tonight was the first clear night in weeks here on the
North Carolina Coast.

I headed for the nearest nearly-dark site and aligned the unit.

Four hours later...I had viewed over 50 Messier objects...Jupiter,
Saturn...too many star clusters to count and Several Caldwell Objects.

The ETX 125 never missed a beat.  It put at least 90 percent of the
targets inside and almost dead center in a 32 mm eyepiece. Only once did
I have to use the viewfinder to get close to a target.

As I mentioned earlier..I did remove the base and use a wooden toothpick
to clean the worm gears of some debris that apparently came from the
factory. For power, I made a connector and use 12 volt batteries for my
Craftsman drill.  They give me many nights of viewing before needing a
recharge.

A policeman came up while I was watching Jupiter.  I completely forgot
about the scope while we talked for over half an hour.  When I look back
in the eyepiece...the planet was still dead center..after almost 40
minutes.

I defy anyone with any other go-to telescope of another brand to get
that kind of results.  That's why the Meade ETX can't be beaten.  Dan

Subject:	New etx-125ec focus problem
Sent:	Thursday, May 22, 2003 12:14:16
From:	john@riordan.org (John Riordan)
Hi - great site. Knowing a community like this exists for these scopes
helped me decided to buy one. Thanks for that.

Anyway, I just received a new etx-125ec UHTC from OPT which arrived with
the focus mechanism apparently broken. While the knob turns freely, it
doesn't appear to be engaging anything - it just kinda wiggles up and
down and side to side. However, I can slide the focus shaft in and out
without turning the knob - the mirror moves and focus can be obtained
(at least on something out in my yard). However, if the scope is more
than 10-15 degrees from horizontal the mirror/shaft just slide back if I
let go of the focus knob.

I was wondering if you might have any ideas on how to fix this?

Another odd thing was the scope arrived without any packing inserts at
the rear of the tube. There is a little sticker on the base noting that
they should be carefully removed, but no inserts were to be found.

Thanks,
John
Mike here: The focus shaft should NOT slide in and out. I suspect there was some damage caused during shipment without the inserts. I suggest contacting OPT about it. They can resolve it. If you want to attempt a fix yourself (and invalid the warranty) see the article "Focus Shaft Fix" on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	New ETX-125EC
Sent:	Monday, May 19, 2003 09:58:08
From:	MMORRIS@mii-rmcc.com (MORRIS, MARK)
Having previously owned an ETX-90RA, ETX-90EC, and ETX-105EC, last
Friday I brought home number 4, the ETX-125EC. I had been resisting the
urge to get the 125 for some time, but with the free tripod and Autostar
offer combined with the eyepiece deal, I could hold back no longer. (BTW
for anyone in the Greater Denver area considering a new Meade purchase,
I highly recommend The Discovery Channel Store at Park Meadows Mall)

I spent Friday afternoon getting it set up, leveling the
tripod,correcting the dec circle, aligning the finder, ect. So, by
nightfall I was ready to go. I set up on my patio, and as I was using an
Autostar I already had, I reset, calibrated, and trained the drives on
Polaris. Put it in Alt-Az Home Position, did a two star alignment, (both
in the finder) and I was off and running. I won't go into great detail,
but it was a very successful first night. About 90% of the GOTO's were
in the FOV of a 40mm ep, and the ones that weren't were just outside the
FOV. I didn't do any long term tracking, but Algieba stayed centered in
the FOV at 306x for about 20 minutes, not too shabby. The seeing was
just so-so and it wasn't the best night for testing the optics, but all
objects looked as they should considering the seeing. The best objects
of the evening were the double stars Castor, Algeiba, Mizar and Cor
Caroli. Also, the view of Izar left no doubt the the optics are very
good. The only problem I encountered at all was that the holes in the
tripod spreader were just a tad too small for eyepieces to fit into
easily. A little light sanding the next day took care of that.

Saturday, more of the same, and on Sunday as well. My new ETX125-EC gets
an A+ right out of the box, * with a good setup*. I know a lot of
newcomers to your site get the impression the problems are inherent to
the ETX-EC scopes, but based on my personal experience, that's just not
the case. I've had three good ones right out of the box, and zero bad
ones. I think it's important to stress "with a good setup procedure"
however. I know that's not easy for someone new to the ETX scopes and
Astronomy, but it is necessary. These scopes do come with a learning
curve, but once you are past it the vast majority of ETX's operate as
intended.

Thanks once again for the great site.
                                                      Mark A Morris
                                                      Fort Collins, Colorado

Subject:	ETX125 Observation Experience. Amazing!
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 15:14:41
From:	eric@geysels.freeserve.co.uk (Eric)
I know some people have had problems with their scopes - my ETX125 had
to be replaced when I bought it in January this year as it didn't have
the correct amount of movement due to some internal obstruction - but
just wanted to add a positive posting about these amazing scopes.

On the evening of the 15th May I aligned the scope and selected the Ring
Nebula. Even though the moon was low in the sky ( just before it's
eclipse early the next morning!) conditions weren't brilliant I thought
for deep sky observing due to the moonlight. The scope zoomed around and
slewed into position. With a high power eyepiece I peered into the sky
and there was the Ring Nebula, smack bang in the center of the FOV!
Amazing! I had to use averted vision to see it, but it was there even in
the glare of the moon! Tried the Sombrero Nebula next and again it was
brought right into the middle of the FOV.

If the 125 can provide such amazing resolution on a moonlit night, I
can't wait for a dark night! Conditions haven't been brilliant the past
few weeks in SE England. Roll on dark, cloudless nights!

Eric

p.s. Thanks for your help after I had bought my scope - I quoted your
info about the lack of proper movement and the shop in London changed
the scope no questions asked.

Subject:	etx 125
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 08:26:46
From:	vicjudi@ev1.net (Vic Judi Vreeland)
I read (but cant find again) how one can tell if he has a new and
improved etx 125 or the older model - could you point me to that url
thanks 
vic
Mike here: See the article ""New" vs "Old" - How to Tell" linked from the top of the current ETX-125EC Feedback page.

And:

Gottcha - whewwww there is a lot to these telescopes - I just got a 125
with autostar controller - bet i have to read for two days prior to
using it
ha

Lucked out - Got a new one
Now to learn how to use it

thanks
vic
Mike here: I doubt there are any original model ETX-125EC telescopes being sold through reputable dealers. They should all be gone by now.
Subject:	new vs old 125
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 02:00:13
From:	branchw@bellsouth.net (walter branch)
Saw this in your ETX 125 section:

>I have a UHTC 125 with the obvious metal fork under the declination
>lock, as well as the indent near the horizontal lock.  Both indicate
>'NEW' version.  On the other hand, the box has a P/N of 0515-03-01,
>suggesting 'OLD' version....

>I assume all UHTC versions are NEW.  I also assume that Meade is using
>up an old supply of boxes....Does this make sense?

The 125 I got a few weeks ago is exactly the same as this person
describes (only I did not get UHTC).  Mine is the newer version.

-Walter

Subject:	Packing ETX-125 for moving
Sent:	Saturday, May 17, 2003 00:16:38
From:	tom_shinn@hotmail.com (Tom Shinn)
Really great website and it's answered many of my questions, but I can't
find the answer to this one.

We're going to be moving across the country soon and I'm concerned about
how best to pack the telescope.

I've still got the original box and packing, but I'm wondering what's
the best orientation of the scope.  I'd like to put the whole works into
another (outer) box, but most of those will only accomodate the Meade
box if it's on end.

So can I ship it with the tube pointed up (or down?) instead of
horizontal?

Thanks,
Tom
Mike here: I personally think horizontal is best but since Meade can't really control the orientation in which it is shipped, I doubt that it really matters too much as long as you use the original packing INCLUDING the small foam inserts at the rear of the tube.

And:

Thanks for that!  Your point about them not being able to control the
orientation in shipping is well taken.  HOWEVER, if THEY have one
damaged in shipment, it's not as much of a disaster as it would be for
me if MINE got damaged.  

I'm gonna call Meade on Monday to see what (if anything) they recommend.
Betcha they give me the same non-answer I got from Canon when I asked
about packing my (nearly new) i850 printer.  My son-in-law has one that
didn't work right after he and my daughter moved, so I wanted to avoid
that.  They told me to ship it the way he shipped his (normal
ready-to-use configuration).  But when I said I still had all the
original packing and that I'd thought it might be better to remove the
ink tanks and print head, they said, "Oh, yeah.  That might be better." 
Gee thanks, guys!

In any case, I decided today that I'm going to re-pack it like it was
when I got it, then cushion the box inside another one, regardless of
the orientation.

Subject:	ETX125 new vs. old revisited....
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 19:10:22
From:	mschmidt6120@earthlink.net (Mary Beth Schmidt)
Just wondering if there is an update to the ETX125 new vs. old
discussion...I checked the "New" vs. "Old" on the site and see some
conflicting info....

I have a UHTC 125 with the obvious metal fork under the declination
lock, as well as the indent near the horizontal lock.  Both indicate
'NEW' version.  On the other hand, the box has a P/N of 0515-03-01,
suggesting 'OLD' version....

I assume all UHTC versions are NEW.  I also assume that Meade is using
up an old supply of boxes....Does this make sense?

wrschmidt
Mike here: Anything is possible! Only Meade knows for sure!
Subject:	ETX125EC Random Skews
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 14:38:31
From:	jdaggett@gate.net
Is there any fix other than return to Meade for Random Skewing and pray
they can fix it?

Here is what I have done:

1) two different 497 have been used.
2) version 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6 have all been used and all have the problem
3) Update proceedure has been followed and version 3.61 software has been 
4) a mixture of voltage sources have been used:
	a) 8 AA batteries
	b) 10 AA batteries 
	c) 12 volt 115 amp/hr marine battery
	d) 12 VDC 2 amp regualted supply.
all with no remedy.
5) Have used percentages from 1% to 50 %
6) have done countless number of resets and training and calibrating
drives. I have had the skewing take place while trying to train the
drives after a reset.

I have noted that random skewing decreases slightly whenthe voltage is
closer to 12VDC than say 14 VDC. I have yet to correlate any less
skewing to voltage but that is my next step. Also most of the skewing is
in the Altitude axis. On rare occaision it will skew off in the Azimuth
axis.

Has anyone had success using lower voltages,  ie 7.5 to 9 VDC regualted?
 I have heard of those having success using Nicads. They do have lower
internal resistances and lower voltage ratings than do akalines.

I really do not believe the scope is worth a large investment if it has
to go back to Meade. It is an older unit, circa 1999/2000. The OTA can
be removed from the mount and used elsewhere. Good optics, but the mount
and electronics are the pits.

regards 

james
Mike here: There was a problem with the original ETX-125EC models that were shipped. You can see this mentioned on the Announcements - Meade page (bottom of the page). Some required being shipped to Meade (mine did).

And more info:

Thanks for the input. I found your page and I did call Meade. Standard
customer service questions and response.

I am doing some testing now and I have formulated a hypothesis as to a
failure mode that may not have been as obvious. The random skewing has
many possible root causes. It also appears from someof the complaints
that not all the known fixes have worked 100% of the time. This leads me
to believe that there is/was a component tolerence issue. The culprit is
the motors themselves. Further to add to the misery is the engineering
department may or may not know about it and is not telling the world. I
also believe that the design is not robust enough to handle marginally
out of tolernence motors.

I have worked in design of battery operated consumer electronics. I have
had to deal with the often occasional parts delivered are out of
tolerence and can we used them question. Take for example the motor. A
typical specification on the motor would be RPM at a given voltage. For
this case lets pick an arbitrary spec, 180 RPM +/- 20 RPM at 4.5 VDC.
Our lot comes in and the mean is at 195 RPM and the +/- three sigma
distribution places 40% of the lot over the maximum RPM spec. To further
complicate matters the vendor states that their vendor for a key
component has a backlog of  26 weeks.  This means you can not get
anymore parts for 26 weeks. The orders are backing up and upper level
management is beating on the table screaming and yelling that the
quarterly profits will be down due to this problem. Can we use the
friging parts and what is the hit on quality? Finally the lowly design
engineer states that the impact to quality is 2%. That is the motor will
fail in about 2% of units shipped with this lot of motors. Now the
decission is out of his hand. The upper level manager makes the
decission to use them or not.

This may sound unlikely but believe it or not it happens in many
electronic comsumer goods. From cellphones to MP3 players. This happens
more than the average consumer realizes. Another scenario is the vendor
states it is 26 weeks to deliver parts, so the lonely engineer goes out
and finds another vendor but the part is not exactly the same. Again the
lowly engineer has to determine potential failure rate and waranty
impacts.

Scenarios like this happen weekly! WHat my theory is, Meade was forced
into using either out of tolerence motors or they were forced into using
an alternate vendor whose part is not 100% identical to the other
vendor. What this did was to put motors into the ETX line that on
accassion will fail. The failure mode is the motor controller cannot
adjust the PWM signal low enough to get the speed down to the tracking
speed. Once that happens a reset or some routine takes over places the
motor is a higher speed and starts to readjust the RMS voltage to slow
the motor back down. The correction for this problem seems all to
simple. Just lower the overall power suplly voltage. If I understand the
calibrate proceedure, it is suppose to calibrate the output of the
optical encoders so that they are a square wave. The controller at the
same time can also calibrate speed!!!!!. Thus lowering the overall
supply voltage will raise the duty cycle on the PWM signal. Thus ther
RMS voltage on the motor will have suffiecient margin up and down to
control the speed of the motor.

I have trtied 7.5 VDC on my unit and got almost 2 hours tracking. NO
random jumps. I need to experiment more and at a few other voltages.
This so far is the most promising fix I have done that gives relief to
the problem. The longest tracking time that I have had before was 20
mins. Almost a 6x improvement. I need more testing and evaluation. If
lowering the voltage to say 9.6 means I do not have to send the unit
back to Meade then fine. I will operate in that mode.

I will keep you updated in the future:

james

Subject:	ETX 125 Reliability
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 08:45:58
From:	david.hersey@cibc.ca (Hersey, David)
ETX 125 Reliability
 
Hello Mike - I am certain I speak for many when I say this site has
added a great deal to our collective experience of astronomy.
Congratulations to you and the site members.

I did want to let Dave and Heather of Ottawa know that our 125 has
provided us with countless hours of reliable viewing since last August.
We found it to be excellent value for the money. However, after getting
to know the 125, the lady of the house and I knew the scope had higher
potential. We endeavored to "tune-up" the scope using the following
frames of reference:
     
Dr Sherrod's excellent performance improvement article -
http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx_tuneup1.html
 
Jordan Blessing's insightful tune up ideas and illustrations - 
etxtu.htm
 
Dr R.B. Ingersol's fine article and documentation -
http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/125rafix.html
 
After this process was completed, I am pleased to report that we are
locating objects dead center a very high percentage of the time. The
mechanics sound "nice and crisp". The slew starts and stops when it is
supposed to. Witnessing the 125 perform like this, gave us a very nice
start to the hobby. Our thanks to those three gentlemen mentioned above.
 
Hope this helps,
 
David
Peterborough Ontario  

Subject:	barlow question
Sent:	Sunday, May 11, 2003 08:58:54
From:	mark101367@hotmail.com (mark wenrich)
Let me start by saying how much I enjoy your site. I've gotten allot of
great information over the last few months while waiting to recieve my
etx-125. It will be arriving this week and I just had a question. I'm
looking at barlow lenses, and wanted to know which one you think has the
best quality. I was looking at the #140 2x, and have seen favorable
reveiws, so I would just like to hear your opinion. This is my first
real scope and I can't wait to get started. Just one more thing to add,
i'd like to remind everyone about this thursdays lunar eclipse, should
be awsome. Thanks again for your great site.

      Mark
Mike here: Yes, the #140 is excellent quality (according to reports; I don't have one). I use the #126, which is slightly lower quality, but is OK for use on the ETX-90/105/125.
Subject:	ETX 125 Reliability
Sent:	Wednesday, May 7, 2003 06:31:47
From:	dalbri7@rogers.com (Heather and David Albright)
I have been enjoying reading through the various questions and answers
posted at your ETX site. I was just about to purchase my new ETX 125
when a local dealer advised me that of the 7 recent ETX 125s that he
received, 4 had to be sent back for various problems and one needs a
part that he is awaiting. Many have commented recently on the poor
quality of the ETXs. I am now considering a Nexstar 5i purchase instead.
In your view, has the quality of the Meade ETX series (and the 125s in
particular) declined recently for somer reason or have they always been
bad?
Thank you,
Dave
Ottawa, Canada
Mike here: I have no direct experience with returns or percentages. I can say that most people report when having problems, not when having successes. So the percentage of complaints to total email traffic seems artificially high. Your mileage may vary. But given the number of telescopes that Meade sells, if the real return percentages were that high or higher, Meade would be out of business. And they are not.
Subject:	etx 125 or sc-8
Sent:	Thursday, May 1, 2003 16:56:14
From:	trailcrawler@sbcglobal.net (James Kendrick)
Mike, you have a great site.  I have found much helpful information
regarding a hobby that I hope to enjoy soon.  I am considering
purchasing an etx-125ec UHTC or an sc-8.  The difference in price would
be about 200 more for the sc-8.  My main question is, will the viewing
be more dramatic with the sc-8 to warrent the extra inconvenience in
size?  I have two young children who might get bored with viewing if the
views are not impressive.  Astrophotography is a thought, but at this
juncture is not an important consideration.  I also have a balcony that
faces west where the scope could remain during the dry months.  I'd only
have to move it if I wanted to look east.  Please advise.  I've never
used a GOTO scope before, so I'd have a learning curve with either
scope. Thanks for a great site. James
Mike here: Have a visit to my LXD55 Site (http://www.weasner.com/lxd) where you will find my experiences with my LXD55-8"SC. And yes the difference is dramatic.

And:

One more question.  Is there a significant difference in mount quality
between the sc-8 or say the lx-90 or lx200?  If the optics are the same,
what warrents the extra price for the 90 or 200?  Is the fork mount
superior to the one on the sc-8? Thanks again, James
Mike here: Yep, it is the mount. The LX90 mount/gears is better than the LXD55 and the LX200 is better than the LX90.

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