Last updated: 30 November 2001
Subject: ETX/EC Tune-Up Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2001 16:30:40 From: email@example.com (Phil Price) I could do with some advice. I bought an ETX-125EC on ebay about 6 months ago. Despite customs having a fair chunk of the purchase price in duty for themselves for letting it into the UK, I've had no regrets. Niggles aside & weather permitting a fantastic scope let down only by its poor construction. Today after reading Clay Sherrod & Jordan Blessing's Tune Up Enhancement for the 100th time, decided to tackle the loose Dec lock. Only to find it bears no resemblance to the description in the article. Help! When I removed the OTA support & on it removed the post above the gear wheel, there are 4 equally spaced lugs on the surface that locate into a washer with 4 holes which it locates onto which in turn rests on the gear wheel. At this point I've decided to leave it and any help much appreciated. Kind Regards Philip PriceAnd:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) What you have is exactly what is described in the excellent photographs provided by Mr. Blessing; the 4-space lugs are on the "clutch block" and the washer with the holes is the clutch plate. All of that - should you choose to proceed with tuning it up - must come apart (it is merely press fit and held together by the grease on it) to be cleaned and prepared as described in both my Performance Enhancement series (Parts I & II) and by Mr. Blessing. You are merely seeing all these components pressed together in one assembly. HOWEVER, I strongly urge you to exercise the Arkansas Law for ETX Repair: "....if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" From your description, it sounds like you must do a bit more familiarization with the instrument and its workings before jumping into it. The tune-up is certainly not for everyone, nor everyone's telescope....some need it, and many do not! Why don't you enjoy it for a while and then make a determination as to whether a "tune up" will, in fact, be worth the risk and effort? Best of luck....I think you did the right thing to "leave it." P. Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.org
Subject: new ETX 125EC Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 13:03:36 From: email@example.com (robert potts) I am a proud owner of a ETX125 EC for about three weeks now. I have only the SP26mm eyepiece that comes with the scope. This is my first telescope ( and probably my last) and want to get maximum use of it. My questions are on the purchases of eyepieces to maximize the capability of the 125. I realize the pictures on the box were probably taken from the Hubble telescope. (False advertising?) I plan on purchasing the #126 Barlow lens next. (What is the #140 advertised in Shutan's Ads?) Has anyone else tried the Meade 8.8mm UWA as recomended by Clay Sherrod? Is this eyepiece really going to open up the deep sky for me or is this just overkill? I finally convinced my wife a telescope was necessary for my well being and as I intend to buy only two or three eyepieces and the Barlow, I want to make most use of my dollars. I need help, please! Bob PottsMike here: There are lots of eyepiece comments on the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page. Check those out. The #140 is overkill for the ETX-125. The #126 works fine.
Subject: ETX 125: Vertical Axis does not respond Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 6:42:11 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kumar N. Sivarajan) I have the exact same problem that Rodolofo had: Vertical Axis does not respond to electronic controls on my ETX 125 (no motor sound at all but can be manually operated easily) but Azimuth is perfectly fine and responds to electronic controls. I bought the scope at the Discovery Store at the Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA, in Sep and came to India with the scope. I will be in the bay area on a business visit to the US next week and can exchange the scope there. But it is a pain to bring the scope to the US from India and back. If it is as simple a problem as soldering a disconnected wire, I could just do it myself easily. Question: Would I void the warranty if I removed the back cover to check? Thanks, -Kumar (Sivarajan)Mike here: Opening anything besides the battery compartment could be construed to violate a warranty.
From: Clay Sherrod [email@example.com] Kumar - just removing the cover will not void the warranty, but if you proceed to take things apart, that will. One of the most likely causes - and the most common - is a small wire connector clip that comes loose; it is located under the base plate....be VERY careful removing the plate because your two battery wires are connected to it and they are VERY short; be sure to brace it carefully after you remove the cover. You will find the clip.....there are three of them total; while in there make sure that all are securely fastened. If that is not the cause then your control panel is likely bad, a fairly common problem lately. That would require a repair job at Meade as they do NOT sell repair parts separately for such work. Good luck and let us know how it turns out! Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.orgAnd:
Thanks very much for your immediate response. I did remove the cover and found that the clip connecting the motor drive in the middle of the base to the PCB behind the electronic panel had come off! I have a couple of questions and I thank you in advance for answering them. 1. I am concerned about the polarity of the clip, that is, I should not inadvertantly plug it upside down. I presume that when we look down the base of the telescope, the wires come up from the bottom of the clip: the same for both the clips plugging into the PCB behind the electronic control panel. Please confirm. 2. Despite your warning, I did not brace the cover properly and regretfully, pulled out red wire connecting to the same PCB from the batteries. I can solder it back but want to confirm that it needs to soldered to the solder junction right next to where the black wire from the batteries is soldered, that is, these two are just a couple of mm apart. Please confirm. I understand soldering this requires good soldering skill and will get it done by a friend who is a professional at soldering---he fixes electronic eqpt for a living. Thanks again and look forward to your response. -KumarAnd:
You are fine on both counts and I am very glad that it was only the wire connector. That often is the problem. Regarding the polarity, it does not matter; it will affect which way the DEC drive moves from each button, but you can reverse that with the Autostar "REVERSE N-S" under "Telescope" setup. Now regarding the battery wire you are correct that it needs to be point soldered right next to the black one; you will clearly see the contact point; you must use only a drop of solder as you likely can tell and NOT connect the two points with excess material. While you are in there, why not add some extra length of wire to it to assure it does not happen again....but be SURE to route the wire away from the RA drive gear so that it will not get tangled up in there. Glad it all worked out for you. Clay SherrodAnd:
Thanks very much for the prompt answers. I really appreciate the great work you and Mike are doing to help all ETX users. -KumarAnd this:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rodolfo Mier) Kumar, Sorry to hear you have the same problem I had with my ETX-90EC. If your telescope is under warranty, the last thing I will do is to try a repair. In my case, the Discovery Store gave a new scope. Actually, I decided to pay the difference and get the ETX 125EC instead. If carrying your scope on your next trip to the U.S. is troublesome, you might want to ship it to the Store. Call the store and ask to talk to the Manager. Explain them your problem. Send them a claim letter also, explain the nature of the problem and your request (replacement or cash back). Include a copy of the purchase receipt. They might even help you with the shipping expense. The claim process can take several weeks, but the investment is worth the effort. My new telescope is Mighty! Let me know what the outcome was. Regards, Rodolfo.
Subject: Re: Jupiter with ETX 125 Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2001 12:14:07 From: email@example.com (Thomas Brown) Last night I had one of those extraordinary nights of clear seeing in my usually light polluted suburban backyard. Objects usually too faint to see in the sky glow like M-1 were visible. But the most thrilling for me was to finally get the views of Jupiter which I'd been wanting ever since I got an ETX 90 a couple of years ago, and was disappointed not to see when I "upgraded" to the 125 last year. Finally I got multiple bands, with irregularities clearly visible and, most important I got a definite siting of the Great Red Spot [or the Great Red Spot Hollow, I didn't see much or any color]. I got the best views with my 26mm using the #126 barlow, although views with a 15mm Lanthanum with the barlow were much larger, they were also much fuzzier. Just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, I spent a good deal of time getting good views of Orion objects [M-42 was spectacular, looked at Sig orionus and beta Monocerus among others] as well as Saturn [Cassini div was easily visible along with markings on planet] and then went back to Jupiter. The GRS had definitely moved and was near the limb of the planet but still visible when I looked back, so I consider my viewing "confirmed." This was a great night out. Incidentally I found it easier in viewing these objects to move my eye farther away from the eyepiece than I'd been used to doing, until a point where the planet looked brightest, even though I couldn't see the entire field in so doing. Tom Brown
Subject: Jupiter with ETX 125 also Eyepieces Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2001 11:56:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thomas Brown) Now that Jupiter is coming back into viewing position [and Saturn is in prime position late at night] I've noticed a viewing problem which I'd fogotten about since last year. With really bright objects like this I get a bright circle "eyeball" type reflection in the middle of the field which reduces the contrast and detail visible. Would this be reduced with a filter? At the present time, I only have fairly light filters which don't do anything with this problem [e.g. #11 Yellow-Green; #80A light blue]. Incidentally I'm always looking for a perfect eyepiece "set" for the 125. I note that few if any of your comments indicate the eyepieces you or Clay actually use in day to day observation with the 125 [meaning both focal lenght in mm and brand of eyepiece i.e. Meade 4000, Radan etc] I'd love to know, seeing that my current mongrel selection [the SP 26mm, a 3000 plossl 9.7 mm; Orion Sirius 17mm and 40mm and Lanthanum 15mm with #126 barlow] each have strenghts and failings. I'd love to know if it is worth spanding more on new eyepieces [e.g. a "parfocal" set of SP Meade 4000s] if super expensive eyepieces like TeleView Radans or Naglers will really make much difference for my "general" observation style split between solar system and deep sky objects. Thaks for your ongoing services to the ETX and amateur community as a whole. Tom BrownMike here: I still use the Meade 26mm, 9.7mm, and Scopetronix 40mm. When combined with the Meade 2X (#126) Barlow Lens and the Shutan Wide Field Adapter, I have a pretty good set. Someday, I will probably get a longer eye relief short focal length eyepiece but haven't even begun to research it. As to your reflection problem, everything would be reduced with a filter so that isn't a very good solution. How's the coating on the eyepieces?
From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) A really good selection of perhaps three eyepieces and barlow is truly ideal, much to what Mike Weasner has accumulated; I believe that you do NOT need the expensive eyepieces, but I think that what you have is probably a source of problems to you. 1) the Meade 3000 series eyepieces are not intended for serious observing and suffer greatly from internal reflections and less-than-perfect contrast and precision in focus (likely a source of your image problem). 2) Lanthanums are "fad" eyepieces - albeit great for eye relief if you observe with glasses ON, but why would you want to?. They, too have serious problems, among which are too many elements and typically very poor lens alignment which also result in contrast reduction; 3) Orion Sirius eyepieces are middle-of-the-road units like the Meade 3000's and suffer badly from internal reflections. However, the #126 barlow is excellent. My recommendation are the Televue Plossl series, affordable and absolutely the best quality you can get. For your scope here is my recommendation: 1) low power, widest field - 32mm Televue 1-1/4"/ absolutely pin-point star images to the very edge of the field of view and over a full degree of perfectly flat field in the 125! 2) medium power, good deep sky eyepiece - Televue above with the Meade 2x barlow you already have PLUS add the Televue Plossl 11mm. Wonderful combo and gives you yet another power (290x with 2x with the barlow!), great for planets. 3) high power - splurge here - the most incredible eyepiece available for globulars and planets is the Meade 8.8mm UWA eyepiece (it has a stepdown built into the barrel for 1-1/4" holders). This is a port hole to space....no other description will do. You will thank me over and over again for this eyepiece. You may have to save your pennies and sell coke cans, but it is worth every dime. Good luck and let us know how you do! Clay SherrodAnd:
Clay and Mike Thanks for the suggestions, now, if I'm clever, I'll "suggest" that a nice Christmas gift from my wife would include a selected eyepiece or two. ;)
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2001 12:48:02 From: GoRon325@aol.com I have owned my scope for under a year, this is my first scope. The first couple attempts at utilizing the "go to" ability were unsuccessful. After more use, reading the manual alot and more importantly reading the info on this site, my goto's started working consistently. I upgraded the version of software and trained the drives and the goto's are even more accurate. I recommend using a seperate power source other than batteries. I love my ETX and would recommend it to any one considering purchasing one. This was a large investment for me. When it didn't seem to work right immediately I took the time to learn all I could about how to operate it. Both my investments in time and money have paid off in countless nights of wonder at the beauty of the heavens. Ron Thomas
Subject: Happy ETX 125 Sent: Friday, November 9, 2001 1:29:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean-Yves Beninger) When I bought my scope, I first posted a few complaints on your site. Then I followed the tips you suggest for Performance Enhancement. Now I have an excellent instrument : for all of those, like I was, put off by all the potential problems described in those pages, there is hope, do not give up on the ETX125 : A few exemples : - I use the light Meade tripod in Alt/Az mode, it is perfect. Though I would not dare the polar mode on this tripod, there is absolutely no risk of it falling down in Alt/Az. - I carry the scope in the Meade hard case, I got it 50% of time as airline hand luggage, the other 50%, it went as check-in, was bumped, stayed in the rain ... no problem whatsoever inside. - The GoTo is 99.99 % ON for me. Only time it's off is when I accidentaly kick the tripod. - Last night, clouds covered the whole sky except Mars, I did a dummy align, roughly estimating the Home/North position, accepting the alignment of stars without seeing them. I then manually pointed on Mars and it stayed ON for several minutes. - I have tried webcam photography, it works fine. - Cassini division on Saturn is sharp. - I have seen several Messier objects. OK, they are faint milky halos, but when I see with my own eyes these valiant travelling photons, my mind starts its own race! On, and on, and on ... Aperture fever caught me and I am now out looking for a 10" or a 12", but the ETX125 will remain the scope that I can carry abroad, where skies are black and no specialised shop is around the corner : to fix any problem, I just need an internet connection, and here I am, on your fantastic site. Thanks for maintaining this gold mine, Jean-Yves Singapore
Subject: Smoothe Sailing Again Sent: Thursday, November 8, 2001 18:38:32 From: email@example.com (Blais Klucznik) Just a fast note to say my Mad Mod ETX-125 performed flawlessly again the last two nights. Each outing lasted about 7 hours. Last night we tracked M43 from less than 2 degrees over the horizon until it was at about a 45 degree angle. The ETX stayed right on course. So no matter how discouraged one can get at first with the ETX125 just stay with it, read all applicable notes on the Mighty ETX site, and if you are as lucky as I you will be pleasantly rewarded. Take Care Blais Klucznik firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Comments for Scott9482@aol.com's 11/5/01 posting Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2001 10:54:10 From: MCB1@aol.com I read Scott9482@aol.com's "Disappointed with everything about the ETX-125" posting in the User Feedback section. I sympathize with some of his comments, but, as you said in your response, there are ways to fix and improve most of the problems he's encountering. Let me add to your comments about the jiggling that occurs during focussing. I solved this problem with several steps. The first, as you noted, is to keep the tripod as low as possible. Second, I purchased Celestron vibration damping pads (about $45). Third, I purchased a JMI MotoFocus for ETX 125 (about $99). Fourth I added some home-made clamps to the tripod legs as suggested in a posting in the Tech Tips/Mounts Section of this site [Deluxe Field Tripod leg fix :: From: Tony Miles (email@example.com) dated 9/09/00] (less than $10). And fifth I added a modification of my own -- I used some 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/16" aluminum angle that I attached between the legs of the tripod (less than $10.) With these additions the #883 tripod is solid as a rock, and there is almost no jiggling during focussing. Mike Bertin
Subject: Shutan Wide Field Adapter for ETX 125 Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2001 10:29:09 From: MCB1@aol.com I'm a long time fan of and regular visitor to your Mighty ETX website, having gotten many good tips and techniques from the postings. Keep up the good work. I always check out accessories for my ETX125EC here before I buy. I have several questions that perhaps you could help me with. 1. In 1998 you described your experiences with the Shutan Wide Field Adapter (WFA) and Visual Back (VB). I'm considering this combination for my ETX125, particularly for low magnification, wide field viewing of larger objects with a 26mm Meade SuperPlossl eyepiece. Have you used the WFA+VB on the ETX125? Are you still as enthusiastic about the WFA+VB combination as you were in 1998, or are there other approaches to getting wider fields with the ETX125 that I should consider? If I use the WFA+VB along with the Meade #126 2x Barlow and the 26 mm or 9.7 mm eyepieces can I bring objects into focus with the ETX125? 2. I am considering getting a Celestron #93304 20 mm Kelner cross-hair eyepiece as a tool for centering my telescope on the guide stars selected during alignment. Do you know of anyone who is using this eyepiece for this purpose, and what their experiences might be? Are the (non-illuminated) cross hairs reasonably visible - say as visible as the cross hairs on the Meade 8x25 finderscope on the ETX125? Many thanks for any information you can offer on these two subjects. Mike BertinMike here: I have used the WFA with the ETX-125EC. See my last ETX-125EC report (linked from the top of the current "ETX-125EC Feedback" page. As to using a cross-hair eyepiece for alignments, that is probably overkill. Using a high power eyepiece can yield almost as good a result. Remember, you are probably not going to attempt a several-hour long astrophotograph exposure. For visual work, just centering the alignment star in the 26mm works for most users and it is easier/faster.
Subject: Disappointed with everything about the ETX-125 Sent: Monday, November 5, 2001 8:58:08 From: Scott9482@aol.com I would like to comment about my brand new ETX-125. First, I would like to start off by saying, I have only owned my ETX-125 for about 4 weeks now. I bought the deluxe field tripod, the autostar navigation system, the carrying case, and 2 additional eyepieces (12.4mm SP, and 15mm SP), and a barlow lens. So far, I have been very disappointed with this telescope. I will list everything I am upset about, and any questions I have (maybe someone can help me out?). 1) I cannot see anything more than the planets and the moon. I must admit, that the moon looks incredible. However, the planets (especially Saturn and Jupiter) do not look anything like the pictures on the box. Using the 26 SP eyepiece, they are both nice and sharp and crisp. Even when using the 15 SP, they are still pretty sharp. But once I put in the 12.4 SP, or any combination with the Barlow, they become very fuzzy and loose their sharpness. I bought all of the eyepieces that Clay Sherrod recommended in his comments, but I can't seem to get a sharp image at even medium power. I hear people talking about the Cassini division, I can't see the Cassini division. I can't see more than 4 different bands/zones on Jupiter. I actually own a cheap, $85, 10-year old, 2.4 inch refractor that shows almost as much detail as my ETX. I understand that the refractor is useless for deep-space objects because it can't collect enough light. But neither can my ETX-125!!! I bought this scope because I wanted to see stuff such as the Andomeda Galaxy, the Ring Nebula, and other stuff besides planets and moons. But in my 4 weeks, that is all I have seen so far (planets, moons, and the occassional star cluster)... 2) Autostar is very inaccurate. I know that I've trained my drives properly. I've tried aligning using Easy Align... I've tried using 2-star align... I've tried everything, but autostar can never put the object within my main eyepiece. It is usually like an inch away. It is almost always in my finderscope... but that is not good enough, I thought it was supposed to put the objects somewhere within the field of view of the 26 SP. I have read all of the tutorials on placing the telescope in the home position. I downloaded that little computer tutorial... I have my watch syncronized to the exact time as given on the weather channel. I've tried everything. We are no longer in daylight savings, right??? Autostar does work well for tracking. Once I do eventually get an object in the field of view, it tracks it nicely. One night, I left my scope for an hour, and I came back, and it was still dead center. But, I'd rather it be more accurate! And yes. I do know all of the stars. I am not aligning it with incorrect stars. Because autostar always comes close... but never in the field of view... 3) Regarding the home position. After I relock the horizontal movement lock, and I tighten the vertical movement lock, it is still possible to reorient the telescope (not with as much ease as if they were unlocked, but still possible). Is that normal? Or should the locks prevent all movement? 4) Regarding focusing. Every time I make the slightest touch to my telescope (for example - focusing, or reattaching the autostar to the velcro), the object in the eyepiece bouces all over the place. It takes like 4-5 seconds for it to settle back down. Is that normal? I think that the telescope may actually be too heavy for the platform atop of my deluxe field tripod. Since I never use polar alignment, I think that the scope would be more stable if there were none of those knobs and levers between the tripod and telescope platform... Any help or comments would be greatly welcome. -ScottMike here: Sorry to hear about your disappointment. I think we can address most of them here.
Subject: Mad Mod ETXD125 still doing great Sent: Sunday, November 4, 2001 15:17:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Blais Klucznik) I am one who will comment in a positive way when my scope is working like a charm. After many outings with my Mad Mod ETX125 I would just like to say it continues to be a winner. Now I feel comfortable in taking it to a remote dark area to further appreciate the wonders of the skies. Take Care Blais Klucznik email@example.com
Subject: First-Timer Sent: Sunday, November 4, 2001 14:55:01 From: BKNIGHT315@aol.com Hello: This is my first time to write. I was planning to buy a Meade ETX-125EC this week with all the trimmings........over $1700 total. After reading some of the reports on your site, I'm a little reluctant to buy this telescope. The reason I chose an ETX is because I couldn't lift an LX200 or LX90. I am really disappointed to hear of all the defects the ETX has. Thanks for listening. BKnight315@aol.comMike here: Did you read the positive reports as well? Of course, as I have pointed out many times, few people write when things are going well; they only write when they have questions.
Subject: Size of eyepiece retainer screw on ETX-125EC? Sent: Saturday, November 3, 2001 20:26:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matthew Gertz) Could you (or someone reading your Mighty ETX site) tell me what's the size of the screw which holds the eyepieces in place on the ETX125-EC? Mine appears to have gone for a walk (I probably knocked it out when getting the scope out of the shipping box last month), so I need to pick up a new one from the hardware store. I'd be much obliged if someone could forward the data along. (I discovered this missing piece while setting up my scope for viewing tonight -- first clear evening in the four weeks since I got my 'scope back from Dr. Sherrod. Of course, the screw isn't terribly important for viewing, so I decided to press on anyway. And, of course, just as I got everything leveled, sighted, cooled down, etc., I recheck the location of Polaris in my finderscope, notice the star is missing, look up and notice that in five minutes the sky has gone from perfectly clear to totally overcast. ACK! I *still* haven't had a chance to try out my newly Supercharged scope! I mean, I suppose I should expect clouds in the Seattle area in the autumn, but *really*, this is too much... :-P ) Thanks in advance for any info about the screw (it's too much to ask to get help about the weather, I expect... :-) --Matt Gertz--*
Subject: Quality of Meade's etx 125? Sent: Saturday, November 3, 2001 7:56:33 From: RSensiba@aol.com I'm in the market for a new telescope. I've done some observing in the past. So I'm not a rookie, more intermediate. I've owned a newtonian. Put I would like something a lot more portable. The "goto" capabilities of the 125 are very attractive. This scope would seem to me to a good mix of size, aperature and portability. But reading articles on your site have me REALLY concerned about the quality of design and manufacture of etx 125. For a $1000, something would work correctly out-of-box. Am i misunderstanding your material or are there serious flaws with this scope? Can I ask your opinions on the 125? Is the Celestron nexstar 5 better? (more robust, reliable and equilvalent optical performance) By the way, thank you for your site. The information is invaluable! Regards; RichardMike here: I randomly selected an ETX-125EC from Meade's shipping department. Except for the random slew problem (which should now be corrected in all shipping ones) I have experienced no problems with it that detract from my use of it. "Your mileage may vary." Also, keep in mind that most people will send in negative comments or requests for help. Few take the time to report on "no problems" although there are some of these reports. There are (older) comparisons of the ETX and NexStar online on my Site.
Thank you VERY much for your reply! It helped!
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