ETX PREMIER EDITION FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 October 2007

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:	RE: Meade ETX-125PE
Sent:	Monday, October 29, 2007 16:38:43
From:	JOHN SABELLA (johnsabella@hotmail.com)
I spoke to Meade C/S about why I'm getting a series of red dots. I said
something to Josh(Meade C/S) that I had noticed about where the red dot
exit point on the left side of the LNT. Mine felt like it had point and
sharp. He said it has to flush & flat. When I got home tonight I looked
at it with a optical loupe and sure enough mine look like the factory
had used a dull pair of cutting dikes to cut it. At his suggestion, he
said use a razor blade to make it flat.That helped but my next move
almost screwed-up everything. I wanted to take the LNT cover off. I
spoke to 2 people about this at Meade C/S and none mentioned that the
LNT's fiber optic is attached at one corner of the cover. Of course,
mine dislodged. Again I have to say the assembly of using some sort of
glue to hold the end of the fiber optic strand is cheap at best. Luckily
I got it back in place again.

Do you know of a suitable glue like the one Meade used to tack it in
place? I used the orignal tacky spot and put a piece of scotch tap to
hold it, but I'll need to secure it better soon.

The interesting thing about this is that factory shipped this LNT in
this condition and I'm wondering if that's why the last owner might had
sold the scope?? Hopefully this will help others at your web-site, just
in case someone other owner is suffeing this same condition.

I'm glad I did take the cover off because the CR2032 was only
registering 2 Volts. I replaced it with a new one. I hope maybe now to
get a chance to re-align Smart Finder and also use the ATUM to update
the LNT. I'm guessing once you remove the CR2032 it might cause the
module to dump the factory time settings?

I also asked Meade C/S about a replacement SmartFinder Lens just for a
reference .

The P/N is 2007. He say's its $20 + $10 shipping and it's only available
thru a Meade Dealer. Josh was probably the best C/S person I spoke to
this far.

Thanks again.
John
Mike here: I don't know what glue would work best (or safest).

And:

Thank you and I'll try to talk to Meade's C/S to see if they will know
what type of glue it is. It's not a permanent type, that's for sure and
it's tacky yet somewhat translucent. Thanks again.
John

And:

I tried to get that information from Meade C/S and each agent would just
put me on hold. After a few minutes another would answer the phone and I
was back at square one. When I got home, I carefully removed the scotch
tape and  smeared over the top of the fiber optic with a little of clear
silcone glue. It seemed to do the trick. Then I went outside with the
scope to do a SmartFinder Alignment. Having 1 dot is now a blessing
after the fix of using a razor blade on the outlet LED hole. It aligned
much better with good results placing the red dot on a particular star
and sure enough now it was basically in the center of view of the main
scope. I used the ATUM to update the time,date,,,etc. and then finally
tried a EASY alignment. Even though were I set up was terrible since my
house is surrounded by trees, I was able to pick to stars for the
alignment and got the elusive " Alignment Sucessful" message. I had to
wait for two first targets to pop thru the trees, but the scope went to
the Moon & Mars with no problems. Maybe this weekend I can take the
scope to a shopping center's parking lot near by to get a better view of
other targets.

I know I must have sounded difficult at best to get thru this, but due
to the scope coming from an E-bay sale and then my unfamilairity with
the "NEW AGE" of astronomy, I had my hands full.

By the way, I was telling you about when I was trying to train the
motors  and I sighted on a target center in the 26mm, I noticed the
scopes motor contiunued to slew in one dirrection or another. Meade told
me to back down the number of percent in the  RA/Dec, using "SETUP" then
"TELESCOPE" then scroll to the Percent. Mine was at 50% and I put it at
25% like they said and the motors stopped slewing.

Again, thanks for your help!
John
Mike here: I understand.  Getting a used telescope that has problems can create its own set of challenges.  You never know what is operator error and what is equipment error.
Subject:	RE: Meade ETX-125PE
Sent:	Friday, October 26, 2007 20:24:09
From:	JOHN SABELLA (johnsabella@hotmail.com)
I just came back from a 2 day vacation, just in time for the weather to
turn bad again. Whilie I was away, the Atomic Clock Module arrived and
just like my run of luck lately, it's broken. I called the company and
they contacted Meade and Meade is sending me another one.

It's a good thing I got the LNT lenses in the Hard Case because I found
out from Meade's C/S they are NOT sending me a hard copy manual or the
LNT Lens!

What annoys me is you can't even get them to send you one even after I
offered to BUY it!

In any case, I think I see one problem that might be solved. I was
entering in "NO" for daylight savings and it should have been "YES"
which could throw off the whole alignment. This is why I wanted to get
the Atomic Clock module and set up the menu for it to do it upon
intialization. After choosing that, my Atomic Clock just kept trying to
locate the signal and never connects(even after waiting 10 minutes).

The other problem about the Up/Down & Left/Right arrows not working also
was a case that the motor was slewing so slowly, I had no idea that the
scope was actually moving. I only found this out when I did a Training
of the Motors and when fixed on a terrestial target and the scope moved
off center, that's when I saw that my arrows were actually moving.

Hopefully, tomorrow night will bring a good seeing night and maybe I can
try the scope out.

I also have a Meade 505 cable on it's way and I have a Fujitsu Tablet
loaded with the AutoStar software.

One last question was about the cross hair reticle. I did an extensive
searh of the Accessories and Eyepiece catagories and could not find any
reference to any screw-in ones.

I also remembered that I had a perfect bubble level for the 884 tripod.
It came off a Theodolite's base. It has 3 holes for mounting it. I
assume the best place to but it would be directly center on the lower
tier below the moveable plate the ETX sits on.

Again thanks for your help.
John
Mike here: The clock module probably works best at nighttime given that it is a very low frequency radio receiver. Other atmospheric and local factors could affect reception. As to the 505 serial cable and your tablet, keep in mind that if your tablet doesn't have a RS-232 port you will need a USB-serial adapter and not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I use a Keyspan model with my Apple laptop and it works fine. As to the reticle eyepiece, you didn't find one screw-in types because as I said previously: "You can't just screw on a reticle like a filter". The reason is that such a location would not focus the reticle.

And:

I also have a Keyspan USB adapter.

I also have a Belkin one too. I'll start with the Belkin at your
suggestion.

I had the ATCM outside in a clear view of the sky and didn't get a
signal. It was during the Daytime and I 'll try again at night, but
Meade thought it was a dead module. When the new one arrives I can
compare..

As for the Reticle, I see what your saying. I see Mead makes an
Illuminated 12mm one which could be a possiblility.

Tonight they are promising better weather so I'm happpy to go out and
try once again to get that first good alignment!! Thanks again.
 
John

And:

I must be the only person on this whole earth that can't seem to align
this ETX125PE!

First of all you were right about the ATCM. I did work and is SO
insensitive and needs precise alignment before it will work. The manual
said approx. 90 seconds! Not even close.

I made about 3 attempts tonight doing a Automatic alignment. I was out
there so long the local Suffolk County Poilce actually came to question
me what I was doing! No joke!

After each attempt the 1st star seemed again way off from were the auto
alignment put it at. I tried the 1st star which was VEGA and centered it
and hit enter. The scope then slews to the next star(can't remember but
again the closeset and brightest star wasn't near were the auto
alignment put it. Lock it in and hit enter. Tonight's targets were Mars
and the Moon and in each case, WAY OFF!

I also have to ask about the LNT lens. I got two in the Hard Case by
dumb luck and Meade welched on sending the one they said they were
sending. One lens was broken at the insertion tab. It had a nice goldish
hue coating. The other one was identical but without any coating. That's
the one I had to install. When I see the the RED dot it isn't just one
dot but seemingly multiple ones that make a red line instead. Now I
centered the scopes 26mm on a land target. Now I looked thru the LNT's
lens and see the series of red dots(a line) and try to overlay it on the
image centered in the 26mm. This seems extremely crude,considering the
enourmous parallax error, by my standard. I'll take a standard 8 x 21mm
finder with a crosshair any day over this cheesey arrangement. When
trying to center a red dot on a planet and then looking thru the scope's
26mm, I can't even find the item in the field of vision. I think this
LNT's lens is the issue here.

I have been checking the web for Astronomy Clubs local. One in Southold,
NY is Custor and another is in Oyster Bay, NY at C.W.Post College. I'm
thinking of bringing it to a "Meet" and hopefully some one will take
pity on me and help me out.

Sending the scope to Meade is a real risk due potential shipping damage
and I don't make enough to cover their repair estimates!

Again, thanks for your help and your input is highly regarded here.
Thanks.
John
Mike here: OK, lets simplify things. Forget the Auto Align for now and do an Easy Align; is that working better? Once you know that you can do an Easy Align then you can move to working on the Auto Align. Beyond what I document in my ETX-105PE comments (on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page) and in the various PE/LNT tips (on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page) I don't know what else could be wrong in the Auto Align so lets check the alignment without the LNT involved. As to the SmartFinder, there should be only one dot, not a line. Could the lens be smeared with something or misaligned? Finding a local astronomy club is a great idea.
Subject:	ETXPE, cal.sensors,ctr.polaris
Sent:	Thursday, October 25, 2007 13:32:04
From:	Niels Peter Ditlefsen (0068300m001@stofanet.dk)
Although it is not important, I would very much like to  know the answer
to the following "newbie"-question :

Polari's position varies as we know-  approx.  +/- 0.7deg.(Alt) and +/-
1.25deg.(Az) from true north.   Now,  after cal.sensors ,center Polaris
and Enter, will Autostar correct for the actual variation (knowing the
time and date), or is it without any importance ?

 Thanks
Niels Peter  (56.1N  10.5E)
Mike here: Although I haven't tested it (and can't right now since my ETX PE is packed away for a move) I assume the AutoStar calculates the directional offset when doing the CALIBRATE SENSOR.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike is correct... before doing the Cal Sensors (or a One Star
Polar Alignment), the Autostar gets the time and date by asking
you, or from the LNT or GPS.
From that it determines -where- Polaris is with relationship
to the pole (as it also figures out where the alignment stars
"should" be during an alignment).

So when it asks you to center Polaris, it will be expecting
to end up where Polaris really -is-, not just "near enough".

have fun
--dick

Subject:	RE: Meade ETX-125PE
Sent:	Saturday, October 20, 2007 17:24:38
From:	JOHN SABELLA (johnsabella@hotmail.com)
Well, I'm totally fustrated. I received the ETX hard case on Friday and
to my amazement, inside the box was 2 LNT lens and a CR2032 battery! The
LNT lense from Meade hasn't arrived yet in this helped me out. In doors
I put the LED of the LNT in to continously ON mode. I had to wait to
almost evening to try to align the LNT. I used one eye to avoid errors.
I put the 26mm in and centered it at some point about 1 block away. Then
I looked at the LNT's lens and I say a few red dots close to each other.
The instructions in the manual a real vauge. I tried to align my eye in
the center of the lens and then used the LNT's vert & horiz to over lay
the red dots on to the same object seen thru the 26mm.

Later in the evening I tried to do a alignment. I put the scopes base
with the auto align port facing west. I then turned the scope ccw until
it hit the stop. After intializing I pressed button 5 to put me into the
alignment setup. If I choose Easy it gives the intstruction to put it in
the alt/hor home position and then point the scope to north. I do that
and if I hit enter it doesn't do the alignment and goes searching for
Vega. If I use the auto alignment at least it goes thru what seems to be
an alignment, but after that if I get to find a know planet like Jupiter
it pointed the tube downward below the horizon and is off pointing at
west. Same with the moon!

My problem is since it's from an E-bay sale it could be the scope too or
it could be me!

I see that Meade has an instructional DVD and I'm wondering if it is
better than the manual?? The other thought is maybe if I bring the scope
to a local Astronomy Club meeting, possibly I can get hands-on help
there some evening.

I feel like a real jerk not being able to get the darn thing to work and
without the Auto align the scope is virtually useless since the scope is
geared toward auto more than a manually operataed scope.

It you have any suggestions, I'm open to just about anything. Sorry to
bother you but so far each time I contact Meade C/S I get someone who
seems to less informed than me. I had asked them about the LNT alignment
using the lens and they didn't give me any real help about what I was to
do or see thru the lens. Maybe the Instructional DVD will be better.

Thank you again!
 
John
Mike here: Feel free to watch the tutorials I have linked on my ETX Site (Helpful Information: Tutorials). Also, you might want to read the various PE/LNT tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page (especially for Auto Align) and the Alignment tips (non-Auto) on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I suspect you are doing something wrong, or at least using terminology I'm not familiar with ("auto align port" -- did you mean the "control panel"?). Also, since it was used you might want to do a CALIBRATE SENSOR as well as the CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. Lastly, I recommend using City Name for your Site Location instead of ZIPCODE if you are using that.

And:

Thanks. Yes I meant the control panel facing west. I did some further
reading and found how to turn off the "Warning, Do Not Point at the Sun"
warning and the "Lets Get Started" messages upon start up. Finally, I
can do what was stated in the manual as far as doing thing in order. I
did do the Calibrate Sensor. It didn't seem to help. I also tried both
methods in Setup for alignment. Both the Easy and the Autoailgnment.
Easy Alingment gets me no were. If I choose and easy target like the
moon, it's off by at least 30 degrees horizontally and vertically its
pointed to far down. The Autoalignment is much closer to the target but
still is off especially in the vertical axis. When I get a chance I'll
do the Calibrate Motor and Train Drives as suggested as well as visit
your web site for the tutorials. I'll try using City instead of the Zip
too.

I really pressured here since the parts came late and then the weather
just today cleared up and now my wife is pressuring me about going on
vacation tomorrow. So needless to say, I'll have to put off my attempts
until we get back. I appreciate your suggestions.

I'll also check to see if there are any Astronomy Clubs in my area in
Selden, NY 11784. I would like to join to advance my knowledge. It's
been a long time like I said and since the scope is easier to use in the
automatic mode(Providing you can align it) than using it manually.
Thanks again!

John
Mike here: Check that the mount mode set in the AutoStar matches how you have it mounted (Alt/Az or Polar). Also, when doing the Easy Alignment, do you mean that the alignment stars are 30 degrees off or that the objects you GOTO are 30 off after you have centered the alignment stars?

And:

Well, my Wife came down with a stomach virus so here I am back to the
books.

I was basing relative alignment by where the OTA was pointed after
either the Autoalign or the Easy Align.

I download your tutorials and it's VERY GOOD. I then used a program
called Screen Print and Photo Shop Business Edition to make the each
tutorial into a full size page to print out. That way when I'm outside
tonight, I can refer back to them.

Last night before I went to bed, I went out again and re-checked the
LNT's alignment and I'm reasonably assured I have that down right.

One thing I do see is from the Tutorials is I didn't level the scope. My
884 doesn't seem to have the leveling bubbles as spoken in the tutorial.
I used a small  6" level in two perpendicular directions to level. I put
the level on the inside of the telescopes arms right by the horizontal
lock. Then I continued. When the tutorial got to aligning the Veritcal
Circle I saw that side which had the numbers on it was WAY OFF. Zero had
the OTA point about 75 degrees upward. So I put the level on the OTA and
loosened the cicular hold on that side and repositioned the "Zero" to
align with the zero marker onthe base. I guess that what I just did is
correct??

Following your Tutorial it's evident I wasn't doing it correctly so I'll
wait until tonight to finally see if this scope is working correctly.

Another question is the Veritical Lock mechanism is pretty vauge in it's
action. If you tighten it, it will hold the OTA but if you if you
gentley move  the OTA up in down there's some play about 3/8". I saw
this as a real problem is you were trying to aim the scope manually at a
target and try to center while locking the Vertical Lock.

One last question, is I asked Meade but I didn't get a reply. Do they
have a cross-hair reticle to be screwed into the bottom of their
eyepeices? This would be handy in the alignment process. My old 1968
Laffayett 3 inch refractor had a couple of eyepieces that had this,
unfortunately their the .97" diameter types. I had a few Nikon
Microscope oculars too(also .97") which even when used with the
telescope, gave really great images.

I again thank you for your patience and you are really a good teacher
which is a High Compliment because Very few people can claim this honor.
Thanks again.

John
Mike here: The #884 tripod doesn't come with a leveling bubble; other tripods may have them or you can add one yourself. Yep, the DEC scale can be off (which is why I don't use it) but as explained on the FAQ page, you did it right in adjusting it. Keep in mind that the axis lock (both of them) are just friction locks. If you PUSH on the tube, just like with car brakes, you can force some movement. This is not a normal operation since you will slew with the handcontroller. You can't just screw on a reticle like a filter. But you can get reticle eyepieces (see the Accessary Reviews: Eyepieces page) or make your own (see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page). Having been a teacher (civilian and Air Force flight instructor as well as in the aerospace industry) I appreciate your compliment. Thanks.

And:

Thank you again. I too worked in the aerospace industry. I worked for 7
years at Sedco Systems which was bought up by Raytheon. Then I jumped to
Grumman Aircraft for 5 years as their Optical Calibration technician. I
was let go in their largest Reductions in Workforce after the 1990 Gulf
War. Bad times....very bad times. I now jumped into the medical repair
industies to just get away from being a pawn in dying manufacturing
companies here on Long Island. I miss the Aerospace industry but it's
just to tied into government contracts which end and funds dry-up.

One last question. I see that the Control panel has a 12Volt plug-in
port. Do you know the correct polarity of this port? I have a 12 volt
rechargeable battery pack which would easily power this ETX but I need
to be sure of polarity first! Thanks again.

John
Mike here: See the FAQ page for polarity.

And:

I was looking at the Meade Tutorial at your website. Now I have a little
better understanding but I wonder if my AutoStar controller is
screwed-up at one point or not. I followed the Meade Tutorial exactly
and when the scope was going to the First star that's when I noticed a
problem. Let's say that the first star was "Vega". The scope points
toward that star. In my 26mm is no star but I can see it a little off
and I went back over the Meade tutorial and it said, you should use the
up/down & right/left arrows to center the star in the eyepiece. That's
my problem, the arrows are INACTIVE and I can't do this. Is there a
button or a step I'm missing here to get the arrrow to activate??

I see after I'm able to do that, I then hit enter and it then will
search for the next of the 2 stars it needs for the alignment to be
done. Also, lets say one of the 2 stars is pointed at a house or tree,
can you just have it point to a different star in that case?

Sorry, but no where in the tutorial does it give a hint.
   
Thank you again.
Mike here: Have you tried changing the slew speed (1 is slowest; 9 fastest)? I usually use a speed of 5 or 7 for the alignment process. If a star is obscured you can tell the AutoStar to pick another star by pressing the scrolldown arrow.
Subject:	Re: Hard stop problem on Meade ETX125-PE
Sent:	Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:58:43
From:	mail.westnet.com.au (jchaurette@lightmypump.com)
I have contacted the dealer OPT, (Oceanside Photo & Telescope) but they
have no advice for me and have never heard of such a problem.

It seems impossible to reach Meade via phone, the waiting time is
horrendous and they have no published e-mail address. anyone know how to
reach them?

Last night I opened up the base of the scope, this involves removing 3
screws and the back plate comes off. It is not possible to see the hard
stops although I am not sure what I am looking for. While I was
re-assembling a small washer fell out. I thought that maybe I had found
the problem but no such luck. I think I will have to go further tonight
and get the drive assembly off the scope base.

Cheers,

Jacques
Mike here: You can use engineer@meade.com but it is for reporting bugs and you probably won't get a response. Alternatively you can fax them but that isn't much better from reports I've received.
Subject:	RE: Meade ETX-125PE
Sent:	Tuesday, October 16, 2007 15:55:27
From:	JOHN SABELLA (johnsabella@hotmail.com)
The ETX-125PE arrived today. The guy did a really bad job packing the
tripod. It was in the soft Meade case and put in a cardboard box without
any protection packing. Luckily it arrived unharmed . The ETX-125PE was
in its original packaging and survived the trip unscathed. His
discription was "2" eyepeices and they were, Both are 26mm Plossl's!!
The AutoStar is the 497 and seems to operate. The legs of the tripod
were pretty badly rusted.(how does anyone buy an intrument of this
quality and allow it to rust is beyond me)

I printed out a few pages on the PDF file downloaded from the Meade
website. I was attempting to get the unit setup and it's more than just
"pressing a button"!!!

I called Meade C/S and the second guy was nice but apparently a little
GREEN as far as helping me. What I read in the PDF file is different
than what comes up on the AutoStars menus. I tried the Auto Align, got
as far as doing the LNT's home position and unlocking and locking the
horizontal. Then after pressing enter it started rotating and moving the
tube either up or down. Unfortunately I'm getting a Motor Fault Error.
The Meade C/S thinks I have to calibrate the motors. He is sending me
the Hard copy of the Manual and the LNT's lens for nothing which is
great!

The motors seem to move(I replaced all of the batterys first) freely and
without any straining in their movement and they way they sound.

What was hampering me, was what I was reading off the PDF file and what
was displaying on the  AutoStar was totally different. The Meade C/S guy
was just trying to catch-up and obviously wasn't familiar. Not a good
situation for me trying to access the darn thing. It's mine I know since
I bought it on E-Bay. The Optics are in great shape. I used NeverDull &
Simichrome on the rusty triopod legs and got them back to a presentable
condition. The Scopes Up & Down tube lock is a little vauge as far as
locking. Other than that I guess its good, but Murphy's Law, the clouds
moved in as soon as it got dark and a weather forecast for rain the next
few days!!! My luck! I did spot a few terrestrial items and its super
bright and sharp. Much better than the ETX-90.

I'm a little worried about those Motor Fault errors and I'm hoping you
have a thought on that issue. Hopefully the motor calibration is the
issue. Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.
 
John
Mike here: The CALIBRATE MOTOR step may resolve the error. If it doesn't be certain you are putting the telescope in the proper HOME position before doing the alignment. First set up the telescope with the control panel on the base on the West side of the mount. Move the OTA to be horizontal (for Alt/Az alignments). The HOME position for the Auto Align is rotate the fork arms counterclockwise to the hardstop and leave it there. For the other alignment options rotate CCW to the hard stop and then rotate it clockwise back to point the telescope to True North (a rotation of about 120 degrees). Then let the AutoStar do its thing. For more on aligning, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page (non-PE specific). For troubleshooting the PE/LNT see the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.

And:

I'll try your instructions and see if I can get to go correctly. I put
the scopes base where the AutoStar plugs into  facing to my
right(physically facing west)

Doing the Meade  Auto Align method I kept getting a Motor Fault, but
when I did the Easy Align method it seemed to calibrate the motors
correctly(No Motor Fault)It did it's thing skewing and moved to north(I
did this inside on my coffee table. After finding north it searched for
Vega and then Altair moving the scoped up or down, left or right. I
guess this is a good sign. I by accident found the Easy Align step in
the set-up. I'll try to re-do my steps to get to it. Unforunately,
tonights weather is overcast. I see a slightly phasing moon but it's
obscured my clouds. I'm excited to see if it truly is aligning correctly
and this has rekindled my love for astronomy like I had when I was a
kid. I couldn't afford anything beyond my 3 inch refractor and not
having a clock drive severely limited other than just viewing. I would
have loved to caputured the images of Jupiter and the other planets, but
with the earths rotation it was impossible to do with film.

One question the Meade C/S guy couldn't answer is each time I switched
OFF the Autostar and turned it back on, the unit retain the month,day &
year but it kept defaulting to 08:00:00PM. Is that normal or is there a
battery back-up inside the Autostar's handset

I really appreciate your feedback and help. I will study the Meade PDF
instructions a little more and hopefully get a clear night soon.

Thank you again!!!!
 
John
Mike here: Cloudy skies are a good thing when you get a new telescope. Lets you learn how to use it without the frustrations of being the dark and wanting to see things right away. So take advantage of the clouds! And yes, it defaults to 8pm (or 2000) on power-on.

And:

I quickly went out this morning at about 5:30AM and saw Venus on the
Eastern horizon. It must be at it's apogee since even by eye it looks
larger and brighter than I remember when I veiwed younger. Anyway, I
tried accessing the Easy Aling again and I wonder if I bypassed it
because it seemed to go right into looking for Vega..Etc. I got it too
go to Venus. It did move and point in the general direction but not
anywhere near the target. I think it was probably access the align I did
on last night's session on the coffee table. I printed out the 60 pages
of the manual and I'll try to study it today during breaks at work.

I have to give the guy who sold it on E-bay a FeedBack and I need to
know if it's basically working. You really can't return it anyway. I did
let him know how poor the tripod was shipped.

One last question about that 884 tripod. Those smaller diameter leg
extensions. The tightening knob on one can't seem to tighten one enough
that it securely keeps the leg in place. When compared to the other two,
it's a little weeker in preventing the leg from going back into the
larger diameter leg tube.

     Again, thank you.
John
Mike here: If you didn't go through the alignment process during the morning or at least sleep or park the telescope and put it back in the same location as when you last aligned, then the AutoStar doesn't know where things are supposed to be at that particularly time. Vega probably had set by 0530. As to the tripod, there was a trick that worked with the #883 (with its flat legs) but I don't think that will work with the #884 (mine is packed away for our move). Basically you put a coin between the leg and the locking bolt. But with the #884 circular legs that likely won't work.

And:

Hopefully tonight I can dedicate soom practice runs and get this
procedure down pat.
Thanks again.
John

And more:

I still waiting for the LNT's lens. I know I'm going to have to align
the LNT. I was looking at the manual and see how to get the LNT to have
it's Red LED stay on constant. Then they say spot a object approx. 1
mile away and center on something using the 26mm objective. Then align
the Red dot on the same centered item in your objective.

I think I'm missing something here. I see on the rear. left side of the
LNT a small red LED, but no forward facing light that I'm guessing you
would overlay it's image on what you're seeing in the objective??? I'm
thinking it's like a lazer sight on a sniper's rifle where you put the
red dot on the target. I'm wondering if here is were I need the LNT's
lens for this alignment? The manual is a little vauge beyond that. I was
able to get the left side red LED to stay on constant as per the
instructions, but when I put my hand in front of the LNT expecting to
see a Red dot, I saw none.

I guess some of my questions are painful and I appoligize for being so 
"Green" with my questions! I really apppreciate your help so far.

I ordered the Atomic Clock Module. Meade didn't have it but they said it
ran about $99. and it could only be bought thru a Meade Dealer. I found
one on-line that had  it brand new for $39.99 so I bought it. I did last
night between cloud shifts view the moon. Very impressive image.Again
Thanks!
 
John
Mike here: The red dot that you see on the lens (if you had one) is a reflection of the LED on the side of the LNT module.

And:

That's what I thought & so that little appendage has more importance. I
guess when it arrives from Meade I can just do an alignment. I gave the
E-Bay seller a good feedback and I was able to ask him how he obtained
it and possibly its history. He said the person who bought it and used
it 2 times.He put the scope back in the box and put both the boxed scope
and assembled 884 tripod in the garage for a year before he decided to
put it up for auction!!! He left the tripod exposed in the garage in
Georgia, which explains the rusty chrome legs. They cleaned up nice, but
I always wonder how you can plunk down $1000+ and just abandon it in a
garage!! Go figure but I snapped it up at the Buy Now price of $529!
Thanks again!
John

Subject:	Hard stop problem on Meade ETX125-PE
Sent:	Monday, October 15, 2007 22:13:32
From:	mail.westnet.com.au (jchaurette@lightmypump.com)
Hello Mike, last night I wasn't able to use my scope because as it tried
to find the North position it kept hitting on a hard stop so it just
kept grinding away.

It seems that I am getting less then 360 deg. rotation in RA from the
home position as I move it manually and that's what's causing the
problem. Have you heard of this happening before?

I am contemplating opening the case to see if something somehow jiggled
loose and is causing an obstruction.

Cheers,

Jacques
Mike here: Yes, there have been some reports of failed hard stops on some PE models. The problem could also be a wire in the base that is obstructing free movement. Use caution if it is a wire as you don't want it to get cut.
Subject:	Meade ETX-125PE
Sent:	Sunday, October 14, 2007 19:36:03
From:	JOHN SABELLA (johnsabella@hotmail.com)
I wondering if you can help me with a question. I just bought one of
these ETX's and haven't received it yet. I got it on E-bay and it seems
from the description, that the Lens piece on the Smart Finder is broken
of(possibly gone). How critical is this and is this a repair that I can
do or only a Meade Repair issue??

I've tried getting in touch with Meade over the last 4 months and their
next to IMPOSSIBLE to reach. I've given countless voice mails and Faxes
with NO REPLY's!! One time I was lucky with a question about my old
ETX-90 and I actually got a real live operator!!! I told her of my
plight and I got in touch with the head of the repair dept. I told him
how many of calls and faxes went un-read or returned. He appoligized and
said Meade had aquired some new company's which were taking up all his
time.

That was two months ago and again now I have the same trouble getting in
touch. Does Meade realize how much business they are going to loose by
not answering customer's calls and faxes??

Anyway, that's why I'm asking you fine folks if I'm sunk here or not? I
really won't know until the unit arrives. I can see from the pictures
that the Smart Finder is there, but I can bearly make out that the lens
is not there. I appreciate all your help, Thanks.
 
John
Mike here: Meade may send you a replacement lens but you could also mount a different finderscope (see the Accessory Reviews: Finderscopes page and the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page for lots of info on finderscopes). As long as the LNT module (which is what I think you are seeing in the photograph) is working you will be OK. And even if the LNT is also broken, you can still use the ETX in its non-LNT mode (just as with the previous "AT" models).

And:

Hello, Thank you for replying. Tomorrow, I should get the  ETX-125PE and
I'll better get a handle on what seems to be broken. The seller had a
sketchy description and amidtted not knowing much about telescopes. His
discription said that the Autostar seemed to "Autoalign"(I'm guessing
that's what he was reading off the Autostars display). The 2 photos were
side shots not really revealing a great deal about the Smart Finder, but
I was able to see the at the Lens seemed to be missing.

I called Meade again this afternoon and got a hold of their main
operator. She explained that customer service Voicemail does give the
wrong impression and the key was to stay on the line until someone picks
up!! I told here that the message on the Voice mail doesn't give that
message to "Stay on the line". She agreed and she say they will soon
change the message she hopes.(It still doesn't explain why the Customer
Service didn't answer my faxes!)

The Meade Dealers in my area are absolutely "Clueless" and without being
able to contact Meade's Customer Service, I was getting pretty worried.

I really appreciate your prompt response and it does put to rest some of
my fears. I'll let you know what happens once the scope arrives. I know
it was impulsive to purchase it on E-bay but the Seller had it for a
BuyNow price of $529. which is about half what a new on goes for(it
includes everything but the software) If it arrives safe and working, I
guess it was good deal, but there is that "BUT" until it arrives! Thank
you again!!

John
Mike here: Who are your Meade dealers? Good ones are not "clueless".

And:

The one dealer is in Patchogue, LI, NY and I believe the place is
Combine Camera. When I had a few questions about the older ETX-90, he
tired to push on to me stuff I didn't ask for and kept avoiding giving
me a direct answer to my questions. After being there more than a hour
it was obvious I wasn't going to get answers here. In Smithtown theres a
camera company called Split Image, and the do scopes as small part but I
can understand their situation. Berger Bros, in Amityville is further.

Is that LNT expensive and is it a Factory only install at worse case
senario?? I bought the scope with the whole intention  of using the
Autoalign feature.

My ETX-90 I found at a  local thrift store for $34.99! It works OK! My
original Scope goes back to 1966! It came from Lafayettt Electronics! It
was a Japanesse import for $189.99. It's a 3inch refractort and was
research grade! It a great scope with a equ.mount BUT no clock drive
which when I was younger drove me nuts. Do you have much experience with
the ETX-125PE? I was considering a older Celestron C8 but if felt the
size would hinder me from grabbing and going, if you know what I mean.
Don't get me wrong, I know the 8 inches would be fantanstic but it's the
overall bulk that made me hesitate. Plus the older C8 had the old style
clock drives.

Thanks again.
John
Mike here: I have and use several ETX telescopes, including my 1996 ETX-90RA and a ETX-105PE. You can read my initial comments on them on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page. Meade can send you a complete LNT module (I forget the cost) and you can install it yourself. But again, the SmartFinder lens is not required for Auto Align operations; you will just want some sort of finderscope.
Subject:	Smartfinder led fiber
Sent:	Wednesday, October 10, 2007 00:46:16
From:	Henrik van Holthoon (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Bonjour Mitch,
 
I had the same experience with my LX90 which has the same LNT finder but
it was easily repaired. You can put fiber wire back, if it is not broken
and to short now, to the hole in the finder glass house sticking out let
say 0.5 mm. There is a little sleeve you have to pass the fiber wire
trough before go into the housing this sleeve is supposed to be glued to
the housing.

Do not put the level of the led to high, I set mine to 5 the maximum is
12 if I remember well. If you put the level to high you get also a
blurred dot. I suppose you know how to do this hold mode on AS for 3 or
more seconds and scroll to SET and enter etc. see manual.

Good luck.
Henrik

And:

Fortunately I had some 1mm plastic optical fiber laying around (doesn't
everyone?), and was able to make a new fiber piece for the LNT/finder.
Looks like it works pretty well so far.  I ended up extending it about
6mm from the plastic housing.  With the fiber closer to the finder, the
dot is more defined and circular.

Mitch Davister

And:

6 mm protruding from the LNT housing seems to me quite a lot you might
have problems with the fiber alignment but if it works for you that is
ok then. I have an ETX105PE and a LX90GPS with both the fiber is not
more then 0.5 mm protruding from the housing.
Regards Henrik

And more:

From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
Assuming you can cleave and polish the end of the fiber, the problem is
orienting it so it projects the dot onto the lens. Then you have to
anchor it so it doesn't shift. This was a major problem with the early
SmartFinders because the dot was so far off the lens, there wasn't
enough adjustment in the housing to calibrate the dot to the scope axis.
You only need enough of the fiber protruding so it points at the lens.
1/32" to 1/16" is typical.

Good Luck
Mike Hogan

Subject:	Re: Meade ETX Smartfinder problems
Sent:	Monday, October 8, 2007 15:12:42
From:	Mitch Davister (mdavister@verizon.net)
But how far is the fiber supposed to stick out from the plastic?  I
think it was about 3mm for mine, but I'm not sure if that is normal.

Mitch Davister
Mike here: I can't say; my ETX telescopes are all packed up for our pending move to Arizona. Plus I have the original style LNT module; you didn't say which LNT style you have.

And:

My LNT is the one with the large unframed clear plastic window.  I don't
know if that is the new or old style.
Mike here: That sounds like the old style if it sticks out to the left side. As I recall the light is pretty much flush with the side of the LNT module.

And:

That sounds like the old style if it sticks out to the left side.  As I
recall the light is pretty much flush with the side of the LNT module.

photo

Mike here: That is the current style.
Subject:	Meade ETX Smartfinder problems
Sent:	Monday, October 8, 2007 09:52:02
From:	mdavister@verizon.net
I picked up a used ETX-90PE, and I'm having problems with the
Smartfinder.  First, the red dot is large and blurry.  Second, in trying
to clean off the fiber I managed to snap it off at the finder.  How far
is it supposed to protrude from the plastic?  It looks like there is
enough slack in the fiber to re-cleave and polish the end to repair. 
I'd rather try to repair it than buy a new LNT module (as they are $65).

My other thought was just getting a plain red dot type finder and
mounting that in place of the stock Meade one.  Of course I'd have to
fabricate an enclosure for the LNT.  Do you have any recommendations?

Mitch Davister
Mike here: The "dot" is not a pinpoint so what you see may be normal. If you have broken the fiber cable you will likely have even more distortion unless you can do a really good job on the repair. But the dot still must be visible on the Lens. As to other options for the LNT and other finderscopes, see the various articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Re:old etx 125 vs. new 125pe (PE fdbk,10/3/07)
Sent:	Friday, October 5, 2007 07:32:28
From:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
Mike:
In your response, you said  "There is no reason you can't use the PE
model in Polar (equatorial) mode."

While that's true, you will lose most of the functionality of the LNT
module. It's designed for Alt/Az use where Level, North and Tilt
parameters are the initial references for scope positioning. In the
Polar mode, different references are used. I don't remember if the
AutoAlign is even enabled in Polar mode.

Anyhow, you will still have the time from the LNT.

Mike Hogan
Mike here: It is true that you lose some of the LNT functionality but the ETX PE is usable in equatorial mode. Thanks for clarifying about the loss of Leveling and Northing.
Subject:	ETX 125 PE LNT & GPS Question
Sent:	Thursday, October 4, 2007 05:16:12
From:	Mike (magias@comcast.net)
My Name is Mike as well.  Great website! Lots of Very Helpful info! 
Thank you!  It has helped me alot with my ETX 70AT.

I Just recently fell into a sweet deal on a ETX 125 PE w/LNT.  Very
Nice! I am writing to ask you, if you know if I might be able to
"Upgrade" the LNT to a GPS Module?

Or if I might be able to use a GPS Module (If I can find 1) in
conjunction with a LNT that is already installed on the OTA.  Or if  a
GPS Module would replace the LNT?

I also wonder how I could attach it and be able to have the 497 Hand
Controller recognise a GPS.

Does any of this make sense?
Sorry for all the Questions.
Thank You!
Mike
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for several articles on using a GPS with the AutoStar. It won't replace the LNT but could be added.
Subject:	old etx 125 vs. new 125pe
Sent:	Wednesday, October 3, 2007 14:18:22
From:	Brian King (lbking94@roadrunner.com)
I have owned a 125 since 1999. After reading some reviews from your web
site I was wondering if owning a new 125 pe is worth the switch?

Some questions I have are:

1. Why don't they make an electronic focuser for the pe? I love the one
I have for my old 125.

2. Can you switch the red dot finder scope for the old finder scope? Old
finder scope much easier to use according to the reviews.

3. How does all of the new electronics on the pe hold up in cold weather
say 20 degrees or colder?

4. What accessories would you say are a necessity as apposed to a wanted
item? ( ie power cord, atomic time module). The only electronic
accessory I have on the old scope is the focuser.

5. Can you modify the pe to fit the old electronic focuser? If not why?
They have one for the 90 and 105.

6. I haven't read where anyone has tried the scope in equatorial mode.
Is there a problem doing this or is it so easy to not do it?

I know Meade makes a great product if you take the time to read your web
site and do what you and other owners have said and done. Again many
thanks for the time and effort you and alot of other people have done to
make this hobby an unforgettable experience.

Brian King
Mike here: You can mount the old finderscope; you would just have to do the bracket yourself and find a suitable place to attach it. I haven't heard of any differences in temperature (high or low) use. If you have access to AC then the AC adapter is worth it. If not, an external power source (like the Celestron Power Tank I mention on the Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page) is good to have. You could probably mod the focuser to work with the PE model; I doubt that you could mod the PE to work with the focuser as-is. There is no reason you can't use the PE model in Polar (equatorial) mode.
Subject:	ETX90PE,Auto-Align...Runaway OTA
Sent:	Tuesday, October 2, 2007 06:27:35
From:	Niels Peter Ditlefsen (0068300m001@stofanet.dk)
Thank you for always being there to help us.

I am sure,that the answer to my following question is already in your
archive somewhere, I just can not find it, I am sorry.

When aligning (auto-align)  I only have a few seconds to center the
star, if I use more then some 10-15 seconds,the OTA starts slewing up
(full speed) and hits stop ! every time.  If I have been lucky to center
both stars with in the  "time limit", the "runaway" takes place during 
the guided tour .

I preformed a Reset and a complete new Setup,  i.e. all parameters are
correct now. Calibrate Motors, Train drive, calibrate Sensors , check
power supply just as described in MikeHogans article of 5 July 2006 ,
(all including power on/off per step.)

I am still in the same situation. Any ideas please ?
 
Kind Regards
Niels Peter
56.1N  10.5E
Mike here: Runaways like that can be due to low power battery. You didn't say whether you were using batteries or an external power source. Assuming batteries, replace with fresh ones and do a CALIBRATE MOTOR. If the batteries are good try reversing the AutoStar cable.

And:

And : A new AutoStar cable did the trick. Thanks !!

(I am using a 10Ah Led-battery power tank ,so I do not have any power
problem)
Mike here: Have you checked the pins on the connectors on the old cable? If they are bent, dirty, or too depressed, the contact with the pins inside the jacks won't be good and can result in poor communications.

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