ETX-105EC New User Review
Last updated: 18 November 2002

Subject:	Update on EXT-105EC Review
Sent:	Monday, November 18, 2002 13:39:37
From: (Floyd M. Teter)
Now that I've used the EXT-105EC for six months, I thought your users
might appreciate an update of the review written 5/27/02. [below]

The optics are wonderful.  However, the poor performance of AutoStar and
a recent glitch with the mechanical system have really detracted from my
enjoyment of this scope.
I voiced my enthusiasm for the UHTC optics in the original review, and I
continue to stand by that opinion.  The images rendered are very sharp
and clear (when seeing conditions allow), even in my light-polluted
skies.  The optical strong points really stand out when observing
planets and globular clusters.  The optical performance has exceeded my
best hopes for a scope of this size.

The AutoStar performance is awful.  In fact, my family refers to the 105
as "Mr. Magoo"...  I've been through three hand controllers, none of
which has demonstrated any consistent accuracy in either polar or alt/az
modes.  I've worked carefully through training and re-training the
motors.  I've also checked out my alignment with Meade's instructions
(and Mike's book) - no improvement in accuracy.  Frankly, I've found the
AutoStar with my ETX-70AT to be much more accurate and reliable than the
AutoStar with the 105.  I've recently started switching off between
AutoStar and the basic hand controller for the 105...right now, the
basic hand controller works better for me.

The motor system continues to be quiet and smooth.  However, the motor
system also burned out last Friday evening after displaying the infamous
"Proc. Trap 2" error message on my AutoStar hand controller - After
about two seconds, the smoke appeared and I shut down the power
("Houston, we have a problem").  As I write this, I'm working with
Astronomics to return the scope to Meade for a warranty repair or
replacement.  I can't say I'm receiving any type of quick response on
arranging the return, so I'm betting the 105 will be out of action for
some time to come.

The optics of the 105 are great.  However, I could have purchased
comparable optics without the "GoTo" capability for a much lower price.
Given my experience with the poor performance of AutoStar and the
recently burned-out motor, I think I'd have been happier with a six-inch
Dob at half the price of the 105 :(
Mike here: Most Autostar problems turn out to be user related but obviously the motor should not burn out! There may have been a circuit board flaw that caused both problems.
Subject:	ETX-105EC Review
Sent:	Monday, May 27, 2002 20:12:02
From: (Floyd Teter)
Hope this rather lengthy review will help others in their telescope 
purchasing decisions.

Best Regards,

A Review of The ETX-105EC, or "How I Spent My Memorial Day Weekend"

An awful lot of folks out there were supporting me while I went back and
forth on ETXs versus LXDs versus StarMaxs versus aperture versus UHTC
versus whatever else I could think of.  Seems like the least I could do
is give a review on the scope I finally purchased.  For those of you who
don't want to wade through this rather wordy review, there's a summary
at the end.

I bought an ETX-105EC with UHTC optics, including Autostar, on a Meade
884 Deluxe Field Tripod.  Bought the rig from Astronomics (the Discovery
store had a better price, but was unable to provide the UHTC optics),
along with a FlexiFocus (a very necessary accessory) and Power Supply
from ScopeTronix. Everything showed up by the Friday morning of Memorial
Day weekend.  All the equipment arrived in great shape, as all the
components were very well packed.

Assembly was pretty easy.  I just followed the instructions and the
scope mounted on the tripod in less than 20 minutes after unboxing the
components. I immediately noticed that the 105 was very well built, even
more solid than the 125s Ive had the opportunity to use.  The #884
tripod also seemed pretty stout.  Couldnt wait to get it outside to see
how solid it really was.

I also noticed that the right angle viewfinder location on the 105
seemed like a really poor design choice.  I was sure it would be an
obstruction when attempting to look through the eyepiece.  Being an
AutoStar kind of guy anyway, I removed the viewfinder retaining rings by
using the allen wrench supplied with the scope.

Finally, the turning motion on the focusing knob was very stiff.  It
continued to be stiff even after adding the FlexiFocus.  Hopefully, it
will loosen up a bit with more use.

First Light

So, outside we go.  First light was NOT a happy experience.  I
immediately discovered that this version of AutoStar did not recognize
the 105, only the 90 and the 125.  Fortunately, I knew from reading the
notes at Weasner's Mighty ETX web site that things would work fine if I
chose the 125.  I then proceeded to begin training the drives. 
Unfortunately, I found that I could not use the AutoStar hand controller
for slewing.  I pressed the arrow keys on the pad, but got no response
from the scope.  The standard controller worked just fine, but not the
AutoStar controller.  After a few hours, I finally figured out the
problem.  Each time I turned on the AutoStar, the arrow keys were
disabled until I changed the slewing speed  not sure if thats a software
bug or my own ignorance.  I also noticed a lack of responsiveness in the
AutoStar controller keys.  Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in while I
figured this out.  Got the drives trained by using a streetlight and
called it an evening.  Not exactly a promising start.

I should note here that I called Astronomics the next morning about the
AutoStar controller.  They immediately agreed to ship out a replacement.
Those folks always seem to provide great service.

Second Light

Second light went a bit better.  I carried the 105 and tripod (already
assembled) into the back yard, removed the dust cover, let the unit cool
down for an hour, inserted a Meade 4000 26mm EP, and used the Easy Align
method to start the evening.  Once aligned, I selected Jupiter (an easy
target at the time) and AutoStar took over.  Oops, no Jupiter in the
eyepiece.  A couple more tries and I decided to remount the viewfinder.
Once I had the viewfinder in place and aligned with the scope (a 10
minute procedure), AutoStar was accurate enough to place objects at
least near the center of the viewfinder.  However, AutoStar did not
always place objects (even easy targets like Jupiter) into the FOV of
the EP.  Seems Ill still need a viewfinder, although I may replace the
right angle with something better configured for this scope.  Off to
Jupiter again:  several cloud bands and 4 moons clearly visible.  Moved
to Pollux and tested the collimation:  bright airy disks at when either
under focused or over focus. Tried the Beehive next:  nice detail, but
unable to view the entire open cluster at once due to the narrow FOV.

By this time in the evening, Ive noticed that the motor is really smooth
and quiet.  Minimal noise, no sudden jerks, no backlash, no nothing.  In
fact, its so quiet when not slewing across large portions of the sky
that Im not sure that AutoStar is tracking at all!  The Moon was out, so
I lined up the Sea of Tranquility and walked away from the scope for 30
minutes. When I returned, I saw exactly the same view in the EP.  Wow! 
I cant overemphasize how smooth and quiet the drives are for the 105.

Easily split the double star at Castor. Also split the double at Mizar &
Alcor.  Just as it was time to get serious, the clouds rolled in
againmust be that new telescope curse.

The Comparison Test

On the evening of May 26th, there was not a cloud to be seen.  I lined
up the EXT-105EC with my ETX-70AT and a friends Orion StarMax 127 for an
evening of viewing under the heavily light-polluted skies of Southern
California.  Why the StarMax?  I originally purchased a StarMax 127, but
reluctantly returned the setup because manipulating the setup was a bit
much for my very weak back.  The two of us agreed to limit our
comparison to about 30 Messier objects near and dear to both of us.  We
also agreed to stick with the Meade 4000 26mm and 15mm eyepieces (sorry,
but Im now too broke to afford a Nagler). My comments below are limited
to the high points of the comparison.

After letting the scopes cool off for about 45 minutes (on an evening in
the mid-60s), we found that the 105 was ready for viewing but the
StarMax needed some more time.  Back indoors for another slice of
chocolate cream pie. After a total cool-down period of 90 minutes, the
StarMax was ready to go.

With the smallest aperture of the three scopes, the 70 could not keep up
with the other two scopes in this comparison.  However, I am compelled
to point out that it was the best scope for viewing some of the open
clusters. For example, all present agreed that the Beehive looked best
through the 70. Although the larger scopes showed a bit more detail, the
70 was the only scope that allowed for viewing the entire Beehive
through either the 15 mm or 26mm EP.  Im definitely keeping my 70!

As the evening progressed, we noticed several things:

1)  It was much easier to bring out and setup the 105 than the 127.  In
fact, I had both the 105 and the 70 aligned long before the 127 was

2)  Using the 127 required more time looking for things, while using the
105 or 70 allowed for more time looking at things.  AutoStar, or the
lack thereof, made a big difference in this regard.  Keep in mind,
however, that a buyer pays much more for AutoStar and a 105 than for the

3)  Using the same eyepiece, images were larger in the 127.  However,
most of the images in the 105 were just as bright and detailed as those
in the 127.  In some of the brighter objects (magnitude 6 or brighter),
the detail in the 105 was slightly better than that in the 127.  We were
both puzzled by the latter part of this result, but were guessing that
the UHTC optics in the 105 may have something to do with this (guessing
is the best result to be hoped for when a lawyer and an accountant
discuss physics). However, the wider aperture of the 127 allowed us to
observe three very faint NGC objects that did not show up well in the

4)  The 105 on the 884 tripod is definitely the most solid of the three
rigs, even though the 127 on Orions EQ-3 tripod is heavier. In fact,
klutz that I am, I kicked the 884 tripod at least twice during the
eveningdidnt even need to realign after either booting!  Its almost as
solid as a rock.

5)  Having both looked through ETX-125ECs in the recent past, we both
agreed that the 105 with UHTC renders performance comparable to the 125
without UHTC.  Well try for a comparison of a 125 with UHTC as soon as
Meade starts shipping them

6)  We also agreed that the 105 is the best built ETX either of us have
seen.  Less plastic, more metal, and simply a well-built product.

At the evenings end, I concluded that I was very happy with my recent
purchase.  I wanted an easily portable telescope with high-quality
optics on a solid mount.  The ETX-105EC has exceeded my expectations.


I made three trade-offs in purchasing the ETX-105EC.  First, I opted for
instant gratification over aperture.  I've been told by Meade
representatives that the 125 with UHTC will not ship any earlier than
late June 2002, and that the waiting list will be quite long when it
does ship. The 105 with UHTC was available right now, no waiting
required.  Maybe I'm impatient, but I could not see letting an entire
summer's viewing pass without a moderate-size scope.  Second, I traded
"goto" capability and portability for aperture.  I could have stuck with
the StarMax 127. However, it was too heavy for me to transport and
manipulate easily.  I also found that I really like integrated "goto"
capability.  Yes, I could have upgraded the StarMax tripod and purchased
a third-party "goto" drive.  Just seemed like an awful lot of trouble
for such a heavy scope when the 105 was available.  I could also have
purchased one of the Meade LXD rigs with more aperture, but then we're
back to that weight thing.  Third, I opted to pay a much higher price in
order to obtain the UHTC optics.  The Discovery Store had a great deal
on the 105 with the 884 tripod, but no UHTC.  Gotta admit that I paid a
substantial premium for UHTC.  However, having seen the performance of
UHTC, it's worth the price paid.  In fact, the performance of the UHTC
really mitigates the trade-offs I made on aperture.  Performance of the
105 with UHTC looks to be about a "push" in comparison to a 5-inch
aperture scope without UHTC - in some respects, it may even be a touch
better.  The bottom line here is that I'm pretty satisfied with the
trade-offs I made and the results I got.  I'm looking forward to many
evenings of great viewing with the 105.

Dark Skies!

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