Last updated: 28 August 2005
Subject: DSX-125 Report Sent: Friday, August 26, 2005 17:01:56 From: John Zimmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) I just received a DSX-125 through the close out sale in the Meade Factory Outlet. Here's a first light report: Well, when I got home this evening the familiar Meade box was on my doorstep - the DSX-125 had arrived. I had to take advantage of the factory outlet sale. I was impressed with the packaging. Inside a single shipping box is the fancy Meade box with all the seductive language and pictures. Inside that, each component of the scope (tripod, tube, motor arm, accessories) were packed in separate boxes. Assembly was fast and straightforward. In spite of the instructions in the manual, the metal support for the tube is already bolted on the fork arm, so this is a step you can skip. I like the little shelf that sits on one of the tripod legs - you can hang the Autostar controller off of the shelf, and put 3 1-1/4" eyepieces on it. This means you can fold up the tripod without having to remove the shelf. I also like the way the tube attaches to the fork arm - you can adjust the position of the tube so you get a perfect balance - this is in contrast to the ETX-125 where there is no adjustment and it is always heavy on the corrector end. One thing to be careful of with the DSX-125 is, with the tube in a balanced position, it sits far to the rear of the fork arm, shifting significant weight to that portion of the tripod. This means it would be easy to tip the thing over if you're not careful. Overall, the scope looks nice set up. I laugh at the silver color of the tube - I think it's close to the silver color that Celestron used on the NexStar i series. Total weight 19.5 lbs, making this a very portable instrument. I inserted some AA batteries (they had about 85% power remaining) and fired her up. Everything looked okay, although I noted that I had to tighten the altitude clutch really tight to get it to move in altitude. It also sounded like the motor/gears were straining in altitude. It wasn't long before I heard a 'pop' in the altitude gear area, and the scope stopped moving. "Ah nuts" I said, Meade strikes again! But curiosity got the best of me, and I took apart the altitude fork assembly. Unlike the ETX, all of the gears are nylon in the DSX. There is a small spring that wraps around the shaft of the clutch that had slipped out of a groove. By pushing it back into the groove, the problem was fixed. Still, this is a weak area of the scope, and I do not believe it is prudent to loosen/tighten the clutch to move the tube in altitude. All movement will have to be done with the controller. It should be noted that, unlike the ETX's, the azimuth axis has no hard stops. This means you don't have to fuss with the ETX routine of having the control panel facing west, rotating the fork assembly fully counterclockwise to the hard stop, then clockwise 90 degrees. Anyway, I took the scope outside, trained the drives, then did an Easy Align. The results were most impressive. It missed each alignment star by only 2 - 3 degrees. And once declaring alignment successful, I found GOTOs to be pretty good - most within the field of view of a 32mm eyepiece, some just outside. Tracking was also good. In fact, the GOTO/tracking performance of this scope is comparable to an ETX-125 I had. Optical quality isn't bad either, though I suspect it is a tad bit out of collimation, as defocused star images weren't perfectly concentric - but seeing wasn't the best, so I need to reserve judgment on that issue for awhile. Some of the objects I viewed looked nice for the DSX's 5" of aperture. These included M-27 (Dumbell Nebula), M57 (Ring Nebula), M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and the Double Cluster. Epsilon Lyra was spilt at 127x in slightly below average seeing conditions. Mars, while somewhat still low in the sky and shimmering due to seeing conditions, nonetheless showed a polar cap and dark markings. Focusing was very smooth and precise - much better than what I experienced with the ETX-125 I had. No need for an electric focuser with this scope. As others have noted, the tripod isn't very good. There is a fair amount of vibration. I did try a set of vibration suppression pads, and they made a remarkable difference. Using a 6.4mm eyepiece (297x) on Mars, a sharp tap on the tripod caused about 2 seconds worth of vibration before things settled down - that's not too bad. The motors/gears aren't too loud, in my opinion. They do make some interesting noises when tracking - almost sounds like a child's toy or a small animal munching its dinner. Overall, this is not a bad deal for $475. I feel good about this purchase. I was originally going to get an ETX-125, but a desire for extreme portability led to the decision to get an ETX-90. But with the low price of the DSX-125, I now have both a 90 and a 125 Mak for about the price of an ETX-125. John Z
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