Last updated: 6 November 2002
Subject: My New ETX-125EC Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2002 14:33:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Simon) Folks, I recently purchased a "Supercharged" ETX-125EC from Sight and Sound, and I wanted to share my experience with users of this site. By way of background, I am a professional astronomer, with both optical and radio observing experience, although these days I spend my time doing project management. I became an astronomer because of my fascination with the night sky, and I was hoping that the ETX125EC would allow me to revisit fondly remembered objects, see new ones, and generally enjoy the type of observing that a small scope allows. After some consideration, I chose the 125, for its combination of portability, optics, and ease of use. I am familiar with what coated optics can do, so I didn't hesitate to include the UHTC. After reading many of the posts on this site, I also decided to order the machine "Supercharged" by Clay Sherrod. My purchase experience was great; Sight and Sound had the machine when promised, and sent it on to Dr. Sherrod, who worked his magic and sent it to me quickly. Thanks to both for a flawless order! The day the machine arrived, I unpacked everything, familiarized myself with the controls, and waited eagerly for darkness. Once outside, I did my first align - not much else to do, since the Supercharge service includes the initial drive calibration, updating the software, etc. My first attempt at alignment failed - oops! Back inside, look at the instructions again (ohhh..., so that's what the "Home" position means!) and try again. Bingo! Like a dream, the ETX was moving to objects I selected, letting me see old friends for the first time in years. Even though I was working in Alt-Az mode, without anything more than casual leveling and orientation of the tripod, the telescope was working well, and easily finding the objects I selected. From walking outside with the telescope in my arms to successful alignment and GOTOs was about 45 minutes, including newbie mistakes! On subsequent nights, my setup time is only 10 minutes or so, now that I am more familiar with the scope. New users should keep in mind the time that might be needed for the telescope to reach temperature equilibrium on cold nights; I certainly saw some odd images when the warm telescope first opened up on a cold evening. I was truly impressed by the image quality and the high contrast that the ETX-125EC UHTC provides; I believe that in most ways the images are comparable to the 8" Newtonian I owned many years ago, thanks to the small secondary and UHTC in the ETX. The image contrast and definition are especially impressive. Clay Sherrod's inspection, adjustments, and software installation/updates were also well worthwhile. It's too bad that Meade's quality control during the assembly is only so-so; it is fortunate that an expert is available. I know from personal experience how tricky it can be to properly adjust a drive system; Clay's experience and familiarity with the ETX is invaluable. My ETX really worked as expected right out of the box, and I am optimistic that I can avoid any warranty issues. For new users who are not professional astronomers, I think the ETX could be a good choice, as long as they are willing to take the time to understand the steps required to orient the telescope to the sky when they start observing. All one really has to do is set the telescope to its home position, level the tube, orient the entire thing to the north, the run a "setup" on the autostar. It was helpful knowing the names of some of the brighter stars. I certainly recommend the Supercharge service, to avoid initial problems with a mal-adjusted telescope, especially for those with less experience. While fooling with the optics and mechanical components is interesting and "fun", I wanted to avoid the risk of damaging things through lack of expertise and the potential time that would be consumed bringing a telescope fully up to spec. I purchased my scope with the autostar controller, the electric focuser, the UHTC option, a dew cap, an erecting prism, the 884 field tripod, a power adapter, a hard case, and of course the "Supercharge" from Dr. Sherrod. Separately I have also purchased the MaxView 40mm eyepiece from Scopetronix, and adapters to fit my Canon G2. Everything works well, and is a pleasure to use. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the ETX125EC, and find it a good match to my needs. Clear skies, and my appreciative thanks to all those who have made this such a useful web site! Richard Simon
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