AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 April 2009

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, AutoStar III (for ETX-LS) cables, and the AutoStar updater software. See the AutoStar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the AutoStar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.


Subject:	Meade ETX-70 serial cable
Sent:	Thursday, April 30, 2009 04:17:41
From:	Anders Algotsson (anders.algotsson@vitax.se)
Found your site through Google ....

I wonder if you have the pinout for the serial cable for Meade ETX-70.
The cable doesn't seem to be available anywhere in my country (Sweden),
so I decided to make my own.

Best regards
Anders Algotsson
Mike here: The #506 serial cable for the ETX-70 and AutoStar #494 is not easily made as there as some special electronics in the cable. But if you check the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page you will find some articles on the #506 cable. If you can't make the cable, an alternative would be to get a #497 AutoStar and make a #505 serial cable (easily made using information on the AutoStar Info page). Keep in mind that if your computer does not have a RS-232 serial port, you will need a USB-serial adapter. Unfortunately, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page for more information.

And an error on email delivery:

Your message cannot be delivered to the following recipients:

 Recipient address: anders.algotsson@vitax.se
 Reason: SMTP transmission failure has occurred
 Diagnostic code: smtp;554 Service unavailable. Message rejected as junk.
Mike here: You may wish to contact your email host provider and let them know that email from me (etx@me.com) should not be "rejected as junk". I tried to reply using three different email hosts and all were rejected.
Subject:	etx-125 premier question
Sent:	Monday, April 27, 2009 19:17:32
From:	gklugie@verizon.net (gklugie@verizon.net)
I hope you don't mind direct email,  but I don't understand twitter and
it creps me out.

Can you please tell me if an etx-125 premier can use the same 497
autostar that is used on my etx 90?

Greg

Dallas, Texas
Mike here: Direct email is preferred, as indicated on the Email Etiquette and Submittal Guidelines. The ETX Premier Edition models ship with the AutoStar #497 (which has numbers on the keypad). Since your ETX-90 also uses the #497, the handsets ARE the same. However, the software you have in the ETX-90 AutoStar may be older than what is required to support the LNT and Smartfinder. You can check the version and update it if needed.

And:

Thank You

Clear Skies

Greg
Mike here: If you do decide to update your ETX-90 AutoStar, be certain you have read the AutoStar warnings on the Announcements: Warnings! page.

And:

Thanks,
I read (and re-read) and recently upgraded to 43gg .... presumably a
premier edition scope will recognize this?!?!

Greg
Mike here: Dick Seymour's "gg" patch to the AutoStar ROM 4.3Eg works with any #497 AutoStar that has 4.3Eg.
Subject:	Autostar #497 HBX powers but does not respond
Sent:	Sunday, April 26, 2009 05:16:10
From:	PARRISH SKIES (PARRISHSKIES@TAMPABAY.RR.COM)
I use an LXD75 SN8. I was setup and ready to go, polar aligned, and with
Hearts of Space playing in the background. I initialized the HBX with
date, time, etc and attempted an easy align. The scope slewed to Sirius.
I centered with the arrow keys, but when I pressed enter, nothing
happened. I tried other keys and the only ones that worked were left and
right arrow keys.

I powered down. Manually parked scope and attempted again. But now all I
rec v is the "press mode to ... Message". Again, only the left and right
arrow keys worked. After a few deep breaths, I thought maybe my power
supply was low. I disconnected and recharged over night. Re-attempted to
power up with the same issue.

Other things I checked were: all connections secure in both ends of HBX,
power supply connection secure, mount clutches and setup okay.

The scope has been functioning great all season, so this issue has
caught me off guard. The display is not dimmed. And, I recv'd no error
messages. When slewing (before failure) there was no binding or adverse
noises noticed. I pamper my equipment and have not recollection of
damage to the HBX during storage or set up.

Where should I start?

Thanks for your valuable time. I truly appreciate it...again! 

Tom Connor 

http://parrishskies.googlepages.com/ 

And:

It has only been a few minutes since my initial email. I found my issue.
The (3) button was stuck. I had pressed it to change my slew speed. Last
night in the dark, I never would have noticed this. Once I 'unstuck'
everything is back to normal.
 
Once again, thank you for being there.
 
Tom Connor
Mike here: If you want to clean the keypad, there is an article about that on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. "Hearts of Space" is a great source of music for observing. I love to listen to the "Galaxies" album when observing! I have several other HoS albums that make great backgrounds for observing.

And:

Thanks for the reply ...and the HOS recommendation. Galaxies is not in
my library, but I'll track it down. In regards to the keypad,  I simply
pressed to top of the rubbery button instead of the center. This caused
to button to pinch within the hard plastic controller.
 
Thanks again...and clear dark skies to you!
 
Tom

Subject:	worth updating ROM?
Sent:	Sunday, April 19, 2009 20:04:25
From:	alan palmer (whynot.pclinux@gmail.com)
Recently, I had pulled out my 90EC/497 after a hiatus of some four
years.  The installed version stands at 34E (3.4ec). I'm somewhat
limited in my ability to update the ROM at this time, as I  I have no
serial ports available to update with.  Is there anything essential in
the current 4.3eg that would warrant an upgrade from 3.4ec?  That is,
can I put off the update and expect things to be hunky-dory?

BTW, thank you for still being here; I have found a wealth of
information  over the years. You've done an amazing job!!!
Mike here: For the most part, you are likely to be OK. While some of the updates might be useful (see the article "AutoStar READMEs" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page), if you are not having any problems, then rushing to update the AutoStar is not a necessary thing to do. As to not having serial ports, you would need a USB-serial adapter (assuming your computer has USB). But not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan.
Subject:	help
Sent:	Sunday, April 19, 2009 15:41:00
From:	Barbara Franklin (barbarafranklin144@gmail.com)
I am trying to update my autostar - I must confess I never have
I've got a regular etx-90, and can't seem to find the right update.
Can you send me the link and any advise to avoid the problems mentioned
on your site?
Thank you
Barbara
Mike here: First, see the Email Etiquette page on the ETX Site; your email was rejected and originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the Subject Line. Thanks for understanding. Fortunately, I found it. Right now, the safest thing to do is to download the AutoStar Update Application 4.6 and the AutoStar #497 ROM 4.3Eg, both from the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site. Put the ROM file into the Ephemerides folder (assuming you are using Windows). If you are using Mac OS X, use AutoStarX (link on the AutoStar Info page) and then you can put the ROM file anyplace you like.
Subject:	Re: Autostar
Sent:	Friday, April 17, 2009 21:52:22
From:	Luis Villa (etx_125ec_from_arizona@q.com)
Follow up on tonight.

I did a complete reset, calibrated motors, trained, set percentages at
13 and 3 for dec....

Rubber banding is now negligible, backlash is almost non existent...

My setup procedures:
using a bubble level I level the base as well as possible, then site in
on Polaris, and offset about 1 degree towards Kocab as per instructions
from Clay Sherrod.  Then using a GEKO 100 GPS I set the time to the
second.  I am now as perfect as possible.  I then did a two star
alignment using Alkaid and Denebola. After the alignment I instructed
scope to GO-TO Saturn.  Using the MAX -18 I bought from scopetronics
years ago, Saturn was almost dead center... I centered then went to
M-81, M-105, M-96 and M-82, and all of them were in the same spot that
Saturn was in the eyepiece.  Minor centering required, very little.  I
think this is due to not actually being at the North Celestial Pole to
start with.

Rubber banding showed up!  I then re-trained drives first with a 26MM
eyepiece then the 18 and finally the 12.4. I adjusted my percentages to
the 13 and 3 settings.  Rubber banding is negligible and backlash
greatly reduced.  I might be doing some further refinement for tomorrow.

Tomorrow night I hope to be able to start taking pictures of Saturn.
Similar to the ones I took of Jupiter a few years ago, both with the LPI
and my cool pix 995...

Thanks for a great site!

I have learned tons from 'surfing' your site....

Oh yeah, a tip---  I use velcro both on the Autostar (small patch) and
on all three legs of the tripod, now when I need to set the autostar
down in the dark I just place it on one of the tripod legs.

And an update:

Sent:	Monday, April 20, 2009 09:25:54
From:	Luis Villa (etx_125ec_from_arizona@q.com)
Short follow up.

Saturn remained in the 18mm for no less than 30 minutes, very slight
adjustment required with the autostar, using the 2 setting. No
perceptible rubber banding or creep.  My autostar/scope is now ready for
the summer.  I have now,  thanks to your site, been able to rid my scope
of any rubber banding and am able to GO-TO whatever object I am looking
for.  The only reason it was only 30 minutes is that I then started
GO-TO'S to various Messier objects..

All I have left to do is now learn how to use the scope/autostar in
polar mode in order to take pictures of brighter Messier objects. I have
been using alt/az.

Luis

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Friday, April 17, 2009 12:52:42
From:	Luis Villa (etx_125ec_from_arizona@q.com)
I recently was able to dust off my ETX-125 and decided that it was time
for me to upgrade my version to 43g. Here are the results.

I hooked up my laptop to the autostar, downloaded the new version, saved
it on my computer and then started the upgrading process. On the
Autostar there is a message that you should NOT turn it off! Believe it,
I accidentally turned the power off about five minutes into the upload.
What I ended up with was garbage on the Autostar, I then remembered that
a "FLASH" procedure was mentioned on your site, I looked it up and it
works flawlessly! If it had not been for the site, I would probably have
had to buy another Autostar. Here is the link to the article, it could
save somebody's bacon, or at least some frustration.

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/2009/bad_download.html

I will be doing a complete reset, enter new location data, retrain,
recalibrate and new percentages. My motivation for this is to eliminate
as much of the rubber banding that has plagued me since I bought the 125
back in 2002. The accuracy of my Go-to's has always been very good, the
only times they have been off is when I failed to align to the correct
star(s)! then they were way off, user error. I will be taking some
pictures with my trusty Coolpix 995, LPI, and my TOUCAM. So I need to
eliminate as much rubber banding as possible, I can live with it for
visual work, but when using the LPI or any eyepiece smaller than 15 MM
and a camera it is a pain in the aperture to have objects drift out of
the view of the camera. I have submitted numerous photos of various
objects, taken with the LPI and the 995. Patience is the keyword when
taking pictures with rubber banding plaguing the system, but it is
possible. Even with a 2X Barlow Lens. Difficult but possible.

There appears to be some conflicting information, part 2 "performance
enhancement-creating the perfect "GO TO" ETX or LX90" states on page 7
of 9 "the decision that changing the backlash percents should be made
PRIOR to ""Train Motors.""

Then this bit of advice is offered at

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html.

"Thus, IF you chose to reset from the defaulted "01%" in either altitude
or azimuth percentages as described above, it must be done AFTER all the
other three parameters are established. Thus, we now should consider
FOUR steps of post-initializing from an upload or reset: 1) RESET 2)
RE-CALIBRATE 3) RE-TRAIN 4) RE-SET PERCENTAGES (only if necessary).
Setting the percentages BEFORE calibration and training WILL result in
rubberbanding! Always establish your percentages after you have
communicated the first three parameters to the Autostar and ETX!

Which is correct? Changing percentages BEFORE training or AFTER?

I did a quick reset, and followed procedures with percentage PRIOR to
train and this resulted in rubber banding. Tonight I will be doing the
reset again and follow procedures with setting percentages AFTER train
motors.

I will follow up this and let you know what I have experienced.

As always if it weren't for your site, I would not know how to address
these issues. Thanks for keeping this site up and running for as long as
you have, and welcome to Arizona!

I tried before, and got rubber banding, and tonight I will try AFTER.
Mike here: First, I have rarely found it necessary to change the percentages. And then, it was on the LXD75 (that was stolen). Normally, the TRAIN DRIVES will solve any rubberbanding. If you are having backlash issues, then adjust the percentages.
Subject:	lost software from meade etx125 pe handset
Sent:	Friday, April 17, 2009 04:38:16
From:	kudziam@aol.com (kudziam@aol.com)
I have got a problem and I would like you to tell me if there is
anything that I could do with it, please.

Whilst upgrading my software from autostar software I experienced a
power cut and lost the internet connection so now it seems that I have
lost all the software in my handset. The screen is blank and the scope
is not responding. Do you know any website that I could download the
software from?

Is there anything that I could do?

Kind regards

Mirek
Mike here: This "lost power" question is addressed on the ETX FAQ page; see that. Also, see the Announcements: Warnings page for some important information regarding updating the AutoStar #497.
Subject:	re: etx125
Sent:	Tuesday, April 14, 2009 21:13:22
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
When you wrote:
"Have tried the safe load procedure but still dead."
do you mean that:
(a) it didn't even display "Downloading, do not turn off",
or
(b) that it -did- display that message (thus "i'm not dead yet!"),
but that the attempt to download -after- that appeared failed?


If the former, than -carefully- check that the power supply is
adequate.

If the latter, have you tried StarPatch (as Mike suggested)?

good luck
--dick

Subject:	ETX90 PE  Dec & RA problem
Sent:	Sunday, April 12, 2009 11:28:50
From:	ALLEN (mirrorstoo@yahoo.com)
I've been trying to correct a problem without success. When I move the
scope in slow speeds (5 or less), in both dec & ra, there is a huge
amount of drawback (pullback? not sure what you call it). This makes it
difficult to center an object. I've done all the calibrations, sensors,
motors & training. I've removed the OTA & checked the dec gears to see
if anything is loose. I've also checked the RA gears without success. Do
you have any suggestions.

Your help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Allen
Mike here: You can try adjusting the percentages to help with "backlash". See the article "Calibration, Training, Percentages" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thanks for your quick answer. I will read and try it. Hopefully it will
work. I'm excited.
Thanks again. Allen

And:

I started checking things out. It seems in AZ training the left slew
returns to target w/horizontal crosshairs below target. On right slew
target is above the horizontal crosshairs. On Dec training, the up slew
returns target to right of vertical crosshairs, down slew brings it to
the left. I've tried training a few times but this hasn't changed. Prior
to training, last night I did a reset, calibrated motors & sensors as
best I can. I also noticed that the default setting for tragets is
terrestrial (when the scope is turned off then on). Can I set the
default for astronomical. My Meade software is 44E. Thanks for whatever
help you can offer. Allen
Mike here: Does the ">" appear by Terrestrial or Astronomical? What is the full version of the AutoStar ROM (under the Setup: Statistics menu)?

And:

My Autostar ver. is: 44Ea. The>is on terrestrial. When I switch to
>astrological and press enter, it stays until it is turned off. When
it's turned on again the default is >terrestrial again.
Mike here: You have a newer version than what is generally available (and troublefree), which is version 4.3Eg. Before you try updating (assuming you have a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 port on your computer), check out the AutoStar warnings on the Announcements: Warnings! page.

And:

I know 4.3Eg is the latest. It was installed when I received this ETX 90
PE as a replacment for 1 that was defective. I was concerned about
changing to 4.3Eg but will do it now.

And:

I upgraded the software and the default is still >terrestrial. Any
suggestions how to make it >astronomical? I will re-calibrate & re-train
tomorrow to see if it makes a difference with the rubberband effect. So
far, whatever I tried hasn't helped. Per Dr. Clay's advise, I did change
(b/4 changing the software) change the setting for DEC % to 15 & the RA
% to 25. That didn't seem to help much.Thanks! Allen
Mike here: Besides showing the ">" next to Terrestrial, if you do an alignment (Easy or Auto; which you can test indoors), does the ETX track if you GOTO to an object (you would hear the motors running)? Dick Seymour previously noted on the ETX Site that: "If the scope is Alt/Az mounted, it powers up in terrestrial mode ,.,, until you align (which is a GoTo a star, right? Bingo: Astro). If you never do a star align, it won't kick to Astro until you GoTo an astro target."
Subject:	etx125
Sent:	Sunday, April 12, 2009 06:39:41
From:	DAVID KEIL (david.keil1@btinternet.com)
have tried to upgrade my autostar but assume I did something wrong as
now my autostar appears not to be working. Cables appear fine, only
response is an occasional quiet clicking from it. Any ideas or do I need
to purchase new one?
 
Many thanks DWK
Mike here: First, had you read the two warnings about AutoStar updating that were posted on the Announcements: Warnings! page in February and March 2009? If not, read those and let me know if one of those problems is what occurred. Second, if you did follow the warnings or they were not applicable, you can try the SAFE LOAD procedure; see the item "Q. The power went off while I was updating my AutoStar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the ETX FAQ page.

And:

Have tried the safe load procedure but still dead. Also not able to
recognise autostar from my pc. Looks like a new one must be purchased!
Mike here: Have you checked your #505 serial cable? Are you using a real RS-232 port or a USB-serial adapter? If an adapter, note that not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, you can try to update using the StarPatch application (http://www.stargps.ca).
Subject:	autostar 494 question
Sent:	Saturday, April 11, 2009 06:16:15
From:	Andrew Rubey (andrew_rubey@earthlink.net)
Thanks for providing and maintaining your ETX website, it has answered
many questions for me in the past.

I'm having issues with my #494 autostar controller (being used with an
etx70).  It is returning "proc trap 2" errors when selecting objects or
tours from its catalogue.  I have tried reseting the controller but
haven't seen any improvement.

From the information I've found it seems the only solution is to
purchase the Meade 506 cables, and a usb adapter (then I have to deal
with the issue that all my computers are MACs).  Do you know of any
other options or have suggestions for possible solutions?  I'm very
hesitant to invest in the cables and adaptor right now.  Do you know if
Meade still offers to service these units?

thanks much
Andy Rubey
Mike here: Unless the AutoStar is still under warranty, your best solution is to replace it. Typically, that error on an AutoStar #494 means the memory (or software) is corrupted. If it can't be cleared with the RESET, since there is no use-installable update for the #494, there isn't much you can do (especially without the serial cable for troubleshooting). Getting an AutoStar #497 will provide more capabilities and work fine with the ETX-70. And then, should you choose to ever update it, you can make the #505 serial cable yourself (although you would still need a proper USB-serial adapter).

And:

Thank you, Mike.  I'll look into those options!

Subject:	Improving Alignment
Sent:	Monday, April 6, 2009 13:48:34
From:	John Batiste
I have an ETX 125PE, which works just fine.  My question may be more
phylosophical than practical, but here goes.

During alignment, training the drives, aligning the SmartFinder, and
training the sensors it is necessary to "center the object".

Would it be benificial to obtain an eyepiece with cros hairs to achieve
this?

My current results seem to be good, but could they be better with a more
accurate centering?
 
John
Mike here: Certainly, anything the improves "centering" will help. That could be an illuminated reticle eyepiece OR just a higher power eyepiece. However, just eyeballing the centering in the 26mm eyepiece is usually sufficient. On the other hand, if you live in a light-polluted area and want to "know" that that really faint DSO should actually be in the center on a high-power eyepiece when you GOTO it, then using a centering aid would be beneficial.

And:

Thank you!
 
The "faint DSO" target was the basis of my question.  It has been over
40 years since I had firsthand experience with astronomy (worked at the
U. of Wisconsin Space Astronomy lab as a student).  I am sure I will
have further questions as the months go by.

I have used the higher power eyepiece technique;  somewhat intuitive --
higher mag, smaller field of view, etc.

Cross hairs are invaluable when hunting with a rifle, and those targets
are one heck of a lot closer.

Can you recommend any of the Meade illuminated reticles?

By the way, I have certainly enjoyed reading your postings.
 
Clear skies,
  
John
Mike here: I replaced my Celestron reticle eyepiece with Rigel Systems PulsGuide (that was stolen along with much of my observing equipment) with a Meade reticle eyepiece. I much prefer the reticle that was in the Celestron eyepiece along with the PulsGuide. See the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page for my comments on both.
Subject:	Using a PC to control the ETX-90 EC, and Updating Autostar
Sent:	Monday, April 6, 2009 12:36:22
From:	Matthew Checketts (CHE05012@BYUI.EDU)
Thank you for your great website.  I have looked to it for advice in the
past and have always found it useful.  I have a couple of questions for
you.

First:  I have not updated my Autostar software since 2005 or early 2006
since I was away at college, but have recently set up my telescope and
thought maybe I should update the software.  Problem is, I have only
done that once in the past and I don't remember very well how; I don't
have an rs-232 connection on my laptop computer, although I do have a
modem and an Ethernet port.  Additionally, in searching through your
site I saw a recent warning regarding updating the #497 Autostar which
was concerning.

Second: How can I control my ETX with a laptop?  Is there a way that I
can connect my laptop to the telescope without an rs-232 connector, and
without ordering a USB to serial part?  I am really quite unfamiliar
with this whole concept; can I use the Autostar Suite software to
control the telescope? I look forward to receiving your thoughts and
suggestions.  Thanks again for everything.

Third: I found generic ac adapters on Ebay that supposedly will work
like the #541 ac adapter.  Will they really work and is there any risk
involved with buying a non Meade product like that?

Matt Checketts
Mike here: Please keep in mind the guidance on the Email Etiquette page (about not mixing question topics). Thanks for understanding. If your computer has a USB you will need a USB-Serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters. As to updating, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the AutoStar Info page; it is applicable to the ASU 4.x version. Regarding the update warning, get the AutoStar Update application and 4.3Eg ROM files from the AutoStar Software Archive on the AutoStar Info page. As to controlling your ETX from a computer, you will actually be controlling the AutoStar, which in turns controls the telescope. So you need a RS-232 somewhere. However, if your computer has Bluetooth, there is a Bluetooth-Serial Adapter for the AutoStar. With the proper adapters (and cable) you can control the AutoStar with AutoStar Suite and many other applications. Lots more info on the AutoStar Info page. External power adapters MAY work fine. It really depends on whether they supply stable power and how much (you'll need 12VDC/1500mA) and if the polarity is correct (center pin positive).
Subject:	Autostar in german, single language ROM
Sent:	Thursday, April 2, 2009 22:36:53
From:	Leonardo Pignataro (leopignataro@gmail.com)
I have an ETX-70AT telescope, and its Autostar is in german. I have read
your FAQ "My AutoStar is displaying a foreign language. How do I change
it?", and followed the steps, resetting the Autostar. However, after the
reset, no language prompt came up. I can only assume that multiple
languages are not featured in my Autostar.

Do you know if there's any other way I can change the language to
english? Perhaps with a firmware update of some sort?

Thank you very much for your time.

-- 
Leonardo Pignataro
Mike here: There is no user-installable update for the #494 AutoStar (no number keys on the controller) that comes with the ETX-70. You would need to contact your dealer or Meade to swap it for a different one. Or get a #497 AutoStar (has number keys).

And:

Thank you very much for the information, Mike.

BTW (since you are a guy who gathers tips about this sort of thing), one
thing that helps me to get by with my autostar in german is to have the
menu map in english printed out, which is featured in the telescope's
user manual. Most of the items are listed in the menu map in the exact
order that they appear in the autostar, so it's possible to know where
you're at, even if you don't understand what's written.

Well, thanks again for your help.

Feedback Archive

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Copyright ©2009 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2009 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/apr09/autostar.html