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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 April 2010
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Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, cables, and 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:	Autostar software compensating during polar alignment
Sent:	Thursday, April 29, 2010 20:17:35
From:	Robert Amdahl (rramdahl@yahoo.com)
I have a Meade ETX 125PE and I thought that I saw something on your site
about the Meade software being able to compensate during polar alignment
between Polaris and true North.  Is this true or was I dreaming?  Also,
if it is true, would you point me to the article?  I hate to see where
we would be without this site.  Please don't get sick or anything!
Thanks,
Bob Amdahl
Mike here: I assume you are referring to Auto Align with the PE model. During the Level-North steps, the AutoStar detects Magnetic North and then uses your location to adjust for Magnetic Variation to determine True North.

And:

I am asking about the PE model with the LNT.  My question is probably
dumb and plays off my laziness.  What I wondered is if I line up the
scope to Polaris in polar mode, does the autostar software make any sort
of compensation for the difference between Polaris and the North
Celestial Pole.  In other words, by just aligning to Polaris will I be
able to do the polar mode go-tos and tracking as if I actually did the
alignment to the NCP instead of just to Polaris?

See I told you it was a dumb (and lazy) question.
Thanks,
Bob Amdahl
Mike here: If you do a One Star alignment (when mounted in Polar Mode and have the AutoStar set for Polar mounting), then you will be prompted to center Polaris WITHOUT using the AutoStar slewing controls; you center Polaris by adjusting the mount. Once you have centered Polaris and press ENTER, the AutoStar now knows where the NCP is located. By the way, don't forget that CALIBRATE SENSORS will also ask you to center Polaris; that adjusts for Magnetic Variation (and other magnetic interference).
Subject:	RE External Power for Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, April 28, 2010 13:42:24
From:	Andy Swain (andy@0acs0.co.uk)
I dont know if this is me but reading a list "External Power for Autostar " i came across the following

5. If you get this step backwards, you'll fry your handbox!
Twist the black wires of the battery connector to the wire connected to 
pin 1 of the patch cable.  Twist the red wires of the battery connector
to  the wire connected to pin 8 of the patch cable.

6.  	 Looking at the handbox (HBX) connector, this puts the +  side
of 9 volts to pin 1 of the hand box and the - side to pin 8 of  the
handbox.  Verify it before you plug it in!  Separate each wire and  tape
over them and you're done.

Dose not 5 contradict 6 please i.e. on pins 1 and 8 are the +ve and -ve
the wrong way round? assumind black is -ve and red +ve?

Regards Andy
Mike here: Well, I guess it does read that way. Follow the diagram info.

And:

Yes i looked at the diagram and the HBX shows +ve on pin 1 and -ve on 8 
which is the way i did it So do you think that the item 5 is wrote
wrongly? BTW this is my first scope a ETX-125 and im taking time on your
site to read and re read the information I have had the scope for 2
weeks (secondhand shown working in Ferrybridge services lol) and its
still in its hard case But like to be up on the things before i use them
will somthing as delicate as this anyway and the power for the autostar
will help me get used before using it on the scope Well thats what im
hoping. Thansk for such a great and informative site.

Regards Andy
Mike here: Keep in mind that you really don't NEED to make many of the modifications or do many of the tips offered on the ETX Site. Certainly, I recommend using the telescope as it is for awhile to see how it performs. Use internal batteries, or perhaps a proper AC Adapter connected to the ETX external port jack.
Subject:	Re: 497 anatomy
Sent:	Tuesday, April 27, 2010 08:34:33
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I'm not at home, so i can't -look- at a 497 for reference.

I don't know what reference you've seen for the 494, but the 497 should be -similar-.
Your external switches are bridging the two solder pads under each slew key,
exactly the same as the 494.  If the 494 instructions used the holes
(vias) in the circuit board as solder points, then it's "simply" a case
of following the copper traces to appropriate holes.  Verify the trace
with an ohmmeter (zero resistance to the tinned pad the key touches)
before soldering.

Please take pictures and write a report for Mike's site when you're finished!

good luck
--dick

Subject:	ETX Autostar Hackup inquiry
Sent:	Monday, April 26, 2010 15:38:54
From:	charles c. littell III (chas@littell.org)
My ETX125PE is hiding in the closet ever since she heard me discussing
hacking.  She has nothing to worry about--my intended victim is the
nifty ETX80 refractor.  I bought it on closeout a lot cheaper than the
price of a Digital Setting Circle with computer.  Somewhere in that
humble ETX80 Autostar goto system there muct be rotary encodors, that
feed data to the Autostar.

My Frankenstein monster is a youthful 25 year old Meade equatorial fork
mount 10" SCT model 2120, with an R/A AC drive operable (one speed
anyway.)  But with a DSC setup, I could maybe? push the auto star to id
objects pointed, even arrange it to tell me a direction to push when it
thinks it is driving AltAz motors.

Is this a feasible project, to take ETX encoders from an ETX80, and
attach them to the 2120 fork mount in a usable manner, and get the
Autostar to provide "Shove-To" directions?

Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.  I don't have $600 to throw
at an off-the-shelf DSC system, gotta be a way to use the hardware I
have and am will ing to hack up (i.e. the ETX80 Autostar system.)

Chas in Dayton
 
Charles C. Littell, III
Dayton, OH
Mike here: Well, it may be doable. Check "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts (AutoStar info)" linked on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, checkout the Roboscopes Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope).
Subject:	497 anatomy
Sent:	Monday, April 26, 2010 11:12:46
From:	Jason Smith (smithers21176@yahoo.com)
I see your schematic for the 497.  Could you post the solder points if
someone wants to interrupt the directional arrows (horizontal left and
right, vertical tilt up and down) with their own switch?  I've seen this
for the 494 bit not for the 497.  Thanks!

Sent from my iPhone

Subject:	roboscope goto problems
Sent:	Sunday, April 25, 2010 08:11:17
From:	navee8or@aol.com (navee8or@aol.com)
I have a mannual eq5 mount that is identical to the meade lxd75mount it
has a meade 114mm reflector mounted on it and I have added ds drives and
a 497 controller to it. in mannual mode it seems to perform well. But if
i get into the goto mode and select an object then press goto it slews
left or right and the points down I have to turn it off before it
collides with something .If you mannualy turn the scope to an oject
sighted and lock it backup it will track..please take in mind ,I am a
raw recruit when it comes to this stuff ..someone told me to find out 
how to set up in home positioton to  start with and he could help me
from there. Is there any written instuctions I can obtain to set up
autostar for my application.I find what is out there to be quite vague.
If there is anthing you can help me with it is grealy appreciated thank
you in advance.   Jerry
Mike here: First, you might want to check out "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts (AutoStar info)" linked on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site. Second, you might want to check out my (now discontinued) LXD55/75 web site (http://www.weasner.com/lxd) for information on the LXD mount and AutoStar. In order to have the AutoStar do its GOTO thing, you do need to start out its alignment from a known Home Position. That might be the same as the LXD mounts, so checkout the LXD site and also the LXD manual (available on Meade's web site). And checkout the Roboscopes Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope).
Subject:	Keypad repair update
Sent:	Thursday, April 22, 2010 19:17:43
From:	flundberg77@comcast.net (flundberg77@comcast.net)
After two weeks of testing and using the AutoStar 497 several times,
that I repaired using the Circuitworks kit, I compared it with another
AutoStar 497 that I had which seemed to work satisfactorily.

The repaired Autostar's keys were much more responsive than the second
AutoStar. I checked the container of keypad repair compound, which had
been mixed two weeks before, and it appeared to still be usable. I then
dis-assembled the second AutoStar and painted all of the keypads in it.
This resulted in better key responsiveness with this AutoStar also.

It has now been about a month since repairing the first AutoStar and
three more uses with no deterioration of key responsiveness.
  
Forrest Lundberg

Subject:	meade lx90 keypad
Sent:	Saturday, April 17, 2010 06:10:21
From:	roy hanson (roy89120@gmail.com)
how to change the date from 2009 to 2010.dont know how to move the
cursor sidewayes to change the year

thanks if you can help me

ow to move the cursor sideways after inputing date and month.sure would
appreicate help on this
Mike here: Use the Left and Right slew arrow keys to move left and right through the onscreen text.
Subject:	eq5mount with dsdrivesand 497 controller
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 2010 17:47:33
From:	navee8or@aol.com (navee8or@aol.com)
Sir, I have recently adapted ds drives to my mannual eq5 mount and I am
using a 497 controller. The question I have is why does one gear ratio
display with a + and the other with a -. If this is not correct , then
how do I change it??Jerry

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The sign in front of the Ratio determines the direction the motor will
spin. Which one is "correct" depends upon the number of gears between
the motor and final gear, and which way the motor is "pointed" with
respect to the worm against the final drive.

You can change the -sign- by having the Gear Ratio on the screen, and
use the "left slew" key to move the cursor to the sign's position.  Now
the -scroll- up/down keys will change the sign 
+/-/+/-
Use the "right slew" key to move the cursor away from that position (if
you wish) to change the digits.
[enter] locks it in.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re:ISS puzzlement (AS FB, 12 Apr 2010)
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:10:40
From:	Mike Hogan (mhogansr@comcast.net)
You said:
"I had downloaded fresh satellite data from the Meade site
on Friday, updating from Epoch 2010/082.1716 to 2010/028.2635."
 
How did you download and install the data? The current Two Line Element
from celestrak.com, which is what the Meade site links to, is:
 
ISS (ZARYA)             
1 25544U 98067A   10103.17094671  .00015855  00000-0  10986-3 0  9643
2 25544  51.6468 204.3381 0004589 158.3845 274.0045 15.74670563653238
which has an epoch of 2010/103.17094671 as indicated by the third parameter.
 
If you somehow 'updated' from day 082 to day 028, you actually went
backwards to Jan 28th. Using that dataset, it's not surprising your
predicts were off.

As Mike suggested, try entering the data manually and see if you don't
get better results.
 
Regards,
Mike Hogan

Subject:	Autostar #495 and ETX125EC
Sent:	Monday, April 12, 2010 13:54:18
From:	Juan Manuel Soares de Lima (jsoaresdelima@tb.inia.org.uy)
I recently bought a second hand Meade ETX125EC and, at the same time, an
Autostar #495 controller.

After the buy I've reading and apparently this control is only for DS
models.

There's some way to modify the firmware or something like that to make
this controller compatible with the ETX?

Thanks a lot
Mike here: You can update the #495 to a #497 using software. You will need the Meade AutoStar Update application from Meade's web site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html). You may need to use an earlier version of the ASU app and perhaps an earlier updates (both available on the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). You will also need a RS-232 serial port on your computer and a #505 serial cable. If your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. You can easily make the #505 serial cable; see the AutoStar Info page.

And:

Wow, thanks for your fast answer and so positive news. Finally, can you
send me some links about howto make the #505 serial cable?
Thank you very much. Best regards

Juan Manuel
Mike here: You can easily make the #505 serial cable; see the AutoStar Info page for lots of cable information.
Subject:	ISS puzzlement
Sent:	Monday, April 12, 2010 06:07:13
From:	George Finlay (george@principiainc.com)
Maybe you would be able to help with my current challenge:

I got up early yesterday morning hoping to track ISS for the first time.
As luck would have it a cloud bank prevented observation, but I
encountered a data issue also. Despite these two predictions, the first
from the Sky and Telescope Satellite Tracker v1.5, the second from
Heavens Above, my AutoStar, at 05:10 am local had the next ISS pass for
05:58 local. I double checked my date, time, and site setups and found
them accurate. I had downloaded fresh satellite data from the Meade site
on Friday, updating from Epoch 2010/082.1716 to 2010/028.2635.

Any thoughts? I am using ASU 5.9.1 with AutoStar software version 5CE1.

2010/04/11   05:24 am   3   31 above WNW   35 above NNW   11 above NE
11 Apr	-2.3	05:23:19	20	W	05:24:53	35	NNW	05:27:35	10	NE

Search period start:00:00 Sunday, 11 April, 2010 Search period end:00:00
Wednesday, 21 April, 2010Observer's location:unnamed, 40.7575N,
74.2561WLocal time zone:Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 4:00)Orbit:342 x
349 km, 51.6 (Epoch Apr 10)

George Finlay
Mike here: I have not used ASU nor an AutoStar #497 for ISS data. I have always had good luck entering the data manually into my AutoStar II and tracking has been pretty good with my LX200-ACF. You might try entering the data into the AutoStar manually.

And:

Thanks for your usual quick reply. I will give manual entry a shot.

George Finlay
Mike here: There are some articles on ISS and other satellite tracking on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I will check out that info on your site asap.

George Finlay

Subject:	re: Autostar #497 and equatorial mounting
Sent:	Saturday, April 10, 2010 14:53:51
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Join the Roboscope Yahoo group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope

Very few people have connected the Autostar to stepper motors.
Most (99.95%) people adapt the Meade analog motor units to the new
mount.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: NEW TO ETX & ASTRONOMY
Sent:	Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:25:57
From:	bhk@aol.com (bhk@aol.com)
Changed the batteries out with brand new; as before, scope will slew in
all four directions but display is just blank red boxes. You mentioned
another possibility via cable/software? Help!! Thanks, Bryan
ps I am pricing a replacement just in case.
Mike here: You will need a #505 serial cable (easily made using the information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). You will also need a RS-232 serial port on your computer. If you have only USB, then you'll need a USB-serial adapter, however, not all work reliably with the AutoStar (see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page; I recommend Keyspan). Next you'll need the updater application; for Windows use the Meade AutoStar Update application (see "AutoStar #497 Downloads (Meade site)" on the AutoStar Info page) and for Mac OS X use AutoStarX (link on the, you guessed it, page).

And:

Thanks!! I'll keep you posted.

Subject:	Autostar #497 and equatorial mounting
Sent:	Wednesday, April 7, 2010 14:46:11
From:	Alberto Castellani (alberto.castellani@tiscali.it)
we are two friends in love with astronomy and we are building an
equatorial mounting -German style-, equipped with stepper-motor 200
steps/round. Have you got info on how we can manage the mounting
directly on the autostar #497?

If managing the stepper-motor is too complicated, we would consider
using CC engines/motors.

Would you know a web site where we can find detailed info on how to
manage CC engines/motors from autostar (PIC programme) and so how to
adapt it to the mounting?

Thank you so much for your kind consideration to this letter of ours and
for your reply.
Best regards
 
Alberto Castellani - Paolo Girardin
Mike here: There is some information on that on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site, including "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts".

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