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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 April 2000

Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, 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. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.


Subject:	 ETX Autostar Problems
Sent:	Sunday, April 30, 2000 12:09:50
From:	kenroe2@juno.com (KENNETH J NICHOLSON)
I recently purchased an EXT-90EC and everything worked great for a few
hours until the telescope would just start slewing erratically in the up
or down direction for no apparent reason. I tried both the ac adaptor
and the battery pack and it didn't seem to make a difference. After this
happened several times, I called the store (Discovery Channel Store) and
they were very nice and told me to return the Autostar controller for a
new one as this was a known problem. The new Autostar controller was
worst than the first one, I had difficulty in training the motors as I
could not change the slewing speed in the horizontal direction, only in
the vertical direction. After several resets I got it trained and then
it would freeze up in the easy alignment mode on the first star. Again
the store was very nice and let me exchange this controller for a third
one which turned out no better than the second one, both of which were
worst than the original. I called Meade and they informed me that I had
a very old version 1.0j and should be using the current 2.oi level
version. I bought the download cables and updated my Autostar to a 2.oh
level and everything seems to work great now. The motors even seem to
slew more smoothly. The version level can be checked by going to the
Statistics mode and arrow down once when in that mode.

Subject:	 Faster Slewing
Sent:	Saturday, April 29, 2000 11:46:03
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
After I have done the alt/az two-star alignment with Autostar I often
want to point the ETX 90 EC to someplace in the sky under my own
control.  However, I am unable to get the drive motors to slew very fast
-- may 1/10 the slew rate in GOTO mode.  I key in different numbers from
1-9 but it has no effect.  Before alignment I can control the slew rate
by entering a number from 1-9.
What do I need to do to obtain faster slewing?
Thanks for a great site, Mike!
Dennis Persyk dpersyk@worldnet.att.net Hampshire, IL
Mike here: Can you change the slewing speed while trying to center the alignment stars? Once the alignment is successful, the number keys should select the slewing speed. If you can't change the slewing speed at either of these times, something is wrong. Perhaps the battery level is too low? Perhaps you are not pressing down hard enough on the keys? Since you can (have to, in fact) enter numbers when you first turn the Autostar ON, it would appear the number keys are functional.

Added later:

My problem seems to be intermittent. I have full number keys input for
all functions except slew speed when the problem occurs.   Last night I
had the full range of slew speeds after performing alignment.  I'll keep
my fingers crossed that the problem doesn't reoccur.
Thanks for your input.

Subject:	 re: a big mistake...
Sent:	Thursday, April 27, 2000 20:17:04
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Phil,

First, the bad news:  there is no fuse in the standard ETX, nor probably
in the Meade power adapter.

If you were running with the plug-in-the-wall power adapter, you may
have simply caused the adapter to die. Try the ETX (first, with the
Autostar) running on batteries. If it works, then it's the adapter.

If it does NOT work, then try it on batteries with the original hand
controller. If it DOES work, the Autostar is sick.

If it does NOT work, then (if you are lucky) you may have "simply"
"blown a trace"... caused a printed circuit line to have exploded (like
a fuse) on the ETX's internal card.  Such damage can often be easily
repaired. Any television or radio repair shop could do it.  Or anyone
familiar with electronics construction and repair, such as an amateur
radio hobbiest.

Even the Autostar might be repairable if damaged in that way.

The repair (there is a recent posting on Mike's site showing someone
else's repair.. or on the site
people.txucom.net/bedair/Autostar.html ) i forget exactly
where... but there is a photograph of a damaged and repaired card.)

good luck ... it's probably an out-of-warranty repair...
--dick

Subject:	 is a computer needed? no.
Sent:	Wednesday, April 26, 2000 21:49:00
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Larry asked if a computer is/was required to "run" the Autostar.

No.  The Autostar is a computer, and produces a stand-alone GoTo system.

You can even happily watch stars with the default (comes with the scope)
hand controller. (just like the controller-lesser etx90/ra!). Given a
Polar Mount, it'll follow them as they move across the sky.

A computer is handy once every two months to fetch a download of updated
software from Meade (if you borrow one for that, be sure to arrange for
about 4 days as Meade homes in on  the download)

--dick

Subject:	 This is almost getting boring... NOT!
Sent:	Tuesday, April 25, 2000 22:29:16
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Tonight another near-perfect tracking of the ISS by Autostar and ETX90.
('tis a pity the Shuttle wasn't there, too)(yet)

This time i -did- remember (dare?) to bring my 9mm eyepiece to the fray,

and -used- it!

I thought the predicted staring point was too low and too north. But,
just like the last time, (with sparkling fresh TLEs) at precisely the
predicted second, the ISS entered the viewfinder .. maybe 1 degree to
the north of the ETX lying in wait... ENTER to track, a few burps of
speed 5, and off we went... it was tracking so well (and low down it's
not moving as quickly) i popped in the 9mm eyepiece... THAT made
touch-ups hairy... But it -could- be tracked.  After a few seconds of
driving myself batty keeping it in the field of view, i went back to the
26mm. And tracked the satellite across the entire northern sky, until it
went into the shadow (about 8 degrees above the eastern horizon).

Great fun.

Now, you may remember my mention of a French drive-the-autostar program.

I was partly mistaken.. it -does- have an English face
(options>langue'>English). A screen-shot (from my screen) is available
at http://www.wolfe.net/~workshop/eurosat/ In the lower left window,
the straight white line is where the telescope

is aiming... the curved line is/was ISS's path across my sky. The globe
and Mercator map show the ISS's "footprint" on the planet (if yo're in
the circle, you can "see" it). The colors are better on my screen... the
grab is only 256 colors, the program runs 16-bit color.

The comments on the page are to the author (i'm testing it here, there
are still problems with the Autostar implementation) The download site
is http://members.aol.com/marionjc/eurosat/ click on the left-column's
"053 est en ligne!" to get to the download. There are five pieces: the
four main chunks, and Eurosat32.zip, which is the frequently-updated
main program. The author's away for a week (presenting it at an
astronomy conference).

The program was originally designed for radio telescopes, and can drive
LX200's and SkySensors.  The ETX/Autostar is being a work-in-progress.

enjoy!

--dick

Subject:	 Autostar Question
Sent:	Tuesday, April 25, 2000 20:37:29
From:	c00lness@swbell.net (Larry Doyle)
I am thinking about purchasing a Meade ETX-90ec with the ETX Autostar.
While looking on the Meade website, and trying to gather some
information on the Autostar I am left wondering if the Autostar REQUIRES
a laptop computer to run it.
http://www.telescopehouse.co.uk/ETX/autostar1main.html
Although I do own a desktop computer I don't own a laptop. Would I need
to bring along a laptop cpu. to be able to track objects ?  Could you
shed some light on this for me ?

Thanks !
Larry Doyle

Subject:	 Autostar "wandering"
Sent:	Tuesday, April 25, 2000 15:10:07
From:	rmariotti@excite.com (Carrie and Ron Mariotti)
New Autostar did not fix the problem. They also sent me a new control
panel, and both drive motors. Scope is working well at about 95-99%
battery power, no sooner do I jack it back up, it starts suddenly
wandering.  I even hooked up my laptop to it and ran Star Navigator,
then began picking some stars with the software. I could see the
"Telescope Field" slew accross the computer screen toward my target and
just when it was getting close, it suddenly jumped to another point on
the screen. That's when the scope immediately sped up to bring the
Telescope Field back over my target.  I could see that the Autostar was
"loosing its mind" and unable to track its own position. At first I
started using a power output of about 80%, which worked o.k. Then (in a
bold move), cranked it up to 95-100. It has been working great ever
since. I actually succesffuly completed the "Tonight's Best" tour (at
least most of it).  My only complaint now is a problem with tracking
SOME satellites. It changes speeds while tracking, going fast, then
reversing direction and going very slow, then back to an even faster
rate, then slow, etc., etc.

Subject:	 I made a big mistake.... HELP!!!!!!!
Sent:	Tuesday, April 25, 2000 12:55:10
From:	beruberu@webshuttle.ch (HAAKE Philippe)
Hello,
I think I made a big mistake.....
I did put the cable from my PC directly to the ETX in aux plug...... I
don't know WHY.... but I did it..... Shame on me... Now nothing is
working.... does someone know if there is a fuse somewhere to change, or
shall I send it back to Meade???

thanks for all your help...

Best Greetings From SWITZERLAND
Phil
ICQ 3128404

Subject:         speed controlling an Autostar from rs232
Sent:   Sunday, April 23, 2000 19:48:22
From:   rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Back on April 13th,  Steve@seametrix asked about programming speed
commands.

The LX200 commands which should work for the Autostar are the :Sw
commands.
The legal values are 2,3,4
(so the full command is  :Sw2# )
The :Sw1#  (one only) is -not- a valid command.

The Autostar will respond with a "1" if you send the above, it will
respond with a "0" if the argument is not 2 through 4.

2,3 and 4  change the speed:
 2 is like pressing [1]  (slowest) on the keypad
 3 is like pressing [5]
 4 is like pressing [9]

The changes can be seen by the size of the speed bar in the Status
screen, and will affect the :Mx# commands, with "x" being  n,e,s,w

The speed you set will -not- affect an MA (goto Alt/Az)
  or MS (GoTo Object) command.
It only affects directional slewing by  Mn, Me, Ms and Mw

The :R commands are completely ignored by the Autostar. (as of v2.0i)

--dick

Subject:	 Sat Tracks: one-and-a-half out of four
Sent:	Thursday, April 20, 2000 23:13:45
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Well, Tuesday and tonight I ventured out satellite chasing with the
International Space Station (25544) and a Lacrosse 3 rocket (25018)
theoretically passing overhead.  Times are Seattle local, Pacific
Daylight (GMT -7:00), 26mm eyepiece, ETX90/ec, Autostar, v2.0i.

Two nights ago, the Autostar set up about 10 degrees too far north, and
about 15 seconds late... add in high sky brightness and a high cloud
layer, and I never managed to catch up with the ISS with the ETX90.

Tonight was different.  The first pass of the ISS was in the bright
twilight (8:40pm). It was to be rising almost due West, pass North near
Polaris (50 degrees high), then set in the NE.  I loaded Heaven-Above's
freshest TLEs (day 111.8). The Autostar's predicted acquistion time
appeared to be about 15 seconds

late for the spot where it was lying in wait... so i hit "Enter" 15 sec
early (i sure couldn't see anything.. bright western sky)...  I tried
tracking where the Autostar was pointing with eye and binoculars, but
still couldn't see it. So i paused the scope for 5 seconds, resumed,
(the pan passed due north) paused... and then I naked-eye spotted the
ISS.. about 15 seconds ahead of the ETX... mad slewing at speed 9
managed to catch up, and acquire in the eyepiece, but it was hard
keeping the satellite in the FOV. The tracking was off so that lots of
correction was needed. The last 20 degrees of track was followed until
the satellite ducked behind a chimney (hmmm... a little midnight
remodelling called for?)(hey, it's -my- chimney!).

The next pass was of Lacrosse 3 at 10pm... rising in the NW, passing
almost overhead, and hitting the earth's shadow about 45 degrees up in
the SE. Again i couldn't see it, and started the track based upon the
Autostar's predicted rise time. I finally -did- see it as it rose about
70 degrees up in Altitude. (the pass was to be 84 degrees up, so i
figured the ETX would lose it overhead, plus it'd hit local overhead
obstructions.)  It was ahead of the tracking 'scope, and slewing almost
caught it when it hit the overhead limit (the 'scope goes to about 95
degrees Alt before it starts spinning...).  On an earlier night, i had
the scope stop spinning and start tracking down as it passed due north. 
So this time i "helped" it by manually slewing Azimuth around to the
proper area. More slewing to bring the tube down to near the satellite,
and then it was lost to obstructions while still 80 degrees up on my
east side.

The final pass was of the ISS again at 10:15 pm, rising in the WNW,
passing 35 degrees up in the north, disappearing about 33 degrees high
in the NNE.  I started the track about 5 seconds early while peering
through the viewfinder... wait!  What was that flicker just offside as i
started it? I paused... and the ISS moved into the viewfinder!  It
passed a little high of the crosshairs, so i tapped Up, and switched to
the eyepiece.  There it was... and it was tracking! There was some
drift, so i set slew speed 5 and made frequent, but not major,
corrections... it was tracking well enough that i could leave the scope
to grab the 2x Barlow, return, recenter a bit, pop in the Barlow,
refocus, (drop to slew 4) and remain with the Barlow for the rest of the
pass... which lasted all the way  until it faded into the shadow. 
(again, the image appeared non-stellar: more like a shiny rectangle)(i
should'a had my 9mm eyepiece waiting...)

So that last pass was a first for me: i -never- naked-eyed the
satellite... it was -all- done by the Autostar/ETX combo.. a few seconds
of viewfinder, then all the rest was through the 26mm or 13mm eyepiece.

Yet these were the same TLEs which were 15 seconds too late on the
earlier orbit.

This reminds me somewhat of psychology experiments back in college...
random reward behaviour reinforcement  would produce -much- more effort
on the part of the experimental subjects, be they animals or people,
than consistent reward. So i guess it's just normal nature that i'll be
back outside the next clear(ish) evening...

oh, yeah... the stars were pretty, too.
clear skies...
--dick (who writes these things to calm down the adrenalin rush...)

Subject:	 Re: Sat Tracking: Determining apparent speed
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 21:10:16
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Or: "How's your French"?

I've been corresponding with the author of a site (and program) for
tracking satellites and displaying Earth/Sky/Sat info in fascinating
ways... AND the program can control an LX-200 or Autostar scope to track
the satellites.

The only "problem" is that it's in French.  Much of the operation is
pretty straightforward, and the web pages can be funneled through
Altavista's Babelfish to reasonably translate them.  (my favorite:
trotting the mouse)

Visit http://members.aol.com/marionjc/eurosat/

Click on the left-side choice of "Nouveau! Le built 053 est en ligne!"
and you'll see the download page.  Fetch all five Zip files. That gets
you the "demo" 30-day limit version.

Click on your browser's BACK button to get back to the main frame.
Click on the lowermost text on the photo, that'll take you to the main
"advertising" page for the program itself,  browse with the "next" button
which is on the lower right.

To view the pages in quasi-English, go to  http://www.av.com
Click on the "Translate" choice near the top.
Once at the translation site, put the
   http://members.aol.com/marionjc/eurosat/
address into the big (right-hand) box.
Choose "French to English" on the drop-box.
Click Translate (or Go or whatever)
You can now browse the site in readable English through
the Babelfish frame...

I'll return to your specific questions when i have better answers. But i
believe the "100 points" aren't -waypoints-, but -changes-. But that's
still a guess... i'm still excavating... ("digging" is looking into it,
"excavating" is way in over my head...)

--dick

Subject:	 Align
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 12:11:01
From:	pedroja@terra.com.br (Pedro Junior Ashidani)
I'm a little confused about the home position.
============================================================================
Mike here: The N leg goes on the North side of the ETX base (in the
Northern Hemisphere). Some photos may show it incorrectly. In Polar
Align mode, the N leg has to be on the North so that the ETX rotational
axis is parallel to the earth's axis when you set the tilt for your
latitude. However, in Alt/Az mode what really matters is where the
control panel is located. In Alt/Az mode, the control panel on the
ETX-90EC (or -125EC) base goes on the west side. So the N can either be
on the North or South depending upon how the ETX base is attached or
even something else when using some alternative mounting methods.
============================================================================
As you said above, the control panel should be on the west side. But on
Meade manual I read that I must put the ota pointed to north and the
vertical lock over the control panel. In this configuration the control
panel should be on the east side.

Can you help me?

PS:Sorry about my poor english.

===================================================================
                    Pedro Junior Ashidani
                 e-mail: pedroja@terra.com.br
           Visite Araxa: http://www.aax.terra.com.br
===================================================================
Mike here: Things are confused. The control panel should be on the West side but there has been one report that alignment and goto's worked fine when it was on the East side. So, do whatever works for you.

Added later:

Thanks for your quick response. 
There is a small mark on the base ( an arrow). should it be pointed to
north?
Mike here: I believe you may be referring to the RA setting circle pointer. That is actually on the South side (in the Northern Hemisphere).

Subject:	 Cheap Autostar's
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 10:29:32
From:	bob@deltatek.ltd.uk (Bob Downes)
I thought that you should know that last December I bought an Autostar
#497 from the Discovery Store at the same time as my ETX.  When I got it
home (I live in the UK), I found that the Autostar wouldn't update.  I
took it to the UK main distributor, who also tried and I was told that
the version of software that it had in it did not have the ability to
update properly (something about compatibility with the current update
software).  They also said that it didn't have the ability to revert to
the older version if the download failed and this was in fact the
problem I had.  They replaced it, which I thought was very good of them.

Anyway, just thought I would throw my two penneth into the ring.

Bob Downes

Subject:	 Autostar "Runaways"
Sent:	Wednesday, April 19, 2000 10:18:17
From:	rmariotti@excite.com (Carrie and Ron Mariotti)
To:	HQGLTZ@aol.com, rseymour@wolfenet.com
Herman, 
I, too, own ad DS-90 with a 495 controller and experienced the same
problems you did with the sudden slewing of the scope using the AC
adapter. And after many sessions with Meade and a little
experimentation, I concluded the same as you. I have attached my post to
MWeasners ETX Site about my solution. It's basically a modification to
the Meade (Condor) AC power supply. I am currently using it with the
output adjusted to 95-100% battery power. Since you purchased an
adjustable power supply, I guess this is for more informational
purposes.

The output of the 10 battery pack is about 12-12.5 volts with each
battery supplying around 1.2 volts each. The scope performs very well
with the battery pack and is very stable, but the ac ouput varies with
motor loads. It was my impression that surges/noise from the motors were
causing a fluctuation in the power and thus the sudden "loss of mind."

Ron M.
Gainesville, VA

Subject:	 ETX-90EC and astronomical software
Sent:	Tuesday, April 18, 2000 19:34:25
From:	kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin Edwards)
While patiently waiting for my Autostar to arrive, I thought I'd drop
you a brief line to ask whether the use of astronomical software such as
Skymap Pro provides better pointing accuracy than is possible using the
autostar alone.

Best wishes,

Kevin
Mike here: Don't know about "better" but it can provide an alternative.

Subject:	jcpenny autostar
Sent:	Monday, April 17, 2000 17:58:50
From:	Astro1807@aol.com
hey,
following a tip from your archives, i found that on the internet JCPenny
sells ETX autostars on sale for $99.99.  This suprised me because in my
reserch meade stuff has seemed pretty set in price.  Could there be
anything wrong with these?; possibly being older models with outdated
programs?  If so could i download the new versions of software from
meades web site?  You can see the product by searching jcpenny for
Autostar

thanx
chris
Mike here: It does appear to be the #497 on sale for $99.99 and the #495 for $69.99. With the proper serial cable, you can update the Autostar software via the downloaded software on Meade's web site.

Subject:	 Electric Focuser
Sent:	Sunday, April 16, 2000 19:29:46
From:	sohacki-t@mailcity.com (Timothy J Sohacki)
I got an electric focuser for my etx 90ec about two weeks ago, installed
it, and have used it without any problems for approxamately 5 nights of
viewing. Tonight, however, my autostar locked up while in the focus
mode. This happened about three times in a hour and a half period of
time. After entering the focus mode and pressing the focus arrow key
briefly, it happens. No error message or anything, it just locks up and
will not respond to any input. The batteries in the telescope are
recently installed, and the autostar says they are 89% full. Any Ideas?
Thanks again for your help,
Tim Sohacki

Subject:	 debugger
Sent:	Saturday, April 15, 2000 11:02:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Whilst looking into a Parisian's question about what LX200 commands the
Autostar responds to, i see that "casual" access to the debugger was
removed between v2.0g (it's there) and v2.0h (it's gone). The debugger
is still -in- there, but reaching it requires that the ROM file provide
either a different RESET vector or other mechanisms. Access via a
control-B in the LX200 command set is gone.

--dick

Subject:	 Comments upon Does (or should) a 495 work on an ETX-90
Sent:	Thursday, April 13, 2000 23:30:24
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
My goodness, what a storm... (not all fallout appeared on the servers)
(and showing the risks of me posting too early in the morning.. before
coffee and reasonable restraint have set in)

My own feelings are that the 497 is the better controller to use. It has
a larger database (although i doubt if my ETX90 will ever resolve Pluto
or any of those Black Holes...), and more "room" for expansion via
Meade's programming efforts.  It's what i bought.

That said, in a perfect world folks would be able to use -either-
handset on all the telescopes... those of us who want to dig into the
sky, or move up to possible future products, will opt for the 497. 
Those just lightly dabbling will choose the 495.  Folks who
"underbought" a 495 and found they needed a 497's capabilities would
either pay for an upgrade, or buy a second controller. (personally, i
really -would- use a cross-compatible 495 as a backup on long trips). Or
a 495 with a very customized database ("just Messiers, Doubles and
Variables to Mag 6.5, please... hold the Asteroids")

As aries1@voicenet.com said, the patch won't work if the code moves.

And it moves with -every- update of the code.  Even the "minor" change
from 2.0h to 2.0i moved things ... things which have been solid since
v1.3c (when i started looking). (no, i didn't check to see if this
particular item moved)

The patch is also (as stated) completely untested.  I do NOT know if
it'll work.

Someone privately asked if the 497's code would work with the 495's
database. (due to the 495's limited memory). I honestly don't know...
but i suspect that it would NOT.  I think there's too much
cross-knowledge hard-coded into the autostar.rom file about the
dbase.rom file. That's one reason they both have to be updated at the
same time. It's also not a question which i'm at all interested in
pursuing.

My personal goal in prodding the code is to better understand and use my
497 and ETX. To try and understand the strengths and faults, and to try
to help other users when they encounter problems to distinguish between
true bugs and misunderstood features.

I've always viewed the Autostar's updating and programmability producing
a far more flexible tool than the NexStar's controller... which is why i
was surprised by the Sky & Telescope mention that the Nexstar's
controller was going to appear in a third company's telescope. Meade
should'a been there first.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled postings whilst i continue to try
to figure out  creep-after-beep...

--dick

Subject:	Re: Your Note on Mike's Site
Sent:	Thursday, April 13, 2000 11:10:41
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
In a message dated 4/13/00 7:53:09 AM, berg@ans.net writes:
<< You'll keep drinking if the experience below doesn't ever repeat itself!
If it does, maybe you could clue me in on exactly what you are doing?
 >>

Hi, Kevin...

ah, see, I spoke to soon -- went out last night for a quick romp in the
heavens, and everything went back to "normal" -- almost nailed
everything on center BEFORE the beep, then things started to creep away
from center AFTER the beep.

Ya know, though -- I'm a little surprised at how many people claim on
Mike's site that they have so few successes "all" the time. I mean, even
though I have the "creepie beepies" (a lot of others do to, apparently),
I'm still managing to get my GOTO's "somewhere" within the FOV. I will
admit that the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter (probably everyone's favorites)
seems to miss almost every time, but they're still pretty close. It's
the faint elusive little things, like globulars, nebula, and galaxies,
that I still manage to hit.

I guess I'm pretty "anal" about setting up the scope and getting it
aligned, and it seems to work. I wonder if all those people that have so
few successes just can't seem to do a correct "alignment" (i.e., spend
that extra second or two to get it as "right as rain")?

You're getting successful GOTO's, aren't you?

On my trip to Hawaii with my wife a number of weeks ago, I was quite
impressed with the Meade 16" LX200 that I got to look through and
actually "play with" for a little while. Theirs was about a $16,000
decked-out scope (a little above my budget, I'm afraid), but it was
soooooo smooooothhhh!!!!! There wasn't any backlash -- there wasn't any
creep. You press the button and the scope slews. You let up, and it
stops. Everything was precise. GOTO's were always smack in the middle,
every time. I'd expect that from a $16,000 scope.

Ah, my poor ETX-90 --- sigh!!!

Take care...

clear skies (looks like our nights are going to start clouding up down
here in Southern Cal)

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 Autostar command sets
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 23:20:22
From:	steve@seametrix.com (Steve)
Has anyone figured out the motor speed commands for programming? On the
mailbag site there isn't anything that specifically says motor speed but
I've tried everything that is close to doing this and nothing works.

steve

Subject:	 re: LX200 commands
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 20:58:28
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (RichardSeymour)
The #:Q# command will totally stop the scope...
*IF* it's stopping an LX200-commanded slew.
(or, at least it used to under v1.3c)

It may not stop a handset-commanded GoTo.

But the autostar's LX200 code definitely commands both axes to HALT when
it receives the :Q#

If you're trying to stop a handset-commanded motion, it's entirely
possible that latent features such as "slew over, engage backlash
compensation" show up after a time interval.  (similar to
creep-after-beep).

When i get near my notes, i'll supply translations for Proc Traps
(actually, they're already archived on Mike's Site somewhere. try a
keyword search on "IRQ" or Interrupts)

--dick
Mike here: The Proc Traps are discussed in the Dec 99 and Jan 00 Autostar Feedback pages.

Subject:	 re: high voltage autostars...
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 20:52:25
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (RichardSeymour)
I've got an ETX90/ec and a 497 autostar. Way back (September) when i
bought it, i asked Mike to voltage-check his Official Meade Powerlump,
and he reported that it was putting out 16 volts (unloaded). The ETX-90
only holds -eight- batteries (total 12v). The autostar itself has a
5-volt regulator feeding most of the chips. The autostar gets upset if
the supply voltage drops below 8 volts, since the regulator has about a
3-volt drop internally.

Based upon Mike's info, i bought a radioshack unregulated "12v" supply.
It puts out about 15.6 to 16 v unregulated.  I have -not- gotten 'round
to see what it finally puts out during the various operating regimes of
the ETX/Autostar combo (sleep, idle, tracking, slewing, stalled). The
"battery level" reports 100%. Other folks have reported "about 200 ma"
for a normal ETX-90 load. My radioshack unit is only a 500ma -rated
unit, so it probably drops lower than Meade's (Approx) 1.5 amp unit.

I note that both the etx-125 and the DS-line all use 10 (15v) batteries.

just more grist for the mill.
have fun
--dick

Subject:	 Does a 495 work on an ETX90/ec?
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 09:15:10
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
I don't recall -ever- seeing a definitive answer... (lots of "it
should"s)

Since JCPenny is having their $69 sale, i'm sorely tempted to add a 495
to my tiny collection (1 autostar, 1 telescope) as a, er, "backup"
device. At least, i -assume- their "DS-EC" controller is a 495.

(ok,ok, it'll become a "back off" device and subject to cruel and
unusual experimentation).

But before i buy one, i'd really appreciate hearing from (at least) one
person who's actually -used- a 495 with an ETX90 and had it work.

(minor creep-after-beep still falls into the "works" category...)

I also note that there may be -three- Autostars. During a clone
operation they cross-check, and it would appear that there are three
different codes: 0F for the 497, and 0A or 05 for the others.

Likewise, during start-up, if the Autostar is a 05 or 0A, the default
telescope model switches from ETX90 to DS-60.

thanks for any info,
--dick
Mike here: Don't know if you call it "definitive" but there is some info about the models vs scopes on the Autostar Information page on my ETX site.

Subject:	Autostar runaways
Sent:	Wednesday, April 12, 2000 01:04:59
From:	HQGLTZ@aol.com
I emailed you the other day regarding my experience with Meade's DS-90
with Autostar VS my ETX125.  One thing I noticed with BOTH Autostar
versions is the problem of sudden runaway slewing while using AC power
supply, and occasionally batteries.  I checked my Scopetronix 12V 1 amp
power supply with a digital voltmeter and found out it was putting out
16.5 volts.  While the LX200 electronics work fine with 12v to 18v, the
Autostar is not so forgiving.  I tried another variable voltage power
supply and found when I dropped the voltage to between 11.5 to 12.5
volts the slewing stopped.  I can view for hours without any problem. 
As soon as I change to the Scopetronix power supply, or step up the
voltage on the adjustable power supply, the Autostar runs away sooner or
later, sometimes right after alignment.  I dont' know if updating the
Autostar helps or not, and as soon as I update, I will let you know. 
The only problem I found with dropping the voltage is that the slewing
is slower.  The tracking rate is also slower, but can be adjusted on the
Autostar.  So, check your power supply voltage if you are having a
runaway problem, its better a little on the low side than the high side.
If anyone is experiencing sudden slewing on battery power, I'll bet its
only when the batteries a fresh.  When the batteries are at 80 percent
(about 11.5 volts), the problem will probably diminish.

Great site Mike
Herman

Subject:	 Autostar Serial Cable
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 18:24:47
From:	steve@seametrix.com (Steve)
Sorry to bother you. I was just wondering if the display on the Autostar
is suppose to go blank when plugged into the computer? If not then I
guess I have the wires wrong somehow.

Thanks,
steve
Mike here: Display should NOT go blank.

Added later:

Thanks Mike,
Even though your page mentioned the pins were on the Autostar I managed
to confuse myself and reverse them again!

Subject:	The "creepie beepies" CAN BE strange and wonderful...
Sent:	Tuesday, April 11, 2000 02:04:10
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Typical experience for months on GOTO's has been the "creep" after the
"beep" -- (almost) always get the GOTO (almost) always nailed right
smack in the center of the FOV, hear the beep, and then watch as my
little fuzzy friends immediately start to drift off center as the motors
are trying to compensate for backlash -- aarrgh!!

But alas, last night, with my first real chance to operate under 2.0i,
to my surprise at the moment I heard the beep I looked in the EP to find
the GOTO object NOT in the center, but rather far off to the side. But
then the creep started and wait . . . no . . . hold it . . . can it be .
. . wonder of wonders . . . oh, my gosh . . . the object was actually
moving TOWARD the center of the FOV, and as soon as the creep stopped,
well, doggone it, there it was, smack in the center!!!! This calls for a
drink!!!!

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 Serial Cable
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 16:41:15
From:	steve@seametrix.com (Steve)
In regards to the Serial Cable does anyone know which pins on the 9 pin
should connect to the phone like jack and in which order?
Mike here: Check the Autostar Information page on my site for cable info.

Subject:	Controlling ETX-90-EC with a computer
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 12:04:41
From:	Marionjc@aol.com
I foud on your wonderful web site a very interesting information about
the Command Set of ETX .

Many thanks Greg for the info.

I'm working on custom software to drive ETX on satellites and I need to
know the entire command set, but as you, Greg, I found many commands are
not executed by the scope:
Command  :Q# only stops a short instant the slew to an object.
Command  :RG#   or  :RC#   or :RM# and  :RS# are ineffective and I have not
found the command to set motion rate from 1 to 9.

So, it's relativly easy to perform slews to objects like stars, planets 
or NGC / Messier but much more difficult to track satellites because you
need many commands of motion rate or many commands like Alt/Azimuth or
right ascension / declination. So I eventually get the error message
"Trap. proc.2 " or "Trap. proc.4" but I don't have the signification of
each of them!

I would be very glad to have all the command set for ETX if you have it,
or E-mail addresses of programers using command set of ETX. Many thanks
in advance.

Best regards,
Jean-Claude Marion

Subject:	 Does speed matter when aligning Autostar ????
Sent:	Monday, April 10, 2000 04:56:19
From:	samos@canada.com
Some Autostar users advise: dont use up too much time when you align; do
it as quickly as possible. I don't understand why would a delay matter
between aligning star 1 and star 2?

Wouldnt the goto gizmo be keeping track of how much time is passing by
and be calculating how much the stars are  moving in the meantime? I'm
just wondering why it would matter if theres a delay between aligning
the two stars?

Thanks
Dan
Mike here: Well, I would think a delay could matter. Consider the extreme of waiting 12 hours before pressing the ENTER button to say you've centered align star #1. Would the Autostar have kept track of the time. Maybe or maybe not. Certainly seconds or even a minute might not matter too much but anything should be avoided I would think.

Added later:

I earlier inquired: is it good practice to keep the time to a minimum
between getting your bearings on star 1 and star 2 when aligning. The
concern being that during this elapsed time the stars are moving, but
Autostar may not be not taking this into account (... although why this
is the case is beyond me.)

At any rate, I asked Meadethis morning ... and they said "absolutely"
... do the aligning as fast as possible to keep the discrepancy between
the two stars to a minimum.

They also said this would be covered in a new edition of the Autostar
manual which is coming out shortly.

Subject:	 #495 autostar
Sent:	Sunday, April 9, 2000 23:09:23
From:	kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin Edwards)
I know that I'm probably treading a well-worn path, but does the #495
Autostar work with the ETX-90EC?  I've heard many conflicting reports,
with some people saying that it will work, but only in ALT/AZ mode.

I would love to hear from anyone who can help!

Cheers

Kevin
Mike here: Check the Autostar Models info on the Autostar Information page on my ETX.

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Friday, April 7, 2000 19:44:25
From:	Dschmit@us.ibm.com (Daniel Schmitz)
Guess I'm the lucky one. Just back from a week off, several hours west
of the light polluted skys of Dallas/Ft Worth.  Version 2.0i , standard
setup,,level,,point at Polaris,lock,,rotate to 0 degrees,,lock,,easy
align with minor corrections and away we go!!  slight pauase for an
iridium flare,,,gonna miss those guys when they de-orbit them,,,maybe
over my area,,,love the sight of space junk on re-entry!  Hit the
Messier Marathon and everything dead center. Tossed on the barlow with
the 26mm on M51 then proceded on to the next targets,,all hit FOV with
the barlow in place! I hope I'm not the only one having this kind of
success. Switched over to tonights best just to see if my good fortune
continued,,you bet!!  With all the nit picking  I'm here to let folks
know that this little jewel has performed as advertised for me!  Keep up
the good work Mike,,clear skies,,(and enough $$ to afford the gas to get
to dark ones!)

Subject:	 Autostar Fun
Sent:	Wednesday, April 5, 2000 06:55:42
From:	edutton@bouldernews.infi.net (Ellsworth G. Dutton)
Mike,

Somehow it is reassuring to hear that you have seen some of the problems
a lot of us have been reporting for months.  Nonetheless, I have just
learned to live with them and have had many great observing sessions.
I'm running 2.0h with a ETX-125 and for the most part works better than
previous AS versions.  I have spent entire evenings wandering through
the Messier and <~12 mag NGCs in Leo and Virgo and have not missed a one
with the GoTo, more than 30 in a couple hours with crude sketches!
However, one real surprise a couple times has been immediately after a
successful auto-alignment in the polar mode, a GoTo Saturn produced the
tracker slewing to point almost 120 degrees off! and this was after
almost nailing the two alignment stars. A power-down,  power-up, and
realign  then everything was okay, and only took less the 5 minutes for
both alignments.  Like I said, you learn to live with it.  Just one
additional note, my ETX is mounted on a semi permanent pier and I have
"rigidified" the ETX base.  Also, I have not noted any daylight-savings
time related AS problems, but sure wish the sidereal time display would
be correct, if  indeed that is what is supposed to be displayed below
the local time when in the "status" function.

General advice:  If AS misses by more than a degree after initial
alignment, power off and start over.  If less than a degree, center a
star or deep sky object and "sync".  Expect bigger problems with longer
slews as the backlash from different gravitational loading on the OTA
will apparently strike most every ETX-125 that I've heard of or read
about.  A single "sync" seems to generally work for me after long slews
to a new part of the sky or after reloading the tube weight on the
drives as mentioned above.

The sudden slews seem to be the biggest problem but I have only
experienced these on rare occasions and with then only with older
versions of AS.  I'm still suspicious of colder weather and the AS,
<32F, but have had none of that recently.  Maybe, as you suggest, there
are some RFI related problems with the controller which might explain
some of the weirdness and randomness of the problems that have been seen
by so many.

Cheers,
Ells

Subject:	 but serialously folks...
Sent:	Monday, April 3, 2000 23:08:31
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
John Chalfen wrote:

> Been in computers way too long.
thus, like me, you think anything over 110 baud is a blessing...

> Two things occur to me about the 9600 baud transfer speed.

>  1) It works with all UARTS.
yup... i'm also sure that's why they chose it.

> 2) Meade may be using 2 different UARTS in the Autostar. A cheap one
for
>the RJ11 connection, hence the 9600 baud limit, and a good one for the
IR port.

IR port? what IR port?  (does the Flashlight LED blink faster than i've
ever noticed?)

> (Would seem a bit far fetched to use 2 UARTS, but hey, these are
Autostars after all.)
And the Word is "ch", er, "inexpensive" .. so it's "why use even one, if
it's already on the 68hc11"?

The rj12 (it's a 12, not an 11... handset, not telephone) port is driven
by an rs232 level converter, which, in turn, is driven by the Async
Serial Port (pins 20 and 21) on the 68hc11 cpu chip.

The Autostar firmware has a provision for (during Download and Clone)
the two corresponding devices to ask "F"?.. (for "fast") and, if they
agree ("Y"), they'll both switch from 9600 baud to 125k baud for the
cloning.. via the same rs232 port.

i've never -seen- it happen (i don't have two Autostars), but it's
there...

>If I have to make a choice, I would go for option 1. It makes sense to
>use a slow speed to allow all serial port connections to work, and use
a
>faster speed for IR cloning because (I assume) Meade is using a similar

>chipset in all the autostars and knows what they specs are.

Cloning is done out the same rs232 port as everything else.

The 505 connector kit includes two rs232 cables: one a rj11-to-rj12 for
computer connections (using the 9-to-rj11 adapter), the other a
crossovered rj12 to rj12  for Autostar to Autostar cloning.

At least, that's how my 497 Autostar is constructed.

The communications from the Autostar to the scope base is even
weirder...
(the 68hc11 asks its little buddy PIC to do that)

--dick (not a clone, barely connected)
Added later:
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)
Ooopps. That's what I get for staring at my palm pilot instead of the
autostar. Nope, no IR port on mine either. Think I'll go back into my
cave for awhile and see if I can get the red out of my cheeks.

jchalfen@goldengate.net

--staring at Autostar (or is it a palm pilot?)

Subject:	 Autostar v2.0i firmware (well, database) error
Sent:	Monday, April 3, 2000 22:18:00
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
(sent to Meade...)

Abstract: Constellation Center Coordinate Database incorrect.

Environment: ETX Autostar 497, v2.0i firmware,  ETX90/ec
   Seattle (from Autostar City list).  PDT (also PST).

When one Selects Object>Constellation>(any, i suspect)>GoTo
The RA displayed is flat-out wrong.
The Declinations are ok.

(at least it is for Andromeda, Leo, Leo Minor... i only tested 3)

Leo and Leo Minor are shown 5 hours low.
 Andromeda is 10 hours high, or 13 hours low.

For example, Leo Minor is shown as 05:36  32 deg 24'
            It should be (about) 10:20  32 deg 24'

Leo is shown as  06:02   13d 26', it's near 11:02 13d 26'

Andromeda is shown as 11:16  37d 08', it's near 01:00 or 00:16

This popped up when i was doing Constellation Tours...
 Leo walks us through individual stars, so the "constellation"
  location doesn't affect pointing.  Leo Minor, however, simply
  GoTo's the constellation "center", and it was a surprise to
  have the scope slew almost 90 degrees west of Leo on its way
  to Leo Minor.  That's when i woke up to what was going on.

Your rotated observer,
Dick Seymour
rseymour@wolfenet.com

Subject:	 autostar
Sent:	Monday, April 3, 2000 08:07:50
From:	dd8571950@juno.com
I just purchased a new autostar to go with my ETX125 and I don't know
how to tell what level firmware the autostar is.If it is done on the
statistics then I come up with version 2.0g, which would be old firmware
in my new autostar, if thats the case I will return the autostar as it
doesn't work very good. I have done everything in the book for two weeks
and it doesn't come close to finding saturn or jupiter, but it does
point to the western sky.
    thank you
       Dave Pollard
Mike here: That is the version number. 2.0i is the latest.

Subject:	 Reverse Engineering the Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, April 2, 2000 16:36:25
From:	kozmickid@mindspring.com (Charles O'Donnell)
Has anyone reverse engineered the Autostar computer from the telescope
end? In other words, is information available to build a telescope with
motors and encoders that will accept a cable from an Autostar computer
that will make it go? It should be possible.
Mike here: I don't think this has been done. But if you can design a system that understands the LX200 commands, you'll have a start.

Subject:	 Autostar Transfer Speed
Sent:	Saturday, April 1, 2000 23:31:04
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)
Been in computers way too long. Two things occur to me about the 9600
baud transfer speed.

1) It works with all UARTS. Since there is know way to know what serial
chipset is in any given computer without looking, 9600 baud is a *very*
safe way to go without having to make people check/change their port
settings. People I know have trouble changing lightbulbs much less
speeds on a serial port.

2) Meade may be using 2 different UARTS in the Autostar. A cheap one for
the RJ11 connection, hence the 9600 baud limit, and a good one for the
IR port. (Would seem a bit far fetched to use 2 UARTS, but hey, these
are Autostars after all.)

If I have to make a choice, I would go for option 1. It makes sense to
use a slow speed to allow all serial port connections to work, and use a
faster speed for IR cloning because (I assume) Meade is using a similar
chipset in all the autostars and knows what they specs are.

--------------------------------------------------

--TIA and TTFN       (Don't forget to wear your peril sensitive sunglasses.)
--Sometimes I think that the surest sign of intellegent life on other
planets is the fact that they havent tried to contact us yet.  (Bill
Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes)

jchalfen@goldengate.net
jchalfen@aol.com (I know...I know...)

Subject:	 Re: [FW: Autostar Home Position Zeros]
Sent:	Saturday, April 1, 2000 14:02:44
To:	tom.craig@reichhold.com, ourbabe2usa@netscape.net
Hi...

i saw your notes on Mike's site...   (<-- i should save this as a
standard greeting)

Whenever i find that the ETX is doing a consistent left or right
displacement, i simply unclamp the Az (or spin the base on the table)
and center the object. That usually suffices to rein in the wandering
stars to within the eyepiece's field of view.

If you're seeing the same displacement no matter what the Dec (vs. Alt)
is, then perhaps just telling the telescope a slightly different -time-
might have an effect.

Stars move across the sky at 15 degrees per hour. If the objects are
-just- out of view on, say, the right (when viewed thru the eyepiece),
that's about 0.6 degrees off, to the (physical) left. (hmm... rereading
Tom's note, i see he says "right" in the eyepiece, and "right" in the
viewfinder... maybe he's using the right-angle viewfinder?) Anyway:
that's the scope aiming  0.6/15 th's of an hour, or 2.4 minutes "early".
Try setting the clock back 2 minutes 24 seconds.

A watershed test for "wrong RA" versus "poorly aimed" would be Polaris.
(but remember it's about a degree away from the true pole). If a GoTo
there does -not- show the error, then the "change time" method may work.
If a GoTo there -does- show the error, then the "rotate base" method may
work.

(and there's always SYNC, but no guarantees....)
--dick (unguaranteed)

(Tom, Dick and Larry?  don't even go there...)
And a response:
From:	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net (Larry Reidnour)
Dick,  I actually thought about something of that nature considering the
consistency of the misalignment to the right of the eyepiece (and
viewfinder, yes I do have the right angle viewfinder on my 125).  I
called Meade finally the other day and spoke with a technician regarding
this.  In a nutshell, he (in a nice way) told me that it was within
specs if the object appeared in the viewfinder (which it always does)
and that when I sent it in  for "the fix" the first time because of the
random slewing problems, "it would probably loosen up a little bit the
more I use it and correct itself".  Basically, I was pretty much told to
live with it.  My point which you have addressed is that if it
consistently (just misses) to the right, then why can't it consistently
put objects in the fov.  Just last night,I was getting objects in the
fov and others in that same spot to the right (horizontal cross-hair in
the viewfinder just right of dead-center) and now even some to the left
on the horizontal cross-hair of dead center!  All of this falls "within
specs" according to Meade, but if I could get the AZ to work like the
ALT does, then I am nailing everything.  THE AZ IS CONSISTENTLY
INCONSISTENT BY A SMALL MARGIN WITHIN SPECS!!!!  I know better man. If
the ALT was off also, then I'd say the whole thing was screwed up, or
better yet, if nothing appeared in the viewfinder, then I would say I'm
screwed up.  I did not have this problem before I sent it back to Meade.
I just had it slewing on its own all over the place, but I was running
1.3c then.  Dick, seriously, hardware of software, or combination?

P.S I wouldn't touch Tom, Dick or Larry either, but I do remember Bob,
Carrol, Ted & Alice!

P.S.S.  Still had the same problems with "sync".  Didn't get that lucky.
And a followup:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Well, last night i went out for a satellite pass, and stayed out for a
couple of hours (clear!).

And the evening started as you described, constant offset from the
desired state.

For reasons of my own (curiosity, mainly), i didn't do any Official Star
alignments... i just trusted the scope to get it right, with slight
adjustment done via the unlock/lock method.

In the beginning, it was horrid.  Inconsistent (depending upon target),
up to 8 degrees off.

As the evening progressed, it got better (as i fudged with levelness of
platform, re-aiming at known objects, etc.etc.)

Eventually it was -dead- on (well, 7 points).  Objects, ranging from
Jupiter, Saturn, Sirius, stars in Orion, Castor... all ending up within
the center half of the eyepiece (all down around 4 o'clock).. Just
outside the FOV when the Barlow was tossed in. (it got good enough that
i switched over to pure observing, instead of fiddling)

My scope tends to show next-to-zero slop in the Az, but tons in Alt.
Probably over 3 to 5 degrees. I've taken to gently pushing down on the
nose of the scope to consistently move the slop to a known side. You
might try gently nudging the RA assembly either CW or CCW to take out
the play.

I -am- still being beset by creep-after-beep, and (worse) creep after
manual pointing. (i.e. simply using the Arrows to move to a non-GoTo'd
target, and then having the scope helpfully migrate the target
off-field... a real pain when changing eyepieces to max power...)

(the sat track? in many ways the best performance it's done yet... still
"off" in a number of ways, but that kind of just-out-of-reach
performance which keeps us gullible people returning for more (oh, it
hurts so good...))

My experience with consistent targetting is twofold...
(1) practice and reaiming by the user as we learn our particular scope's
quirks
(2) some evenings it -never- gets it right (which may indicate a fault
in (1))

So: what happens if you -do- unclamp/reclamp so what it thinks is
correct becomes correct? Does the consistent "off" become "on"? I've
even had nights when i fake an align... we do an "easy", and i accept
(without electronic adjustment) its two targets.  I may unclamp/clamp so
that it really -is- pointing there. Then, after "alignment successful", 
i GoTo them, or one or two that appeal to me, and see how well it does. 
If it's consistently off, i unclamp/clamp to correct that.

From then on, i frequently find that it's very, very good.

[eyes mist over (no, that's fog)...] (almost as good as my first night
with the scope (v1.1j) .. an Easy Align and a GoTo the Ring Nebula... as
the Ring centered itself in the eyepiece my heart stopped and my lil'
scope had won a friend...) (but that same night, it was consistently 5
degrees off on planets and moon).

So, in your case, it's kinda "i donno"...

If it's consistent, then it's probably mechanically solid (well, to an
ETX's limits) I suspect there is a "sweet spot" mode of operation which
will be repeatable, and will provide you with quite decent performance. 
You've just gotta find it (and the road to that may be bumpy). Once you
do find it, you'll find the scope can operate fairly reliably (on warm
nights).

But then i reread your note:

>   My point which you have addressed is
> that if it consistently (just misses) to the right, then why can't it
> consistently put objects in the fov.  Just last night,I was getting objects in
> the fov and others in that same spot to the right (horizontal cross-hair in
> the viewfinder just right of dead-center) and now even some to the left on the
> horizontal cross-hair of dead center!

Now, that's -not- consistent!

[paraphrasing:] Some in the FOV, some to the right, some to the left.

Try the manual (i.e. grab tube and twist (gently)) elimination (or bias)
of slop. Try it during a "training" session, too.  (that greatly helped
my Alt slop). If that cures it (well, covers it), then you're facing the
system not properly correcting for slop/backlash.

> All of this falls "within specs" according to Meade,

(does Meade own up to a numerically acceptable (to them) slop? 3
degrees? 6?)

> but if I could get the AZ to work like the ALT does, then
> I am nailing everything.  THE AZ IS CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT BY A SMALL
> MARGIN WITHIN SPECS!!!!  I know better man. If the ALT was off also, then I'd
> say the whole thing was screwed up, or better yet, if nothing appeared in the
> viewfinder, then I would say I'm screwed up.  I did not have this problem
> before I sent it back to Meade.  I just had it slewing on its own all over the
> place, but I was running 1.3c then.  Dick, seriously, hardware of software, or
> combination?

I suspect mainly hardware (slop... excessive to you, within reason to
Meade)

I have certainly seen differing performance between differing versions
of the Autostar. I still rate v1.3c as one of the best.  (unless you
want to run Polar, if i remember) Mike has old versions, and i've got
that one, too, if you want to regress.

good luck, keep at it, give it a twist...
--dick
Mike here (written Sunday day): See my just posted report update on the ETX-125EC. The Autostar put everything centered or nearly so in the 26mm eyepiece. Not bragging, just noting that it can work right. Don't know whether the hardward is different or I got that perfect alignment or what. Maybe the stars were with me!

And later:

From:	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net (Larry Reidnour)
That one is going to be though to read Mike!  Congratulations!  Dick
Seymour gave me some pointers which I am going to try.  Will keep
posted.
Mike here: I spoke too soon. Had some guests over Sunday night. Autostar did lousy.

And:

From:	ourbabe2usa@netscape.net (Larry Reidnour)
Now that's more like it!(misery loves company) Just kidding Mike,
seriously, I was considering taking mine back to the dealer telling them
I gave Meade their one chance and asking for a new scope.  I am
dissapointed that happened to you and wondering if they are all like
that.  Why is it always with guests?  You know I have a habit of
"speaking too soon", but you get so excited when it goes good that I
can't wait to get in to rpeort it.  Maybe it's something simple on your
end.  I'll check out your report.  Good luck on the next go-round.

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