Last updated: 30 April 2001

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:	Re: Autostar Cable & LX200
Sent:	Monday, April 30, 2001 14:26:35
From:	monopertuz@yahoo.com (Fernando Pertuz)
I have a #505 connector cable and it works fine with the PC and Autostar
both using Starry Night (Ugh!) or Skymap 3.2. I wanted to try it with
the club's LX200 so I compared the wiring diagrams for both the autostar
and LX200 and this is what they looked like:

       6-pin modular connector

LX200                      Autostar

1= not used                1= not used
4= Ground                  2= Ground
2= not used                3= not used
5= PC receive              4= PC receive
3= PC transmit             5= PC transmit
6= not used                6= not used

Notice that although the POSITION in both coincides the pin numbers do
not. However in the autostar diagram the pins are numbered in the same
oder of their position. Anyway plugged the 4-pin cable end to the LX200
RS232 connector on the power panel and.. you guessed it, it didn't work.

I would appreciate it if somebody could shed some light on how I could
get this to work. For example if I were to make an adapter how should I
wire it i.e.:

4-pin autostar end         4-pin LX200 RS232

                           1= not used
1= to pin ??               2= Ground
2= to pin ??               3= not used
3= to pin ??               4= PC receive
4= to pin ??               5= PC transmit
                           6= not used

Fernando Pertuz

Subject:	summary of new version 2.2ed AutoStar
Sent:	Monday, April 30, 2001 08:55:57
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
It seemed like a blessing at first when Meade announced its new "v2.2ed"
version of Autostar, promising less "rubberbanding" a fix on some random
motions problems and various other attributes as well document on the
last update of the Weasner ETX site.

However, this "fix" is not without some serious problems and I would
strongly urge each ETX user to refrain from uploading to his or her
AutoStar until it has been more carefully checked out.  There ARE bugs
and these are not minor.  Whether or not they may be as serious as the
v2.3 fiasco only time will tell.  However, below is the summary of two
days of testing.

For this, after sudden reports from both ETX and LX-90 users with this
new version of major problems ranging from jerking motions to no
sidereal tracking, I loaded TWO new AutoStars with v2.2ed and ONE with
v2.1ek, both with identical ephemeris elements for identical objects
(comets, asteroids, satellites, tours).  Here are both the results of
this testing and the combined reports from other users throughout the
United States on the night of April 29-30, 2001:

1)  the GO TO accuracy of v2.2ed is everything claimed; very accurate,
but much slower than v2.1ek;

2)  the method of GO TO is considerably different in v2.2ed as it
appears the AutoStar is "reading" the encoder step-by-step in GO TO
slews;  the telescope at 17 GO TO's combined resulted in the unit
appearing "confused" as it would take off for the object....get
close....and then begin moving opposite and away from the target object;
this was confirmed with BOTH v2.2ed AutoStars; not evident with v2.1 at
all; 22 GO TO's centered at 227x in the ETX 125 and 23 objects in the LX
90 on the same pier.

3)  time to the GO TO finished "beep" is about twice what it is with

4)  slews during GO TO are VERY rough and full of noticable vibrations
which have left two (2) LX 90's inoperative; this jerking motion is very
pronounced, causinig some scopes to jump visibly as it begins its final
"zeroing-in" of the GO TO object or alignment stars;  the test AutoStar
with v2.1ek moves very smoothly and quickly to a more precise GO TO on
22 of the 24 objects tested (both computed and fixed).

5)  tracking - sidereal tracking on v2.2ed equals lunar rate on v2.1ek;
you cannot track at medium power for more than 8 minutes with v2.2ed,
and this was determined on my pier which has a tracking history with
v2.1ek of four hours without alignment.  I was able to confirm with the
two RELOADED to v2.1ek AutoStars that tracking did resume accurately
when NOT using the v2.2ed.

6)  during "Train Motors" it is very difficult, indeed sometimes
impossible, to train motors because the AutoStar arrow keys DO NOT
respond to centering speeds of less than five ("5").  It was necessary
to reset the A.S. three times on one AutoStar to get it to respond to
centering;  ALSO, even when the arrow keys did respond, the motion was
very jerky and frequently would overshoot the target by leaps, rather
than a slow and constant motion.  This was not evident in the v2.1ek at
all on the same telescopes.

7)  slewing - once you have attained your object and the encoders are
"out of the picture" as far as the scope's operation, your slewing is
normal with v2.2ed, without the violent jerking seen in GO TO's;

8)  motion during alignment/GO TO's - the motion on v2.2ed now is
alternating azimuth-to-altitude-to-azimuth- type of centering and
moving; there is no longer a combination of motion to get to the desired
object; this is apparently what is causing the jerking motion;

9)  the jerking and lack of accurate tracking may have something to do
with the new accessory port #909 for the LX 90 that Meade is about to
introduce; this unit will accept the CCD autoguider and it is believed
that this jerking motion is the reprogramming of the
encoder/microprocessor recognition of step-corrections.

10)  taking BOTH AutoStars that were loaded with v2.2ed and converting
BACK to v2.1ek last night resulted in an absolutely flawless function of
both my ETX 125 and the LX 90 scopes.  In v2.2ed they virtually did not
track, did not GO TO properly and it sounded like there was a
considerable strain on both drive mechanisms as it attempted to locate
GO TO/alignment objects.  Going back to v2.1ek eliminated all the
problems and the GO TO's were very precise and sidereal tracking was
back to normal.

The reports from particularly LX 90 users are coming in by the droves
relaying disheartening messages of failed declinations, jerky and
incomplete GO TO's and inability to track for more than 10 minutes on
telescopes that have been operating flawlessly for months.

It is clearly the new v2.2ed version AutoStar that is causing the
problems, as all of my correspondents reported NO problems prior to
uploading the new firmware; all, however have reported the identical
problems as described (some even from indoors with inclement weather
where the scope could actually be SEEN shaking and vibrating as it
attempted alignment and GO TO practices!).

If you wish to upload v2.2ed, you may see less "rubber banding" based on
the nature of the GO TO commands, but it will be at the sacrifice of
accuracy, tracking, and who knows what type of wear and tear
mechanically as the gearworks strain to move the scope under this new
system.  If you DO choose to upload now, PLEASE keep a backup file of
the v2.1ek ROMS files (December 2000 - the "Database" and "Autostar"
ROMS, both 640k each), as I am sure you will want to revert back to it
at some point.

Best of luck, and I hope this message gets to all our ETX users!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Mike W. here: All the old Autostar Updaters and ROM files are available on the Autostar Software Archive page (linked from the Autostar Information page).


From:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadey)
Very interesting report.  I have not had a chance to try out the goto
functions to anywhere near the extent that you have.  As I said.  The
scope did go accurately to the sun (user object as an asteroid) and it
accurately tracked in Alt/AZ mode for over 2 hrs.  I hope to get enough
clear sky tonight to try to duplicate the goto experience that you have
had.  I didn't notice any of the jerking or vibrating that you talk
about but, again, I only did two quick start-from-scratch "fake"
alignments during the day.  Did you try the 2.2Ed firmware in both
Alt/AZ and Polar alignment?

Mike H.
And a reply:
Only in Polar.  I have been getting some favorable reports on ETX 125's
out there; all the ETX 90's and LX 90's are reporting "Motor Unit
Faults" and very rough tracking/GO TO's.....I wonder if this may have
something to do with default alt & az RATIOS, and a change there that is
not downloaded properly to the A.S. except with the ETX 125;  I know
that one of the primary upgrades supposedly for this new firmware was to
eliminate the rubber banding so evident in the ETX 125.  I will keep
digging; please keep me informed how yours does....on my -125, my
tracking just just horrible and very erratic.

thanks - Clay Sherrod
On my ETX-90 I did have to set the Ratios to a lot lower value than for
the 2.1Ek. Particular the Alt.   I also did experience a "Motor Unit
Fault" with the new 2.2Ed firmware when I was manually slewing in Alt
and Az at the same time to get to the object that I use to train the
drive.  I thought that it might be due to the fact that I was using
batteries (85%...I checked after the fault) as opposed to my regular AC
power supply and the fact that I just got through tightening up the dec
slop. However, after reading your reply, it may have indeed been a
result of the new FW.  I've only seen one other Motor Fault since I've
had the scope and that was after I put too much Teflon tape on the
trunions.  I've run with batteries at a much lower % with no Motor
faults.  I'll play with the new FW for awhile in Alt/Az and let you know
the result.

Mike H.
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
now that i'm back, and have a whole 3 hours of daytime running
under my ETX90's belt... i've gotta say i don't see your symptoms.
I ran a bit in Alt/Az, then switched to Polar.
I tracked the Sun for over half an hour... if anything, my ETX was
a scootch -fast-. (15 arcminutes after 40 clock minutes).
How much of that is due to Solar rate differing from Sidereal i
haven't calculated.

I tried GoToing lots of objects... by simply running through the
Named Star list... (one of my "unbiased" tests).  I never saw the
scope do anything funny.
Back in v21eK i -could- create an oscillation by carefully screwing
up a Park sequence... it sounded like the Az motor was being run 
with a "duty cycle" of something like 80 percent towards goal, 20%
retreat.  Very audible in my ETX90, much slower slewing.

You mentioned Training problems.
I have no problems with training.... all speeds appear to be available
(ok, i didn't -test- "1", but 2 was there).

Many of your symptoms sound like the saved-between-power-ups memory
wasn't properly cleared and reset after the download.
The easy way to tell if it -was- is by noticing if the telescope
does a Calibrate motion after the downloa..... 
wait a sec...
are you CLONING?  or DOWNLOADING? (from the Updater)
CLONING may not properly clear out the Autostar's memory.
The keypad RESET doesn't do a -full- job of clearing it.

Try taking one of your "flakey" autostars, and DOWNLOADING it 
with A2.4.   Fire up the Updater, just [send software], let it
save your User Objects, and walk away.
Mine (even) exited A2.4 without me doing any button clicking.
And fully reset my Autostar (including Site and Calibration).

(even if a Cloned Autostar -tries- to Calibrate, if it's on the
telescope-less Cloning cable, it can't!... Unless the -receiving-
Autostar is on the "fully connected" arm of the cable.)

Folks: if/when you update, be SURE to answer the questions on the
Autostar as it does the first Initializing... while still connected
to your PC. Don't just turn it off.
They involve clearing out and resetting the remembered-after-power-off
memory .. otherwise old data (in obsolete locations) pollutes your
operations with painful effect.

IF you -did- power down, try -chainging- your Telescope model away
from the "right" value, and then change it -back-.
That resets the Ratios (among other things).

Whacko Ratios are a definite clue of not-fully-reset power-off memory.

Mike W. here again: The jury is still out on what is happening with the Autostar 2.2Ed update. The LX90 crowd seems to have the most problems reported so far. The ETX community is getting mixed results. Stay tuned...

Subject:	Autostar update 22eD
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 20:36:38
From:	jeffhelps@home.com (Jeff Helps)
I went through the update process to 22 eD but the version number in
Autostar still shows 21eK.  Should it show the new version number?


Mike here: What shows in the statistics menu item?

And Jeff replies:


Subject:	version 2.2 possible MAJOR WARNING!!
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 18:52:21
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)

Those of you who have uploaded version v2.2eD please check out your GO
TO's and see what is happening.  I have heard from four users (two ETX
and two LX 90 on the new version and I, myself, have just come inside
and have found what they are saying to be true for BOTH ETX and LX

The GO TO's are very, very accurate....BUT, both the altitude and
azimuth slewing to GET there is extremely rough and shakes the scope all
over the tripod.  You cannot even have your eye to the finderscope. 
This is NOT occuring in my backup AutoStar still loaded with v2.1ek.  To
make matters worse, the problem is compounding with each GO TO and as
the telescope hones in each GO TO object, the scope shakes violently
from the encoders as they are reading the positions of the drive system.

This is happening with TWO AutoStars, both loaded with v2.2; again,
v2.1ek does NOT have this symptom.

I am urging those who have not yet uploaded this new version to hold off
a couple of days.  It is so rough, I am hearing parts rattle in my
declination fork arm from the motion of the encoders.  I am still
working on it and will be back in touch tonight later.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	maybe some answers
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 14:55:58
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	michael._john_owen@hotmail.com
Hi John -
Perhaps I can give some insight into some of your legitimate questions.

1)  Regarding alternate stars for initial alignment, you can either use
the "Two Star" (not "easy") align; this allows you to pick your own
stars, "Enter" and then follow commands on Autostar;

2)  Keep scrolling until you find the star you want; a warning however -
Autostar accuracy appears to diminish the MORE stars you scroll through.
I have experimented and this is most definitely the case.  Pick one
early on for best alignment.

3)  The best way to enter your "site" is to reset and start all over
("afghanistan" will come up; scroll using the lower right key to the
nearest country and city and then hit "enter" each time).  This will
automatically default your AutoStar to the correct TIME ZONE and offset
east or west of Greenwich for ease of editing; then merely select that
site and scroll to "edit/latitude...." and key in the correct latitude
of your site; then MODE back to "edit....[scroll down again to]
longitude" and enter and key in your longitude.

4)  You are correct that 0.00 refers to Greenwich.

5)  I am very glad that the RESET worked for you....too many times
people get frustrated beyond belief when a simple RESET / RETRAIN will
do the trick!  Hope this helps.

P. Clay Sherrod

Subject:	How to reset an autostar on power up. or possible warning.
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 06:11:36
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
Sorry for the false start on this subject a couple of weeks ago.

I haven't heard anymore from Meade engineering about using the "MODE"
key to reset the Autostar. I now have had a chance to do some
experimenting on my own.

Pushing the "MODE" key after power up on 2.1Ek and the new 2.2d does not
have any effect on my autostars. So, I then reloaded 2.0i on one
autostar and pressing the "MODE" key after power up reset the autostar
to factory fresh, "don't know who you are, where you are, what language
you speak or what telescope you own", settings. This would be great to
know if you mess up your display setting for brightness or contrast.
However this could be disaster if you just powered up your autostar for
a night of viewing and accidentally bumped the mode key right after
power up. So anybody that is still running 2.0i and possibly older
versions of software should be extra careful to stay away from the
"MODE" key during power up. It is a wonder I haven't discover this
before know. I routinely will hit the "MODE" key after power up to abort
the date and alignment screens. I do this to get to the data entry
screens so that comet, satellite and user data can be updated before the
scope is aligned. Usually while waiting for alignment stars to appear.

If I hear anymore from Meade I will send you a post.

clear skies
bob rose


Subject:	22Ed Firmware
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 05:17:26
From:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadey)
It's been awhile since I've been in touch but with company wanting to
tour the UK and the crummy weather, I haven't had much of a chance to
use my scope.

I just loaded the new 2.2Ed firmware and tried it out on some sun spots
with my zoom eyepiece set at 8mm.  I'm pleased to say that the
rubberbanding seems to be virtually gone in Alt/Az mode.  I centered the
sun spot from every direction (stopping without reversing).  I also used
different speeds for the approach.  The only rubberbanding I noticed was
when I brought the spot in from the right side of the FOV (image is
reversed left for right). After about 7 seconds the spot would move back
to the right about 1/3 of the FOV and then stabilize.  But at ~156 power
this is a HUGE improvement over what I was seeing before with 2.1Ek.  I
can't wait to try out the new firmware on multiple objects.  The
accuracy must be pretty good because I just set up on my patio scratch
marks, trained the scope, did a "fake" align, and did a goto my "Sun as
asteroid" and came very close.  Be interested to know how the rest of
you do with this new load.

Mike H.

Subject:	Re: quick question
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 09:43:59
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Anthony
No battery failure or drain, nor moving from one source of power to
another will EVER require a reset or retrain or even re-calibrate
motors.  You are fine just putting in new batteries....you might
consider getting a good rechargeable Power Pack (one of those DC
portablepower sources at Wal Mart "Ever Start" you can get for about 12
sets of batteries!! and it give a LOT more accuracy) as it puts out
about 14 volts instead of less than 12 which is what you internal
batteries are putting out.

thanks and good luck!

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Anthony
    Hi Mr. Sherrod,
    I have a question about your service.  It sounds like a great thing
    to have done, which I probably will... but this question remains. 
    If the batteries are changed ( which usually need it after 2 long
    steady nights or so), will the motors need to be re-calibrated and
    things like that... won't that lose some of the effectiveness of
    your exact settings like alt-az percents and the training?  Or will
    the battery levels not affect that?  Thank you, Anthony

Subject:	new Autostar ROM files
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 08:45:14
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
You've barely come to grips with 21eK, and here comes 22eD!

v22eD is the 4/27/01  -dated item at:


You will also neeed to download the A2.4 updater 
(Autostar Update Client Application for Windows
and, after installing the Updater, replace the 
Autostar.rom and dbase.rom with the new ones from the
22eD package.

Visit Mike Weasner's site for more details

To quote from their update.txt file, it has:
Improvements to the 497 AutoStar from 21Ek

1) Added controls for #909 Accessory Port Module to use with LX90.
2) Made corrections to Guided Tours.
3) Improvements to LX200 command set.
4) For ETX-90 and ETX-125, park position is always home position.
5) Arrow to show tracking speed.
6) Minor corrections to the data base.

Note:  Remember to re-train your telescope after loading new program.

I won't be able to put it into my Autostar until Wednesday 1st May,
but it also has fixes to some satellite tracking items.
(just 'cause i can -run- it doesn't mean i can't -investigate- it)
have fun

Subject:	new download version 2.2ed from Meade - April 27, 2001
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 05:38:48
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
As of April 27, Meade has introduced a NEW version for AutoStar, version
v2.2ed which is now available for download.  Improvements for the ETX
series telescopes include:

1)  "Park" allows ETX scopes to always go back to "home position"
(whether polar or alt-azimuth); this has always been a problem in the
past, with less-than accurate "park" positioning;

2)  The "arrow" keys now show your slewing/tracking speed;

3)  The "tours" database has now been fixed to eliminate the previous

4)  Some corrections to computed position databases (ephemerides) have
now been updated!

I have not yet tried it in operation but have downloaded.  It appears to
be a "new improved model" of v2.1ek, with improvements made to the
AutoStar accuracy as well!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	1 more question
Sent:	Friday, April 27, 2001 21:04:38
From:	plasmaknight@hotmail.com (Wei-Chieh Chen)
With the newer Autostar version, how do you set the Autostar so that it
skips the Sun Warning and the Getting Started messages? I'd rather just
turn the telescope on and see the Set Time and Date instead of that
annoying Sun Warning over and over again. Thanks for your time once
Mike here: A search of the ETX site for "sun warning" (exact match) will reveal the answer to your question. (hint, click the link from the Autostar Information page in the hit list)

Subject:	Autostar 2.2Ed available
Sent:	Friday, April 27, 2001 17:23:45
From:	speacock@yahoo.com (Sean Peacock)
Just a note that 2.2Ed was posted 4/27/01

Subject:	Beginner's question on centering objects after alignment
Sent:	Thursday, April 26, 2001 08:23:24
From:	RLatuchie@rcrh.org (Latuchie, Richard)
I recently purchased an ETX90, am new to Astronomy, and am thouroughly
enjoying the process of learning and exploring.  This is a very basic
question, as I have only started to use my Autostar 497.  I have gone
through the training process, and am using the easy two star Alt-Az
alignment.  Once aligned, I am generally finding objects easily, but
occasionaly wish to center an object, without throwing the alignment out
of whack.  Do I merely use the arrow keys center the object, and press
enter, or is there another mechanism.

Thanks for an increadibly valuable resource, and a special thanks to
Clay Sherrod for his new constellation guides.  I find that I can spend
several evenings on each one, and it is a wonderful way to learn more
about this great activity.

Mike here: As long as you ONLY use the Autostar keys to slew the scope the alignment will be retained. It is when you unlock an axis and move the scope by hand that you will destroy the alignment.


Just to make sure I understand.  If I have done a goto, for example to
Jupiter, and find the planet not quite centered, I can use the autostar
keys to center the planet, and autostar still "thinks" that I am locked
on Jupiter?  Then the next goto that I use will, in fact be accurate? 
What I feared was that if I used the arrow keys to slew to the right
that, that autostar would no longer consider me to be centered at
Jupiter, and that subsequent gotos would be off by the amount that I had
to slew to center the planet.  I hope that clarifies my question, and I
do appreciate your patience.
Mike here: Just slewing around doesn't change the Autostar's idea of where things are in the sky. So slewing a little bit to center Jupiter won't affect the next GOTO. That GOTO may also be off a little bit, requiring some slewing.

Subject:	Re: Autostar and Slewing Speed
Sent:	Thursday, April 26, 2001 08:01:02
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
Just to let you guys know that the Autstar reset seems to have done the
trick . I am now slewing in any direction and at any speed like an old
hand. When I did the reset one thing threw me with the location - Im
not sure what timezone 0.00 refers to - I assume this is London at GMT
-sure to find out when I use the Autostar.  Unfortunately the weather
has been cloudy here for the last few days, and the forecast is similar
for the next few. I have had the scope set up and from our hotel room
looking west I have a good view of Jupiter and Orion. A couple of
observations and questions for you.

The finderscope alignment withstood the trip in the aircraft hold, when
I set the scope up it was still spot on . (the Pelican hardcase, btw did
the job). The cross wires on the finderscope are very difficult to pick
out at night - I aligned stars but blanking them out with the middle of
the cross hair , but its fiddly. Interestingly constellation dont sem
to be much more visible here than in London . I found this surprising. I
can for example , with  naked eye see the main stars of Orion, but not
those of the bow.

When I am doing an aligment if the star selected if obsured I can scroll
down and use another, but can I select the stars Autostar does teh
alignment on to save time. Eg with my westerly view Aldebaran and
Procyon would be my first choices .

Well this is Owen signing off from Lanzarote - it is cloudly but its a
whole lot warmer than London and I cant complain about the sea and



Subject:	Autostar and the missing "Guided Tour"
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 03:15:49
From:	RLibby@aol.com
Here is a puzzlement..After sending my ETX 125 to Meade, who fixed one
problem, and updated my software to ver 2, I now have the problem of the
telescope not finding the correct calibration star by about 5 degrees,
but even when moved there, and pressing "Guided Tour"..I get a message
saying "Not Available"
Any one else have this problem?
I am calling Meade in the morning..
Ralph Libby
Mike here: Sounds like the Tour was deleted. You'll have to reload. As to the alignment stars being off, could it be 15 degrees off? That might indicate that DST was not enabled in the Autostar.


I talked on the phone to Meade today, and they suggested I do a "reset"
and start over...I'll let you know the results.
And more:
I talked to Mark at Meade, he suggested a Reset, which I did..Now,
Autostar thinks that Sirius almost directly overhead, someplace past the
altitude stops.
There is still no "Guided Tour"
Another call to Meade this afternoon is on the agenda

Subject:	506 cable
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 12:22:55
From:	joefran@bellsouth.net (Joe Francoeur)
Do you know of plans for the 506 cable
Mike here: No plans for the 506 cable and its built-in electronics have been posted.

Subject:	SAO Catalogue
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 10:39:40
From:	rizzoli@dsi.unive.it (Francesco Rizzoli)
is it possible to know  What are the  943  SAO stars  inside the box
(Autostar )? If I dont know  where are those stars  this file is useless
to me . There is any map that can help me ?The SAO catalogue is a very
huge  collectio of data base . Thank'You very much and molti saluti  da
 Francesco Rizzoli                             
Mike here: Check the "More Autostar Database Information" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Re: 125 report
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 08:25:53
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Bob
You still thinking about the western deserts are you???  Let me tell you
a trick about "rubber banding;" first there are several kinds, but
everybody is linking these altogether.  What YOU are experiencing is the
AutoStar making up for lost time.  In other words, you are entering your
TIME at intitialization....locating your own guides stars (which takes a
bit of time), centering careful (which takes more time), going to the
next star (which adds time) and centering that....get my drift?  By the
time you hit "Enter" on your last star alignment, much time has elapsed.
 ONLY then do your motors engage; in Alt-Az operation, you are operating
BOTH motors to track sidereally.

What the scope is doing is attempting to MAKE UP for all the time you
spent between:  1) entering time; and 2) the clocks starting on the
telescope for the actual determined sky calculations AFTER you have
aligned both stars.

The longer you wait, the greater the differential.  That is the "rubber
banding" you are seeing!

Try speeding up (this will come naturally pretty soon) and you will see
this effect disappear!  (and always remember to press "enter" (ha-ha).

Glad everything is going well....you will get used to Polar and love it
when you do.

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    I am delighted with the performance, but I have decided that Polar
    alignment is not for me unless and until I get a permanent pier, and
    an adjustable chair. It provides for some very odd viewing angles,
    and I'm not limber enough to contort to some of the positions
    required on the 887.

    Went back to Alt/Az last night, after training in that mode, and was
    very happy with the results. The Go To's were pretty close, always
    putting the object or the guide star near the FOV center of the
    8x25, and usually somewhere in the field of view of the 26 mm. On
    High Precision, I was able to get to the Messiers I was searching
    for without any difficulty. Picked up M104 and M8 quite well. 104
    wasn't well resolved, but since I know what it looks like, I was
    able to recognize it. The atmosphere is not the steadiest right now.
    Spent a lot of time going from star to star to test the Go To
    capabilities, and all went well. Whenever I was in doubt, I returned
    to Arcturas, and it was always right there. The scope tracks
    remarkably well for about 15 minutes before any hand guidance is

    The only glitch I have discovered is in declination adjustments
    while trying to center an object. I think the term is "rubber
    banding?" I center the object, then the declination takes off on its
    own in the opposite direction. To compensate, I had to put the
    object at or near the top edge of the FOV, and play with it until it
    rubber banded back to approximate center. This seems to begin after
    about 30-45 minutes of operation. Az adjustments do not show this

    Any suggestions for clearing this up?

    That aside, the scope is very tight, very responsive. Makes me eager
    to move to altitude in a low humidity area.
Mike here: Actually, given the design of the ETX, getting proficient in both Polar and Alt/Az mounting is probably best.

Subject:	autostar tour
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 07:43:00
From:	highrolla7@hotmail.com (T. J. Koenigsfeld)
This may be a dumb question, but lets say i downloaded all 5 tours to
my now 497 autostar.  Now, lets say, to save space, i want to delete the
"a stars life" tour.  How would i go about doing this, without  having
to reload the autostar again?  If you could help me with this, i would
be greatly appreciative.  Thanks, T. J. p.s. great site, very helpful!!

Subject:	The Meade Autostar Hand Controller 
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 23:37:07
From:	alby@empire.org (Alby)
Does Meade make (2) two different Autostar controllers? I just got a
Meade ETX-70AT and it came with an Autostar controller. While searching
websites and looking at other Meade products, I noticed that some
Autostars have a numeric keypad and some do not. My controller which
came with the ETX-70AT does not have a numeric keypad.

So my question is, do numeric keypads offer something more than those
which do not? Also, if based on your remarks I'm sold on getting one,
what is the complete name of it so I'm not confused and end up
purchasing an Autostar which doesn't have it (Assuming I Buy Online).??

Mike here: Yes, there is more than one model of the Autostar. See the "Autostar Models" on the Autostar Information page for more info. The keypad isn't really required to control the scope or the Autostar.

Subject:	Autostar connection
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 10:57:05
From:	dssmith@ntl.sympatico.ca (David Smith)
I apologize in advance if this is not the proper procedure. Now,to the
point of this message.

I am using a #495 Autostar, recently updated with ver. 2.1ek with the
Meade DS114EC reflector. I purchased the #505 connector cable for it,
and now realize that unless I have a laptop (which I don't), this six
foot length of cord is ok to download or upload infor for the Autostar,
but that's it. I was considering using anywhere from 50 to 100 feet of
telephone line from end of the cable to the Autostar but.... the adapter
plug is not standard telephone jack size. I've been looking on this site
for a solution, but can't seem to find one.  suppose I could use a
serial cable from PC to #505 cable, but that would be somewhat more
expensive than using telephone cable.

Any thoughts on this. 

Thanks in advance, 
Dave Smith, Timmins, ON
Mike here: See "Long Autostar Cable" on the Autostar Information page. Also, see the email "Auto Star / Regular Controller extension cables" further down this Autostar Feedback page.


Much appreciated, Mike. Exactly what I was looking for.

Subject:	ETX-70 and autostar 494 Proc trap 2
Sent:	Thursday, April 19, 2001 09:52:04
From:	cozmicr@icdc.com (Ray Talipsky)
ETX-70 and autostar 494 Proc trap 2

If you have an ETX-70 with AUTOSTAR 494 (w/o numeric keypad)
and are getting "Proc Trap 2" errors

Bad Hand Controller

Call Meade Customer service
   they will send out new hand controller

Subject:	Re: How to Test Autostar rs232 circuits!
Sent:	Wednesday, April 18, 2001 13:59:38
From:	ricardo-carvalho@clix.pt (Ricardo Carvalho)
The problem was the cable. Somehow it didn't connected well to the AS.
Now Skymap and the Updater recognize it.

I didn't did the update yet and would like to know if the patches are
really necessary.

With all my bad luck and less skill i afraid to open the ETX to "repair
it". This is because it takes forever to move the scope horizontaly with
the AS. Up and Down is fine.

You don't know anyone in Portugal who can do the "repairs" do you?????

ricardo carvalho

Subject:	satellites
Sent:	Wednesday, April 18, 2001 11:41:59
From:	n_armstrong@altavista.com
I was wondering why the names of the satellites on www.heavens-above.com
or www.celestrak.com use different names than in the Autostar? Most of
the names are different except for maybe the ISS.

Mike here: I haven't compared the names but there are popular names, country of origin names, satellite numbers, and maybe more "standards". Perhaps that can be the source of the differences.

Subject:	Autostar Cloning
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 10:42:31
From:	pillows@voyager.net (pillows)
I just purchased an additional Autostar from the-soon-to-be-gone Natural
Wonders. I realize I can update it's software the normal way.

Is it possible or practical to clone from one Autostar to another with
only one ETX? This should ease the setup routine.
Mike here: Cloning is easier and a faster way to update one Autostar as I recall from a comment from Dick Seymour.


Thanks for the fast reply Mike. But, I guess, what I'm really asking -
given I have two Autostars but only one ETX - is there a way to hook up
and clone using only a single ETX? I don't know if data is being
transferred to-and-from the ETX during cloning. If thats the case, then
it's unlikely a single ETX and multiple Autostars can work.
Mike here: Cloning is done between Autostars. The ETX is only there to supply power. You need the cloning cable included with Meade's cable kit. Actually, there is a way to do it WITHOUT the ETX. See "Homemade Autostar Cloning Kit" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Re: Autostar and Slewing Speed
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 23:05:34
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
Thanks - I'm not sure if I could slew in all nine speeds in Azimuth, I
selected one or two of the nine which was enough for me to be able to do
the drive training. I don't recall seeing any readout from the Autostar
confirming the drive speed,(is there one? ) but the scope certainly
slewed slow enough to complete the Azimuth training.

In Declination, pressing any of the arrows caused the scope to slew very
quickly. I pressed a few (but probably not all)the number buttons to
change the rate of slew but none had any perceptible affect.

I didn't "tell" Autostar which model scope I was using for this session.
I did this the first time I used Autostar, thinking this info is stored
between sessions.

Recalibration - I may have missed a step here. I don't think I have done
this. What is involved in calibrating the scope?


Mike here: The calibration step is not normally needed following the first, automatic one. But if the telescope or Autostar is exchanged, then you might need to do it again. You can force the calibration by Setup->Telescope->Calibrate and then ENTER. May or may not help. If pressing the number keys does not change the slew speed (and no, there is no speed display) then the next question that comes to mind is "do the number keys all work?" If the keys seem OK then it sound like a redownload, RESET, retrain is in order.


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike Weasner is correct....you need to do a complete reset, and retrain
of your motors; when I work on the ETX scopes, particularly when new
software is loaded, I frequently run into this.  All you need to do is
shut down the scope and AutoStar; go to SLELCT:
SETUP/Telescope...[scroll down to: "RESET" and enter].  Then you must
initialize the scope.

Calibrate the motors first (under "Telescope" on AutoStar) and then do a
complete Train Motors as you are attempting.  That should do it!  It
will be necessary for you to re-enter all of your user data (scope type,
locations, name, etc.) but the reset is worth the trouble.

Clay Sherrod


Thanks for the advice. Reassuring to know that this doesn't appear to be
a hardware problem. Will do the reset and let you know how things pan

I'm off to the Canaries on Thursday - hope they have internet cafes
because I'm going to be lost without your advice!

Thanks again


Subject:	Polar Aligning in the Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 22:03:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
IF you ask your Autostar to do a one-star Polar alignment,
 the first thing it does is try to point at Sigma Octans.
After asking you to adjust your tripod to actually -find- SigOct,
it'll then slew to some "normal" star for the "one star" part.

Here's what i'd do:
Set up for -Alt/Az- alignment.
(power switch pointed West, barrel pointed north, level to the
Do an Easy Alignment.
NOW-... ask the Autostar to GoTo Sigma Octan's coordinates.

Don't bother to try to look up Sig Oct in the database.
Nor Polaris Australis... 
but it is in v21eK  as SAO 258857

It is a Magnitude 5.5 star located at 21h 48m 46.7s and 88d 57m 23s. 

Now stare at the sky thru the telescope... perhaps sketch what
you see..  THEN you can use your sketch to re-orient youself when
attempting a true Polar Alignment.

(you can also tell when you're pointing at the South Celestial Pole...
the motor drives go silent in Alt/Az)
good luck

Subject:	satellites....
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 21:41:18
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
another site to get bunches of satellite data at once is

it's *the* spot to go for bulk-loading satellite TLEs.
(well, there are nasa sites, too.. but this is better laid out
for us amateurs)

Subject:	re: autostar vs the etx70at
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 21:37:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	cozmicr@icdc.com
i saw your note on Mike's site (and i'll be dropping out-of-touch for
a week or so after tuesday)...
Let's do the easy one first:
> any fixes for Proc trap 2 on  standard control box?
(a) return to Meade.
Which -is- the "standard controller" on the ETX-70at?
the 495 Autostar? (numeric keypad)
the 494 Autostar (no numeric keypad),
 the Starfinder? (no numeric keypad).

I'd expect it's the 494... but if it's a 495 you -could- try the 
Emergency Flash Load procedure (if you have a serial cable).

Other than that, Proc Trap 2 indicates a bad memory, or bad memory load.
Not user fixable.

> I plugged a standard Autostar 497 into a ETX 70AT!
> Seems to work great
> But
> Align constantly fails.
Please define "fails".
Do the initial slews to the guide stars arrive close to the stars?
 or many degrees (more than ten) away?
If the "guesses" arrive close, then much of the system -is- working
correctly, and it'll be something minor.  IF they're way far off,
then i'd suspect that the "ratio" settings are wrong, or that the
encoders are dirty.

BUT: while writing the above, it struck me: *when* do you get
the Proc Trap 2??  Early on (before being able to do anything) or
when trying to move around.  If the latter, before moving, [mode] out
of alignment (twice) to Setup, [enter] scroll down 4 times to Telescope,
and riffle through those subtopics to see what the Ratios should be for
an ETX70at, as defined by its normal controller.  *those* are the values
which the 497 should be given.

> Easy, Two Star   Many different stars   fails
> I know where Arcturus, Regulus, Rigel, Sirius and other stars are!
>             I don't need a computer to tell me "Check Stars"
you can get that message if the Autostar thinks you've travelled an
incorrect distance between the two stars.  Or if you take too long.
(but that's over 4 minutes)

> I reset Autostar
> I recalibrated motors
> Location   set per GPS
Just choose a local city.  Leave the fine-tuning until after it works.

> Time set per GPS/radio sync clock
Home location   (horiz - pointing north)

> Whats wrong here?
too few data... the key symptom you haven't described is the accuracy
of the first slews to the alignment stars.
IF it's "pretty close", what happens if you do NOT try to center, but
just press [enter] to accept them as if they were perfect?
Does it still fail? Or does it think things are peachy?

>Tried Autostar 497 because standard contoller gives "Proc Trap 2"
> every other time I try to do something.
Every -other- time?   Proc Trap? 
Bad alignment?
***bzzzt*** Power supply!  Cable connections!!!
Isn't the ETX70at a 9 volt device??
Unless you're using a 12v or higher ac adapter, you're skating -very-
close to the 497 Autostar's lower voltage limit.  If your batteries
are not **new**, the Alignments and motions -will- fail.
aaaaand  the normal controller might well do Proc Traps, too (or two).

> if its clear ---- gonna try again tonight
no need to wait for stars... the "press [enter] as if perfect" works
rain or shine as a scope tester.

Sure sounds like batteries....


Subject:	Re: Al/Az Percentages
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 19:26:02
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Don
Hey Don!  And welcome back to the world of the "living ETX's!"

Always wait to set our Alt and Az percentages (NOT the ratios) AFTER you
have trained.  This allows AutoStar to more accurately understand the
idiosyncracies of both drive systems and compensate electronically. 
What's left is what YOU take out (or attempt to) via adjusting the Alt &
Az %. Remember, the higher the percentage, the greater the "jerk" into
motion and less time in backlash; try to find a happy medium between no
response at all and too much.  Actually, the setting of these
percentages is the LAST thing you will do prior to entering your sites
and personal data.

Good luck and welcome back among us!

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Don
      Meade called to tell me my ETX-125 is ready for pick up on
      warrantee repairs, there were problems of random slewing.  After
      checking through archives of messages you sent me to "remarry" the
      scope to the autostar, I didn't see where in the hierarchy of
      steps I should make the Alt/Az percentage adjustments if
      necessary.  Should it be before training or after?
      Thanks, Don

Subject:	Polar align
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 07:30:55
From:	felch_richard@emc.com (felch, richard)
I am a 100% beginner.  I find I need a little more detailed explanation
of how to polar align my etx90ec/with autostar.  I think I need ETX90
for Dummies.  Is there someplace I can go for detailed instructions?

Rich Felch

Engineering Asset Management
Unix Engineer
Ext 26845
Mike here: Try the Tutorials page and the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site. Hopefully there is enough information there to help.

Subject:	Re: Autostar slew speed problem
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 06:46:52
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
A resolution to the earlier problem with the motor drive and a new query
for you.

I returned my ETX to the dealer following the problem with the 
declination motor drive. The dealer opened the base up and said it was
simply that one of the electrical connections had not been connected
properly inthe factory. Re-connected it works fine. Or at least I think
so - which brings me to the second problem.

With the scope back working I have been trying to train the drives. This
worked OK in East to West but Up and Down I have been unable to change
the speed of the slew making alignment virtually impossible. I can
change speeds using the standard controller in both (all 4) directions.
But with Autostar I can move up and down but only at top speed.

I tried re-booting the Autostar, well switching it on and off but to no

Is this another "return to dealer" problem , this time with the
Autostar? Although I was having problems with moving the scope Up and
Down with the drive previously am I right in thinking the Autostar
problem is unconnected ?

I have had one glimpse of Jupiter between clouds and these mechanical
problems ! (found it manually in the finder scope - so it was nice to
know my finder scope alignment was OK)

Thanks again for your advice


Mike here: Just to clarify, with the Autostar you can set the speed to be any of the nine speeds and you can slew in Azimuth at any speed. But when you try to slew in Altitude, no matter what the speed setting in the Autostar, it only slews at the highest speed (even you may have it set for any other speed from 1 to 8). If this is the case, have you reset the Autostar for the telescope model AND recalibrated the drives and then tried the training?

Sent:	Sunday, April 15, 2001 08:45:10
From:	rrgala@med.wayne.edu (Richard R. Gala)
I have been monitoring your site for over 6 months and have e-mailed you
with some of my problems I am having with my ETX125.  I have tried your
sugestions and those of others on your site and still can not get my
Autostar to work for me.  I am at my wits end and unless I get some
help, I will probably give up on the Autostar.  Most of the members of
the amateur club I joined are "big shooters" (large telescopes) and do
not have time for new guy with a little ETX. The store where I purchased
the telescope is not interested.  There are a few of us new guys with
ETX'S in my area with similar problems.

My question to you and others that moniter this site is:  Is there a
course or place where I can go with my telescope to have someone work
with me in setting up my telescope and check it out and tell me that the
problems I am having are due either to me or due to the telescope?  I
have $2000 invested in this telescope and I can not get it to work for
me as it should.  I live in the Detroit area (not the greatest place for
viewing) and would be willing to travel a couple of hundred miles with
my telescope for such a workshop.  I would also be willing to pay a
modest sum for this training and education.  I have sent you this note
because I don't know where else to go!

Dick Gala
Mike here: Have you checked the online Tutorial for aligning the ETX/Autostar? Look in the Tutorials section. Maybe that will help. If none of the appropriate tips on the Autostar Information page have helped, then it is hard to say what the problem might be. Perhaps someone in your area will respond.


Thanks a lot for your continued help in trying to get me up and running
with my ETX.   I will look at your Tutorial Section for pointers.
Dick Gala

Subject:	autostar program installation difficulties
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 23:54:39
From:	aacosta6@yahoo.com (Andy Acosta)
my name is andy and i an ameture astronomer.  I downloaded the autostar
updates and have tried installing them onto my computer but i keep
getting this error message after installation: could not find
mscrivt.dll or something like that.  I have read about the error but
nobody has said what i need to download or get to get rid of it and be
able to run the program.  I am running windows 95 and have updated it
but I still get the message.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I
love the site its super.
Mike here: Not being a Windows expert, I can't help. I never had this (or any) error when running the Updater under Virtual PC with Windows95 on my Macintosh.


Thank you for posting my question up because this problem has been
bothering me for a long time.  I did solve the problem though late last
night.  The problem was thati was using windows 95 and in the system it
does not use msvcirt.dll, it uses msvcrt40.dll therefore when the comp
is looking for it it simply is not there.  I solved it by dowloading the
individual msvcirt.dll file at this website:


I then copyed and pasted it into the meade/autostar/autostar updates
folder by using windows explorer.  And it works great.  I hope this will
help with anybody having the same problem i couldnt find any place that
told me exactly what to do so here's a first.   Cheers

Subject:	GPS Use
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 19:02:41
From:	davidfenstermacher@msn.com (David Fenstermacher)
i have a ?
i am thinking about buying the 125.
is it possible to (in autostar) set-up using gps coordinates and
orienting the tele to a predetermined compass heading? this would seem
easier than the star alignment method and all the info would be there
for the tele to know its orientation.

great website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry if this is a stupid ?


Mike here: Good question. You can use a GPS to enter your location (latitude and longitude) and time, and you can point the telescope at a pre-determined azimuth (that's what you do when pointing it to TRUE North). But you will still need to go through a star alignment for the Autostar if you want a GOTO capability.

Subject:	Autostar 497 on ETX-70AT
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 09:17:23
From:	cozmicr@icdc.com (Ray Talipsky)
I plugged a standard Autostar 497 into a ETX 70AT!
Seems to work great
Align constantly fails.
Easy, Two Star   Many different stars   fails
I know where Arcturus, Regulus, Rigel, Sirius and other stars are!
             I don't need a computer to tell me "Check Stars"
I reset Autostar
I recalibrated motors
Location   set per GPS
Time set per GPS/radio sync clock
Home location   (horiz - pointing north)

Whats wrong here?

Tried Autostar 497 because standard contoller gives "Proc Trap 2" every
other time I try to do something.

I am a LX-200 user  --- getting ETX 70 ready to give as gift  and I know
if it don't work I'll get a million questions   cause Meade doesn't
answer questions!

Great site    --- Meade would do better to pay you to do tech support!!!

Mike here: One think you didn't mention when you put the #497 Autostar on the ETX-70AT was that you set it for the right telescope model (under Setup->Telescope).


Thanks for reply Mike

Set it for ETX 70   ---

after frustrating cycle of align fail
set all functions again
scope,  recal, all      align     fail

if its clear ---- gonna try again tonight

any fixes for Proc trap 2 on  standard control box?

Have you looked at



Subject:	AutoStar updater
Sent:	Friday, April 13, 2001 08:03:19
From:	jeffhelps@home.com (Jeff Helps)
Is it just me or is this application more difficult to use that it
should be. Has anyone produced a manual for it?  The online help is
virtually useless.  I find it very frustrating in that I cannot seem to
get the things I want into my autostar and on the rare occasion that I
do, I find that I have unloaded other items.  Any help would greatly

Mike here: Yes, many have noted that the user interface is pretty bad. Mac users would be flooding Meade with complaints about the interface if it were a Mac OS application. As it is, most of the complaints have probably come to my web site. And the only "manual" is the information on the Autostar Information page, the Autostar Feedback pages, and the online help. The new Tutorial that is online can help some users.

Subject:	Re: Fwd:  Autostar cable
Sent:	Wednesday, April 11, 2001 22:07:38
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	ricardo.carvalho@oracle.com
From the symptoms, i suspect that either the positions of 1 and 4
swapped, or perhaps 1 and 2.
I have swapped 1 and 2, and did not see the symptoms described.

Pin 1 (connected to pin 3 of a 9-pin rs232, or pin 2 of a 25-pin)
is the pin the -farthest- from the HBX connector on the Autostar.
Pin 4 (connected to pin 5 of a 9-pin, or pin 7 of a 25-pin)
 is the -closest- to the HBX connector on the Autostar.

**and remember** the rs232 cable plugs into the Autostar, not 
 the AUX port!!

> On the first try the the AS gave me no letters in the display. It
>  would beep and if look to it in a certain angle i could see the
>  letters passing by but they were very dim. I think i had the
> positive and negative switched.
?? positive and negative ?? on which cable?
You could possibly damage the Autostar's rs232 port by feeding power
directly into it... it -should- be able to handle it, but i certainly
haven't tried that...
> Then i changed a few things and there was no problem but the updater
> wouldn't recognize the AS. Maybe it's a COM problem.
"a few things"?? a better description of what was changed might help.
> I started Hyperterminal, connected pins 2 & 3 and type the keyboard
> and what i type appeared.Not a COM problem.
> Then i connected the cable and connected pins 1 & 2 and again what i
> typed appeared.Not a cable problem.
excellent testing methods ...

> Then i connected to AS. First the screen dimmed again. Changed a few
> things and the screen appeared. But what i wrote in the keyboard would
> appear in Hyper Terminal which i think shouldn't happen.
Hyperterminal -can- be set to echo.  

> I'll try a few more times (i know i'm doing something wrong) as  i use
> some conversors and i still a bit confused with all the driagrams that
> float around. A well taken photography (with good definition) would
> help a lot. 

I have attached one of the best sketches i have seen of the connection.
(from somewhere on Mike's site)

good luck
power supply

And some followup:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

> I've tested the circuits as you say and it asks to press every key
..which means that your rs232 circuits and the serial cable are working.

> and then presents this: Pic Failure V12 C001
> And it stays that way for several minutes.

Once a failure occurs, the tests stop.
The message indicates a failure reaching one of the smaller internal
 controllers, or a failure by the controller performing a task.

-Exactly- what that message means i do not know (you're only the 3rd
person to use this test... and the first to have an error)
(a) It could simply mean a bad cable to the ETX.  
(b) It could mean that some portion of the Autostar or ETX is bad.

> Then i've tried the HyperTerminal and the pressing CTRL-F and CTRL-D
> works although it works on COM3 where the modem is resident(!!!)
PCs can "share" a COM port designation between two devices.
It's not a -good- idea, but they can do it (if you share your modem
port with your Mouse... do NOT move the mouse while online).

Since Hyperterminal -can- talk to the telescope, you can try...
oh, you did... SkyMap:

> After this i've tried with Skymap V7 and it worked initially but
> then gave me an error....
?? what error ?? (please do not keep clues secret)

> I've noticed also that the cables aren't well done since there's a
> small bad contact .
> Looks like i have to make a decent cable and get myself another
> computer :)
> I've tried to test it again this morning and there was no
> response......another computer i know :)
If -any- cable has an intermittent connection, you will see results
which are difficult to repeat.

Since Skymap worked (at least) once, that means that your computer
is probably good... the cables are my prime suspects.

> I've seen in Mike site that there are commands to do a little debug.
> Do you know the link??
If you mean the Autostar's internal debugger, they have removed that
from the program.  v2.0g was the last version which had it easily
reachable.  The code is -gone- in v21.
good luck
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

> I ran this test on my Autostar, as per your instructions.
>  After initialization, the Sun warning came up. 
bzzzttt... the shorted-cable test should not display the Sun Warning.
The "Press ENTER" directive should be the first thing you see after

> After pressing "5" I got the "motor unit failure"
> message; i.e. the self-test didn't happen.
> Can anything be concluded from this?
(a) bad cable
(b) fried rs232 circuits in Autostar.

Found an ohmmeter yet? 
a flashlight bulb, battery and a few scraps of wire (and three other
hands) can be used to test continuity...
(the toolkit with which i maintained our VW bus while crossing the
Chalbi desert to Lake Turkana was rather meager, but inventive...
and impressed the AA guy at Lake Nakuru when i successfully restarted
 the car with a cracked-in-two battery...)

Try this: connect Autostar to computer,
start Hypertermm... listening to the COM port the Autostar is on.
Power up Autostar.
If its rs232 output circuits are working, you would see the single
letter "X" appear on the screen... nothing else.

(if i remember correctly, you have NOT managed to get Hyperterm
to echo via the cable)(which continues to point at "cable")
(but then, you haven't managed to get Hyperterm to echo with
only the output serial port pins 2 + 3 shorted... or have you tried

Subject:	Autostar cable
Sent:	Wednesday, April 11, 2001 03:32:19
From:	ricardo.carvalho@oracle.com (ricardo carvalho)
I tried to make the cable but have some doubts about its behavior.

On the first try the the AS gave me no letters in the display. It would
beep and if look to it in a certain angle i could see the letters
passing by but they were very dim. I think i had the positive and
negative switched.

Then i changed a few things and there was no problem but the updater
wouldn't recognize the AS. Maybe it's a COM problem.

I started Hyperterminal, connected pins 2 & 3 and type the keyboard and
what i type appeared.Not a COM problem.

Then i connected the cable and connected pins 1 & 2 and again what i
typed appeared.Not a cable problem.

Then i connected to AS. First the screen dimmed again. Changed a few
things and the screen appeared. But what i wrote in the keyboard would
appear in Hyper Terminal which i think shouldn't happen.

I'll try a few more times (i know i'm doing something wrong) as  i use
some conversors and i still a bit confused with all the driagrams that
float around. A well taken photography (with good definition) would help
a lot. I just wanted to know if this behavior is consistent with any
problem, has it appeared,etc.

I sent this to you because i didn't know where to place it exactly.

Thank you  in advance


Subject:	re: Autostar Menus and email to Meade
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 21:45:42
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	bobmi@northernwebs.com
You complained about the lack of an email address for Meade.

They -do- have one:   engineer@meade.com

It's one-way (they only reply in rare circumstances), but it
(occasionally) -does- reach the people who affect things...
 and change does happen.

have fun 

Subject:	re: calibration and autostars
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 21:43:18
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	mdurkin@lodestarinternet.com
i saw your note on Mike's site.

Yes, a CALIBRATION must also be performed when moving an Autostar
from scope to scope.   Especially across models.

( Setup > Telescope > Calibrate [enter] )

Why?  Because what a Calibration does is run the motors for a 
certain time and voltage, and records (from the encoders) how
 far and fast it moved.  
Then the Autostar tucks that away in its own memory.

The next time you power up the scope and Autostar... the
 Autostar sends that calibration information -to- the scope.
It serves as a throttle for all ensuing motions.

Thus, if you send your ETX90's calibration values to the ETX125
(or vice-versa), it's going to be trying to move at the wrong 
speed for any operation.

And that's far worse than a Training error, which usually is a 
 mere annoyance.

Calibrations take 5 seconds, and no effort... (well, you do have
to return the scope to Home afterwards, since it just moved).

If you ever use the "default hand controller", you'll notice it
 does a Calibration motion -every- time it is powered up.
 (that's because it doesn't have an survive-power-off memory system)

have fun

Subject:	Auto Star / Regular Controller extension cables
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 11:04:24
From:	Dave.Rosenthal@ie-ate.com (Rosenthal, Dave)
Meade sells an extension kit for the hand controllers for about $30.00 I
noticed that the connector on the scope is the same as a 10/100-T
network connection.  I got a 10 foot length of network cable and a
straight through coupler and tried it with my ETX-90EC and the standard
hand controller.  It worked perfect. I tried lengths of up to 30 feet
and noticed no delays or any other problems.  This is a $7~10
alternative to Meade's $30 solution.  Please post this information on
your site.
David Rosenthal

Subject:	Autostar Question
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 11:02:26
From:	mdurkin@lodestarinternet.com (Mark Durkin)
I thought before I sent my new ETX-125 to Meade I would ask you a
question.  I have recently purchased an ETX-125.  I currently also have
an ETX-90EC.  I went to use my Autostar from the ETX-90, and I could not
control the speed of the motors.  If I use the standard handbox that
comes with the 125, I can control the speed just fine.  I reset the
Autostar, still no luck.  It does work fine with the ETX-90 in every
way.  I just don't understand why the speed can be controled with one
handbox, but not the Autostar.  I thought it was a problem with the
motors, but that is inconsistent with the results of the standard
handbox.  It could be the Autostar, but it works fine with my other
scope.  Have you ever heard of this happening?  If so, any suggestions
would be appreciated.  I would rather not send my new ETX-125 to Meade
to be tested the day after I got it unless I have to.  I called Meade
and they didn't have any suggestions but to send it in.

Mike here: You didn't say what steps you went through when swapping telescopes. When switching an Autostar from one telescope to another there are a couple of things to do:
1. If using a different telescope model (-90 to a -125), change the telescope model setting.
2. Retrain the drives.


When I switched I reset the Autostar like they recommend on the Meade
site (I did change the scope model).  I tried to retrain the drives but
the speed was at full and it is virtually impossible to train the drives
when the speed is at full.  I did it best I could, but I could still not
control the speed.  One thing I did realize after I wrote you.  I
remember when I first used the Autostar on my ETX90 I think there was a
small calibration phase of the motors.  This did not happen with the
ETX-125.  I'm staring to think this is the issue.  Does this sound right
to you?  Thanks for your help.
Mike here: Dick Seymour has discovered that there is a calibration step that only occurs when needed on first power-on. You can select to recalibrate (different than driving training) so maybe that will help. But it bothers me that you can not change the speed for training; you should be able to.


Well recalibrating seemed to work.  I can now control the speed.  I was
able to train the drives with no problem and at a slow speed.  I went
through the Autostar manual but didn't see there was a calibrate option
on the Autostar menu.  Thanks.  This whole thing still has me perplexed
though.  It just seems strange this is not a standard issue which Meade
could answer.  I'll give it a few weeks and see if it happens again. 
Maybe the Autostar needs to be calibrated on each scope the first time
it is activated?

Thank you,
Mike here: Super! And yes, it does seem that a calibration has to be done at least once.

Subject:	Autostar Menus
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 02:18:19
From:	bobmi@northernwebs.com (Bob Minnick)
Here are a few comments to follow up the post I made concerning using
the EXT60AT. Most likely this will also apply to other Meade models
using the Autostar. Once over the hump of aligning the scope it proves
to be remarkably easy to use. And therein lies the ultimate problem with
the scope, and any Meade scope using an autostar.

The documentation for the telescope includes a brief, single page layout
of the autostar menus, but its not nearly detailed enough. The other
night the wife and I stuggled with the autostar, trying to set the scope
for M31. Is it under galaxies? Named Objects? Messiers?  I believe what
Meade needs to do is include a section of the manual (or even on their
website) with the complete list of objects contained within the
autostar, and the menu heirarchy needed to locate them. The autostar is
a nice addon, but if you don't know the menus and whats contained under
them, it serves only to add to the frustration.

Also I would caution people to avoid using the "Guided Tour" function.
Once your in it, its very hard to get out of the function.

Perhaps someone at Meade will read this email. As a professional
designer myself, I'm surprised and dismayed by the lack of an email
address on their site. Its one of the few complaints I have with what is
an excellent design.

    Bob Minnick

Subject:	Not in finder scope or field
Sent:	Sunday, April 8, 2001 05:11:29
From:	LVanosdol@aol.com
2000  atricle, I had my etx125ec setup and did the easy align the
autostar said everything was a go so off to saturn  I went, well after
several different gotos and not being sucessful I powered off did the
whole thing again and still no luck I don,t have an answer , but my
expeience was the same as yours. I am going out again tonight to see I
can get better results. By the way my autostar is brand new so I hope
that this not a big bug.   Les VanOsdol
Mike here: Hard to say what the problem is. Have you checked the Autostar settings (date/time/DST/location/mounting mode)? And just because it is "new" doesn't mean it has the current version of the software (2.1ek) or doesn't have some incorrect setting information (especially Daylight Savings Time and location; which can be changed at the dealer). Let me know what you find out.

Subject:	planets and the AutoStar
Sent:	Saturday, April 7, 2001 07:28:27
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	c.march28@ntlworld.com
What you are experiencing is a common problem when using AutoSTar on any
COMUTED object, like planets, moon or asteroids.

When you select, say Jupiter, go to "Object/Solar System..." and enter
to bring Solar System to the top line of the readout; then scroll down
to Jupiter (which I think you are doing correctly).  At this point,
pressing GO TO does nothing as you describe...you would think otherwise.
At this point the top line should read "Solar System" and below it is

NOW press "Enter" (before GO TO); this allows the AutoStar to compute
your observing location, Jupiter's position, the time and date.  You
will see at this point:  "Jupiter" on the top line, and under it a
rapidly changing "Computing....."  When it is done, it suddenly prints
out the exact RA and DEC of Jupiter on the night you have entered.  NOW
you press "GO TO" and the scope will take off!

Good luck....I think this will help, as it is confusing.

Clay Sherrod
From:	mjhirsch@earthlink.net (James and Marie Hirsch)
On your autostar feedback page you have a message titled goto using
solar system. I too had some difficulty doing gotos exactly the same
way. The trick is when any object is selected from the solar system menu
the ENTER key must be pressed 1st. The autostar will then calculate the
position of the solar system object. Then press the GOTO key and all
will be well. If you only select GOTO the scope will not move.

Mike here: I had assumed ENTER was pressed to SELECT the planet. Planets are no different than selecting ANY object.


Hi Clay,Mike,
Thanks very much for clearing this up for me ,I read the manual again
and it's not very clear from the instructions.Unfortunately it has been
overcast (I live in the Northeast of England)for the last few days and
for the near future. Hoping  it clears soon and I'll be out to try it.
My thanks to both yourself and Mike for the speedy reply and help in
clearing up the problem.Once again congratulations on the web site it is
of great interest and help.

Best Regards 
Mike here: Don't wait for clear skies. Practice using the Autostar inside your home. Go through all the menus, slew to objects, and just play. It is much easier doing that when you can take your time.


Thanks for the tips on how to use the goto function correctly.I can now
slew  to the objects in the solar system menu with no problems.Off to
the country side this weekend so hope to get some good veiws without
back lighting,Weather permitting of course.

Best Regards

Subject:	goto using solar system
Sent:	Thursday, April 5, 2001 04:35:11
From:	c.march28@ntlworld.com (c.march28)
I purchased an ETX-90-EC and have had good results with it and found it
easy to use.However i have one small problem .When using the autostar
and going to the solar system menu .If i select the Moon for example,
press goto  then the telescope will not slew.If i use the guided tour
menu then i have no problems.Perhaps it is just finger trouble or have i
missed somthing simple.

Found your sight to be excellent reading and very interesting.

Best Regards
Mike here: That's an odd one. Try pressing the GOTO button a little longer. Maybe there is some dirt on the keypad? There's a cleaning tip on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	bad juju... er, advice (or is it a typo)
Sent:	Tuesday, April 3, 2001 23:20:18
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
on http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable4.html
you've got a note from Meade which says:
"The #506 can therefore work with any ETX by plugging into the Aux Port
(recent level of firmware is required to do this. "

Well... i tried it.  My 497 running v21eK doesn't know diddley about
the 506.  LX200 handshakes go unanswered, Downloader handshakes go


Subject:	v21ek defaults for comets/asteroids/sats
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 09:52:42
From:	Bill.Forsyth@storagenetworks.com (Forsyth, Bill)
I can't seem to find the list address to post these emails to, but it
looks like they just go to you and then you post them to Autostar

I accidentally blew away my comets/asteroids/sattelites using the 2.4
updater and was wondering if there was an easy way to put the defaults
back in without having to reload the entire firmware? I can't just copy
everything over because there isn't enough room.....

--- Bill
Mike here: Messages sent to me get reviewed and posted on the site as appropriate to get other responses and/or when they may be useful to others. I'm a little confused by what you're asking. Do you mean you blew away the ones you put into the Autostar with a previous version or the ones that come with 2.1ek? And where isn't there room, your hard disk or your Autostar? There does seem to be a limit in 2.1ek, especially seen on satellite entries. Anyway, I've not have to reload anything (spoiled, I guess!) so can't speak from experience.

And an update:

Actually I figured it out.
The tours take up the most room in the ROM, and I had added that tour
from Edmunds Scientific at some point.  So when I removed it I was able
to reload everything from the library. I just didn't realize the tours
were so big.

Thanks for the help though!

--- Bill

Subject:	Satellite Tracking
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 08:27:06
From:	rick@pinefields.com (Richard B. Emerson)
To:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk
This is a bit late but here are a couple of thoughts on the subject. The
NOAA series (also referred to as POES - Polar Orbiting Earth Satellite,
but most often called NOAA, e.g., NOAA-15) weather satellites have very
high inclinations and are Sun synchronous which means their passes are
very predictable, comes in sets of three (low pass, high pass, low
pass), and obligingly traverse a lot of sky.  In fact, the really high
altitude passes may actually be too high for the ETX to follow fast

Although not a moving satellite (relative to one's position), there are
also the various geosynchronous satellites used for comms and weather
(e.g., the METEOSAT series).  I don't know how Autostar handles them but
if you can lock onto one and go for a long-time exposure, the stars move
but the satellite remains a dot.  With a bit of luck, these satellites
might be visible through the ETX.


Mike Hadey writes:
 > Satellite tracking is one thing that I have wanted to try but haven't yet.
 > I've been trying to get everything to work in Polar Mode first.  I'll need
 > to set up in Alt/Az to try satellites.  Any suggestions on a good satellite
 > to start with?  Watching the ISS and MIR from this latitude gives me only
 > about 40 sec and they both move like mad (besides being low relative to the
 > horizon).  I guess MIR is out of the picture anyway.  I presume you go to
 > the heavens-above (or some such) web site and load in the latest TLEs before
 > you go out.  I've read some of your pointers on  Mike's site but would be
 > interested in any special tricks.
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Speed probably isn't the problem... if it can follow MIR, it can follow
almost anything (unless they're highly elliptical and moving -really-
(ohhh... gotta try that...))
I don't think i've ever seen the NOAA/POES satellites on heavens-above,
which means they're probably dimmer than the 4.5 mag limit i usually
use. If they're sun-synchronous, that may also mean they're not passing
overhead at a convenient time for reflected light to reach us: either
daytime or too late at night (the ones i usually see -images- from pass
over at 10am or 2am local time)

There are great numbers of COSMOS satellites and rocket boosters which
have high-north orbits and are easy to track with the Autostar (i think
it was C 2678 which was my first successful full-pass capture).

LaCrosse 3 and its separate rocket are "easy, bright (enough)" targets.
They frequently account for 7- to 10-minute passes.

There was (in Sky & Tele?) a neat photo taken by someone in Germany (i
think) of a number of geostationaries doing a "dance" of orbital
insertion and repositioning... about 3 or 5 satellites in the same field
of view describing short arcs (it was a long exposure, tracking the
geostat spot) as they were moved into position.

And more from Dick Seymour:
So i checked heavens-above for NOAA%  (that's a wildcard) ... and,
indeed, NOAA-15 is currently visible over Seattle almost daily. It
becomes less visible in May. Not at all visible in mid-June.

(it's an 800km-high, nearly circular orbit).

It's dim: ranging from 5.0 to 7.6 magnitude during the next 10 days, and
its above-horizon time ranges from 8:06pm to 9:38pm

Its passes (during that time period) range from 12 degrees maximum
altitude to 65 degrees max altitude.  Not surprisingly, the brightest
passes are the highest.  Its inclination is 98 degrees, so its farthest
northerly (dead overhead) latitude is about 82 degrees. It does 14.23
orbits per day, so it's middling-slow in the perceived speed category. 
The highest/brightest pass for me (65 deg max alt) is ten minutes from
10-degrees-alt to 10-degrees-alt. The "5.0" magnitude is the -brightest-
it gets, so the other portions of the pass may be far dimmer.

Ranging back and forth with h-a's predictions, an 85-degree altitude
pass only achieved 4.5 magnitude, so it would escape my normal 4.0

When i'm playing around near Polaris, i frequently see satellites go
through the field of view... and based upon other stars i'd guess them
to be about 6th magnitude or dimmer.

more than you want to learn, i'm sure (now, back to income taxes)

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