Last updated: 30 August 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:	 RE: Alt Az mode
Sent:	Monday, August 28, 2000 20:52:08
From:	rickieweiss@worldnet.att.net (Rick Weiss)
Thanks Mike, your directions were great.  As I suspected I had the darn
scope on the tripod backwards, while still turning the scope to face
both the north and the "N" on the tripod.

If you look at several of the illustrations within the packaging you
will see why I did that.  The scope in the illustrations show the scope
mounted incorrectly.  It probably is a mirror image of the actual
photograph---who knows--anyway, thanks!  Works great now!

Subject:	 High Precision Mode
Sent:	Sunday, August 27, 2000 21:17:57
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
My sincere thanks to Mike for hosting this site and, most recently, to
Bill Collins for his tip on High Precision mode.  I envoked HP mode
tonight and it helped me bag two new Messier objects, M20 and M32.  M20
is magnitude 9.0, which I heretofore thought too dim to see from my
limiting magnitude 4.2 site.  Tonight it was about 3.0, as I could only
see three stars in the little dipper through the water vapor-laden air.
The first time I set HP, it didn't take.  The second time I saw ">ON",
the difference being the ">" (greater than) sign.  I need some more

I would caution observers that HP will only work well if you do a
careful two-star alignment.  In HP mode you are asked to center "the
star", meaning a nearby bright star.  The star had better be in the
field-of-view of the eyepiece, or you won't be able to center it! I have
been contemplating buying an LX200 but so far I'm holding off because
the software/firmware of the LX200s is pretty primitive compared to that
of my ETX 90 EC.  Now that I have tried HP I'm even less enthusiastic
about an LX200.

Dennis Persyk
Hampshire, IL

Subject:	 Autostar gone crazy
Sent:	Sunday, August 27, 2000 16:32:13
From:	mnjenkins@mindspring.com (Mike Jenkins)
I'm using the latest production ROMs in my Autostar.  Recently I tried
to follow the process to track the SUN.  I entered something WRONG,
resulting in divide by zero behavior.  Now, if I try to connect to
Meade's software, It attepts to upload over 100,000 asteroids. 
Selecting the Tonight's best tour results in the /-\| cycling until I
turn off the power.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for the outstanding site and all the time you spend keeping it
Mike J.
Mike here: What process did you use to try to track the sun? If your Autostar seems to have lost its mind and the normal download procedure won't work, you'll probably have to use the SAFE LOAD procedure. Hold down the ENTER and DOWN ARROW when you power it on. Then proceed to run the updater software.

Added later:

I tried the sun tracking procedure described under "Adding the Sun" on
your site.  I tried creating the asteroid using the downloader.  I
should have used the autostar directly.

Since mailing my first email, I downloaded version 1.3 and reloaded. 
Then I reloaded 2.1h and all is now fine.

Thanks for the rapid response.

Subject:	 Re: High Precision
Sent:	Sunday, August 27, 2000 13:48:48
From:	Pierre.Henrotay@skynet.be (Pierre Henrotay)
To:	johnr@harbornet.com
Read your mail on Mike's web site.
I have the same problem with my ETX-90/EC:
when using High Precision in AltAz mode and GOTOing M81 or M82, no
centering star is prompted for: the display comes back with the name of
the selected object only.
Tried this at home (50 N, 5 E) and in Italy (44 N, 11 E): same problem.

Subject:	 AutoStar Software Upgrade
Sent:	Saturday, August 26, 2000 17:39:47
From:	EricDreczko@email.msn.com (Eric S. Dreczko)
My AutoStar controller is at version 1.3b and I don't think I'm having
any trouble with it. I have two questions I would like to ask.

1. How does one find what the upgrades consist of. Many times, software
fixes may not apply to your environment and you may not need or want
them. (sort of like - If it ain't broke, don't fix it).

2. Can I restore to my original configuration if I were to upgrade
improperly and cause myself grief?

Anything you can shed on this would be appreciated.
Mike here: The readme file on Meade's Autostar Upgrade web page describes the current version. And yes, you should be able to go backwards.

Subject:	 How do you find the version of the autostar software
Sent:	Thursday, August 24, 2000 12:00:00
From:	pnajar@langesales.com (Peter Najar)
How do you find out which version of the Autostar software you have?
Does it show the letter part of the revision?

Peter Najar
Cell: (303) 880-0456 (please use as primary Phone #)
Office: (303) 795-3600 ext, 227
Mike here: When you power on the Autostar you will see (briefly the short version number). To check the full version more leisurely, go to the Statistics menu.

Subject:	 ETX Computer connection
Sent:	Thursday, August 24, 2000 00:11:00
From:	alancivita@worldonline.it (Wol)
Hello...first of all congratulation for your site ..as i've seen is the
best in web world...

My name is Alan and i'm from Trieste, ITALY well i have bought my first
telescope two months ago,an ETX 90 EC...and i'd like to know if you have
or if you know whre to find a serial cable scheme connection to connect
my etx my my Note book.

Thank you very much
Good job
Mike here: Check the Autostar Information page for cable information. Also, Meade has information on their web site on the Autostar manual page.

Subject:	 Re: rs232 to a 494 Autostar: the ANSWER (partly)
Sent:	Tuesday, August 22, 2000 20:06:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

Now i know -why- it doesn't work.
There is *no* rs232 port in the 494 Autostar.
It was left out to help achieve the etx60/70's low price.
(it actually does impose a fair parts count and power supply
requirement upon the Autostar)

The 506 cable set contains active components which convert rs232
levels to the (probably I2C bus code) that the 494 Autostar speaks.

If so, the two are completely incompatible.

I sent a rant to you and Mike (and Meade) about confusing naming
of the port compared to the  Autostar 497... it was incorrect.
The port on the 494 Autostar/etx-60ec is truly an AUX port
in the same way the ETX90 means AUX port.  The etx60/70 does more
with it.

So: the  8888x880888:000 you saw was probably the i2c bus bit stream.
The solution? Wait until a 506 cable set appears, or teach your
PC to speak i2c... but i have no idea what you'd -say- to the 494
if you did that.  Once you -have- a 506, then, indeed, the 494
should be able to understand some of the LX200 command codes.

But a simple piece of wire between your PC's serial port and
the 494/etx60's AUX port isn't going to do anything useful.

Sorry 'bout that
And a response:
Thanks Richard,

That will save me a lot of time because I was trying all the possible
alternatives. Now, after several connections with the ETX60AT I cant
make the serial port of my lap top work anymore with other devices I

I feel like I was trapped by Meade, because they advertise the #506
software and connector kit everywhere but I don't think it has ever been
released. Some stores even have price for it, but never had it...
Unfortunately I bought the ETX60AT relying on the possibility of
computer controlling it. For my application, without computer control
the ETX60 will be completely useless. Well, I am still trying with Meade
to see if I can get any help from them. I am supposed to travel in two
days to the Amazon Basin and I was believing I could  use this
instrument over there... Anyway, thank you very much for your great
help. You and Mike have been doing a fantastic job. Keep up with the
good work!!!

Best wishes,

And more:
I was considering a type of Y cable connector (may be in the handbox
port) to hopefully be able to at least get the signals from the motor
encoders. If I can do that, I can easily use those signals in a data
logger and that would help me a lot because, although I may not be able
to control the telescope from there, I could at least know exactly where
it is as a function of time. I need to time stamp the position of the
telescope very acurately in order to reconstruct my measurements
aftewards. Of course, if I could control the whole thing from my
computer would be much better but, if not, just  the capability to time
stamp the positioning for future use would be great. May be I could even
use the wires straight from the optical encoders inside the telescope
body for that.

Do you have any suggestion on this issue?
Thank for all your help.

Subject:	 re: Polar Alignment Nightmare
Sent:	Tuesday, August 22, 2000 00:35:04
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
or, The world turned upside down.

You wrote: (quoted out-of-original-order)
> I next did a GOTO Albireo and it was very brilliant tonight.
>  I then did a GOTO Polaris and something very strange occurred!
>  The scope went to Polaris (I think) but the EYEPIECE WAS
> UPSIDE-DOWN!  I tried to rotate the scope rightside-up with the
> controller, but the RA axis seemed to be slipping.
In short: Welcome to Polar Mounting!
The scope does not care where the eyepiec ends up (or down)...
it was merely rotating to the RA angle of Polaris, and then dropping
the barrel the one degree needed to view it.
Where that rotation ends up depends upon the time of night, and
time of year, you're obvserving.
Adding to the "uncertainty" is the way the ETX -does- polar alignment.
If the base's RA axis is not pointed -exactly- at the celestial pole,
the actual place it has to point the barrel can be almost anywhere.
If Polaris was actually to the east of the celestial pole, but
you had the tripod aligned -another- degree east, the ETX may choose
to spin the RA axis 180 degrees (pardon: 12 hours) around so it does
not have to raise the barrel beyond a 90 degree angle.

I've played with this. Some of the ways and places the ETX arrives
at are not intuitive, but careful nudging around can show what's up.
If i try to go to an RA of 0:00 and a Dec 0f 90 degrees, it might
end up with the forks -parallel- to the RA 00:00 line, such that
the (slightly offset) barrel goes rapidly from about 03:00 RA to
about 21:00 RA... by slowly moving the Dec (altitude) axis!
What's happening is that my tripod alignment  mistake means that
it -cannot- get to 00:00 90.00 from the "correct" side.
And it -won't- allow the barrel to exceed 90 degrees of altitude.
So it swings to the side and makes the best shot it can.  
But up at the pole, the RA numbers all crash together, so -any- 
minor misalignment can produce large swings of the RA (Az) axis.

> Viewing M24 the elevation (obtained from depressing MODE for a few
> seconds and cursoring to alt-az coordinates) was 29 degrees above
> the southern horizon but the OTA was within an inch of touching
> the scope base  I was a little worried.
If it's operating properly, the Autostar will produce a warning
message if the target is too far south.  SOmething to the effect of
"the target is possibly beyond the travel limits of the telescope,
and damage could result. Do you really want to go there?"
I was impressed when i first saw that message.  Good job, Meade!

> What did I do wrong?  HELP!
Wrong? Tried to use Polar.  Icky. (<-personal opinion meant as joke)
However, Polar -is- fully justified for long-exposure photo stuff.
I'll use it myself.

The operation you saw is/was/willbe perfectly normal for Polar 
operation... just remember to always tighten the eyepiece lock-screw.

> I'm not sure what you mean by "real Polar Home" position.
> Which of the above steps was wrong?
From your description, you did pretty well.  If you must
start on Polaris, try the Polar One-star... and READ THE SCROLLING
DISPLAY... it nicely walks you through the procedure.
The "one star" actually go to Polaris -first-.
Then goes to the one-star.  So you -can- use Polaris for alignment,
just let the ETX do the pointing for you (and yes, the eyepiece 
will be in an odd position).


Subject:	 High Precision
Sent:	Monday, August 21, 2000 07:53:10
From:	johnr@harbornet.com (John Riegsecker)
I had trouble getting deep sky objects in the field of view of my
ETX-125 until I began using the High Precision feature.  Last night I
was using the 26mm ep with 2x Barlow and it nailed every Messier object
dead center.  I too wish it would stay set after I set it.  It would
also be nice if it worked on Uranus, Neptune or Asteroids, but that
might be a lot of extra programming.

I have noticed one odd thing.  If I select Messier and tell it to go to
M81, it computes and then just comes up with M81.  No synchronizing
star. Does this happen to everyone or just me?


John Riegsecker                         email:  riegsecker@ups.edu

Department Math/Comp Science                    johnr@Harbornet.com

University of Puget Sound               phone:  (253) 879-3566


Subject:	 Autostart-Question
Sent:	Monday, August 21, 2000 05:06:04
From:	Michael-Eggers@t-online.de (Michael Eggers)
after a few month of beeing ill I'm now back and have one question. I
have updated my Autostar to Vers.1.3c a few month ago. Now i see we are
on version 2.0i now. Is it necessary to update? Better accurate? Or what
are the new features?
Is there a version-history at your site?
Many thanks?
Mike here: Sorry to hear you've been ill. Welcome back. Updating is probably a good idea. There is a description of what's new in each readme.

Subject:	 more info on the autostar
Sent:	Sunday, August 20, 2000 22:34:55
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
Thought you might like some more info on the continuing saga of the ETX
and autostar.  Hooked up the autostar to the HBX port, hooked up the 505
cable connector properly,applied power, and still no LCD display.  So, I
counted the steps necessary to get to "download" (you know, 5 to stop
the sun warning, enter to bypass the get started msg., a couple more
enters to get through the date/time, and daylight savings checks), and
the autostar should be in alighn.  Count down 9 steps and your in
download.  It works, even if your LCD is blank, then start the download,
which goes perfectly, and you hope your autostar gets it's brains back. 
No such luck, even after a sucessful download.  So much for that idea.

Even though the LCD is totally blank through all of this, there is a
"red" glow all around the perimeter of the display.  Like I said,
everything seems to work, except the LCD display remains blank, through
all of this.  Weird!  Does Meade warranty this sort of thing? I know I
registered the equipment, but I can't seem to find the suff right now. 
I still have the sales receipt, so maybe that will help. Amazing, but
the ETX without the autostar is hard to use, and for dummies like me,
damn hard to use.  Several phone calls tommorow, and hopefully this will
get resolved.  Calling Meade is not my first choice, but your E-mail
indicates they are trying harder with customers relations.  We'll see.

        Thanks for the help again,
        Tony Bulat
Mike here: Sounds like it might be a dead LCD. Let me know how Meade responds.

Added later:

Just a follow up FYI.  I called Meade yesterday about the problems I've
been having in the last few days with my LCD on the #497 Autostar being
blank. Much to my suprise, a nice young chap named John Piper from
customer relations took my call, listened to my explanation of what
transpired, was very pleasant, cooperative, professional and helpful. 
He gave me a reference # and his name plus routing address, told me to
include the proof of purchase receipt along with a letter explaining the
situation and mail it back to Meade and they would replace it for free
since it was still under the one year warranty. Simple, since I still
had the orginal Autostar container box and receipt. There's a lesson
here for all your readers. Anyway, after reading some of the horror
stories on your website, I wondered just what to expect.  A very
pleasant suprise thank you, and I did pass on my kudos to John Piper and
his supervisor(old Air Force pat em on the back when they done good). 
It was almost like somebody was kicking ass and taking names in the
customer relations dept.  I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I sure miss my Autostar, 
Tony Bulat

Subject:	 Autostar High Precision mode
Sent:	Friday, August 18, 2000 15:36:15
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
During galaxy season last spring I stumbled on an Autostar capability
which I had initially overlooked. As explained in the manual, the
Setup/Telescope/High Precision option allows you to find deep sky
objects with ease. With this option enabled, a Go To command for a deep
sky obect will send the scope to a STAR near the object. Autostar will
then ask you to center the star and press Enter, whereupon the scope
looks up the offset angle, slews to the object and puts it dead center
in the eyepiece every time. This feature has shown me many galaxies
which I never saw with my 10-inch Newtonian, not because that scope
wouldn't show them but because I couldn't find them, even with 12-inch
setting circles!

Using this option does not seem to degrade the system's overall pointing
accuracy as does the "Synch" function, since the two-step process is
invoked ONLY for galaxies, nebula, etc. I use it every time I set up my
ETX-125 and only wish there were a way to have it default "ON."

Perhaps other users have overlooked this handy feature.

Bill Collins
Walnut Creek CA

Subject:	 Wanted: Autostar cable for JMI motorfocus
Sent:	Friday, August 18, 2000 03:40:13
From:	jim_d@uol.com.br (Jim Davidson)
I have a couple of JMI motor-focusers and would like to adapt one to run
off the Autostar handset. Have any autostar owners tried this or looked
into it already? I would think the solution would be building an
electric component box matching cables and voltages but I'd be curious
if anyone else has tried this first.



Jim Davidson
jim_d @ uol.com.br
3  31 '  S , 38  33 ' W
Mike here: JMI has an InstaFocus product that works with the Autostar.

Subject:	 autostar updates
Sent:	Thursday, August 17, 2000 19:51:29
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
I downloaded the Autostar update tool (version A2.1) and Autostar
firmware (version 2.0h) and it's just sitting there in the PC waiting to
be transferred to the autostar.  I am doing this because I'm not sure
which software version is in my autostar.  I tried following the
instructions to upload this latest version with no success.  I hooked up
the #505 connector cable from the serial port to the auto- star as
directed, but I kept getting the "windows fail" sign after 3 attempts. 
I tried several different hookups, all with the same result.  I did not
try this with the autostar plugged into the ETX control panel Handbox
Port (HBX) and powered up at the same time that the #505 connector cable
is connected from the serial port to the autostar.  Is this the correct
way to upload the Autostar update A2.1 into my autostar?   Help!
Mike here: The Autostar gets its power from the ETX so the Autostar needs to be connected to the ETX and the ETX powered on.

Added later:

I have a question for you about autostar, the ETX, and trying to
download version A2.1.  Tonight, as I was setting up the autostar by
plugging it into the ETX and powering it up( nothing else hooked up), I
got power to the buttons on the auto- star, it beeped,and I could turn
the night light on and off.  The problem was the LCD screen, it was
blank, and turning the power on/off and hitting MODE did nothing to
change it.  My plans were to check "setup>statistics" to see which
version was in my autostar, then select "setup>download" to begin the
upgrade process.  Hard to do when the LCD is blank.  Nothing I did
seemed to help.

I mentioned to you before that I had fooled around and tried to download
the A2.1 version without the autostar being powerd up, which didn't do
much. My question in that regard is; could that have damaged or really
screwed up my autostar to the point of having to replace it?  By the
way, I was able to slew the ETX, and by punching a series of keys, it
would start to autotrack, or at least make those low humming sounds like
it was tracking.  Your best guess good sir, and if Dick Seymour sees
this, maybe he could help.  What a way to ruin an otherwise good day.
Mike here: That is odd. I doubt you fried the LCD by not having it hooked up earlier. Can you see the display in the dark? If not, then it may have gotten damaged.

Subject:	 GoTo RA and Dec  (and/or Alt and Az)
Sent:	Wednesday, August 16, 2000 21:55:25
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	giakons@yahoo.com
On Mike Weasner's site you asked:

>I would like to ask you about something. I use MEADE ETX-125 EC in
>Alt/Az mount with Autostar 497. Is there any way, using Autostar, to
>give first R.A. and Dec. and then GO TO?

The easy way is to press the [mode] key a few times
to get up to a display like:

Now hold the [Mode] key down for more than two seconds.
If you have an electric focuser, you will see a focus
message.  Touch scroll down [v]
If you do not have an electric focuser, you will be
seeing the current position of the ETX in RA and Dec.
Press [goto]

That display now becomes a data-entry display.
The cursor is blinking on the first digit of the RA.
You can enter the number you wish (hours, minutes)
Press [Enter]
The cursor now moves to the Dec number.
Again, you may key in the digits of your target (degrees, minutes)
Press [enter]
The ETX will now slew to that position (unless it is below the

You can do the same thing with Alt/Az... After holding [mode]
to reach the RA/Dec display, press scroll down [v] once (more)
and you will see the Alt/Az readout.  Press [goto]
and that display will accept input, too.

have fun
Thank you.
K. Giannopoulos
Pyrgos Greece
E-mail: giakons@yahoo.com

Subject:	 GO TO R.A. AND Dec.
Sent:	Tuesday, August 15, 2000 06:17:43
From:	giakons@yahoo.com (Konstantinos Giannopoulos)
First of all, I would like to thank you for all the useful information I
find in your site.

I would like to ask you about something. I use MEADE ETX-125 EC in
Alt/Az mount with Autostar 497. Is there any way, using Autostar, to
give first R.A. and Dec. and then GO TO?

Thank you.
K. Giannopoulos
Pyrgos Greece
E-mail: giakons@yahoo.com
Mike here: You can use the User Objects under the Object menu.

Subject:	 a shapely object...
Sent:	Tuesday, August 15, 2000 00:24:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Tonight's ISS pass was about as good as Saturday's... with the
difference of using the Barlow tonight... and the beastie -does- show a

Almost constant corrections were required, but it was an "easy" track
(46 degrees maximum altitude).  The AOS was about 3 degrees off (AOS too
far North), but the timing was dead-on. Speed 6 was usually adequate to
keep it in view, even given the half-field width of the Barlow.

I also tracked it Sunday night, but then i'd call it a "double star"
instead of tonight's (and Saturday's) definite horizontal line.


Subject:	 longitude (+) or (-)
Sent:	Monday, August 14, 2000 20:59:16
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
Quick question.  When you insert lat/long into the "site location" in
autostar, is the longitude for the U.S. plus or minus?  I swear I had
that all figured out in my previous tests and setups.  Then with my
brother here for the big demo, the easy alighn couldn't find jack-squat.
I found an error in the time zone, it should have read  -7.0 hrs.
instead of 0.0 hrs. So I corrected that, and still using a + for W.
longitude, I figured that would solve the problem. It didn't!

So I continued to use -7.0 hrs. for the time zone, and I chose -103
54'41"West for the longitude, and all is well with the autostar,the
night sky and me. The problem is after flying fighters in the Air Force
for 20 yrs. I could swear that West longitude was positive. Could this
be an anomally in the autostar, or is it related to the way RA/Dec and
Alt/Az are used in astronomy?

Thanks Mike, always nice to read your site's comments,

Tony Bulat
Mike here: In older versions, west longitude was positive but was changed in 1.1m to west being negative. Always nice to hear from a fellow former fighter pilot. See my personal Home Page for what I flew.

Subject:	 Meade + computer
Sent:	Monday, August 14, 2000 12:49:15
From:	paulo@wollny.com.br (Paulo Wollny)
Very interesting your page and tips. I really liked. I have one
question: is it possible to directly connect the computer rs-232 to the
EC of Meade without having to buy the autostar control?

THX in advance,

Paulo J V Wollny
phone/fax: +55 (21) 512-4380
Rio de Janeiro / Brazil
Mike here: Currently, you need the Autostar to connect to a computer.

Subject:	 Below Horizon question...
Sent:	Sunday, August 13, 2000 23:08:15
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

You (and someone else who i can't find) commented upon some objects in
Tours which reported "below horizon" whereas they could be reached

Which Tour?  Which Object(s)?

Some tours -look- like they're accessing the normal database, but
they've really got the object's coordinates hard-coded (as RA/Dec) in
the script.  If their idea of where it is differs from the Autostar's
own database, that could be a source of the discrepancy.

But if you could supply more details, i'd be more that happy to lift the
hood on it...

have fun

p.s. i'd go for more aperture... unless portability was a major factor
(it is for me).  And i use a plank c-clamped to a railing.... not a
tripod. (how do i bring the railing for field work? haven't solved that
one yet...)

Subject:	 egad... is that a -shape-?
Sent:	Sunday, August 13, 2000 16:43:51
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Saturday night I loaded in the newest TLEs
from www.heavens-above.com,
I took the time to put my Custom Site into my Autostar
to -really- nail where i'm at. (i'm about 18 miles North
of the ETX's idea of "Seattle".... i'd guess they use an
airport database)

And go hunting for the International Space Station...

Before heading out, I ran the Autostar through the calculations
a few times to bracket the AOS time/az/alt predictions,
to compare with the Heaven's Above detailed map.
(if you do  Object>Satellite>Select>ISS [enter]
a number of times, you'll find that you get a -range- of answers.
They may all show the same -minute- of AOS, but the Az and Alts
will differ.  If you apply the to-the-second-AOS patch, that'll
change too.  The Autostar prediction doesn't always repeat
its AOS... in fact, it rarely hits the same one tiwce.
But they're all along the same -track-.  This is handy if
its AOS prediction is too high or too low for your situation,
just push the twenty-button bandit's [mode] and then [enter] 
again, and you'll get another chance at the jackpot)

The Autostar appeared to be very, very close to the track,
but about 20 seconds slow.  So i head for outside, align,
poke around (moon, the odd star), fret at the cloudbank,
do a satellite-predict pass, and it's -in- the cloudbank.
The next spin of the wheels shows a 26 degree Alt, well
above the clouds.  So i finally tell the ETX to [GoTo].
(this SW-to-NE pass was going to be north of overhead,
passing just under Polaris, so i knew it wouldn't hit the stops)

Watching with binoculars, i saw the ISS rise above the clouds...
Peering into the ETX's viewfinder, it came into sight...
and -hit- the crosshairs!... [enter] to start track.
Switching to the ETX's 26mm eyepiece, there it was... 
following it required almost constant leaning on the 
left-slew key at speed 7.  The Alt-tracking was pretty good,
just requiring occasional upward correction.
As it was tracking well enough to actually -think- about
what i was seeing... it struck me that the object looked
-different-... it had SHAPE!
  Just a short, crisp horizontal line, but not a dot!
  About the width of Saturn's planet, but not the rings.

Now, this might have been caused by
(a) latent in-eyeball image caused by resonance in the ETX's motion
(b) poor collimation of my ETX 
(c) wishful thinking on my part
(d) the ISS being distinctly linear since the addition
   of the new module. (i.e. the shape might be -real-!)

I couldn't compare it to the stars which were streaming by,
but after-pass star-looking did not show any shapes.
The orientation of the shape (pretty much aligned across
my eyepiece) didn't seem to change over the first third
of the pass...
After that the button-effort required to keep it within
(or bring it back into) view exceeded my spare thinking
capacity, so i didn't catch nuances of the shape as the
image started moving wildly across the field of view
(i was up to speed 9 for some corrections).

If only, if only...i'd had my Barlow at hand.
(then the tracking would have been -much- harder)

Then back to (not) boring ol' multiple-star cruising...

Subject:	 most current version of autostar firmware...
Sent:	Friday, August 11, 2000 18:36:45
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Since Meade's pulled Natural Wonders' plug (somewhat)
they moved the most-current (2 August) package
( v2.2 Updater, v2.0i etx firmware) to


that gives you a better Updater (among other things,
it doesn't screw up Comets and other downloads)
at the "cost" of the ROM files being "checksummed"...
so if we want to patch things, we've got another step to take
(but the 495 crowd have already dealt with this, it's easy)

This Updater can also update back to a v1.0c Autostar.
Ye Olde Autostars no longer need to have a half-step update.

I notice that the "default" download pointed to by the Support
page is also dated 2 August, but i haven't unpacked -that- one

And more info:
Subject:	 Maybe hold off on trying that "most current version" 
Sent:	Sunday, August 13, 2000 16:32:21
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
I sent along an announcement about a "most current version"
of the Updater... 
The ROMs are indeed, v2.0i for the 497

However the Updater -is- a beta, and one of the new
features is checking handbox type... and a correspondent with
 a "version 1.0" (no sub-letter specified) 497 tired it,
 and it did  two things:
(1) complained about  "failed while reading tour at page 6 offset 3f94".
(2) "Your autostar cannot upload this versio of the autostar.rom.
 A non ETX autostar is required to upload this version of the firmware".

So it may be mis-identifying his handbox.

Since they've greatly rearranged where/how Tours are handled between
v1.x and v2.x, i can certainly understand that the Updater might
get confused trying to "read back" a tour from an old Autostar.

The "newest" Updater is updater v2.0030
I've used v2.0025, the previous full-release Version was 2.0021.

The README for this one says:

> New in Version X2.0030 (A2.2)
> If you have a 1.0c firmware Autostar, you now may use
> Version X2.0030 (A2.2) of the Autostar Update utility to update
> your firmware to the latest version.

Beware: betas can be buggy... newly implemented features are
 definite signs of thin ice... tread carefully.

Here are the differences between v2.0025 and this...

A2.1   X2.0026     Add:  Ability to distinguish the model on
                   Add:  Checksumming for all products.
                   Add:  Overhaul the new memory map and object
                   Add:  Smarter installation (preserves EXPERT
                               previous values, etc.)
                   Bug:  Link error thrown by conersion of
                   Fix:  Loaded bitmap into Paint rotated
                               twice and replaced file.
                   Note: Made some modifications to the HELP
                               file.  More extensive modifications
                               are being done.  As 494 changes are
                   Add:  Autostar 494 changes for memory map
                               and page saving.
A2.2               Note: A2.2 Release
       X2.0027      Add:  < Send ALL  to Autostar > capability.
       X2.0027      Add:  < Send NONE to Autostar > capability.
       X2.0028      Bug:  Satellites are not downloading from WEB
                    Fix:  Same error as reported for comets.
                               Same fix. Also checked other bodies
                               for the same error and made fixes as
                               needed. CRT
       X2.0029      Bug:  Cannot find the Tour Provider's list
                               of tours. Unhandled exception
                               reported.  No SIGs showing.
                    Fix:  MFC is not a true event driven system
                               the message delivery was happining
                               before the SIG list was built.  A
                               PV-software symaphore was wrapped
                               around the class.  You can detect
                               this in debug mode when you suddenly
                               jump out of a class and into another
                               class via the view/debug/call stack
                               mechanism. CRT
       X2.0030      Note: Pre 2.3 release.  Betatest release.

Based on the one bleeding-edge person who's tried it,
v1.0 Autostar owners may still want to hold off a bit...

Subject:	 Dick Seymour on site location
Sent:	Tuesday, August 8, 2000 20:33:00
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
I asked the question about how do you know the exact location your ETX
is using for its home of reference as far as all the computations used
in proper tracking are concerned.  Without an accurate location, then
all good tracking is for naught.  The autostar handbook is a little
vague here again, especially after you go through the first
initialization process. Good ol Dick Seymor came to the rescue again.  I
wonder how many other folks he's helped by reading your mail and
responding to their questions?  I can't thank you and Dick enough, your
insight and knowledge about Meades products have created an army of
loyal followers. Again, I thank you both.

    Blessed are astronomers with good eyesight and clear skiies,
    Tony Bulat

Subject:	 welcome to the world of ETX90-dom
Sent:	Monday, August 7, 2000 21:10:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	clint.russum@eds.com

I saw your note on Mike's site, and would like to toss in a cent or
two... the object-leaves-after-sync is -proabably- what you'll see
referred to as "creep after beep". (or "creepie-beepies" in Stantasic's

I believe its a very delayed take-up of backlash. Something you could
add to the mix is the -direction- of the creep. For me it seems to be in
a positive-sidereal direction... almost as if the ETX were thinking it
had to "catch up" with a moving object.

> When going to a star in the vicinity that the scope is already pointing,
> it takes off towards the opposite horizon and sometimes beyond the
>  rotational limit. Yikes!!! TURN OFF!!! START OVER!!!
What version of Autostar firmware are you running?
You can get the -exact- version by choosing the Setup menu,
then up-scrolling two choices to Statistics.
Hit [enter], then scroll up once to see the full version description.

The [mode] key should halt a [goto] motion, but once you've hit the
stops, your alignment's shot.

If the version is anything higher than v1.3b, you shouldn't be hitting
the stops. (except in Satellite tracking... )   v2.0i  is the newest
version. v2.0h is exactly the same, except for a buggy non-english

A second reading of that symptom would be that you've got the original
setup 360 degrees off.  Thus the ETX is trying to -avoid- a stop, (hence
taking the long 'way round) but is hitting them, instead.  Two dead
giveaways: the second object is south of 270/90 degrees -azimuth- (or
true East and West). Check out your setup's home position: With the
scope off, set it on a table, with the plug panel pointing due West. 
Unclamp the azimuth clamp.  Hold the base steady, and rotate the
telescope barrel fully counter clockwise, when viewed from the top. It
should run into the stop with the barrel pointing a bit south of the
plug-panel. In other words, the barrel should now be pointing southwest.
Now turn the barrel so that it's pointing due north.  Clamp the Az.
Level the barrel, and clamp the Altitude knob. That's the Alt/Az home
position. If you're not diligent about the go-to-stop-and-then-north,
you WILL occasionally hit the stops.  (the expection to this is being
diligent one night, then using Utilites> ParkScope to put it to sleep. 
It'll point due north, but it may not rotate that extra turn to the
"manual" home position.  That's OK... it'll remember where it parked
((tm) Star Trek IV).

> In Guided Tour Mode it may tell me an object is Below Horizon (Then why
> does it want to list it on the tour?) It's not really below horizon. If
> you find the same object in the database  it goes right to it. The
>  software is not perfect yet, but manageable.
that's a new one on me... so i'm -really- curious about your version

have fun with the ETX... you sound like you've got realistic experience
(and patience) so you'll probably get a LOT of enjoyment out of it...

Subject:	 alignment problem
Sent:	Saturday, August 5, 2000 11:19:34
From:	Goodshot@email.msn.com (goodshot)
It's been more than a week since I got the ETX-90 and I still haven't
been able to do polar alignment. The scope seems to point at a star but
I can't see it in the viewfinder nor in the scope,though I adjusted the
viewfinder with the scope(I use a Tasco rifle viewfinder). Trying to
find a star  in the scope seems like trying to find a needle in hay.

So,I gave up tring to find a star but instead tried to locate the moon.
The scope slewed toward the moon(clockwise),but it hit the hard stop,so
it couldn't point at the moon. If it had slewd counter-clockwise,it
would've pointed at the moon. If I manualy move the scope with a
controller to aim at the moon and position it in the center of the scope
and hit Enter,will it still synch? Or, probably I'll have to wait untill
the moon rises up from the eastern horizon.

Hopefully, I'll be able to do polar alignment someday.

Best Regards,
Hide Takahashi
Mike here: See the Autostar Information page for alignment techniques. Of course, be certain you have trained the drives, entered the proper site location, date/time, and mounting mode, and put the telescope in the HOME position before beginning the alignment. Finally, unless you absolutely need to use Polar Mode, stick with Alt/Az. Most users report better results with that. Also, the telescope/tripod is more stable in this mode.

Subject:	 FOVs...ask the Autostar!
Sent:	Thursday, August 3, 2000 21:36:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
One of the (many) unsung ablilities of the Autostar is eyepiece FOV
calculations. Admittedly, it only admits to Meade-brand eyepieces, but
they're probably similar to what you've got.

Utilities > Eyepiece Calcs>Field of View
then scroll through the eyepieces until you hit one you like.

It'll use the focal length you "set" when you told it what model
telescope you have.
So, i'll lie... "dear Autostar... my 90mm glass is really a 125..."
Oh... you want FOV at a Magnification? no... you give me an out.. 9.7mm
hmmm... the nearest is the Meade Super Plossel 9.7mm...
 and the answer is 15 arcminutes FOV.

(no math.. it's all in the buttons...)
that lens' magnification is 195.9x

The 2x barlow would kick the mag to ~400, and, as Mike says, effectively
halve the FOV.

--dick (Autostar... fun even on rainy days...)

Subject:	 insight on Sites?
Sent:	Thursday, August 3, 2000 21:25:52
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Setting our sights on site?

The Autostar has the capability of holding (At least) 4 custom sites.
That's how you -nail- your location.

How to:  From the menus: Setup>Site>Add
scroll up once to Custom, press [enter]
You'll see "Site Name:   SITE"
You can replace the letters of "SITE" with whatever you'd like (i use
(and you can use up to 16 letters, spaces and numerals)

It'll then ask for Latitude (positive is North)
(i believe some early versions understand N and S)

Then it'll ask for Longitude (the USA is NEGATIVE offset, i think)
And Time Zone (Pacific time is -8 hours...)

(you can verify these guess by, before adding your HOME,
using the site EDIT function to see what's doing at Rapid City).

Once you've entered your HOME site, 
then you can SELECT it as your site.
(just creating it may not Select it).


Subject:	 re: etx-90  aux ports
Sent:	Monday, July 31, 2000 20:53:54
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Mike: i saw cdcopy@t-online.de (cdcopy)'s question on your site, and
your response... this is what i just sent to him...


The computer rs232 does NOT plug into the  ETX base!!!

The computer rs232 connector is on the *Autostar* Controller!! 

If you plug a computer rs232 into the ETX "AUX" jacks,
you may (will!!!) damage either the computer, the ETX, or both.

There have been postings by (someone in Switzerland) who severely 
damaged his ETX this way.

(i saw your note on Mike's site, and i hope i am not too late....)
--dick seymour
From:	jblessin@worldnet.att.net (Jordan Blessing)
In response to Mr. Barths question about the Aux ports... The Aux ports
are for accessories only. Attempting to attach a computer cable to these
ports can and likely will cause damage within the scope and/or computer.
The ETX cannot be computer driven without the Autostar controller. The
proper port is on the bottom of the Autostar controller.
Jordan Blessing

       ScopeTronix Astronomy Products

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