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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 1 January 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.


Mike here: I returned the loaner ETX-125EC system including the Autostar back to Meade on Christmas Day. Since it has exhibited the random slew problem they want to see if they can pin down the cause. I'll report back when I know some details.

Mike here: I have sent Dick Seymour one of the ETX Site Pledge T-Shirts. I think he deserves one for all his valuable contributions to the content on this site. I hope everyone agrees that without his Autostar knowledge we would all know a lot less about the Autostar and how to get the most of out it. Please join me in thanking Dick for his dedication and willingness to help. Thanks Dick for all that you've done to help make our ETX site the best in the world.


Subject:	 Autostar Question
Sent:	Sunday, December 31, 2000 22:02:51
From:	jblank@warwick.net (Jeffrey & Laura Blank)
I purchased a Meade 114EQ-DH4 telescope. It came with the Autostar
controller(labeled Starfinder on the handset). The question I have is
this: all references I have found on the net to Autostars show the
computer cable connection as the Hand controller having a connector port
and a cable going to the motor control. Mine has only the cable going to
the HBX port of the DEC motor box. No extra port on the controller. To
update the controller firmware would I connect it alone directly to the
PC? Would the standard Meade cable set work with this? I have found no
mention anywhere.

Subject:	 Updating the Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2000 22:54:45
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Clay,

Other than fear of the icons in the Ephemerides folder, and 
an understandable fear of destroying the Autostar, what's the problem?
(i'm not being facetious... it's hard to discern from your message
what you're really asking...)
(by the way... i've sent a copy of your note onward to engineer@meade,
 they should be informed of how their phone support is handling the
 post Xmas deluge...)

To quote from your 2nd paragraph:
> Anyway, perhaps someone can help us, like Seymour. 
I'll try... but calm down a bit.  Using the Updater will probably NOT
damage anything requiring return-to-Meade... unless truly oddball 
things happen.  Even then they've built in a rescue mode.

> I can successfully load the ROM2.1ek onto my PC,
cool... you should end up with 3 files:
 autostar.rom,  dbase.rom (both 640K), and updater.txt.

You -also- need to have the Updater itself installed on your PC.
Since you have an Ephemerides folder, i'm assuming you have done that.
If you haven't, let me know and we'll walk thru that.

> but when I attempt to open the "Ephemerides" folder, I get the same
> series of icons (640k) as Steve Reed,
that's good.

> all the icons being marked with "Explorer" blue "E" logos.
I don't understand the "E logo" part.  ".ROM" is an unregistered 
file type under Windows, so it shouldn't know what icon to put there.
(or: it should use its generic "i don't know what this is" icon).
Ignore the icons.  They don't matter.

> None open.  
Correct.  No program has been assigned to "open" them. Nor will be.
**You** copy those two ROM files into the 
ProgramFiles>Meade>Autostar>AutostarUpdater>Ephemerides directory,
then use the Start Menu on your Windows Taksbar to start the Meade
Updater.  
The **updater** will open those files when it needs to.

>I have not yet risked putting my Autostar into the system, it is
>not patched for fear of messing up.
How to do:
(a) connect cables 
(b) turn on computer, when it's fully up and rolling,
(c) turn on telescope, tell it time and date.
(d) Under Windows' [start] button, locate Meade entry, chase down
  side menus (Meade> Autostar> ...) to the Updater.
(e) click on Updater to start it.
(f) Updater splash screen shall appear (well, "should")
(g) it may automatically kick your Autostar into Download mode.
     That's Ok.
(h) it'll report your current Autostar's contents, and fetch from the
 Autostar your current Satellite, Comet, etc.etc. lists.
(i) it'll finally quiet down and wait, with just the one "main" 
    display panel.  You can now click the [help] button for lots of
    help with pictures... or
(j) press the "Send to Handbox [new software]"  button.
(k) that'll do it... the download will start... go away for 30 minutes.
(l) it'll beep when finished, and start a RESET procedure on the
   Autostar.  
(m) press the [finished] button on the Updater's panel.  It'll go away.

That's it.  If you had the autostar.rom and  dbase.rom files in the
 correct folder, they were just downloaded to the Autostar.
Congratulations.  

>  Shouldn't we be able to open and view the "Ephemeride" files prior
> to download the final version into the Autostar?
No... the data in the rom files are complete gobbledgook to a PC.
They are programs and data for a completely different computer system.
Even the numbers are "backwards" compared to the byte ordering of a PC.

The Meade Updater can interpret some of them for you (the Comet,
Asteroid and Satellite lists, for example), but not all of it.
You're not expected/wanted/able/whatever to view the 30,000 object
database outside of the Autostar.

> PLEASE HELP! 
Stop!  Calm down... breathe calmly... inhale, exhale... 

> I want to track better, and so does Steve Reed!
> The instruction give no clue and I am not about to interface until I
> know for sure.
(a) life's uncertain.
(b) even with perfect instructions a power blink at the wrong time
can corrupt a download (read old postings on Mike's site circa Mar 00).
(c) while downloading **leave the room** (i do).  One of the main causes
 of corrupted downloads is people doing something else with the computer
during the download... and crashing the downloader.
(d) the download will take a bit over 30 minutes.  Expect that.

Good luck
--dick (i've done it dozens of times (really!))
And a response:
Deep breath, calm down, relax.  Okay.  I'm ready.  Thanks a bunch for
you easy-to-follow help.  I really appreciate your taking the time to
assist in this task.  My main frustration is the lack of technical
support from Meade; I just upgraded from an ETX 90-RA which I absolutely
love....great optics, great tracking, etc., to the 125.  I have had
nothing but bad luck with it. By the way, I'm a retired astronomer, who
got out before the "computer revolution" took off in astronomy!  Never
seen anything like this.  When it works, the scope is great!  Optics are
perfect and the GO TO is super (when it works); but the scope DEC.
motors fail to track in cold weather, the OTA support arms arrived
cracked at each screw hole, the DEC clamp does not work and the RA does
not engage unless I use a mule to tighten.  Other than that, it is
frustration-free.  When I call Meade, I get randomly different answers
from each different person I speak with; they are in a hurry I am sure,
but I just spent over $1,400 of hard-earned money for this little scope
and I want it to work properly!

In the long run, I very much thank you for responding....I think I am on
my way, and everything is, in fact, in order for downloading.  Noone but
you could clarify that what I have is ready to go!  I will try this week
and let you know.  Great to hear from you!

Clay Sherrod
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod), etx@me.com (Mike Weasner)
Clay,

> Dick - If you don't mind, one more question before I proceed with my
> Autostar download.  
Keep asking until you're comfortable... 

> Assuming that I have both:  1)  ROM2.1ek ; and 2) Autostar Updatel;
er... what's Autostar Update1 ?

> loaded and ready on my PC, how do I merge the two to download?
> 
> You mentioned to put the two database files (I assume from the ROM1.1
> folder). 
OK... like the "Explorer Logo" thingy... what "ROM1.1" folder?

(also: what version of Windows are you using? 95 or 98, i hope)

Let's check what version of the Updater you really have...
There are two ways:
(1) install the current one (see below) 
(2) after you installed the Updater, it probably created a set of
 folders similar to (or exactly like):
   Program Files/
      Meade/
        Autostar/
          Autostar Update/
              Ephemerides

In the "Autostar Update" folder is a file called README.TXT
Please double-click on that to open it (notepad will do it).
It's a set of instructions and list of historical fixes to the
 Updater.   It claims a version number at the top, but that's not
 always accurate.  The -real- version number is the last entry in
  that long list of patches.  IF the next-to-last is at least X2.0021
  and the last is A2.1, your Updater is new enough to work.  IF it's
  an earlier Updater, you'd be better advised to install that newer
  Updater.  The current Updater (but with obsolete firmware) is
  the first item on Meade's download page. (about 3 megabytes)
  Download the auto.zip or auto.exe file, unpack it somewhere
  (C:\dick ?) and double-click on SETUP.EXE to install it.
  You do not need to have the Autostar attached to do the install.
  You do not need to RUN the Updater after installing it.
 
> You mentioned to "copy" the 2 ROM files to the Ephemides
> directory....does that happen automatically when I use the Start
> button, or do I need to do that BEFORE I initialize and install the
> Autostar Hand unit?
**you** need to manually do that.  The Updater -only- looks in its
 own Ephemerides folder (see the tree above) for the ROM files
 it is going to be using.  People who have not copied the files
 into the folder ended up re-installing the same version they were
  already running.  I try to choose my words carefully when i write
 these notes, and "copy" is one of those words (notice that i didn't
 say "move"... i'm a fan of having duplicates available for recovery).

In fact, let's really go step-by-step: i -also- recommend copying
 the -old- autostar.rom and dbase.rom files -from- the existing
 folder into someplace safe and non-confusing.  And checking dates and
 sizes to verify that the correct files are in the correct place.
So, under folder "dick", make a New Folder called "previous"
Then chase down the Updater's tree (i find it hand to have two
 Explorer windows open, one to pull -from-, the other to paste -to-)
  to the Ephemerides folder.  Click once on the autostar.rom file,
  then hold down the control key, and click once on the dbase.rom
  file.  Then type a control-C ... 
 Now shuffle thru the Explorer windows to get into the \dick\previous
  folder.  Click in the empty folder's pane.  Now type a control-V
  With any luck at all, the two old files will appear there.
Now shuffle thru Explorer to your new autostar.rom and dbase.rom files
For verification: they should show dates of 12/13/2000 9:30am
Perform the same "click once on autostar.rom, hold control, click once
 on dbase.rom, type control-C, shuffle to the Ephemerides folder,
 click in the folder's pane, (that moves "focus" there), type
 control-V.  Windows should ask if you want to replace the files,
 tell it [yes].  After the operation has completed, tap the F5 key on
 your keyboard... that tells windows to refresh the folder view it's
 showing you.  If you're not in "details" view, change to that to
 verify size and dates.  There are a bunch of other ROM files in that
 folder, they should remain.

Ok... that covers the "copy"

Thinking about it overnight, i realized that i left off two  
instructions, one hint and one comment:
The instructions:

(n) the Autostar is now running the Solar Warning.. tap the "5" key
 to satisfy it... AND COMPLETE THE REST OF THE ANSWERS!!
  It'll ask for your Site (again) and Telescope Model (read and think).
If you turn off the power before completing the above, you will leave
 your autostar pretty confused (correctable by Setup>Reset )
(o) you may now unplug the rs232 connection

The hint: you can read the HELP file by simply double-clicking on it.
There'll be one or two mumble.HLP files in the UPdater's directory.
Clicking on them will fire up Window's normal Help program.
You may get a sequence (3 or 4) of error windows complaining about
 things (and you may not... version dependent).. but say [ok] to
 them and eventually it'll open up the Help system and you can read
  many many pages of Help (with pictures), some of which really overtax
 the word "obscure" ...

The comment: I, like many others, consider the Autostar Updater program
 to be one of the most counter-intuitive, user-hostile programs ever
 set upon the Windows public.  It violates many Windows paradigms, 
 it requires that you set your Autostar "at risk" to even -start- it.
 etc.etc. (now I have to pause to breathe... calm myself... steeady...)
It has LOTS of bugs... it doesn't do what it says it does (it mangles
 the orbital parameters of satellites, comets, asteroids), etc.etc.
BUT... if run via the cookbook of the previous message, it -will-
 quietly and safely transfer a new software package to the Autostar.
I do NOT recommend "exploring" the other buttons until you've completed
 the Update. (otherwise you'll be needing the "how to perform an 
 Emergency Flash Load" set of messages...)

Ahh... and, until you actually START the Update (i.e. Send new software
 to Autostar button)... you CAN safely turn off the Autostar.
So a crash, powerfail or panic attack before that final commitment
isn't fatal.  Just turn it off, wait 10 seconds, turn it on.

good luck... but save the stiff drink until -after- the operation.
--dick

Subject:	 entering lowercase to Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2000 22:08:16
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
The only way to enter lowercase characters (and other punctuation) is to
download the information from a PC using the Updater.

For example: If you look at the Comet lists in your Autostar, some will
probably have both lowercase, hyphens and "/"

have fun
--dick

P.S.  If it's REALLY important, i could probably come up with a patch to
allow it... but only for v2.0h, v2.0i or v2.1ek on the 497 Autostar.

Subject:	 Editing long/lat
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2000 20:45:32
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
     Happy New Year/Millennium!
I'm a little curious, a long time ago I saw on your site a suggestion
about changing the longitude and latitude for your city to your actual
long/lat using the edit function in the autostar.  This works, however
it occurred to me that it may only change what I'm reading instead of
inputting the actual change.  If you don't know, perhaps Mr. Seymour
could shed some light on this.
Thanks as always for an outstanding site.
Don

Subject:	 Using the Autostar to "just track"
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2000 07:21:34
From:	rhudson@uscorp.net (Richard Hudson)
Didn't get a response to this on sci.astro.amateur... maybe one of your
readers can help:

The original hand controller for my ETX-90EC doesn't work, but I mostly
use the Autostar controller... However, sometimes I want to skip the
alignment and just ge the scope tracking in RA. Here's what happened:

I set up my ETX for the Christmas eclipse. To get the scope to track, I
did a fake alignment... just set it up horizontal and pointing north,
and had it do its single-star alignment, after which I pointed the scope
at the sun and it tracked fine. (Oh, yea... with a home-made Baader film
filter... easy, if you don't already have a sun filter).

Then I wondered what keys I'd have to press on the Autostar just to skip
alignment and make the tracking motors run, like the small hand
controller that comes with the ETX. You turn it on, and it starts
tracking in RA.

But this doesn't seem to be a feature of the Autostar controller. I
looked in the manual, but didn't find a short cut. So... do you HAVE to
go through the alignment process to get the Autostar to turn on its RA
tracking motor?

Thanks for help with this riddle. - Richard

"Observing in Lake Wobegon where the skies, too, are above average."
Mike here: If the ETX is mounted in polar mode you can skip an accurate Autostar alignment by just accepting the one star alignment when it completes. The same for Alt/Az mode. But in either case, the Autostar needs its starting position (HOME and one alignment star). And in Alt/Az it definitely needs the info to set the geometry for tracking. This should only take a few seconds. I've done it many times when I had the ETX-90EC and ETX-125EC.

Subject:	 RE: Autostar 21ek bug?
Sent:	Friday, December 29, 2000 12:14:42
From:	jlchinchilla@wanadoo.es (Jose L. Chinchilla)
Thank you very much for your kind and fast response. Richard Seymour
wrote me too giving some tips which I'll try.

I think is not possible to enter lowercase characters nor dots in the
Autostar. Or is it?

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2001, century and Millenium!

Jos L. Chinchilla
jlchinchilla@wanadoo.es
Mike here: I don't recall trying to enter LC letters or dots.

Subject:	 re: Autoguiding
Sent:	Friday, December 29, 2000 09:28:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	phil.mummah@intel.com, thebrills@zebra.net
Phil and Dave,

It the "accessories" section of the LX90 manual, 

http://www.egroups.com/files/lx90/LX90+Meade+Documents/LX90Ver2.pdf

Meade promises an adapter which will allow connecting a CCD autoguider,
illuminated reticle and different kind of focuser to the Autostar.

Since the Autostar they supply with the LX90 is a normal 497, I'm hoping
that the adapter will work for us, too.

There is a CCD camera/Autoguider system (MX5? the name escapes me at the
moment) which "speaks" LX-200 commands, and that -may- work for us. 
Some of the patches  in v21ek specifially address bugs listed in
SoftwareBisque's site, which may also affect how well the LX200 systems
work.  However, the LX200 systems may depend upon a set of guider
commands that the ETX/Autostar simply does not implement. (there are
"motion commands" and "guider commands". The Autostar honors the "motion
commands".)

--dick

Subject:	 UPdating Autostar 497 to 2.1ek
Sent:	Friday, December 29, 2000 07:20:04
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Like Steve Reed (Dec. 28), I am wanting to upgrade to version 2.1ek ROM
to my Autostar for my ETX125, but having the exact same encounters he is
having.  According to one Meade Tech. "you gotta have it...." to help in
backlash and accurate tracking.  Just yesterday, another Meade Tech told
me "...it's not worth the effort and chance."  "CHANCE?"  He indicated
that - using the poorly-written Meade Read-Me files, the chances of
screwing up the existing Autostar file - and being left with NOTHING -
are very great.  He wanted to know if a few objects you might gain are
worth the chance?  When I explained that I wanted better control of
backlash and the driving system he replied "....so what's a few minutes
hestitation when you've got all night!"  My Gosh!  We pay $1,000+ for a
telescope and this is the kind of backup they give us?  Poor manuals and
Tech Support who give us that kind of answer?  They need to know we are
SERIOUS when we call, wait on our own money for 20+ minutes and then get
some cheesey answer like this.

Anyway, perhaps someone can help us, like Seymour.  I can successfully
load the ROM2.1ek onto my PC, but when I attempt to open the
"Ephemerides" folder, I get the same series of icons (640k) as Steve
Reed, all the icons being marked with "Explorer" blue "E" logos.  None
open.  I have not yet risked putting my Autostar into the system, it is
not patched for fear of messing up.  Shouldn't we be able to open and
view the "Ephemeride" files prior to download the final version into the
Autostar?  PLEASE HELP!  I want to track better, and so does Steve Reed!
The instruction give no clue and I am not about to interface until I
know for sure.  Meade tells me that my unit probably has the most recent
version (it says "2.0" on it prior to initialization, so I do not think
that I do.  They note that 2.1 is better than 2.0 only because "...one
word in Japanese was misleading."  Good grief!  I know someone out there
can help all of us who are not computer downloading whizzes!  Please put
it into English so that we can step-by-step load our Autostars with the
most recent information!

Subject:	 re: autostar v21ek -- creep after beep
Sent:	Thursday, December 28, 2000 23:21:00
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	jlchinchilla@wanadoo.es
Jose,

It's still possible to have "crrep after beep" and "Creep after
slew" problems with v21ek (guess how i know?).
Killing them (or greatly reducing them) is possible, but it takes
a bit of care and patience.
Among the many things which can lower the problem are:
(a) training... train very accurately.  Test.
(b) Alt and Az Percentage... these are new items in the 
     Setup>Telescope menu.  Try values between 01%, 35% and 50%.
   These will mainly affect the initial jump the ETX makes when
   you reverse your slew keys (i.e. start going up instead of down).
   The Sidereal Drive effectively does that, too... so if the jump
    is too large the object will kick away from the center.
(c) try and always approach an object from the East.  This way the
    sidereal drive engages -without- reversing the motors, so the
    backlash doesn't kick in.
(d) -lie- to the  training.  I find (with my 3 degrees of Alt looseness)
   that i have far fewer creep problems if i lightly push down on
   the nose of the barrel while Alt training... that moves all of the
   backlash to one side, and the Autostar gets an "improved" idea
   of the corrections needed.

You can also test creep and jumps against -landmarks- (so you do
not have to wait until after dark).  But my main problem involves
the sidereal reversal, and that requires stars.

good luck (buenos suertes?)
--dick

Subject:	 re: Updater woes
Sent:	Thursday, December 28, 2000 23:05:21
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	stargazer46@uswest.net
The v2.2 updater (2.0026 or higher in the README file's list
of patches)  WILL NOT WORK with the v21ek  rom set.

The 2.0026 and higher Updater use "checksums" to verify the
integrity of their ROM files (and to block patching!).

The v21ek kit from Meade doesn't have the checksum information,
hence cannot be used with that updater.

As a final check, you can use a Hex Editor (such as frhed from
www.tu-darmstadt.de/~rkibria)
and look at the first 10 bytes of your -old- autostar.rom file.
If all of the bytes are (hex) FF, then it's not checksummed.
If they are -any- other value, that's the checksum data, and
 that Updater will not work with v21ek.

--dick

Subject:	 Autostar 21ek bug?
Sent:	Thursday, December 28, 2000 09:40:03
From:	jlchinchilla@wanadoo.es (Jose L. Chinchilla)
I found a treasure visiting your web page!. Thank you for helping the
ETX community. I recently bought a ETX-90 with v1.2c Autostar and
suffered the bugs and Meade unprecise instructions of Autostar Update
utility. Well, I managed finally to load v21ek software and it semms to
work better in aligning the scope to target objects.

Yet I found the telescope to be stubborn when I finely tune to a found
object. I manually slew to center it exactly in the eyepiece, but the
scope insist to slew where it found it previously, drawing the object
again out of the eyepiece field. The only way I found to fix the problem
is to loose the axes and center the object manually without slewing the
motors. I am sure there will be a better way to do this. If you could
help me, I'll be very grateful.

Clear skyes,

Jos L. Chinchilla
jlchinchilla@wanadoo.es
Madrid  Spain
Mike here: Be certain to wait until you hear the beep from the Autostar before manually centering the object. Even though the Autostar-driven slewing may have stopped, the process is not complete until the beep. If you are waiting for the beep, then this sounds like the "creep after beep" that is well documented here on this site.

Added later:

Thanks, Mike, I will give that a try and let you know if it works out.

My thinking was that I would like to update and evaluate Meade's basic
software first, but I've been aggravated enough by the
'creep-after-beep' phenomenon that I'm very seriously considering using
the patch information and tools on your site to try to reduce or
eliminate the creep.

A thought occurred to me, since you already have so much useful
('essential' is a more accurate statement, IMHO) information on your
site, have you ever considered placing full copies of the various
'patched' ROMs on your web site - assuming Meade would grant permission
for you to do that (with any appropriate disclaimers) - that you and
other experts have successfully tested?

Obviously, Meade cannot stop users from applying patches, so one would
think that Meade would agree that it's  'safer' to use patched ROMs that
are known to work.  It wouldn't be inappropriate for them to pay a
stipend to your site for fixing their mistakes, either!

Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of ETX users everywhere.
Mike here again: Making patches available rather than patched versions are the best way to go. Even Microsoft won't allow others to post patched versions of Windows. And now that we have Dick Seymour's patches so easily done using Jim Berry's "automatic patcher", this would seem to be the best course of action for now.

Subject:	 Autostar 2.1ek
Sent:	Thursday, December 28, 2000 00:39:08
From:	stargazer46@uswest.net (Steve Reed)
I have been trying to update my Autostar (#497 & ETX 90EC) to the new
2.1ek version, but although I have successfully upgraded in the past to
previous versions, I'm having nothing but trouble with this one.

I'm using the ver 2.2 updater (Natural Wonders version) and whenever I
go out to the Meade web site, it tells me that my current ROM version
(2.0h) is current.

So, I downloaded the ROMs with Internet Explorer, unzipped them and put
them in the Ephemerides directory, and then get a message that the ROM
files are not valid.  Both files are 640k   - although I know the
previous version had slightly different file sizes.

From the posts on your site, it appears that other folks are able to
upgrade to 2.1ek, so I guess I must be doing something wrong.

Any ideas?  Thanks for your time, help, and a great web site!

--Steve
Mike here: Have you tried the older updater (from Meade's Autostar Update page)? Other than that, I can't help. I sent my Autostar back with the ETX-125EC for the random slew evaluation and hadn't updated to 2.1ek.

Subject:	 Re: ETX-90 Problems -- and total bliss!!
Sent:	Wednesday, December 27, 2000 13:24:43
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
In response to Joseph H.'s recent post:

I'm being redundant, but I agree with all of Mike's suggestion -- you
need to double check all of your Autostar settings, make sure your
tripod is level, etc., etc. -- it DOES take some practice to get it
right, but hang in there -- DON'T give up. It's always possible that
your Autostar is kaput (or even the scope itself, for that matter).

Not to make Joseph ache and pain any more, but I had a small problem the
other day with the 2.1ek upgrade -- everything went well (supposedly),
but I found that my User Objects menu was a mess (that was the only
apparent problem). Dick Seymour posted his "hh:mm:ss" patch soon after
the 2.1ek introduction, and I wanted to get that in there, too, along
with a couple of new tour files. So with Dick's advice (as usual, on the
money -- he's moving into the realm of "sainthood" on this website --
shall we start calling him "Ol' Saint Dick"?), I trashed the
LibUserObjects.ROM file and tried the update again, this time deleting
all the User Objects that were read in from the Autostar. Success!!

Last night, with clear, cool skies, I went out, retrained the drives,
and performed a number of GOTO's -- every single one was spot on!!
Jupiter and Saturn slewed into view, and this time (WITHOUT playing
around with the new Alt/Az percentage parameters for backlash), they
stayed in the FOV AFTER the beep. YES!! (maybe just a lucky night, but I
was jazzed). Went through a number of "Tonight's Best" objects and
nailed each one. Tried a new tour of "Double Stars" and again, nailed
each one. And no backlash problems. I'm not going to fall into that
false sense of security and assume that every night is going to be like
last night, but I've had success before, and last night I was truly "in
heaven."

So, Joseph -- stick with it -- one day (hopefully, SOON) it will all
fall into place

Clear skies, everyone...

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net

Subject:	 re: etx90 problems
Sent:	Tuesday, December 26, 2000 21:01:41
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Jimmy123ho@aol.com
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site... and have one additional suggestion.
Try  Setup>Reset  to reset the Autostar. Quite possibly it has the wrong
gear ratio for one of the axes. (it should show 1.36something)

After RESETing, it'll do a calibration slew, ask you your scope type,
and want to know your site (again).

Then try it...

Wildly bad slews are usually a sign that it thinks you have the wrong
scope, or otherwise has weird numbers.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	ETX-90 Problems
Sent:	Tuesday, December 26, 2000 14:37:29
From:	Jimmy123ho@aol.com
Hi! I just bought an ETX-90EC with and Autostar controller recently and
have discovered some problems. Even with the Autostar properly aligned,
the drive trained, and the RA and Dec locks secure, the ETX consistantly
slews to the wrong targets. Once, I entered the moon's coordinates and
activated GOTO, but the scope ended up pointing at a part of the sky
about 35 degrees away from the moon itself; a very large error. I've
gone to my wits' end trying to figure out what's going on. Because of
this problem, the ETX has dissapointed me very much, since I had looked
foward to purchasing it. Can you offer any advice? Please write back as
soon as possible. Thanks a lot!

Joseph H.
Mike here: Sorry it took so long to respond. I was out today. Entering the proper date/time and your location are important parameters. Don't forget the Daylight Time setting. Then check that you have the proper telescope and mounting selected. Practice usually makes perfect, or as near perfect as possible. Many users have trouble at first but after getting all the settings correct and working with the system, they can get good results. If you continue to have trouble, you might see about upgrading the Autostar to the current version if it is not already at 2.1ek. Also, check the tips on the Autostar Information.

Subject:	 autoguiding an etx 90
Sent:	Monday, December 25, 2000 17:54:39
From:	thebrills@zebra.net (The Brills)
I have read your ETX web page for quite some time now, and really enjoy
it.   I have an ETX 90 myself, and am constantly amazed at the image
quality it produces.

I have a question that I cannot find any information about:   Can the
ETX 90 EC with Auto star use a CCD autoguider?  I read almost everything
on the web, but nobody seems to know if it would work or not.

My guess is that a computer/autostar hook-up would work to guide the
scope, but I don't know which software to use..... Do you have any
ideas?

DAVE
Mike here: Well, it could work if all the pieces work together (software, auto guider, Autostar) but I suspect the results probably wouldn't be that satisfactory for the expense involved. Remember, the ETX and Autostar is a consumer level telescope, not a semi-professional system like the LX200 series from Meade. But if anyone wants to try, we all know where to post the results!

Subject:	 and, thought of too late (of course)
Sent:	Sunday, December 24, 2000 15:26:46
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
was coming up with a set of TLEs for tracking Santa's flight...

(i wonder if there's a sun-synchronous satellite that follows the 
terminator around the planet?....)
--dick
Mike here: Lets see:
orbital period one year
distance from the earth would equal ~93M miles
Oops, that is the Earth Centered Universe calculation and that fell into disfavor a few centuries ago.
And speaking of centuries, the 20th Century is finally getting close to being officially over. Yea!

Subject:	 Autostar 497
Sent:	Saturday, December 23, 2000 08:53:26
From:	angelsnine2000@yahoo.com (Angel Seven)
Mike I can't help but notice that your web site was designed on a Mac. 
I have read how person has made his own cables to download and update
his Autostar. Making cables and running Virtual Windows sounds more for
the experienced, is there a Mac update version coming from Meade?

Until that happens is there another sollution for those of us using Mac
and having a need to update the Autostar?

Kind regards,
Angel
Mike here: Meade has previously stated there would be a Java version for all Operating Systems that support Java. However, that has yet to appear. So, the only solution for Mac users is a serial port and VirtualPC.

Added later:

Thank you for your quick response.

Subject:	 ETX125EC RA clutch problems
Sent:	Friday, December 22, 2000 17:36:43
From:	plloukota@juno.com
is there anyone out there that has reverse engineered the Autostar code?
If so, how does Mead determine the correct sidereal tracking speed. 
I've noted that changing the AZ or ALT ratio setting in the SETUP will
allow you to set the manual slew speeds with more precision.  These
settings have to do with the final axis gear ratio and I believe is an
area for calibration.  Any ideas?

If no one has messed with these settings, I will and report on what the
effects are, good or bad.  I believe that this is a better way to set
the RA 1X speed that adding parts the motor circuit.  I do need some
good insight on hoe Mead programmed the speeds though.

Thanks for the WEB site.

Doug Loukota
Mike here: Read through Dick Seymour's posts on the various Autostar pages; he is our expert.

Subject:	 re: slewing
Sent:	Friday, December 22, 2000 16:43:31
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	john.iannelli@techmail.gdc.com
Hi...
i saw your note on Mike's site, and have a few guesses.

(a) weak batteries... drop below 7 volts and anything can happen

(b) temperature... drop below 35 degrees F, and things can get strange.
    (the effect varies unit to unit).  Low temps also cause low batteries.
      ..and make low batteries -really- low.

(c) loose connections (including in the battery box, or the powercord).

You didn't mention if the scope worked any better after you brought it back
indoors (and warmed it up).  If it did, then most likely it's (a) and/or (b).

and ONLY if the above doesn't apply:

> Meade says sticky keys
I -have- had a stuck key... and what happens will depend upon the key.
(mine was the [goto] key).
You can "simply" take your Autostar apart (4 screws on back, then, to reach
the keyboard, two -tiny- ones inside next to the display.), then lift out
and dry-wipe (i.e. a handkerchef or something gentle) the plastic keyboard
membrane and the circuit-board areas that they are pressed against.

BE CAREFUL!  Do this over a soft surface!  (the display glass packet swings
free)

Then simply (there's that word again) reassemble and give it a whirl.

(i have done this to TV remote controllers, too... which had a layer of sugar
(from a spilled Coke?) gluing the membrane to the circut board. Messy.
100% restored to service afterwards.)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	 Re:  Autostar for LX200?
Sent:	Thursday, December 21, 2000 14:00:31
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
Thanks for the quick response and the link.
Always a great site.
Don

Subject:	 Autostar for LX200?
Sent:	Wednesday, December 20, 2000 14:40:15
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
Finally got the new Right Tube Adapter fixed on my ETX90EC.  Also had
Meade update my Autostar by cloning 2.0g version (that's all they had at
their facility and I don't have a computer yet).  Resetting is very
important after an update.  Couldn't figure out why I couldn't change
slewing speeds until I reset it.

I was wondering if Meade might think of adding the LX200 to their list
of scopes in the Autostar. I have one and it would be nice to have the
satellite, comet and search functions the Autostar has.  How would I go
about "planting the seed" to get them to do it?

By the way the alignment might be better when trained at 45 degrees but
the jury's still out on that one.  I want to try it out some more.
Don
Mike here: Feel free to pass on your suggestion to them at engineer@meade.com.

Subject:	 Further Futile Speculations on Creep-after-slew
Sent:	Tuesday, December 19, 2000 21:50:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Great description...

what numbers did you settle on?
Mine seems happy at about 35% Az and between 50 and 60% Alt.
(60's just a -bit- too rough, 50's just a little bit shy...)

Another trick from another problem... [goto] object.
If you'd like to tweak in an anti-sidereal direction...
press and hold [enter] to start a SYNC operation.
The motors stop.
Let the object drift to desired position.
Press [mode] to abort the SYNC.  The sidereal will resume...
but will NOT do a backlash kick (at least, mine doesn't, on 
the east-side of zenith.)

I have also noticed different response based upon sky position
(as you reported) ... and on the westward side of zenith, the
effect almost seems to be -reversed-.
(i.e. don't stop testing straight up...)

good luck, keep digging...
--dick

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Further Futile Speculations on Creep-after-slew
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 13:56:20 -0600
From: Michael Rathbun (mdr@HONet.com)
I had a brief chance to dork around with the new firmware version today
to see if I could get the Az/Alt percentages calibrated properly (yes!*)
and to see what effect this has on the above-mentioned annoyance.

The net effect appears to be that your object starts creeping sooner,
due to the quicker take-up of drivetrain slack.  However, you end up at
the same point, i.e. the object creeps to the same erroneous location
more efficiently.

Some observations I made today incline me to believe that the algorithm
is actually attempting to apply a correction that amounts to some
quantity of actual RA rather than some amount of azimuth swing.  Using
my usual testing technique (set a bogus time, do an align, GOTO an
object, then unclutch the drives and point to a terrestrial target), I
find that the problem is rather minor if I choose a time when the target
(Saturn in this case) is about 45 degrees above the horizon, but if I
set the time to around 2300 last night, when Saturn is close to being
overhead and consequently the az motor is whirring right along, the
problem is quite severe.

I can still make creep-after-slew fairly well disappear by deceiving the
drive train process, but the amount of deception needed is now
considerably smaller than it was with the previous release.

mdr

* However, if you carelessly enter "50" into "Az Ratio" rather than "Az
Percent", the results are really startling.
And a reply from Mike Rathbun:
65 Az and 45 Alt.  Before performing the "fool the align" process the Az
number was around 45.

Had relatively clear and only slightly windy conditions last night, so I
took the 'scope out and had a pleasant couple of hours freezing.  Looked
at some old favorites and watched Europa disappear behind Jupiter.  Had
very little need to fight the drive and the new backlash take-up worked
very nicely.

I still notice that occasionally attemting an azimuth slew will cause
altitude slews -- this is not new, but I haven't seen anybody else
report it.

Subject:	 slewing
Sent:	Tuesday, December 19, 2000 05:06:57
From:	john.iannelli@techmail.gdc.com (john iannelli)
I'm still having slewing problems.Last night i was touring the skies for
about 45 min's with the autostar working normally.Then It went into a
rnadom vertical and horizontal slew with a motor fail message.I
restarted the unit leveleing it and was about to easy align it when the
scope started moving on it's own.Small movements up and down every 10 -
20 sec's or so.I repeated the alignment steps but before i got to the
easy align it started all over again.I could not use the scope with the
autostar the scope had a mind of it's own.I called meade and they said
it sounds like sticky keys.Any comment on this problem.I don't know
wether to send the autostar back or the entire scope.Any info would be
helpfull.
Thanks
John
Mike here: Hum, sticky keys on the keypad. That's a new one. Might be though.

Subject:	 Please Help if you have time.
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2000 19:02:08
From:	jandj@engineer.com (John Cockerham)
I am sorry to bother you but I am really getting frustrated with my
ETX-125 scope.  My problems are that the Meade documentation is poor at
best.  I am having great difficultly loading an Elset for ISS using the
AutoStar update. I can not get the eccentricity value to change.  I am
using the latest 2-line elset, (See below) from NASA and I can't seem to
get it to accept the values.  I also noticed that there are a lot of
objects that have values of 0.0, when viewing them with the
AutoStar/Satellite button. Shouldn't I be able to download the latest
coordinates from the Meade site and then upload them to the AutoStarr? 
There are no instructions in the AutoStar manual for this so I have been
flying by the seat of my pants.  I have even upgraded to firmware 2.1EK
in hopes that this would fix the problem.  It made it worse and I
reverted back to 2.0h. Any suggestions?

I also noticed that my scope hesitates when slewing in azimuth. I hear
the servos kick in but the scope does not move for a few moments.  It is
especially noticeable when slewing clockwise. I realize that the
pointing accuracy is not wonderful on a $1000.00 scope but I would
expect better.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your web page.  You
have taught this old "Space Command Satellite Tracker" a few things.

John Cockerham
(512) 632-9242


ISS (ZARYA)
1 25544U 98067A   00353.72217593  .00042596  00000-0  41863-3 0  3970
2 25544  51.5758 282.3927 0007619 241.9986 135.1635 15.65549240118845
Mike here: Have you tried the tips for satellites on the Autostar Information page? As to the hesitancy, what you are probably experiencing is the gear backlash that is being taken up.

Subject:	 Poor Autostar Connection on drive base!
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2000 15:20:48
From:	ngc6960@mlecmn.net (Gary Hansen)
I have a Etx90EC and am having trouble with the plug on the drive base
where the AutoStar plugs in. If you move it much the Autostar quites
working..

I have tried cleaning etc...

Any ideas????

Gary Hansen
Mike here: Is the small plastic tab broken on the RJ connector? You might try wrapping some tape around the side of the connector to provide some friction.

Subject:	 Autostar 21Ek
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2000 10:24:50
From:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (jpswann54)
Just to say I successfully installed the above using version 2.1, but
only using the zipped files. When trying to update with the separately
downloaded ROM files, it would not initialise the handbox.

John Swann

Subject:	 Re: Motor failure
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2000 07:06:54
From:	scuba2do@kscable.com (Tony Carro)
The problem occurs when I turn the etx on for a session.  I am inputing
the time, date, etc...  When I get the alignment, easy align it starts
to slew to the first star then I get the motor error message.  I beleive
the version which comes up on the autostar is 2.0.  All the axis are
tight.  I did get it to work last night I went ahead and went thru a
training and motor test and it worked.  I don't know if there was
something that goes haywire between switching from autostar to handset
then back to autostar.  I haven't gotten real good at getting aligned so
I just switched to the handset.  Thanks for the reply, i will probably
upgrade the version soon thru a download..
Tony Carro

Subject:	 Problems with AUTOSTAR
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2000 06:01:36
From:	alain_bodivit@hotmail.com (Alain BODIVIT)
Thank you for your answer Mike

Do you know the position of MEADE about this random slewing problem.
Do you recommand to upgrade my AUTOSTAR .I have bought it on March 2000 do I 
have the last version?

I have heard that the upgrade dowloadable on MEADE web site don't works and 
crashes the AUTOSTAR .I have read that it is just on english localization is 
that true ?

What do you think about counterclockwise slewing during alignment or GO TO 
procedure That stop the ETX at the end of the left RA engine way.

Thank you for reply and merry Christmas !!!

A1ain
Mike here: If you have a March 2000 Autostar you definitely don't have the most recent version. And yes, I'd recommend upgrading. According to reports, it is a pretty good upgrade. This page (further down) has a lot of details about it. I usually don't get that picky about slewing from any direction. Just not that big a deal to me.

Subject:	 494 Autostars and Updating...
Sent:	Sunday, December 17, 2000 23:08:20
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	screi@peoplepc.com (Wayne Scharphorn)
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site, and the answer to whether it
can be updated is three-fold:

If the 4504 has an "AUX" jack (4-wire telephone handset-sized)
  Yes!  ... that's where the #506  cable/converter set goes.
  The #506 has active electronics in it, so a simple built-it-
   yourself hookup like the #505 isn't possible.
  The #506 also comes with a planetarium program which can also
   control the telescope with the 494 Starfinder's assistance.

At the moment, there are no firmware updates for the 494 Starfinder
 (evidently also called the "cadet" on their site).
However, with the #506 cable, you'd be able to bulk-load satellites,
 Comets and Asteroids.  Personally, i tend to do it one at a time,
 by hand (the Updater program on the PC is painful)

You can upgrade the -system- by purchasing a 495 or 497 Autostar.
They can control the scope, and provide a numeric keypad and access
to current firmware (although i believe your "1.0" is newer than the
March 2000 update for the 495).  The 495 (which comes with the DS
series of scopes) has, at times, been sold by J.C.Penny for $69.
(it lists for $99).  The 497 occasionally shows for $99, but
lists for $149.

Caveat: i have never -seen- a 4504 setup, so i don't know if it
has an AUX jack.  If it doesn't, you could create one by making 
a connector set to split off two of the 8-wires from the 494, 
plus power and ground.  If you wish to, i'll send which wire goes
where (i'd send it now, but i haven't  written it up well enough 
yet).

Good luck
--dick

Subject:	 Re: Packing ratios of Autostar firmware
Sent:	Sunday, December 17, 2000 19:22:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Bob Zimmerman wondered why the two portions of v21ek show large
variation in "compression factor" in the .zip file.

I must'a been very tired when he asked that question... the -correct-
answer is:

The reason that the autostar.rom file packs far smaller (i.e. higher
ratio) than the database file is "simple".

The autostar.rom file is 70% one character:  FF in hex. And that kinda
thing packs -real- well. ("insert 32,000 "FF" here"  becomes 3 or 4
bytes)

Only a few 32kbyte pages of the 640K rom file actually contains code. 
The rest is filler.

In v21ek, they've also moved one page of the program into the -database-
file (probably to keep the autostar.rom file from exceeding 640K).

But it's that mostly-FF syndrome that lets the code portion pack so
tightly.  IF you throw away all the dross, the useful portion of the
autostar.rom file packs to 75Kbytes. (and expands to 202Kbytes)

The dbase.rom section is -not- all one charcater, and has lots of
variation, so it doesn't pack down nearly as much.

--dick

Subject:	 Autostar and AC power
Sent:	Sunday, December 17, 2000 13:40:45
From:	alain_bodivit@hotmail.com (Alain BODIVIT)
I think that I have the same problems of random slewing as Norman with
my ETX125 with autostar and the AC adapter MEADE 40109620 .Autostar and
the current control panel are unable too keep an alignment properly
during an observation.

I have met other symptoms:
-The scope sometime is slewing conterclockwise during the alignment
procedure until the scope is stopped.
-Autostar stop the engines and displays an error message (engine error
detected).

I have changed the Autostar and the adapter for the same results. I
think that domestic AC power may generate bugs on Autostar and control
panel do you share this hypothesis ?

I'll try to test a PC UPS this week to stabilize AC power and tell you
the results as soon as possible.

Do you have another solutions to suggest ? (I think that the second
symptom has nothing to do with AC output).

Thank you for reply.

Best regards

Alain

alain_bodivit@hotmail.com
Mike here: There have been a lot of theories about the cause of the random slewing. Bad connections, power fluctuations (battery or AC), bugs in the Autostar software, dirt on the drive encoders, low air temperatures, cosmic rays, etc., etc., etc. I'm still waiting to learn the definitive answer.

Subject:	 egad... it's a DIFFERENT shape!
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 19:28:06
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
A few months ago on Mike's site i related my tale of seeing the
International Space Station (ISS) after they'd added the third module...
and how my ETX90 now resolved it as a distinct line, instead of a
"bright blob".

Well, tonight holes blew in the cloud cover, and i caught a few glimpes
of it as it sailed between (and behind) them in Seattle.

It's now T-shaped!  I wish i had had the Barlow in place, but the
hole-in-clouds caught me with only 80 seconds between setup and AOS.
(v21ek, fresh TLEs from Heavens-above, started track by "beep" due to
overcast in that area of the sky)

oh... this also demonstrated a number of v21ek's new features:

When the AOS countdown hits zero, it beeps!  No longer do you need to
share visual attention between the clock and the eyepiece.

For telescopes-with-cords (ETX90, ETX125, LX90 with powerpack), the
software now first slews you to the LOS (setting) point, then back to
the AOS (rising/acquistion) point... then it waits. It does this to
avoid the persistent problem of hitting the hard stops during the
satellite pass.  It figures if it can go from LOS to AOS, it'll be able
to get back.

The tracking was pretty close.. it must've done the AOS pretty well,
since it was within a degree of my rushed (no alignment) setup when it
finally became visible between clouds.

This pass was "enjoyed" in 38mph gusts of wind, racing clouds (it's
difficult to tell if one "star" is moving when they're ALL racing across
the sky ... relative to the mind-says-stationary clouds...), mid 30's
(F). Spatters of raindrops.

Five minutes -later- most of the sky went "severe clear" and i merrily
poinked about looking at things... i really appreciate the 90's squat,
relatively wind-resistant, shape in these conditions.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	 Motor failure
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 17:31:54
From:	scuba2do@kscable.com (Tony Carro)
Hey Mike great site.  Just got an etx90ec for my daughter for christmas
and the autostar.  The etx works fine when I put the autostar on and run
thru the calibration it states that i have a motor failure.  It asks me
to look for obstructions and check for fresh batteries.  I have put new
batteries into the etx and I get the same error message.  I can use the
scope fine with the hand controller.  Any ideas besides sending it to
Meade?  I tried reseting the hand controller by unplugging it then
turning the etx on and off.  I even reset the autostar...  Ugh this is
bad hate to send it off before I even give it to her...

Tony Carro
Mike here: A clarification if you don't mind. Do you mean that when the Autostar is plugged in and you turn on the ETX, you go through the drive training process and this is when you get the motor failure error? Which axis? Is that axis lock tight or loose? Can you slew the scope with the Autostar? What version of the Autostar software is loaded? If not 2.x, I'd take it back to where you purchased it and ask for a current software load. The software version is not the cause of the error but you should be current anyway.

Mike here again: I saw a post from Tony on one of the alt.telescopes.meade newsgroups where he stated the problem went away after he worked with the system some more.


Subject:	 PDF manual for v21ek's features
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 16:13:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
The new features (Browse, Spiral Search, and a few words on Percents)
are covered in the LX90 Owner's Manual.

A copy of which is available as/at:

http://www.egroups.com/files/lx90/LX90+Meade+Documents/LX90Ver2.pdf

That's over 900Kbytes, I'd recommend doing a "Save As..."

--dick

Subject:	 Tracking the International Space Station- heavensabove.com
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 15:42:26
From:	martinic@nbnet.nb.ca (Calvin and Vernita Martini)
First of all, Thank you Dick Seymour for the great link to heavensabove!
You more than deserve that ETX pledge shirt :).

I havent used it in relation to my ETX-90EC and autostar yet, but I did
use the pass info on that site to see the ISS pass right over my
backyard tonite!!!!! I live on the East Coast of Canada, New Brunswick,
and lets just say that I was totally excited to find my home city in the
database on heavensabove. I printed all the ISS pass info for the next
10 days.

It appeared exactly as predicted and disappeared into shadow as
predicted. Those couple minutes were a total gas! I sat in my backyard,
in the snow, with my binoculars,  and thought WOW!... I just saw a space
vehicle with humans on board....AWESOME! I LOVED IT!!!!

A big thank you to all that contribute to this great ETX site!

Clear Skies,

Vernita

Subject:	 tiny update re: v21ek
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 15:41:01
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Hi, Mike...

Christian Hanke sent a thank-you note quoting you as quoting me
that "only v2.0030" of the Updater wouldn't work.
From another Natural Wonders customer i hear that there's a 
v2.0026 which also checksums. (i never met that one, it was on
Nat Wond's own website... i got 2.0025 and 2.0030 from Meade's site)

So that quote should be "anything above 2.0025"
2.0025 thru 2.0030 all identify themselves as A2.2
when running the program. 
The Readme file's top two lines can also lie... 
only the bottom of the patch list really reveals the truth.

("lie" is too strong a word... er, "failed to be updated")

I performed my download with v2.0025... 
2.0025 avoids a data-mangle error in passing bulk satellite data.
2.0030 extended that fix to Comets, Cupids and all the rest of
 the reindeer (you know: Vesta, Ceres, Dancer and Blitzen)

v2.0030 also managed to completely trash the Autostar if i tried
-editing- Comet/Satellite data on the PC.
(as in: Flash Load procedure required to restore operation)

You want bleeding edge? I buy band-aids in bulk.
--dick

Subject:	 Autostar update
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 06:55:37
From:	christian-hanke@t-online.de (Christian Hanke)
with the new Autostar update I suppose youll get a bunch of messages.
Nevertheless I must tell you my problems with updating. Of coarse I was
curious to see the new software after nearly one year. So downloaded the
Autostar.rom and the DBase.rom and also the Roms2ek.zip files. But I
couldn't succeed in updating as with all files I tried (the original and
the unzipped files differ in size) I get the message:
The Autostar.ROM file is not a valid Autostar.ROM file. After pressing
ok the message Either the Autostar.ROM or the Dbase.ROM file did not
pass the validation test. So I still have to work with version 2.0i.

Is the any help? Suggestions are welcome!

System: ETX 125EC, Autostar #497, PC Pentium II, Windows 98, Autostar
update tool version 2.2

Regards and thanks for your great work!

Christian

e-mail: christian-hanke@t-online.de
Mike here: According to our resident Autostar expert (Dick Seymour): "The V2.1 (part of the old auto.zip kit for v2.0i) will also work with the new firmware. Only v2.0030 won't."

And an update:

Thank you very much for your quick answer. Finally I succeeded in
installing the Autostar update 2.1ek. I wonder if I made a mistake but
only the version coming in the zip-file (size 640 kB) worked. With the
directly downloaded files (size 643 K) the program failed in
initializing the Autostar.

Thank you very much again. I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new
year 2001. I hope youll continue your great work!
And a reply from Dick:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Christian,

I am happy to hear that Mike helped. 
> Thank you very much for your quick answer. 
>Finally I succeeded in installing the Autostar update 2.1ek.
> I wonder if I made a mistake but only the version
> coming in the zip-file (size 640 kB) worked.

> With the directly downloaded files (size 643 K) the program
> failed in initializing the Autostar.
When using a browser to control a download, it has to guess about
transferring files.  If the "file type" is known (such as ".exe",
".gif", ".html", ".zip"), then the program knows if it should transfer
in "binary" (exact duplicate), or "text" (line by line,
and **changing the end-of-line characters** to match your system.)
It's that "change" which corrupts transfers of ".ROM" files.
That is not a "standard" file-type for Unix, Windows or Macintoshes.
So they guess... and these days they tend to guess "text".

If you use a manual-control program like FTP, you can -specify-
the transfer type.
If you are adept at controlling your browser, you can edit the
MIME-types file to tell it that ".ROM" files should transfer in
binary mode.  
Netscape and IntExplorer also listen to the system they are running on.
I have seen IntExplorer believe Window's file-type associations and
have had them override the MIME-type control attempts.

> Thank you very much again. I wish you a merry Christmas and a 
> happy new year 2001. 
I (and i'll add Mike) wish you the same.

> I hope youll continue your great work!
We shall try... (i don't consider mine "great", merely "doggedly
persistent")

have fun
--dick

Subject:	 Autostar 2.1ek ROM update -- first observations
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 00:11:40
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Here are some observations regarding the new Autostar 2.1ek ROM update
that I uploaded today and tried this evening for a test run:

Let me start by saying there's a number of new menu items, but the only
help file supplied is the "update.txt" file supplied below (obviously,
NOT very helpful!!)

-----------
Improvements to the 497 AutoStar from 2.0i

1) Increase object count to over 30,000.
2) Improved pointing for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and
Pluto.
3) Added Spiral Search.  (Start search on second consecutive GOTO or by
holding GOTO for more then 2 seconds)
4) Added LX200 like Browse feature.
5) Quick backlash correction by using Az Percent and Alt Percent in
Setup - Telescope.
6) Improvements to LX200 command set.
7) AutoStar shows new slew speed for 2 seconds.

Note:  This version is ENGLISH only
-----------

As usual, your mileage may vary:

As to (1) -- okay, if they say so (I'm not going to try counting all
30,000+ just to verify -- besides, it'll probably require a recount, and
I don't want to even go there!!!)

(2) My first attempt at GOTO'g to Jupiter got it in the FOV, but I got
that ever infamous "creep after beep" and watched Jupiter slip away to
just outside the EP. So, at least it hit it, but then walked away. Damn.
Same result for Saturn. Once I did get Jupiter to stay in the FOV, I
didn't track it for very long, but it did seem to maintain its position.
For all other deep sky objects that I tried (about 10 different ones --
Messiers, stars, NGC's) it slewed to the object, beeped, and STUCK!!
Maybe I was just lucky tonight, or maybe they finally worked out some of
the backlash problem (see 5). So deep sky objects get a thumbs up, but
our solar system gets a thumbs down (and that's what they claim they
fixed? Hmm...)

(3) Did not have a chance to really figure out "Spiral Search" -- (I'm
assuming this might have to do with searches when using the new Browse
feature -- see 4 below -- as I went from object to object in Browse,
each one was quite close to the previous one in the sky) -- I did not
try this on any of the Tour Files (where sometimes we'd end up slewing
back and forth across the sky from one object to the next).

(4) Not familiar with the LX200 Browse feature, but it seemed relatively
easy to figure out -- set upper and lower values for different
paramaters (magnitude, for example) and set different objects to search
for (galaxies, nebulae, etc.) and the Autostar will search for those
objects that fit the parameters and that happen to be up at the moment.
Nifty.

(5) Found the Az and Alt Percent menus in Setup->Telescope for backlash
correction; only -- what's the correct way to implement it? What does
the value signify? A percentage of what?? Thank you Meade for all your
help.

(6) Unable to verify this since I have no way (no need?) to interface
directly with the LX200 command set, but I'm sure Dick Seymour will have
plenty to say about this one.

(7) Press a number key and the slew speed shows on the top line for 2
seconds (somewhat handy if you need to know the slew rate or you forgot
it)

Also noticed that when entering site names (or any item requiring
character input), now have the ability to cycle through the numbers 0
thru 9 as well as the alphabet.

Dick Seymour's "seconds" patch for satellite tracking has not been
implemented (still only shows hours:minutes for AOS and LOS)

Dick Seymour's "eccentricity" patch seems to have been implemented. For
entering TLE data, you can now enter an ecc value of 1.000000.

Dick Seymour's "creep after beep" patch -- questionable as to how
effectively Meade has implemented this or not (see observation number 2
above).

That's about it for now. I'm sure as the hours pass and more people try
this new upgrade, we'll be getting a lot of feedback on the
ups/downs/ins/outs of how to get the most from the new firmware. And it
sure would be nice if Meade could supply a .pdf file describing how to
implement some of these new features. Meanwhile, I can see Dick in his
dungeon now starting up his decompiler!!

Have fun,

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net
And comments from Dick:
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2000 13:24:25
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
I think Stan's a good bellweather of the new firmware's acceptance.

He wrote:
> but the only help file supplied is the "update.txt" file 
see the comment further below.

His Jupiter "slipped away" symptom,,, did it happen after the beep?
It -could- simply be backlash take-up. 
Test: approach it from beneath (assuming pre-zentith viewing)
It could also be mispositioning.
Mine also still creeps after slewing, but only in my (very sloppy) Alt
direction.   Az never has the problem.  Workarounds like cheating the
training (don't tell it how bad it is) help a lot.

> For all other deep sky objects that I tried (about 10 different ones
> --Messiers, stars, NGC's) it slewed to the object, beeped, and STUCK!!
By that comment i take it that Jupiter crept after-beepdom. Hmmm.

> but our solar system gets a thumbs down (and that's what they claim
> they fixed? Hmm...)
If you try an older firmware, and check its calculations against an
almanac or ephemeris... you'll see that the new one is better.
I always had problems of getting either Jup or Saturn near-perfect,
 only to find the other literally degrees off.

> (3) Did not have a chance to really figure out "Spiral Search" -- (I'm
> assuming this might have to do with searches when using the new Browse
> feature -- see 4 below -- as I went from object to object in Browse,
> each one was quite close to the previous one in the sky) -- I did not
> try this on any of the Tour Files (where sometimes we'd end up slewing
> back and forth across the sky from one object to the next).
Yes, a short sentence doesn't do it justice.
It's actually (almost) too simple... you're staring at the spot you 
just went to.  Tap [goto] again.  What's gonna happen is the barrel
will start moving up, over, down, back, up further, over further,
down further... moving in a rough spiral outward from whereever you
were pointing.  No "database" search at  all, just mechanical motion
giving you a slow (un)guided tour of that area of the sky... the 
initial moves are about a half degree (on my ETX90), and each trip
around the spiral moves out another degree.  It's really pleasant in
rich star fields, or for hunting for an object the initial [goto]
might have slightly missed.

> (4) ... the  Browse feature, > Nifty.
...'nuff said.

> (5) Found the Az and Alt Percent menus in Setup->Telescope for 
> backlash correction; only -- what's the correct way to implement it?
>  What does the value signify? A percentage of what??
Weeelll... this one's harder... the "percentage" seems to affect 
(i'm not going to go so far as to say: "controls") the "quick"
backlash correction which occurs whenever the motors reverse.
Think back to pre-autostar days with the original handcontroller...
remember how you had to run the motors for seconds before your button-
push took effect?  Note how when you reverse the Autostar the scope
(almost) leaps into action?  
-That's- the "feature" the percentage talks about.  
I think (i haven't analyzed the code yet... gimme a couple of months
 without in-laws arriving for Xmas...PLEASE?) that the percentage
means a percentage of the value they -could- have used.
I try 00% and i still see backlash correction.. but much less.
I try 20% and it seems "nice"
I try 99% and objects -shoot- across the 26mm FOV (no "slips away" here)

It doesn't cancel my full-training-truth backlash problems, 
but it can greatly limit them.

>  Thank you Meade for all your help.
Hey! they're trying! 

> (6) Unable to verify this since I have no way (no need?) to interface
> directly with the LX200 command set, but I'm sure Dick Seymour will
>  have plenty to say about this one.
A quick check shows that some long-standing minor and middling bugs
have been fixed (such as :Q# really does stop the motion.)
(and :Qn# really does Quit a north motion)(and you can now set the
time correctly, and the site latitude and...)(sorry... carried away)
(in parentheses)

> Also noticed that when entering site names (or any item requiring
> character input), now have the ability to cycle through the numbers 0
> thru 9 as well as the alphabet.
I'm sure this is to allow models like the ETX60's 494 to operate
 without a numeric keypad.

> Dick Seymour's "seconds" patch for satellite tracking has not been
> implemented (still only shows hours:minutes for AOS and LOS)
so i posted one.
 
> Dick Seymour's "eccentricity" patch seems to have been implemented.
> For entering TLE data, you can now enter an ecc value of 1.000000.
In the "thank you Meade" category... my patch was a fudge. 
The Autostar didn't have code for ecc's at or above 1.0, so they
sensibly blocked it.  
This new version seems to properly handle ecc's beyond 1.5
(i haven't -really- exercised this)... but it's pretty good with
 c/1999 T1 McNaught-Hartley (now appearing in the skies above... the
clouds...).

> Dick Seymour's "creep after beep" patch -- questionable as to how
> effectively Meade has implemented this or not 
The double-calls are all gone.  There are other tweaks to the code
i haven't analyzed yet, but they're obviously concerned and working
on it.

>> And it sure would be nice if Meade could supply a .pdf file 
> describing how to implement some of these new features.
ahem..

http://www.egroups.com/files/lx90/LX90+Meade+Documents/LX90Ver2.pdf

It's the LX90 manual... and it has the full story about almost all of
the features (it's vague on the Percentages, too).

> Meanwhile, I can see Dick in his dungeon now starting up his
> decompiler!!
?? moi ?? (imagine flutter of eyelids)

or perhaps:
Bwah Hah Haaaah... Igor! Bring me the HexEditor.... 
Bring me (shudder) Word ninty seven! (gasp!) (with a dash of Excel)

(in fact, two days ago i finally got around to subjecting my Autostar
 to an osciliscope's gentle probing.. to finally see what DOES go down
  that 8-wire cable..)

ha, haa, ha haaaa....
--dick
And more from Stan:
Hi, Dick --

thanks for your dissertation -- sometimes (if it wasn't for my wife) I
could say you make my day (i.e., put a smile on my face  :-)

As to most of your comments, you've got a better handle on all the
inside "techy" stuff than I do (besides, you've got Igor helping you
out).

Before I got this e-mail from you, sometime earlier today I had one of
those "vision" things and thought again about the "Spiral Search" --
whereby I turned on the Autostar, held the GOTO button down for 2
seconds, and listened to what happened -- sure enough, the drive train
was tweaking up, over, down, back, repeat -- "Aha!" thought I -- if at
first you don't succeed, let the Autostar try, try again (or at least
keep looking around (and around and around and around. . .) for what it
thinks it found!).

Most of the other items, like Alt/Az percentage adjustments for
backlash, etc., will just take some experimenting.

I didn't mean to "dis" Meade (you are correct -- they ARE trying!!) --
it did seem more obvious to me to include a "help" file ALONG WITH the
firmware update than to "hide" it in any LX90 documentation that -most-
ETX90 users will probably not search out (at least without a clue) --
although now that you've mentioned it, you've let the cat out of the
bag.

Stan Glaser

Subject:	 New Autostar Firmware
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 20:49:34
From:	rrzimmer@earthlink.net (Bob Zimmerman)
Dear Dick -

I'm writing to you directly as you seem to be the guru on such matters.
Have you been able to successfully transfer the new 2.1Ek version into
your Autostar?

The ROMS21Ek.zip file containing Autostar.ROM and Dbase.ROM seems to
have been loaded in a most peculiar manner. Both ROM files show up a
being 655,360 bytes, but with considerably different packing ratios. 
Trying to do an update with the Uploader A2.2 yields two Update error
messages. - Autostar.ROM not a valid Autostar.ROM, and a second
"Autostar.ROM did not pass validation test".  Amy at Meade says they
haven't had this problem before.  The A2.2  Uploader worked fine with
the 2.0i, up-load.  Given my histroy with Meade's posting of out-of-date
and corrupted ROM files in the past year, I now suspect them more than I
suspect a problem with my process or software.

I also downloaded the files directly from the Meade site, bypassing the
ZIP file.  Same file sizes, same subsequent error messages. Yes, the ROM
files are being placed in the Ephemerides sub-diretory under the
Autostar's primary directory.

Its a puzzle, Its Meade.

Thanks for all your efforts in searching through the firmware jungle,
and thanks in advance if you're able to shed any light on this latest
episode of the Meade adventures.

Bob
Mike here: I haven't yet tried it. Some have reported problems; others have been successful.

And Dick's response:

I have successfully donwloaded and installed v21ek in my autostar.
I used the ROMS21ek.zip file to acquire them.
I used v2.2 of the Updater... but there are *two* v2.2s...

One looks for checksums in the ROM file s(which these don't have)
the other doesn't.
The way to tell them apart is by reading the (roughly) 56kbyte README
which comes with the Updater package.
It has a long list of patches to to the updater...
and the last entry is that list truly identifies the Updater.
The two "v2.2's" are  2.0025  and 2.0030.
(v2.1 was 2.0022).
Mine is v2.0025   ... v2.0030 had the checksummer.

The V2.1 (part of the old auto.zip kit for v2.0i) will also work
with the new firmware.  Only v2.0030 won't.

betcha.

> Both ROM files show up a being 655,360 bytes, but with considerably
> different packing ratios. 
the database file is a *lot* denser... it's now a 30,000 object file.
non-repetitive (randowm) data is (are?) harder to compress.
Stars and Deep Sky objects are arranged moderately randomly.
Conversely, the database still has a goodly dollop of text.

> The A2.2  Uploader worked fine with the 2.0i, up-load. 
Look at the first few bytes of your autostar.rom file which
came with the updater.  IF they're non-zero, (or non-FF)
 you've got the checksumed version.

feel free to also Email me your zip file (altho, if winzip unpacked
it without complaint, i  believe it's correct.)
The build dates are:  Dec 13th, 9:30am.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	 New Autostar firmware
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 10:26:03
From:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (jpswann54)
I looked at www.meade.com/support/auto.html for the new version 2.1Ek
but could only see downloads for 2.0i. Is the new firmware hiding
somewhere else?

John Swann
And:
Subject:	 Where's the new Meade 2.1ek version?
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 11:45:16
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
got an e-mail from Dick Seymour regarding a question I had on his
patches and he mentioned a "new" update, version 2.1ek on Meade's
website -- I went there and the page still shows the old 03/07/00 dates
and the 2.0i versions...

We've both seen Meade post updates and often change them during the day
-- did you happen to get the update?

I go to Meade's site every day to check, and I didn't see any yesterday,
and today's is the same -- did they post it and then take it off again
and I missed it? (I know you don't know the answer to that -- it's just
rhetorical).

I guess I'll keep checking during the day to make sure -- and wait for
an answer from either you or Dick.

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net
And another one:
Subject:	 URL of the new Autostar files
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 12:54:28
From:	stefan.keller-tuberg@usa.alcatel.com (Stefan Keller-Tuberg)
I was delighted to learn that Meade has released a new version of the
Autostar and was keen to give it a shot to see if it fixes some of those
annoying bugs. Imagine my disappointment when I found that meade web
page doesn't list the new version yet!

So I "did some surfing" and found it at
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Autostar/EtxAutostar/

When you surf to this URL, you will see a directory listing. Download
the ROMS21ek.zip file and avoid all the hassles of Netscape corrupting
the ".ROM" versions.

Pity its looking like a cloudy weekend in Raleigh :-(

Stefan
Mike here: It is hiding at the end of the top set of files. Sixth one down: dated 12/13/00.

And:

Subject:	 Re: Meade 2.1ek Autostar firmware -- it's up and present
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 14:19:34
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
well, it tweren't (for me, anyway) yesterday, and it tweren't for me
this morning, so I just checked again (2:03 pm on Friday) and now it's
there...SO I GRABBED IT!!

hope to upload the new version to the Autostar sometime tonight or this
weekend and if the sky plays nicey-nice, check it out (gee, and only 2
days after I -finally- uploaded Dick's patches!!) -- I wonder if I had
performed that sooner that Meade would have posted their's sooner, too?
Hmm... (kinda like washing your car and it rains the next day)...

Take care,

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net
And:
well, it wasn't when I looked!!   :-)

and

well, it was when I looked, again, later!!  :-)

I got a response from Dick -- he noticed the same thing -- it was up,
then it was gone (obviously that's when I surfed over there!) -- he
e-mailed Meade about it disappearing and they had it back up by around
1:20 pm.

In any case, yes, I got it...

well send you a "first report" in another mailer

Stan Glaser
And:
From:	stefan.keller-tuberg@usa.alcatel.com (stefan keller-tuberg)
Mike,

Thanks for the reply. About an hour and a half after I emailed you, the
meade web page changed as you comment. I had wondered whether you
contacted meaded and asked them to fix it but obviously not.

So what happened? Clearing my disk and memory cache was the first thing
I tried when I couldn't get to it on Friday and as I have a direct
connection to the Internet, I'm sure the page that meade was
transmitting was the old one. I'm wondering whether there meade has some
sort of anti-hack software that overwrites changed pages with "backed
up" pages because I've seen this sort of strange behavior on one or two
other sites over the last year or two.

Cheers,
Stefan

Subject:	 Version 2.1ek -- new firmware, some tips
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2000 07:07:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Spiral Search: you [goto] somewhere.  It arrives, beeps.
  If the *next* keypad press you do is the [goto] key again,
  The barrel will begin making a slow spiral (up, over, down, back,
   farther up, father over, etc.) starting at that point in the sky.
   Handy for finding the not-quite-arrived-at target, or for taking
   a slow, effortless tour in the vicinity of your target.
   You can -stop- the spiral by pressing [goto] again, or [mode]. 
   You can also -start- a spiral by simply leaning on the [goto]
   key for more than two seconds (similar to Sync and mode-to-RA).

Browse: prowl the Autostar's (now) 30,000 object database with a
 mini search engine.  You can tell it max/min size, min magnitude,
  type-of-object (galaxy, nebula, cluster), minimum elevation above
   horizon, some other stuff. It can search forward and backwards.

If you grab and read the LX90's manual available at

http://www.egroups.com/files/lx90/LX90+Meade+Documents/lx90.pdf

it'll help explain the stuff...

Basically, they've squeezed the LX90's Autostar package into your
existing 497 Autostar.

The backlash stuff isn't explained at all well, and i'm still a
bit befuddled by it (gimme a few days to chew on the disassembly)
But it lets you diminish (or increase) the quick-compensation which
happens when you (or the sidereal drive acting for you) reverse the
motors.

It also -does- improve aiming at the outer planets... i've compared
a number of its predictions to published ephemerii stretching forward
a year or so.

It has removed the double call to the backlash routine which caused
creep-after-beep (differs from creep-after-slew, which the "percent"
stuff tries to address).

It fixes a bunch of LX200 command errors that have been in there since
before v1.3c... (they were rather obscure... such as remotely setting
the date and site latitude).

They did NOT, however, put in Satellite rise-times to the second.
(grump)  My patch will be along in a day or so.
--dick

Subject:	 [Fwd: Re: to Sleep, yet to dream...]
Sent:	Thursday, December 14, 2000 21:24:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Stan Glaser wrote:

>>(what key would you use for "pause"?)

> the "0" key, perhaps (or did I miss something?) (besides, isn't that
> little light bulb icon on the "0" key supposed to indicate a bright
> idea?)    :-)
er, if you have an Electric Focuser, the zero key is the new way
to reach it...

but even worse...
> p.s. -- finally patched in "all" your fixes -- 
and Meade **just** released a new version... v2.1ek
Which effectively incorporates some of them (or their equivalents).
Plus adds new features:
 Browse (search the database for objects)
 Spiral Search (slow circles (well, boxes) spiraling outward
   (ok, ok...oxymoron) from the current position.  Lovely in the
    Milky Way)
 30,000 database objects... just when you were getting bored with
 the 16k in the original package!
 Az Percent and Alt percent: (some) control over backlash adjustments.
    (do NOT try 99% unless you're immune to seasickness)

It does not, however, include AOS-to-the-second.  I think.
I'm about to squeeze it into my beastie.

> GOTO'd M42 as a test -- found it (toward outside edge of FOV), beeped,
> then did some creeping!!!!  Yikes, Dick CAN'T be wrong (or can he?).
Pivotal question: did it approach from a with-sidereal or against-
sidereal direction (such that engaging sidereal would have reversed 
the barrel's motion).... if the latter, it's "creep after slew",
not "creep after beep".
But my recommendation is: try v2.1ek
(i'd better do that myself before pushing it too much...)
--dick

Subject:	 Re: Backlash & Training
Sent:	Thursday, December 14, 2000 21:09:41
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
Hi Dennis,

>  Just think what you could do if you had access to the original code.
quite possibly not as much... i analyze the final machine language 
loaded into the Autostar... so i see the bugs inserted by the compilers,
too.  I'm also not that much of a C or C++ whiz, so i'd miss some
 nuances that are clear in the disassembly.

-that- said, looking at (my guess) 9,000 lines of codes would 
certainly be easier than looking at 80,000 lines... whoops: 99,000.
(just recalculated for latest version).(ouch)

> I have been putting off buying an LX200 because of fear of getting a
> lemon -- Meade QC seems to fall far, far short of six-sigma reject
> rate.
I haven't played with LX200's at all... since they've been the 
high-end flagship for Meade's line, i'm surprised that -they- suffer
from poor QC.  Much of the etx90 and etx125's failings stem more from
design compromises made to reach a price point than lack of QC
(with some notable exceptions).
The LX200 has -lots- more going on inside its brain... PEC to mention
merely one.  Much larger command repitoire, bigger database.

To read the LX90 egroup, the LX90's that are arriving are in excellent
condition.

> Re Training/Backlash:  When I note the actions of training, it seems
> to me that this is a backlash correcting algorithm.  ETX slews left,
> you slew (only) right until you're back home.  What other purpose does
> this exercise serve besides measuring backlash?

That's it... it's the Autostar's way of learning the mechanical slop
in the two axes.  The results are then applied in two ways:

(a) when you reverse direction there's a burst of quick take-up motion
to overcome the backlash before it starts to "move".
Unfortunately this also exhibits itself as "creep-after-slew", when
 the sidereal drive's action serves to "reverse" the barrel's motion.
(b) for the Alt/Az and RA/Dec readouts, it's used to determine how
many encoder "ticks" to ignore before changing the numbers.

> ETX-90 owner/LX200 wannabe
"...there is another..."
   --Obi Wan(nabe) Kenobi

--dick

Subject:	 Autostar update and Mac
Sent:	Thursday, December 14, 2000 20:22:16
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Am I missing something, or has Meade simply deleted the promise that a
Mac compatible Autostar update was being developed, from its web site.

Tom Brown
Mike here: What was finally removed was the statement about a Java-enabled version that would run with any web browser.

And:

Of course you're right, but, as a Mac user, I'd been hoping for just
this version.  I have read the posts about updating Autostar using
Virtual PC, but I really hoped for a simpler solution from Meade.  Oh
well, suppose I should be used to it.

Subject:	 New Version of Firmware one the web...
Sent:	Wednesday, December 13, 2000 19:04:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
(and i'm -nowhere- near home, so i can't load it!)

anyway, version  2.1Ek   is now at Meade's site.

The "E" stands for English, they've created individualized
language versions to squeak a few more bytes' room  out of the
database (to allow more astro objects)

Have fun (i'll be getting it tomorrow (Thursday ) night...)
--dick 
Mike here: Here's the readme info:
Improvements to the 497 AutoStar from 2.0i
1) Increase object count to over 30,000.
2) Improved pointing for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
3) Added Spiral Search. (Start search on second consecutive GOTO or by holding GOTO for more then 2 seconds)
4) Added LX200 like Browse feature.
5) Quick backlash correction by using Az Percent and Alt Percent in Setup - Telescope.
6) Improvements to LX200 command set.
7) AutoStar shows new slew speed for 2 seconds.
Note: This version is ENGLISH only

Subject:	A little confused...
Sent:	Wednesday, December 13, 2000 11:59:48
From:	BGJAKU@aol.com
Hi.
I'm using a 125.
I'm a little confused about the need for the ETX Autostar.  I recognize
it's very portable and accurate but it's just a bit more powerful than
my calculator.  I've been trying to use mine for what I call
"intercepts".  I'll track a star that I know a satellite will soon be
passing and begin tracking the satellite as it comes into view. 
Autostar does a terrible job of this.  I'm using Skymap 6 connected to
my Autostar to accomplish this but it's lagging and loses it's track
quickly when it makes a track correction of anything greater than 15
degrees.  I'm sure my calc's are right and are being sent to Autostar
correctly.  Has anyone figured out a way to get the Autostar "out of the
loop"?  I'd like to go directly from my PC to the ETX.  Seems like there
would certainly be a way to do this.  Even if I had to send commands
through something like hyperterminal I think I could get the ETX to
track better.  Any help you or anyone on the boards could give would be
helpful.

Thanks,
Dr. David Holmes
Mike here: The computer that understands the commands and translates them into movements by the drives is inside the Autostar, not the ETX base. You would have to have the Autostar firmware running on your desktop/laptop computer and since the Autostar has neither the Pentium chip nor a PowerPC chip, you're out of luck unless you have an emulator for the Autostar chip on your computer.

Added later:

Thanks Mike...I'll keep working on another solution.

Subject:	 Re: Re:  az readout
Sent:	Wednesday, December 13, 2000 03:32:49
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
mike hi again,
no. when i move the sliding RA scale for one hour , it gives only (2)
degrees on the AZ readout(on ALT/AZ screen).

by the way, i found a note on AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK concerning this mater.
that note was from  Richard Seymour to Brian dated on sep. 29,2000.
Richard mentioned my problem ,but he did not solve it.

i hope it is clear now. i am waiting for your answer.

i agree with you that RICHARD SEYMOUR deserves that shirt.  finally, i
am very grateful for you both.

suliman

Subject:	 RE: Stopping the scope from tracking
Sent:	Wednesday, December 13, 2000 01:27:35
From:	p.davey@wellcome.ac.uk (Davey ,Mr Paul)
To:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk ('Damian Davis')
Hi Damian
 
Dick Seymour made the same suggestion, and I'm grateful to you both. I
don't think I'd be quite so power saving conscious if you could get a
mains adaptor for the UK market. Or can you? I'm still on my first set
of batteries, and I shall probably replace them with rechargables.
 
Paul

Subject:	 az readout
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2000 14:20:04
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
i read on your site that the correct az readout for one hour is about 15
degrees. so, i press and hold (mode)for three seconds ,release. then i
see the RA/DEC screen . scroll down once , then ,the ALT/AZ screen is
seen.

using the big slew keys, press the -->key to rotate one hour on the RA
scale on the base of the etx (as you know each hour is 15 degrees). here
is the problem , my etx gives only (two degrees).  i have been told that
if it did not read anywhere-near-15 degrees per 'hour' of rotation, the 
calibration is probably incorrect.

i calibrated my etx many times , but still the same problem.

would you please help me what to do.

suliman
Mike here: Yep, 15 degrees of Right Ascension movement equals 1 hour of R.A. But I'm not certain where you are seeing the problem. Do you mean that the sliding RA scale is only moving two degrees when you slew for an hour in RA? If so, it sounds like it is just sticking.

Subject:	 Stopping the scope from tracking
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2000 13:03:07
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
To:	p.davey@wellcome.ac.uk
Paul, 
I saw your posting on Mike's website, and there is an easy way to turn
off the motors:-

Select     setup>targets>enter, 
then scroll to Terrestrial, and press enter. This will stop the motors
tracking. The same procedure, this time selecting Astronomical will turn
them on again from where they left off. 
I hope this is of some use
DD

Subject:	 Buzzing Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2000 13:02:30
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
To:	ewlezien1@home.com
Ed
I saw your query on Mike's site.
When you say 
>I removed the batteries and reinstalled, but to no avail.
do you mean you reinstalled the same batteries? The reason I ask is that
the symptoms you describe sound  -exactly- like those of low Volts. The
display would not function, and the buzzing would be the beeper trying
its best to announce its presence. I really hope it is as simple as
that!!
Good luck  DD

Subject:	 Thanks re Lunar Tracking Rate
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2000 12:25:09
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Gentlemen, 

Thanks for the replies and the thought that has gone into answering my
question. As you may have read or seen, most of the UK is (or is nearly)
under water. This water comes from very thick and constant cloud cover.
If it ever clears, I shall investigate Dick's discoveries. Until then, I
will just imagine the Orion Nebula!

Thanks again DD

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Monday, December 11, 2000 12:47:40
From:	SONTAG@bostik.com (Sontag, Richard)
I think I read on your site somewhere about the Autostar software 2.0
having a function in it to help gear lash on my 125 EC.  I can't seem to
find the reference to it again either on your site or in my Autostar now
that I have the newer version.  Can you help me?

Thank You

Dick Sontag
Mike here: The newer version has internal code to better compensate for gear backlash. I don't think that is a user setable parameter under normal operations. However, you can apply the patches and techniques described on the Autostar Information page to possibly improve things even more (or make them worse...).

Subject:	 Re: Writeup on the "Flight to the Right" workaround.
Sent:	Sunday, December 10, 2000 14:40:50
From:	horrox@HONet.com (Michael Rathbun)
An addendum or correction to my original writeup:

---
I have finally had time to install the "creep after beep" patch and, as
I expected, it doesn't appear to fix the "flight to the right" problem.
---

Perhaps our intrepid firmware explorer will find another set of doubled
calls to backlash compensation -- the behavior of the Autostar looks
very much like this could be the source of the problem.

Regards,

mdr
And from our intrepid firmware explorer:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Yup... my patch covers creep-after-beep,
not over-enthusiastic backlash correction.

For non-LX90 owners, fudging the Training is about the only out,
 i do it myself.
(hmmm... maybe i -can- dig into that... hmmm...)
(that chunk of the code is -really- a bear...)
(gimme a few days...)

According to the manual, 
LX90 owners have something called "Alt Percent" and "Az percent" 
which theoretically lets them adjust (too strong a word? how's about
"influence"?) the backlash correction factor.

--dick
And more from Dick:
Workaround number two ... 

If you slew to an object in the direction of the sidereal drive
it may help.  That way, as the sidereal engages after you stop slewing,
it doesn't (effectively) "reverse" the barrel's motion, thereby 
causing the backlash compensation to be tossed into the mix.

Conversely, i've also seen the symptom to be biased by which side of my
meridian i'm on.  So it'll creep one way to the east of Az 180,
and it'll creep the -other- way to the west of Az 180.

Most frustrating.

--dick (cold and creepily frustrated)

Subject:	 Re: ISS orbital parameters
Sent:	Sunday, December 10, 2000 11:24:12
From:	dlangham@win.bright.net (David Langham)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Thanks Richard. I found your information very helpful. Under
"Satellites" on the Autostar I found that the ISS was actually listed as
a choice. I figured out how to enter the "two line" information given on
the site you listed. I can't wait to see if it works. By the
way--tonight on Discovery there is a special about the ISS. Thanks

Subject:	 Bouquets (not brick-bats)!!
Sent:	Sunday, December 10, 2000 11:16:57
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
I (too) along with you (Mike) cast my accolades toward Dick ("the parenthetically
'challenged'?" -- (like me)) Seymour, who has managed to (with wit and
aplomb) supply us ETX owners globs of technical insights (and patches;
and fixes) into our mighty little scopes and has asked for nothing (so
far!) in return. Three Huzzahs to "Tricky" Dicky.

Huzzah . . . Huzzah . . . Huzzah!!    :-)

May he wear his T-shirt (XL ?) with honor and pride as he braves the
cold, rainy, and cloudy evenings in Seattle...

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net

Subject:	 Dick Seymour
Sent:	Sunday, December 10, 2000 03:52:00
From:	rmarchionna@voyager.net (Ray Marchionna)
Thank you Dick !

You too Mike !

Subject:	 commanding an Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, December 9, 2000 23:07:39
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	dcloukot@collins.rockwell.com
Hi...

i saw your note on Mike's site.
You asked:
>One thing that I havn't been able to find is the exact messaging syntax
>to talk to the Autostar.  Do you know where I can obtain a listing of
>the commands?  

The webpage
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html

contains my listing of what commands the Autostar understands.
It's derived from a complete disassembly of the AUtostar's v2.0h
code (and v2.0i doesn't differ in that area... they're byte-for-byte
equivalent)... and lots of testing with Hyperterminal.

>Secondlly I purchased the 'TheSky ' for my Compaq Pocket PC.
> Seems it doesn't talk to the Astrostar the way it should.  I have
> Astrostar  Ver 2.0i and I suspect that Mead has made some changes.
"only improvements"?
actually, there are a number of bugs in the LX200 code section of the
Autostar... and that section hasn't changed much (if at all) since v1.3c
(i.e. about a year)
I've sent a continuous stream of notes to Meade about it, but have had
to implemnet a few patches of my own to get some software to work.
The patches are available at

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_beep2.html 

You'd want the "complete patch set i run in my Autostar" for best 
LX200 operation. (among other things: avoids stack overflow if many
sequential :MS# are given, and makes :Q# -really- stop it.)

>  The ':' no longer is needed in the command syntax.
your comment made me look at the code... 
indeed, it does seem to be optional.
But it -is- used as a separator.

>  Do you know of anyone that can help me on this.
Questions posted to Mike's site, or to me, will get answered as time
permits (and i do try to find time).  

> Do you know where I can obtain a set of commands for the Autostar
> for the ETX?
see first URL cited, above.

That URL does NOT include the Downloader/Clone commands, which are a
different set of cookies.  I'll try to write them up and send 'em to
Mike for posting... but it's not the highest thing on the agenda (not
far behind, though).

On your other comments about the apparent bias towards the ETX90...
I think the lack of mechanical hackers and adjusters inside the 125
reflects the family's history.  A lot of the original (pre-Autostar)
ETX90 customers were dedicated amateur astronomers, fascinated to have a
nice little "mini Questar" at a reasonable price.
And they were NOT afraid to tear into it to repair and improve it.
Then came the Autostarred ETX90/ec... and some of that crowd got some,
but mostly it appealed to the less-technically inclined (more) mass
market attracted by its GoTo abilities.
The ETX125 extends -that- market with a bigger, better light-gathering
scope.  But for the tinkering amateur astronomer, i believe it falls
into a crack they're not too interested in. It also arrived -after- the
Nexstar5.  So the rush for a 5" GoTo swung that way, and found a nice
solid scope.  I think you'll find more "tear into it" notes on the N5's
support sites than you'll find here.  Mike's site is only a smattering
of the thousands of ETX90s and ETX125s sold, but a major segment of 125
users seem to be "first scope" buyers.. and they're not the sort who
tend to open expensive beasties with the intent to modify.

But there's always that delightful minority, such as yourself, that
cannot leave less-than-well enough alone... and from folks like you the
"how to do it" postings on Mike's site arise...

Dig in, take photos, please keep us posted...
and, above all, have fun...
--dick

Subject:	 to Sleep, yet to dream...
Sent:	Saturday, December 9, 2000 21:45:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	p.davey@wellcome.ac.uk
Paul asked:

> (1) The handset won't  let me change values in the tracking rate.
> I can scroll through Siderial/Lunar/Custom, but pressing ENTER
>  won't actually lock on to any of them. Is that right?
No... it's just bad human engineering of the interface.
I just entered a long answer to this which is on Mike's Dec 9th update,
but you can -see- your affect by doing this:
(a) Setup>Telescope>TrackingRate[enter][scroll up to]Custom[enter]
(b) It'll show a number (probably zero)
(c) [mode] or [enter] to get up a level.  Now scroll to Lunar.
(d) Press [enter]
(e) now scroll -back- to Custom.  Press [enter]
(f) if everything's working correctly... it'll show "-35"
 ...which appears to be Meade's idea of the correction needed for Lunar
tracking.  
I -cannot- say if that's the "right" value, but at least it shows you
can have an effect.
If you feel like a bizarre kind of "fun", go back to Custom and
tell it "-3800".  Press [enter]
It'll beep (it doesn't like the number).
Press [mode] to get up a level.
If you're already tracking (motors purring) it'll probably start
careening backawards due to that change...
Scroll to Sidereal and Press [enter] to clear the damage.
(you may need to realign to the stars after this...)

>(2) Can I pause a help message? I know how to slow it or speed it up,
>but not pause.
Good idea... you're correct.. there's no Pause (i'd like a "reverse",
too, please)


>(3) Can I actually stop the scope from tracking once I have gone to an
>object, once I've gone to it and have stopped looking at it and am not
>ready to go to another? If I just want it to be in neutral? Other than
>using sleep. It seems to me unwanted tracking is eating expensive
>batteries and the noise can get irritating.
The only other way to stop the motors is to go to
Setup>Targets> and choose "Terrestrial"
That's Meade's documented way of killing the motors.
(you can [goto] a Landmark, too.)
Personally, i consider the number of keypresses required to reach
"Terrestrial" far too many, and dropped Meade a note.
It's still buried just as deep.  More folks requesting its elevation
may help.

>So many queries in your archive are firmware ones. Is there a danger of
>becoming completely obsessed with the equipment and forgetting to
>actually look at the sky?
The magic of the Autostar is a large part of what makes the ETX and DS
family such delights to use.  But don't worry... i do my firmware 
digging during Seattle's wealth of cloudy/rainy nights, in order to
better understand the workings to tweak it to higher performance levels
for both myself and folks on the web.  The Autostar's occasional
hiccoughs can frustrate many folks' enjoyment of the skies... they
forget what they're trying to look at, and fuss with the controller.
I spend as many hours out with my ETX as i can, and have a solar filter
so i can use it to gaze fascinated at the sun during the day.
I use it to chase comets, satellites, stars, faint fuzzies and the odd
passing steamship.  It's provided a topic of discussion that's enabled
me to find new friends throughout the world.

Obsessed? Maybe... but not solely by the firmware.

have fun
--dick  (what key would you use for "pause"?)

Subject:	 credit where it's due (albeit a little belatedly)
Sent:	Saturday, December 9, 2000 20:41:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Yes indeedy...

Thanks to the Tour link on your site, and the contest buried therein,
Woodland Camera sent along a Meade 4000-series 908B Wideband Nebula
filter!

My thanks to Mike for the pointer, to Woodland for the Tour (well, 
it takes a strong stomach, or complete lack of taste to complete it,
but i'm guilty of both)(fer sure), and to Meade for the ETX90
i'm hanging it on...

now, about those clouds over Seattle....
--dick

Subject:	 Buzzing AutoStar
Sent:	Saturday, December 9, 2000 16:19:25
From:	ewlezien1@home.com (Ed Wlezien)
Thanks, Mike, for all of your hard work keeping your site topical and
greatly informative. I have used your site numerous times, and have
always found a great answer...until now! I have searched the archives,
but have not been able to find an answer to this: When I turned on my
ETX-90EC, the Autostar stays blank and a buzzing sound comes from the
hand control. I cannot get it to go into SAFELOAD mode, either. The
manual movement and focus controls work fine. I removed the batteries
and reinstalled, but to no avail. Any suggestions?

Thanks again,

Ed Wlezien
Mike here: It sounds like something got fried in the Autostar. If the display is blank and there is any sound coming from it, it certainly sounds like something failed. It will probably require a call to Meade for repair. This is the first time I've heard of this problem.

Added later:

Thanks, Mike-
I'll give them a call and let you know what the outcome is!

Subject:	 Autostar Tracking Rates
Sent:	Saturday, December 9, 2000 10:07:12
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
I was looking at the moon the other night between the clouds, and
thought I would try out the Lunar Tracking Mode, as it was definitely
drifting through the field of view. So.... >Setup>Telescope>Tracking
Rate   displayed Siderial in the window, so I scrolled to Lunar and
pressed Enter.

The moon still drifted through. So...
>Setup>Telescope>Tracking Rate  still displayed Siderial in the window,
not Lunar like I expected. I scrolled to Lunar and this time pressed GO
TO. The motor(s) gave the merest hint of slewing to something (what?),
it gave a beep, and the moon still drifted through. So...
>Setup>Telescope>Tracking Rate  STILL displayed Siderial in the window! 
Luckily, increasing cloud cover prevented the Autostar meeting its end
against a concrete post!

What am I doing wrong? Is this another bug? (ETX90EC, Autostar 497,
2.0i) Wouldn't it be nice if, having selected GO TO moon, the Autostar
automatically switched to Lunar Tracking Rate, and told you so on the
display?

Maybe "Dick the Demon Disassembler" has hacked his way through this one!

Cheers for now,
DD
And Dick's response:
Subject:	 Re:  Autostar Tracking Rates.. or Luney Tunes?
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
A Question I've oft asked myself...
[abstracted, abridged, synopsed]
> When trying to keep the Moon in view, using Setup to select Lunar
> Tracking rate seems to have little effect, and doesn't reflect
> in the Setup dialog, either.
I agree.  Then again, -nothing- you select in Tracking (other than
really confusing it with "Custom") -seems- to have an effect.

But it does.

The way to tell that you've affected it is to -choose- Custom,
*after* you've chosen Lunar or Sidereal.

The number the Custom display shows -changes-.
Sidereal shows "+0"
Lunar shows "-35"

Peachy... er, what does it mean?

Let's think: Lunar motion is about 15 degrees per day slower than
Sidereal.  Hence about half a degree (one moon-width) per hour.
{parallel thinking track: did the moon drift a full width in (far)
-less- than an hour? If so, it's not lack of "Lunar Tracking" causing
your problem)
Anyway: half a degree per hour is half a minute per minute, or
half a second per second ... 
so the "-35" could well be a simple arcseconds per clock minute
(or arcminutes-per-clock hour) correction. 
Gee... understandable numbers!
(let's play... i'll just enter -3800 ... [beep!] so it didn't like
it, but it -did- it... it started tracking -backwards- ... cool!)
(hmmm... secondary think.. what does it do in the Southern Hemisphere?)

(later button playing addition: it seems to accept (no beep) + to - 999.
And at -999 it feels like it's tracking backwards.  It's now daytime
and overcast, so i cannot calibrate it to the sky.   It's possible
the number is in tenths of a percent or something.)
(confusing things is that the backlash correction kicks in when the 
tracking rate adjustment "reverses" the motion)

So: after telling your Autostar "Lunar", check the "Custom" readout.
If it's about "-35", then you are affecting it.
(next question: does the rate vary with position of Moon on ecliptic?
Since the Sidereal rate is following the -equator-, what should the
sinusoidal effect of the 23.5 + lunar tilt ecliptic do to it?)

> I scrolled to Lunar and this time pressed GOTO.
> The motor(s) gave the merest hint of slewing to something (what?), it
> gave a beep, and the moon still drifted through. 
ahhh... an EASY (unintended) question...
The "what" it [goto]d was merely the -last- target you'd GOneTO.
If, i assume, that was the Moon, it just went there again.
BUT... since you hadn't pressed [enter] at the Moon again, it went to
the -old- coordinates, not the -current- position.

> What am I doing wrong? Is this another bug?
Sorry.... just operational quirk.  Altho the human interface (an arrow
at the Sidereal, say) would help, and be consistent with other AutoStar
operation.
>(ETX90EC, Autostar 497, 2.0i)

> Wouldn't it be nice if, having selected GO TO moon, the Autostar
> automatically switched to Lunar Tracking Rate, and told you so on the
> display?
I've oft ruminated on -that-, too... and came to the realization that
how would the Autostar guess that you wanted to -return- to Sidereal?
Obviously if you [goto]d somewhere, but what if you just Slewed?
Are you merely puttering across the Lunar  surface, or are you 
homing in on the asteroid which just reappeared from behind the dark
limb of the moon after its occultation?
That'd be a very tough call for the (almost) overtaxed brain of the
Autostar.  And you -know- it'd guess wrong 94% of the time.

While they're at it, i'd like comet-tracking adjustments, too, please.
(did i just hear a Meade programmer's eyes cross?)

> Maybe "Dick the Demon Disassembler" has hacked his way through
> this one!
Actually, i investigated it by pushing Autostar buttons.
I will revisit that chunk of the listings (and send a note to Meade
requesting the ">" pointer, at least)
(picture dropping coins in very deep wishing wells...)

Cheerio!
--dick
p.s. i'll probably send an adjustment to the above arm-waves after 
digging into the code...
And an update from Dick:
I checked the code... 
selecting Sidereal sets the correction to zero.
Selecting Lunar sets it to -35.
Selecting Custom lets you enter a number, and sets it into the 
 correction area... THEN it checks it for +/-999 limits.

Subject:	 Comet Coming (well, it's here if you're an early riser)
Sent:	Thursday, December 7, 2000 21:26:11
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
For you folks with your Autostar-equipped ETX's and DS's, 
there's a "binocular comet" hoving into view!

(that means it won't quite get to naked-eye brightness)

It's currently rising fairly early in the morning,
 at about RA 13:46 Dec -27 degrees 11' (12/7/00)

I don't know if your Autostar comes preloaded with it,
but if it doesn't, here are the numbers to feed in:
(the Autostar may call it  "T1 McNught-Hrtly")

    Name: C/1999 T1 McNaught-Hartley
    Epoch day: 13-Dec-2000   (in truth 13.4711)
    Perihelion Distance: 1.171708
    Eccentricity: 0.999940
    Arg of Peri: 344.7574
    Long of Asc Node: 182.4822
    Inclination: 79.9750
    Magnitude: 5.0

It's at magnitude 6.8 now, it'll only get to about 6.6, then
gradually dim to 9.9 by the end of March.  By then it'll be
high in the northern skies in the evenings.

Full details are at
cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/1999T1.html

Compare your Autostar's calculations with the listing from that
site, since various versions of the firmware differ quite a bit
in comet-tracking quality. (believe me, it's a hard calculation
for the lil' beastie)

have fun!
--dick (fogged in)

Subject:	 Random slewing
Sent:	Thursday, December 7, 2000 13:58:02
From:	namarino@hotmail.com (Norman)
I have been experiencing the "random slewing problem" every time I use
my 90EC. It does it with the AC & DC adapters as well as with fresh
batteries. Meade thought that it might be the receptacle on the scope or
the adapters, but the receptacle is OK and I'm on my second power
adapter and cord. I have really enjoyed my little scope's views and have
had very good results with the GOTO when aligned properly, BUT... this
is really beginning to ruin the experience (!!!) If you know what I
mean. Anyone had any luck fixing this problem??

Norm
Mike here: Did Meade offer to look at the scope and Autostar?

Subject:	 Autostar and tracking rate
Sent:	Thursday, December 7, 2000 06:23:31
From:	p.davey@wellcome.ac.uk (Davey ,Mr Paul)
I have just bought myself an ETX-90EC for Christmas, but my queries are
Autostar ones.

(1) The handset won't  let me change values in the tracking rate. I can
scroll through Siderial/Lunar/Custom, but pressing ENTER won't actually
lock on to any of them. Is that right?

(2) Can I pause a help message? I know how to slow it or speed it up,
but not pause.

(3) Can I actually stop the scope from tracking once I have gone to an
object, once I've gone to it and have stopped looking at it and am not
ready to go to another? If I just want it to be in neutral? Other than
using sleep. It seems to me unwanted tracking is eating expensive
batteries and the noise can get irritating.

So many queries in your archive are firmware ones. Is there a danger of
becoming completely obsessed with the equipment and forgetting to
actually look at the sky?

Best wishes

Paul Davey
44 Great College Street
Brighton
BN2 1HL
p.davey@wellcome.ac.uk
Mike here: I've noticed that on some entries you have to hold the ENTER button down a couple of seconds before it "takes". Don't know if that is what is happening to you. Don't know anyway to pause the help scrolling. As to saving batteries, I think Parking is the only option. But it does sound like a nice feature that Meade might want to consider adding. I suggest you send your suggestion to engineer@meade.com. And yes, you can forget to look at the sky, especially if you run this web site...

Subject:	 ETX 90 electric focuser
Sent:	Sunday, December 3, 2000 12:49:42
From:	racer521@pacbell.net (Sam)
I was wondering if you could help me with another problem I am having.
When using the Autostar to operate the electric focuser at its slowest
(button 1 or 2) speed it sticks and keeps running. I have to hit the
opposite button to stop it. It works fine with the hand controller or
focus controller. It seems to only happen when using the Autostar in
Microfine speed. Any ideas?.

Subject:	Autostar 'confused' and fixed
Sent:	Friday, December 1, 2000 23:07:48
From:	F8atbeep@aol.com
When I went to look at Venus the other nite, my autostar didn't
initialize normally and ended up with a combo of Spanish and English on
the screen with little relationship to the normal operation.

Using your feedback pages, I was able to git the controller to SAFE LOAD
mode.  I reloaded the software and now it is working fine again.  It
occurred to me that maybe the problem was caused by the series of solar
flares last weekend.  I don't know much about the electronics involved
in the autostar or whether or not the flash memory could be affected by
solar events.

Anyway, Thanks for keeping up the site.  It's great to have a place to
go with problems where there are answers.

Tom Caplis
Mike here: Glad the site was helpful. As to solar flares (or cosmic rays) affecting electronics, you never know... Maybe that stray neutrino really zapped your brain and you only thought it was gibberish. ;-)

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