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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 1 February 2000

Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to etx@me.com. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.



Subject:	 Exposure lengths
Sent:	Saturday, January 29, 2000 22:59:18
From:	atestani@ibm.net (Al Testani)
Can you or anyone give an estimate as to how long an exposure the
ETX-90EC with Autostar can reasonably track without an autoguider,
assuming a decent Alt/Az alignment?

Thanks

__________________

Al Testani
atestani@ibm.net
__________________
Mike here: If you have a PERFECT alignment theoretically you could provide track for hours. However, since you likely won't spend the time to get a PERFECT alignment (which can require hours itself), you are talking seconds of exposure time at any magnification. Piggyback can get you longer exposures, especially with a short lens (50mm or less) since the scale on film is so small. Keep in mind that powerful guide scopes or off-axis guiders are used by astrophotographers using more professional equipment than the ETX line.

Subject:	  Autostar 2.0g
Sent:	Saturday, January 29, 2000 20:10:56
From:	tquick@ispchannel.com (Thom Quick)
I also had trouble uploading the versions.  I also had problems
understanding the directions.  After several failed attempts I did get
help from the Meade Support site.  The online rep talked to the
developers and indicated that I should:

Remove all files/data from the Ephemerides sub-directory
Re-unzip the package Auto.zip  (2.0 with program and 2.0e ROM)
Un-zip the ROM files from the 2.0g package into the Ephemerides
sub-directory these will over write the 2.0e rom files.

Now run the 2.0 Autostar Updater.  At some point you will be asked to
save user data choose no.  This will apparently allow the 2.0g rom file
to update correctly.  Once the autostar resets you should have the new
comet and four tour files.  I had planned to upload the additional tour
files but decided to leave well enough alone for now.

Regards,

Thom Quick

Subject:	 Question: Meade software & training motors
Sent:	Saturday, January 29, 2000 15:00:00
From:	pnajar@qwestinternet.net (Peter Najar)
I just took delivery of a ETX125 and as a newbie I have a couple of
questions. Training the EXT 125 motors I found it quite difficult to
center a terrestrial object in the eyepiece. I think I am close. Are
there any tricks to doing this well?

The Autostar, I purchased had software version 1.2 installed. I
downloaded the updates from Meade and realized that Meade software is
not too intuitive. Has any one found a guide for the software?

Thanks

Peter Najar
pnajar@langesales.com
Lange Sales, Inc
303-795-3600
Mike here: If you have a higher power eyepiece (or a Barlow lens) you can use that. Also, I believe there was a comment about this in a recent email but I forget the details (just see too many emails to remember them all!). As to the Autostar, many users have noted how unintuitive the updater software is. Keep reading the Autostar Feedback pages for tips. Maybe someone will write a guide for its use.

Subject:	 Searching for tonight's best
Sent:	Saturday, January 29, 2000 12:17:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Stan wrote:
> Dick Seymour should be chiming in about now, I think!!!
So, could this ding-a-ling keep quiet?

Abstract: It's a case of the Updater mindset leaking into the Autostar's
operation.

Or: It's a documented Feature, not a bug.

Point your browser at:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/AutostarTourFiles/HowToWriteATour.pdf

It's on the first page (it won't cut/paste for me)...

You're "enjoying" Automatic Mode...

If you -read- the NightsBest.mtf file (they're ascii), you'll see it's
structured in two ways:
  some items are a flat list, some are listed after an AUTO SELECT
heading.  And that's where you're at.

The  Searching /-\|   <--(rolling galaxy in sequential mode) period is
when it's trying to find an object  in its list that's visible. (i must
admit... i haven't toured the Night's Best... I got partway into
HowFarIsFar, and subsequent attempts to tweak my tours (ya know? as far
as i can tell there's no way to -delete- one from the Handbox) kept
destroying my satellites, user objects, landmarks... it wasn't worth
pursuing..)

--Big Ben (er, Dick)
And a response from Stan:
In a message dated 1/29/00 12:17:40 PM, rseymour@wolfenet.com writes:
<< If you -read- the NightsBest.mtf file (they're ascii), you'll see
it's structured in two ways: some items are a flat list, some are listed
after an AUTO SELECT heading.  And that's where you're at. >>

Hi, Dick...

I need to chime in here and disagree by saying, "Yeah, I already checked
the PDF file 'HowToWriteATour', whaddyathinkIamanyway, a dummy?" (I'm
more than welcome to accept the fact that I'm stupid every once in a
while, but keep reading!!) From the "NightsBest.mtf" file I went ahead
and cut/pasted (hey, mine's working!!) an excerpt below (* signifies
missing lines above and/or below):

Trust me in that there is no AUTO SELECT "on" from the beginning of the
file until this point:
* (Moon)
* (Planets)
* (Events)
* (Deep Sky Objects)
*
CALDWELL 63
MESSIER 52

// Bright and interesting Stars
STAR "ACHERNAR"
STAR "MIRA"
*
*
* (...more Bright and interesting Stars)

// Stars with Planets
AUTO SELECT TEXT "Stars w/planets" "The following stars have been
determined" "to have planets orbiting them.  These are the first stars
for which we" "have evidence that solar systems like our own are not
unique."
SAO 100582
SAO 100706
*
*
* (...more Stars with Planets)

AUTO SELECT TEXT "Quasars" "The following objects are QUASARS.  This is"
"short for 'Quasi stellar objects.'  These are perhaps the most distant"
"objects from Earth visible with a telescope."
DEEP SKY "PG1011-040"
DEEP SKY "PG1012+008"
*
* (...more Quasars)

AUTO SELECT TEXT "The End", "Thanks for taking the tour of 'Tonight's"
"Best.' (c)1999 Meade Instruments."
#END

Now, looking at the few lines above, there is no change in code going
from MESSIER 52 to STAR "ACHERNAR" -- when at M52 and I press ENTER,
"MESSIER 52" moves up into line 1 and alos shows in line 2, and the down
arrow will give info on that object (magnitude, etc.) as expected --
press MODE to continue with the tour and press down arrow to go to the
next entry, "ACHERNAR" -- and now press ENTER again to try to find info
on that star -- I get a quick flash on the display and "SEARCHING" with
the spinning galaxy (/-\| -- yeah, okay, works for me!), and I'm back
where I started. There's no way to access the star's info from within
the tour. Get to the SAO items and everything is back to normal. So as
far as I can tell by looking at the .mtf file, there's no change in
code, but there is a change in functional operation when using the STAR
keyword (as defined in the "tour programming" manual).

What do you have to say about that, smartypants?
(If you can slap me around and tell me where I'm wrong, please take a
whack at it...)

P.S. you also wrote:
<< I got partway into HowFarIsFar, and subsequent attempts to tweak my
tours (ya know? as far as i can tell there's no way to -delete- one from
the Handbox) kept destroying my satellites, user objects, landmarks...
it wasn't worth pursuing..) >>

...and I'll agree with you there, I've had the same problem -- think
I'll wait for the 2.1 upgrade before dinking around any further and see
if that fixes (ha!!) anything...

clear skies (mine right now are overcast in NE Orange County)

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 Autostar 2.0g
Sent:	Friday, January 28, 2000 19:20:22
From:	paulrasm@execpc.com (Rasmussen)
I have been using my autostar with my etx-90ec without problem, until I
downloaded v. 2.0g.  Now when I slew to an object, center it after the
beep, the object routinely drifts nearly out of view.  When I center the
object again, it drifts away.  I did not retrain the drives after
installing the new firmware.  Is this the problem or have others
experienced a similar problem?
Paul Rasmussen
Mike here: Retraining after an upgrade is a good idea.

Subject:	more on Autostar 2.0 updater. . .
Sent:	Friday, January 28, 2000 11:16:28
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
I think I'm beginning to see the light on the new 2.0 updater and 2.0g
firmware, but I think there's still a cloud hovering somewhere over my
computer!! (dang it...)

Like Roberto Botero, I also keep getting this error when I start up the
updater software (as the updater is reading FROM the Autostar handbox):

Library file C:\Program Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar
Update\Ephemerides\LibAsteroid.ROM, couldn't be renamed from C:\Program
Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar Update\Ephemerides\QQTempLibFile.ROM
--disk full?

Since there is no other option than to click "OK" I go ahead and do
that. That happens three times in a row (for Asteroids, Comets, and
Satellites), and then continues to read the Guided Tours. To clarify
here, I've ALREADY done the 2.0g firmware upgrade from scratch, but I
wanted to add the other Guided Tours on Meade's web site. So basically,
when the first steps are complete (and because of the error message),
I'm left with 0 elements for the first three items (A's, C's, and S's)
and 3 for the GT's. Now I try the drag-and-drop procedure for each of
the new Guided Tours. When I go to download the New Ephemerides data
BACK into the handbox, since there was an error on the read previously,
I'm left with 0 elements in the handbox for the A's, C's, and S's and
the new GT's (well, the original 3 GT's plus the new ones).

Can anyone verify that this is happening to them? I can tell from
reading all the posts here that this software is causing problems for a
lot of people, so it's obvious that even though Meade has added this new
ability to create custom Guided Tours and load them into the handbox,
they still have a number of bugs to work out (at least I'd say that when
running off my machine). That's why I'd like to know if others have this
same problem. Wouldn't it make sense to be able to download to the
handbox the Asteroid, Comet, Satellite, and Guided Tour files as
separate entities? Why can't I just connect the handbox, drag-and-drop a
new text file onto its respective button, and then just ask for that new
item to get sent to the handbox?

I would also like to restate here (hoping that Meade DOES read a lot of
these messages on Mike's site), that this software does seem written
more from the programmer's view than from a user's view. There's a lot
that happens "automatically" when the updater is run, and I personally
don't find that to be an advantage. For example, dialog boxes show
"Loading: blah, blah, blah" with a progress indicator, but what's
loading? And from which direction -- GETTING FROM the handbox into the
computer, or SENDING TO the handbox from the computer? This is trivial
stuff, I know, but it's just as trivial to write clear and concise
buttons and dialogs and instructions to eliminate any source of
confusion on anybody's part -- I want to know what's going on when I
click on something, and I think some of the buttons, wording, and option
boxes are somewhat cryptic. I've been in this business for almost 30
years and have written user-interfaces for software, so I have some
knowledge of whence I speak!!!

Okay, off the soapbox . . .

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com


Subject:	 Autostar Tour Files
Sent:	Friday, January 28, 2000 06:52:52
From:	berg@ans.net (Kevin Berg)
Can anyone tell me how to properly upload a Tour file, such as Star
Groups and Messier Marathon, to the Autostar? I tried the instructions
on the web page, among other methods, but nothing seemed to work. I was
able to drag/drop the file into the utility tool, but couldn't apply the
changes after doing this.

As I'm sure many would agree, Meade's instructions on anything to do
with uploading/downloading files for the Autostar are either poorly
written or completely lacking.

Thx,

KMB

Subject:	computer etx interface
Sent:	Thursday, January 27, 2000 17:48:37
From:	Nvr2fst@aol.com
I have downloaded deepsky and ACP. They have a telescope interface
support in their program. Actually the ACP is just that. My question to
you is, the cable I bought from Meade is a phone type cord and a [usb?]
plug. So my problem is in the com. port setting. Can you set a port for
the [usb?] The program ask for a port 1 2 3 or 4. The help in the
programs seems to walk around my simple problem. Can you help?     

THANX
   JOE WILLIS

ps that is the usb ......right?
Mike here: Haven't heard that Meade is shipping a USB cable. That would be cool (I will need one for my new G4 Mac). The cable that I currently have a serial (RS-232) interface. As to setting the port, I believe the software polls COM1 and then COM2 but I could be wrong since it has been awhile since I worked with the Autostar download capability.

Added later:

What is the rs-232? Im taking it that the cable they gave me is to the
usb. Im not positive it is. The back of my computer has an input with 9
pins. The cord i bought is a phone type . That plugs into the autostar
and they gave me an adapter that plugs in the back of my computer in
which the phone type cord plugs into. usb or rs 232? Im not too bad with
computers but there are still gray areas. I guess i should know what the
usb is by now. I do know i can plug my mouse or keyboard in the same
place im talking about with an adapter. does this help you
understand?
Mike here: USB is not the same as RS-232. Check your computer's manual. If your computer (Mac or PC) only has USB then you'll likely need a serial to USB adapter. As far as I know, the cable kit from Meade is serial only. The photos you sent shows a serial connector.

Subject:	Autostar 2.0g firmware bug on Guided Tours?
Sent:	Thursday, January 27, 2000 14:53:52
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Just wondered if anyone else noticed this? If you get into "The Night's
Best" guided tour and go item by item, you can press ENTER to choose the
current item as a potential GOTO which will place it on the 1st line of
the display, and then press the scroll down button to continue getting
info on that item from the database (magnitude, RA and Dec, etc.) That
works as expected.

But, when you get past the Caldwell's and the Messier's and enter the
STARs entries, pressing the ENTER key does nothing!! I get a momentary
"Searching..." with the spinning line (oh, I know, let's call it a
"spinning galaxy"!!) for just a second, and the Star's name is still on
line 2 of the display, with "The Night's Best" on line 1. There's no way
to get any info about the Star. GOTO will slew the scope there, but you
still can't access the star info.

Can anybody else confirm this? Perhaps a bug in the new "Guided Tours"
parsing code? Dick Seymour should be chiming in about now, I think!!!
Thanks for any reply.

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 Autostar 495 and 497- same terrestrial object db?
Sent:	Thursday, January 27, 2000 13:26:49
From:	jim@baydenet.com.br (Jim Davidson)
Just wondering if the there is any difference between the two model's
database size for (user input) terrestrial objects. Thanks.
Jim

Subject:	 escaping from Autostar Tours
Sent:	Wednesday, January 26, 2000 20:36:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
I've seen a number of folks post that they've had troubles escaping from
the new Autostar Tour regime.

I noticed it too, but found a way...

It's simple: LEAN on the MODE key.

After a couple of seconds (give it 3), when you let go, it'll drop to
the RA/Dec readout.

From -there- you can take a variety of outs:
(1) sometimes just another "Mode" will do it.
(2) With the RA showing, hit Enter or GoTo... it'll think you want to
use "direct RA/Dec entry", and from there you can Mode back to the usual
Menu choices.
(2a) at worst, after hitting GoTo or Enter, it'll offer the blinking
cursor for numeric entry.
Enter, then GoTo, will start it slewing
(but since it's already where it's reporting, it won't -go- anywhere)
Now a moment of Mode -will- completely regain control (you don't have to
wait for the beep.).

--dick (what? v2.1 already? but i haven't finished untangling v2.0g
yet!)

Subject:	 Autostar Info
Sent:	Wednesday, January 26, 2000 18:53:43
From:	jbnjenny@io.com (Barnes & Davis)
Just had my own frustration with downloading ver 2.0g. First several
attempts ended with a dead ETX Austostar. Went over the notes here and
at Meade and found four very important things.

1 - Follow the instuctions. The sequence is important.
2 - Use the ZIPPED files. I got a checksum error when I used the other
files.
3 - Use FRESH batteries. 
4 - Be patient. At first the screen goes back to the desktop, you'll
think the program crashed, but it's getting info from the Autostar and
it takes awhile. (This maybe my system only, what do others see?)

So far it looks good. I've got three tours instead of one and it does
some of the stuff version 1.4f never did (e.g. calculate eyepiece info).
It's cloudy tonight in Central TX so I'll post an update in a day or so.

I never did get the drag n drop to work reliably. On the sucessful
install I just sent the software and didn't try to modify it.

Thanks for the fantastic site, 
JBarnes

Subject:	 Autostar feedback
Sent:	Wednesday, January 26, 2000 14:23:05
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
Further to my posting of Friday, January 21, 2000 14:59:46, all is not
as it seems. I received some e-mails asking how I managed to load the
latest (v2.0g) software and get the tours when nobody else could (or
words to that effect). So off I went and had a real good nose around in
the handbox, to discover that the three meg Zipfile contains an earlier
build of version 2. (v2.0e). So now I tried to load the individual rom
files of v2.0g, and was presented with the same   'Couldn't
rename.......'  message that Dick Seymour and others have reported. I
ignored it and carried on, electing to keep the astronomical data
already in the handbox. Half an hour later I had v2.0g and all the tours
etc. in the same handbox at the same time. So yes I did get all the
latest goodies, but it wasn't as straightforward as I made it seem from
my earlier posting. I have sent engineer@meade a more detailed version
of events, in the hope that it may help them find out what is going
wrong.

My apologies to anyone who was mislead by my previous missive.

Subject:	 Autostar Info ...
Sent:	Tuesday, January 25, 2000 16:41:03
From:	support@rglobal.net (Rglobal Support (Joseph Barti))
Spoke with Meade this morning, been having loads of problems with 2.0g ...
Spoke with Ed and he seems to be one of the programmers and told me my
problems are happening with a lot of people, which made me feel a little
better ... Basically having a PotLuck of what everyone's been writing in ...
He said 2.1 would be out "Very soon" ... I asked, "How soon, Day, week,
Month?" ... He stated that it should be within one week, and that
they're making huge improvements on this coming version ... Lets keep
our fingers crossed ...

Thanks Mike!

-Joseph Barti

PS Mike ... How's the weather down there?! Haven't been able to get a
night in here in Palmdale for about 2 weeks!!! :\
Mike here: Weather: yuck. Got clouded out of the eclipse. No clear nights since I've gotten over the flu.

Subject:	 Re: more on Proc Traps (from 12/24/99)
Sent:	Monday, January 24, 2000 19:43:23
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
You all may remember that Ells Dutton got a "Proc Trap 5" (the IRQ halt)
with his Autostar back around  12/24/99.

Well, just to show no good deed goes unpunished, I noticed that v2.0g
can no longer do that.

They've replaced the message-generating code -for that interrupt- with a
simple "RTI" (return from interrupt)... i.e., if the IRQ pin bothers the
Autostar, it'll just ignore it and continue normal operation.

(i must admit that this reenforces my supposition that the IRQ line may
not be properly tied down... or it's lying around waiting for another
accessory)
(this workaround, of course, also opens another small bug-opportunity
... there's a spot or two where they do "WAI"s (Wait For Interrupt)...
and an unexpected IRQ hit whilst in that state would slightly (but
probably inconsequentially) confuse things.)

You can still (theoretically, should never happen) get Proc Trap 4's and
Proc Trap 6's, but 5's are currently swept under the carpet.

--dick
(he of the flagrant overuse of the parenthetical statement)

Subject:	 Autostar on ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, January 24, 2000 11:04:18
From:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (jpswann54)
I managed to download the nightsbest tour, but how do you get out of it?
Presisng the Mode button only moves you on the the next tour item.

Tracking. In Alt/Az alignment I fing the tracking very poor. However in
Polar alignment the tracking is perfect with the manual controller and
almost so with Autostar. Since loading 2.0g, I find that both motors,
particularly the Dec., seem to be running slow. Also when using the left
button to centre an object in the FOV, the RA motor does not restart
when the button is released and a quick blip on the right button is
needed to restart it.

--
John Swann, Rosemary Cottage, Mill Pond Lane,
West Ashling, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8DY, UK
Tel/Fax: +44 1243 575611
Mobile:  +44 411 005364

Subject:	 Autostar/Site question
Sent:	Monday, January 24, 2000 08:58:23
From:	dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca
Which is the correct way to enter data in the "site" category:

Lat: 43 42 N            Long: 079 25 W 
(represented in degrees minutes direction)

Lat: 43.700            Long: -79.417 
(represented in decimal degrees and fractions of degrees)

Thanks
Dan

Subject:	 autostar satellite tracking can hit the stops...
Sent:	Sunday, January 23, 2000 20:26:24
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
which means i -still- haven't successfully tracked a satellite in 3
months of trying...

sent to engines@meade....

Bug: Tracking satellites hits stops.

Environment: Autostar 497 ETX on ETX90/ec scope.
   Version v2.0g
   Location: Seattle   Time: 6:50pm to 7:20pm  1/23/00
   Alt/Az mount.  Stock Meade 26mm eyepiece.

Ok... so i load in the freshest TLEs for Lacrosse 3 and MIR. Lacrosse 3
(satellite 25017) is due for a 6:50pm pass, MIR is due for 7:12  (the
Autostar predicts two minutes late, but that's not the reason

for this note)

And i step out, do a one-star align on Vega, and tell Autostar "GoTo"
for the Lacrosse transit. It dutifully swings to the NW, and waits.
Since that area of my sky was cloudy, i hit "enter" (to start tracking)
at the Heavens-Above predicted time. The ETX started tracking, as it
should. Meanwhile i was scanning with binoculars to try and locate the
satellite. (the pass prediction is attached to the Email as a GIF)

It came out from the clouds at about Az 210.... and i reached for the
Autostar to adjust the tracking... Pushing the <-- (left) button got an
odd whine from the motors... and my attention. It'd -just- hit the CCW
stop while tracking the satellite! I had to hit MODE to cancel the
scope's vain attempts to follow the satellite. So i watched Lacrosse
sail past Jupiter with my binoculars, not with my ETX.

15 minutes later, it did the same thing for the MIR pass...

Since the Autostar's satellite prediction readout includes both AOS and
LOS values, it could check to see if that involved going past the stops,

and do a long-way-round premove if necessary.

Lacrosse 3 TLE:

1 25017U 97064A   00010.74176535  .00000850  00000-0  15056-3 0    06
2 25017  57.0090 307.4515 0006000 121.9602 238.0397 14.66978093    05

MIR TLE:
1 16609U 86017A   00021.22191797  .00105701  00000-0  37395-3 0  2701
2 16609  51.6529 300.0182 0004116 258.1881 101.8649 15.88225270795810

URL for that particular Lacrosse prediction for Seattle from
Heavens-above:
http://www.heavens-above.com/PassDetails.asp?SatID=25017&lat=47.67&lng=-122.33&alt=0&loc=seattle&TZ=PST&Date=36549.1186538569

have fun...
--Richard Seymour
rseymour@wolfenet.com
Sky chart

Subject:	 Autostar drag and drop
Sent:	Sunday, January 23, 2000 18:57:27
From:	dsiegel@netpath.net (dsiegel)
After struggling to update to 2.0g, including a crash requirirng a safe
download, I finally got the Autostar working- the info on your site is
invaluable. The question I have is as follows- I do not understand the
reference to "drag and drop". Drag from where and drop into what? Help
is appreciated- Thanks

Subject:	 Astrostar in cold
Sent:	Sunday, January 23, 2000 13:24:23
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Went outside to look at the eclipse in 10 degree weather.  The Astrostar
blanked on me, literally after saying "Initializing" the readout went
blank and no amount of turning on and off would make a difference. Later
on when I brought it back in the unit seemed to work fine.  Second time
I've had problems, always in the cold [over 90% batteries incidentally].
 Haven't heard of anyone else with this exact problem and the Meade
person I spoke with  merely told me to try it out again before sending
it in saying maybe it was a "temporary short circuit".  Frankly he
didn't sound like he knew what he was talking about!

Tom Brown
Mike here: There have been some reports of low temps affecting the Autostar display. Some users put it in a coat pocket between uses to keep it warm.

Subject:	 Asteroid/Landmark (and Comet) bug explored -- critical symptom found
Sent:	Saturday, January 22, 2000 18:36:30
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
sent to engineer@meade.com: (am i gonna have a file, or what?)

Bug title: Landmarks cause Comet (and Asteroids) coordinates to be seen
as Alt/Az, not RA/Dec

Autostar firmware v2.0g  (1/17/2000@14:23:57)
ETX Autostar 497  on an ETX90/EC
Alt/az mounting,    Loc: Seattle,   22-jan-2000   03:40pm  (yes,
afternoon)

If i GoTo a Landmark, then GoTo a comet, it's weird.  But now i know
why.

Starting from "Park/home" (and, in later tests, starting from Mercury)

The Landmark is/was my usual "West"
  (two forms: Az: 270 deg, Alt: both +1 positive and -1 negative)
  (manually re-entered since Updater likes to destroy landmarks)

First, i GoTo the Landmark.  It does and beeps.

Then I asked for Encke 2P (manually entered due to Updater crashes)
(elements below)

The Autostar calculated RA 23:09  Dec -0 deg 26'

I pushed GoTo and it proceeded to point -north- and fairly level. And
beeped.
  (the correct target should have been south and up... Az: 197, Alt:
+40)

After it stopped (still reporting that the comet was calculated to be at
23:09  -0 26' ),
I leaned on the MODE key to see *where* it thought it was pointing at.

The Mode-status readout (correctly) said  RA 12:55.8,  Dec +40 deg 51'

Yes, that -is- where the scope was pointing.
The Autostar/ETX knew where it was.
But it was NOT at the 23:09 -0 26' the comet was at.

Then i took the Alt /Az of where it's pointing... ahhh: Alt: -0 26'
Az: 347 deg 25'

Ya know?
It sure looks like it's taking the Comet RA/Dec coordinates, simply
interpreting them as Alt/Az, and going there.

By sheer chance, this comet's particular coordinate pair did -not- cause
a smash-into-stops (see previous Asteroid Email), so i was able to let
it ride to the destination and -see- this additional symptom.

So: from Landmark mode (no siderial drive), certain objects (asteroids
and comets, at least) get aimed as Terrestrial, not Siderial.  And the
coordinates are interpreted as Alt/Az, not RA/Dec.
An additional clue is that the Siderial drive ain't running... the scope
is silent.

But choosing a Planet (Mercury) or Star (Capella) it gets it right.
(goes to proper RA/Dec (and Alt/Az) of target....turns on siderial
drive)
The symptom does -not- arise if we go directly from "park" to "comet"

There's the bug... some flag ain't getting flipped.  Please fix.

(Please don't suggest: "turn it off between Terrestrial/Stellar
operations"... For folks who can't see Alignment stars, it's often very
handy to have landmarks to align the scope against... and then start
star-gazing (well, that's a work-around, isn't it? Avoid comets as
"first object"... but what if it's a comet you came -out- for?)

Additional notes:
if you play with this, you'll also encounter the "going from Stellar to
Landmark starts GoTo'ing upon Landmark Selection.
In fact, it you
(a) GoTo (say) Mercury (so it goes Siderial)
(b) Select a Landmark (say, "West")... (don't touch GoTo) ...it'll start
moving immediately
-don't push anything-
Let it get there.... (there'll be no beeps)
(c) Now, using just the Mode, scroll and Enter keys, re-select the
Comet. Do -not- touch GoTo.
   -- it'll start moving immediately upon Selection (again) ---
   ** to the incorrect (Alt/Az) location! ***
And there it sits... silently... no Siderial drive...

(and, for that final twist, now Mode/scroll to Park Scope...
   and it'll head for Park ("Slewing...") without pushing the final
Enter (to commit) button!)

For what it's worth:
Encke 2P Elements: 9-sep-2000, 0.339334, 0.846988, 186.4735, 334.6214,
11.76, 11.5

Have fun (i really do love the little beast...)

Contact info:
--dick seymour
rseymour@wolfenet.com

...now, why is it predicting MIR a half-hour off?

Subject:	 Autostar Firmware : Flash Memory err...(Possible a BUG!)
Sent:	Saturday, January 22, 2000 13:53:08
From:	ce0614@ix.netcom.com.com (Chaisaeng Euesakulkieat)
To:	engineer@meade.com
I have an ETX Autostar which is now running on Autostar.ROM verison
2.0g.
I am experiencing a problem which possibly is a BUG.
I got a Message "Flash Memory Err" display on the first line every time
I try to add an object in to the Autostar i.e. Lanmarks: , User Objects:
and every other objects.  After the message displayed the Autostar just
hang up there I can't go back via mode key any more all key stop
functioning except the 4 arrow key.
First I thought it's the Autostar (hardware) problem so I went to the
store I brought this Autostar and get a new one it's came with
Autostar.ROM version 1.1j. I did the update process to 2.0g with the
updater version A-2.0

My Laptop computer running Windows NT 4.0 Service pack 4.  It's equiped
with Intel Pentium 133 Mhz, 32Mb Ram, 2.1GB HDD, a PC card modem on port
COM2 and ETX Autostar Attached on port COM1.

Followed are "Chain of event" befor the problem occurs. (Both ETX
Autostart I have gone through these procedure and experience the same
problem after that )

 1. Turn on the ETX autostar the message showing copyright and version
(1.1) displayed then a beep with initializing...displayed after that is
sun warning message displayed
 2. Hit 5 key, Enter, enter date, time, daylight saving,  Autostar now
display Setup: on firstline then Align on 2nd line
 3. Start the updater program, click continue button on the updateer
windows then ...wait.... firmware version (1.1j) dialog displayed with
OK button click OK button ... wait ... a dialog "please put the Autostar
into "DOWNLOAD" mode then click OK to continue." displayed.
 4. Hit Scroll key until  "Download" displayed on 2nd line hit Enter the
message "To Loas Software Press ENTER" display on the Autostar
displayed, hit Enter  message "Downloding Do not turn off displayed
 5.  Click OK button on the Autostar updater, ...wait... reading data
dialog displayed ... finally "Autostar update -- Count of Astronomicay
Bodies" dialog and "Autostar Minor planet and satellites" windows
displayed.
 6.  Click "New Software" button in the "Send to" group box. a dialog
"would you like to save the astronomical body data in your Autostar"
displayed.
 7. Click "No" button (because I want it to have only supplied object
without any object from previous version and I don't have any new object
entered in the Autostar or added in the library" the update progress
meter display show current page in progress... wait ... the updater
reset the Autostar after page 27 downloaded just a few seconds (I still
in doubt that why both Autostar I got may have the same problem, if it
is a hardware problem)
 8. Hit 1 to select language then 5 then country/state,city, date, time,
daylight saving. Autostar now display Setup: on firstline then Align on
2nd line
 9. Click finish button, the updater then initialize the Autostar then
terminated.
10. Check the Autostar everything doing just fine no problem at all
there are 3 tours downloded in the Autostar along with the  asteriods,
comets and satellites. Add  new object in Autostar using it's keypad
sucessfully without any problem delete all new object add via keypad ( I
named the object as A1, A2 A3 ... and 5 objects were added for user
objects,  landmarks, asteriod, commet and satellites. then these object
wer deleted)
11. Back up all file name Lib*.ROM from Epherides directory then I
deleted all Lib*.ROM found in the directory
12. Connect to internet via "Dialup Networking"
13. Start updater again put Autostar into download mode then followed
instruction until "Autostar update -- Count of Astronomicay Bodies"
dialog and "Autostar Minor planet and satellites" windows displayed.
14. Click "New Ephermerides" button in "GET FROM WEB" group box. Click
"Get all" button followed instruction
select interesting for satellites selection and tour from provider
"Meade instruments corperation" select "Messier objects"
from the selection. Click on tour button then select "Messier marathon"
from the list click apply change button then click "finish button"
15. Click "Ephemeride Data" button in "Send to" grupbox ...Wait... until
finish then ckick Finish Button.
16. Autostar initialzed hit 5, enter date, time, dayloght saving then
select guided tours now the problems occurs 3 out of 4 guide tours that
were downloaded now display as an unreadable string ie. ".lf3
fk...||||'fw".
17. Add  new object in Autostar using it's keypad cause "Falsh Memory
err" as mentioned above.
18. Restart updater. Click on tour uncheck the checkbox "Autostar" in
"Selected for" groupbox then select the tour which unreadable named
mentioned (it was downloaded from the Autostar during reading data from
autostar phase in the updater program) download tour files from Meade
website then drag and drop additional tours (How far is far?, and
Tonight Best)
that was missing (or it's corrupts in Autostar) on tour button
19. Click "Ephemeride Data" button in "Send to" grupbox ...Wait... until
finish then ckick Finish Button.
20. Check Autostar's tours were OK but still got "Flash Memory err" when
adding new object on the key pad.

Regards,

Chaisaeng Euesakulkieat

Subject:	 Autostar Feedback
Sent:	Friday, January 21, 2000 14:59:46
From:	dad@headplant.freeserve.co.uk (Damian Davis)
First off, thanks for one of the best sites on the World Wide Wait. I've
owned my 90EC since last October, and have had only about seven or eight
nights viewing. Never underestimate the effect that buying a 'scope can
have upon the English weather!

For what it's worth, I would like to pass on a couple of tips regarding
up(down?)loading v.2.0g. I too 'lost' the factory installed Guided Tours
after installing the new software. I went back to the Meade website, and
this time took care to read the blurb. Eureka! I had loaded v2.0g
software using Uploader v1.4. Bad move. The site specifically says that
the new v2.0 uploader MUST be used, otherwise comets, satellites and
Guided Tours etc. will be lost. I downloaded the full 3.08MB Zipfile,
ran it, and three Guided Tours appeared in the handbox. So, tip one is
make sure that you are using uploader v2.0

Tip 2. If your system hangs up during an upload (like mine did), and you
are powering the handbox from the ETX, check your battery voltage. Mine
was down to about 9V. Those little Flash Eproms need every one of the
12Volts that they are expecting. New batteries and everything was OK.

Just a thought. Duracell could afford to give away an ETX to anyone who
wanted one. They would get their money back in no time!

Regarding the future of this site, first of all, how on Earth do you
find the time to update it so frequently?! I have nothing but admiration
for the superb job that you do. I think that a subscription site would
seriously limit the input from those new readers who come upon your site
through search engines, word of mouth, magazine recommendations,etc. As
for expanding the site to take in other small telescopes, I feel that
one of the sites strongest points is that it is a complete reference for
the ETX series, and to broaden its scope would dilute its very essence.
Considering advertising, having "lurked" on these pages for over a year,
if there was one person who calls it as he sees it, and would not be
'persuaded' by advertisers, then that person is you, Mike. If you feel
that things are getting so that you need some finance to keep this site
as it is, then take adverts, I for one would certainly trust you to
"play with a straight bat", as we say in jolly old England.

Once again, thanks for the site.
Damian Davis, Sunbury, England

Subject:	 Autostar Update
Sent:	Friday, January 21, 2000 08:46:27
From:	katetom@znet.com (Kate Lister)
Lordy, lordy what frustration. Okay some of it may have been self
inflicted, but in general I've enjoyed (sic) an other example of
technology's inhumanity to man. To wit:

Santa was good to me and put a Mac G4/250 (sawtooth) under the
tree...actually under the desk. Also presented me with a lovely
electronic focuser for my trusty ETX-90EC. Only one problem, I'm still
using version 1.0 something of the Autostar software, and the focusing
function is missing from the MODE (press and hold for two seconds) menu.

"Hey," I sez to myself, "With all this processing power I can load up
VirtualPC, download the Autostar update files, and I'll be in business.
That was Christmas, this is now (1/21/00 just after the lunar eclipse).
FINALLY have 2.0e installed and my old PowerComputing Powerbase 240 is
merrily chugging away installing 2.0g. Ta-rah. Only one problem: FOCUS
is still not an option in the MODE menu. Any ideas Mike?

Cut to the chase. G4s don't have any serial ports, and KeySpan's USB to
serial adapter isn't recognized by VirtualPC. Further, VirtualPC and Mac
OS9, "Don't like each other," to quote a Connectix tech support
type--but I think it's the USB issue, 'cause VirtualPC runs fine on my
old PowerBase under OS9 with all extensions on. Seems there are several
extension conflicts (they don't know which ones), and VirtualPC 3.0
doesn't like virtual memory or ram disks (never mind using it, it
doesn't like 'em even on your system). Runs okay with VM off, no ram
disk, and no extentions. And it's useless that way too!

In short, don't use VirtualPC 3.0 with G4s.

Tom
Mike here: I just ordered a G4/450; should arrive in about a week. I'm surprised to hear there is a problem with VPC3 and Mac OS 9 on the G4. Bummer. But I won't have ANY serial ports at all on my G4 (no converter for me) so will be using my old 8500 with a G3/300 upgrade with VPC3 for downloads. With the PC world going USB as well, perhaps Meade will do a USB version that works on either Macs or PCs. As to the focuser problem, can't help you there. I presume you have the Meade one, not the JMI one.

Added later:

Duh. Helps if you plug the focuser into the ETX and NOT the Autostar.
Blush.

Subject:	 [Fwd: autostar firmware v2.0g -- landmark to asteroid bug still there]
Sent:	Thursday, January 20, 2000 22:25:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
sent to engines at meade:

Equipment: #497 ETX Autostar, ETX90/EC scope, Alt/Az mount. Test
Date/Time/Loc:   19-jan-00, 12:01pm, Seattle  (yes, just after noon)

Abstract: in v2.0g, as in v2.0e, if you first GoTo a Landmark, then an
above-horizon Asteroid, the scope slews down (hits the Alt stops) rather
than up.

Test objects:  12:01pm 19-jan-00  Seattle
  Landmark was "WEST":
     Az: 270 deg 00'  00"  Alt:  -00 deg 01' 00"   (yes, negative Alt)

Asteroid was Juno, calculated by the Autostar to be at 19:00.8,  -13 deg
18'

The condition can happen if the Landmark is the first thing Go(ne)To
after power-up, -or- if it the Landmark is visited after a siderial
object (Mercury, in my tests). So: GoTo the Landmark, wait for the beep.
Then ask to GoTo Juno .... the scope Az's in the correct direction, but
Alt goes down, not up.

I'd try a comet, but the Updater blew them all away...

--Richard Seymour

Subject:	 i'm all ears...
Sent:	Thursday, January 20, 2000 21:57:41
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
To:	stantastic@aol.com
Stan,

You wrote: "Dick Seymour, are you listening?", and i thank you for your
thoughts (and similar head-smashing against the Updater's wall...)

I also found the .mtf  files last night, (i assume you downloaded the
.pdf language descriptor, too), and, other than reading them, haven't
tried to play with them.

In a few days i'll do the "replace LibSatellite.ROM with the backup
copy" and retry reloading it. Of course, the backup copy is ancient in
terms of Ephemeris data.

Another stab will be -deleting- (or making zero-length) the LibSat file,
just to see wha' happens. [poke,poke, prod,prod](it feels so good when i
stop)

At the moment my time is consumed analyzing the v2.0g download, and
sending comments to Meade (most being cc'd to Mike verbatim, the boring
bit-twiddle ones will be simply summarized)

I sent a "note" to Meade back in November, complaining about the
inability to test-run the Updater without an ETX "at risk" on the end of
the wire.  If nothing else, at least to allow us to read HELP. (somewhen
in all my battering of that program in November, -one- of my systems
managed to access Help.  I remember the Satellite Update section
clearly: "drag and drop the TLEs".)

have fun
--dick (occasionally out getting rained on, watching the moon peek thru
the overcast)

Subject:	 Hard learned lessons on ETX 90/EC Polar Alignment
Sent:	Wednesday, January 19, 2000 20:37:53
From:	david_stone@cca-int.com (Dave Stone)
I've been playing around with getting my 90/EC w/Autostar polar aligned,
and I've got a couple of tips you might want to pass on. First, the
instructions as given on your site (and in the Meade FAQ for the
Autostar) on polar alignment is correct. It's identical as for ALT/AZ
except the DEC is set to 90 degrees (in short, rotate the tube
counterclockwise until it hits the hard stop and then clockwise 3/8 of a
turn so that the fork with the DEC markings is directly over the on/off
switch pad). This puts the scope aligned on Polaris with the eyepiece
face up. Here's where things get a little odd.

First, if you use the 1-star alignment, the scope first aligns to
Polaris. Given that it's already aligned on Polaris, this should cause
very small changes at best to the current position. As others have
noted, the scope instead likes to rotate clockwise on the RA axis 180
degrees first; this places the eyepiece upside down. This is OK. Use the
control pad and rotate the tube counterclockwise until the eyepiece is
right side up, center Polaris, and then hit enter. Remember not to
rotate the tube past getting the eyepiece vertical; the hard stop is
only 3/8 of a turn further. Rotating the tube in RA does not bother the
alignment procedure at all. The Autostar will then pick another star and
slew to that position. In all cases that I have tried, it turned
clockwise (away from the hard stop) and left the eyepiece accessible.
I've not had any problems with hitting a hard stop when going to any
target when aligned this way (although the scope does sometimes take the
scenic route to get there).

If for some reason the alignment fails, do NOT unlock the RA and DEC and
reposition the scope to polar alignment by hand. The encoders are tied
to the motors; in most cases the next time you try and align the scope
the tube will rotate counterclockwise and run into the hard stop (it
thinks it's in a different position). Either reposition the tube using
the control pad or position the scope by hand and then reset the scope
by cycling the power (and re-entering the date and time).

Finally, an inexpensive cross-hair eyepiece (Celestron has a 20mm kelner
for about $40) really helps. Using this to both train the drives and
then center the alignment stars really made a big difference on how well
the Autostar positioned targets in the field for my scope.

I hope this might help others who have also run into alignment problems.

Dave

Subject:	AutoStar 2.0g update
Sent:	Wednesday, January 19, 2000 11:14:38
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
The next chapter of my saga (seems like Dick Seymour's stories are a lot
more interesting!!!) --

After the first (few) attempts with the 2.0 software update with the
2.0g firmware ROMs, I ended up with satellite, comet, and asteroid data
intact, but no Guided Tours. Then I found the "NightsBest.mtf" file
(along with others) on Meade's web site, and tried some drag-and-drop
technique to get it to work -- hey, success -- except, in loading the
Guided Tour, I then lost all the satellite, comet, and asteroid data ---
arrrgghhh. One more attempt, mostly by just stumbling around, I tried
reloading the entire firmware upgrade 2.0g AGAIN, and this time, it kept
the Guided Tour, and reloaded the three other databases -- finally,
success!! But now that I look at the files, I think they've changed from
previous versions that have been posted. Where is Ceres? Shouldn't that
be like a number one on the top ten Asteroid list? Or did I miss
something?

Anyway, I'm a Mac guy at heart, and all this Window's stuff (running in
emulation mode on my Mac) is driving me crazy -- when, oh when, oh when
are we Mac people ever going to see some Mac software from Meade?

And, how's this for a suggestion and a complaint -- why do we have to
have the Autostar controller connected at all times to get the software
to do anything? We should be able to download stuff from the website and
make edits to the library files and all the other little "things" the
updater does without having the controller plugged in (all except for
the actual download, of course). Wouldn't it be great if Meade could
just "emulate" the entire controller in a memory partition in your
computer -- we could update files, change TLE's, whatever (download FROM
the controller IF NECESSARY any custom info -- like sites, landmarks,
TLEs, etc., by plugging in first, of course) -- but then after all the
updates are made in an "emulated" mode residing on your system and they
are verified as correct, you make all the cable connections, click a
button onscreen, and perform the 32-page download -- sounds a lot
cleaner to me.

Too many people (Dick Seymour, are you listening? -- and this includes
me, too) are having so many problems trying to get this software to work
-- I mean, we do get it to work, eventually, but the road to success
seems to be awfully bumpy!!! I appreciate Meade's making updates and
trying to make things better, and I can see that this software is in a
state of growing transition, but there just seems to be a lot of things
that could be done better (or shall I say "different"!) Still, I love my
ETX!!!!

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 follow up on  quick note... v2.0g works!
Sent:	Tuesday, January 18, 2000 22:24:23
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
their parents -were- married...

ok... v2.0g performs well up on the roof (at night).

It was still a bit off on Jupiter, but pretty good (within 26mm FOV).
Saturn fared worse the first trial, better the second.

Touring Orion worked well... i sync'd on Betel, and the rest came within
the Barlowed 26mm FOV (hence 13mm)..

It -does- still continue to move after beeping, but tonight's episodes
didn't go as far (maybe 1/4 degree). (echos of Galileo?)

Cross-sky accuracy was decent to downright good (Polaris to Rigel, for
example).

The "How far is far" tour is difficult to sit through (very wordy), but
shows the concept well. I'd like a clear access to the good ol' "Guided
Tour".

Careful following of a test regimen was disrupted by lazy panning up
thru Orion. Ya know how it is...

--dick (yeah... i'll keep it ;-)

Not yet tested: satellites (i'll run a few thru), asteroids.

Subject:	 quick note...
Sent:	Tuesday, January 18, 2000 21:01:51
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
i'm updating to v2.0g as i type this.

My day with 2.0f was, er, amusing. I truly think the beast ended up
moving North about 40 degrees east... i told it to chase the Sun at
about 1:30 pm, and it slewed to slightly north of west.  I was in a rush
(clouds and obstructions looming), so i just pivoted the entire thing
(base and all) to aim the barrel at the sun.  After the tiny touch-up
needed to center the image, it proceeded to keep it in the Barlowed
26mm's FOV for over 10 minutes. Even though the control panel was facing
a definite SSW, as a result of the pivoting.

Once v2.0g is in it (page 24 in progress now), i'll see if it can find
the moon (assuming i still can).

--dick

if v2.0g is as buggy as 2.0f, i may very well back-step to 1.3c.  It's
that bad. (first-blush decryption of 2.0g shows some known (obvious
coding errors, were in 1.3b and c, but inconsequential) bugs still in
there.)

Subject:	 etx easy align
Sent:	Tuesday, January 18, 2000 15:34:21
From:	alhst@yahoo.co.uk (alan wilkins)
hello remember me,re my drive is ticking over fame! I am now setting up
my etx & have done all settings re easy align with autostar several
times!my last attempt I thought successful re Denab\Procyon align proved
not to be when I selected (GO TO0)ORION which I could see to the
south,the said ETX swung to the east,way off!!another failure!!

On looking through the ETX site for clues to this problem was interested
to find many E Mails concerning (easy Align)Have since found & printed
Appendix A: AUTOSTAR HOME POSITION much more comprehensive than my user
manual!have reset all again,but now its raining.will try again when
weather permits Question,when Autostar says either align successful or
unsuccessful how does it know? me pushing buttons or electronically or
whatever ?? (easy align,my foot!!)

Yours Alon Plymouth UK

PS would would be interested to know approx site location being new to
web & still amazed @ the mode of communication
Mike here: Hang in there. There is a learning curve to get good and consistent results. As to how the Autostar knows it got a good alignment, well, it really only knows when it was bad (or thinks it was bad). If the alignment stars are too close together or if the second star is supposed to be 90 degrees away but you only slew 45, the Autostar will assume the alignment failed. The Autostar knows the sky geometry and if it and you make the ETX go through the proper motions, you'll get a good alignment. I'm in Southern California. The server is actually near Denver, Colorado.

Subject:	 No Guided Tours in Version 2.0(e)g
Sent:	Tuesday, January 18, 2000 12:36:14
From:	rbrrobledo@hotmail.com (Roberto Botero)
I am really sorry to be bothering you again with this.  The problem now
is with the Tours....there are none!.  When connecting the Autostar
update tool (the version appears all right at the beginning...),but it
prompts the following message(when trying to upload the satellites,
asteroids, comets and tours):

Library file C:\Program Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar
Update\Ephemerides\LibAsteroid.ROM, couldn't be renamed from C:\Program
Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar Update\Ephemerides\QQTempLibFile.ROM
--disk full?

The same goes for LibComet.ROM,LibSatellite.ROM or LibTour.ROM. Perhaps
I have to delete the old .ROM files or is the QQTempLibFile.ROM missing
from my download? When reading the count of astronomical bodies in the
update tool, only 66(16) asteroids, 1(0) Comets, 1(0) Satellites and
0(0) Tours are in the Handbox when finished and there seem to be 506,
589, 566 and 28887 available of each one respectively.  There are none
of either one in Library.

What could be happening? I read your Autostar feedback page today and is
full of complaints like this.  But I think I am lucky, because after
having messed up the firmware, I got almost everything except for the
Tours.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

Gratefully,

Roberto Botero
rbrrobledo@hotmail.com
Mike here: There is a report further down this page that notes there are some ".mtf" files on Meade's site that can be dragged and dropped onto the Tour button.

Subject:	Downloading Guided Tours...
Sent:	Tuesday, January 18, 2000 10:41:49
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
well, as a follow-up to last nights e-mail, I re-read the read-me file
supplied with the new updater and found on Meade's Web site a number of
".mtf" files ("Meade Tour File"?) and decided to get those and try a
download just to see what might happen, since after the new 2.0g update,
I found zero guided tours in my AutoStar. Needless to say, I did get it
to work (except, now I lost the Asteroid and Satellite data --
arrghhh!!) -- but everything about their software seems so slightly
unintuitive!! Nothing seems very clear to me (and I've been doing
computer stuff for over 20 years!!!) I do know a good "user interface"
when I see one (I used to write them, dang it!!), and Meade's Autostar
Update just seems to be missing the mark -- you can tell it's written by
programmers and not by/for users -- typical, I'm afraid. (Guess I'm
going to have to try this all over again, huh?)

Anyway, I was able to drag-and-drop the "NightsBest.mtf" file on to the
"Tour" button and somehow managed to stumble into getting something to
download to the controller. (The NightsBest.mtf file has a "dis"claimer
on the top that says  "Default Factory tour for Autostar handboxes" so I
assume it was the one that originally was loaded in the previous
editions. Well, again, without having the opportunity to check it out
yet (cloudy skies and only did the update this morning), it's hard to
say what it is -- now when I go to the Guided Tour it has a title
("Tonight's Best") and when it goes into search mode, there's a small
spinning line on the right side of the display (ooh, ooh, a spinning
"beach ball"!!!!). I noticed that now each item in the Guided Tour on
the second line now has a single character indent (no big deal), that
the Mode Key allows you to search forward in the tour (along with the
standard up/down cursor keys) and that to get out of the Tour I had to
hold down the Mode key for 2 seconds (which normally puts you into
another mode (battery life, timer, electric focuser, etc.) -- it didn't
seem to let me "back out" of the hierarchy as expected.

I'm going to try experimenting more this evening to see if I can get
this darn thing back to normal.

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	Re: New ROM firmware is now downloadable
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 22:53:45
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
gee, three updates (from "e" to "g" in just a few hours) -- something's
fishy (they obviously can't seem to agree on something?) --

I went ahead and installed the update, using the new 2.0 updater and the
2.0g firmware -- but now I've lost my Guided Tour (according to the
readme file, the new software allows for uploading of custom tours (or
downloadable tours directly from the web into the Autostar -- damn, I
hate that concept!!!)), and as I read it, they will be posting
instructions in PDF file soon. So maybe in the process of updating, they
intentionally "removed" the Guided Tour. At the beginning of the update,
there's supposedly an "automatic" download "from" the Autostar into the
Ephemerides folder, but I had a problem getting the correct file path
inserted in the dialog box, then tried a "Cancel" -- unexpectedly (or
maybe I should say "expectedly"?) the controller did an "Initialize" and
I was back where I started -- version 1.3c. But I retried doing the
update, and this time at the start it didn't try to read anything. I
went in and deleted the "Lib" files that were created from the first
attempt, and did a third try at the update, but then I got nothing in
the dialog box of number of items in the controller.  I don't know what
happened in the end, actually, but the controller seems to work, the
version is showing as 2.0g, and everything "seems" normal, but it's to
cloudy to go out tonight and check anything. All I know is that when I
go to Guided Tour, I get the message that there aren't any. Satellites
are still there, so are asteroids -- just no tour. Guess I'll wait a few
days (weeks) and see what gets posted to Meade's website.

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com
Mike here: There have been some upgrade glitches reported. Perhaps that is why there have been frequent updates.

Subject:	 [Fwd: autostar firmware bug in v2.0f]
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 22:01:59
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
sent to engineer@meade:

Bug: continued GoTo motion for a full minute after "arrival beep".

Environment: Autostar 497 ETX on ETX90/ec scope.
   Version v2.0f  (yes, f, downloaded 1/17/00  14:30 PST)
   Location: Seattle   Time: 8pm to 9pm  1/17/00
   Alt/Az mount.  Stock Meade 26mm eyepiece.
Reporter's experience: owner since Sept 99,
  have used 1.1j (original in Handset),
   downloaded and used 1.3b, 1.3c, 2.0e, 2.0f

I loaded v2.0f, took it outside, did drive Training.
Did Easy Align (it chose Rigel and Pollux...) at about 8:30pm

Did a short Constellation wander in Orion. Just bouncing between Rigel
and Betelgeuse
I -thought- i saw it continuing to move after beeping.

Then I did a Constellation -->Ursa Minor-->Polaris  Enter,GoTo
It slewed around, ended up about a half to full degree high,
Polaris off the "bottom" of the FOV.
 It beeped.
Noting that the motors seemed a trifle noisy for a Polaris pointing, I
SYNC'd Polaris to the center.
(the motors silenced during the Syncing).

I then GoTo'd  to the second star in the Ursa Minor "tour", Koheb (sp?).

Again... the scope slewed down, seemed to stop, beeped
(with Koheb -just- at the edge of the eyepiece's FOV).
And then, over the next (literally) minute... Koheb slowly (speed two?)
drifted into the center of the FOV. .... after the beep!

I used the (from here it's a multi-hit) lean-on-Mode to get the
RA/Dec and Alt/Az.
The RA/Dec was reporting the catalog location for Koheb.

I then (again, since the above readout requires -leaving- the
Constellation Tour)
 again went Const-->Ursa Minor-->Enter-->Goto-->Polaris-->Enter-->Goto

and it went up to Polaris... and past it... putting it at the bottom of
the FOV.
and beeped.

Then, as i watched, it tracked down the necessary half degree to bring
Polaris into the center of the field of view.
With Polaris, it's easy to tell when it -really- thinks it's arrived...
the motor finally silences.

So that's the problem: the beeper is sounding long before the scope
really "finishes" moving.
In my case (and i went thru Alignment a couple of times, just to make
sure) the "beep" arrival
 was after the usual amount of time i'm accostumed to the ETX moving...
 We get the "Slewing..." message, then there's about 20 seconds of
further motion (with the target's info on the handset, instead of the
word Slewing...) before the beep.
But tonight the Beep usually occurred a good distance from the target,
and only the ensuing minute brought it into view.

I forgot to mention that, in one of the Polaris/Koheb trials, i quickly
Mode'd to the RA/Dec display while the minute-long "touch-up" was
continuing... and neither the Dec or Alt readout was changing!

The scope -moved- over a half degree, but the readouts didn't change.

Later manual slewing (various speeds) -did- generate changing numbers.

Environment: Autostar 497 ETX on ETX90/ec scope.
   Version v2.0f  (yes, f, downloaded 1/17/00  14:30 PST)
   Location: Seattle  (from the Autostar's menu)  Time: 8pm to 9pm
1/17/00
   Alt/Az mount.  Stock Meade 26mm eyepiece.
Reporter's experience: owner since Sept 99,
  have used 1.1j (original in Handset),
   downloaded and used 1.3b, 1.3c, 2.0e, 2.0f

I'll be Updating to v2.0g, but i suspect (from the Readme) that this
isn't addressed.

have fun...
--Richard Seymour
rseymour@wolfenet.com

Subject:	 Re: try, try, try again... (1/17 version)
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 21:28:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
v2.0f has some (my opinion) MAJOR problems.

One: you GoTo a star.... it beeps.... and then, over the next (really!)
minute it continues to adjust the aiming. I'd goto Polaris, and it'd end
up at the very bottom of the 26mm FOV. It'd beep. Then, over the next 60
to 80 seconds, it'd slowly track up to the center of the eyepiece. (i'd
Sync'd it on an earlier visit). Plays heck with knowing when to do a
Sync. (and let's not even talk about its first idea of where Polaris
-was-... about 7 Alt degrees too high.)

I'll fetch G (this is all a result of me doing a -very- fast
disassemblage of v2.0e ... i know it.)

--dick

Subject:	 Re: Help with Autostar update
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 20:40:27
From:	rbrrobledo@hotmail.com (Roberto Botero)
Thank you very much for your immediate response.   You are surely the
only person who could take the time to read all our problems and then
would try to help in any way. I did what you told me and the following
message appeared on the screen now:

FLASH LOAD READY

but when I tried to use the Update tool, it could not find the Autostar
in the serial port.  What should I do next?  As I told you, no menu, not
even the sun warning appears now...so the problem might be serious.

I have to apologize for bothering you so much with this problem, but you
seem to be the only person one can turn to when getting no response at
all from Meade.

Thank you very much again,

Sincerely

Roberto Botero
Mike here: If the Autostar updater is not finding the Autostar on the serial port, that is a problem. But there are many causes: something else using the same serial port, the wrong serial port being set, bad connection or cable, fried serial port, fried Autostar, and probably more. You'll have to troubleshoot each one of these to rule that problem out.

Added later:

I finally figured it out. It seems I am not so dumb after all. Now
everything is fixed thanks to your kind help again.

Thank you very much again.  Keep up your site that way and I will not
get tired of visiting it.

Subject:	 Re: Autostar firmware upgrade problems
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 20:29:29
From:	ce0614@ix.netcom.com (Chaisaeng Euesaakulkieat)
Thank you for your very fast response BTW I just visit Meade website and
found the new update 2.0g Autostar.ROM and Dbase.ROM files. I downloaded
and reupdate my Autostar again Guess what! It's correct my problems I
may have done something wrong in the first update

I'm very appreciate your work and Keep up your great ETX site

Subject:	 Autostar firmware upgrade problems
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 19:04:33
From:	ce0614@ix.netcom.com (Chaisaeng Euesaakulkieat)
I have an Autostar with firmware version 1.0c.
Last night I having a problem upgrading my Autostar to version 2.0e. It
is my first time trying to upgrade. I downloaded autostar upgrad tool
from Meade web site and installed in my PC which is running Windows 95
OSR2.1, everything look ok to me then I connect serial cable to the
Autostar and PC then switch on the scope prepaing to download. before
starting I read through th AsReadme.txt file, it sucgest to backup all
*.ROM file found in Ephemerides directory but I don't have those files
exist in my PC. I decided to start the upgrade program. The program ask
me to put Autostar in download mode then push the OK button I followed
the instructions and I got a lot of error messages state that It's could
not get information from LibAsteroid.ROM, LibComets.ROM and ... file I
thought it may not cause any problem so I decided  to continue by push
the button labeled "New  Software" in "Send to" group box which download
progress dialogs displayed like there is no problem at all. after
finished I found that all the tours, asteroids, comets, and satellites
in the Autostar are gone but I have a new software version 2.0e
installed. I thought I may need those Lib*.ROM file to be in Ephemerides
directory inorder to have those objects loaded in the Autostar Could you
tell me how can I get those files or if you have it in your PC
and if you don't mind could you kindly please email those file as an
attachment for me I'd be very appreciated

Thanks for your very good work for new ETX owner like me

Chaisaeng

Subject:	 Help with Autostar update
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 18:45:26
From:	rbrrobledo@hotmail.com (Roberto Botero)
I had version 1.3c of my Autostar software running smoothly until today
when I decided to update to the new 2.0e.  Everything went OK until my
telescope was turned off accidentally.  Now I really think I am
screwed!!!.  When I try to initialize the Autostar, it shows version 2.0
but nothing else happens, I can not get it to show the menus or anything
(I can not initialize it...)!!!. I can not make it show the download
option, where I could start the whole process again. What should I do?
Do I have to send it back to Meade?  Hope not.  Perhaps you could advise
on this matter. 

Thank you very much for your help and again congratulations for your
wonderful and helpful site.

Sincerely,

Roberto Botero
rbrrobledo@hotmail.com
Mike here: You should be able to re-do the download by putting the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode. Hold down the ENTER and DOWN ARROW when you power it on. Then proceed to run the updater software.

Subject:	New ROM firmware is now downloadable
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 17:59:39
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
I sent you a note this morning about Meade's ROM files showing a "File
Not Found" -- they are now downloadable as of this evening, so ignore my
e-mail that I sent you (funny thing, though -- this morning the zip
files read ROMS20e.zip, and now they read ROMS20g.zip (they went from
"e" to "g" in just one day!)

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 autostar firmware bug v2.0e (one of many)
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 17:01:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
To: engineer@meade.com
Subject: autostar firmware bug v2.0e (one of many)
Bug title: Landmark slew

Autostar firmware v2.0e  (1/14/00)
ETX Autostar 497  on an ETX90/EC

I should proabably check operation with 2.0f, but here goes
(i'm going to send one bug per Email, in case they should get routed
differently)
(and i'm sure some are "do later" versus "oh, drat!")

Situation: Alt/Az mount,
    all motions (unless specified below) waited for final beep before
next button press.

If i'm looking at an astronomical object (hence siderial drive running)
and   Select-->Object-->Landmark-->Select-->house
A second or so after hitting "Enter" to select the "house" as my desired
target...
 the scope starts moving towards it!
   Without hitting GoTo.
     Without the word "slewing..." appearing on the handset.
In fact, if i hit the GoTo while it's moving, it audibly speeds up and
"slewing..." appears.

In either case (with or without hitting GoTo), it does arrive at the
landmark.
 A final beep occurs only if i hit GoTo (and get the Slewing...
message).

An exact, repeatable,  case was going from Mercury (at 12:30pm, Seattle
time and location, 1/17)
 to a landmark (my "training" point) at Alt -1 degree 20 min, Az 257
degrees.

(i shall now load 2.0f and see if it repeats, alto the README suggests
no change)

--dick seymour
rseymour@wolfenet.com
And:
Bug title: Bad slew to  Asteroid from Landmark

Autostar firmware v2.0e  (1/14/00)
ETX Autostar 497  on an ETX90/EC
Alt/az mounting

If i am looking at a Landmark, and then
  Select-->Object-->Solar System-->Asteroid-->Sun       (a user-defined
Asteroid)

and then press Enter, then GoTo...

The scope drives the Alt in the wrong direction (down).
  Mode has to be pressed to avoid hitting the stops.
The Az drives in the correct direction.

If, however, i first tell it to GoTo Mercury, that works.

 -Then-, if i ask to GoTo the Sun, it properly moves the degree or so to
that target.
I have also "duplicated" the problem by slewing (correctly) from
Landmark to Polaris,
 then (correctly) from Polaris to Asteriod/Sun.

The only time i have problems is if i try to go from directly from a
Landmark to an Asteroid.

Interrogating (hold Mode down for two seconds) where it thinks things
are,
 everything looks happy!.
The Dec and RA displayed for the Landmark's position are correct.
The calculated GoTo for the Sun is correct.

Location: Seattle   Date/Time: from 11:30am to 1:30pm 1/17/00
Tested landmarks: Alt: -1 40, Az: 254;   and  Alt 0, Az 270

Asteroid Sun data: Name: Sun, Epoch Day: 23-mar-1999, Ecc: 0,
Semi-major: 1.0,
    Inc: 0, Long Asc: 0, Arg Peri: 0, Mean Anom: 0, Mag: -5.0  Mag
Slope: 0.5

Calculated Sun position:  ra: 19:56.6  dec: -20 deg 44'
Calculated Mercury position:  ra  20:05   dec: -22 24

I just tested... the same thing happens for a "normal" asteroid (Juno,
in this case).

Action like this occurred in v1.3c, but i hadn't had a sunny day, time
off, ample time
 and a solar filter all coinciding  to allow exproling the symptoms.


Subject:	 try, try, try again... (1/17 version)
Sent:	Monday, January 17, 2000 14:36:42
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
i note that Meade has updated their   support/auto.html   page to point
to ROMS20f.zip

unfortunately they've made yet another HTML link error.

The target file is -now- really called   ROMS2f.zip (last time they
dropped the "S", this time the zero)

this is for the 497 ... i didn't check out the 495 (also updated).

And the full "auto.zip" file still contains 20e. (is still the 1/14
build)

yes, i've "told" them...

--dick

Subject:	 Re: sigh... gone over, again ...
Sent:	Saturday, January 15, 2000 23:04:55
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
(warning: sit back and put up your feet... this is a long one...)
(an ever-so-slightly rearranged version of this will go to Meade...)

Well, the unpack/update went well.  It's a bit faster than 13c in
pulling the data -from- the Autostar before doing anything.

Now, this may shock you, but there was a bug or two...

and still a number of "user hostile" activities...

Here's how it went:
I started the program, and the splash screen came up.
 Then it surveys the COM ports and handshakes with the Autostar.
  It puts up a small window identifying the current Handbox's software
version, waits for [ok]

 Then the entire application window disappears!  (this is an old user
hostile trait).
  It's not even on the Windows Task Bar.

It takes a number of seconds (long enough to start pointing and
clicking) before a small click-box comes up telling me to put the
autostar into Download mode.  I do so.

The Application Window returns (and returns to the Task Bar)... and
quickly sucks (or claims to) the existing Asteroids, Comets, Satellites
and (new feature) Tours from the Autostar.
*wham*
The main application window disappears, leaving the "Count of
Astronomical Bodies" sub-window on the screen.

An error box appears:
------------------------------------
Library file c:\Program Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar
Update\Ephemerides\LibTour.ROM,
couldn't be renamed from C:\Program Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar
Update\Ephemerides\QQTempLibFile.ROM - disk full?
  [ok]
--------------------------
...that was with 4 gigs free, thank you...
I looked in the directory... there was no QQTempLibFile.ROM there.
 (in a later test, i -put- one there, which disappeared, and -still- got
the error message)

So i clicked [ok] and the Application Window reappeared.

The [Help] button still does nothing.  (the Readme talks about BlueSky's
csh.dll being required, and that file comes with the Updater, but
context-sensitive help still eludes me).

So, i click on  Autostar-->Send To-->[New Software]

It asks me if i want to save my existing Ephemeris data, i click [yes].
Immediately the good ol' "32 page" thermometer window appears... and the
download commences.
[we now depart for a walk, since the download still takes about 30
minutes]

Upon our return, the PC screen is looking happy, and the Autostar is
asking if i'd like to sprechen Deutsche, and i knew the download had
succeeded.

The Help button still didn't work.
My user-added Sun Asteroid still existed in the Handbox.

** note to gentle reader: stop here and you'll be happier... **
(i didn't)

-then- i made the mistake of trying to update the Satellite TLE's.

Well, i asked it to "get ephemeris" from the Autostar, but the list then
"editable" by the Updater did -not- include my hand-entered Satellites
which were still in the Handset ("Lacrosse 2", for example)

I decided to have the Handset update the in-PC Ephemerie.
So i clicked the "From Autostar-->Get Ephemerie" button.

And froze the PC's screen.  ctl-alt-delete got the task manager -once-.
 Dismissing that with a [cancel] caused it both to never appear again,
nor to be bitmapped-erased from the on-screen display.

Indeed, the next (after other clicking to see if any window or the Task
Bar were active)
 ctl-alt-delete caused a hard reboot of the PC.  With the Autostar still
in "Download".

So a clean start: power down Autostar, reboot windoze, start Updater,
tell it Fetch Satellites from Web... Select Visible... click Finish... 

and error boxes start to appear:

"Couldn't open the output file Ephemerides c:\Program
Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar Update\Empemerides\TempSatellite.ROM"

and

'Source file C:\Program Files\Meade\Autostar\Autostar
Update\Empemerides\TempSatellite.ROM could not be found"

Repeating the cycle and watching Explorer windows, Updater had
apparently renamed the file to HbxSatellite.ROM
Since there were two error messages (above), i was able to put a copy of
the LibSatellite.ROM file in place as TempSatellite.ROM, and avoided the
second message.

However, after all was said and done, my Handset had managed to lose
-all- of its satellites.
The Asteroid list still existed,but it had also lost my (previously)
manually entered Sun --and-- it didn't have the Updater-entered "Sol
III", either!
The "Sun" never appeared on the Updater's list of available Asteroids.

Oh, Lord.. it gets worse...  

Since my Satellite list was toast, I just asked the Updater to show me
its library of satellites... and some in the list were duplicated?
(Astro D was in there twice, for example).. i don't -remember- them
being duplicated when i displayed the drop-down list before? 
(RAAN=Right Ascens of Ascend Node)
So i chose the first Astro D... and its parameters were absurd! 
 Epoch Year: -12537, Day: -5054490923237376.000000
 Inc: -0.0   RAAN: 0.000002  Ecc: -1038171729488248800.000000
 Arg Peri: -0.0    Mean Anom: 0.00000     Mean Motion: -0.000089

Some of the others (COBE) had equally ridiculous numbers.
But the International Space Station was OK!
 Epoch: 1999 Day: 12.mumble...  and the rest of the numbers matched what
i saw when i first looked at this list when i started today's
exercises.  Obsolete numbers, yes, but decent ones.

There were other amusing entries... and some of them may come from the
updater's attempts to download data from the web... NASA tends to refer
to the space station as "ISS (Zarya)", and there were two copies of
-that- in the list (plus the "reasonable" "International Space Station"
, which was how the original-from-Meade list referred to it.
The ISS (Zarya) numbers were different from, but as weird as, the ASTRO
D set.
Looking at a few more (that drop-down menu system is -painful- to deal
with for more than one or two lookups) i see that IUE has believeable
numbers, -except- for an Epoch Year of -49 (negative 49)... and is its
Mean Motion really 0.00000 ?

Oh, cute.. NOW i'm facing the dreaded "your deleted satellite has
invalid numbers" run-around. (been here, fought this, back with Updater
1.4)
  
I tried to -delete- one of the Astro D's.
So i click [delete] and it dutifully puts "Astro D" in the
drop-down name field.
Then i click "finish" ... ho, ho... first i get a "Invalid number:
please enter a value between -1.5 and 1.5" (without saying -which- value
is illegal... until...).
Clicking [ok] on that causes the Eccentricty to highlight.  So i zero
it.
Then [finish] gets a "please enter a value between 1969 and 3999" (you
can guess, can't you).
Dismissing that gets the Epoch Year highlighted.

Finally i realize that if i'm displaying the  menu choice, it
lets me escape with [finished].

Back into the Satellite window, i discover that right-clicking -does-
invoke the little "balloon help" descriptors for the buttons.  None of
the field descriptors offers help, but the []Select for Autostar 
balloon help suggests that a Satellite has to have  in its
namefield to (perhaps) get downloaded!

So i choose the ISS and click that.   appears.

Emboldened by this, i choose  to provide a newer set of TLEs
for the ISS.
But i do give it a new name, so i should get two satellites (at least).

Ha... Although they -show- Epoch days in the form of ddd.fffffff  
(day-period-fractional),
 the *period* is an unacceptable character to the Updater!!!!

(i'm starting to sound like Charlie Brown during a bad day on the
pitcher's mound... my wife's looking very concerned...)

Well.. i'll try two approaches: one is to ignore the period
(3491010121), the other is to just say 349

ahh... the -other- fields in the Satellite entry allow decimal points.
So i cut one of -those- lines, and -paste- it into Epoch Day.
Then character-by-character editing, without deleting the decimal point,
allows me to enter the fractional day.

[apply changes]
[finish]
back out to Astro Body main button-choices (the drag-and-drop screen)
Just to check it out, i go back into Satellites.. and look at my new
entry.
Well, the Epoch Day took... but it changed the RAAN a bit.. from 2.9742
to 2.1401 ???
So i edit -that- field back to the correct value, [apply] [finish] 
and now   Autostar-->Send-->New Ephemerie
(i've also downloaded Meade's "How far is far?" tour... and it has been
uploaded and downloaded every time i've cycled through the updater.
Tours take time)

I tell the updater [finish]... it tells me to wait while it's Initing
the Autostar.
A few moments later the plaintive "beeep" from the handset tells me it's
ready.

...5...Enter...Mode...(rummage thru the menus to get to Satellites).
And select now offers ... *one* satellite!  My new one!
Even though i'd [select for autostar]'d the International Space Station,
too.
I drop into the Autostar's own Satellite: Edit to check the values... 
 the Epoch Day arrived correctly fractional..
 but the RAAN had slipped to 2.1401 again??? i manually fixed it
(again).
 This time it took.

Foo.

(as an aside, it's also wiped out my user-entered Landmarks.)

Final result:
 Software version 2.0e succesfully downloaded.  User Epemerises
survived. Landmarks lost.

 Attempts to update satellite and Tours caused many hours of agony. 
 Previously Handbox-entered Asteroids and Satellites never appeared on
Library's menus.

 Most Satellites lost from Handbox (dear Meade: a "select all for
Autostar" please.)
 Values fetched by Updater from whereever it does it arrived in mostly
mangled form.



[oh... quick note... if you have the Autostar in "download" when you
start the updater, it (intelligently) asks if you're trying to do a
"safe load"... and if you answer "no", **it reInits the autostar** (ya
can't win for losing...)
But then the *next* thing the Updater displays is the Error Box
requesting that the Handset be put in "download" mode... Good Grief!]



Email address: engineer@meade.com
Subject Line must include: Autostar Update

Version: A-2-0 (downloading Autostar 2.0e)  Fetched 1/14/00 ~6pm PST.

If you are indicating a possible bug:
Operating System you are using: (Win 95)
Version of the OS: (Win 95 4.00.950  rev B)
Type of System: (Desktop)
Type of Processor: (Intel Pentium 166)
Amount of RAM: (96MB)
Size of Harddisk: (4.8 gig, 4 gig free)
Attached Serial Peripherals: (Com1: serial Mouse, Com2:#497 ETX
Autostar, ETX90/EC)
MODEMs: (Internal, COM3) 
FAX: (none)
Any MODEM software that MIGHT be running: None except Windows Dial-Up
connection... 
 it appeared to successfully fetch Meade's Tours and the Satellite data.
  Web Browser, Telnet, manual FTP... all NOT running.

Contact information: Including a phone number with area code so
                     that you can be contacted if required.

--dick (exhausted)

Subject:	 Autostar update
Sent:	Saturday, January 15, 2000 18:06:41
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
I just download the Autostar Roms and Loading program. When I did an
update from the web via the program I get error messages saying some
library files are not accessible, not present or the disk is full. I was
wondering if anyone else had this.

Regards

Andrew
andrewj@netvigator.com
Mike here: I've received one other report of this today.

Subject:	 autostar download bad link (continued)
Sent:	Saturday, January 15, 2000 16:06:55
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
To:	engineer@meade.com
Version 2.0e

As reported last night 1/14/00), your
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html  page has a bad link for the ETX
ROMS-only.

I now see what the correct link should be.

You have   http://www.meade.com/support/auto/EtxAutostar/ROMS20e.zip


It should be   www.meade.com/support/auto/EtxAutostar/ROM20e.zip
(no "S" in the final file name)

enjoy
--dick

Subj: 	General Ramblings
Date: 	Saturday, January 15, 2000 07:15:31
From: 	jimjam@oh.freii.net
At the risk of making a total fool of myself, I will share an
experience in the hopes of saving others a little time.  I recently
dropped in at my local Nature Wonders store and they FINALLY had a #505
cable set!  I thought I was never going to find one (I've been running
autostar 1.2).  Anyway I rushed home,  opened it up and jumped right in.
It comes with an RS-232 adapter and a 3 foot and 6 foot cable (more on
those later).  Call it a personality flaw,  but I've never been one to
read instructions. I grabbed the 3 foot cord (it was plenty long enough)
and got down to business.  Problem was,  the autostar update program
kept telling me it was finding a device on com1,  but it wasn't an
autostar!  Well after 45 minutes of messing around,  I reached for the
instructions (imagine that).  Turns out the 3ft cable is 4-pin to 4-pin
for cloning another autostar and the 6ft is the 4 to 6-pin for d/ling
from a puter. DUH!!!! Needless to say,  with correct cable,  the update
was quick and painless.  I've been having trouble with my autostar so
I'm quite anxious to see if this updates make things all better.  Alas,
living in Ohio I may have to wait until June to see clear skies!

Regards,
Tim Stedman

Subj: 	sigh... here we go again...
Date: 	Friday, January 14, 2000 21:23:43
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
re: Autostar  v2.0e

ya know?

it takes me about 3 to 4 months to get to really "know" the Autostar's
program.

But Meade seems to have a two-month development/release  cycle.

I wouldn't have it any other way... :-)

(i'd rather be playing catch-up than drumming my fingers waiting for bug
fixes)

Did you notice that the ROMS20e.zip file for the 497 is a bogus link at
their site?

*and* (of course) my COM1-free (hence ETX-connected)  computer just
trashed its disk tonight...

--dick

Subj: 	Autostar Update mystery
Date: 	Friday, January 14, 2000 20:20:27
From: 	samos@inforamp.net
I've just updated the latest Autostar files from the Meade web site
(Autostar Update A2.0 and firmware 1.3c) ... and all of a sudden I've no
Guided Tours.
Any idea what happened?
Thanks
Dan
Toronto

Subj: 	Meade Autostar Version 2.0e Released 1/14/00
Date: 	Friday, January 14, 2000 13:44:32
From: 	berg@ans.net
Something for all of us Autostar users. Also, I was told that this
version uses either a revised or completely different code, which is
supposed to correct Autostar freeze ups that I was experiencing when
trying to use the electric focuser, per an earlier email post of mine.

KMB

Subj: 	ETX 90-EC Satellite Tracking Capabilities
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 14:19:55
From: 	brpage@dellnet.com
I've been trying to track satellites with my ETX 90-EC/Autostar system
since I first acquired it, but have been almost completely unsuccessful.
I've seen various messages on your site to indicate that others seem to
have been able to accomplish this, but I don't understand how.  I've
noticed that when I enter orbital elements for satellites manually and
subsequently go back and view them, they are changed in the least
significant digits.  I believe this may have some relevance to my
tracking problem and am wondering if Meade has plans to fix this
irritating internal quantization scheme.  I've only recently been able
to acquire satellites at the predicted rise times, but even then the
tracking slew direction immediately diverges from the satellite path. 
Since my scope performs all other goto slewing and tracking functions
quite well I can't understand how this problem could be anything other
than an Autostar bug.  I have the latest firmware installed and it is
only with this newest version that I have been able to detect satellites
at the rise/acquisition point, but like I said before the tracking
functionality still does not work properly and the slew path diverges
from the satellite immediately.  This is not an input problem, I work as
a space systems engineer and am quite familiar with the two line orbital
element format.  What I don't understand is why the input values are
changed internally and why the fields available for input do not
correspond to the data available, meaning why aren't the correct number
of digits provided with published element sets accommodated by the
Autostar input fields.  I guess I will try and call Meade customer
service with these questions but I just discovered that I apparently
cannot email them so I thought maybe you or your contributors might know
something about these issues.  Meade doesn't appear to have any
information regarding the satellite tracking capabilities of the
Autostar on their website.

Brian Page
Mike here: You can email Meade to report bugs as noted in the Autostar info. Send to engineer@meade.com.

Subj: 	Syncing Meade ETX Autostar
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 09:32:52
From: 	david.kaufman@railinc.com
Brad,

To answer your SYNC question:

With the object in the FOV, press and hold down the ENTER key for
several seconds. When you release the ENTER key, the Autostar will ask
you to CENTER and press ENTER again to SYNC.

Note: during the SYNC process, the tracking motor is turned off.  So the
faster you press ENTER the better. I get it centered first, then
press/hold ENTER, then press ENTER again in rapid succession.

Hope this helps, clear skies!

David Kaufman
And:
Thank you for your response.  I'll try that tonight so I can get a feel
for it.  I appreciate your taking the time to respond as well as the
depth of your instruction.

Thanks again.  Clear skies!
Brad Weaver

Subj: 	re: Updater
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 09:29:29
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Dave,

Misery loves company, so i thought i'd let you know that any attempts
i've made to update (in bulk) TLEs with Updater have all been
spectacularly unsuccessful.

At one point it even got upset because it'd pulled a Deleted satellite
from the Autostar, and refused to upload because some of -that-
satellite's values were illegal (zeros).

I have -never- gotten it to upload a new TLE set.

I -have- managed to have it destroy hand-loaded TLEs previously entered
at the Autostar's handle.

Thank you for facing the unhelpful phone folks. (i hadn't bothered
yet... i sorta guessed the result)

good luck
--dick

Subj: 	re: (not so) easy align
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 09:23:23
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Roger (roger@nflunlimited.com) wrote:
> I have trained the drives several times to make sure it is right.
> I have initialized the Autostar with correct time, location etc.
> I have leveled the scope.  I am using the Meade tripod and have it leveled
> using a small level on all sides of the base.
> I then put the scope in the home position by turning it clockwise and then
> aligning the fork so that it is over the control panel.
> (I am assuming that the fork center should be placed in the center of the
> control panel.)
>
Clockwise?

Remember that first you rotate it fully counter-clockwise (so it gently
hits the stops) before the clockwise (approximately 1/3rd rotation) to
the "point north" position.

Another poster asked about which way is clockwise: put the ETX on the
floor. Stand over it, looking down. Spin the scope's tube the
"counter-clockwise" and "clockwise" directions, relative to the base.

Yes, the arm of the scope with the Altitude numbers should be placed
above the control panel.

Visit  http://www.meade.com/manuals/autostar/apa.html  for their
complete instructions.

I use Alt/Az (i haven't built my polar base yet).  Try an Alt/Az evening
and see if it's better. Early (1.1j) versions of the Autostar software
were "known buggy" in Polar Mode.

I find that "approximately" north works OK.. the scope can compensate
for a few (5?) degrees off. "Level" is much more important.  But "pretty
good" should still get stars within the viewfinder. I've marked my
observing station (masking tape and magic marker) so that i can
reposition my base to within a couple of degrees of "where it was last
night".  I PARK my scope, and that makes it think it's still aligned
from the night before.

The planetary aiming is still kinda weird... somedays it's spot-on,
somedays it's just spotty.

good luck
--dick

p.s. "counter-clockwise" is "anti-clockwise" in much of the world.
p.p.s.  for those of you brought up on digital watches, clockwise is the
direction you turn a car's steering wheel to make a turn to the right. 
( --> that way)
And another response:
From: 	Stantastic@aol.com
I just read in the Autostar feedback section from:

roger@nflunlimited.com
dated January 6, 2000 15:45:19

where he says, and I quote,

"I then put the scope in the home position by turning it clockwise and
then aligning the fork so that it is over the control panel."

Unless that's a typo on his part, it should read "counterclockwise" --
maybe that's why his alignment is way off every time. You didn't mention
that in your suggestion; maybe it just slipped by  ;-)

He should turn the scope COUNTERCLOCKWISE until it hits the stops, THEN
clockwise until the fork is over the control panel.

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subj: 	re: cleaning LCD covers
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 09:07:17
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
It's been a while, so my memory has faded, but didn't the Autostar
arrive with a peel-off cover on the LCD?

Did you  peel it off?

Is -that- what you cleaned?

Most instructions i've ever seen for cleaning such things all agree:
(water-) damp cloth only.

There are special plastic-cover cleaners (used at airports for
helicopter and Cessna windshields), but for many plastics (and LCD
covers can be -weird- circular polarizers) the advice is: NO chemicals.

Good luck
--dick

Subj: 	page 8 error
Date: 	Wednesday, January 12, 2000 09:01:46
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Tracy Miller wrote:
> I'm having some difficulty updating the firmware on my #497 autostar
> (version 1.1j), and only have the engineer@meade.com address. Is that
> the only e-mail you know of for Meade?
>
It's sorta sad to say that Mike is the best "two-way" email system we
have about Meade. There's not even a (published) webmaster address to
tell 'em about errors on their site.

> Half way through the update, I get an error stating "Autostar reported
> it couldn't erase BANK 8".
>
As a step in the download process, the Autostar Update Program on the PC
asks the Autostar to erase the Flash memory it's about to overwrite. The
Autostar 497's Flash memory is a 1 megabyte two-chip set, and is viewed
in two ways:
The Updater usually talks about "pages", and refers to 32 of them. The
Autostar itself chops the megabyte into 32 32kbyte pieces during
operation.

The error you're seeing is that the Updater has asked the Autostar to
erase the 8th (or 9th, i don't know if they're starting from zero)
32kbyte area... and the Autostar is getting an error. Possibly one byte
isn't being properly cleared.

If you review Mike's December archives, you'll see a post by me about
how to talk to the Autostar's Internal Debugger.  If you invoke that,
you could ask it to report the contents of any portion of memory to see
what's happened.
The command to see some "page 8" memory would be     A  08xxxx with the
xxxx being a hexadecimal address to start at.  Start at 8000. Addresses
B600-B799 are not truly in the Flash ram. Since "page 8" to the Updater
may be different from "page 8" to the debugger, look at 07 and 09, too.
(hmmm... i don't offhand know what addresses from 0000 to 7fff would
report.  I haven't looked at them (yet)).

I no longer have 1.1j in my Autostar, so i can't report what values you
-should- see. If it's arranged like v1.3c, then you might have lost the
Moon's Facts (size, rise, set, dist, mass, diam, age, phase) area, the
Sync area, and some of the Emphemeris processing.
If    the A 088000   report starts with  30 0F C3 FF      it's probably
OK.

Something you didn't mention was whether or not the Autostar still
works.

If it does, then i'd tread very carefully before trying another
download.

good luck
--dick
More of this conversation:
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Tracy,
You wrote:
> I've got a replacement Autostar coming from JCP on Thursday, as I suspect I
> have a faulty flash chip in the unit (or something wrong which would require
> a trip back to Meade anyway).

ahh... the benefits of buying from an established Astronomical Equipment
store...

> The menu system on the Autostar is full of ASCII garbage characters. The
> initial screen does come up (C)99 MEADE AUTOSTAR [1.3] but after that, it's
> impossible to use.
>
> It does go into SAFE LOAD mode okay, but consistently hangs immediately upon
> hitting memory page 16.

ahh... page 16... the Autostar uses two chips to get its "1 meg"...
since i haven't peeled the paper labels off mine, i can't check if
they're two 1-meg 4-bit-wide, or two half-meg 8-bit-wide. If the second
case is true, then a bad "upper" chip would certainly nail you on page
16..

> Update: I did try using the debugger (quite handy by the way...where did you
> find out about using it?), and I tried a 'r' for reset. This kicked out a
> Proc Trap 2 error on the unit, with some added ASCII garbage characters.

Proc Trap 2 is "illegal op code".. which a flash chip providing garbanzo
beans would certainly (eventually) trigger.

"zero" is an illegal op code to a 68hc11.

How'd i find out about it?  I disassembled the entire Autostar download,
'natch!

(what's a 1300 page listing among friends?)(something to do with a
telescope on rainy Seattle nights)

have fun
--dick

Subj: 	Cleaning Autostar LCD
Date: 	Tuesday, January 11, 2000 22:27:42
From: 	jchalfen@goldengate.net
I fixed alot of notebook computers with LCD screens, Any type of liquid
that gets put on them causes smearing/smudging. Best way to clean an LCD
by experience:

Use no liquids or cleaning agents. Get a clean dust free cloth and apply
a little elbow grease until clean. Be careful not to press to hard on
the display or it will either get dark spots on it or become totally
unusable. Just enough pressure to gently wipe off the grime. Patience is
the key. It does take a little time.

Thanks for all the work on your site. I always find a wealth of info out
here.

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

TIA and TTFN       (Don't forget to wear your peril sensitive sunglasses.)

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

Subj: 	Fogged Autostar Display
Date: 	Tuesday, January 11, 2000 20:31:34
From: 	DPamachena@aol.com
I read the comments from the person who cleaned their Autostar display
and had more smudges than before they began.  People need to be aware
that liquid crystal displays have a polarizing film applied to the front
of the glass.  It is what, along with the twisting of the fluid between
the glass plates, makes a display work.  Cleaning with alcohol can cause
the adhesive behind the film to be somewhat dissolved and that will
definitely cause problems viewing the display.  I doubt this person did
this as it would take a dousing to cause trouble since there is s
plastic window in the Autostar in front of the LCD.

More likely, there is a protective film applied to the display window on
the Autostar that this person loosened.  The film is there to prevent
scratches and damage during assembly and factory handling.  They might
try looking for a edge to peel and then remove.

In any case, people, don't try using household solvents to clean things
unless you know what the results would be.  A VERY soft cloth with a
little tap water usually removes most smudges and grease without the
risk of damage to unknown components.

Subj: 	Meade's E-mail Address?
Date: 	Monday, January 10, 2000 20:56:58
From: 	hal-9000@home.com
I'm having some difficulty updating the firmware on my #497 autostar
(version 1.1j), and only have the engineer@meade.com address. Is that
the only e-mail you know of for Meade?

Half way through the update, I get an error stating "Autostar reported
it couldn't erase BANK 8".

Thanks for any info.

Tracy  Miller
hal-9000@home.com
Mike here: Have you tried putting the Autostar in SAFE LOAD mode and then doing the update? The engineer@meade.com is the only public email address. Email sent to that address is read.

Subj: 	Handset plugs
Date: 	Saturday, January 8, 2000 16:31:35
From: 	DPHall@mindspring.com
Mike, you might want to let people know I found the Modular Handset
plugs at Home Depot ($2.95)!

Subj: 	Autostar LCD Cleaning?
Date: 	Saturday, January 8, 2000 15:47:42
From: 	hal-9000@home.com
This is probably a strange issue to inquire about, but have you heard of
anyone who's tried to clean the LCD cover of their Autostar, only to
have it become very "smudgy" afterwards?

I was careful to use only a bit of alchohol and a soft cloth, but I
can't seem to get the haze and smudge off of it now.

Thanks.

T. Miller
hal-9000@home.com
MIke here: I have not cleaned ANY LCDs so really can't say what is best. I'm sure there are cleaning fluids that will work better than alcohol (which can damage some materials).

Subj: 	Easy Align not working with ETX90EC
Date: 	Thursday, January 6, 2000 15:45:19
From: 	roger@nflunlimited.com
I received a new ETX 90EC for Christmas.  This is my second scope, I
owned a 6" Dob several years ago and am finally getting back into
astronomy.

First, Mike a great site, it was information on this site that led me to
purchase the ETX90 EC.  Thanks for all your hard work.

The problem I am having is major.

I am not able to align the stars or when doing an easy align get the
scope close to the "Target" stars.

Here is what I have done.

Read everything about easy alignment on your site.
I have trained the drives several times to make sure it is right.
I have initialized the Autostar with correct time, location etc.
I have leveled the scope.  I am using the Meade tripod and have it leveled 
using a small level on all sides of the base.
I then put the scope in the home position by turning it clockwise and then 
aligning the fork so that it is over the control panel.
(I am assuming that the fork center should be placed in the center of the 
control panel.)

I then set the north leg and the scope to magnetic north. I then go to
easy align and it gives me a star to center on. The problem is that the
"Target Star" and where the scope are pointing are WAY off.  I slew the
scope over and put in the center of my 26mm eyepiece. I then repeat this
on the second star.  The Autostar then give me a failure notice and I
start over with the same outcome. Sometimes this can take several
minutes to find the Target Star and complete the alignment process on
both target stars. (I will be getting a 90 degree finder scope ASAP, any
recommendations?)

I have practiced this indoors during the day to make sure that
everything is working properly etc.  The drives are not slipping and
engage properly. My finder scope is aligned properly etc.

Any and all suggestions for setting this up would be greatly
appreciated.

Roger
Mike here: One thing you mentioned that can have either a minor affect or a MAJOR effect is using a magnetic compass to locate TRUE NORTH. Unless you correct for your local magnetic variation, your TRUE NORTH pointing can be off 5, 10, 15, or more degrees, depending upon where you live. Also, the compass can be affected by electrical fields or metal (or both) near the compass. If this is the problem, using TRUE NORTH will get you much closer results on the initial align stars. As to a finder replacement (or a supplemental finder), take a look at the Accessories - Finderscopes page.

Subj: 	Problems with Autostar Updater version 1.4 and problem with Meade tech support.
Date: 	Wednesday, January 5, 2000 23:12:42
From: 	drounds@hughestech.net
I received my ETX 125 and Autostar for Christmas and have discovered a
few problems with the Updater software. I am wondering if the problem is
with my computer (Toshiba Libretto with Win95 OSR2) or if I am seeing a
new problem with the Updater software.  The problems include the
following: When I attempted to edit satellite data in the Updater
program, either when entering new data then editing it or when editing
existing data, that the year would go to -49.  If I manually corrected
the year, it would appear correct until I redisplayed that satellite's
data.  If I corrected the value then attempted to download it without
redisplaying it, I noticed that the satellite would appear to disappear
from the Autostar database and I would be unable to get it back in
without manually entering it directly in the Autostar.  I also noticed
that if I attempted to use the "drag and drop" method to update the
entire list of satellite elements (using the interest.tle file), that
the computer would lock up after apparently (per the bar graph)
processing about 3/4 of the data. I called Meade on Monday afternoon and
talked to a person that was new to the support group.  He did not know
anything about the Autostar Updater program and suggested leave a
message for a specific person.  Since he did not return my call in 2
says, I called back and talked to a different person.  This person
seemed to know even less than the first and said that he was not aware
of these specific problems.  He did not offer any help, only reviewing
my procedure and just suggested that I watch the Meade web site for the
next update (but did not know when an update was expected).

On the positive side, I had very good results using the two star
alignment after only visually aligning the telescope to true north.  I
have used the same procedure on two separate occasions and viewed about
9 objects, each night, using the guided tour.  In all cases, the target
object was within the FOV of the standard  eyepiece or just on the edge
of the FOV.  Even though the stars and clusters were always properly
located, I was not as lucky when attempting to view Jupiter or Saturn. 
In these cases, both nights, the planets were well out of the eyepiece
FOV.  After using the Autostar to slew to the planets, I noticed that it
did not appear to track the planets as well as it did the stars.

Dave Rounds

Subj: 	Autostar and Cold?
Date: 	Wednesday, January 5, 2000 22:21:38
From: 	teb1013@hotmail.com
I was just out for about 2 hours, observing several objects, I'd been
looking at Jupiter and Saturn and then was changing the mode to Deep
Sky, when the screen on the Autostar went completely blank, except for a
bright orange line.  I turned the scope off and then on again, got the
initial Autostar 1.3c announcement and then right after the scope said
"Initializing" the thing went blank again. This time, you could see
little black marks flickering across the screen.  I was able to use the
Autostar as a hand controller and the various slew speeds worked, but
nothing else. After I brought the scope inside for about 30 minutes, I
turned the thing back on and there didn't seem to be a problem.  It said
my batteries were 90% and I only had about 4 hours on this set. 
Admittedly it was cold, about 20 degrees or so, could this affect the
Autostar, if so, why doesn't Meade warn about it.  Was the only really
good seeing night since I had gotten the scope too...

Any comments would be most welcome.

Tom Brown (teb1013@hotmail.com)
Mike here: There have been reports (noted on recent Autostar Feedback pages) that low temps can affect the Autostar. Being in Southern California, I never experienced the low temp problem myself.

Subj: 	ETX 125 w/ Autostar
Date: 	Wednesday, January 5, 2000 20:22:57
From: 	DPHall@mindspring.com
Great site!!! I'm so relieved to find that I'm not the only one having
alignment issues.  I kept trying to Easy align in Alt-Az after very
carefully leveling and finding North (Here in Atlanta we are only 1.5
off) It kept wanting to go to Capella but was WAY off, 10-15. So I'd
have to manually scroll to it to center and then go to the next star.
Which again was WAY off. After finally getting a successful align and
calling the wife to demonstrate the new toy all of the goto objects were
not even in the finder scope FOV. I was going for easy stuff like M45
and Betelgeuse that I could find easily by eye. Faint or unfamiliar
objects were unfindable. Saturn and Jupiter were only a few degrees
apart tonight and it could not slew from one to the other (or back) even
after doing a synch on the first object. The unit would then not even
keep Jupiter in the FOV for more than a few minutes. Thanks to your site
though, I will build a cable tomorrow and dump the latest code to the
unit (mine has 1.2) I'll keep you informed with any progress.  Thanks
again for a great site and lots of help!

DPH
Mike here: Most users (including me) have found that experience setting the HOME position and doing alignments helps. Also, be certain you have done a proper DRIVE TRAINING. Even with older versions of the Autostar it was possible to get good alignments and excellent tracking. Just takes some patience to build up your experience.

Added later:

Well, I'm going to pick up a better compass on the way home and I may
have discovered another problem. The documentation that came with my
Autostar is really not very clear on some items, the online version is
MUCH better. Daylight Savings being one of them, my original
interpretation was "Does your area do DST" (the same as the option in
Windows NT and '98) NOT is DST in effect now in your area. So I will
clear that entry tonight (clear sky willing) and give it a few more
shots.  I grabbed the demo of SkyMap pro and am dying to try that in
conjunction with Autostar.  Thanks again.
Mike here: When using a magnetic compass to local TRUE North, don't forget to apply your local magnetic variation.

Added later:

Variation here is only 1.5, but I picked up a better compass on the way
home last night and after answering NO to the Daylight Savings bit, it
picked up Capella in the finder scope just a little bit off then locked
in pretty easily. Most objects are still out of the main FOV, but in the
finder. After it clouded up, I came in and pinned down the lat and long
of the house better (www.terraserver.com) since we are about thirty
miles north of town. So after loading the 1.3c into Autostar we should
be good to go!!

Subj: 	New Autostar user (V 1.3C)
Date: 	Monday, January 3, 2000 06:54:32
From: 	bweaver@compuaid.com
I see reference to accessing the SYNC function after slewing an object
back into the FOV but I can't find SYNC on any submenu.  How do you
access the SYNC function?
Brad Weaver
ComputerAid 
Visit our website at http://www.compuaid.com 
or contact me at mailto:bweaver@compuaid.com  

Subj: 	may i suggest a suggestion box... for Meade?
Date: 	Sunday, January 2, 2000 15:22:52
From: 	rseymour@wolfenet.com
Perhaps a useful adjunct to your site would be a discussed "suggestion
box" for Meade.

In particular, i'm thinking about a place for us folks to leave a list
of desired add-ons/features/improvements for, say, the Autostar's
program.

Not bug-list/fixes... they should be addressed in a more direct, timely
manner.

But features the users would like to have... listed in a spot where
other users can comment upon and discuss fine details and tuning
thereof.

Of course, i'm drawing a blank today and can't think of a good example,
save adding the Sun to the list of objects.  Meade leaves that out as a
safety issue, and i accept their reasoning.  Perhaps a compromise might
be if they offered a solar filter for sale, and include access to a
Sun-savvy download if you've bought one.  That cross-link might even
spur additional Autostar sales.  Win-win!

Since i'm talking about the Autostar, other features might be
range-finding.  Given size-of-landmark in the eyepiece, or angle of pan
to go from edge-to-edge (or bow-to-stern of a ship, for example), or
time the object takes to cross the eyepiece field of view (for a moving
object, such as a ship), provide calculation results for distance, size
or speed, given one of them to help solve it. The Autostar can already
do the timing (but not as a "hit ENTER to start, hit Enter to
stop"...yet)(there's another add-in!), and it can determine an Azimuth
change... and a map can provide the distance. Expanding on that, the
Autostar/ETX could be moved to two different locations and serve as a
"surveyor's transit"... take readings of the angles to both known and
want-to-know objects, and determine the range (distance) to them.  Or
use apparent-size measurement of known distant object sizes to calibrate
distance to the objects.  Great fun for terrestrial (or Lunar/Satellite)
ranging.

So there's two (one heavily commented upon) examples... and i'm sure you
and your readers can add many, many more.. any of which would improve
the Autostar's usefulness and desirability as a purchase.

--dick
Mike here: Thanks for the idea. I know that Meade reads our site and so they will see these ideas no matter where they get posted. But I'll consider it for the future.

Subj: 	USER-Induced Sudden Slewing (Autostar Tip from Meade Engineering)
Date: 	Sunday, January 2, 2000 14:54:13
From: 	ronsilver@erols.com
There may be OTHER sudden-slewing problems that need to be addressed (in
the Autostar, ETX125, etc), but one cause is USER INDUCED according to
the Software Engineer (not phone-person) that I spoke to.  His advice
was this:

After telling the Autostar to GOTO a star, etc., DO NOT TOUCH the
"Pointing"(slewing) Buttons (up/down/left/right) unless the Autostar
"BEEPS" that it has finished the GOTO search.

Otherwise the Autostar will hold in its memory that it is supposed to
"slew", and will do so right "after" the GOTO beep, which will rapidly
slew the scope to an incorrect position IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BEEP.

If anyone is experiencing sudden-slewing immediately-after the Autostar
"beeps" that it has finished it's GOTO function, This may be the cause
of their problem.

Hope this helps others.

Ron Silver

Subj: 	ETX90-EC
Date: 	Sunday, January 2, 2000 12:51:41
From: 	palmer@julian81.freeserve.co.uk
First of all great web site, if only all sites were so well put
together.   Everything you need to know about the ETX all in one hit!

Down to business.  My father bought my son (age 7) an ETX for Christmas
plus an Autostar.  I know all you lot out there are thinking lucky
little lad, and he is, but think of me.  I'm the one who is newer to
Astronomy than my son, (he watches and reads as many things as he can
about it at present).  Watch out Patrick Moore.  Up until now my only
definite planetary knowledge was 'there's the moon'.  I'm now the one
who has to find all these stars, planets & nebula's etc for my son to
view, thank god for the Autostar!  I don't care if it doesn't put the
star smack in the middle of the eyepiece, I wouldn't even know where to
start looking without it.  No doubt as my alignment skills become more
honed I'll get better results. Any way we've stood out in the cold crisp
air (for some 30 minutes, not bad for a 7 year old) now and have seen
the Moon UP CLOSE, Jupiter and it's moons, Saturn with it's rings and
Mars looking red!  All absolutely marvellous.  Unfortunately since then
our typical English climate has put the dampers on it, with spectacular
cloud formations!  This usually means looking through the two astronomy
magazines I have yet again, and working out what to by next, a 2x Barlow
lens is on the list first I think.  This could be come an exspensive
hobby for my son or should that be me!

As an electronics technical liaison engineer who designs circuits and
writes software for Arizona Micro's in my spare time I was interested in
the Autostar command set and very quickly built a serial comms lead and
an extension lead for the Autostar as well, from old and broken leads,
bits and bobs lying around at work.

I was interested from your web site emails in the difficulty some people
had, in being able to get the correct connector for a 'home made' serial
lead.  Mine was made with an FCC68 spec. connector but not quoted as an
RJ type, it's in the same family (it's bigger brothers are called RJ)
this is called a 4/4 plug.  So as far as I can tell it's an FCC68 4/4
plug, Molex part number 90075-0027.   The Autostar / HBX plugs are FCC68
RJ45 8/8, Molex part number 90075-0141or 87281-8003.

All works well I've up loaded version 1.3c software to the Autostar
after downloading from Meade.  It previously just displayed 1.3 when it
was powered up, it still says 1.3, so maybe it was 1.3c already, at
least it proves the upload lead works.

I've also written the example qbasic program at the end of the Autostar
command set.  Please note there are some errors in the program, at least
I got errors in qbasic.  Line 30, the comms set-up reads OPEN
"COM1:9600,N,8,1,CDO,CSO,DSO,RS," FOR RANDOM #1  the modification I
found I had to do was OPEN "COM1:9600,N,8,1,CD0,CS0,DS0,RS," FOR RANDOM
#1.  For those who can't see the change the serial flow control
characters now finish with a 'zero' not a letter 'O'.

Any way as I gaze out of the window, still a perfect cloud cover and the
moon in earth's shadow, back to the LX200 command set and a hot
keyboard.  I must get around to teaching myself 'C' programming so I can
write some more visually presentable Autostar test routines, and for
those who are interested, of course I'll post them!

Regards and clear sky's for you where ever you are!

Julian Palmer And my son Lucas

Email:  palmer@julian81.freeserve.co.uk

Subject:	 Electric Focuser #1244 Question
Sent:	Friday, December 31, 1999 19:01:02
From:	jbkb@prodigy.net (Joann Berg)
A question for all ETX'ers who have electric focusers: Has anyone
experienced an occassional lockup when trying to use the electric
focuser after the Autostar has initialized? Sometimes after
initialization, I will hold down the mode key for 2 or more seconds,
will get into focus mode, but then the focuser will not always respond
after pressing the up or down keys. Anyone have any ideas what could be
the problem? Software bug/hardware problem?

Thx,

Kevin

Subject:	 ETX 90 EC Autostar Software Upgrade Glitch 
Sent:	Friday, December 31, 1999 13:18:02
From:	kenng@QNET.COM (Ken Gallagher)
First thanks for a great site.  Reading the various tips and feedbacks
generated some excellent ideas which I have employed on my ETX.

Autostar Software Update.  Made an RS 232 cable as described here on the
site and at the Meade site.  Verified the pin outs with an ohm meter and
then plugged into the Autostar to upgrade my 1.1 version software to
1.3c. Well, didnt work!  Upon powering up the Autostar, it started into
initialization, then beeped a second time and displayed ENTER.  I
pressed enter, it then proceeded to walk me through each of the keys on
the Autostar handset in sequence by displaying the key it wanted me to
press.  At the completion of this test the display read:   PIC Failure
V12 C001.  The puzzling thing is the Autostar works, and works great!! 
The unit locates and sets objects in the middle of my 26mm eye piece and
all other functions seem to operate as well.  Additionally, the upgrade
software program states it finds a device, but it cant find an Autostar!
Has anyone else reported an anomaly like this?  I really hesitate to
return this Autostar because it does work so well in finding and
centering objects.

Ken

Added later:

You can disregard the e-mail I sent you on this subject.  Not paying
attention, Meade Site used a 6 pin connector, I used a RB9 connector!
Accidentally cross wiring the Autostar must have put it into a "test"
mode. The subsequent data you sent to me that afternoon cleared it up, I
corrected the harness and the software downloaded just fine.

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