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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK - JULY 1999
Last updated: 31 July 1999

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:	 autostar align
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 1999 20:36:21
From:	rabradman@home.com (Rodger Blake)
I'd like to ask your opinion. I am new to astronomy. The Meade ETX 90/EC
is my first telescope. With my rough polar alignment - "Meade  deluxe
field tripod" angled at 38 degrees and the bubble level on the Meade
tripod more or less centered and using my handy compass from Sears to
point the North tripod leg north (polaris hides behind the trees) I was
able to have stars track with the motor running.

Then I got an autostar 497 with V1.0 s/w and had to go to azimuth
mounting (polaris behind trees) and the scope is way off. I returned the
autostar to Meade and now have s/w v1.2b.

Tried last PM from a dark sky site before moon rise (well I struggled
long after moonrise too). I aligned to north with my compass and tried 2
star align using stars I know like Altair, Vega, etc. And the autostar
is still way off 10-20 degrees on the first star. Never happy with final
outcome even when computer says alignment successful - lucky to get
object in finder scope let alone the 26 mm Plossel.

What should I do? calibrate motors? Retrain motors? (I've done this
since v1.2b installed) [finder scope alignment is ok] If I try azimuth
alignment, what is critical? level tripod or scope. (should I get a
bubble level to mount on the scope base rather then use the one on the
Meade tripod?) point north tripod leg north. (is the compass technique
too crude, how would I know how far off "true north" is from magnetic
north? Do I need a expensive compass?) home position. (it is easy to set
dec control at 0 degrees, the go counterclockwise and the back clockwise
until the fork is over the control panel seems crude and could easily be
a source of error - please note that the telescope is mounted on the
tripod and that the tripod's north leg is pointing north before I do
this step so in theory the OTA is pointing north too)

I would appreciate any comments, especially if specific (steps?) as I
have become quite frustrated with my inability to get this thing to
work. One last comment, with v1.0 s/w trained drive on  1" object at
about 200 yards, with current version I trained on a 1" object at 100
yards. Do I need to use an object that is further away?

errata:

s/w 1.2b notes:  eyepiece calc doesn't work, some lines obscured by red
rectangles In some object explanation and elsewhere in text same
rectangles obscure text

Thank you,

Rodger A. Blake
Huntington, West Virginia

p.s. great site
Mike here: There is a new version 1.2g on Meade's web site. Version 1.2b had some problems; version 1.2c is MUCH better handling polar align mode. Leveling is important in both modes, as are good batteries (or use AC power). North pointing is moderately important in either mode (but more important in polar mode) since once the Autostar knows the real locations of the two alignment stars, it can correct for most errors. Also, the further apart the alignment stars are, the better. If the Autostar doesn't get the first alignment star in the Finder on first slew, that is OK. It should get the second one closer (and will depending upon the accuracy of the HOME position, leveling, drive training, etc.). Distance of the target for training is not that important as long as it is reasonably far away.

Subject:	 Autostar Update Software
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 1999 12:28:43
From:	BBellgowan@MIGOP.ORG (Brian Bellgowan)
I downloaded the Autostar Update software, bought the cable kit, hooked
everything up and when I execute the Autostarupdate.exe file, I am
getting the message "Can not find MSCVIRT.DLL file"  Do you know why
this would be happening.  Meade said for me to do the download again and
I did but the problem still persists.  Any help would be much
appreciated.  Thanks.
Mike here: Not being a Windows person, I can't answer your question. I had no Windows problems running the updates from Windows98 under VirtualPC on my Mac system.

Subject:	 Autostar Data
Sent:	Friday, July 30, 1999 06:16:26
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
Hi again - I took my weekly visit to the Meade Autostar Download
section, and noticed they added some elements - the space station,
something called starshine, and a couple of other things.  One of the
links didn't work.  I'm not sure if the data can be entered with version
1.2, or if it must be done manually (now that the info how to enter
manually is on your site, life is good!)
Gary
Mike here: There's also new .ROM files online as of Friday.

Subject:	 AutoStar Upgrade
Sent:	Thursday, July 29, 1999 09:30:54
From:	dkretzer@inreach.com (Dale N. Kretzer)
I feel certain the experience Noah Rashkind wrote about after loading
the most recent AutoStar software upgrade proved a very important point.
That is, an upgrade must be treated as a Reset, and the ETX drives MUST
be retrained.

Besides Noah's findings, the other clue to this requirement is that when
you first start up the AutoStar after upgrading, it asks you all the
basic questions you normally only have to answer after a Reset. These
questions include things like your location and whether or not you are
on Daylight Savings Time.

Having encountered many software upgrades of a wide variety of equipment
in my work, I find this case with the AutoStar to be the rule rather
than an exception. At any rate, retraining the drives on a land-based
object is a good idea any time, as has been proven by other contributors
to this excellent Web site.

It appears that anyone having accuracy problems with the AutoStar is
obligated to first review his alignment procedures and retrain the
drives before becoming too critical of the Meade development team. They
are, after all, trying to improve upon a product we've already bought
and give us the benefit of that knowledge into the future. That's one of
the main reasons to buy the AutoStar.

Subject:	 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 23:28:20
From:	michael@isd.cs.nsw.gov.au (Michael ROCHFORT)
As a note to Autostar users, I have found that firmware version
1.2b and c both have rectified a bug which previously prevented the
Autostar equipped ETX from operating in Southern Hemisphere polar Mode.

Michael Rochfort

http://members.netro.com.au/~michael/astro/astro.htm

Subject:	 Upgrade to 1.2C
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 21:20:35
From:	defender@toast.net (defender)
Well, after about 5 uses, my Autostar went on permanent vacation.  I
went back to Natural Wonders in Austin and they kindly replaced it for
me, no questions ask (you gotta love a local vendor who will do that).

After getting it back, I upgraded to 1.2C.  I must admit, this seemed to
solve a large number of problems for me.  Polar mode now works just
fine, and Guided Tour is no longer freaking out the Autostar (which used
to required a complete reboot of the telescope).

Anyone else had such good luck with 1.2C?

Thanks

Mark

Subject:	 Can you help me?
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 16:05:31
From:	Hamil.Cooper@jpl.nasa.gov (Hamil Cooper)
I am trying to find the RS-232 baud rate, and command set that is used
between a PC and the ETX that uses the Autostar controller.  Basically I
have an application where I want to contyrol the ETX automatically. Have
you seen this documented anywhere?

Thanks.

hamil.
Mike here: See the Autostar Command Set info on the Autostar Info page. The baud is 9600.

Subject:	 autostar - satellite tracking 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 06:24:28
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
many thanks to Ade for helping decipher the ephemeris gibberish - now i
have to print out his instructions because i sure can't remember it all!

Subject:	 Autostar 1.2c
Sent:	Wednesday, July 28, 1999 05:00:51
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
Briefly, I have not tested 1.2c under the stars yet but I did test with
a landmark survey. Score? 9/12 out of 10!! I was very pleased.

The important thing is this: When aligning or centering objects that
require high accuracy, only make corrections in ONE direction. (This is
what the Drive Training execrise does.) Autostar will take care of
backlash, provided you can avoid it at the critical time.

Clear skies all,

		Kev.

---
Kevin P. Kretsch  B.A.(Mod.)Phys 	e-mail: kkretsch@alf2.tcd.ie
Photonic Materials Group,		Tel:	+353 1 608 1324
Department of Physics,			Fax:	+353 1 671 1759
Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND.

http://www2.tcd.ie/Physics/People/Werner.Blau/page223.html

Subject:	 Meade ETX Cable Pinout
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 1999 19:44:54
From:	mariano@arclad.com (Luke Skywalker)
Please if you find a way to do it yourself meade serial (PC to ETX)
cable please let me know
Also If a find a way to do it shurelly will let you know
Thank you in advance

Jos Mariano Franco S.
Gerente de Sistemas
Productos Autoadhesivos ARclad S.A.
Carrera 43A #14-27 Of..105
Medelln, Colombia
Sur Amrica

Correo Electrnico: mariano@arclad.com
Sitio en Internet: http://www.arclad.com
Tel: (574) 266-8006
Fax: (574) 266-0791
Mike here: There is cable pinout info on Meade's web site as well as on the Autostar Information page here.

Subject:	Version 1.2c
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 1999 12:20:35
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
I answered my own question again about why my scope wasn't performing
the way it should. -- The last time I wrote you, I told you that with v
1.2c the scope's GoTo was not working and the Autostar instructed the
scope to hit a hardstop when I told it to go to the moon. Well, I
thought and thought about what I may have done wrong and remembered that
I did not retrain the drive after I downloaded the new software. After
retraining the drive, the scope worked perfectly again!

While this is sort of implied in the instructions, retraining the drive
after uploading new software is just as important as the initial
training. If others are having similar problems, this could be the
solution....

~Noah

Subject:	 software
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 1999 11:30:32
From:	wbates@digitalglobe.com (Ward Bates)
Last March, I purchased an ETX 90EC. I have been pleased with its
performance. One of the items on backorder has been the software cable
which also included "Sky Chart" software which amounted to about 15
bucks more. I figured for the additional price maybe some good software
would come with the cables. The problem has been that Meade hasn't
released the software. Do you know if Meade has any plans of releasing
their "Sky Chart" software in the near future? The software version that
came with the autostar has not shown any unusual anomolies, so I do not
plan on upgrading the software version until I am sure that the newest
version is stable.  Thanx
Mike here: I haven't heard about the Sky Chart s/w.

Subject:	 ETX90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 1999 03:54:24
From:	swp6@juno.com
First, let me thank you for this web site!!! I was about put the scope
in a 20 ft/sec slew toward the pavement! It appears that I'm not the
only one having troubles with the ETX and so I thought I would pass
along things I've noticed between the different versions in the hope of
getting faster version updates. Version 1.1j was the one shipped with my
ETX and it worked VERY well as far as pointing - pretty much centering
all the objects I asked it to with 26mm. Now I know to hold off on scope
smashing for better software.

****
I was wondering if anyone knows where to get older versions of Autostar
( 1.1j at least found the moon), and if anyone can verify the following
anomalies since installing version 1.2c:
****

1. At power up Az reads 000 44' 00". (used to be 0, perhaps the source
of pointing errors?)
2. Calculations do not match any of the 4 different astro software I
compared them with, planet calcs worse - as much as 50/60 asecs.
3.  Drive motor failure messages with new batteries and not hitting the
stops.
4. Can't communicate reliably with astro software - frequent
communications error messages, especially when viewing current
coords(hold mode > 2sec)
5. Scope pointing errors also appear in astro software.

Thanks for the piece of mind,
                                                                        
   swp
Added later:
To follow up on the prev msg, the error in Skychart3 Demo was at any RA
> 1h thru any RA < 16h. The error was at times as much as 6deg for stars
and 14deg  for planets. I was not able to check planets in the "good"
zone yet. Positions outside this range centered nicely for stars.

Subject:	 Goto accuracy with the ETX-90EC & Autostar
Sent:	Monday, July 26, 1999 03:21:59
From:	steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
I can tell you that the pointing accuracy appears ok now. That is after
exchanging the telescope twice due to sloppy drives and loading 1.1m
onto the Autostar. If you remember, I reported that the UK importers
said they were de-greasing the dec clutch. I haven't opened up the
mechanisms so I am not totally sure exactly what they did. I have used
the scope 3 times with the autostar and with each session the objects
lined up in my 26mm eyepiece. One other thing I am doing is to tell the
autostar the time in GMT (UT) not local ( local time is 1 hour ahead for
UK summer) and I answer 'no' to daylight saving time. I think this is
how LX200 users set their clocks. I have also set my location long/lat
very accurately. This website is a good place to find your long/lat.
www2.gsoc.dlr.de/scripts/satvis/countries.asp

I used a 9.5mm eyepiece to centre the aligning stars. I also ensured the
motor training was very accurate. I don't believe you're going to get
LX200 or Vixen Skysensor accuracy with the ETX90-EC.  However, it should
place the object in your 26mm eyepiece.    I've just downloaded the
latest Autostar software. V1.2 - wait and see.
Regards,
Steve Southern
IBM Global Services

Telephone:
Internal: extn 626210.  mobx 273683
External: 0161-905 6210.  mobile 0802-245643

E-mail:
Notes ID: Steve Southern/UK/IBM
Internet ID: steve_southern@uk.ibm.com

Subject:	 Astrostarring the Moon
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 1999 10:06:54
From:	rhudson@nonspammo.uscorp.net (Richard Hudson)
I've got my ETX with the Autostar.(I had the older model and was able to
trade it in for the new one...) I particularly like the ETX for
moonwatching. I simply polar align the scope, manually spin over to the
moon, and observe. This works fine with the controller that comes with
the scope, as it did with the older model. But I can't figure out how to
do the same thing with the Autostar, without doing a polar alignment of
the Autostar first (I've heard the polar alignment routines are still
buggy, so why bother?) Can't I just turn on tracking mode somehow? I've
been through the new online manual several times without success. Or do
you have to hook up the old controller when you don't want all the
smarts? Thanks - Richard (If this is answered in your archives, give me
a hint where and I'll find it.)
Mike here: I haven't found a way to do this either except by using the old hand controller. However, you can do a quick one star align and go.

Subject:	 AutoStar Version 1.2C
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 1999 09:06:38
From:	valen@flash.net (Dan Valentino)
I would like to know if anyone else who has downloaded version 1.2C from
the Meade website, has had a problem with the Sunrise/Sunset times being
out of sync? If so, What is the Fix for it? I would also like to hear
from anyone who knows where I could download Version 1.1M since Meade
has removed it from thier site, It works better than 1.2C. I am still
unable to make my ETX slew to the right locations as well, and have done
everything according to directions, and supposedly have the latest
software, I always have to move the telescope back to the target, which
could be a problem for someone who is not familiar with the sky! I have
not ever been able to line up on goto with anything yet..Help!! Also do
you have to "train" the drive every session, or just on initial setup?
Thanks

Dan Valentino
Mike here: Training should only be necessary when changing the Autostar or telescope. However, I think it is probably a good idea when upgrading as well.

Subject:	Version 1.2c
Sent:	Saturday, July 24, 1999 20:50:14
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
I just got back from my weekly star party and was very embarrassed by
the Autostar's performance. It seems that the GOTO is not as accurate
with 1.2c and also the "lets go the long way around the sky" problem
just started again. I told the scope to goto the moon and it headed for
a hardstop. I decided to redo the setup and try again and the same thing
happened. The tracking, however, was very good. I'm thinking about
reloading the old version 1.1m (thank goodness I did not delete it).
Meade really screwed things up for me tonight and I am pretty upset
about it. Have you had the same problems, or have you not even had a
chance to get out yet? In any event, Clear Skies and Great Site!!

~Noah

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, July 24, 1999 12:14:55
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Just a few comments in response to a few of the recent posts in the
Autostar feedback section....

To those having trouble with the Autostar and the moon or even
planets...it appears that there is a problem with the moon calculations
through several versions of the software...do not use the moon as
indicator of whether your alignment procedure is successful or if your
Autostar is having problems--use a NON "moving" target, such as a
cluster or something stellar.

To the person who was having trouble in both Polar and Alt-Az mode...In
Polar mode you do not LEVEL the scope base..the scope must be POLAR
ALIGNED first, before anything else. In Polar mode the base is tilted,
not level. I am not sure from what you wrote if this is clear. Also, you
must switch the mode in the Autostar (under Telescope>Mount menu--I
THINK). Now, that given, there is no reason to even use Polar mode
unless you are doing photographic work (you did mention Quickcam etc
though, so you should be in Polar mode). Alt Az is much simpler and more
reliable, though perhaps noisier with both motors being in use. Don't
use the moon as a gauge to your alignment success (see above).

To others regarding 'older' versions of firmware...just make copies of
the Ephemerides folder files, or just the Dbase.ROM and Autostar.ROM,
and or when downloading new ones, just use a new folder (v1.1m, v1.2b
etc) for the files. The Updater is v1.2, so if you have that already,
and new firmware appears, you only need the two new ROM files (as now
seen in v1.2c)..no need to download the whole Updater v1.2 again, just
the two files, and then replace the two files in the Ephemerides folder
(first remove the existing ones to another folder if you want to keep
backups of earlier versions of the firmware).

By the way...I am STILL using the original v1.0c, since I was a little
reluctant to go to the v1.1m with the varied reports on its usability. I
have been getting great results with 1.0c...85% target acquisition in
the 26mm ep fov, though I did finally run into a couple of the earlier
reported bugs (some of which were NOT corrected in v1.1j or m)...the
"negative declination of some NGC objects" problem, and the inability to
change negative or positive declination values from one to the other in
manual coordinate entry mode. It appears that all of the bugs in
question have been addressed in v1.2b/c, but I am waiting until AFTER my
upcoming August trip to New Mexico to upgrade...I don't want any
surprises.

Speaking of New Mexico, something I noted a while ago...I have not seen
any real observing reports from ETX users from locations such as New
Mexico, etc, where there are really truly clear dark skies. I guess
people in those locations can justify larger, more permanent scopes, and
it seems that most ETX users are rather urban--choosing an ETX so that
they can be TAKEN to other places without a lot of backache, even if it
is usually (as it is in my case) only to get out of the city. I am
REALLY looking forward to giving my ETX a chance to perform under such
ideal conditions for the first time, and I am sure it will spoil me for
the sucky skies I have here back east. I'll report when I get back.

take care

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'
http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN

Subject:	 Tracking Mir with the ETX-90EC/Autostar
Sent:	Friday, July 23, 1999 04:18:14
From:	adrian.ashford@tesco.net
Firstly, a heart-felt vote of thanks from all the ETX users out there
for all the stirling work that you're doing on the web site ...
compulsive reading!

Having just spent a beautiful night's viewing under crystal-clear U.K.
skies, I thought I'd share my experiences of satellite tracking with the
EC/Autostar platform.

The Russian space-station Mir has been making some high passes over
England during recent nights, so I decided to obtain the latest orbital
elements from the web in order to update the information stored on my
Autostar (1.1j) - incidentally, I'll explain how to interpret Keplerian
elements and to manually update Autostar data in a subsequent posting!

In the field I used an 'Easy' two star alignment in Alt-az mode, after
ensuring that the base of the ETX-90EC was accurately levelled (I'm
using a home-made tripod) and that the date/time/location data had been
entered as accurately as possible.

The Autostar correctly identified the start of the pass as occurring
shortly after 11:30pm local time and the 'scope slewed in readiness to a
point about 15 degrees above the WSW horizon. The Autostar began its
'countdown' in seconds until Mir would pass through the field, prompting
me to press 'ENTER' when ready to track.

Sure enough, Mir rose in the west at the predicted time, but I had to
hit 'ENTER' some 9 seconds before the countdown finished in order to
catch it as it crossed the finder field. Motors whirring! Transferring
to the 26mm eyepiece, Mir was on the edge of the field, so a few
corrective manoeuvres with the slow motion controls were required to
keep it on course, but it was thrilling to be able to keep the station
in view until it went into shadow as the stars streamed through the
field of view at 48x!

Any detail? No structure, but Mir was definitely more than a 'dot' with
a distinctly yellow/orange hue as it began to enter the periphery of the
Earth's shadow!

As I said, I'll keep you posted!

Keep up the good work Mike.

Clear skies,   Ade

Subject:	 ETX with Version 1.2C
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 23:34:17
From:	w7ox@mindspring.com (Phil Wheeler)
Today I loaded 1.2C and did my most successful alignment to date (about
the third night out due to travel, coastal cloud bank, etc.).  All in
Az/El config so far.

Afterward, the GOTO was very strange.  When finding the moon, it missed
by quite a bit (moon was in finder FOV but not in 26 mm EP FOV).  But
then I went to Mizar with a 10 mm EP and it was in the EP FOV, which is
very good; and I had similar success with other stars.  Mars was
probably OK too; but it had just set over the garage (in main aperture,
still in finder) by the time I got around to going for it.

It *seems* like the lunar ephemeris is off.  My location (my city is in
the list) and time/date were correct.

I'm still getting familiar with this thing.  So far, this scope (#2) is
looking good and no motor errors tonight.  Lousy viewing here (Los
Angeles suburb), but OK for checking things out.  My goal is to have
that behind me (and add a reflex sight) by the time I get it to a dark
site.

Thanks for a great and informative site, Mike.  Looking forward to your
comments re v. 1.2C.

Phil

Subject:	 Re: Autostar download
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 15:11:57
From:	tmf@ces.com (Todd M. Frisvold)
michael.a.cefola@bellatlantic.COM wrote:

> I noticed in the meade download page it says it downloads the firmware with the
> update tool download as one. You mentioned you downloaded the rom info later.
> Could you clarify if the update tool has to be done first and then the rom
> software or does the latest 1.2c do it all as once. Also, is th rom software put
> in another file when it is opened on your hard drive? i appreciate any
> assistance you might be able to offer.
> Thanks, MC.

Michael,
My understanding is once you pick up the update software for release 1.2
(any version), for future versions of 1.2, you only need to pick up the
two .ROM files. First I picked up 1.2b full release with update tool and
readme files and ROM files.  Then a day later when I noticed Meade
updated the version, Meade's web site said I only needed to pick up the
.ROM files (Autostar.ROM and DBase.ROM) and place them into the
Ephemerides subdirectory of the update tool directory.  I did this and
reloaded the Autostar as I did for release 1.2b and it worked, the
STATISTICS showed 1.2c.

I could have picked up the entire 1.2c update program and release
files... but I did as Meade said... and just picked up the .ROM files. 
By doing this... I also did not get readme file to know what changed.  I
hope Meade addresses this... otherwise I might just pick up the entire
update release in the future.

Hope this helps,
Todd M. Frisvold

Subject:	Autostar Question/Feedback
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 09:59:48
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
This is my first time sending a message, although I've been visiting
your website for quite a while, checking on things almost every day.
Great job!!!! My wife bought me the ETX-90 (nee RA) about a year ago as
a 10-year anniversary present. But when I passed our local Nature
Company a few months ago and saw the ETX-90EC, I started drooling
(again!). Needless to say, the result was inevitable!!! I'm now in the
process of selling off my RA version (along with The Wedge from JMI).

I wanted to respond to Andrew Jackson's message of Friday, July 16 in
regard to the electronic focuser and control with the Autostar; it
seemed like both you and he weren't too sure about how to go about using
it. Although I haven't ordered one (yet), I understand that to access
the focus controls, hold down the Mode key for two seconds and then
release to get to the Telescope Status screen, then scroll down to the
Focuser Control screen and follow the instructions. If you don't have an
electronic focuser attached, this menu item won't even appear (that
might be why Andrew is confused). There's no mention of it in the
Autostar manual (poorly written from a user's standpoint if you ask me),
but there is reference to it at Meade's website.

Also, in regard to the "Eyepiece Calc" menu (and all that's related to
it) -- I too had the same problem with a line of solid red squares and
was unable to get it work (same for "Field of View", etc.) and chalked
it up to a software bug. A call to Meade confirmed that -- and now I
hear that the new 1.2c software takes care of it. Now I just need to get
a cable kit (or make one), fire up a Window's emulator on my Mac,
download the updates, update the Autostar, and head on back outside!!!
I'm getting really antsy about seeing the "Mac software updates COMING
SOON!!" message on Meade's website. I want it NOW!!!   ;-)

Keep up the great work!! It's really enjoyable to read what everybody
else is going through, what problems they're having, solutions, tips,
tricks, etc.

Stan Glaser
stantastic@aol.com

Subject:	 Etx 90/ec and the autostar
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 09:20:29
From:	dwatley@email.msn.com (Dan  Watley)
For the last couple of days, I have attempted to polar align and align
in the Az/Alt mode to no avail.  I have read all the instructions
foreward and backward.  It simply states to align north and set the
tripod level.  Then level the tube.  I have a level and leveled the
entire assembly and the tube.  I have no problem finding polaris in the
polar mode, but it still won't align correctly.  I next tried the Az/Alt
mode and leveled the telescope, thinking that this would make a quick
fix of my alignment problems.  It slewed to Arcturus and it was off in
Az by a large margin.  I centered it and it went to another star, but it
was still off.  It said "align successful" and so I decided to try a
simple object :  the moon.  It was close, but it was off once again by
about 5 degrees or so.  I couldn't see it through the regular 26mm
eyepiece.  I have logged on to get the Atomic Time through a website,
and know the exact location of my site.  What else can I do to fix the
problem?   This is becomming a bit frustrating. Anyone that can give me
a few pointers.  I really want to start taking some pics through my
quickcam and SLR.  I had some success through the previous model.

Thanks,
Dan Watley
Dwatley@yahoo.com
Mike here: Some thoughts. Be certain you have the current software from Meade's web site. It fixes some bugs, notably in the Alt/Az mode. Rretrain the drives after installing the new version. Also, be certain you have set your proper site location.

Subject:	 Re: Autostar software release 1.2c
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 08:46:29
From:	tmf@ces.com (Todd M. Frisvold)
Thanks for the response.  I had picked up the updater software with
release 1.2b.  For release 1.2c I just picked up the two .ROM files as
Meade suggested if I already had the updater software.  I did not see
any documentation or readme in the updater for release 1.2c when using
this process.  I think Meade should place a read.me file with any
updated .ROM files on the web site. (I hope they scan your sight and
agree with this suggestion.)

I did attempt to use the scope last night with marginal sky conditions
but the scope spun too many times around and kept hitting the stop
during easy alignment. Then thanks to the rains the Massive Minnesota
Mosquitoes chased me inside.  I will try again soon.

Thanks,
Todd M. Frisvold

--
   ---  ---  --- Todd M. Frisvold  612-416-4225  Fax:   612-416-4388
 /    /--    \   Configured Energy Systems, Inc. Beeper:612-621-3800
 ---  ---  ---   3140 Harbor Lane North  #202;   Plymouth, MN  55447

Subject:	 autostar updates
Sent:	Thursday, July 22, 1999 06:07:08
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
Me again - in my humble opinion, it makes sense to keep a backup of the
older autostar versions until the newer ones are evaluated - it's always
possible to introduce a new bug during this "experimental" stage - with
the low cost of storage, simply keep the zip file in a backup directory,
and download each update with a slightly different name, i.e.
auto12b.zip, auto12c.zip, etc. - that way, if there is a new error like
the reported sunrise/sunset times, and that's important to you, you can
always restore.

Subject:	 Autostar Ver 1.2C
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 1999 11:03:02
From:	valen@flash.net (Dan Valentino)
I downloaded version 1.2b first then 1.2c from Meades website. Now the
sunrise/sunset times are off by about 40 Minutes. I can't go back to
Version 1.1m or 1.1J because they are not on the website any longer and
I did not save them when I upgraded to the new Versions. Does anyone
know where I can get them? The surise/sunset times calculated fine with
the earlier Versions, and Meade said that a newer Version would be
coming out, that might correct the problem, but they are not sure when.
Thanks

Subject:	 Autostar software release 1.2c
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 1999 08:35:20
From:	tmf@ces.com (Todd M. Frisvold)
I just bought my Autostar last week and it came with release 1.1j  and
the accuracy on my ETX125EC was not the best (one field of view away on
goto w/the standard 26mm ep).  So Monday I go out to www.meade.com and
download the latest version (1.2b) and installed it in my Autostar
without a problem.  Too many clouds to test.  Then Tuesday I check
www.meade.com and I notice a newer release again (1.2c).  I downloaded
the two ROM files and installed it on my Autostar again without a
problem.  I will check it out soon as the clouds clear here in Minnesota
and let you know what luck I have.

I have two questions:

1) How can we find out what has changed from release to release ?  I do
not see any information of this type on the Meade web pages.

2) Do you recommend staying current with the Meade releases ?  I am not
backing up the old releases at this point in time.  I am running on
blind faith that Meade releases will be better and better.

I really enjoy your site !!!
Todd Frisvold
Mike here: Newer releases are better. Changes in releases are documented in the README file which you can see when you start the updater software.

Subject:	 More On Versions
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 1999 08:18:30
From:	jay.essegian@netmanage.com (Jay Essegian)
Thanks for the tip to look at the new Autostar downloads page. Are users
supposed to download the "update tool" v1.2 and the "firmware" v1.2c
from the top line? What is the Update tool? Also, do you know what the
Autostar.ROM & DBase.ROM is all about?

Thanks,
Jay 

Subject:	 Autostar Upgrade 1.2
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 1999 08:51:20
From:	michael.a.cefola@bellatlantic.COM
Mike, do you know if the latest 1.2 upgrade automatically replaces the
1.1m version I have existing on my hard drive presently? The Meade tech
seemed to think it would be safer to erase the 1.1m from the drive
before downloading the new one but I'm hesitant to do so before seeing
how this version works.
Meteormik@aol.com
Mike here: If you run the installer and don't change the path, it will erase older versions.

Subject:	 Autostar Cable
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 1999 07:49:38
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
I have looked through your Autostar cable posts but have not been able
to work out the answer to my question. I have a Meade LX200 cable set
and would like to use the 'telephone cable' to RS232 adapter with my
Autostar. This would entail taking the telephone handset cable and
changing the connector at one end to a standard telephone connector. I
would then have a cable with a handset plug on one end and a telephone
plug on the other.

My question is does any one know the wiring connections for this?

I believe the following are not correct:-

1-2-3-4	Autostar end with handset connector
1-2-3-4	Telephone plug / computer end

1-2-3-4	Autostar end with handset connector
1-3-2-4 Telephone plug / computer end

Thanks for your help

andrewj@netvigator.com

Subject:	 Re: Autostar 1.2
Sent:	Tuesday, July 20, 1999 07:13:43
From:	Grizz2@prodigy.net (Craig)
I uploaded Ver 1.2b this morning and installed it to my Autostar. I was
using Ver 1.1m. I can't tell if pointing was improved but I never had
any problems with 1.1m

Forgein Languages added.------------Yes
Lunar rate fixed.-------------------Don't know
Improved pointing for the planets.--Don't know
Improved pointing in Polar mode.----Don't know
Eye piece calcations fixed.---------Yes
Fixed some spelling errors.---------Yes
Some negative Dec. objects fixed----Yes
Time Zone changed (negative for west)-Yes
Longitude changed (negative for west)-Yes
Fixed Focuser routines.---------------Don't know
Fixed LX200 commands.-----------------Don't know

What is nice is they added a readme file to the update.

Also I could not get the update program to recognize my autostar on
Com2.
Your Registry be updated with the following entries
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\SOFTWARE\MEADE\AUTO

I had to go into my registry and add com2 to the comport setting. There
was nothing there to begin with just two quotation marks "" .

I'm using windows 95 and used the Run regedit command and it worked like
a charm.

Craig
Mike here: I ran the updater from Windows98 on my Mac using Virtual PC 2.1.3. Went OK with COM1.

Subject:	 Re: autostar
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 1999 18:45:31
From:	tcostanzo@netway.com (tony costanzo)
Thanks for emailing me, here is more info on etx. Polar allignment.
manual for etx is on meade web site. I had to set telescope mount to
Polar to use Polar home position.I tried polar allignment two star
method, It worked great!! The focus was in a better position for objects
that were at zenith and It tracked perfectly for an extended period of
time ( over 30 min). I check your site every day for news and info and
really enjoy it. I was wondering if you were planning to attend the
stellafane convention august 13,14.Hope to see you there.

TonyC Atmob.

Subject:	 etx / lx50 cabling
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 1999 16:26:32
From:	Wombat@RealNS.com (Wombat)
Just wanting to know if the computor interconnect cables are the same
for LX50 & ETX90-EC

I have an LX cable and want to download the newer ETX software to see if
it improves the "tracking" or "alignment" as I have "J" release and it
doesn't do a very good job of "going-to" a selected object after
alignment.

Wombat

Subject:	 Autostar Ver 1.2b
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 1999 11:36:14
From:	rwhite@wolfenet.com (Neil Fisher)
I just noted that Meade now shows the Autostar Update tool as version
1.2, and the Autostar firmware as version 1.2b.  The date beside the
download link is still shown as 04/13/99, which could cause many people
to miss the new version listing.  I have not had a chance to try a
download yet.

Roland White
Mike here: I've been testing the new version. I'll post my comments in the next few days.

Subject:	 autostar testing
Sent:	Monday, July 19, 1999 06:37:28
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
I haven't written in a while (because i haven't used my buggy scope in a
while) - I understand you're a beta tester for meade, and probably can't
comment yet - in case meade support can get wind of this e-mail -
perhaps a bunch of volunteers should be given a chance to try out the
new software - i imagine many like me would be willing to try it for
nothing (for the chance to have better success or try out new features),
and meade would get free testing on a larger level - or perhaps new
transitional revisions can be posted on their site with an "under
development" warning or section, so those daring enough can try the
software, and can always restore to the last version if there are
significant problems.  Just my 2 cents...

Subject:	 Autostar crashes
Sent:	Sunday, July 18, 1999 01:11:07
From:	fyrframe@ptinet.net (Gregory David Stempel)
I hope I am posting in the appropriate place.

Can someone give me any ideas why my autostar continues to start to slew
to the first alignment star and then stops before it arrives? The LCD
says it is slewing to acturus, but the scope never makes it. It stops
and all the buttons fail to work. The autostar is acting just like a
computer that has locked up. Nothing. As far as I can tell, the only fix
is to turn of the ETX computer, wait a few seconds, and start over.

I bought this thing about three days ago. Out of thirty of forty
efforts. The scope actually slewed to acturus once. One other time it
got close. All other times, the autostar or ETX computer just stops.
CTR. Acturus...slewing in the LCD readout panel.

I initialize accordingly, input pertanent data, home the scope,
everything. The s/w vs. says 1.1, but no letter designation. Oh yeah,
fresh batts too._grin

HELP!

Thanks, and take care,
Gregory
Gig Harbor, Wa. Where is was sunny, until the scope arrived. OMEN??
Mike here: I've seen something like this once. But I was working with beta code. The new version is about to be released; perhaps upgrading will fix the problem. In the meantime, you can try a RESET and retraining the drives. By the way, the full version number is visible in the Statistics display.

Added later:

Very kind of you to reply about my ETX.

As an addendum, after emailing you and the retailer who sold me the
scope, and after reading your response to a post on your site about the
autostar, I went downstairs to try again.

This time I re-trained the motors. Waalaa! It work just fine. I did a
series of goto's and the scope slewed to the area in question without
ever crashing. I could not determine accuracy, because as you have
mentioned several times, the weather here in Gig Harbor, Wa. was not
cooperating. But my experience told me the autostar was definetly in the
neighborhood.

My conclusion, I will re-train the motors every session. Thirty minutes
or so of initializing the scope for several hours of fun is worth it.

Again, thank you very much for your feedback, and the website. Very
useful for ETX owners.
And still later:
Frankly, I am going to try and send it back.

I put in three sets of batteries, re-traned the motors and did a reset
several times. I used a GPS for lon/lat inputs, a compass, a level to
try and make it work. All so I could get an absolutely perfect goto once
(using a two star alignment mode. Never did get aligned with Easy mode).
And, I do mean perfect. Dead center on three stars, and andromeda. But,
when I went back to one of the stars, it was no where to be found, and
things just got worse after that. Had three motor failure messages as
well. Finally, after almost four hours last night, it crashed for the
umpteenth time. I gave up.

My experiences would suggest everyone go back to the manual ETX, and use
Jordan's micro star system._frown

Thanks for your time Mike, I appreciate it. Take care,
Gregory david Stempel
FIREFRAME IMAGING

Subject:	 The Sky software
Sent:	Saturday, July 17, 1999 10:40:13
From:	ghoffner@intac.com (Gene Hoffner)
First things first. Great site! Picked up a lot of information.

About The Sky software?  I just purchased version 5. Level IV. It
doesn't seem to find the com port as I keep getting messages to check
the connections and power The Autostar does work with Sky Map and Sky
Chart. I guess I'll have to call and see if they know why or any help
you can give would be appreciated.

Thanks again for a great place to visit.

Gene

Subject:	 Autostar Question/feedback
Sent:	Friday, July 16, 1999 22:07:34
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
I just received the Autostar 1.1j (it takes a bit longer here in Hong
Kong) and have been pleasantly surprised so far. The only thing so far I
have not been able to get my head around is the Eyepiece calc.

When I select the eyepiece calc. And choose magnification or Field of
view I am presented with 1 row of blank (all red) display. If I then use
the cursor keys to scroll, I go through a series of blank rows until I
get a one or 2 that display an S.  with the remaining row blank (red).

I would assume that I should be seeing options for the eyepieces, in
fact if I press enter I get a readout of fields of view or magnification
respectively, but for what eyepiece?.

I also could not find the focus control option, it is not where it
should be.

Thanks again for a superb site and global ETX discussion and support.

Andrew Jackson
andrewj@netvigator.com
Mike here: Yours is the second report of a problem with the eyepiece calcs display. This is corrected in the version I'm testing for Meade. As to the focus control, I can't address since I don't have one. Perhaps someone else will.

Added later:

Mike thanks for your reply. I do not know how you find time to answer
all these emails, but like many others I am glad you can.

I do not have the focus control yet as it somehow got forgotten when
they shipped my other stuff. However it does mention in the manual that
you should be able to find it listed on the menu. I could not, can you?
Mike here: I couldn't find anything about using the electronic focuser with the Autostar. Perhaps it actually has to be plugged in. The info about the focuser on Meade's web site does say it can be used with the Autostar.

Subject:	 Autostar Database
Sent:	Friday, July 16, 1999 03:00:29
From:	kkretsch@tcd.ie (Kevin P. Kretsch)
Looking at the information on deepsky objects in Autostar (1.1j) it
seems that they have mixed up the symbols for arcminute and arcsecond.
It would seem that the dumb-bell nebula is only 8" across and the ring
nebula is about 1" across! This may also explain why other 'not small'
objects came up with a size of 0".

Has anyone noticed this before? Am I the only person who finds the
quasars and black holes in the Autostar both annoying and useless??

I just got my autostar back from Meade this week, and I'll upgrade to
1.1m tomorrow. If the weather breaks, I'll let you know how I get on.

Regards,

		Kev.

---
Kevin P. Kretsch  B.A.(Mod.)Phys 	e-mail: kkretsch@alf2.tcd.ie
Photonic Materials Group,		Tel:	+353 1 608 1324
Department of Physics,			Fax:	+353 1 671 1759
Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND.

http://www2.tcd.ie/Physics/People/Werner.Blau/page223.html
Mike here: I hadn't noticed. You might want to wait for 1.2, which is getting close to release.

Subject:	 Autostar Feedback
Sent:	Wednesday, July 14, 1999 07:31:14
From:	daniel@dfv.se (Daniel Forslund)
Hi!

I have an annoying problem with my new Autostar (1.1j), it isn't at all
as accurate as some other users report. Let me explain:

A couple of nights ago I set the scope up on the deluxe tripod. I used a
separate bubble level (a compact one for use by carpenters) to level the
scope itself (I put the bubble level on the scope base above the
horizontal lock). I pointed the scope at polaris, and locked the
horizontal axis. Lowered the tube to level (again used the bubble level
to confirm it was exactly level).

I then entered the info as exactly as I could (used mapping software to
determine the exact long/lat). After that I started the easy alignment.
First the scope slewed to Arcturus and missed by about 2-3 26mm
"fields", I had to slew it left to center. Then it slewed to Altair,
about 1 "field" to low. Again centered it and hit enter.

After this procedure it was fairly accurate, some objects appeared near
the edge of the scope view, most appeared in the finder, and some it
even missed in the finder. This is in contrast to many others, who
report 80-90% **in the scope view**.

What could I be doing wrong? I have no complaints about the mechanics of
the scope in general, the slop in the drive is very small and it
generally works very well (thus hard to believe the scope drive is
defective).

Another minor point, is it just me or is the Longitude values in the
Autostar reversed? In all other references Haninge, Stockholm, Sweden is
located at +18 07 00. However, Autostar lists all sites to the east of
Greenwich as negative and west as positive. It doesn't really make a
difference as the Autostar still uses the values correctly, but isn't it
still confusing and erranous?

Anyway, any help on how to tune the Autostar to perfection is very
welcome.

Clear skies,
Daniel Forslund
Mike here: First off, get 1.1m from Meade's web site. I've experienced similar problems, even with 1.1m, but others have had excellent results. I'm testing a new version of the Autostar s/w for Meade. I'll report results as soon as possible. As to the Longitude sign, I believe you are correct about the sign. Nothing to worry about though.

Subject:	update
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 1999 20:41:35
From:	SMalin1@aol.com
Just want to update my previous letter of July 10th. I called Meade
technical about the reason they updated my AutoStar with the version
1.1J and not the 1.1M. The answer was most interesting. I was told that
the 1.1M is only available by downloading from the Meade web site and
that all Autostars are shipped with the 1.1J software. There was no
rational explanation for the logic behind this. But that is what I was
told.
Selwyn Malin

Subject:	 
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 1999 13:40:23
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Well, despite my usual decent results with the Autostar, on Sunday night
I hit a previously mentioned bug for the first time, and finding an easy
workaround totally stymied me.

The bug is that some below the celestial equator NGC objects have
declination stats that are listed as positive figures, when in fact they
should have negative declination figures. Once I hit the GOTO and the
scope went up, instead of down, in Azimuth, I knew that I had hit the
bug for the first time, though I had been previously aware of it.

Now, what stymied me was trying to change the figure to a negative
value. After the buggy GOTO finished, I held the MODE button for a few
seconds to give me the stats mode, which shows the RA and Dec. Then I
hit GOTO, so I could manually enter RA and DEC stats. Try as I might to
enter a negative value for the Dec, I could not figure out how to do it.
As long as I had previously done a GOTO to something with a positive
Dec, I could not enter a negative value. If I did a GOTO to an object
that is listed correctly, with a negative Dec, then I could also go into
manual entry mode, and enter ONLY another negative Dec figure. I could
not, for the life of me, figure out how to change the thing from
positive to negative or negative to positive. Whatever was there before
was it. I could change the numerical entry itself, but nothing I did
would change the positive or negative entry setting (whichever it
happened to be) already existing.

Does anyone know how to enter and change the DEC stats manually, and
specifically how to enter or change the positive or negative Dec entry
settings?

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'
http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN

Subject:	 Autostar Swerving queston
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 1999 05:53:06
From:	samos@inforamp.net
When I am aligning, or doing a GOTO ... just as the scope is swerving,
it slows down and almost stops when it's on target ... then at the last
minute it goes off on its own for a second and ends up about a degree or
two too much to the left. It ends up still in the viewer, but not in the
eyepiece. Why is it making this last minute little lurch off target do
you think?

Many thanks
Dan
Mike here: I've seen this same problem and have reported it to Meade.

Subject:	 ETX Set object issue
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 1999 05:02:44
From:	jack@comm1.com
I have an ETX/EC90 which I like very much! I'm having some small
problems though and was wondering if you had any ideas. I use my ETX
mostly with a software program I have written but it dosen't seem to
work quite right. When I 'set' an objects coordinates the RA minutes are
consistantly wrong. All the other coordinate setting are correctly
updated to the number I specify. There are other issues as well such as
the alt/az coordinates being returned with incomplete data. Are you
aware of any problems with the software, do you think my Autostar might
by defective? Do you know where I can get the Meade programming specs
specific to the ETX/Autostar?

Thanks,
Jack Harper
Mike here: The Autostar uses some commands from the LX200 command set. Greg Townsend noted that there is some info at: www.mailbag.com/users/ragreiner/Computers.html#Top The latest version, 1.1m, has better LX200 support than did 1.0.

Subject:	 EC/Autostar tracking
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 1999 20:37:31
From:	bnakata@cybcon.com (Brian Nakata)
I posted this to the ETX E-mail list, but didn't get any responses.

About a week ago, I tried to do some CCD photography with my ETX-90/EC,
and therefore set it up for polar alignment.  After doing a reasonably
careful "easy" polar alignment (with 1.1m firmware), I pointed the scope
at Vega (I wanted to try for M57) to get the scope focused.

Right away I new I was in trouble because even with "short" exposures on
the order of 20-30 seconds, the tracking error was tremendous (long
lines instead of round stars).  I noticed that the Autostar would drive
the scope in "spurts" - a few seconds on, then a few seconds off, etc.
instead of at a continuous rate.

Have you noticed this sort of behavior in polar configuration?  I
expected the DEC drive to be practically silent (it was) but to have the
RA drive running continuously at more or less the sideral rate.  If the
scope wasn't leveled well, I'd expect more DEC activity, etc.  I wasn't
expecting what I got.

With this situation, I replaced the Autostar with the "lowly" standard
hand controller and was able to get good 30 second focusing exposures!

This isn't what I have to live with, is it?  I realize that the EC
wasn't designed or marketed as an astrophotography platform, but I'm
trying some pretty basic stuff...

Any comments from yourself or your readership would be welcome,
primarily if anyone has seen this sort of behavior before.  Thanks!

Brian
Mike here: I've not yet tried much in Polar mode with the ETX-90EC. But Polar mode is just a special case of Alt/Az so if there are any errors in the latitude positioning and/or leveling, I would think that the drive could do exactly what you describe. I suspect that for Polar mode work, especially astrophotography, that the standard hand controller might be best.

Subject:	 Etx-90EC HELP!!!
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 1999 19:12:13
From:	zoltan@mail2.nai.net (Thomas A. Dee)
I found your web site while desperately trying to locate useful
information on the etx-90 EC I just purchased.  The instructions that
came with the scope and the tripod and the ETX Autostar absolutely
stink!!! (Meade's technical writers must have never used the
equipment!!!)

I'm just a rank beginner at astronomical observing and would like to try
my hand at some astral photography if only I could just get....

A. The tripod properly oriented
B. The telescope properly mounted to the tripod
C. The finderscope properly aligned for accurate sighting
D. Accomplish the impossible and actually achieve a polar alignment

I hope you will bear with me, I promise your help will not fall upon
deaf ears

Item 1: 
The damm tripod. The manual states that the leg marked "N" should point
north. OK, so if I were facing North and had the tripod in front of
me... would the "N" leg be directly in front of me pointing North or
furthest from me pointing North?

Figure 1               Figure 2      I hope the question is clear.
furthest                closest
    N                  /  |  \
 /  |  \              /   |   \
/       \            /    N    \

Item 2:  Scope Mounting
I read your article on how the Meade manual showed the scope mounted
backwards, but after studying the photographs you supplied, I couldn't
tell if I had mine mounted correctly or not. (not enough detail in the
photos.)

Ok, so should the table top tripod leg holes be on the same side of the
tripod as the "N" leg or the side opposite the "N" leg?  Again, Meade's
instructions were vague and ambiguous.

Item 3: The Finderscope
During the day I performed an exhaustive alignment of the finderscope so
that it was dead on with the OTA, but that night I found I was way off. 
I did the daytime alignment on a close object (about 40 ft away) as
opposed to a distant one.  I'm sure the finderscope was tight and didn't
move on me when I used it that night.  Any techniques you know of to
align the thing during the day for use at night would be helpful, or is
trial and error the only way to handle it?

Item (Gulp) 4: Polar Alignment  ETX Autostar  (Easy Align)
First, when I set the tripod for the latitude of my location (41 deg 38
min), provided I have performed items 1 and 2 correctly, should the
front of the telescope be pointed...

(Assume that the declination, as read off the telecope, is 0 deg) OTA
Perpendicular with the Fork Arms

A. at the ground pointing Northward
B. at the groud pointing Southward
C. at the sky pointing Northward
D. at the sky pointing Southward

2nd. The AutoStar says to rotate the scope (with the keypad) to 90 deg
declination (OTA Parallel with Fork Arms)

3rd. Should I try to align the scope with polaris at this point (ie,
pick up the whole scope and point it at polaris?) If this is the case,
then a 45 deg accessory for the finderscope would help to align the
star.

4th: Engage Autostar and pray it finds its reference stars so I can
complete the alignment.

I really don't know if this is correct.  If you could provide some brief
answers to my questions, I would really, REALLY, appreciate it.

Thanks for your time

Tom Dee
Zoltan@ct2.nai.net
Mike here: 1. The N on the tripod goes on the north side of its central vertical axis. Since the tripod head only tilts in one direction, this should be easy to see since the ETX vertical axis (when in polar mode) has to be parallel to the earth's rotational axis. 2. If you have the ETX mounted on the tripod and the N on the leg on the north side, then the ETX control panel goes on the west side. 3. Use a distant object or light to align the finderscope. If no distant object, use Venus (visible in the west at dusk). 4. For polar alignment with the Autostar, the Home position is with the ETX OTA pointed at the celestial pole (towards Polaris in the northern hemisphere) and the eyepiece on top. Move the whole telescope until the ETX is pointed in the proper direction. And yes, a right angle finder helps a lot at this point.

Subject:	 Autostar - leveling - and the LX200 hand controller
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 1999 07:31:26
From:	mitch-bryant@worldnet.att.net (Mitchell Bryant)
Great site as always.  You are a gift to any ETX lover and owner.

Used my ETXec last night for the first real test of the newly downloaded
1.1m.  Worked like a charm, and I love the scope.  Also did a christmas
ornament check of the optics yesterday morning, and found that it had
almost PERFECT optics.  What a winner Meade created!

But now the question.  With the Meade LX200, the computer also has an
assumed HOME position when first powered up.  However, after the two
star alignment, it compensates for ANY error in pointing and/or
leveling, and alignment is then perfectly right on.  We have tested that
theory with wildly tilting scopes... not a problem.  For the ETX, I
understand that it will compensate for a miss-pointed scope, but the
leveling remains critical. Any idea why?  If the scope has accurate
time, position, and two known stars, it should be able to accurately
point no matter what the initial condition of the scope.  Am I missing
something?

And I love the Autostar, especially the info it gives on objects.  Any
idea if Meade is planning to allow the Autostar to interface with the
LX200 series?  Should be easy enough to do with a software upgrade.

Thanks again for the site, and any answers from our loyal readers. 
Clear skies.

JIM LOWRY
Mike here: I don't know if Meade plans to add the Autostar to the LX200 series. As to the need to get the initial conditions correct, In Alt/Az mode you are really setting the ETX to 90 degrees latitude. By being as level as possible, you eliminate one variable from the things that the Autostar has to compensate for and overcome. Doesn't have to be perfect for most uses.

Subject:	 Autostar Amnesia
Sent:	Sunday, July 11, 1999 21:05:21
From:	rdeatrich@home.com (Robert)
I am having some problems with my Autostar.  When I have it aligned fine
I can find a few objects just wonderfully, but then all of a sudden it
will just loose it mind and say it is slewing to the new object and not
go.  Sometimes it will recover and work ok after a few trys, sometimes
it totally fritzes out and says an object I was just looking at is now
below the horizon, when I can see it clearly with my eyes (Mars for
example).  Ever hear of this?  My Autostar rev is 1.1.  Any info would
be helpful.  Thanks.  I love your page, it is what convinced me to
finally get an ETX.

Robert
Mike here: I'm not sure but it sounds somewhat similar to problems I've had. Stay tuned; Meade is working on a software cure.

Subject:	 Finderscope vrs QuickFinder
Sent:	Friday, July 9, 1999 06:31:54
From:	samos@inforamp.net
To train the scope for Autostar ... and to align it, I don't use the
ETX's finderscope ... I use the Rigel Quickfinder -- which views things
from about three inches above the scope itself ... as opposed to the
finderscope which is down right at scope level. So, would using the
QuickFinder be an inaccurate way to arrive at these initial settings do
you think?
Thanks
Dan
Toronto
Mike here: The higher the magnification the more accurate the drive training will be. So I'd recommend using the 26mm eyepiece, at least.

Subject:	The Sky software
Sent:	Thursday, July 8, 1999 15:24:15
From:	JLake1@aol.com
Will the Sky software control the ETX 90EC with the Autostar ???
Mike here: Don't know about TheSky but SkyMap Pro 5 will. But since the Autostar uses a subset of the LX200 commands, any software that uses that should be able to control the ETX somewhat.

Subject:	 Q. ETX90/EC with Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, July 8, 1999 13:26:36
From:	A.J.M.Weijenberg@net.HCC.nl (A.J.M. Weijenberg)
Great site. Got already a lot of info on my new ETX 90/EC with Autostar.

Hope you can clear up some functions on the Autostar (version 1.1m).

Under the menu Utilities|Eyepiece Calc. there are three submenu's that
are not clear to me. When I select 'Field of View' the whole second line
of the displays lights up. Using the scroll arrow down 5 times I get the
display 'S. ' and the rest of the line remains lighted up. After
entering I get the info 'Field = xx', where xx is some value. I assume
that the lighted up second line should read some eyepiece value and
after entering I should get the corresponding field of view.

The same thing happens with the other option: Magnification.

In the option 'Suggest' I get a line starting with 'S ' and the rest of
the line lighted up again.

I hope you can clarify this situation.

Also I have a question on loading info on satellite/comet info.

I downloaded the new version autostar software (1.1m) from the Meade
site including info on comets and satellite. The updating of the
autostar with the new software went as advertised. However I have no
idea how I can upload the comet and satellite data. Can you also help me
here.

Thanks,
Regards,

Jos Weijenberg

--------------------------------------
A.J.M.Weijenberg@net.HCC.nl
--------------------------------------
Mike here: Place the comet and satellites data files in the Ephemerides folder in the Autostar folder. As to the Utilities functions, beats me. Have you tried RESET? I get different eyepiece names as I scroll through the list.

Added later:

Yes  I tried the reset and also I did reload the new 1.1.m software.
-- Jos Weijenberg

Subject:	 Connector Cable 
Sent:	Wednesday, July 7, 1999 09:23:07
From:	dorofino@liveperson.com (Diego Orofino)
Hi, you have a really nice web site, Question, for any chance do you
have the ping configuration for the Made Connector Cable for the
computer, I'm trying to make my own cable, please let me know. thank
you

_________________________________________
Diego Orofino
Senior ASP/Software Engineer

LivePerson
665 Broadway, Suite 1200
New York, N.Y. 10012
(212) 277 8915 Phone
(212) 277 8960 Fax
dorofino@liveperson.com

LivePerson, Give your site a pulse!
Mike here: Check the Autostar Information page on my site for pinout info. Also Meade has it on their web site as well.

Subject:	 Calibrating the motor
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 1999 12:24:39
From:	dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca
When you re-calibrate the motor ... do you also have to do everything
else all over again, such as training the drive?

Thanks
Dan
Toronto
Mike here: I would certainly re-train the drives. That way, the Autostar and drives should be completely in tune with each other.

Subject:	 cable
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 1999 08:47:45
From:	plianos@kronos.aueb.gr (Panos)
Sorry for the extra post, but is there a place in your site where I can
find instructions on making a home made cable to connect the autostar
with my computer?

Thanks again

Panayotis-Ulysses Lianos
Athens, Greece
e-mail: plianos@kronos.aueb.gr
Mike here: See the Autostar Information page; there is an item there "Autostar Cable Info".

Subject:	 etx-90ec problems.
Sent:	Monday, July 5, 1999 8:39:53
From:	plianos@kronos.aueb.gr (Panos)
Last week I got my first telescope, a meade etx-90ec and the autostar
unit as well. When I first tried to "train" the drive I realised that in
the altitude training and when i got almost "centered", the motor kept
going and stoped a little above the target and the whole system was
stuck. I tryed a few more time but nothing changed. So I decided to stop
just a click before the "center". It worked. Then when I tryed to do the
"easy" align, I put the telescope in the "home" position and pressed
enter. It started moving and soon stopped displaying "motor unit fault".
I  tryed this many times but nothing changed. I said to myself "I'm
doing something wrong" and tryed to observe some terrestial targets. I
then realised that some times the etx would not "obey" to gear changes.
It would move at speed 2 in left/right directions but very fast in
up/down. Some times vice-versa.

I figured that there was something wrong with the autostar unit and
pluged in the "normal" controler. Everything was ok.

The next day I went back to the dealer and talked about this problem. We
tryed his etx with his autostar and the same "motor unit fault" message
came up. Swiched autostars between etx's (doing all the reset
procedures) and the same problem was there. What is interesting is that
we put the scopes in a paraller position and they would both stop (when
searching for the same object) in a parallel position, displaying the
"motor unit fault" message. So we feagured, (the other person was not an
expert at this either) that we were doing something wrong. I left the
shop, happy beacause both etx's couldn't be defective.

That afternoon it occured to me that perhaps I should put the etx at
"celestial" mode before doing the alingment. So I did, and the etx
started moving up, down, left and right in a random order and would
simply not stop!! I unplugged the autostar, and concluded that the was
something wrong with it.

Last night I was observing using the controller that came with the etx.
I decided to put the scope in "celestial" mode and when I did, it moved
VERY fast, as if it was in the fastest gear. I turned it off and on
again and everything was ok. Today I called the dealer and he said he
would replace the etx. I took it to the store and he gave me a new one
(i saw him opening the box). Took it home and tryed once more. SAME
problems. What should I do? I don't think the dealer will beleive me
anymore, since he said :"now that you're getting the new one, take the
time to study the manual and go one step at a time". The problem is I
have done this over a hundred times...........

The "statistics" in the autostar menu says it is version 1.12o.

What is going on??? Please help me. by the way, the autostar once got
stuck and the message was "Proc. Trap 5".

Panayotis-Ulysses Lianos
Athens, Greece
e-mail: plianos@kronos.aueb.gr
Mike here: I suspect something might be wrong. I'm guessing here but based upon that Proc Trap 5 error message that appeared, you may have bad Autostar software (although that doesn't explain the problems with the standard controller). Can you download the version on Meade's web site and install it? That might clear up the problem.

Subject:	 Training question
Sent:	Sunday, July 4, 1999 15:22:13
From:	samos@inforamp.net
When you're "training" your Autostar, does it matter if your target is
near or far. I was using a light on the top of a tall building about
five miles away ... Meade's custumer service said I should be using
something a lot closer ... like the top of a telephone pole only a block
away. Do you think it makes any difference?

Many thanks ...

      ----------------------------------------
          Dan Bjarnason / Toronto, Canada
Mike here: Distance doesn't really matter as long as the target doesn't move.

Subject:	 AutoStar won't work at 4:00AM!
Sent:	Sunday, July 4, 1999 3:35:32
From:	jimhagerman@usa.net (Jim Hagerman)
Here's another major problem with AutoStar. It will not align at all at
4:00AM this morning. We used it last night about 10:00PM and all was
fine. We got up this morning to see Jupiter, Saturn, Andromeda and other
things you can only see in the early morning. We tried both Alt/Az and
Polar alignments and the scope was not even close to any of the stars it
tried to align to. We then centered the stars to force alignment and
then it would either fail alignment or not be close to anything it
tried. By not being close I mean being off by up to 1/8 of the sky. Is
there some know problem where the AutoStar will not work in the early
morning hours?

Thank-you,

Jim Hagerman
email: jimhagerman@usa.net
Added later:
One thing I didn't try is to re-calibrate the motors! Maybe somehow it
"lost its mind" and needs to be re-calibrated. Also I had downloaded and
used Deepsky99 earlier in the day/evening, maybe this set something
incorrectly in the AutoStar. I will reload version 1.1m into the
Autostar and re-initialize & re-calibrate the motors tonight. I will get
up at 4:00AM again if the weather permits and try again. I thought about
these things after I went back to bed this morning.

The AutoStar worked great in the early evening. After the first night of
trial & error, the second night went with much success. We were able to
see several beautiful star clusters and could even discern the Lagoon
Nebula. We were unable to find these same items using the manual mode,
since the accuracy is so far off. This morning the only things we really
saw were Jupiter and Saturn before the clouds came in, and since we
couldn't use the AutoStar..
Added even later:
The AutoStar still doesn't work @ 4:00AM. It was overcast last night so
I couldn't check it then, but we got up at 4:00AM and tried it again. It
was not even close to either the ALT or AZ of any star it tried to align
with. If we slewed to the correct stars it failed alignment.  It wasn't
even close. I will hopefully be able to try it tonight to see if it
still works at night.
Added even still later:
Even though I had reloaded version 1.1m, Reset & Re-Initialized
AutoStar, I just found out that the settings for the location were all 0
(Lat/Long/TZ)! I reloaded the site data and it appears to be correct
now, although I cannot really check it until tonight. The only way to
check is to try and do a polar alignment and check the scope's RA & Dec
circles versus SkyMap Pro and check if it is also pointing to the
correct location in the "sky".

I guess you should never trust that AutoStar remembers the initialized
settings!
And even still later:
I finally found the problem with the AutoStar. It had 'lost its mind'
and had the information for the location set to all 0's. I had reloaded
v1.1m and reset the AutoStar and it still didn't work. Reset is suppose
to completely reset the system and I would assume reload the correct
site information or reset to no locations. After finding that all the
site information was 0 I tried to delete the site and it wouldn't let
me. I finally added the same site and it reloaded the correct
information. This is another flaw with the system design. Luckily after
finding this problem I am again able to use the AutoStar.
Meade notes: They don't have to reload 1.1m unless they want the factory installed USER.ROM data. If you want to reset your site data and your Autostar, just do a RESET from the menu. This will force you to enter a site zero and the box should then know where it is again. It should also force the box to do a motor test.

Subject:	 More Questions
Sent:	Saturday, July 3, 1999 10:23:09
From:	jimhagerman@usa.net (Jim Hagerman)
Sorry, but I have more questions. 

I have finally been able to get the AutoStar to connect to my computer
again. It seems there was an intermittent connection in my cable. I have
upgraded to version 1.1m.

- Is there any software that actually can control the ETX-90EC. I have
tried SkyChart III and SkyMap 5 and neither will work. They won't skew
to an object and actually lock-up the AutoStar when they try. SkyChart
III will show the location of the scope though.

- How can you download to the AutoStar the 2 Orbital Elements found on
Meade's website. Their information on their web site is useless.

- The AutoUpdater also has a hidden section of commands when you press
the Meade symbol, but nothing seems to work there. If I press version it
shows the version but says it can't determine the HBX type and tells you
to put it in download mode. When I put the AutoStar in download mode and
try the version selection it says the AutoStar is not connected. When I
press Download or Time nothing happens. Are all these useless selections
pending some future upgrade?

I'm an Engineering Manager. If my Engineering team was as incompetent as
Meade appears to be, there would be heads rolling.

Thank-you,

Jim Hagerman
email: jimhagerman@usa.net
Mike here: I know there are some updates to the Autostar uploader s/w coming. And clicking on the Meade logo puts you into a "technical support" mode (mostly). All kinds of dangerous things can be done at that point. Not recommended to try this yet. As to using other s/w with the Autostar, Jordan Blessing notes on the Scopetronix web site that "You can also connect to programs like Chris Marriots excellent SkyMap Pro."

Subject:	 Dead AutoStar?
Sent:	Friday, July 2, 1999 20:05:08
From:	jimhagerman@usa.net (Jim Hagerman)
I broke down and bought an AutoStar for my new ETX-90EC. It was version
1.1j. I had a cable built by one of my technicians at work. I was able
to connect and update my software to 1.1m. I then tried SkyChart III and
SkyMap 5, neither one would correctly control or communicate with the
AutoStar. I then tried to connect with the Meade AutoUpdater and it will
not recognize the AutoStar now. The cable is fine and the computer is
fine. Do I now have a bad AutoStar?

I am really getting frustrated with this Telescope! I am getting
reluctant to send it back home with my son because of all of the
problems it has. If I can't get this resolved shortly I will be taking
the entire system back for a refund.

Thank-you for any help,

Jim Hagerman
email: jimhagerman@usa.net
Mike here: Sorry to hear about your problems. Have you tried resetting the Autostar?

Added later:

Yes I have tried to reset the AutoStar. I will take the AutoStar back
today. Hopefully they (The Discovery Store) will give me a new one. They
have also filed a formal complaint with Meade about their RA errors.

Thank-you for your continued support. Your site was one of the main
reasons I purchased the ETX-90EC.

Subject:	Re: Autostar upgrade
Sent:	Wednesday, June 30, 1999 20:57:52
From:	SMalin1@aol.com
Mike I am at a loss to understand why Meade would install the 1.1J when
1.1M is the current "latest". Isn't it logical to think that outdated
software would be discarded? I sent my Autostar to them long after the
1.1M was available and 1.1J was installed. I purchased the download
cable from Scopetronix. Should I wait until the next upgrade is on line
before changing the software?
Thanks for being such a great help.......Selwyn Malin
Mike here: Don't know why the j version was installed. But based upon what Meade said regarding versions, you should upgrade to 1.1m.

Subject:	Autostar version ID
Sent:	Wednesday, June 30, 1999 20:54:56
From:	RBilger135@aol.com
Brand new user. Very much enjoyed scanning the site and can't wait to
use my telescope again now that I have wasted two nights not knowing the
correct home settings.  Thanks.  Just wondering how I can tell which
version of the Autostar I have. Thanks again for the site
Mike here: On the Autostar, change from Setup to Statistics. This will display several items as you scroll the display. Version number is one of the items displayed. The version number is also briefly displayed when the Autostar is powered on.

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