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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 March 2001

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


Subject:	Calibrating the motors
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 17:51:58
From:	kjm96@attglobal.net (Ken Martin)
Here's a tip... I recently got my ETX-70 back from Meade after being
repaired due to a fall on the driveway. When I attempted to use it the
motors would move the scope in a jerking, variable speed motion. Since
it was Friday night, I thought I'd have to wait until Monday to call
them. Then, I remembered the "Calibrate Motors" function. I gave it a
try, and the scope works fine now. I think they might have actually
replaced my scope, so it's no wonder the Autostar needed to recalibrated
to the scope.

Subject:	cord wrap
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 06:56:11
From:	adriance@swiftkenya.com (Dave Adriance)
I recently uploaded Autostar version 2.1ek.  I noticed that there are
several new menu items under Utilities, e.g. the ability to turn off the
Sun warning and the general introduction message.

One of the new menu items allows the user to turn off "cord wrap".  I
understand what cord wrap is, but am unclear about the implications of
turning it off.  I don't find anything about this menu item on Meade's
on-line instruction manual.  Could you please tell me what happens if I
turn off cord wrap?

Thanks and regards,

D.
____________________

Dave Adriance
dadriance@alumni.umass.edu
Mike here: Disabling the sun warning and instructions has been around for the last few releases. Since Meade seems to be moving to a general Autostar software release, they have now allowed the software to work with any ETX model, including those that do not have the cord wrap problem (for example, the ETX-60AT and ETX-70AT). You need to leave cord wrap ON for the EC models. (By the way, I found this mentioned on the site by searching for "wrap".)

Subject:	"Snap back slewing" and another "alignment" tips..
Sent:	Friday, March 30, 2001 07:39:37
From:	info@sentec.se (G. Thisell)
1. Have had the same "snap back slewing" problem as mentioned in the
"Autostar 2.1ek Bug List". Did contact support on Meade and they
answered promptly;
a. Do calibrate your motors
b. Do another "training"
c. Find the right value for Az/Alt percent

After having done that, the problem has almost disappeared. There is
still a small tendensy to "snap back" - but not much..

2. It seem obvious from several sources on this site that the ETX tracks
best in Alt/Az mode... Have been reluctant to test that since I invested
in the "de luxe" tripod... Have now found  after all, this to be true.
My method of finding the correct "home position" is as follows.

a. Glue a laser pointing device (very cheap) on to the upper back side
of the tube. (I used a hot gun gluer - one can peel of the glue...).
Point the laser beam forwards or backwards...

b. Do a very exact home positioning, using the polar star and a good
bubble indicator for the horisontal part..

c. In my case, the laser now point at a fence about 10 meters away,
where I have put a mark.

Next time, provided you did not alter the hight of the legs, you bring
the tripod and scope out in the garden, plunk it down at the about same
spot, carefully adjusts the Az with the screws on the mount and the dec
with the hand controller - so that the laser points on the mark.

Trigonometrically, it should now be very near the same "home postition" as last session...

Regards

G. Thisell

Subject:	Daylight Savings Time arrives (in the USA)
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 21:29:42
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To avoid a few people having problems, here's the scoop on Daylight
Savings Time (an April Fool's joke this year).

When you start your Autostar for the first time after 2am 1-Apr-2001,
you *still* give it "Civilian Time"... i.e. what shows on your
wristwatch (assuming you did the "spring forward").
Then, when it asks: "Daylight Savings?", you use the scroll key
 to show "Yes" and hit [enter].

Just like the date, it'll remember the "yes" answer for subsequent
power-ups. As long as you confirm "yes", it'll happily subtract the
"extra" hour from the "local time" entry to achieve "standard time",
and then (from your time zone) convert to Universal/Greenwich Time
for its nefarious purposes.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	VB: ETX 90 EC Bios version 21ek
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 14:48:44
From:	info@sentec.se (G. Thisell)
Hi again!
I dont give up fast, this is the response I got from Paul at Meade on
the "creeping slew" problem in the latest 21ek version. I trust him and
will try it, though wheather forecast seems dull this weekend...
Goran

p.s. did answere him very thankfully, since I am..

-----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
Frn: Paul @ Meade

Dear Mr. Thisell:

It is not completely clear from your description of the problem, but I
think what you see is caused by and improvement that needs to be
adjusted.

First:  Calibrate you motors
Second: Train both axis's
Third:  In the Telescope menu you will find two new items; Az Percent
and Alt Percent.  These set the amount of back-lash compensation that is
applied when you change direction of motion. Select one of these and
while making small movements at speed 3 watch for a jump when you change
directions.  If you see the object move in the opposite direction,
replace the current % number with a lower one and then push Enter. 
Continue to do this procedure until you get the response you like.  Then
do the other axis.

I believe this will solve your problem..

Good luck,

Best regards,

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: G. Thisell [mailto:info@sentec.se]
To: Meade
Subject: ETX 90 EC Bios verison 21ek

Version 21ek for ETX90 EC..
I have lots of problems with this one - and dont know what to do...
Especially problematic is the slewing back - after slewing to center an
object go-to:ed, the Autostar always sleews back to the original place!

When is a debugged version coming?

Very best regards, and thanks a lot for all fun anyway I have had with my
ETX90 EC...
for 1 1/2 years.

Goran Thisell
Sweden

Subject:	"creep after slewing"
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 13:25:19
From:	info@sentec.se (G. Thisell)
Thanks again about info I got this morning here about "creeping back
after slewing".

1. Paid a small token to you via kagi (found out today about that)..

2. Tested again to "overshoot" , works only with very heavy overshoot,
so much that you actually might loose the object...

3. Wrote an email to Meade - I think its about time they take care of
all thoose bugs that  I have now! read about on your fine site.

4. Finally, a small tip: 
I have the ETX Field tripod. (reason was to go "polar aligned" but have
now learned, and experienced that the ETX work much better in alt-az)..
Anyway, the "tip" is to place a hard surface between the mount and the
ETX - otherwise it gets really unstable, due to the weak plastic
underneath the ETX. I just grabbed a floppy disk 3 1/4 inch ... It fits
perfectly and stabilizes the ETX  rigidly.

Goran.

Subject:	Drive Training
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 07:22:39
From:	dyeager@brashearlp.com (David Yeager)
In Performance Enhancement - Creating the Perfect "Go To" ETX pr LX90 -
Part 3, Training the ETX/LX90 Drives, 2), the comment is made to start
with the lowest magnification and center then gradually increase the
magnification to the highest.  My question is whether to increase the
magnification during one training command or should I train the AZ & EL
with one magnification and then start over to train with a higher
magnification.
Mike here: Magnification only helps with the centering accuracy. Use the highest power you are comfortable with; there is no need to repeat at different magnifications.

Subject:	Re: Calibrate Motors
Sent:	Thursday, March 29, 2001 01:33:31
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Bill
I see your point but it works the other way around.  Once the drives are
"trained" the AutoStar recognizes the backlash and gear idiosyncracies
for YOUR telescope; the microprocessor then acknowledges that "error"
and compensates for it during tracking, GO TO and slewing.  This is an
electronic processing procedule

"Calibrate Motors" is done after the Motor Train as a MECHANICAL
function of the gear train itself (of course AutoStar is involved, but
has nothing to do with the memory of residual gear-train backlash).  So
it stands to reason that it is best to adjust the AutoStar-to-computer
communication BEFORE the final mechanical "loading" (Calibrate Motors)
of the gearwork takes place.

Not only that, but I have tried it both ways multiple times during the
experimental stages with AutoStar and your driving accuracy
(particularly your slow sidereal tracking) is FAR better doing the
"Calibrate..." last. So the sequence should be:  RESET (always) /
RE-INITIALIZE / RETRAIN / CALIBRATE / enjoy....

Thanks - you have a good question.

Dr. Clay
-----Original Message-----
From: Bill
>Clay ...
>
>I notice that you advised the sender of a recent message on Mike's site
>to calibrate ETX motors AFTER training the drives. Have you found this
>order to be essential? If you say it, I believe it, but it seems to me
>that the info which the Autostar gathers during calibration would be
>essential WHILE training the drives, no? But then, maybe my logic is
>inverted.
>
>Bill

Subject:	Autostar alignement..
Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 14:52:34
From:	info@sentec.se (G. Thisell)
Understand there is a big new software around for Autostar - but before
tuning up - please give me a hint...About my present software..

(Updated 6 month ago..)

When all is alligned ok, my ETX behaves ok, goes right at the target.
From Pollux to Castor to Jupiter to M44 and so on..

But when I try to allign manually, to very-center an object, it
immedately turns back to the small off-set I had originally - as soon as
I lift my fingers from the arrow-keys.

What is wrong - suppose it should not be like that?

Joe

info@sentec.se
Mike here: The symptom you are describing sounds like the "creep after slew". Personally, I had not seen it until 2.1ek but others have seen it in earlier versions. Unfortunately, it is present in the 2.1ek version. The only solution (currently) seems to be to overshoot your intended target and let the Autostar slew back.

Subject:	Alt/Az percentages
Sent:	Tuesday, March 27, 2001 03:56:47
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The reason that no mention was made is that the ETX did not have the
capability of adjusting Alt & AZ percent until AFTER the article was
written!

Now NEVER mess with the "ALT and AZ 'RATIOS'", this is set to
engineering specs at Meade JUST for the ETX scope you have.  As to Alt
percent, I have found that about 7% is great (but I do not have backlash
in DEC or ALT) and I choose about 15% for Az (RA) because I do have some
backlash delay.

If you have excessive delay start high with your adjustments (even 50%)
and work your way down;  at 100% you would have an instant "jump start"
when you push an arrow key; at 0% there is NO compensation for backlash.
 You can set your percent, go back to the eyepiece and hit a key and
try....if it is too jumpy, then your setting (either Alt or Az) is too
high....go to a lower percent.  If it still has a marked delay, then go
UP on your percent until you "like" it.

It really is an "up-to-you" type of thing and your personal preference
as to how you like the scope to respond.  I find that TOO jerky can be
just as annoying as slow response.

So play with it....you can't hurt a thing!

Good luck!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>From: Don
>Hi Clay,
>     Thanks for your detailed response.  Of course I plan to follow it
>to the letter, I trust your judgement implicitly.  I have one question
>though.  In your instructions you failed to mention anything about the
>alt/az percentages perhaps assuming that Meade's adjustments were
>flawless or maybe it was implied to make the adjustment in section (2d)
>depending on the response from the arrow keys.  I really don't want to
>fool with the percentages until getting advice from you first.
>     You are in fact the ETX and Astronomy Guru of the site and I'm
>extremely grateful!
>
>Clear Skies, Don

Subject:	Polar Home Position
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 12:40:11
From:	pol@alaska.net (Paul Loughman)
Simple question: Is the home position on the ETX-125EC for polar
alignment, NOT an equa-distant postion from the RA stop?

The Meade instruction page at
http://www.meade.com/manuals/autostar/apa.html#1 puts the OTA 'nearer'
one side of the RA stop than the otherside. Is this correct?

Thank you.

--
Paul O. Loughman
Mike here: The HOME position is about 120 degrees from the hard stop. This gives a lot of room to rotate without reaching the other hard stop on the ETX-90EC and -125EC (the ETX-60AT and -70AT do not have hard stops). For more on the HOME position, see the Autostar Information page.

And:

I have been avidly checking/reading the information being posted on your
site concerning the ETX-125EC and Autostar, and especially the articles
by Clay Sherrod.

Keep up the excellent work.

Subject:	polar alignment and sync
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 03:59:49
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	JimMcCambridge@yahoo.com
You are absolutely right about the use of Polaris in training IF you
spin the entire scope assembly - forks and all - around on the tripod to
access polaris at an alititude other than Home Position; this was first
pointed out to me last week and is an excellent alternative...one that I
will most definitely use when I take the scope in the field.

Regarding sync, I write to folks everyday with sync problems; there is a
considerable amount of random motion that is introduced in sync mode
that attempts to remove any errors that YOU make when polar aligning and
centering your alignment stars.  Sometimes, this is very annoying.

The reason that I prefer High Precision over sync is;

1)  it is far more accurate for faint objects, as it depends on YOU to
get it close (by centering the bright reference star first); and, 2)  it
is excellent for the ENTIRE sky, NOT just the region you have selected
to sync on in the sky; if you are observing in the east for example and
"sync" over there for a while and suddenly want to look at something in
the western sky.....the sync you originally did can actually throw your
precision off MORE than if you did not sync at all for that part of the
sky!

On another note, and both Dick Seymour and I have echoed this many times
but new users often try this....do not sync on any calculated object. 
This means, the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.  Only sync on a star of
known RA and DEC in AutoStar.

A lot of people use sync and it is an excellent tool; I just find High
Precision much more accurate and predictable.

Thanks again for your "Polaris" train tip....it is a good one.

Clay Sherrod
And:
Clay,

Thanks for your reply--I've had your book for years and I've found your
posts to Mike's website clearly presented and helpful.

I've used High Precision off and on but found it a little annoying in
that every new object I selected necessitated centering a new reference
star (even if the two objects were close to one another).

I tend to observe one area of the sky at a time, so I purposely pick a
star in the neighborhood to SYNCH to.  When I move to a new
constellation, I choose a new SYNCH star.

My original question should have been phrased with the above situation
in mind: does High Precision mode offer more accuracy than manually
choosing an appropriate SYNCH star? I think you've answered "no", since
High Precision presumably uses the same algorithms that SYNCH does.  I
suppose a scientifically minded person could compare the two methods,
but I get limited observing time as it is...

I have to admit to this crime, but with extenuating circumstances: I
tried solar observing a few times before it hit me--I could do some
planetary observing during the day, if only I were aligned. (I don't
have a permanent observing site; I have to bring the scope in each
time.) So I SYNCHed to my Sun "asteroid", removed the solar filter and
then found Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn without (much) difficulty.

Thanks again!

Jim
Mike here: I've only done Venus in the daytime. I've used both setting circles (on the ETX-90RA) and the Autostar (ETX-125EC; cheated on the alignment).

Subject:	sync mode and polar alignment
Sent:	Monday, March 26, 2001 03:38:49
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	christian-hanke@t-online.de
I have sometimes experienced your slight slew and lack of responsiveness
when using "Sync."  I have recently quit using the function as it
complicates things when you wish to go to another more distant part of
sky, particularly if you have had problems with the objects very near
where you sync.

Have you tried "High Precision" instead?  It makes for a much more
comfortable and assuredly-accurate GO TO without the hassles and
limitations of "sync."

For your information, I have found that the additional slewing (you
should write back and let us know what you mean by "right".....east,
west, etc.) is a result of the "Sync" function in AutoStar to attept to
overcome minor alignment misses when you polar aligned and when you
centered and "entered" you alignment stars.

I guarantee, the closer you are to true celestial north (see my "Kochab
Clock" on portable polar alignment in the Tech Tip section of Mike's
site) and the more precise you are with your alignment stars when
centering, the LESS this additional slewing will be.

A TIP: to minimize this effect on "Sync" and to get all-round better GO
TO's and tracking accuracy, DO NOT use a guide star near celestial
north; right now, AutoStar is picking stars in Ursa Major (Alioth,
Alcyon, Duhbe....).  When you see those come up, immediately hit
"Scroll" and select another star near the celestial equator.

Ideally, your two alignment stars, whether Polar or Alt-Az, should be
two stars that you clearly know, each about 90 degrees minimum from the
other and located within 15 degrees north or south of the celestial
equator (0 degrees in Polar Declination).

Good luck....try H.P. for possibly better results!

Clay Sherrod
Mike here: Thanks Clay. But now I'm confused. Doesn't HiPre uses SYNC on the star near the object you are GOTOing to? Is there a difference in this SYNC versus a SYNC by itself?
Mike it is my understanding that Sync allows for an approximation
correction of the sky region in which you are observing; in other words,
it re-positions the alignment that you already achieve prior to
observing for exactly that area of sky, based on the star that you
"sync" on.

On the other hand, High Precision resets it for EVERY OBJECT you choose;
in other words, the AutoStar does a "Sync" everytime you find and NGC
object based on its chosen Reference star in AutoStar;  once you move to
another object, the scope will GO TO another star that is closer to the
object of choice and "re-sync" per High Precision to THAT star and
FORGET the coordinates and syncing on the previous location!

So, in effect you are right, except that in High Prec., you are doing a
"micro-sync" every time you move to another object, hence it is not "sky
region dependent" as it changes its precision for EVERY object, no
matter where you point the ETX in the sky.

I still think it is a pretty neat option and one I use all the time; I
DO NOT have luck with "sync" but excellent results with High Precision. 
I think the reason that most folks do not like High Precision is that it
is effectually about two more steps to acquiring your object over
"sync."
Mike here again: So in HiPre the Autostar forgets about the last HiPre SYNC? Say I use HiPre and GOTO M1. The Autostar selects some nearby star and I SYNC on that (at the request of the Autostar). Then the Autostar does the real GOTO M1. Now I want to GOTO M31 (a long ways away from M1). The Autostar goes to some star near to where M31 is and asks me to reSYNC again. Then it slews to the real M31. Did the first SYNC throw the alignment off and so it misses the star for M31, or did the Autostar retain its original alignment before I went into HiPre mode?

And continuing this SYNChronizing discussion:

From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The Autostar in High Precision  is not actually "syncing" until you
select your object and then it "syncs" against the closest star to that
object. Your initial polar alignment from Home Position is maintained
throughout the the night, but the AutoStar sort-of "resets" with more
accuracy each time you move to an object via H.P.

Remember in H.P, the AutoStar does not ask you to "sync," merely center
the star and "enter;" once you have done that, it refines your position
and re-thinks its "GO TO" to your faint object from that star....in
essence, it is simply having to cover much less sky from a star that you
have VERY precisely told AutoStar where it is, based on your initial
alignment and where your scope is pointing at that very minute.

Once you have entered H.P. at the beginning of observing, it is held in
there until you change it; every object you GO TO, you do normally. 
Only after you GO TO M-1 for example, rather than moving to that object
it:  1) goes to a close bright star; 2) then tells you what that bright
star is (hence the importance of my star charts for alignment!); 3) asks
you to center the star and press "enter"; 4) once done, the telescope
AGAIN starts moving automatically to M-1 which will be VERY close in the
eyepiece.  DONE! No mention of "sync" anywhere....the AutoStar does that
for you.

CLAY
Mike here again: As I noted in a reply to James McCambridge (23 March 2001):
"According to the Autostar manual, High Precision mode uses SYNC to accurately align to that portion of the sky but it is a separate operating mode (selected from the Setup-->Telescope menu. In High Precision mode the Autostar first slews to a brighter object, requests you to SYNC, and then it slews to the fainter object. You don't have to be in High Precision mode to use SYNC function however."
So, unless the manual is wrong or I'm missing something, it would seem the H.P. SYNC is still a SYNC that could throw off the alignment in other portions of the sky. Is it time to bring in Dick-the-Autostar-expert in our discussion?

And from the expert:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Mike has it correct(ly).

HP uses the Sync programming in the Autostar.

Consider SYNC:
 (a)  you [goto] something.  It's not quite there.
 (b) You lean on [enter] to start the SYNC operation
 (c) it says "center it and press enter"
 (d) you center the target
 (e) you press enter... 
 (f) and thereby slightly modify the AS's idea of the sky.
 (g) that "new idea" affects your next [GoTo]

Consider HP:
 (A) you ask to [goto] something
 (B) AS picks a "nearby" "brighter" object, and -really- goes to IT.
 (C) it says: "center it and press enter"
 (D) you center the target
 (E) you press enter...
 (F) and thereby slightly modify the AS's idea of the sky.
 (G) using the "new idea", it [goto]s the dim target.

The only differences between the two is that previously having
said "hey, AS, let's do HP mode!" you're skipping (actually: have
 pre-committed to) the (b) step in Sync.
  And that (g) isn't pre-loaded as (G) is.

--dick
And this:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Dick -
Thanks for clarifying....I am going to have to get on my AutoStar this
morning and check something that has been bothering me that both Mike
and the instructions confirm (you know how dad-gummed stubborn old folks
get).

It (and Mike) mentions that the A.S. asks you to "Sync on the
object...." to my knowledge I have never seen that display....only
"Center [whatever star] and Press Enter."

Does a H.P. on the other hand, NOT allows greater accuracy for a
particular GO TO object than would the "average" sync" command of some
nearby star for a sky area?

CLAY
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Clay,

> It (and Mike) mentions that the A.S. asks you to "Sync on the
> object...." to my knowledge I have never seen that display....
> only "Center [whatever star] and Press Enter."

The naming of the HP star is new with v21eK (well, v21eI).
Previous versions just said "center star".

SYNC (danger: now i'm working from memory) just says "center object".

When i said "uses the Sync programming" i mean the behind-the-scenes
stuff... the messages it flashes on the screen differ to match the
need. 

The reasoning behind the differing messages is probably that, in HP,
Meade controls what you're centering ("a star"), in Sync, it's your
choice.
The word "Object" is easier to program than figuring out -what- you're
 pointing at.

> Does a H.P. on the other hand, NOT allow[s] greater accuracy for a
>  particular GO TO object than would the "average" sync" command of
> some nearby star for a sky area?
Should be the same accuracy.  
Same mechanism, same code, same variables, same motion subroutine,
same beep.  Sync==HP

And consider the HP guide star for Polaris... it's -way- far away.
I've never dug into which stars are considered "guides".  Many are
(potentially) dimmer than the star (or object) you're trying for.
(Alcyone... they use -Alcyone!- ... but it sure is easily found)

--dick
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Dick - thanks.  I have studied since this subject came up and all is
very logical in regard to the process being the same.  It is still true,
however, that if using "sync", say in the northeast sky will result in
less-than-desirable GO TO's away from that area to the southwest sky if
the AutoStar is still in "sync" mode; that is a case where High
Precision (since in essence you are "syncing" every time you go to a new
object) would be more accurate for full-sky coverage with the flip of an
"on-off" command.

Appreciate the help.
Clay

Subject:	What do I do when I get it back from Meade?
Sent:	Sunday, March 25, 2001 04:02:29
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
Sorry you had to send the scope back in, but I think that since it is
still under warranty it probably is the best thing; next time anything
happens, if the warranty has run out you can get in there and get the
scope "supercharged" the way it should have been in the first place.  I
am sure Meade will do a good job.

Since they likely are going to dislodge gearwork and also change
circuits relative to the existing gears and their idiosyncracies, here
is the process that you should do (DO IT IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER!!) to
re-marry the AutoStar to your scope.  If done out of order the precision
may not be as exact as you would like:  DO NOT SET PERCENTAGES until
where you see it below!

1)  RESET (AutoStar under "Setup");
2)  REINITIALIZE (this will begin immediately after "Reset")
        a) enter date, time, standard or daylight;
        b) enter state, then closest city (do not attempt to edit location
at this point to tweak closer to home...wait until you have everything else
up and running;)
        c)  when it gets to "Setup/Align", scroll down until you reach
"Telescope" then press "enter" and scroll down to "Train Drive".
        d) before proceeding, make sure that both ALT & AZ clamps are firmly
engaged and test motions to make sure that each moves when the arrow keys
are pressed with little delay;
        e) now slew (using arrow keys) over to whatever object you will
train on and center;
        e) TAKE YOUR TIME and train patiently, carefully and with as high
magnification as possible; use terrestrial or Polaris, but train at some
degree of elevation to load the gears;
        e)  after the final train (the second ALT TRAIN) press "Mode" and go
back to "Setup";
         f)  scroll down until "Telescope" again, then "enter" and scroll
down again until "Calibrate Motors," and press "enter;"  your scope will
move slightly in both axes.
        g)  you are now ready to either 1) shut off power; or, 2) align in
home position for the night's observng!

That will get you up and running; the only time you will need to reset
again is under the following circumstances:

    1)  your scope hits a hard stop while slewing/tracking and remains there
for several (i.e., 10-12) seconds while driving;
    2)  you have to get into the motor assemblies or clutches for any
reason;
    3)  the telescope slewing/tracking/GO TO begins to behave strangely;
    4) after about six months of use (your motor-to-gear ratios and
precision will gradually change over time, so periodic resets are always
advisable to maintain precision.

Make it a point to "Calibrate Motors" every week or so if you use the
scope often; this will eliminate the need for frequent resets, as it
keeps the motors in sync with normal fluctuations in gear-to-gear
meshing and slight wear; even re-distribution of gear lubricant can
affect tracking, so the "Calibrate" function will get the motors and
gears back in sync.

Wait patiently.....it will be worth it in saved agony in the long
run....they will probably check out a lot of other mechanical
quick-checks along the way.

After your warranty expires, I will be happy to work on the drives and
clamping mechanisms for you to bring up to perfection...just let me
know.

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Donald McClelland (DonMcClelland@webtv.net)
Hi Clay,
     Despite your outstanding advice and help, my ETX-125 began its
     random slew upward (5-10 degrees) again and I decided to send it
     back to Meade for repairs.  I plan on doing a full fledged tune-up
     per yours and Mr. Blessings instructions when the warrantee runs
     out.

     My question is this,  once I get it back from Meade what will I
     have to do to it and the autostar to get them both running properly
     again. They seem to think it might be a circuit board flaw.  My
     guess is that I'll have to reinitiallize the autostar, recalibrate
     motors, choose an alt/az percentage and retrain telescope then
     input the proper site etc.

     Let me know what you think and once again thanks a lot for all of
     your help!

Don
Mike here: Since Meade fixed the ETX-125EC I have, there have been no more occurrances of the random slew problem. I suspect they have a handle on what is occurring.

Subject:	Autostar Bug in version 2.1ek in the synchronization
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 04:30:05
From:	christian-hanke@t-online.de (Christian Hanke)
I think I found a bug in the Autostar 2.1ek software and I wonder if
anyone has made the same experience. I work with the polar alignment of
the ETX (it's really more calm) and tried to synchronize to e. g. Jupiter
or other objects. Whenever I use the button to move the scope to the
right (also in conjunction with the other buttons), there is an
additional slewing of at least 2 degree to the right after hitting the
enter button to finish the synchronization. This effect can be repeated.
Everything works fine if I use only the other three buttons (up, down
left) in the sychronization procedure. I didnt find any additional
slewing in the Alt/Az-mode.

Perhaps someone of the experts has a solution for this problem.

Regards

Christian

Dr. Christian Hanke
Firlestrae 17
D-81737 Mnchen
Tel.: 089 6376328
e-mail: christian-hanke@t-online.de
Mike here: At first I thought it might have been a sticky key but then you said it doesn't happen in Alt/Az tracking mode.

Subject:	manuals on line - AUTOSTAR
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 04:12:09
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike -
I am glad you put up the direct link to the Meade manuals on-line in
response to Sean's inquiry from March 21.  May I add something that I
think will help a tremendous number of ETX/DS/LX 90 users out there who
read your site every day?

In addition to the telescope manuals on-line, you can access perhaps the
most usefull manual of all by going to
http://www.meade.com/manuals/index.html and downloading the manual for
AUTOSTAR.

Every ETX Autostar user should absolutely do this.  The on-line manual
is far superior to that provided with the AutoStar.  It is FULL of
references, illustrations and chapter-after-chapter that can absolutely
walk a new (or even seasoned!) AutoStar user through every process of
our wonderful little computers.  Everything from initialization to the
entire menu "tree" to alignment, resets, descriptions of accurate
options for "alignment" and even downloading, cloning and updating are
covered in FAR greater detail than in the "Cliff Note" edition that
Meade puts in the AutoStar box.

I suggest that each ETX/DS/LS 90 user go to that page, print EVERY PAGE
(it's big, but worth it) of this on-line manual (it was written
apparently for the LX 90, as "most" of it appears in the LX 90 manual).

Things that are common problems become very simple solutions when
looking at this manual....why Meade does not throw away the old one and
begin supplying this great manual to ETX and DS users is absolutely a
mystery to me.

P. Clay Sherrod
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
The older, non-LX90 manual has info that the new LX90 manual 
neglected to include... such as the consequences of holding the
Mode key down (at least, it sure ain't obvious).

They're both vital documents.

Mike Weasner wrote:
> The link you provided is to the older, non-LX90, manual.  I thought I
> recalled seeing the LX90 manual on the Meade site but I couldn't find
> it there or even any reference to such a link on my ETX site.  
>Am I confused?
no, you're not confused... AND you live close enuf to Meade to go
and throw a rock through their window to ADVISE them to PUT THE 
BLOODY MANUAL(s) ONLINE!!

The LX90 manual was posted in the Files section of the LX90 egroup,
supplied by a vendor (so Meade gives -them- online manuals...)
They even got two editions: the second (ver2 in the file name) 
adds/corrects some things, still has oodles of typos.

frump frump

anyway: the full URL shall be given below.
Since the mailer will probably munch it, here's how to reach it:
hie thyself to:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lx90/files/

Click on "LX90 Meade Documents"

In there, you want  "LX90Ver2.pdf"

or:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lx90/files/LX90%20Meade%20Documents/LX90Ver2.pdf

If we back-search (if i get a  moment i'll do it) in Ye Olde Messages
(mid-to-late Nov and early Dec) you'll see the citations to the 
original vendor.  They may have it on theri website, too... which may
be a better link for your site, rather than into the egroup.

--dick
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
The complete NEW address for AutoStar manuals is well hidden on the
Meade site; if you do not have the direct link, you have to  go through
"Customer Support", then "Site Map" to find it.  To download the
AutoStar #497 NEW instruction manual go to:

http://www.meade.com/manuals/autostar/index.html

To print the entire document requires that EACH CHAPTER be printed as a
file; you cannot print the entire document at once, so it is a little
labor and time consuming, but WELL worth the effort!

The Meade LX 90 manual (new one) is not currently on the Meade site, but
can be accessed (it takes a while to download) by calling up:

http://www.astronomics.com

(this is on the Astronomics web site).

thanks - CLAY SHERROD

Subject:	Sudden slewing
Sent:	Saturday, March 24, 2001 03:39:45
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
After reading Dick's message (response to Rodolfo Mier's "I need your
advices" email below, a thought occurred to me and may be related to
Rodolfo's problem with the sudden slewing.  There have been times when -
for several reasons - I have LOST track of an object, say like in
Rodolfo's case - the Orion Nebula.  The BEST thing to do in that
situation is to hit "GO TO' without any additional prompts and it will
do its best to re-center the object (and does a pretty good job!)

HOWEVER if I am a long way off (say someone has bumped) and I attempt to
re-center the nebula using the ARROW KEYS over a great distance here is
what happens:

1)  I can re-center my object and the tracking is just fine....for a while;
2)  Suddenly the telescope will take off slewing (usually in Altitude (DEC))
    for several degrees and stop;
3)  I attempt to GO TO back to the Orion nebular (NOT using arrow keys);
4)  Motors stops dead;
5)  AutoStar Prompts:  "Telescope Not Aligned" or something to that nature.

I believe that may be what Rodolfo is experiencing (after thinking about
it) since he mentioned that (maybe from a bit of frustration?? ) he
decided to go ahead and enjoy the telescope manually, which probably
implies that he used the arrow keys to attempt to slew to various
objects.

It seems that if you GO OVER a certain distance to center or move
MANUALLY (i.e., with the arrow keys through AutoStar) it may override
the AutoStar's ability to "remember" where it put the telescope ( in our
example, on the Orion nebula) in the first place!

Dick, this has happened to me exactly like just described AND during
lousing portable polar alignment when I could not see Polaris from a
site.  If my "Easy Alignment" stars were WAY off, and I had to really
bear down on the arrow keys to even bring it into the field of view, I
have had this very thing happen ON MY FIRST GO TO.

Combining this with a topical subject:  the random slew that spins the
scope 180 degrees (per Mike Hadley et al), has always occured when the
arrow keys had to be used HEAVILY to center my initial alignment stars. 
(this is on v2.1ek)

A-ha!  Have we hit on something Dick?  The ball's in your court here....

On another matter to Rodolfo....as both Mike and Dick have suggested:

1)  download v2.1 firmware onto your autostar....this will most definitely
    help;
2)  "RESET" and "TRAIN MOTORS" (in that sequence) even if you DO NOT install
2.1 anytime soon.
3)  attempt to do very precise "home positions" (which it sounds like you
    do) to MINIMIZE the amount of manual ("arrow key") slewing necessary to
    center your alignment stars.

Good luck and thanks to all for the great input.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	I need your advices
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 12:19:09
From:	rodolfo_mier@yahoo.com.mx (Rodolfo Mier)
Hello,

I'm a M.S. Chemical Engineer from Monterrey, Mexico (aprox 23.5 from the
equator). I bought my ETX-90EC, #883 tripod, and Autostar on June 2000
in a Discovery Channel Store at Houston.  Since then I have use my
telescope at my home many times, but only 2 connected to the AutoStar. 
On those 2 times I experienced some problems.

The autostar version is the original (as bought) one: 1.3c I have never
resetted the autostar.  I have trained motors twice (second time very
carefully) and I don't remember at what angle. I have changed Autostar's
language from English to Spanish and then back to English since I
noticed that the Spanish language has some mispellings.

On those two times the home positioning (Alt-Az) procedure was:
1)  Level tripod using the tripod's bubble
2)  Point "N" leg to Polaris.
3)  Place ETX over plate.
4)  Verify ETX's base is leveled using a torpedo 
    level.  
5)  Turn counterclockwise until stop, then clockwise 
    until Dec over control panel AND optical tube 
    pointing to Polaris (turn between 90 and 180). 
6)  Lock right ascension axis.
7)  Optical tube at 0 using level on top of 
    OTA.  
8)  Lock declination axis.
9)  Verify Optical tube is still at 0.
10) Connect Autostar to port.
11) Connect AC Adapter (from Meade) to a regulator 
    (since in Mexico electricity peaks are common). 
    Not sure if in English is called "regulator".
12) Turn on ETX.
13) Input date and accurate time
14) Press "5" to skip sun warning.
15) Press "Enter" since ETX already in Home Position.
16) Choose Setup > Align > Easy.
17) Perform alignment using the 2 stars Autostar 
    choose. 
    1st time using Autostar:  
           First alignment star in FOV.
           Second alignment star in Finder.
    2nd time using Autostar:
           First alignment star not even in Finder.
           Second alignment star in Finder.
18)  Telescope starts tracking.
19)  Start gotoing (always waiting for beep)
    1st time using Autostar:
           All objects in FOV, then I chose Saturn and

           while observing, the telescope suddenly 
           moved and a message "Motor failure...(I 
           don't remember more)" appeared.  I 
           instinctly pressed mode and I was able to 
           still move the the telescope vertically and

           horizontally using Arrow keys.  Enough for 
           first time and turned ETX off.  
    2nd time using Autostar:
           Objects only in Finder and worst every 
           time, I decided to continue my enjoyment 
           moving the telescope using arrow keys, 
           until while observing Orion Nebula, the 
           telescope moved counterclockwise and up (It

           seems that it wanted to go to the previous 
           point). 

I will appreciatte your helpful comments from you two. Do you know what
is wrong? I hope I'm doing something wrong, but I blame the autostar
firmware (I don't want to think it is my ETX). Unfortunately, I don't
have the #505 cable.  The next thing I will do is to Reset Autostar, but
I'll wait for your response.

I saw Clay's tips for the Perfect GO TO, but believe me I'm afraid of
opening my "virgin" ETX, especially with those FRAGILE wires you talk
about.  But if the solution is that, I'll give it a try if you can give
me a very specific procedure (maybe with some sketches on how to do it).
 I need to feel completely sure of what I must do, since I don't
understand some words in Part 1 (maybe because English is my second
language).

Please help me, I'm really sad because I spent nearly 1,000 US$ in total
and considering that 1 US$ = 10 pesos (10 times more effort). Finally it
is important to mention that there's a Meade Dealer here in Monterrey,
but I didn't bought there my telescope since here in Mexico it is much
more expensier. I have bought from them a Barlow, an 9.7 Eyepiece, and
two filters.
   
Thank in advance for your time and help,

Rodolfo Mier.
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I also do not think there is anything wrong at all mechanically (as far
as the problems you indicate) with the ETX; I believe it is soley in the
firware 1.3 that you are using; there is some history that suggests the
very problem you are having right now in the 1.3 version.  Another
possibility MIGHT be the regulation of your power; surges in power, ever
though converted to DC can result in mysterious and totally random
slews, particularly if your power drops suddenly below 10.5 volts.

One thing puzzles me though and please clarify so that we can help you
further.  You indicated that DURING ALIGNMENT that one star was in the
field of view (pretty good!) and the other in the FOV of your
finderscope;  DID YOU CENTER EACH STAR in the ETx and press "enter", or
did you merely press "enter" after the telescope slewed to the star?  It
is very important that you manually get each alignment star in the
center of the main scope, then press enter to proceed; otherwise
AutoStar really does not know where you are actually aimed and cannot
correct.

However, THAT cannot be a source of your problem.  I think that the two
sources noted above -  (1) v1.3 AutoStar; and (2) your power fluctuation
possiblities - are likely the culprits; your "home position" sounds like
a textbook so don't worry about that.

Anytime there is a sudden and totally random movement, you can blame a
communication problem within the system; at first thought I was prone to
believe that you MIGHT have a bad connection, possibly at the
AutoStar-to-base plug and this is still a possibility; if it is loose or
if the connection is bad only a slight touch could trigger exactly what
you are experiencing.

The reason I am thinking to check the connection is that - when the
AutoStar is NOT plugged into the base at all and power is applied (we
just conducted a small experiment via Mike's ETX site), there is
spontaneous movement almost exactly like you describe (DICK - some help
here??!!)

Let me know about those alignment stars; in the meantime, I would most
definitely suggest  TOTAL RESET, AND RETRAIN of your system; as soon as
possible, upgrade to v2.1ek firmware and again RESET/RETRAIN.

Let us know how it progresses; what you are describing is not really
common, but it has been reported on the ETX site.  One of the three
factors I noted is likely the target.

Thanks for asking and best of luck in getting it straightened out....I
know it is frustrating!

Clay Sherrod
And a response:
Thank you Clay for your quick and useful response.

First of all, sorry for not being clear on the alignment step, but in
each alignment star (after beep and before pressing enter) I DID
centered each star in the FOV of the eyepiece.

Talking about the problem sources:

Culprit #1 (Firmware version 1.3c): I hope this one is the real culprit,
since it should not be any problem at all (I hope so). I'll buy #505
cable as soon as possible, upgrade to v2.1ek firmware, reset and
retrain.  My investment worths it.

Culprit #2 (Power Regulation): What should I do about it?  Sounds dumb
but should I place two regulators in series or maybe change regulator?
Or is it something I have to learn to live with?

Culprit #3 (Communication Problem): It is important to mention that when
I connect the Autostar to the ETX's base a nice "click" sounds and it
doesn't seems to be loose at all.  But I do think your advice is a
winning one; is there any way to verify if there's something wrong with
my Autostar connection to the ETX.  I know nothing about electronics,
but if some one can explain me...

Finally, I have a last question (at the moment), just to be sure, when
you refer to TOTAL RESET, are you talking about the reset option or a
different type of AutoStar Reset (one that I should know about?).

Thank you Clay, 
Rodolfo.      
Mike here: I'll chime in here and suggest you do upgrade to 2.1ek. Even with the "creep after slew" problem it still much better than previous versions. I don't think it helps to put two regulators in series. And RESET is the one on the Autostar menu.

And:

Thank you Mike, I'll certainly upgrade my Autostar. 

Rodolfo

PS. Your site is of great help!
And this:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
I am glad Mike got back to you already about the regulator thing and he
also noted that the "reset" is found under "Setup" (I think it is the
last on the scroll list); you will need to re-enter your observing site,
the scope type...etc. after doing it and THEN "train motors," followed
by "calibrate motors" (both under "Setup / Telescope").

Since the Meade scope is a DC unit anyway, why don't you just DO AWAY
with the regulators and merely invest in a good portable DC power source
(you can get them anywhere now....mine is an "Everlast" - made by
Everready for WalMart....and it is super at only $70 U.S.  They have
built-in chargers so you never need to worry about power fluctuations;
just plug into trickle charge after every use!  One charge will last you
two months if you used it everynight!!

Regarding a loose connection, I have copied Dick Seymour on all this and
perhaps he can give you some advice - if it were me, I would attempt to
GENTLY wiggle the connections (don't forget the one at the BASE of the
AutoStar too) and see if you get interuptions in service....

Good luck...let us know!

Clay Sherrod
And:
Thank you Clay, I really appreciate your time and useful feedbacks and
Mike's also.  I'll be aware of Dick's advices and opinion.  It's good to
have people like you.

I will let you know about the results!

Rodolfo Mier.
And from Clay:
Thanks....we are always willing to help.  Your information is very
specific and that is nice...it is much easier to hone in on an answer to
your problem that way.  Keep us posted.  Between the three of us, we'll
get you working just fine!

Clay sherrod
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
After all of the information Clay has been sending, there is
very little i can add.  Except Hope! (esperanza!)

From your symptoms, it -may- be low power.  Es posible.

I think v21ek may help very much.

[What you've reported] are the classic symptoms of "creep fater slew" and 
"creep after beep" which fought many people over the past year.

Not listed in your "what i did" was Training the drive.
Even if you do not fully follow Clay's method,
careful Training against a landmark (as the Meade book suggests)
will help the "go to the previous point"

V21ek will help even more.

Feel free to ask more questions... 
Do not despair...
You are/were not alone... many people had your problems,
and most of them have become happy observers!

good luck
--dick
And more:
Thank you all for the words full of Esperanza, and for letting me know
that with the advices from all of you I will enjoy more than ever my
hobby. I don't have any further questions (for the moment), I will start
working on the solutions right away.... Thank you all (again) for
sharing your experience with me!

Estamos en contacto!

Rodolfo Mier.
Will there was just one more question and a comment:
Clay, actually I was using the arrow keys since the GOTO wasn't giving
accurate results (maybe because RESET is urgently needed). So then Clay,
the arrow keys should be used at least as possible?

Today I did some inspections to the Autostar cable and to the AC Adapter
connector.  There was some amount of play in the connector at the
Autostar base (in and out play).  I taped (using insulating black tape)
so that the connect can be always in its place. The connector at the ETX
control panel fits nicely and has no play. The AC Adapter had also some
amount of play in its cord and I did the same as with the autostar. I
hope this can prevent Autostar loosing contact with ETX.

The next steps will be:
  1)  RESET and TRAIN MOTORS at an angle > Polaris and
      increasing magnification after each dead center.
      (Monterrey is surrounded by Mountains, so it's 
      easy to find a high spot).
  2)  Do test in field. 
  2)  Obtain a #505 cable and download v2.1ek firmware
      onto my autostar.
  3)  RESET, adjust %Al & %Az, and TRAIN MOTORS.
      attempt to do very precise "home positions"
  5)  Accurate home position (to minimize the use of 
      arrow keys to center the alignment stars.
  6)  Do test in field.
  7)  If still not a happy ETX user, buy DC power 
      station and goodbye regulators.

Thanks for the new advices!
Rodolfo Mier.
And Clay's response:
Your next steps sound like the right direction!  good luck!  Regarding
the arrow keys, it is fine to use them as much as you want; the only
problem that I have found is that the AutoStar MAY lose track of where
you have gone to....so, if you want to find strictly using the arrow
keys and NOT "GO TO" objects, then do your alignment (after the second
star centered and you press "enter" the motors are activated...you will
hear them), and then merely move around the sky at leisure with your
arrow keys!  If you try to intermingle GO TO operation and some random
searching on your own per the arrow keys or even unclamping the scope,
you alignment will be lost as will be your ability to use the GO TO
until you turn off the power and again reinitialize for a new start that
evening. (that doesn't take long).

I think the RESET and RETRAIN will help you greatly and your training
targets sound great.  Let me know how it goes; follow very carefully the
step-by-step procedures IN ORDER from my "Enhancement Guide...." Part 2
and Part 3 for best success.
Mike here: Using the arrow keys should be OK but it does sound like the Autostar may lose track of where it is if you do this a lot. SYNCing back up will probably help if it does lose its orientation.

Subject:	High precision mode & training with Polaris
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 11:40:31
From:	James.D.McCambridge@usa.dupont.com (James D McCambridge)
A question and comment in response to some of Clay Sherrod's posts
(which are incredibly helpful & detailed, by the way):

1. Clay strongly recommends using High Precision mode. Is High Precision
mode any different from manually synchronizing to a star nearby one's
object of desire?

2. Clay recommends *against* training the drives using Polaris in polar
mode.  If one's ETX is on a tripod, it should be pointed out that you
can just turn the tripod around so that the north leg faces south and
aim the scope at the North Star and train away.  (The reason I suggest
this is it can be difficult to find a distant terrestrial object at a
sufficient elevation to train with.) Just remember to put the scope back
the right way when you're done...

Best regards and clear skies,

Jim McCambridge
Swarthmore, PA 19081
JimMcCambridge@yahoo.com
Mike here: According to the Autostar manual, High Precision mode uses SYNC to accurately align to that portion of the sky but it is a separate operating mode (selected from the Setup-->Telescope menu. In High Precision mode the Autostar first slews to a brighter object, requests you to SYNC, and then it slews to the fainter object. You don't have to be in High Precision mode to use SYNC function however.

Subject:	Polar Training suggestion
Sent:	Friday, March 23, 2001 05:31:53
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
EMORY  -
Thanks for your recent post on Mike's ETX site.  That is a GREAT idea! 
This is something that certainly I shall do from here forward and will
highly recommend to others.  It DOES require a bit more work, but as you
know, training is one of the most critical aspects of preparing the ETX
for the night sky.  The suggestion is excellent, and all of your points
are certainly valid.  It is far better than attempting to train on a
nearby land-based object.  By the way, I envy those of you with such a
high latitude for "training"...but we got you beat here in Arkansas for
some great southern sky! (Latitude 35 north).

Thanks again!  - CLAY SHERROD 

Subject:	Polar alignment
Sent:	Thursday, March 22, 2001 08:23:39
From:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu (Emory Braswell)
I am addressing Cay Sherrod mostly, but would like comments from anyone.
Clay's remarks on performance enhancement and alignment I think are
immensely valuable, but I have a question about the validity of a
possible slightly different alternative to the training procedure.   I
agree that there is probably  value in training the scope at some
intermediate altitude so that it will be somewhat loaded.  I also
understand that why you can't train on a star (it moves) and also why
you can't align on Polaris in the equatorial mount (you get very little
displacement at the pole).  Since I do not have a suitable object to
train on in the daytime, I tried the following procedure.   In
equatorial (polar mount) I rotate physically the whole scope and tripod
so that it faces south then I increase the declination of the scope so
that it points at Polaris (it is now parallel to its base which is
tilted for my latitude, about 41.25 degrees). Then I train.  This way I
have the scope tilted-I have a sharp distant point, and I believe the
scope moves the maximum amount from the object during training.
Incidentally, if you think about it in Alt-Az  training on an object
directly overhead would be as bad as training on Polaris in polar.  To
get the greatest movement during training in Alt-Az--you should
therefore train horizontally (parallel to the base)-but then as Clay
would say you don't get good loading on the scope.  Extending this to my
way of training in polar, I am now training  parallel to the base, the
scope is loaded, and it is at night (when I have more time).  I then
rotate the whole scope and tripod and align on polaris and two stars
according to Clay.  Experts,  please think about this and tell me what
may be wrong with this method.  Emory Braswell
Mike here: The info about the 45 degree angle for training was originally from someone else who got it from Meade.

Subject:	trying to find double stars on AutoStar
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 05:13:08
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net
The attempt to find both stars by name and listed doubles (as well as
any numbered object) with AutoStar can be difficult; I frequently use
stars in calibration projects, and having to scroll through the list is
annoying but presently it is the only way to access in alphabetical
order.

Regarding double stars: you are right, GAM CNC is not one of the stars
listed on the AutoStar Double Star directory, nor is ADS 6915.    In
Cancer, are you sure you are not referring to ZETA CNC?  This is the
famous triple star, not Gamma ( it is easy to get confused on these!) 
Zeta is at RA 08h o9m and DEC +17 48, and is  5th and 6th magnitude REAL
close double with a slightly fainter third star about 6" away in about a
NE direction.

But....to your point and very interestingly...ZETA CNC is also NOT
listed among the double stars on the AutoStar!  It is a tough one,
particularly for the two main components in a ETX 90 or ETX 125, but
perhaps is still among the best known.  I guess they had to draw a line
as to limitations in the ability to actually separate the double in the
size scopes that AutoStar will  be used (ah-hem....the LX 90??).

However, using the same reasoning, I find it VERY odd that Meade chose
to list "SIRIUS" under the double stars when, in fact (observational
reality) it is one of the most difficult stars to split its companion
star out, but in THEORY (the "book") it has a really wide separation for
a 3" or 5" scope. Sounds to me like whoever chose the stars did it out
of a book, rather than through practical experience in astronomy!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	wild ride on the ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, March 19, 2001 04:33:38
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadley)
Mike - good to hear from you.  Like Dick, I am glad you wrote so I would
not have to!  Like you, I have been questioning night after night (last
night most recently) WHY the scope goes to the floor after my two-star
alignment.?

I too have been using the Procylon-to-Alioth combination ("easy" had
picked) with the problem; HOWEVER, I always do a slew-to star test first
and picked Sirius as my star after alignment compete (last star was
Alioth).  Sure enough, the scope went to the floor, observing deck
timbers.  Later I did the user-picked two star (Polar mode) and chose
Procyon and Aldebaran; then went to Jupiter.  Scope went to the floor
again looking for Juptiter.

I realigned (did not power down) to north and re-did my easy alignment;
this time, the scope PICKED Procyon and Aldebaran; I chose to over-ride
Aldebaran and picked Alioth instead; the scope did NOT wait for me to
enter Alioth; as soon as I picked it on A.S., the slew began. 
Nonetheless that time, the scope went right to Jupiter after alignment.

After turning off power, I have always had good results, but this random
180 spin on things is a nuisance; it does not happen often, but usually
about once every three times out.  I believe my power source (DICK??)
may be to blame on this one....at my pier I am still using a cheap
(really cheap) 12V AC DV converter that moves the scope at a snail's
pace;  I am going to replace this unit soon.  On my portable tripod I
use the Meade AC/Dc unit (#541 - puts out about 15.2-15.5V) and have
NEVER had this difficulty.

Dick - can a voltage drop below a certain output be responsible for
memory problems in the AutoStar like this?  By the way, I do have plenty
of memory space available on the AutoStar unit I was using.

I think what is different in my case, as Dick was asking, is that my 180
spin happens on GO TO stars as well as planets....so it is not merely a
"computed object" problem....it is a GO TO problem!

Let me know how yours turns out!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	RE: RE: Use ETX AutoStar with this model 
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 20:47:17
From:	bernard@zilker.net (Hugh B. Taylor)
I downloaded the updates from Meade...

Everything seemed to be going allright but somehow, the AUTOSTAR does
not recoganize the scope.

ERROR message: 'Use ETX AutoStar with this this model'.

I am sorry, that I don't have more info, but I should be at firmware
v2.1ek++, and A2.4. I purchased the scope 2 years ago, so the
firmware/software  were at that date.  I don't know what version.

I love the scope, and your help....

Thx

Hugh Taylor
Mike here: If the upgrade was successful and RESETing the Autostar doesn't help then you might try regressing to a previous version.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
It's obvious from the message that you've somehow loaded the
495 Autostar code into your 497.

The A2.3 updater could do that to people.

The A2.4 kit can get around it.
You -do- have to trick it into FLASH LOAD by holding
the proper keys down as you turn on the ETX,
-then- start up the Updater program.

But, before doing that...

fetch from Meade the -entire- A2.4 update kit... not just the
ROM files.

so that's:

http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Auto.exe

double-click on -that- and let it completely reinstall itself.
It'll also install (into the PC) the v21ek firmware for your 497.

Then connect the cables, hold the Autostar's keys so that it comes
up in "safe load" and (after it does, assuming it does) then start
the UPdater program on the PC... 
if the Updater asks "are you trying form Flash Load", say "yes"
 and it should fix things (it take a half hour).
IF it -doesn't- ask about FLASH LOAD, then, when the Updater is 
rolling, -only- click on [send software to Autostar] on the main
screen.  Don't try to do oterh things.

let us know if this works.
--dick
And this success report:
From:	bernard@zilker.net (Hugh B. Taylor)
Thanks guy's.....

I got back control of my Autostar.

I deleated everything related to Meade from the computer, reloaded from
Dick's referenced web site,  and did the flash load.

I will go through Mike's web posted reload procedure, and see where we
go.

The update screen is very confusing.....  I would like to update my
AutoStar hand box with the best objects/tours that I can.  Please give
me a site or something to run/check....

Thank you again, Mike and Dick......
Mike here: See the Autostars Tours page on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Use ETX AutoStar with this model 
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 18:20:50
From:	bernard@zilker.net (Hugh B. Taylor)
My first time downloading new software/undate, and have seemed to have
lost  about everything.  Can't  get past this message....   What do you
suggest???
Mike here: First suggestion: send more info. We can't answer your question unless we know more about your telescope and Autostar model and which version you started with. But you might want to check the "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" info on the Autostar Information page.

And:

I have an ETX90-EC with Autostar #497...
I have downloaded the software, and applied in both 'SAFE  LOAD'  and
other. The message I get  after 'Safe Load' is 'The Autostar has not
reset properly'

Maybe something is wrong with Autostar.ROM and DBase.ROM.

I can delete/restart/reboot....   Anything you can suggest....

Thx....
Mike here: From where did you download the software, what version of the Autostar ROMs, and what version of the Autostar Updater. Sorry for the questions but I need more info.

Subject:	Re: Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 17:08:36
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Marcus
Glad you enjoy the information on Mike's ETX site.  It is definitely
time for you to upload some new firmware into your AutoStar!  First you
must go to Meade's website and access "AutoStar Updates" to find version
A2.4 Autoloader and the v2.1ek firmware;  it is very easy to do now,
because the new "package" dumps everything in one folder now on your
computer;  it will provide you with an icon that will allow you to
double click and begin downloading once your AutoStar is correctly
attached.

There is a lengthy "ReadMe" file attached, so once you access the new
data onto your PC I suggest that you print that out and read through it
carefully prior to uploading into your AutoStar.  Be sure to "save
AutoStar" information when the prompt comes up and that will preserve
all of your asteroids, comets, satellites that you presently have; you
will have to manually upload the tours onto your A.S. by going back to
the edit screen and "drag and drop" them into the "AutoStar" prompt.

It is really very simple and all of us can step you through the process
if you run into problems.

You are right to re-set anytime you have motor problems.  You must
"retrain motors" after each reset, however, for your scope to track and
GO TO properly.  Even after your upload to v2.1ek, be sure and RESET,
initialize, "calibrate motors," and then "train motors" once more to get
the AutoStar and ETX in sync!  If you will carefully follow each of the
steps in order in my "Enhancement Guide....", Parts 2 and 3 under "Tech
Tips" on Mike's site, you will have no problems.

Good luck and let us know how things turn out!

P. Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Marcus
>I would like to thank you for all of the great information you posted on
>Mike's page.  I still had version 1.3c on my Autostar because I kept
>hearing about all of the crazy things happening with new downloads.  Your
>article gave me the nerve to download the new firmware/software and it
>seems to work fine.  I did get some of those crazy motor actuations until
>I reset the unit.  That seems kind of odd because I never experienced
>these problems with the only other download I did (to upgrade to v1.3c).
>Anyway I really appreciate the help.
>
>Marcus

Subject:	Star Names in Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, March 18, 2001 11:39:07
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
Star Names in Autostar

Im having a hard time finding stars in Autostar 2.1ek (and all previous
for that matter). An example: In March 2001 Sky and Telescope, p94,
there is a list of good stuff to view in Cancer. It says Cnc Gamma is a
good double.

So I select Object>Constellation>Cancer and there is no gamma listed.
There is an Aseillus Australis, but at 10 pm and 22 degrees F, shivering
and desperately cursoring through my trusty Autostar, I didn't know that!
I later looked it up in a reference book in the warmth of my den.

Similarly, Sky&Telescope (Sue French, actually), says ADS 6915 is a good
triple to view. But where, oh where, is ADS 6915 in the Autostar? Now I
think that Autostar uses SAO star listings, but what about these ADS
guys? I know when all else fails, I can key in the RA/Dec, but I want it
the easy way. Autostar should have it.

I have downloaded Dick Seymours files of Autostar databases but I havent
figured out how they can help me.

What we need is for the IEEE to organize a committee to standardize,
once and for all, star names! In the meantime, I guess Ill just have to
put up with the fact that there are over twenty recognized deep-sky
cataloging systems and many different spellings and even names for the
same target. HELP!

Dennis Persyk

confused in Hampshire, IL
Mike here: Well, actually the IAU (International Astronomical Union) does develop some standards. But there are a LOT of standards. Just like in the electronics world.

Subject:	Possible Autostar Bug?
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 22:41:43
From:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadey)
Saw this problem a couple of times before just after uploading 2.1Ek
with the new uploader but wrote it off as operator error.  Last night I
did the normal initialization (checked for accurate home position
first) using polar alignment (have been for some time) and using "easy
align".  The stars picked were Procyon and Alioth.  I then tried to GOTO
Jupiter and the scope ended up pointing about 180 degrees opposite where
it should have.  Tried Saturn, same thing.  I didn't turn the scope of
at this point but checked the date, time, mount (polar), put the scope
back in the home position and did a "two star alignment" with Procyon
and Betelgeuse, GOTO Jupiter, same result, 180 out.  I turned off the
power and stared over with an "easy align" and things worked fine.  This
is the third or forth time I've seen this and I'm now convinced it's not
operator error.  Mike, I'd be interested to know if anyone else has seen
this with 2.1Ek.

Cheers,
Mike H.
And:
From:	rick@pinefields.com (Richard B. Emerson)
This sounds a little like a problem I saw in connection with testing the
Tonite's Jewels script.  In that case, the ETX pointed at Venus and
[???] correctly but then tried to do a 180 on M 2.  The final resolution
was to break Tonite's Jewels down into two parts.  With both parts
uploaded, I had no more problems.  To test this hypothesis, I recommend
flushing your handbox's memory (use expert mode in A2.4 to get to the
memory-blanker) and then uploading just the basic load of objects and
tours.  I think you'll find everything is back to normal. Apparently
2.1Ek can't report its own memory corruption.

Cheers,
   Rick
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
I'm glad Rick chimed in first... i'd forgotten about the too-big-tour
possibilty... although i think that mangles Deep Sky and Named Stars.

The Planetary Epherimedes are embedded in the code itself, whereas the
other objects are out where they can get mangled by Tours.
(but, with a computer, one mangled pointer can lead to other things
chewing on other pointers... )

I also haven't heard of (v21ek) cases where the stars are OK and the
planets are that far off... by "180 degrees off", -where- did the
barrel point?  Below the Horizon?

Did Stars point OK -after- a plaentary mess-up?

And, what about the moon?

Ohhhh...... there -is- a potential pothole... if the Palm tries to
 -update- the Autostar's idea of "local sidereal time", (LST) then
 it can/will totally mangle the Autostar's idea of what's where.
And, in Polar mode, that "mangle" has a MUCH MUCH greater effect.
180 degrees (and i mean darn-near -exactly- 180 degrees) would be
quite likely.

This has been gone around on an egroup, and in Mike's site recently,
but in short: what the Autostar calls "LST" isn't really.  It's a
side-result of the alignment calculation, and is really the RA that
the Autostar thinks its Az/RA axle is pointing at.
In Alt/Az, that should be pretty much directly overhead, so it happens
to (almost) match the real LST.  But in Polar mode, that axle could
be just a schooch -below- (earthward) of the north celestial pole,
and would therefore be 180 degrees -off- from "true" LST.

The LX-200 (probably) really -does- maintain/report "true" LST.
The Autostar misnames and misuses the term.  
LX-200-compatible programs blithely "set" the LST... which changes a
value the Autostar uses as a basis for all of its positioning 
operations.

Test: after aligning Autostar, before starting Palm program,
lean on the MODE key for 3 seconds to reach the status display.
Scroll up a couple of times to reach the LST display.
First question: -is- it the real LST?  (the RA that'd be overhead -now-)
Or is it completely whacko?

*Now* engage the Palm program, with that display still on the Autostar.
2nd Q: In the course of operations, does that  display (radically,
   beyond just the simple pasage of sidereal time) change?
(such a change would also have to be correlated to 180-off GoTo's)

The "LST" does -not- get used to point at the initial alignment stars.
(well, it may... it's just idealized to perfection at that moment)
The -results- from the alignment will cause it to change.

Another work-around is to -skip- alignment.  Just [mode] away from the
Align>Easy.  That'll leave LST "ideal" and Palm pointing should 
operate correctly.

--dick
And from Rick:
I'd sure vote for the LST option over a possibly boogered memory image.

Subject:	autostar update procedure
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 16:11:06
From:	mpolzin@mediaone.net (Michael Polzin)
I have version 1.2g of autostar on my ETX-90 and want to update it.  I
understand there's quite a procedure involved to get fully up to date.  Do
you have a place on your site that lists the procedure step by step?

Thanks.
Mike here: It is a two-step process to update to the current version from an old version like you have. See the top of the Autostar Software Archive page (linked from the Autostar Information page) for the steps. The actual updating is not that difficult since you normally just need to run the software. If you are using Windows2000 be certain to read the note on Meade's Autostar Update web page (also linked from Autostar Information page; that's also where you can download the current version. You might also want to read Clay Sherrod's "AutoStar Downloads and Post-Download Initialization" available from the Telescope Tech Tips page. Of course, read the README files from Meade.

Subject:	ETX and Satellite Tracking
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 17:10:17
From:	brentb@micro-man.com (Brent Boshart)
I got my AutoStar 497 this week and loaded firmware 21ek.

At this point, I am only able to make it "leap frog" track via RS232. It
just can't respond fast enough for continuous like its LX200 cousin.(or
maybe Grandfather?)

I found that immediately after issuing a :Q#, its very slow in
responding to subsequent ":Sd", ":Sr" amd ":MS" commands. I could do
better without the ":Q#"

Anyway, I have it reliably "leap frogging" and will be putting the
"AutoStar" update on my website sometime this weekend. Also for Autostar
users I will have the feature to create a custom TLE file. They can
create a file based on pass parameters they choose. Objects are listed
in order of AOS when uploaded to the Autostar. Satellite tracker will
monitor when and where visible and then the Autostar takes care of the
tracking. Is probably the best choice for AutoStar for Satellite
tracking.

Again, thanks for you help.

Brent
sattracker.hypermart.net
And:
The :Q# prevents stack overflows... if you're not sending commands
too quickly you -can- live without it.
Another trick you might try is sending the :Sd and :Sr -before-
the :Q#.   One of the changes in v21ek is that they're buffering
(tucking away so it doesn't get stepped on) the GoTo target's
coordinates... older firmware just referenced the locations the 
:Sd and :Sr modified.. so if you changed the values during a slew,
it'd divert.

> Anyway, I have it reliably "leap frogging" and will be putting the
> "AutoStar" update on my website sometime this weekend. Also for
> Autostar users I will have the feature to create a custom TLE file.
cool.
> They can create a file based on pass parameters they choose. Objects
> are listed in order of AOS when uploaded to the Autostar. Satellite
> tracker will monitor when and where visible and then the Autostar 
> takes care of the tracking. Is probably the best choice for
> AutoStar for Satellite tracking.
nice.

Let's see... should a satellite's anme field show the -next- sat's AOS?
kind'a like:
   MIR @ 8:15, ISS @ 8:20
(of course, it has to fit in 16 characters...)
--dick

Subject:	battery level indicator in v2.1 firmware
                   and comments on "ORTHOGONOAL SCAN"
Sent:	Friday, March 16, 2001 07:50:31
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net
Regarding your concern about the battery level first:

1) hold down the "Mode" key for three seconds;
2) on v2.1 the first option to appear on the screen (#1) is "FOCUS"
3) using the RIGHT scroll key go to (#9), which will be "BATTERY LEVEL,"
4) to return to your normal function, press "Mode" once more.

Remember, if you are using an AC-DC converter your battery level will
ALWAYS READ 100%, which sometimes can get you into trouble as your
batteries age.  I have never seen a set of batteries that indicated
higher than 97% brand new in the system.  When attached to the power
input jack on the control panel, the source of power overrides the
internal batteries and takes them out of the system, including the
proper battery level, even though the "Check" still shows up on
AutoStar.

However, if you are using an external power station that generates DC (a
car jack or other portable power source) it WILL provide the DC power
level (based on a supposed voltage of 12V @ 100%) from that source; if
your source exceeds 12V (as does the Meade #154 power source at 15.4V
roughly and my EverStart DC power stations at 14.2V) the "Battery Level"
will still indicated 100%;  if, say your car battery drops BELOW 12V
which sometimes happens, the percent reading WILL indicate less than
100% for that source.

2)  THE ORTHOGONAL SCAN - You are correct; there is NO such thing as a
curve, arc or spiral when operating a telescope Alt-Azimuth mode. 
William Herschel, with his "40 foot" reflector was the first to take
advantage of the "stair-step" of alt-az. to achieve sidereal tracking.
Your analogy of a large box is exactly what you have rather than a
"spiral" (I liken it to a maze).  The telescope moves in appropriate
amounts horizontally and then vertically either up or down and right or
left to compensate for the earth's motion just as the equatorial (or
Polar) mode does in arcs, utilizing only ONE motion in Right Ascension.

Meade's - and other's - Alt-Az tracking systems now have it to a fine
art in that the increments of the "ever-increasing box" are so small,
that when defined over a very long period of time subscribe to the
pattern of the spiral or arcs rather than straight lines.

If you can find one of the old classic Herschel prints from 1811, they
show the "motions" of the telescope in little boxes relative to his
assistant's "house" from which large wheels and ropes moved the
cumbersome telescopes....just like our ETX and LX scopes do today!

Eat your heart out Meade.  Herschel beat you to it!

Clay Sherrod
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
It's right where it always has been:
Hold MODE for 3 seconds, release.
You're now in the status display.
Press scroll down (or up) a few times, and one of the displays
 is -still- battery level.

--dick
Mike here: I must be getting senile...

And this:

Subject:	you CAN control the spiral search's motion!
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Dennis...

you're right... the spiral is really spiral boxes.

> left-> right, down, right-> left, up
I think my ETX90 traces the same pattern (understandable)

> 2) The pitch, (dr/dTheta), of the "spiral" is too large.
>  The first lap of the spiral seemed to have moved me outside of the
>  central FOV of the starting point, making it difficult to keep track
>  of where I was and where I was going.
> 3) The rate, (dTheta/dt), is too great.  Is there a way to slow down
> the spiral scan when searching for dim guys that may require averted
>  vision?

Well, kind-of... the spiral assumes a 26mm eyepiece, and uses your
 declared Focal Length to figure out a one-field-of-view box-side
sizing.  The speed is a "pleasing" traversal of that distance.

So: if you Setup>Telescope>FocalLength, and change the value,
you'll change the spiral's motion.
Bigger focal length = smaller box, slower motion.
So, if you double your "focal length" (as the Autostar knows it),
you'll halve the distance and speed that the spiral is using.

The spiral does -not- take anything else into account.

Changing the focal length will only affect this, and the results
of any "eyepiece calculations".  So it's safe to fiddle.

Focal length changes survive power-cycles, so it'll remain at that
 new value until you change it again (or re-select telescope model).
have fun (more slowly)
--dick

Subject:	Autostar 21ek Battery Level
Sent:	Wednesday, March 14, 2001 15:21:01
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
I can't locate the Battery Level status indicator in Autostar rev 21ek
(on LX90).  It was in earlier versions and gave a percentage normalized
to 100% which was a good indicator of battery heath.  I found a Low
Battery Alarm but that is not the same.  Is it in there somewhere or is
it gone now?
Dennis Persyk
Hampshire, IL
Mike here: I checked the LX90 manual (online version) and it doesn't mention the Battery Level.

Subject:	Spiral Scan really Orthogonal Scan?
Sent:	Wednesday, March 14, 2001 09:56:26
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
My first impressions of the spiral scan feature (Autostar version 21ek)
to help find dim DSOs with my LX90:
1) The scan seems to describe an ever-increasing square (maze?) rather
than a spiral.  It seemed to me to scan left to right in azimuth, down
in elevation, right to left in azimuth, and back up in elevation.  Have
others perceived this pattern?
2) The pitch, (dr/dTheta), of the "spiral" is too large. The first lap
of the spiral seemed to have moved me outside of the central FOV of the
starting point, making it difficult to keep track of where I was and
where I was going.
3) The rate, (dTheta/dt), is too great.  Is there a way to slow down the
spiral scan when searching for dim guys that may require averted vision?

Dennis Persyk
Hampshire, IL

Subject:	Autostar 21ek Motor Failure Bug?
Sent:	Wednesday, March 14, 2001 09:33:26
From:	dpersyk@worldnet.att.net (Dennis Persyk)
Last night was first light for my LX-90. (It's really just an ETX125 on
steroids, so I hope I may continue to use this great site.)  The
Autostar ver 21ek (shipped from Meade Mar 6, 01) reported "Motor
failure" about 45 degrees into a clockwise slew to the first star
(Sirius) in a two-star easy align. I had tested max slew in alt and az
and I was pretty sure this was an Autostar glitch. This went on for 70
minutes. In the meantime I was unable to use tracking. I set Targets =
Astronomical and obtained a continuous max CW slew in azimuth.

Finally after about 6 reboots, I got a successful align. Significantly,
the slew to Sirius this time was CCW.  Thereafter, all was well.  All
GOTO objects centered in a 17 minute true field of view eyepiece.

Any advice from the Autostar gurus?  Thanks.

Dennis Persyk
Hampshire, IL
Mike here: Anytime the Autostar acts up, a RESET and RETRAIN might help. You can get more serious by following the "Part 2 - AutoStar Downloads and Post-Download Initialization" info on the Telescope Tech Tips page.

Subject:	497 sun warning
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 12:57:06
From:	mdparenti@juno.com (Marcus Parenti)
I know this was posted on your site in the past, but I could not find
it.  I would like to know how to skip the sun warning when I first power
up my Autostar.

Thanks,
Marcus Parenti
Mike here: If you have the Autostar 2.0i (I think it was) or later, go to the UTILITIES menu, then the DISPLAY OPTIONS.

And:

Thank you Mike.  I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Subject:	Tour Sources
Sent:	Tuesday, March 13, 2001 12:47:38
From:	tex@airmail.net (Tex Frossard)
Once again, thanks for the great site. It's a great source.
I am to find some Autostar guided tours to download.
Do have any suggestions on where to look?

Thanks In Advance

tex
Mike here: The Tours that I know about are available from the "Autostar Guided Tours Info" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	alt/az. alig
Sent:	Monday, March 12, 2001 15:20:28
From:	angiem@mail.telepac.pt (Luis Plantier)
I can never get the right results after aligning in alt/az my ETX-90EC.
After following the procedures in the manual as well as those in Meade
page for ETX alignment-" Align>Easy" the scope never slews to the right
stars, anyway I confirm it and after I send it to a known object, center
it and sincronyze after sincrinizing to a known object all goes well....
Am I doing something wrong or is it general....?
Mike can you do something for me?
thank you
Luis Plantier
Lisbon-Portugal
Mike here: Have you tried the alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. They may clarify a step that is causing you problems. Let me know.

Subject:	Possible bug in 2.1Ek
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 16:33:04
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
I was wondering if anybody has had a problem with contrast adjustment in
the 2.1Ek for the autostars. I made an contrast adjustment on my 495
running 2.1Ek. Everything was fine but I went too far and later adjusted
it back. The next time I powered up the autostar the display faded to
invisible. This occurred after the initial date and time setup screen.
It did this when it switches to night mode on the "EASY" alignment
screen. It isn't the batteries  they are new and isn't temperature. I an
in Savannah, Ga. The autostar Would still function except the display
was blank. The fade would take about 3 or 4 sec. I reloaded 2.1Ek to get
it to work again and now everything is fine, except I wont dare adjust
the contrast. I don't know if this is a bug (or feature) in 2.1Ek, or
just a fluke thing from adjusting the contrast too often.

I could be operator error but it was fine during the previous use. This
also brings me to a software suggestion. Have a way to reset the
autostar during power up similar to putting the autostar in "SAFELOAD".
This way when I goof it up again I won't have to reinstall the ROM code.

clear skies
bob rose
bobrose500@comcast.net
Mike here: I suspect it was just dimmed too much to be useful. The software should probably not allow that. But that is a good tip. As to resetting, it would be very handy to have a startup mode RESET capability. You should send that to engineer@meade.com. You can get to the RESET menu item by counting button presses but without a display that can be an iffy thing to do.

And:

I tried counting button presses to get to reset but apparently got off
track. Rather than waste a bunch of time I just reloaded. I was in the
process of switching the 495 back to the DS114 from testing it on an
LX90 for almost a month now. So resetting and motor training was my goal
anyhow. I think I will email engineering @ Meade. There Should be some
kind of way to reset a badly misprogramed autostar. It might even save
them tech support expense. On PC's that is about the first thing tech
people tell you to do.

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Sunday, March 11, 2001 12:56:45
From:	atbrum@yahoo.com (amanda brmly)
I recently bought an EXT 70 and am having a problem when I try to align
it. I press goto, it slews to the star, but when I try to center it the
arrow keys don't respond. The motor hums however. I thought the locks
might be slipping, but if I press goto again, it will slew to the next
star with no problem.

Thanks very much for any advice!
Amanda
Mike here: I'm a little confused. You say you are trying to align. You don't have to press GOTO during the alignment process. That is used only after an object is selected. If the up/down/left/right arrow keys don't respond when the Autostar asks you to center the alignment star but they do work to slew the telescope around following the alignment, you might try resetting it.

Subject:	ETX 125
Sent:	Saturday, March 10, 2001 17:36:41
From:	treppert@erols.com (Thomas Reppert)
I just have a quick question.  I'm a great user of setting circles. 
With the ETX 125 w/ Autostar, can you get into the RA/Dec display and
then slew around the sky with the coordinates in continuous readout???  
In the alt/az???  Thanks to you and all the loyal contributers for any
help on this.
Mike here: After you have aligned the Autostar and tracking has begun, hold the MODE key down for a couple of seconds and release. You'll see the RA and DEC displayed. It does change as you slew.

Subject:	Blacked out autostar
Sent:	Saturday, March 10, 2001 10:09:22
From:	mikenanc@san.rr.com (Michael & Nancy)
I had a weird experience with my autostar the other night. I had it
pointed at Jupiter and went inside for a while (25 min) when I came back
out the display and key pad were black ( like it was off) but as soon as
I pushed a button the whole thing came back to normal, is this normal,
maybe a new powersaver mode? I went from v. 2.0G to 2.1ek, old version
never did that, everything else seems to work great, I've experienced
minor creep after beep (still in FOV). Thanks for your hard work, clear
skies.

Michael in S.D.   
Mike here: This is normal behavior.

Subject:	Cable Crop
Sent:	Thursday, March 8, 2001 01:12:28
From:	dirklenz@mac.com (Dirk Lenz)
could you explain the meaning of "cable crop" in the Autostar's
utilities menu (v. 2.1ek)?

Thank you very much!

:Dirk
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
It's actually "Cable Wrap".

The Autostar now knows about LX90's and the newer ETX60at and 70at.
Due to their designs, they don't have the inner Az rotation hard
stops (required or an ETX90's inner wires would twist off).
So an LX90 can spin CW (or CCW) for dozens of turns without concern.
That's "Cable Wrap OFF"

But let's say you add an external power pack, or tie the Autostar
to a computer, or add CCD cameras...  NOW you've got cables to
worry about... you don't want the scope to wind them around itself
and eventually pull something expensive off a table (or tripod).
So you turn "Cable Wrap" ON.

If you, like me, have an ETX90 or ETX125, then you (well, your
Autostar) -always- have to think about which way to turn to get XXXX,
due to the internal stop.
Hence -those- model scopes -always- show "Cable Wrap" ON, since
it cannot usefully be turned off.

--dick

Subject:	Autostar Display Dimming
Sent:	Tuesday, March 6, 2001 22:02:59
From:	jchalfen@mn.mediaone.net (John Chalfen)
To:	xmcvs@free.fr
Don't know if this will help, but I had the same problem different
button. If I pressed the down arrow (bottom right on autostar) my
display would blank out. Sometimes it came back, mostly not. What I
found was the that circuit board had flexed somehow, and pressing the
button put too much pressure on the board. Took my Autostar apart to
figure it out and re-seated the board and now it works fine.

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

--Sometimes I think that the surest sign of  intelligent life on other
planets is the fact that they haven't tried to contact us yet.  (Bill
Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes)

TIA

jchalfen@mn.mediaone.net
jchalfen@aol.com

Subject:	Autostar display
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 13:23:13
From:	xmcvs@free.fr (Vincent STEINMETZ)
Hi mike and every body.
Does someone experienced some display loss (light on but nothing on it)
with autostar version ek ? I think it is because of cold weather -2C.
Vincent STEINMETZ
xmcvs@free.fr
Mike here: There have been reports that cold temperatures do cause the display to dim significantly. The version installed doesn't matter. Some users have reported that keeping it in a pocket between uses helps.

And:

Hi my conclusion is the same.
Do you know if the display is "comming again" after it disappeared ?
For example in my pocket 8-)
But where should i put my hands, if my autostar is in my pocket 8-(

What is strange is that it always disappears just shortly after i press
on enter, on the reference star, in a tour, ...

If you have an idea ...
Mike here: The display should come back on once the Autostar warms up again. I suspect the reason it dims when you press a button is that the batteries in the scope are cold and so getting weaker.

And:

No no 8-)
i am "car" 12V powered ...
I think it is due to the fact that pressing on enter is being processed
by the autostar, and something happens ... but what ?
vincent

Subject:	re: Autostar 2.1ek. software problem
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 13:09:29
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	henrik1@image.dk
In the immortal words of many a software developer:
It's not a bug, it's a feature!

The Autostar always starts up in Terrestrial mode,
but switches to Astronomical as soon as you either
Align or [GoTo] any Astro object.  Or an RA/Dec coordinate pair.
It does not engage sidereal if you goto an Alt/Az coordinate pair.

We can only guess at  Meade's reasoning behind some of this:
If you haven't aligned, then turning on sidereal before alignment
 merely confuses things.  You'd like a steady scope as you try to
 point it north.
If you're wanting to use it for Terrestrial viewing, then you won't
 be using RA/Dec, but may be simply turning it on the watch a bird.
 In that case you wouldn't want the sidereal to start moving just
 after you'd simply slewed to a target.

We -might- make a case for "turn on in sidereal mode" if you had
 used the Park function when you turned -off- the scope.

A feature-lack i've frequently mentioned in passing to engineer@meade
is that there is (currently) -no- LX200 command which will activate the
Sidereal drive.
You either have to start it by hand, using the above 3 methods, or
apply a patch to the firmware (i modified the :MS# command to always
turn on sidereal in v2.0h and 2.0i).

Personally, i just [goto] some object to start my evenings, and that
gets Sidereal rolling...
--dick

Subject:	German Equatorial and Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, March 4, 2001 10:57:45
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	aon.912266148@aon.at
Hi...

I saw your page on Mike's site... beautiful!

There -is- an Autostar which knows how to deal with German Equatorial.
It is the "Starfinder" (494 Autostar) which comes with Meade's
 114EQ-DH4, also called the 4504.

It lacks a number of features that the "real" Autostars have
(numeric keypad, truly only 1/2 mega of Flash Ram, very slow
rs232 operations and no "emergency flash load"), and Meade does
not publish upgrades for its firmware.

But it does know GEM, and issues warnings if it thinks things will
collide.

--dick
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Peter,
 
> Thanks for your message. Your postings helped me a lot 
> (my second scope is a Astro-Rubinar 4" which I mounted on a used
> ETX-125 mount). At the moment I do mainly visual, webcam and video
> observations. But I think I will buy a 494 Autostar -and start with
> "real" ccd.

I do not know if a -real- "494 Autostar" will know about GEM.
The Starfinder is the same -hardware- as the 494, but the firmware
load may be quite different.  (among other things, it is impossible
to tell a 114EQ/4504 Starfinder to -not- use a GEM mount).
(the programming is in there for Alt/Az and "normal" fork-Polar,
but they have removed the menu items to reach it)
In the 495/497 code there is -no- knowledge of the GEM's travel limits.
In the Starfinder code (v1.0f, at least), the GEM data is hard-coded
into the initialization sequence.  In the 495/497 the mounting data
comes from a table.
I have never had a "calls itself a 494" to play with, so i cannot
guess or state how it thinks.

I may look into what is needed to get a 497 to "think German".
--dick

Subject:	Loading Autostar 495 With 2.1Ek?
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2001 13:11:16
From:	Sjjind7@cs.com
In the Autostar Feedback I noticed several references to Autostar 495's
being loaded with the 2.1EK software. It seems that Meade only mentions
the 2.1EK version supporting the Autostar 497. Is there a workaround
that allows this? I would love to have some of the new features
available with 2.1EK on my 495. Please let me know.
Thanks
Steven Jindra
astronomy_steve@yahoo.com
Mike here: Quoting from the info about the Autostar Updater version 2.4 on Meade's Autostar Update page: "Use this update tool for the #497, #495 and the #494 Autostar model. " It will load 2.1ek.

Subject:	Autostar 2.1ek. software problem
Sent:	Friday, March 2, 2001 11:33:44
From:	henrik1@image.dk (Henrik Jensen)
I have an EXT-90EC and Autostar #497.
I have a problem using the Autostare 2.1ek. software.
When initially powered up, the current Targets menu item is default
Terrestrial. If I change it to Astronomical and turn off the autostar
and on again it will go back to Terrestrial. Is there a  patch to
correct this error ?

Thanks for a great site !

Best regards

Henrik Jensen
Mike here: I believe I recall seeing a bug report on this. Only the > pointer is wrong, the actual setting is correct (unless I'm mistaken).

Subject:	Autostar updater 2.4
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 16:20:49
From:	mikenanc@san.rr.com (Michael & Nancy)
I downloaded  the new updater 2.4 and installed it just fine,but when
opening program it continues to tell me it can't find any attached
autostar. I also tried it on a different computer with the same bad
luck. I took the 505 cables back and exchanged them, no luck same
results. I've set my com ports like the manual states still no luck.
Help , I really want the newer version. Thanks for any input you may
have and for your hard work on maintaining such a useful web site.

Discouraged in San Diego
Mike here: Well, there are a lot of variables from the OS version, how the comm ports are configured in Windows, the cable, etc. Of course, I presume the Autostar is turned on before you start the Updater application. Not being a Windows PC expert I can't address the problem you may be having but you might want to check the Windows 2000 item on the Autostar Information page on my site and see if that helps.

And:

I figured it out, turned out it was my palm pilot program controling the
port. Got the new version installed ok, still playing with the new
options, so far so good. On another topic, I don't know what area your
in as far as your starparty goes but I'm going to check out a place in
the local mountains(laguna) looks like a public road, called star party
trail, it leads to SCSD's observatory, will let you know more specifics
as I get them. Thanks for your usual quick response...When do you find
time to star gaze...? Clear skies, Michael Herbst in San Diego.

Subject:	Controlling the ETX-125 via StarryNight on a USB Macintosh
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 10:48:36
From:	pst@ksu.edu (pst)
(Do we just email you directly to have items posted on your site? I did
not notice a "post" button anywhere.)

I have been able to follow my scope's movement in StarryNight using
Robin Casady's (http://CarmelCoast.com/pages/Robin/IG_Astro.html)
plugin. However, the plugin will not change the RA if I use the plugin
to slew the scope, only the Dec. changes. I know that the plugin works
fine on Mac's with a serial port. I was wondering if anyone out there
has a USB based Mac that is working with the plugin and StarryNight?
Here is my setup:

PowerBook G3/400mhz (Bronze)
Mac OS 9.0.4 - 256megs ram
StarryNight Pro (3.11)
Robin's plugin (2.0.2 or 2.0.4 same results with either)
Keyspan USB Twin Serial Adapter (driver 1.8)
Autostar version 2.1Ek

Thanks,
Paul


Paul St. Amand
Alfalfa Breeding & Genetics
http://www.alfalfa.ksu.edu/
http://ars-genome.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/WebAce/webace?db=alfagenes
KSU, Agronomy Dept.
2004 Throckmorton Hall
Manhattan KS 66506-5501
pst@ksu.edu
785-532-7746
Mike here: Emailing me is the way to get things posted.

Subject:	What is creep & beep?
Sent:	Thursday, March 1, 2001 01:53:48
From:	jaynemilton@hotmail.com (Jayne Milton)
Silly question possibly but...

I've been trawling the archives and I found reference to 'creep after
beep'.

My ETX70 finds objects, beeps and then I hear the motor driving very
slowly (the movement is so slow it is only visible over time) .  I just
thought this was the autostar tracking the object but is it really this
'creep after beep' problem?

I haven't had my ETX70 long enough to use the autostar outdoors but I've
been playing inside to get familiar with the proceedures.

Regards

Jayne
Mike here: What you are hearing (and seeing) is likely normal tracking operations where the scope has to complete a full 360 rotation in 24 hours, just like the Earth does. "Creep after beep" is a situation where the Autostar slews to the selected object, then beeps to indicate it has completed the slew, and then the Autostar slowly but noticeably creeps the view away from the object.

And:

Thanks for your reply Mike

You have re-assured me

Jayne

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