Last updated: 31 May 2000

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

Subject:	Re: Can't See Them Without Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:06:32
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Nothing new to add really. . . I just wanted to agree with Larry
O'Connor's comment that the "seeing justifies the means." I've found
("seen") a number of fainter deep sky objects that would have been
almost impossible to distinguish had it not been for the assistance of
using the Autostar (assuming of course that it happened to be working
well that evening and managed to actually GOTO whatever it was I was
searching for!!). The whole idea of having a telescope in the first
place is to look through it to see things -- so a little "cheating" (in
my opinion) to help find things to look at is not "cheating" at all...

But, I would still recommend that anyone interested in this hobby "learn
the sky," and not live solely for the "GOTO" button. I think it makes it
a lot more fun when you can combine the two, star-hopping when you can,
GOTOing when you can't.

Stan Glaser

Subject:	 Re: Autostar Versions or DS-127 Bug
Sent:	Tuesday, May 30, 2000 21:45:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Well, i did the test: i changed my #497 Autostar to French, and i did
-not- have the same problem reported by Vincent. (by the way, changing
languages is not covered in the Manual)

I also looked at the 497 and 495 dbase.rom file for v2.0i, and they
looked correct.

Then i started typing this message, and looked up how the Training
operates...and followed a subroutine call i had not studied before...

and at this moment.. Eureka!   I found the "problem"! Or, at least i
found how to generate the message.

And, checking backwards, i found -your- problem.

The 495 database has an error (just there) in the French language
section. In both v2.0h and v2.0i.

When you select "Drive Setup", the 497 firmware uses the phrase "MS
Backlash" to locate a scrolling message to display on the lower line of
the display while "Drive Setup" is on the upper line.

When you hit enter, that scrolling message disappears, and the top line
become "Center reference" and the second line becomes "object."

The "NOT FOUND" message is produced when the search-phrase is not found
within the scrolling message database.

In French, V2.0h has "MS Sacade" as the key phrase... but still has "MS
Backlash" in the scrolling message database. All other languages
(German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese) have "MS Backlash" as the

So only French in the 495 Autostar in v2.0h and v2.0i has this problem.

The scrolling message you are not seeing is:

Pour cette operation, utilisez un objet terrestre. Apres chaque  etape,
lorsque l'objet est centre, appuyez sur la touche ENTER.  Appuyez de
nouveau sur ENTER pour poursuivre.

I shall send a note to Meade (i haven't had anything to send them for

Thank you for asking the question... pursuing the answer helped shine
light on yet another aspect of the Autostar's operation.


Subject:	 sent to engineer@meade.com
Sent:	Tuesday, May 30, 2000 21:44:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

You still have an error in the v2.0i (and v2.0h) French portion of the
dbase.rom file for the #495 Autostar. The error is -not- present in the
497 (ETX Autostar)  v2.0i, but was in v2.0h.

To demonstrate:  Set a #495 to French.
 Use the keypad to reach (in english) Setup>Telescope>Train Drive
  (that last one is "ENTRAIN MOTEUR" in French)

You -should- see "Drive Setup" on the top line, and the scrolling

Pour cette operation, utilisez un objet terrestre. Apres chaque  etape,
lorsque l'objet est centre, appuyez sur la touche ENTER.  Appuyez de
nouveau sur ENTER pour poursuivre.

On the second line.

What you'll see is   DRIVE SETUP
                      NON TROUVE

(that's "not found").


Because (in the code) you follow the "drive setup" message by giving the
database lookup routine the string "MS_Backlash", and that phrase is a
search-string to locate the appropriate message in the DBASE.ROM file.
Unfortunately, in (only) the French, you have "MS_Sacade" as the lookup
string, but the database contains "MS_Backlash" in the French section.
Therefore it never finds it.  Hence the "NOT FOUND" (non trouve"

I note that all of the other languages properly use MS_Backlash as the
search- and key-phrase. French also differes from all the rest by using
"MS_Contraste" (trailing e), but at least the scrolling message also has
that keyphrase so it is properly located.

The MS_Backlash (MS_Sacade) message is number 0097 (hex) in your message

--richard seymour

Subject:	 re: Autostar Versions 
Sent:	Tuesday, May 30, 2000 09:24:53
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

I saw your question on Mike's site.

I suspect your problem is that you are running v2.0h of the Autostar
firmware. V2.0h has an error in the index into the non-English messages
of its database.

You can verify the verion by (in English) Selecting the SETUP menu, then
press ENTER, then press the scroll-up (^) key twice. You should now see
the woord STATISTICS. Press ENTER and then scroll to see the Version

If it is v2.0h, the only problem is with the Autostar's dictionary.

You can replace v2.0h with the current v2.0i by:

(a) visit  www.meade.com/support/auto.html
(b) from that menu, download -both- the first item (autostar update
   -and-   the 5th item (dated 03/07/00)   roms20i.zip
  (if you have a #495 Autostar, the second file is: 
         www.meade.com/support/auto/Autostar/ROMS20i.zip )

(c) (you will need WinZip  (www.winzip.com) or some other un-zipping
program to unpack the above two files)

(d) unpack the auto.zip file, and click on its SETUP.EXE to install it.
This is the updater.

(e) in a separate directory, unpack the ROMS20i.zip file.

(f) copy the 20i autostar.rom and dbase.rom files to the Ephemerides
directory deep in the folders created by installing the Updater.

(g) connect your Autostar to your PC and then start the Updater.

That all assumes that you have a cable for connecting your PC to your
Autostar, and that you have a Windows 9x PC, instead of a Macintosh or
Linux system. If you read many of the March Autostar archives at Mike's
site, you will see many stories of the problems of dealing with the

If you purchased your Autostar in Europe, I think it is beyond
inexcusable that Meade sells v2.0h in handsets, especially in Europe,
since they published a bug-fix 3 days after releasing it.

I also think it borders on the inexcusable that they do not bring the
"auto.zip" file to current levels, rather than requiring the above
two-download process.

--good luck
And a response:
I found the bug but not the solution:
bug is in the message dictionnary, and software is reading a wrong message.
It works good, if you don't notice this message and motor are "training".
Slewwing and gotoing are OK.
I update with 2.0i, but i still get this message !
It is not a problem, i use it in english perhaps my english will go better
... 8-)

I done my own PC to autostar to download 2.0i it worked fine using
indication on your site.

Subject:	 ETX-90 Command Codes
Sent:	Monday, May 29, 2000 21:30:57
From:	ramey@teleport.com (ramey)
I'm enjoying your web site and I have an ETX-90.  I am also a software
developer and I would like to write a freeware program to interface
Linux to control the ETX. Do you know where I can get the ASCii control
codes for the ETX-90?

brian ramey
vancouver, wa
Mike here: Check the Autostar Information page on my web site for currently known info.

Subject:	 Autostar double star menu
Sent:	Monday, May 29, 2000 14:44:50
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Can anyone explain in what order the Double star menu is set up. 
Perhaps I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem to be set in order of
constellations [e.g. all of the multiple stars in Orion together in
order, for example] or any other method I can think of.  When I'm
looking for a particular double, I, more or less have to scroll through
until I happen on the one I want.  Are they just in random order, at
least the named stars are in alphabetical order.

Incidentally I note that Meade, at long last, has posted an Autostar
owner's manual, which is a bit easier to understand than the one which
came with my unit [possibly because it includes both the ETX and DS
scopes in the same manual].

Thanks for your help.

Tom Brown [teb1013@hotmail.com]
Mike here: I haven't analyzed the order of ANY objects in the Autostar database. As to the manual, Meade posted a revised manual last year.

Subject:	 controlling Autostar's brightness
Sent:	Sunday, May 28, 2000 14:28:54
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
(no, not making it smarter, just brighter...)

John from Milwaukee asked about his Autostar getting dimmer after the
Initialzation screen.  Mike correctly answered that it drops to a dimmer
"night" mode for its normal operation.

You can adjust the "night" brightness (and contrast) level to your eyes'
content from the Utilities menu.

There is also an additional "sleep mode"... if you don't push a key for
ten minutes or so, the display dims to almost invisible. Touching a key
should bring it back to brightness.

good luck

Subject:	 Can't See Them Without Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, May 27, 2000 17:34:15
From:	larry.oconnor@home.com (LARRY O)
Just a quick note for those who don't have the use of an Autostar and
are  wondering if it's worth the expense / effort.  I live in Toronto
Ontario, and am subject to  lots of light polution and poor "seeing".
Last night I was out, and although it apperaed clear, was only able to
clearly see such stars as Vega, Arcturus and those of similar magnitude.
I aligned the Autostar, as usual, and selected the "What can I see
tonight" option.  Deep Sky objects like M13 and M32 were easily visible
through the 26mm eyepiece, but you would have a very difficult time if
you wanted to find them using the "star hop" method.  Most of the
necessary guideposts were not naked-eye visible.  I periodically get
jibes for others, who look down their noses at the "GO TO" capability as
if it were some form of "Cheating".  Last night confirmed my belief that
the "Seeing justifies the Means".

Without the Autostar, most nights here would not be worth going out to
look at!

Keep up the good work.  Your efforts make it easier for us all.

Larry O'Connor

Subject:	 DS127 AUTOSTAR BUG ?
Sent:	Saturday, May 27, 2000 05:10:50
From:	xmcvs@free.fr (Vincent STEINMETZ)
as a near world wide specialist of meade autostar i ask you help for one question:

i recently buy a DS 127 telescope with autostar for DS series with ROM
2.0 and got one problem i get a DRIVE SETUP : NOT FOUND ( auto star in
french version )message while trying to train motors, but i suspect it
is a software problem because this message don't occurs when the auto
star is in french or german version and i try the same.

Could someone tell me more about this ?
Could someone try the following with a working autostar 2.0 firmware
1 resetting autostar
2 putting it in french langage
4 and tell me the message DRIVE SETUP NON TROUVE OCCURS 

Thank you for helping, and for maintaining a such good website ( more
uusefull as meade's one !)

Mike here: Have you selected the DS-127 from the Autostar Setup-->Telescope menu? Other than that, I don't know why this error would occur. What happens when you select to Calibrate the drives? Do you have version 2.0i? If not and you have a download cable, the current version is available on Meade's web site.

Added later:

when i select to Calibrate the drives it happens following:

in french:
message "drive setup not found" and then  you can calibrate

in english
message " you need a terrestrial object ...." then  you can calibrate

so i ask myself is there is not a little bug in calling message in ROM ?

the GOTO is working
all setup are OK ( site, DS127, ....)

The autostar indicates, 2.0 is it the i version or shall i upgrade ?

Thank you for your quick answer.
I'm doing a little site about DS scope, when it is finished i will give
you the adress. But don't be afraid i  think i can't do somothing like
your's, you will keep the best site in universe ! 8-)

greeting's from france
Mike here: Check the Statistics menu item for the current version in your Autostar. It will show the complete version number unlike the startup display.

Subject:	Where's the beef?
Sent:	Thursday, May 25, 2000 11:38:03
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Hi, guys...

just a little observation based on Dick's intense mathematical
calculation that was able to shed light on the expected arrival dates of
Meade's software/ROM updates -- i.e., oh, gee, maybe sorta kinda like
every two and half months!! Based on the previous posting date of
3/7/00, I would have expected to see updates a few days ago  ;-)

Let's hope Meade's software gurus are taking this extra time to really
make the updater "user friendly" and do some more "bug-fixing" of the
Autostar ROMs.

Well, I -can- wish, can't I?

Stan Glaser
Subject:	 Re: Where's the beef?
Sent:	Thursday, May 25, 2000 21:23:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
shouldn't that be "where's the bytes?"

Stantastic@aol.com wrote:

> just a little observation based on Dick's intense mathematical calculation
> that was able to shed light on the expected arrival dates of Meade's
> software/ROM updates -- i.e., oh, gee, maybe sorta kinda like every two and
> half months!! Based on the previous posting date of 3/7/00, I would have
> expected to see updates a few days ago  ;-)

well... consider: the last two times (at least) they've released it late
on Friday. That's let us  get all hot and bothered and find bugs...
before they released one or two quick updates on Moday (or tuesday). 
(-i've- got v2.0e/f/g, have you?)

Then i was suspecting that they'd release a version while i was out of
touch (to avoid a flurry of emails from seattle) on May 12th.  Nope.

Now i'm ?avidly? waiting to see what tomorrow (Friday) brings.. the
beginning of a 3-day weekend here in the USA.

--aaaand-- i think i may be homing in on why it creeps after beeping.
So, if they get a new version out -right now-, it'll disrupt my analysis
and delay answering that question... (and (pray,pray) may solve it!)
(now... which old version -didn't creep? for comparison... i think v1.3c
was ok...)

> Let's hope Meade's software gurus are taking this extra time to really make
> the updater "user friendly" and do some more "bug-fixing" of the Autostar
> ROMs.
> Well, I -can- wish, can't I?

i donno 'bout that... but you sure can think up funny jokes!

(i'm currently reprogramming a unix sendmail.cf file... suddenly
Autostar Updater almost (BIG almost) seems friendly...)


Subject:	 Commentaires
Sent:	Monday, May 22, 2000 11:16:19
From:	jean-louis.bassal@wanadoo.fr (Jean-Louis BASSAL)
I am a french user of ETX 90 so it would be very kind of you to forgive
my very bad english.

Just to say that your site is very good and particulary interesting
despite i don't understand all i would like.

I have had a lot of reverses trying to upgrade AUTOSTAR by dowmloading
from MEAD site but it would be too difficult to explain it (unless of
course you understand french !)

Thank you for your pertinent information.

Mike here: When having problems downloading to the Autostar (or if having any problems using the Autostar), check the Autostar Information page. If nothing there seems to cover the problem, read back through the Autostar Feedback pages. I suspect that by now almost all the typical difficulties have been covered!

Subject:	 ETX Autostar Question...
Sent:	Sunday, May 21, 2000 17:53:06
From:	taylorc34@hotmail.com (Taylor C.)
I like your site. Its got lots of helpful informtion on it. Well, my
question is:

With my Autostar, during the 2 star alignment, the Autostar overshoots
the target by like 10 (sometimes 15) degrees. I've only owned it for
like two weeks, and still have not had the scope actually "hit" a
target. Is my alignment (or Home postition) not right? Cuz the scope
slews in the right diection all the time, it just doesn't hit its

1 more question:

Would you recomend the Meade Epoch 2000 software for use with the
ETX/Autostar? Once I get the hang of Autostar, I'm gonna buy the
connector cable set and a software program.

Thanks for the help.  Get back to me as soon as you can at

Thanks again,
Taylor Chonis
Mike here: Hard to say whether your HOME position is wrong since you didn't describe it. But in any case, good drive training is important, as is accurate date/time/location input. If you know you have the proper HOME position (in Polar or Alt/Az, although it seems the best results occur in Alt/Az mode), and you get bad aligns, you can always try other alignment stars. Remember, if the alignment star pointing is off you correct that by centering the star in the eyepiece. Once both stars have been centered (and you actually pointed to the right stars), the math is done and tracking begins. If the alignment was successful, selected objects should at least be in the finderscope. If not, you can try another alignment. Remember, use only the electronic slewing controls to center the alignment stars. As to the Epoch software, I have no experience with it. Check the Software Feedback for some user comments.

Added later:

I was lookin in your Deep Sky gallery and I saw you had that 230mm
telephoto lens. How much do those usually run for? What about a 100mm? I
own a 2x teleconverter, so thats all I would need. Where would I be able
to get one for the lowest price? Would the ETX90/EC's motors be able to
handle all of that wieght? please get back to me at
taylorc34@hotmail.com.   Thanx.


P.S.    I emailed you yesterday about the Autostar over-shooting the
targets. Well, last night, I went out aligned it with the help of a
compass (i dont know how to spell that :)  ) and the autostar hit every
target every time. I was really excited.

Mike here: Glad the Autostar hit the targets this time. Using a compass may not always work due to the difference in magnetic north versus true north. Depending upon where you live this difference can be small or large. But once you know the magnetic variation you can compensate for it. As to a telephoto, I bought mine back in the 1970s. Check the camera stores like Shutan Camera and Video for more current prices.

Subject:	 re: Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, May 20, 2000 14:21:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Fernando Margueirat asked:

>  I'm very interested in the software modifications you suggest
> like the one for changing the beep frequency.

The beep frequency change did not make much change in the sound. (i
still do not know why, but i have some thoughts... but the debugger is
no longer so easy to reach.  I can provide patches for v2.0h and v2.0i
to reach the debugger (again), and then update the beep patch.  Another
approach to beep fixing is to make a permanent change in the
autostar.rom file and download it.

> I didn't try them yet because I'm afraid that if I make something wrong
> this would turn my Autostar unusable.
> Is there any possibility this could happen?

Yes, there is always the chance of causing unstable operation. My
patches seem to work (for me), and other people try some of them. The
Autostar (and download  program: Autostar Updater) are sometimes -both-
unstable without my help, and some people were frightened by problems
they had at the same time they tried my patches. The problems they had
were, to my knowledge,  not caused by my patches.

The beep frequency "patch' as originally published is safe. It only
exists while the Autostar is turned on.  When you turn the Autostar off,
the patch disappears.  When you turn the Autostar back on, the patch no
longer exists.

That said, -ANY-  patch could upset the Autostar... if it is entered
incorrectly. (using  the Meade Autostar Updater can upset both the
Autostar and -you-. Read many of Mike Weasner's posts on that

> I don't know much about the specifications of the Autostar and if it has any
> contingency procedure written in the ROM in case someone makes a mistake
> or has any problems upgrading versions.

If you unpack the update kit from Meade, there is a README file which
the "emergency" Flash Load procedure.

>  Just curiosity. How do you know what part of the ROM has to be modified for
> certain purpose?

By trying to deduce what sections of the code actually do. I do not know
what every instruction does (there are 80,000 of them!) Some operations
are simple, some are very obscure. The obscurity can arise from
complicated caculations, from reference to the still-undecoded database,
or from jumping all over the Autostar's memory for subfunction opration.

I've been doing this fairly intensively since Oct 1999, and am still far
from understanding many major operations.  Many of the "user
interaction" sections are simpler, since the Autostar displays messages
which tell me what data it is playing with.  Many of the "motion" and

sections are far more difficult, both due to the way the complier uses
the stack, and the obscure operations involved (sometimes a minute of
arc is 0.0002909 radians, sometimes it is 1/3437.743 radians, and
sometimes it is 1296000/60.). Then there's the PIC processor.... the
68hc11 uses one or two external processor chips for critical functions
such as "move" and "read encoders". The 68hc11 sends an "08" or "18" and
receives 3 bytes back... which are the encoder readings for Alt and Az. 
Motor control is similarly hidden.

The Autostar's "output" to the ETX connector is a sequence of bytes
delivered to the PIC chip.. and the PIC chip is what actually talks to
the telescope.

> Is it written in any kind of assembler language?

It appears to be written mostly in a higher level language (such as C or
C++). I work with a "disassembly" of the rom file, so what i see is a
very messy assembly language. Without meaningful labels.  From the
"style" of the program, it looks like three or four people wrote it...
some sections are very good, some are very simple, some have errors,
some repeat large amounts of code with only a line or two differing from
the 200 lines before.. There are about 80,000 lines of assembly code. 
About 10,000 of them actually perform useful work... the rest are a
consequnce of the compiler moving numbers around on the stack. 
Unfortunately, i've got to dig through all 80,000 lines to catch nuances
of operation.

> I would like to try some other modifications. I've never programmed in assembler but I
> understand it and I don't have any problem in working with hexadecimals values.

That is how i am proceeding... i disassemble the autostar.rom file to
68hc11 assembly code,  and then try to understand sections of the code
in response to my own questions (why does -this- work? why does -this-
break?), and in response to othre folks' interesting questions about
specific sections. General questions ("how does it track satellites?")
are too broad to give good answers to (yet)(and i still do not know many
of the details of the answer). (i do not even know if it tracks
satellites with RA/DEC or with Alt/Az.)

(but i'm working on it)
Likewise, i haven't figured out everything about how/when it switches
from "Slewing..." to data display to beep during a normal GoTo
astronomical operation.

> It would be very interesting to have all the information about software
> modifications (procedures for modifying the Autostar by debugging with

> Hyperterminal or by ROM files modifications, memory address that has to be
> modified and values to assign organized by version and by desired modification,
> etc.) together in one section of the site.

It would be nice, but i have only begun (after 7 months of work) to
discover what a few of the memory locations are used for.  And those
locations -change- with each version. Since Meade's programmers use a
C++ compiler, they themselves do not need to know exactly where things
are in memory.  As long as the compiler figures it out, they're happy.

Also: to re-implement the Debugger in versions 2.0h or 2.0i of the #497
Autostar, patch the autostar.rom  file in your PC and reload it to the
Autostar. I have co-opted the LX-200 :T# command to jump to the

The patch is (all numbers in hexadecimal)
Autostar.rom  file,  locations 09a46a  to 09a46c

loc      old   new
09-a46a:  05   04
09-a46b:  88   a3
09-a46c:  86   9a

Edit the rom file, upload to Autostar.
After starting autostar with hyperterminal talking to the COM port,
type a control-F
the autostar should return  A  or P
 (depending upon Alt/Az or Polar mount)
type   :T#    (colon, capital T, # (pound/number))
it should report   In Debugger>
to return to normal operation, tell that prompt    G
(for "go")
All other debugger operations are as before
(when i find my list, i'll send it)

The "beep" section has probably moved, so the old beep-freq numbers
probably will -not- work.

have fun...

Subject:	 Question PLEASE
Sent:	Thursday, May 18, 2000 19:34:32
From:	cbenedict@email.msn.com (Cecil)
Hello, I have a question please!

I am thinking about a ETX 90 with Autostar Controller.  I have seen some
advertised with a 12,000+ database and some with a 14,000+ database. 
Are both of these the #497 controller?  Is one just an older version? 
If so, can the older version be updated?


Mike here: I think both of these are referring to the model #497 Autostar, which is what you want with the ETX-90EC.

Subject:	 (possibly) Disturbing Autostar Catalog entry at meade.com 
Sent:	Wednesday, May 17, 2000 13:49:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Maybe i'm being paranoid,
but if you visit www.meade.com
and choose the Products page
and choose the #497 Autostar page
... there's no mention of downloads!

The Autostar page the above process leads you to is:


The -old- page (which has links to the download support page) is:


--dick (what's that sound?)
Mike here: Oversight? I don't recall anyone saying that Meade's site was the best advertisement for their products.

Added later:

Thanks for the links to the photos and blurbs on the 60/70... Meade's
main product page (at least this afternoon), had a blinking headline....
but it wasn't a link...

(i just checked... NOW it's a link...)


Subject:	 that ETX-60AT press release... new AUTOSTAR?!?!?
Sent:	Wednesday, May 17, 2000 13:49:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
i note that
(the press release about the "new" ETX-70AT and ETX-60AT) says:

These new telescopes, both short-focus refractors that are supplied
complete with *** a new version of the company's highly acclaimed
Autostar Computer Controller, *** will retail for approximately $299 and
$349, respectively.

(asterisks mine)

oh, my...
Mike here: I didn't catch that! More details (including a photo of the new Autostar) at: www.meade.com/catalog/etx60-70/index.html. Click the "next" link at the bottom of the above page to learn more.

Subject:	 Autostar Update Tool v.A2.1 (2.0i)
Sent:	Tuesday, May 16, 2000 09:11:08
From:	mpfaden@juno.com (Michael P. Faden)
Recently I bought Meade's ETX-90EC/Autostar #497 combo.  I have been
having trouble downloading "New Ephemerides" data.  Everytime I try to
download the software I loose all my satellites and comets.  When I go
to download "New Ephemerides" (i.e. Satellites) I get an "Illegal
Operations" error and get thrown out of update tool. The only way I have
been able to get the data (i.e. satellites/comets) back into my HBX
controller.  Is by cloning the data off my friends HBX (Autostar ETX
#497).  The software does seem to download OK. It's just the ephemerides
data I keep loosing.  Maybe I doing something wrong or even missing
something somewhere in the "uploading/downloading" of information/data
from the web site.  I have downloaded all the most recent
Autostar.ROMS/dbase.ROMS(ROMS2.0i.zip) files including the readme files.
I would really appreciate any assistance you could give me or point me
in the right direction where I can find out what I'm doing wrong.  My
E-mail address is mpfaden@juno.com.
Thanks Mike 
And a response:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Mike forwarded a copy of your note to Meade.

I'm just unpacking from a trip, so i won't be able to fiddle with it
until tonight. (i've managed to download emphemerides... but with
varying degrees of success and disaster... such as updating Tours wiping
out satellites, downloading satellites wiping out self-entered
asteroids... and (once! just once!) everything working as expected
(which is subtly different from "correctly").

I'll try to come up with a "try these steps" list, and we'll work
through it.

But I've got a question for you, too... you mentioned using CLONE to get
the data from another Autostar.  You're the first (hence, only) person
I've heard of who has actually used Clone! Have you tried cloning the
entire autostar?  Either or both firmware and

database? (which is different from Emphemerides). If so, how long did it
take? Was it (as i believe it should be) LOTS faster than updating from
a PC? I just buring with curiosity (which means: "am i properly
interpreting that section of the Autostar's code?")

I'll get back to you tonight
good luck
(yes, i've gotten the "illegal operation" message, too).
From:	mpfaden@juno.com (Michael P. Faden)
Well..... I see I'm not the only one who is having problems with Meade's
"Autostar Update  Utilities Tool" version A2.1(2.0i).

Cloning from one Autostar to another is easy.  And a whole lot faster
then going from PC to Autostar.  Just as long as you are copying ALL of
the data (i.e. software/catalogs) into the other Autostar.  So
far...everytime I have done this (cloning) it has worked.  It returned
my Autostar back to the original programming (v1.2g).  With all the
satellites,comets,asteroids, and "YES" even the original "Guided Tours"
back in the HBX.  Of course, you will have to update/EDIT the "Epoch
Year".  Change the "YEAR" to read 2000 and leave the rest of the data
the same.  Just by pressing "ENTER" on everything else.  Now I don't
know if the tracking of a satellite is still on track.  But at least....
I no longer get that "ELEMENTS EXPIRED" buzz from the HBX.  It actually
starts tracking the satellite as long its "MAKES A PASS SOON" overhead
or not below the horizon.  As soon as I have a clear night I will find
out.."I hope"

As to:   Is it faster to clone from Autostar to Autostar then it is
between PC to Autostar (via #505 Connection Cables)? YES!!!  It only
takes about 5 min.. Where as it takes about 30 min. to go from PC to
Autostar(software/catalogs).  And then you still lose the "Guided Tours"
tour in the HBX.  Its when I try to download "New Tours" or any  other
emphemerides data to the HBX is when I lose my satellite or comets data.
One thing you should do is write down on a piece of paper all the
emphemerides data on all the satellites and comets.  Before you try to
download  any "New Tours" or any other "New Emphemerides" into the HBX.
This way you can always reenter the data by hand into the HBX (via EDIT
mode).  You can't just save a copy of the files into the computer.
Because the files are blank and that is why I keep losing my
satellites/comets.  One other thing is that the "New Tours" that you can
download into your HBX .  Is very difficult to EXIT out of these tours,
once you have started one.  Just pressing the MODE key once will only
make the Autostar pick the next object in the tour.  You have to keep
pressing press the MODE key  repeatedly to stop the tour, and then that
doesn't always work.
Mike here: Cloning is THAT much faster? Wow! Sure would be nice if the Autostar could communicate via USB (highly accepted on the Mac now and becoming accepted on the PC). USB is faster (12Mbps) than RS-232 serial. And just think what could be done if the Autostar could use Firewire (IEEE 1394), which is gaining in popularity... 400Mbps (today, 800Mbps coming). Wouldn't that be nice! Gee, even CCD devices could use Firewire (or USB, which at least one already does!).

And a response:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
The two Autostars can both kick to 125kbaud if they wish. My
rule-of-thumb was that the cloning might be as fast as 3 minutes. (upon
being set to "download" mode, one of the Autostars sends an "F" to the
other. If the other responds "Y", they both go to 125kbps for the
remainder of the session. Think of the protocol as: "Fast?"  "Yup...")

USB (or firewire) is possible... but murder for the thousands of legacy
systems, both PC and Mac (legacy Macs are a real pain at work... i have
to maintain 10Mbs ethernet segments since Macs aren't the casual $20 
fastEnet upgrades that PCs are...)

..and just TRY to get an "original" iMac to go over about 3Mbps on its

(i recently bought a PS-2/USB mouse... for $20 including the USB/PS-2
converter. The mouse itself is USB... the in-line converter takes it to
PS-2.) Mice on a G4 are -not- hot-swappable... tsk..tsk... But, if i
power down first, plug in and reboot... G4's -do- gracefully take -two-
mice. Their motions -sum- onto the cursor motion (move one up, the other
over, the cursor moves diagonally....)

For my nickel... Firewire is mainly useful for its 126 device
capability, more than its speed.... after all, 400Mbps is only 50
MBps... and scsi easily surpasses that these days... and i don't plan on
having 126 ETXs running in parallel... hmmm... why not? make my own Very
Little Array and play with optical interferometry... Or one per visible

CCD devices (such as the originalQuickCam) which used -one- (or four,
your chioce) of the parllel port's data lines... *and* a
keyboard-cord-patch to get power. Not too impressive a data rate... but
it worked.


Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, May 10, 2000 14:31:58
From:	fmargueirat@bancorio.com.ar (Fernando Margueirat)

I always read your posts at Mike Weasner's ETX site. You are really a
very active person :) I'm very interested in the software modifications
you suggest like the one for changing the beep frequency. I didn't try
them yet because I'm afraid that if I make something wrong this would
turn my Autostar unusable. Is there any possibility this could happen? I
don't know much about the specifications of the Autostar and if it has
any contingency procedure written in the ROM in case someone makes a
mistake or has any problems upgrading versions.

Just curiosity. How do you know what part of the ROM has to be modified
for certain purpose? Is it written in any kind of assembler language? I
would like to try some other modifications. I've never programmed in
assembler but I understand it and I don't have any problem in working
with hexadecimals values.


It would be very interesting to have all the information about software
modifications (procedures for modifying the Autostar by debugging with
Hyperterminal or by ROM files modifications, memory address that has to
be modified and values to assign organized by version and by desired
modification, etc.) together in one section of the site.


|        Fernando Margueirat        |
|                                   |
|        Analista de Sistemas       |
|     Desarrollo III - 4341-3507    |
|Banco Ro de la Plata - Grupo BSCH |
Mike here: I'm trying to collect that info on the Autostar Information as it comes in...

Subject:	a very successful night...
Sent:	Wednesday, May 10, 2000 12:18:24
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
I just read some comments on your site from kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin
Edwards) -- (eventual success) and Jimmy123ho@aol.com -- (eventual
failure), and wanted to put in my latest 3 cents:

My wife and I and our friends went out to Anza Borrego Desert last
weekend for some viewing. Turns out the Oceanside Photo and Telescope
Club was out there, too, for their monthly star party, so there were
scopes galore. The crescent moon went down early, but we had some
lingering thin clouds until 10:00 or so, and the desert winds managed to
stick with us throughout the entire evening and into the morning hours.
Still, there were moments of semi-decent seeing.

I don't want to seem like I'm bragging here, but my ETX-90EC alignment
must have been perfect. I had the feared "creepie beepies" all night,
but every one was in my favor. For those of you not familiar with the
term, Dick Seymour and I (well, Dick, actually) came up with the
verbiage (at least I think we did!?!) -- sometimes whenever you do a
GOTO and you finally here the BEEP to let you know the scope has found
its target, you'll find that there's a continous CREEP of the scope for
a short period (trying to compensate for backlash, we imagine).
Sometimes it's to your disadvantage (the scope homes in on the target at
the BEEP, then you watch helplessly as it drifts off center, sometimes
out of the FOV -- bummer!). But last Saturday it was to my great
ADvantage (at the BEEP the object was off-center, then my scope started
CREEPing and when it was done, BAM!!!, right smack in the center!!!)
Every single time!!! All night long!!!

What I'd like to emphasize (empathize?) to both Kevin and Jimmy and all
other -EC owners out there is that IT CAN BE DONE!!! Just hang in there.
Have patience. Learn the scope. Practice with alignments. Do NOT forget
to TRAIN THE DRIVE. Despite the fact that the Autostar is a computer and
has all the smarts to calculate for the compensations in small errors in
the alignment procedure, I suggest you give it as much NOT TO COMPUTE as
you can -- get the tripod as level as you can. Use the bubble level on
the tripod if you have one. Make sure the tripod head itself is level.
Make sure (if you're aligning in ALT/AZ mode -- as most of us are using
the -EC) that the OTA is also level. DON'T assume the DEC circle is set
accurately at the factory -- adjust it if you must. Make sure the locks
are tight. Make sure your power supply is up to snuff (I always run off
the wall outlet when at home, and off the cigarette lighter when in the
field -- besides, it keeps the cost of consumable batteries down to a
minimum). Make sure when you set your site that you use an accurate map.
I have never used the closest city to my location that the Autostar
gives me -- I always use a topo map and measure as accurately as I can
the lat/long of my viewing site. If you've got a GPS receiver, use it!!!
When you are centering the alignment stars, CENTER THEM as accurately as
you think you can. Don't just try for "close enough!" These seem like
trivial items...and some people may disagree with me (hey, do a quick
setup, it's close enough, click some buttons, I'm aligned, do a GOTO ---
oops, wha' happened!!).

I was so impressed with my little scope on Saturday -- and so were some
other people with 8" and 10" scopes who were camped near us!! I went
through all the Messiers in the Tonight's Best Tour and hit every one!!
I was even seeing some that I hadn't seen before. And although there was
some wind, the sky was dark enough to see some particularly faint
objects. The Owl Nebula is listed as mag 12.0. That's got to be right on
the edge of the 90's capabilities. Well, it didn't look like it does in
the books (no surprise there), but I saw "something" (faint, wispy,
almost indescernible -- but something was there). Globular clusters were
fantastic -- I could even make out some granulation. Saw the Sombrero
Galaxy for the first time, also -- again, GOTO's were right on the

For those of you who may be having problems, yes, it could be hardware.
Yes, it could definitely be software (and yes, I agree, Meade's updater
is NOT user friendly). Yes, it could be a myriad number of other things,
too. But keep trying. Be like Kevin. Be like me -- when I first got my
ETX, I was frustrated, too. It took me some time to figure out exactly
what it wanted, and how accurate it wanted it. If I could have more
Saturday's like I just had, though -- well, all those up-front failures
proved to be valuable learning sessions.

Good luck everyone, and clear skies...

Stan Glaser (waiting impatiently for updater version 3.x?)

Subject:	 ETX-125EC testing.
Sent:	Wednesday, May 10, 2000 09:47:02
From:	Baldwin_Linay@prenhall.com
I have seen your website and it is full of useful information especially
about telescopes. I am planning to buy an ETX125 inspite of what I been
hearing about the random slewing problem. Do you know for a fact if this
has been an Autostar problem rather than the scope itself ? that an
upgrade to 2.0i solved the random slewing ?  Also can you give a good
set of steps, Goto locations that might be suitable to stress test the

Thank you also for providing a great and informative website that will
help me and a lot of amteur astronomers out there, beginners and advance

Mike here: I don't have any other answers on the Autostar question you asked other than what you've seen on the site. As to a "stress test" for the Autostar, well, if trained and aligned properly, it will get fixed objects really good; planets sometimes have some problems being the eyepiece but should be close or in the finderscope.

Subject:	 Re: ETX Autostar Update 2.1i
Sent:	Tuesday, May 9, 2000 23:00:51
From:	dream4yu@pacbell.net (Erwin)
Well it seems the help file does open up if you keep hitting ok as it
warns you about 3 times about missing .dll files and that the Help file
is broken (or whatever it says). Before I was clicking the close button
because of the warning, but I read somewhere on your site to just keep
clicking "Ok" and it finally opened. Now if only the "Help" file
provided some clear help.... I reloaded the program & database roms and
there seems to be a lot more in there now. I wonder if my database
failed to load last time? I don't know about there being 14,000 objects
though-seems like the named stars repeat after only a minute or two of
scrolling. And where did they hide the Pleiades? I looked under "Deep
Sky" and when you get to the P's it's not there- then I checked under
"Constellations" and couldn't find it there either! Does it only display
the stars and objects that are visible for the current date and

Well after all that fussing with the software I finally decided to take
the scope out for a 3rd run- seems like I've spent far more time
figuring out the Autostar software than I have actually using the scope-
That can't be a good thing... Well after doing the 2 star alignment I
decided to put it to a real test. I popped in my new 12mm Radian,
selected M13 and hit the Go To key- Damn if it didn't put it smack
CENTER in that 12mm eyepiece! Moving on I wanted to see how it would do
on a nice double star so  I selected Mizar- Almost perfectly centered
and crystal sharp with a nice swath of black between the two. Then when
I went to M81 it was nowhere to be found, even when I went back to the
26mm. Then while observing another double star, the scope got impatient
and decided it wanted to look somewhere else. Promising I would let it
go where it wanted later, I asked it to go to Arcturus to get it back on
track, but she (definately female) decided to be stubborn and took me
instead to a black patch of sky nowhere near it. Ah well, maybe tomorrow
it'll be in a better mood. I think I'll name her Maia- she's always
running away from the stars (of Orion) also...
Mike here: The Pleiades is listed as M45 in the Deep Sky or Messier set.

Added later:

Thanks! For some reason I didn't think of that- I just naturally assumed
it would be listed alphabetically somehow. I am kind of new to Astronomy
so forgive my ignorance. I have had an interest in it for years, but
haven't owned a telescope since the oversized toy I had as a kid. Well
it's too overcast and windy to take it out tonight, hopefully it'll
clear up soon so I can try this suggestion of using guide stars 70 or
more degrees apart.
Talk to you later!

Subject:	 First night with Autostar
Sent:	Monday, May 8, 2000 18:23:49
From:	kevinedw@iinet.net.au (Kevin Edwards)
Just a brief report on my first night under the stars using the #497
Autostar (ver. 1.3 ROM).

While waiting for the skies to dim, I decided it might be a good idea to
train the drives.  Completely disregarding all previous advice about
selecting a distant terrestrial target ad using a high powered eyepiece,
my usual lethargy led me to use a TV aerial approximately 80m in
conjunction with the old reliable 26mm plossl.  After completing the
drive training, I sat back on my haunches and awaited darkness....

...Darkness in my part of the world takes quite a long time to come,
owing to the rather bad light pollution emanating from the nearby port
of Fremantle.  Nevertheless, by 6:45pm some of the brighter stars were
out and, chafing at the bit, I decided to do an 'Easy Align'.  After
successfully aligning on Sirius and Canopus, I chose the fast sinking
M43 as my first target and.....missed by several degrees!  After
unsuccessfully attempting to slew to several other objects without
success, I felt that all my previous misgivings about the ETX/Autostar
combination were justified.  Despite attempting several Easy Alignments
I could not reliably place an object in the view finder, much less the

However, just before giving up in a fit of pique, I decided to try to do
a manual Two Star alignment.  I selected Acrux and Arcturus as my guide
stars, as they have something approaching a 70 degree separation.  As
before, the Autostar placed them just inside the viewfinder's field of
view - things were not looking good.  Nevertheless, I centred the guide
stars, hit 'enter' and expected the worst.

I selected Eta Carina as my first target.  BANG in the middle of the
ETX's field of view!  Next, I selected the Jewel Box Cluster (NGC 4755)
in Crux - again, dead centre!   Over the next two hours, I successfully
slewed to the following objects (often more than once), with each being
placed well towards the centre of the telescopic field of view:

NGC 3918 (Blue Planetary in Centaurus)
NGC 5139 (Omega Centauri globular cluster)
NGC 4833 (globular cluster in Musca)
NGC 3242 (Ghost of Jupiter planetary nebula in Hydra)
NGC 3115 (Spindle Galaxy in Sextans)
M 44 (Beehive Cluster in Cancer)
M 104 (Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo)
NGC 3132 (Eight Burst planetary nebula in Vela)
M 4 (globular cluster in Scorpius)

In order to check that the 100% accruacy I was achieving wasn't an
isolated fluke, I moved the ETX to a new location and re-did the
alignment process twice more, with the same results.  So, despite my
initial apprehension regarding the Autostar, I have actually found it be
be very accurate and enjoyable to use.

Best wishes,

Mike here: Thanks for the report. Selection of good alignment stars is probably best not left to the Autostar. If the stars it selects are too close (or at too similar right ascension or declination), pick different ones. As I quoted from Dr. Palmer in my initial ETX-90EC report, "use stars that are about 90 degrees (6 hours) apart and near or on the celestial equator for the best results."

Subject:	 ETX Autostar Update 2.1i
Sent:	Sunday, May 7, 2000 23:23:16
From:	dream4yu@pacbell.net (Jeanne)
Ok, I just bought an ETX 125 and an Autostar to go with it. Of course
one of the first things I did was update it to the i version. I must say
that their updater is the absolute most user unfriendly piece of
software I have ever used! Now for the questions-

1. Some of these questions wouldn't need to be asked if the HELP File
actually WORKED, but whenever I try to open it I get an error message
"Cannot find or load the file RhMmplay.dll This file should be copied to
C:\\WINDOWS\SYSTEM or a directory in your path." Click "OK" and get
another error massage "An error exists in this Help file. Contact your
application vendor for an updated Help file (1024)" Uh huh... No
kidding... If the Help file doesn't even work, how much more helpful is
the vendor going to be? Now where oh where might I find this non
existant .dll file? And why didn't they think to include it with this (
I pray is a pre-beta) software release?

2. How do you get current Comets, Satelite, etc ephemerides into the
autostar? I tried hitting the button "New Ephemerides" under "Get from
Web" then hitting "Ephemeride Data" under the "Send To" square on the
right. It then spends several minutes sending the data to the Autstar.
However whenever I actually try to select any of these comets,
satelites, asteroids in Autostar I get "Out of date" or "Below Horizon".
And this is just hours after I downloaded the supposedly latest

3. Are the Deep sky objects organized in any kind of decipherable order?
(Or any objects for that matter) It would be nice if I could just select
them alphabetically/numerically but they don't seem to be organized that
way ( or in any way) Granted I've only had my Autostar a week and have
only take it out twice so maybe this is a stupid question, but the
owners manual does not display the full tree structure. Where are those
14,000 objects? Mine seems to be missing about 13,900 of them...

4. When is the final release version coming out? This A2.1 beta leaves a
lot to be desired and does not seem very stable. I've run it 6 times and
4 of those times it's crashed. Not counting the "Help" file which
crashes every time.
Mike here: The Autostar is undergoing continual updates by Meade. Please be certain to pass bug reports (and feature requests/complaints) to Meade using the engineer@meade.com email address. Be certain to look through the Autostar Information page, as well as the Autostar Feedback pages; there is a TON of info here. I don't recall any reports of the Help file crashing. Are you running Windows2000 by any chance?

Subject:	 Autostar Slewing Problem
Sent:	Sunday, May 7, 2000 08:12:23
From:	jpswann54@netscapeonline.co.uk (jpswann54)
Since you posted my message last week saying that Meade's had fixed the
hardware problem with Autostar, several people have asked me how one
should know if they have one of the new (fixed) handboxes. I don't know
the answer to that, but my new Autostar came with 2.0g preloaded. This
might be a help and shows that it must be fairly new.

John Swann, Rosemary Cottage, Mill Pond Lane,
West Ashling, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8DY, UK
Tel/Fax: +44 1243 575611
Mobile:  +44 411 005364
Mike here: The current version on Meade's web site is 2.0i.

Subject:	 newbie
Sent:	Sunday, May 7, 2000 05:53:00
From:	bossejmj@cowtown.net (bossejmj)
Just brought my grandkids an ETX 90 with tripod and Autostar but found
it has version 1.2 in it.  It does not seem to Align correctly.  Points
Straight up and then shoots below horizon for second star.  Should it be
returned or can you suggest something.  I am only visiting for a couple
of days.

Thank You 
God Bless
Mike here: The latest version of the Autostar software is 2.0i (available from Meade's web site). If you have the cable, you can update the Autostar software yourself. Or you can ask your dealer if they have an Autostar with a later version (to clone). Or you can contact Meade directly to have it updated. However, updating the software is not always required. Just properly training the drives and setting things up correctly (date/time, location, home position, etc) usually solve most initial user problems. Finally, there is a lot of information about Autostar usage on this site. Read through as much as you can.

Subject:	Autostar Problems
Sent:	Saturday, May 6, 2000 18:19:56
From:	Jimmy123ho@aol.com
I just got an ETX-90EC, the Deluxe Field Tripod, and the Autostar
(Version 2.0). The first night I went out, I expected excellent
performance from the Autostar. I followed all the instructions, aligned
the telescope as well as possible, and started observing. However, when
I pressed "GOTO" for M51, but when the scope slewed to the target, there
was nothing visible in either the finder or the eyepiece. I was annoyed
and very dissapointed. I tried "GOTO" for Cappella, but the scope ended
up about 10 to 15 degrees from the star. I redid alignment, used the
"High Precision Mode", and checked the locks, but the scope still slewed
to postions over 10 degrees from the target, getting worse with each
slew. I was very dissapointed, scine it was the first time I had used a
fully computerized telescope (I have two other really old telescopes at
home). What do you think of this? If you have any possible solutions or
causes please write back as soon as possible. Your patience is
appreciated. Thanks!

Mike here: Drive training is an essential part of the Autostar use. Anytime you got oddball results, retrain. Let me know if that helps. Also, if you have the cable, you might want to get the 2.0i version on Meade's web site. Finally, there is a lot of information about Autostar usage on this site. Read through as much as you can.

Subject:	 Re: ETX Autostar Update 2.1i
Sent:	Friday, May 5, 2000 09:12:08
From:	kenroe2@juno.com (KENNETH J NICHOLSON)
I recently updated my autostar to version 2.1h with much difficulty and
many problems before i was finally successful. Does anyone know what the
improvements are in 2.1i versus 2.1h ?  My autostar  and ETX-90 are
working so good now, that I don't want to chance any further problems.
Thanks,  Ken
Mike here: According to the README on Meade's Autostar download web page:

"Version history:
Note: This version changes only 1 thing from version 2.0h. The non-English languages databases are now fixed. The information below reflects changes encapsulated in 2.0h."

Added later:

Many thanks for your information on the 2.1i update. I just read in some
Meade on-line instructions where they suggested to retrain the autostar
when switching from batteries to the AC-adapter. I wonder why ? This was
the first I ever heard of this.
Mike here: I suspect the retraining is to compensate for any differences in electrical load when changing the electrical source. I'm not an electrical engineer so don't take this as fact.

Subject:	 autostar update
Sent:	Friday, May 5, 2000 09:00:46
From:	dd8571950@juno.com
Is there a way to down load version 2.0i and load it in my auto star. I
have tried to but I guess I don't understand how meade wants to do it. I
loded 2.0h ok,but I don't know how to get  2.0i. I load it to a zip file
and then where do they want you to unzip it to? Being new to this mess I
don't really understand it? Maybe if I mailed to meade they would load
it for me?They sure didn't write it up for a newbie to understand, maybe
you have a better write up
      Thank you
        Dave Pollard
  P.S It took me 4 hours to get 2.0h loaded yesterday.
Mike here: Inside your Autostar folder on your hard disk is a folder called "Ephemerides". Put the two 2.0i files inside this folder. Then launch the Autostar updater application and update the Autostar.

Added later:

Thank you very much for the info,worked like a charm, I now have 2.0i,
thanks to you, now to find some clear skies to try it out.
        many thanks

Subject:	 Meade
Sent:	Thursday, May 4, 2000 23:37:19
From:	rlonn@home.com (Robert Lonn)
WOW, me again. Two emails in a row about Meade admitting problems, now
with the electric focus unit!!!

Then a comment about the 17 volts! As long as the DC regulators are
working, 17 volts is not an issue. I use a DC power pack, 12 volts, and
had the slew problem. Plugging the AC adapter  in with an appliance???
Hard to believe they tell folks this stuff! I will call Meade on Friday,
use my real name this time, ha ha, and see what they tell me!! I just
want to be a plain old customer getting plain old and HONEST answers!!

Subject:	 what???
Sent:	Thursday, May 4, 2000 23:29:02
From:	rlonn@home.com (Robert Lonn)
I don't believe it!! Meade admits the slewing is in the Autostar!!! This
could be a breakthrough for improved customer service. I am sure you
remember my email about faking a call to mead pretending to be a
distributor in San Diego and Meade blowing me off. I hope they are right
about the Autostar. I may just send mine back to be safe!! Must be the
planet alignments that have caused all of this good will on Mead's
part!! PS, despite all of this I love the ETX-125!! I use "The Sky" to
drive everything!!!!

Subject:	 Autostar question
Sent:	Thursday, May 4, 2000 20:17:37
From:	dereks@kd-dev.com (Derek Simkowiak)

I have a simple Meade Autostar question.

I understand that the Autostar gives the ETX "Go to" capability. I also
understand that the Autostar can be hooked up to a computer, using a
serial cable.

My question is this: Can I use a computer (with ETX controller software)
as a "Go to" replacement for the Autostar?  Can I hook up my computer
directly to the ETX, instead of hooking up to the Autostar?

I plan to have a laptop computer with me every time I'm out observing. 
I've read that some software package can control the ETX telescope.  It
seems to me that a software program could do anything the Autostar
controller does, and I'm wondering if I can avoid the purchase of the
Autostar (especially since it seems to have some firmware issues) but
still have Go To capability using my laptop.

Thank You,
Derek Simkowiak
Mike here: I don't believe you can currently do that. The connection is through the Autostar handbox.

Subject:	 $99 Autostar for ETX from JC Penney
Sent:	Thursday, May 4, 2000 13:32:22
From:	dcd2@pop.peakpeak.com
I bought one from their web site.  It is the real deal.  Came loaded
with v2.0g with is only a rev or two off and it works fine.  Great way
to save $50 for use on other accessories.


Subject:	 re: 17 volt adapters
Sent:	Wednesday, May 3, 2000 20:33:31
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Ken Nicholson commented upon Meade's 17 volt (unloaded) adapter output.
I worried about that too.  Mike kindly measured -his-, which reassured
me mine was within reason.

The Meade adapter is an "unregulated" supply. If you hang a load across
it of about 100 milliamps, you may find it'll drop to a more reasonable

The "12 v" also appears as the out pins of the two "AUX" connectors on
the ETX's base.  If you dangle a chopped phone (well, handset) cord
there, you can measure the actual running voltage the scope is seeing.

The Autostar itself has an internal 5-volt regulated supply.  Its
Motorola 68hc11 CPU does -not- want to see voltages higher than 5.5v, so
they take care of it -right there-.  The power dissapated by the 5 volt
regulator serves to warm the LCD display on those cold evenings...

You can buy a -regulated- RadioShack lump, and thereby -guarantee- only
12 volts to the ETX system.

--dick (who uses a less-hefty, but still unregulated, RadioShack power

Subject:	 Re: ETX Autostar Park  Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, May 3, 2000 20:24:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Ken Nicholson worried about PARK not spinning all the way home.

Don't worry about it.  The Autostar remembers how far 'round the horn it
is, and correctly moves the next night. I use it all the time.

If you're a satellite tracker (like me), be aware that the Autostar does

-not- look ahead along a satellite track to avoid hitting the stops when

it first slews to the AOS point.  So it -does- help if -you- keep track
of things.

--dick (rather spun about)

Subject:	 Re: ETX Autostar Park  Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, May 3, 2000 15:41:19
From:	kenroe2@juno.com (KENNETH J NICHOLSON)
Since I usually set up my ETX-90 on the same spot on my patio. I like to
use the Park mode on my autostar to avoid unlocking and locking the
scope in home position every time I setup to avoid possible wear on the
locking mechanisms especially the horizontal lock which does not seem to
have room for further tightening after it hits the stop. However after
much slewing and I use the Park mode, the telescope returns to what
looks like the normal home park position pointing north with the dec. at
0 degrees(level), but when I check it out manually by unlocking the
horizontal lock, I find it still has another 360 + degrees to go before
hitting the stop. This happens almost all the time as it can't seem to
remember where home position is. Has anyone  experienced this problem or
know what might cause it ?  I am at 2.1h version in my autostar.
Thanks, Ken who can't find home

Subject:	 sat tracking with autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, May 3, 2000 12:54:37
From:	n5yyx@plateautel.net (James Lofton)
I thought I'd give some information that I find helpful in tracking.

I have installed the EZ pointer by Orion. This is a no magnification
"red spot" pointer. I can now have my ETX lay "in wait" for the sat, and
if(when)the sat is a little off, then it is a simple matter to align the
scope to the sat with both eyes open. I then can let Autostar take over,
touching up as needed.

This ideal was given to me by a gentleman from AZ that uses a Telerad on
a LX-200 to do the same thing.

Last night was PERFECT conditions AND we were blessed with 2 passes each
of Mir and ISS, just mins apart. Both passes of Mir were tried and we
followed both passes from almost the start until one went below horizon
and the other into the earths shadow.

I might add that my last Autostar has been working almost perfectly
(wife won a book from S&T Messier Marathon with it)!

Mike here: Congrats to the wife!!!

Subject:	 DIN8 to DB9 adapter
Sent:	Tuesday, May 2, 2000 09:56:21
From:	sokura@uci.edu (Steve Okura)
Being a Mac user (I'm one too) here is a web source for a DIN-8 to DB-9
adapter that Mac folks may find useful for connecting an Autostar to an
older Mac.
I am not yet an ETX owner but thought this may be useful to some.  I
don't know for a fact that this adapter will do the job, along with
Virtual PC and Windows on a Mac, or the soon to be released Java
download software but it sounds like it will. This adapter converts from
the DB-9 on the Autostar to the standard Mac mini-8 serial port.  I have
no affiliation with the above web site.
Thanks for your great web site.

Steve O
Mike here: It should work. I use a similar adapter that came with the Ricoh digital camera I have.

Subject:	 Silly question
Sent:	Tuesday, May 2, 2000 07:35:59
From:	jneuringer@kpmg.com (Neuringer, Jeremy)
I think I missed something.  I downloaded the 2.1 software updater and
the 2.0h roms, and clicked "New Software" to handbox.  It took about 15
minutes, and seems to work.  But there is no "data" in the autostar.  IE
no tours, no asteroids and other objects (other than a few planets etc).
Did I miss something?

Also,  in 1 sentence, what is Ephremides?

Many many thanks..


Office # 617-988-6306
Mike here: There are/should be two files in the Ephemerides folder and it should probably take closer to 30 minutes (a guess) to download. Do you have both files? Also, version 2.0i is the latest; you might regrab everything from Meade's site and try again. And ephemerides are the data for celestial objects that define orbits and positions over time.

Added later:

Subject:	 Re: ETX Autostar Problems
Sent:	Monday, May 1, 2000 15:05:35
From:	kenroe2@juno.com (KENNETH J NICHOLSON)
Updating my note of yesterday telling how all my slewing problems seemed
to be corrected when I updated autostar software  from version 1.0i to
2.1h. I have since checked out my AC adapter before using it again with
the new updated software and found it to be putting out 16-17 volts
instead of 12 volts. I returned it to the store for an exchange and
found all their meade adapters were measuring 16-17 volts on my meter. I
had checked out my meter before hand to make sure it was reading
properly. I called meade technical service and the young lady said 17
volts was OK and when I pressed for a better answer she said her
supervisor advised that I should connect it with an appliance to reduce
the voltage when using it with my ETX 90. I will continue to press meade
for a better answer than that as I believe 17 volts is too much and will
stick with the battery pack for now. I believe my slewing problems began
when I first started using this AC adapter.


Subject:	 checking slew speeds
Sent:	Sunday, April 30, 2000 21:19:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
You can check the operation of the slew-speed key input instantaneously
by first settting up the Status/Statistics display on the Autostar.

Do -that- by pushing the Mode key for two seconds, and then releasing.
Depending upon where your are in the menu trees when you start, it may
take a number of presses... but eventually you'll be rewarded with a
display which shows:
  RA=xx:xx:xx   [splotch]

(if you use the up./down scroll keys you';ll see the other items this
display offers).
What's improtant for -you- is the "splotch".
It's a bar display showing the current slew speed.
Now try pushing the  1 through 9 keys.
The splotch will change height related to slew speed.
Full splotch is speed nine, no splotch is speed 1.

There are some times (such as when "Slewing..." is being displayed) that
the speed-change keys are -ignored-.  Just don't push them then. They
are also ignored -during- a Sync operation and (i vaguely recall) during
drive-training. You can pre-set the Sync speed by tapping the number key
-before- leaning on the Enter key to start a Sync operation.

*You* have no control over the speeds the Autostar chooses for
"Slewing..." during a GoTo operation. The number buttons only control
the speed when you're pushing on the big up/down/left/right keys. (and
during rs232-mandated :MA# commands, but that's another story)

have fun

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