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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 30 November 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:	 quick question
Sent:	Thursday, November 30, 2000 20:19:15
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
If I choose not to change daylight savings time in the autostar and
simply add an hour to local time with all else being the same as it was
last summer, will that create a problem with initial GOTO commands? By
this I mean the local time is advanced 1 hr., but the difference between
local time and GMT stays the same and you lie to the autostar and tell
it that DST is in affect. I figured this way you wouldn't have to mess
around with the initial numbers (figures) that autostar uses to figure
out it's time and place for that evenings viewing.

Thanks again for the answer and the best web site in the world on these
kind of things.
        Tony Bulat
Mike here: Well, if you always remember to enter the time wrong (off by an hour), you'll be OK for fixed objects. But the Moon calcs will likely be off. But I don't understand why you wouldn't just change the DST setting once and leave it alone for six months.

Subject:	 Autostar update on windows 2000 and other complains :-)
Sent:	Wednesday, November 29, 2000 14:47:03
From:	xrr@altern.org
In the "Autostar info" section of your site under "Update Autostar:
Windows2000, Linux, FreeBSD" I saw a post of someone that did managed to
run the version 2.2 of the autostar updater on Windows 2000. Well, it
didn't worked for me (on Windows 2000 professional) but I wanted to give
some hints to others...
When I start the Autostar I will get an "Application Error - The
instruction at "0x77fcbfe1" referenced memory at "0x0000000000000", The
mem... "

First it took me some time to get my hands on the 2.2 version ! The
version downloadable from the autostar update page on meade's web site
(http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) is a 2.1 version !

The version 2.2 is nevertheless available (I had to dig a big in the
mess of the directories !) at :
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/EtxAutostar/auto.exe
Included is the version 2.0i (last known version at this date) of the
autostar firmware.

Hopefully the Meade Autostar is not as bad as the updater and work well
(if you don't push it too hard sending commands from a pc) !

The autostar web site is out of date since 07/03/00 !!! only 8 months
ago !

Should I mention the orbital elements files which of course can't be
used anymore...
I guess lots of beginers in astronomy (I though the autostar was done
for them ?) are downloading 1 year old orbital elements files trying to
track satelites and are quite surprised to find that ISS is not anymore
there...
Well for them (And I was one of them some month ago (and still a beginer
in maaaany aspects !) ) I will remind that most of the satelites are
loosing altitude and needs to be regularily put back in the right
orbit... it means that elements files are often valid only for a short
period (days or weeks).

And "Coming Soon" for 8 month has been the "Coming Soon!  Autostar
Update Java Client for Windows and Macintosh
(requires Java enabled browser)"...
Everybody still waiting for it !

While Meade appeared to early understand the necessity of Internet
upgrades (when the competitor still don't have) I've got the feeling
that they still don't really understand that all this have a meaning if
they DO provide upgrades ! Windows 2000 has been available for
developpers for quite a long time now and is not really different from
NT4 and 98 ! So why is this STILL not possible to upgrade using it ?

Is it normal that some (good !) people need to PATCH the autostar
software to correct bugs
(http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_beep2.html) ?

It's probably a ressource issue (it might be difficult to find Software
engineers in California) but why not decide to open source the autostar
and the upgrader then ! and let the community do the dirty work ! That
would be a nice solution but of course a tough "political" decision...

Well, having said all that I'm still pretty happy with my ETX 90 and the
Autostar but had to express my frustration on some issues :-) ...

Thanks for your great site once again mike, as I already told you it was
for a lot in my choice of the ETX 6 months ago !

                 Xavier  
Mike here: Yep, Autostar updates have stopped coming frequently. But on the other hand, some users complained about the frequency of the previous updates and their bugginess. So, perhaps Meade is waiting until the next release is fully polished.

Added later:

yes :-)
I hope you're right but frequent updates don't necessarily have to be
buggy !

Subject:	 enquiry
Sent:	Wednesday, November 29, 2000 12:59:38
From:	prasanna1_us@yahoo.com (prasanna kumar)
I have a telescope ETX 125 and would like to upgrade the software and
database from the web. How is that possible & under what site is it
available.

Hope you will send me the deatils and oblige.

best wishes
prasanna1_us@yahoo.com
Mike here: Go to the Autostar Information page. You'll see two links that apply:
Autostar Software Downloads (official Meade site) (3/9/00)
Autostar Software Archive (unofficial) (3/9/00)
The Meade site has the currently available release for downloading. The archive has past versions.

Subject:	Proc Trap2
Sent:	Wednesday, November 29, 2000 11:26:07
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
Just got that error that I listed in the subject line, and it isn't
going away. I've tried, repeatedly, to turn it off and back on again.
Nothing is working. I just read an entry on your site about it, but there
was no solution to the problem if it didn't resolve itself.... What
should I do?

~Noah
And:
Just did a search on your site for "proc trap 2." I found a link that
shows a way to debug the Autostar. Unfortunately, my Autostar is not
responding to Hyperterminal... I thought I had a way out, but now I'm
lost again....
Mike here: Can you get into the SAFE LOAD mode and try re-uploading the Autostar software?

And:

I've been getting alot of advice from Dick Seymour. I tried a Safe Load,
but after the installation, the Autostar screws up again. It either goes
blank when it should be initializing, or the trap comes back. This is
getting really frustrating!
Mike here: Try calling Meade first.

Added later:

before i call meade... i had one question for you. if i hit enter and
the downscroll before i turn on the etx, i get a "flash load ready"
message. i then start up the autostar update program and click on "new
software" (after i click the yes for "safe load"). is this the correct
procedure? or should i be doing something else to get the autostar to
initialize? the whole proc. trap 2 error occurred in the middle of a
download... so that is why it won't start up. but there has to be a
reason why the program keeps crashing at the end??? you'll probably tell
me to call meade, but i thought maybe i was skipping something that you
know about. thanks mike, and take care!
Mike here: When you enter the SAFE LOAD mode, the PC software detects that when you start the download. So, it sounds like you are doing it correctly.

And finally the fix:

Dick Seymour:
I spent all day (from 12:00 pm - 1:00 am) trying to figure out a way to
get myself back online. I decided to think this thing through. I figured
that since this is a problem other people have had and have been able to
get out of, the problem was probably not with the Autostar itself, but
with the Updater. Figuring that I had nothing to lose, I decided to
uninstall the Updater from my computer and to unzip the AUTO.zip file
that I had saved on my computer to get a fresh start. Well, I tried this
and Winzip said that there were files missing from the zip file and
could not be unzipped. I then began to think about my computer's
history. I contracted a virus about a month ago, and had to manually
delete alot of files to get rid of it (Mcafee couldn't just clean the
files, it actually made me delete stuff). So I began to wonder if this
virus I had contracted had in some way screwed with the Autostar files.
I then deleted that zipped file and downloaded the complete zip file
from Meade. I then tried a Flash Load one more time... To make a long
story short, I'm being asked what country I live in by the Autostar!!!
Thank you for all your help! I'm sending this to Weasner too, so that if
others have a problem like this, they will know what to do! Take care.
~Noah

Subject:	 Latest Software-Version for Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, November 28, 2000 14:07:54
From:	ursamajor@talknet.de (Dr. Ralf Schulz)
Ralf here from Germany!

I purchased one of the first ETX90EC with Autostar in March 1999 in the
US. Because I had version 1.0, I upgraded the software of autostar to
version 2.0i. This version has some problems with orbital elements and
satellite tracking.

After a while, I looked at the Meade homepage, and I wondered, that
there is no new software version since March 2000! There are no new
Orbital elements or sattelite information since January!

Is this really true, or do I have the wrong address?

I appreciate some more information on that.

Sincerly

Ralf Schulz
Mike here: You got the correct address; nothing new in several months.

Subject:	 Autostar info
Sent:	Monday, November 27, 2000 07:03:09
From:	Jean-Marc_Herpers@skillteam.com
I have recently buyed a meade etx-125.  Up to now, I have used it
without the autostar with good results.  However, I would like to point
more quickly sky objects.  As I have an IBM thinkpad, I would like to
use an astronomy software to guide the etx.  I found on internet the
software Skymap 7 which includes drivers for etx.  However, it's not
clear about the way I have to connect the computer with the etx.  I
looked for inquiries on the meade official site and on other sites but
without response. So, may I ask you the following questions :

- Is it possible to connect the computer to the etx with a single cable,
without passing through the autostar ?  I ask you this because I've
heard that it's possible.  If it's possible, which cable is necessary ?

- If the autostar is absolutely needed to control the etx from the
computer, I have heard about model 495 of the autostar but also of a
brand new model.  Do you have information about this new model ?

Thank you very much for your help

Jean-Marc Herpers
Belgium
E-mail:  Jean-marc herpers@SkillTeam.com
Mike here: You do need the Autostar in order to control the ETX from a computer. According to information available on Autostar models on the Autostar Information page on my ETX site: The #497 works for the ETX & DS models and #495 only works for DS models, NOT the ETX. There is a new model Autostar for the LX90 8" which has a larger database (probably more than can be seen with the ETX-125EC).

Added later:

Thank you for the information and the quick answer !

Subject:	 RE: tracking the sun with autostar
Sent:	Sunday, November 26, 2000 07:44:13
From:	bernie.j.verreau@intel.com (Verreau, Bernie J)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Thanks, Dick.  

I'll give your sun-as-asteroid method a try when I have my solar filter.
I think it's a shame Meade can't be more forthcoming about programming
the Autostar.  There's a lot of interest in solar observation this year,
with the sunspot maximum and all.  Looks like their lawyers are running
the show.

One of the main reasons I got my ETX was for field use with solar
eclipses. I plan to take one to Zambia for next June's totality [my
16th].  Of course there's an easy workaround for solar eclipses.  You
just set the scope to track the moon.  If you're interested, I have a
number of non-Meade eclipse photos on my website,
home.att.net/~bernieverreau .

Clear Skies!

Bernie Verreau, Redwood City, CA
Mike here: Lawyers run the Country as well as Corporations. In Meade's case, you can't really blame them for being cautious. Consider the people that blind themselves whenever there is a solar eclipse even with all the public warnings.

Subject:	 Check the file sizes!
Sent:	Saturday, November 25, 2000 23:18:19
From:	pol@alaska.net (Paul Loughman)
I finished upgrading my #497 Autostar Computer Controller, from version
2.0g to 2.0i. It took me almost two hours, because of a very simple (and
avoidable) mistake.

The upgrade was done using the Autostar Update Client for Windows,
version A2.1. When the program was about 50% completed, it quit, telling
me that the Autostar had not completed the upgrade. I had to resort to
Safe Loader Mode in order to access the controller (the incomplete
upgrade 'crashed' the controller). I tried again. Same result (crashed
controller).

It was then, that I realized what the problem was: I had downloaded the
2.0i Autostar.ROM and dbase.ROM files. The download completed, but I had
not checked the file sizes! The download had not completed normally, so
I did not have the complete files. No wonder the upgrade couldn't
complete!

I downloaded the files again, and checked the file sizes: they were
correct; so attempted the upgrade a third time. SUCCESS!

So, follow ALL the directions, to include checking the size of the
downloaded files. It will save you time, and a lot of frustration!

--
Paul O. Loughman

Subject:	 autostar stalling
Sent:	Saturday, November 25, 2000 14:36:55
From:	goi76@dial.pipex.com (Craig Ireland)
tonight when using my etx125 and autostar (version g), after about 25
minutes the autostar handset jams. it does not allow any movement of the
scope using the cursor keys or does not allow me to use any other menu.
all keys are inactive, inc the red led when pressing zero. has any one
else come across this??. I have had no other problems and its only
happened tonight. regards
craig ireland (East Anglia,UK)
P.S. mike, you have a great site!!
Mike here: A similar problem has been reported before and in fact I've had the Autostar lockup on me. Fortunately, it happens only rarely in most cases but it does force you to go through the alignment process again. Low batteries or just stumbling across a software bug can cause the problem. If you have the cable or a dealer nearby you might want to consider upgrading to the current 2.0i version.

Subject:	 GOTO Problem on an ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, November 24, 2000 00:37:41
From:	Roy@mikola.demon.co.uk (Roy Duggan)
Thanks for the great site.

I have had inconsistent results with the GOTO functions on my ETX 125.
Any thoughts/advice would be welcomed. I have read that the axis
training is critical so I thought I would try to some experiments to see
if I could isolate the problem.

I have carefully set the scope base level, and aligned the home position
by sighting Polaris in the 26mm eyepiece. I then did a careful alt and
az training on Polaris using a 9.6mm eyepiece.

I have quite a lot of obstructions to my urban site to reliably perform
a 2 star easy align, so for the purposes of this test I opted for a
single star align. I based this on a target star around 20 deg in
azimuth away from Polaris (I think for the limited test I was
conducting, this would not result in any positioning error.)

I then moved the scope a few degrees off of Polaris in each direction
N,S,E, & W and then selected GOTO back to Polaris, this resulted in what
looked like some remaining backlash type of repositioning error that was
repeatable but generally put Polaris back someway offset but still
within the fov of 26mm eyepiece (but this would quite likely have been
outside a higher mag eyepiece.)

I then slew the scope on a fast speed setting to around 45deg away from
Polaris in 2 axis and hit the GOTO button, I was a little surprised to
find that the scope really did not get very close. "The Sky" calculates
the fov of the ETX 125 with 26mm eyepiece at 40' on this basis I would
estimate the positioning was probably at least 1-2 degrees off. I was a
little surprised, as I would have thought that repositioning to Polaris
should be almost totally insensitive to any errors on the alignment. In
any case after I re-synchronised to Polaris and then selected GOTO a
star not that far (perhaps 10deg away from the pole star) the results
were a little better and on one occasion I did goto SAO181 and then
backto Polaris and got both stars in the fov on the bleep from the
autostar.

I then lost track of a very clear diagnostic path and tried a few
resyncs and slewing to different objects so after this I don't think I
can draw any rock solid conclusions, but unless I am wrong it does seem
that the scope seemed to suffer significant positional error after the
manual high speed slew

I certainly got the impression that the pointing accuracy was much
better when I first bought the ETX  (around 1 month ago);  I was really
impressed on the first night of use, being able to find a number of
meiser catalogue objects which I could never track down on my old 6"
Newtonian scope, and I would love to get that level of confidence back.

I think it would be really useful to have a diagnostic procedure to
simplify the process of working out what is going wrong I would like to
hear anyone else's suggestion on a better procedure than I tried and
perhaps developing this further as a general test. On my next clear
night and when I have the time I will try the following:

1. Double check the site location (which I think is right, as this was
taken off of my handheld GPS)
2. Make sure the time is set off of a very reliable source (I use a
radio controled clock synched from Rugby)
3. Note the % Battery available (I am on my first set of batteries and
these are showing 29% and I have a sneaky suspicion that this may affect
performance.)
4. Set up everything with a spirit level.
5. Set the base and OTA to the "Home Position"
6. Align the scope to Polaris
7. Return the OTA to level (using an eyepiece spirit level)
8. Select Easy Align 
9. Select one star method
10. Use a known star to be used to test the positioning accuracy (call
this Star x)
11. After successful alignment on Star x note the Alt and Az reading for
Star x
12. GOTO Polaris
13. On bleep note the alt and Az reading (where the scope thinks it is
pointing)
14. Re-center Polaris and note the Alt and Az reading (the difference
from the step 13 above should quantify any error)
15. Select GOTO Star x
16. On the beep note the alt and az reading
17. Recenter on Star x and note the alt and az reading (gives the error
after returning to Star x)
18. Resync to star x
19. Wonder if all this gadgetry is getting in the way of doing any
observing :^).

This would at least give some baseline measures of performance of your
scope.

One thing I do note is that during slewing my scope does not go
werererererer but WeereeRReerreeRReerr (if you see what I mean) is this
normal?

Best Regards,

Roy Duggan
Mike here: If I correctly understand how you did your alignment, I think that could be the source of the GOTO errors. As Dr. Leon Palmer from Rigel Systems reminded me when I was first evaluating the Autostar with an ETX-90EC in 1999, the Pole area is one of the worst places to select an alignment star because of the convergence of the Right Ascension lines at the higher declinations. This convergence means that a small error in angular position translates to a large error in the Right Ascension value. Errors in position are compounded and can even result in an opposite alignment when trying to align on Polaris, which isn't precisely at 90 degrees declination. Dr. Palmer advised to use stars that are about 90 degrees (6 hours) apart and near or on the celestial equator for the best results. As to the sounds you are hearing when slewing, the unevenness doesn't necessarily indicate a problem.

Subject:	 tracking the sun with autostar
Sent:	Thursday, November 23, 2000 10:18:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	bernie.j.verreau@intel.com
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site.
If you check the Autostar Info page, you'll see my note
on how to add the Sun as an Asteroid.

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

Then you can get a (pretty close) GoTo.

Among the tricks to that are:
 Park the scope the previous time, so it won't ask to align when
 you power up.
 Locate a due-north reference landmark for manual accurate postioning
 prior to power up (it'll be where the Park operation ends up).

That said, I tend to use Mike's method:
cover finder, apply solar filter (mine's the Orion),
point ETX due north, barrel level.
Power up, [goto] some astronomical object to start sidereal drive.
(Mercury's always handy for sun-related stuff).
Now slew to the sun... using the scope's shadow as your aiming guide.
Once there, the tracking should be accurate enough that only a little
touch-up every 5 minutes or so keeps it within view.

Sunspots are fascinating...
have fun, but be VERY careful about the filters and blocking the finder.
--dick

Subject:	 Re:  Autostar Tracking Rates
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2000 08:50:55
From:	zeelander@webtv.net (Rick)
Yes , that is the setting I am trying to change. My scope tracks perfect
on other objects but seems to lag when on the planets. I just bought a
Vector power supply and it provides a more consistent voltage/amp.
supply than the AA batteries. In testing it seems to move more smoothly.
As soon as my work schedule and viewing conditions cooperate I'll try it
out and let you know how I make out.

Subject:	 Pinout for AutoStar
Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2000 00:05:00
From:	garyfe@fergos.com (Gary A. Ferguson)
Does anyone know the pinout for the serial port on the AutoStar 497. I'd
like to make my own cable rather than spend $30 on one from Meade.

Thanks,
Gary
Mike here: Have you looked at the Autostar Information page on this site or the Autostar instruction manual page on Meade's web site? The info you seek is there.

Added later:

Thanks! Yup, someone else told me also so I have the info I need.

Subject:	 Does focus cause slew runaway when Sat Tracking?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 21, 2000 20:10:37
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Is it me, or Memorex?

If you have an electric focuser, have you ever experienced slew runaway
when satellite tracking?

On my ETX90/ec with electric focus, v2.0i firmware, if i
Object>Satellite>Select>whatever [enter] [goto] and then [enter] to
track, it'll start tracking. If i let it get at least 20 seconds into
the track, and then press the zero (0) key to select focusing, the slew
frequently (usually) starts -racing- along the satellite path (or
somewhere else... the key is that it takes off and -moves-).  Sometimes
the zero key can stop it, and sometimes only the [mode] key can stop it,
at the expense of dropping out of Satellite tracking mode.

You can test this indoors if you've got some TLEs in your Autostar. Just
set the TIME to a few minutes before a pass, select the satellite, and
[goto] (for setup) and [enter] to track. After at least ten or twenty
seconds, press zero to choose focus (the focus speed symbol should
appear on the upper right of the display)

IF you have the same symptoms i do, the ETX may start slewing weirdly
(or wildly) immediately... you don't even have to press a slew key to
change the focus... merely choosing to get into focus mode does it for
me.

If it's easy to do, please give it a test and let me know the results. 
This might just be my particular ETX90 and focuser having arguments
about who does what.

thanks
--dick

Subject:	 go to question
Sent:	Tuesday, November 21, 2000 06:09:36
From:	MREYNOLDS@expl.com (Mike Reynolds)
Does the Autostar need the ETX-90EC to be mounted in a polar fashion?

BTW:  The electric focuser is very easy to install and I think every
owner needs one.
Mike here: The Autostar allows compatible telescopes to be used in either Polar (equatorial) or Alt/Az mode. For most users, Alt/Az is the better choice.

Subject:	 Alt/Az Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Saturday, November 18, 2000 05:29:46
From:	yenalogmen@yahoo.com (Yenal Ogmen)
I read about Alt/Az Autostar Alignment in your site. But i think i have
some problem because while control panel pointing west, i turn scope
counterclockwise till the end. At this point my scope is pointing more
or less north (dec circle is on Control panel) so i think this
contradicts with what i read in your site. At this point scope should
point southwest you said. But my scope does not. Why?
Thanks
Yenal
Mike here: Well, there are a couple of possibilities. One, the hard stops were misaligned during assembly at the factory. Two, there is some internal obstruction preventing the completion rotation. Just out of curiosity, how many rotations can you make clockwise? It should be about 1-3/4, or end up pointing about SE (with the control panel on the west). If you get this full rotation, regardless of where you end up, there is one experiment you could try. When you hit the counterclockwise hard stop, pick up the ETX and tripod and move it until the ETX tube is pointing SW. This would put the control panel facing SE. The move the tube to the HOME position. See what happens when aligning and GOTOing. Let me know.

Added later:

Hi i checked how much it rotates in clockwise direction and i found that
it completes one turn and 1/4 turn more not 3/4. Why is this so? This is
my second scope from Meade. First one was a failure. And so second one?
If so i will throw it though my window. Please tell me what to do.
Thanks.
Mike here: Well, don't throw it through a window. I hate the sound of breaking glass! But it does sound like something is amiss in the hard stop positioning. If you can, take it back to the dealer where you purchased it. If you can't do that, try ANY local (or near local) Meade dealer. If no local dealer, contact Meade. If it is still under warranty, this is your best solution. If not under warranty and you are brave, you can open up the base and see if you can locate an obstruction.

Subject:	 re: 493 motors and Autostar on a non-Meade scope
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2000 21:41:36
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	michael@creativeinferno.com
Michael,

SOMEWHERE on Mike's site (and of course i cannot find it tonight) is a
link to someone who has used the Autostar and DS drives, with Ford
Taurus electric window geartrains, to drive bigger telescopes.

--dick
Mike here: It is mentioned on the October 2000 Autostar Feedback page.

Added later:

The site showing how to do it (in great detail) is

people.txucom.net/bedair/Autostar.html

have fun
post photos!
--dick
And:
Subject:	 Re: the missing link: using a 493 on a non-Meade
Sent:	Monday, November 20, 2000 06:38:59
From:	michael@creativeinferno.com (Michael Overton)
Thanks everyone for taking an interest in my endeavor. I'll let you know
how it goes.

Subject:	 if OPT places an LX-90 in front of your fingers...
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2000 20:55:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
could you Setup>Statistics>Version to see what version they're running?

I'm rather curious.

thanks
--dick

Subject:	 re: autostar aligning
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2000 20:52:36
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	write@go.com
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site, and noticed that you talked about "one
star aligning" using Polaris.

That's not a good idea.
It is much, much better to use a star some distance from Polaris.
(Sirius, Vega, Deneb, Formalhaut, Altair, Rigel, Spica...)

That way, the Autostar gets rotation-of-earth information from the
alignment.  Aligning on only Polaris only tells it where "North" is, but
does not provide fine control of the RA angle.

Of course, if you are using Polar mounting, then the "one star" is the
star chosen -after- pointing at Polaris.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	 Autostar Tracking Rates
Sent:	Friday, November 17, 2000 12:00:29
From:	zeelander@webtv.net (Rick)
Do you know how to change the tracking rate of the Autostar? I have
tried to put different numbers in the field called "custom" under the
tracking rate menu, but it dosen,t seem to have any effect. I'm trying
to get my ETX90 to track Jupiter and Saturn better that that allowed
with sidereal.
Mike here: Sidereal will work for the planets in normal viewing durations. Are you having tracking problems with stars? If so, you might want to check your latitude, degree of off-level, HOME position, etc. However, I have not needed to adjust the Autostar settings but from what I read, you use the Setup menu-->Tracking Rate-->Custom and enter some parameters. Is that the setting you are trying to change?

Subject:	 FOCUSING WITH THE AUTOSTAR
Sent:	Thursday, November 16, 2000 15:43:35
From:	gombe@email.msn.com (gombe)
I have noticed that when I hook up my autofocus to the ETX base, and use
the autostar to focus rather than the hand unit which comes with the
autofocuser, the speed, even at low speed is to fast.  Is there a remedy
or do I have to use the hand unit for the focuser.

Thanks EARL

Subject:	 Adapting Autostar to other mounts
Sent:	Thursday, November 16, 2000 10:49:26
From:	michael@creativeinferno.com (Michael Overton)
I've been reading through your site and noticed that there is a lot of
grass root tinkering going on.  The technology is so inexpensive, I
wonder if anyone a has been experimenting with adapting one to other
telescope/mounts? I have a CG5/GP clone mount and have been considering
trying to adapt and autostar system to this mount. Any
thoughts/comments? Thanks in advance for any advice.
--

Michael Overton
Partner

inferno
michael@creativeinferno.com

901.278.3773
901.278.3774 fax
Mike here: As long as the drive system can emulate either a DS, ETX, or LX200 system, it might work.

Added later:

I was thinking of adapting the drives that you can get in the 493 kit to
my mount.

Subject:	 Autostars, cloning, etc.
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2000 22:07:12
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
>-I recently bought another one in a camera store. 
> It has 1.3b installed in it.  

>Now my question--do you think that the one I sent to Meade has
>  some kind of updated hardware in it? 
To the best of my knowledge (WARNING: i ahven't opened a new one),
the hardware is unchanged for the model 497.
There was mention (here on Mike's site) about some update being done
for improved operation with the 125, but i never saw anyone post a
"i've got a new one!" message.
The -software- sure doesn't know new from Old, and MEade still says
you can move an AUtostar 497 to all models of the family
(scroll thru "telescope model" in Setup)

>  In otherwords if I clone 2.0g into the one I just bought, 
> will it drive my scope in a similar manner?  
yes.
and the Cloning only takes 5 minutes!

> Will I have to retrain my scope to run with that autostar?
> I suppose the training results go into the autostar--but does the
> cloning transfewr that info? 
When you first introduce an Autostar to a telescope, use either the
RESET or CALIBRATE DRIVE  Setup opearation.  That (i believe) tells
the Autostar (which has memory) how quickly/far the ETX moves for
an applied step command.
The TRAIN DRIVES (Alt and Az) is a separate function which uses you
to help determine how much BACKLASH (looseness caused by reversing
a gear train) exists in your ETX.
That is also remembered, and varies from ETX to ETX, but (hopefully)
doesn't change too quickly over time.

IF you Clone or DOwnload, it's a good idea to redo the CALIBRATE step
The Updater frequently forces you to... it RESETs the Autostar,
and the ETX barrel will jog to the right and up... that's the
CALIBRATE operation.

Drive TRAINING may be optional: my ETX90 seems to work pretty well
with the "default" backlash value which gets downloaded as a first
guess.  In fact, my Alt axis is so loose, i cannot do an "honest"
training session... if i do, creep-after-arrival overwhelms me.

When you CLONE, you're given the option of cloning 
(a) everything, (b) database only (c) user data only (Satellites,
Comets)
so it's your call.  I'd do everything.

>and finally, is there any reason why Meade did not upgrade my autostar
>to the 2.0i level?
none printable.
>Is it worth doing? 
i recommend v2.0h over 2.0g.  2.0i *only* corrects foreign language
operation.
> I believe that my focuser will be accessed easier from the autostar
> using a higher version, so it might be worth it.
>  Are their anymore versions coming out soon?
theoretically... but i have no idea how appropriate the word "soon" is.
(just joking)(i hope)(please?)
--dick

Subject:	 Alt/Az or Polar mode?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2000 23:44:19
From:	yenalogmen@yahoo.com (Yenal Ogmen)
Thanks for your interest. I would like to know which mode is the best,
ALt/Az or Polar OR it completely depends on the observer. I want to
track on objects in the sky and i read in the manual that it can only be
done when telescope is polar aligned unless if it is in Alt/Az mode you
should press on control buttons often to keep object in the eyepiece.
But in Weasner site of ETX someone says that best results can be
achieved from Autostar when it is in Alt/Az mode. What shall i do now?
Any tips about this?
Thanks
Yenal
And a response:
Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2000 00:37:13
From:	liem@starfleet.com (Liem Bahneman)
For 99% of ETX users, alt-az is "ok", as the ETX isn't built nor really
capable of the kind oh photography/tracking that Polar mode is geared
toward. Polar alignment eliminates field rotation inherent to alt-az
tracking, which is required for long-exposure astrophotography. However,
since the ETX is too lightweight and inaccurate for such a task, alt-az
is normally fine. Also, it would seem that most Autostar firmware
revisions perform better in alt-az.

However, if you do any sort of imaging, even as simple as a digital
camera through an eyepiece, polar mode does have some benefits. When a
scope is mounted alt-az, it requires drive correction on two axes, RA
and declination. By using a polar alignment, you only need correction in
the RA axis. This eliminates 50% of the slop inherent to the ETX's
drives. If you're trying to center Jupiter with a quickcam, let me tell
you, this is extremely helpful.

Another downside of polar alignment is the requirement of a wedge-type
tripod, which may be a cost factor.

So, its really a judgement call. If you're just skewing around with your
eyes all night, you're probably safe with alt-az. If you're doing any
sort of imaging, I recommend Polar.

- liem
Mike here: I agree with Liem. Most users do not need to use Polar mode when they use the Autostar. Only in special cases is it required.

And:

Sent:	Wednesday, November 15, 2000 14:02:46
From:	Etxstargazer@aol.com
Hi Yenal,

What is best for an accurate GoTo is Alt/Az. For some reason, GoTo is
not always accurate in polar mode. I would personally rather use my
scope in polar (because I prefer the easy tacking, and also works better
for photography, and because all of the scopes I have previously owned
have been polar also), and I was very disappointed with the results I
got in polar mode. Once you can complete your alignment, and find an
object, traking is a breez and there are rarely ever any mistakes.
Alt/Az is overall the better choice, because GoTo is always accurate,
and traking is acceptable 99% of the time. This is my opinion, and I
think that Alt/Az is much easier to use. Hope this helps.

Clear Skies, 
Taylor Chonis

Subject:	 Re: More technical questions
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2000 11:42:07
From:	tpmiles@bellsouth.net (Tony Miles)
This is in reference to Emory Braswell's comments in the Autostar
feedback section of your site. I was told by a Meade rep that all ETX
Autostars being shipped directly from Meade only have Version 2.0g. He
said that the difference between 2.0g and 2.0i are so insignificant that
Meade doesn't ship out Autostars with the latest version. I don't know.
I think there's quite a few difference between the two versions. I guess
it's up to the individual user if whether or not they want to upgrade.

It sounds to me that Meade has a whole bunch of 2.0g Autostars laying
around and they don't (for whatever reason) want to spend time upgrading
those models to the latest versions. I'm curious as to whether or not
someone who buys an Autostar right now in the retail storefront gets the
Version 2.0i?

Thanks,
Tony Miles

Subject:	 Autostar 2.0 software bug?
Sent:	Tuesday, November 14, 2000 09:35:59
From:	ulrich@cs.man.ac.uk (Ulrich Nehmzow)
I think the Autostar 2.0 software has a bug, but I wonder whether you
can confirm this from other feedback you have received.

My Autostar crashes in any of the three "tour" modes if you press any
other button but "Go To". The error message typically is "trap 2",
sometimes the computer crashes without message.

If you go into "Tonight's best", for instance, and press "Enter" on any
object offered, the Autostar crashes. In the other two tour modes it
crashes anyway, regardless of which button you press, so they are even
worse.

If you know anything about this problem, I'd be interested to hear.

Kind regards

Ulrich.
Mike here: I don't see this; I have 2.0h installed. I don't recall seeing this problem. Can you reload the software?

And:

thank you for your quick reply. Well, it looks to me like the software
in my Autostar is corrupted, because the computer definetely crashes on
any of the tours.

At the moment I can't download the software, because I have no cable yet
- I've only just started with the ETX.

Thanks again, and many greetings from Manchester
Mike here: If there is a dealer close to you, you might be able to get your Autostar cloned from one at the dealer. Or swap it.

And:

Good idea, thanks for the suggestion.

Subject:	 Re: Re:  hard stop
Sent:	Monday, November 13, 2000 06:48:01
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
thank you for your answer (further down this page). mike,i did what you
had told me,but no changes. still the same problem. i have to tell you
something about my autostar, when i make one star aligning(especially
when i chose polaries) the scope moves and stopes close to the star.( i
hope this may help)

thanks again
suliman

Subject:	 More technical questions
Sent:	Sunday, November 12, 2000 19:47:18
From:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
Mike, thank you for your quick answer and your research.  I guess I was
hoping that for someone it would be an easy "of the top of their head"
answer. I will certainly follow your lead and and use the web more. 
Now, I have an autostar which I had sent in with my 125 (twice in 9
months) to have a number of things straightened out before the warrenty
ran out.  They sent them back to me and things have been much better. 
The autostar now had version 2.0g installed (up from 1.3b).  Since I
only had occasional wild slewing--maybe once a night-(I use a small 12 V
lead-acid storage battery) I never complained about it.  So I don't know
if they did whatever the fix is for that problem since it still
occasionally slews wildly. As you know I've been playing with the
autostar (powering it directly etc.) and since I didn't want to fry it
and lose out on using it for it's intended purpose--I recently bought
another one in a camera store.  It has 1.3b installed in it.  Now my
question--do you think that the one I sent to Meade has some kind of
updated hardware in it?   In otherwords if I clone 2.0g into the one I
just bought,  will it drive my scope in a similar manner?  Will I have
to retrain my scope to run with that autostar? I suppose the training
results go into the autostar--but does the cloning transfewr that info? 
and finally, is there any reason why Meade did not upgrade my autostar
to the 2.0i level?  Is it worth doing?  I believe that my focuser will
be accessed easier from the autostar using a higher version, so it might
be worth it.  Are their anymore versions coming out soon? I suspect
you're now feeling--so many questions--so little time!  I've spent a lot
of the past year reading your site and learning enough to be able to
have wonderful evenings and now I'm beginning to have urges for doing
more serious things.  Now that I'm getting close to retirement, I am
returning to my teenage interests.  During which I had ground and
figured a six inch mirror in an apartment in Brooklyn.  Never got to use
it except to project sunspots and solar eclipses on the wall. Since then
I have been unable to do much except make a living (in Biophysics),
raise a family, and read about the amazing developments that have
brought astronomy at such a cheap price and little hassle (compared with
the late 40's) to the average hobbyist!  Sorry to spout on but I am
feeling quite happy having been delighted by gazing at some half dozen
beautiful double stars tonight.  Came in to warm up and read the answers
to my questions asked  only this afternoon.   Thanks so much for your
caring to run this site!    Regards, Emory Braswell
Mike here: If you just received the Autostar back from Meade it is surprising that it doesn't have 2.0i. You probably want to upgrade and clone. Retraining is required whenever you switch Autostars or telescopes. Seems to be a good idea when upgrading the software. I have 2.0h and still get the random slews with the ETX-125EC on loan from Meade. Occurs once or twice a night; I just GOTO some object (or use the last selected object), re-center it, and SYNC (hold down the ENTER key for a couple of seconds). Seems to be the quickest way to recover from a random slew. As to a new version, including that Java-enabled one, we are all waiting. Maybe I'll find out more this coming weekend when I'm at the Oceanside Photo and Telescope "Meade Day".

Subject:	 hard stop
Sent:	Sunday, November 12, 2000 06:12:15
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
today, i have different problem. when i make aligning for my etx125 it
moves to the right(or to the left according to the star position)and
never stop until it reaches the hard stop. i trained the telescope many
times but no changes. by the way, i use 2.0h version. also,i reloaded my
autostar again and still the same problem.

thanks
suliman
Mike here: I assume you started in the proper HOME position (rotated the scope clockwise and counterclockwise appropriately), and have the Autostar set for your model telescope and proper date/time/location. Try reversing the position of the control panel; normally it is placed on the west side so try it on the east side. Then do the HOME position and aligning. Let me know the results.

Subject:	 sun warning
Sent:	Saturday, November 11, 2000 04:53:08
From:	afrisina@yahoo.com (Tony Frisina)
Where is the function that shuts off the sun warning,etc on the autostar
497 ? thanks
Mike here: I did a search on the ETX site for "sun warning". It turned up this link from the Autostar Information page: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_tips.html. Check the first paragraph of the first message.

Added later:

I had checked out the location you sent me before I emailed you. My
Autostar version is 2.oG. I do not have the Utilities:Display on my menu
options. Any Ideas. thanks
Mike here: Unless you upgrade to 2.0h or 2.0i, you can't disable the sun warning.

Subject:	 Re: Me and my Mac
Sent:	Friday, November 10, 2000 02:00:16
From:	daniel@dfv.se (Daniel Forslund)
Just wanted to let you know how my troubles with Starry Night (Mac) and
the ETX have panned out.

I've finally updated my Autostar by using a friends PC. I think the
update itself was a success, at least it now indicates version 2.0i.
However, I have no idea if it successfully updated the star/object
database, it never indicated it and I saw no way of doing it in the
software. It was pretty confusing, so it might very well have been
operator error.

As for the compatibility with Starry Night, it's better but still not
good enough. The ETX successfully slews to the correct target in about
10% of the tries. I've trapped the communications and it often responds
with "0" to the sd commands and sometimes to the MS command as well,
indicating some kind of error. It can't be the cable since the update
worked, so it has to be something in my setup or that the infogenie
plugin isn't compatible with the ETX. I'm using a G3 laptop having the
communication run through USB->Keyspan Adapter->Soldered
Cable->Autostar.

If anyone has any info on any incompatibility between the ETX and LX200
protocols, I'd be very thankful. Also, all info on use of Starry Night
and the ETX would be very welcome.

Many thanks for a great site and any help!

Cheers,
Daniel Forslund


-------------------------------------------------------------
  d a n i e l   f o r s l u n d   v i s u a l i s e r i n g
                   
        Advanced computer aided animation and design

                      http://www.dfv.se

                      Stockholm, Sweden
-------------------------------------------------------------
Mike here: The Autostar DB gets updated as part of the software update. As to the LX200 commands, check the "LX200 Commands and Autostar" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	 Bad Satellite in Autostar Update
Sent:	Monday, November 6, 2000 09:28:06
From:	pcaesar@devcor.com (Caesar, Paul)
I have one satellite in the Autostar Update program which has bad data.
When I try to select this item from the drop-down list, I get an error
message about a number out of range which will not go away no matter how
many times I click Ok. How can I delete this?

Thanks,
Paul Caesar
San DIego, CA

Subject:	 Re: Re:  autostar
Sent:	Monday, November 6, 2000 06:38:14
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
my autostar works again. thank you for your help.

suliman
Mike here: This was after doing the SAFE LOAD mentioned further down this page.

Subject:	 Autostar Auto Focus?
Sent:	Sunday, November 5, 2000 18:46:39
From:	alexmarc@home.com (Alex an Pat Marcaccio)
We have an ETX90 and have used Autostar only a few times so far--we're
still learning quite a bit and trying to get comfortable with the whole
setup and its capabilities.

The Autostar manual says we have auto focus.  It reads to hold the
"mode" key down for 2 seconds or so for telescope status display, when
we do everything is displayed as the manual reads except focus.  Do I
have auto focus or is this an option that needs to be purchased?

Please respond to:  marcaccioc@bnp.com

Thank you for your reply.

C. Marcaccio
Mike here: You have to have the Meade electric focuser. I don't believe it acts an as 'auto focus' however.

Subject:	 [Fwd: Re: autostar empowering]
Sent:	Saturday, November 4, 2000 15:45:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Mike... i think Emory may have sent his "i connected my Autostar to
a battery" message to you, too.  If so, here's my response to that,
answering (or at least commenting upon) his follow-up question

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: autostar empowering
Date: Sat, 04 Nov 2000 15:36:23 -0800
From: richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: "Emory braswell" (BRASS@UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU)

> Next, I was wondering how one might download the various 
> directories-(or the one large directory with various flags) to an
> Excel type spreadsheet.
> Any ideas?  Thanks for your help and to Mike for his site!

Well, i start with the download package from Meade.
And rip into it with hex-dumpers, disassemblers and Word.

Actually, there are two approaches: 
the idealized catalogs (referenced from
www.wolfe.net/~workshop/astro/hr.html
and  http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_db.html ),
are already in near Excel-ready form (use Fixed Field import)
(put a .txt extension on the file and the Text Wizard will recognize
it and help).  The READMEs give data field location keys.

Meade doesn't have -all- of any of the catalogs in the 497 Autostar.
(the one which will come with the LX-90 has twice the memory, an 
advertised 32,000 objects, and the LX-200 has 65,000).

The 497 has a megabyte of RAM... about 25% of that holds the program,
the rest is given over to the fixed and user-addable data areas.

My own "hobby" is the understanding of how the program works, with 
only a cursory amusement as to what the database itself contains
(or doesn't contain... a number of my notes to engineer@meade have
been quibbles about missing items and indexing methods)

For example: the stars are from the Yale Bright Star Catalog (BSC),
but Meade chose the SAO numbering sequence as their access method.
Peachy... except for the fact that there are stars in the BSC which
don't have SAO designators.  So you can't reach them!  There are
at least 3 stars in the Autostar with SAO values of zero... 
which the SAO entry screen won't accept as a valid number.
(locating any of those three is left as an exercise for the student).

What goes where in the database, and where the database is stored,
varies from firmware release to firmware release.  Sometimes wildly.
Probing Meade's website gives the firm impression that future versions
will be language-specific, which will release some storage from 
multi-lingual support for other purposes.

The Autostar 497 claims a bit over 14,000 objects.
The native BSC is about 9,000 stars.  The NGC is about 10,000 items.
The SAO listing is 250,000.  More of my natterings on this are 
available from Mike's site as the "Autostar Database" and "More..."
links from http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html

The LX-200 command set provides for the PC to be able to access the
LX-200's libraries.  Those functions are not implemented in the 
Autostar.  It'll only ever admit to M31.

Have fun... it's a good puzzle for cloudy nights...
--dick

Subject:	 Autostar and LX200 commands
Sent:	Saturday, November 4, 2000 11:22:20
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	daniel@dfv.se (Daniel Forslund)
If you check 
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html
you'll see the ETX-adjusted list of rs232 LX-200-like commands.

>  :GR#  /   01:45:4#
>  :GD#  /   +36 DF26'#
Get current telescope RA and Declination.

> And the nonworkin "slew":
> :Sd +49*52'44"#
> :Sr 3:24.4#
>  :MS#
Those are the "Set Object RA and Set Object Declination commands.
The :MS#  means "Move to Object"  (coordinates set as above)

So the communications you're seeing are valid.
Your trapping did not show the Autostar's -response- to them
It should reply to the Sr and Sd with a "1" if it accepted them.
"0" if it didn't.  The response to the MS is more complex.

HOWEVER:  If the sidereal drive is not already running, the
Sr and Sd can operate as Az and Alt instead of RA and Dec.
You have to manually align and [goto] a non-terrestrial target
to engage the sidereal drive and proper coordinate interpretations. 

Also, if the commands are sent too frequently the Autostar can 
misinterpret them.  IF you use Hyperterminal (or any keyboard-to-rs232 
program) to talk directly to the Autostar, you can issue Gr and Gd
commands, which should return the Object's coordinates (not the ETX's
current coordinates)

You are also running an extremely old version of the firmware.
The Sr, Sd and MS command -do- work in v2.0h
I haven't tested them in pre-v2.0f versions.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	 autostar
Sent:	Friday, November 3, 2000 09:20:54
From:	write@go.com (suliman rajhi)
today while i was downloading to my autostar(from my pc),i switched the
telescope off. later, i tried to switch the autostar again,but it does
not work( only the lights go up,but without letters)

does this mean that my autostar has been damaged. if there is a way to
mend it ,please guide me.

your quick answer is highly appreciated.

thanks
suliman
Mike here: From the Autostar 2.0 README file: "SAFE LOADER MODE IN YOUR Autostar:
If the firmware in your Autostar crashes and you cannot access the "DOWNLOAD" menu item on your handbox, you can use the "SAFE LOADER" feature of your new Autostar software (version release 1.1G and above). To get into the safe loader, follow these simple steps:
1. Make sure the Autostar and ETX are turned off.
2. Press and hold the "ENTER" key and the Scroll Down Key located to the right of the help key on the Autostar handbox.
3. While depressing both keys, turn on your Autostar power switch. This will require you using both hands.

You should see "FLASH LOAD READY" on your display. This indicates that you can proceed to Update new software to your Autostar."

Subject:	 Me and my Mac
Sent:	Thursday, November 2, 2000 06:51:38
From:	daniel@dfv.se (Daniel Forslund)
Thanks for a great site!
I'm mailing you since I remember reading on your site on how to make a
Mac able to talk to and control the ETX (how to make the cable needed
etc.). However, now that I finally have the time to fix the things
needed, I can't find the info! Can I ask where you've hidden it? :-)

BTW, do you know if there's a way to control the scope through Starry
Night Pro? SN comes with a plugin capable of controlling the LX200, will
that work?

TIA for any help!
Cheers,
Daniel

-------------------------------------------------------------
  d a n i e l   f o r s l u n d   v i s u a l i s e r i n g
                   
        Advanced computer aided animation and design

                      http://www.dfv.se

                      Stockholm, Sweden
-------------------------------------------------------------
Mike here: The Autostar cable information is on the Autostar Information page (of all places...). As to the plug-in, it should work but check with the developer.

Added later:

Ack. I must have been pretty blind... :-) Sorry.

Subject:	 re: powering the solo Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2000 22:23:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site...

First off:
You said:
> I am not very good at this so is there any cable etc which
> I could buy off the shelf?
I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS IF YOU ARE NOT USED TO DOING SUCH
THINGS!!!
You can (and probably will) damage your Autostar. Dead.
That's a $149 lesson.
It's far better to play with (much) cheaper things to get used to doing
things with hardware and wiring (example: i just opened my autostar and
took careful ohmmeter readings to answer this posting... and even as
gentle a tool as an ohmmeter could have destroyed my Autostar!)
Most folks who are willing to poke inside the hardware have years of
burned fingers and equipment sacrificed in learning what (not) to do.
I'm all for people playing with (and inside) their Autostar and ETX,
but it can be a very expensive learning experience.

Let's look at operating the Autostar without the ETX:

Early in its start-up sequence, the Autostar checks/asks the ETX
to determine its type.  The 495 gets downright shirty and refuses
to run if attached to an ETX90 or ETX125.

Soo... i don't really know if the Autostar will work at all if
running without an ETX attached.  It's one of those things i just
haven't gotten around to testing (but i -am- curious... please
report your experiences... such as: what color -was- the smoke?)
One correspondent was using a 497 on an ETX60at, and tried giving
the Autostar its own power supply... and, as far as i can tell,
fried the signal drivers in the 497.  You are treading very iffy waters.

-that- said, the critical wires are the outer two of the 8-wire
connector.   Rather than draw pictures which can be misinterpreted,
i'll put it this way: the pin on the edge of the 8-wire connector
closest to the "9" (nine) key on the Autostar's keypad is the ground
wire.  The pin on the other side (closest to the "7" (seven) key,
adjacent to the rs232 connector) is the +12volt wire.   
The Autostar will run with about 8 volts, so why
not use an 8 or 9-volt supply?  AND PUT A FUSE IN THE WIRE!!!
about 0.2 amps should be adequate.

One reason i gave my answer with the "9" and "7" keys is because 
(if you read some of the year-ago postings here on Mike's site) many
 people who built their own rs232 cable set GOT IT BACKWARDS!!!
 (me, too!).  Despite clear and correct pin-out diagrams, lots of
us eventually did (or didn't) do the mental-flip and swapped the wires.
On the rs232 port, that's not too deadly. 
On a power cord...it'll kill the Autostar ... within milliseconds
 (the fuse may not be fast enough).

Having my/your ETX powered up while entering satellites, etc., isn't
-that- much of an effort.  Having your Autostar smoke might be.

good luck, take care, think more than twice before trying this.
--dick
And more:
re: powering an Autostar without its ETX attached.

...of course i couldn't resist...

So i tried it.  And it worked (or, at least it thought it was working).
It asked for the time and date, and, since i'd PARKed it last night,
it went directly to  Select>Object.

I was in a bit of a rush (it'd taken some time to locate the 
not-quite-crunched-enough 8th pin on my "suicide cord" rj45 cable.),
all i did from there was ask it to PARK again...
and it said "Slewing..."   .... and thus it remained whilst i
put on my jacket, doused a few computers, and prepared to leave.
Tapping [mode] got the beep and "Parked... turn off power" message.

When i next turned -on- the ETX (with Autostar reattached),
it had the home position 360 degrees out of phase, but i'll forgive it.

I (naturally) didn't follwo my own good advice about voltages and 
fuses (somebody had moved the current-limited adjustable power supply)
so i used a 12v battery dug out of the "dead batteries" box.

have fun ... don't try this at home (do it at work)
--dick

Subject:	 Polar vs. Alt/Az
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2000 22:20:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	dlangham@win.bright.net
Hi...

I saw your question on Mike's site, and thought i'd comment:

I use my ETX90/ec (with Autostar) almost exclusively in Alt/Az mode. If
you're into chasing Satellites, you -have- to use Alt/Az. I find Alt/Az
a lot easier to set up, use, position my body around, etc.

Polar requires (potentially) more careful setup (even "one star"
alignment -also- requires pointing at Polaris). Polar requires extreme
body contortions to reach the eyepiece when looking at things between
Zenith and the North Celestial Pole (Polaris).

Even the argument of "it should track better, since only one axis has to
move" isn't correct... if the alignment tells the AUtostar that it has
to fudge Dec to track an object, it will.  So the Dec axis may move a
little bit during long tracks. And, depending upon your latitude, you
may not be able to access the extreme southern edge of your sky!  The
ETX can only dip about 20 degrees below the celestial equator, so
anything below Dec -20 will be inaccessible in Polar mode.

Polar -is- desirable for any photographic work using exposures longer
than (say) 5 minutes.  Otherwise the image will rotate in the eyepiece.
For visual work, this isn't a factor.  (well, if you look at the sun at
various times during the day, it's a puzzle to figure out which side is
east/west/north of the image).(ditto the moon).

Alt/Az also has the MAJOR advantage of -not- requiring a tripod! Any
level surface will do! (i only bought a tripod after a -year- of owning
my ETX and Autostar). This makes the ETX much more portable.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	 re: upgrading autsotar firmware
Sent:	Wednesday, November 1, 2000 20:27:52
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	EDing@idecpharm.com
Hi...
from Mike's site:
> I have been enjoying reading your message board for quite a while, I
>have a question regarding how to upgrade Autostar software. I have an
>ETX 90 with Autostar (version 1.3), I want to upgrade it to the most
>current version 2.1, but after I read instruction, I realized that it
>has to be upgraded from version 2.0e or higher, I am using version 1.3
>now, what should I do? Where can I find version 2.0e and other necessary
>versions (2.0?) in order to success? By the way, I am using Window98.
>Thanks for any advice.
Eric,

There were two or three "v1.3"... and only v1.3c can directly update
to v2.0i (the most recently released version).
You can see the final letter of your firmware by going to
  Setup>Statistics>[enter] [scroll up]

If it -is- 1.3c, then simply download the "almost current" 
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/auto.zip
file.  That's 2.0h.   The **only** difference between it and
v2.0i is that they fixed a mangled pointer to the non-english 
dictionaries.  Unless you need spanish/german/french/etc.,
v2.0h is --exactly-- the same (function-wise) as v2.0i.
Same features, same bugs.

IF you have a pre-v1.3c, then download the entire v1.3c kit from
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/auto13.zip

Use that to put v1.3c into your Autostar, then download the whole
v2.0h kit (as above) and use it to bring yourself to currency.

good luck
--dick

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