Last updated: 1 December 1999

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

Subject:	 autostar updater v1.4 bugcheck: invalid page fault
Sent:	Tuesday, November 30, 1999 20:42:26
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Here's a CC: to you of a note i sent to Meade...

environment: Windows 95, Pentium, 98mb ram, Autostar 497 (etx90/ec),
 autostar already has v1.3c in it, Autostar Updater v1.4 (downloaded Nov
5th 1999).
 PC *not* connected to Internet (no phone line).

What i was trying to do: i had placed OIG's "interesting" satellites
TLEs in the Epermeris
 folder on my PC.  I had already (2 weeks ago) updated my Autostar to
 A later attempt to view MIR had shown that the update doesn't update
the TLEs.
So i fetched the TLEs on another PC, and floppied them over to the
Autostar PC (my
net-connected PC doesn't have either COM1 or COM2 available for the
So i plugged verything in, fired up Meade-->Autostar-->Autostar Update.
It happily found the Autostar on COM2, asked for "Download", which i
The Autostar updater then extracted the Autostar's current Comet,
Asteroid and Satellite
Then the fun began... first, i tried to access [help] (upper right
button on PC window).
...no dice. (do i vaguely remember your README saying that Help wasn't
there due to
Then i tried to figure out how to pass the  "interesting" TLE list to
the Autostar.
>From the [satellite] subwindow, it offered downloading one of the OIG
lists: Visible,
 Interesting, Bright, etc.etc.  *or* it offered a fill-in-the-blanks
window based upon my
 current handset's list (although why it declared five of them (MIR,
ISS, UARS and i forget
 the other two) "deleted" i do not know.  The three cited above were
ones i'd either manually
 added or edited directly into the Handset.)
What it did *not* offer was "name a file from the Ephemeris Folder".
So i clicked "interesting"...and the Updater provided the Windows
Dial-up connection
 window. Hmmm....  No phone line... so what's the obvious choice?
[cancel] on the dial-up
Which proceeded to freeze the Updater's window.  (i know it's a Windows
 duty to control its own screen refresh... but the Updater wasn't doing
About two minutes later, i got a typical Windows "application caused an
invalid page fault"
 click/dialog box.  I asked for [Details...] and got:

AUTOSTARUPDATE caused an invalid page fault in
module MSVCRT.DLL at 014f:7800ec80.
EAX=00002ee7 CS=014f EIP=7800ec80 EFLGS=00010206
EBX=00431873 SS=0157 ESP=0076c2a4 EBP=00000000
ECX=00002ee7 DS=0157 ESI=7ffffffe FS=0cd7
EDX=7fffffff ES=0157 EDI=0044bb61 GS=0000
Bytes at CS:EIP:
80 38 00 74 08 40 8b d6 4e 85 d2 75 f3 2b c1 8b
Stack dump:
0076cca4 0044bb61 0076c57c 00431850 00000000 00002ee7 ffffffff 00000007
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 0076c51c 00000000 0076c40c 00000007

Have fun.

Suggestions to avoid this in the future:
 an easy, -obvious- way to have the Updater use an already-here FILE of
TLE's (and, i assume,
 Asteroid and Comet data), without blindly trying for web access...
  or at least pre-dialup suggestions on "what to do if  it can't
Please put something behind the [help] button on the main page.

..and please improve its handling of TLE calculations (subject of next

--dick seymour
And the "next message":
Subject:	 Autostar TLE entry problems and calculation errors
Sent:	Tuesday, November 30, 1999 20:46:06
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
and then i said...

Autostar 497 (etx90/ec). v1.3c. (upgraded from v1.3b, upgraded from
1.1j), Seattle.

Abstract: (1) please improve manual TLE entry
                        Handset: human factors regarding field size.
                        AutoStarUpdate: allow simple non-net Ephemeris
bulk-file TLE upload.
               (2) tinker with Satellite Pass calculations (Autostar
keeps being late)
               (3) allow user setting of acquisition altitude (20
degrees is too high).

On Nov 22nd  i tried to track MIR, and found that my recent update to
v1.3c didn't
 include updated TLE data.  So i manually entered (date)
99325.83599343's data,
 and asked it to display the projected pass for Seattle, 11/22, just
after 6pm.
 The time it displayed was a minute later that Heaven Above's
   and, since the pass was past, i couldn't verify its aiming. I did
fetch OIG's "interesting"
  TLE list for download to the Autostar when i had a chance.
Tonight (28 Nov) i attempted to  bulk-update the TLEs.  I had placed the
"interest.tle" file
 in the Ephemeris directory, on a PC not connected to the Internet, and
the resulting Page Fault
 has been submitted in another Email to your address.

So i manually entered tonight's numbers from Heavens-Above.com for MIR.
( 99331.52365339  51.6547  224.9687  0.0002359   210.4611  149.6199
15.81842557787 )
(   Epoch                  Inc           RA              Ecc
Arg          Mean Anom     Rev/Day  )
First problem (which i'm sure you've heard before): the differences
 the TLE field widths and what the Autostar will accept.  Some you
require trimming (such
 as Epoch Day, Eccen and Rev per Day), should we round or truncate? (i
Limiting the Epoch Day to six digits can give an 86 second error at the
Some fields you allow much longer entries that the TLEs provide.. (RA,
Incl).. do we pad
 with zeros?
I realize that you're probably dealing with six-digit floating point
accuracy within the Autostar.
But accepting more precision and making a better cut at reducing the
values for internal
 calculations would minimize confusion for the user.

But that's not the real problem.  The real problem is incorrect results.

Since Heavens Above lists the TLEs used in their predictions, it removes
the "different TLEs,
 different results" effect.
Using  the above TLEs in the Autostar (v1.3c), the Autostar still gave
5-minute-late predictions.
I had tried to catch the 17:20 passage of MIR, and Autostar was
predicting 17:25.  Setup
delay caused me to miss acquiring MIR until it was 2 minutes into its
pass.. manual slewing
 in an attempt to catch up (it was half-way across before i started
slewing, and i -did- catch
 it by 17:24, near Capella, but the ETX/Autostar fought me all the
So i went back up to catch the 18:55 pass.  Which Autostar was
predicting for 19:02.
Then Autostar positioned the scope for AOS at 20 degrees altitude.
 Possibly on the pass, but  beyond where MIR had entered the Earth's
   (and again, about 5 minutes late, even that far along the pass).
Why doesn't it aim at 10 degrees Altitude? (this particular pass only
reached 17 degrees
 altitude while illuminated).
You're probably trying for a "guaranteed visible" altitude,  but it'd be
nice if that could
 be user-specified for local conditions (even if it's a difficult-to-set
parameter deep in the
 setup menu,  like "reverse up/down").

So i still haven't had a successful satellite track (blame Seattle
weather for inadequate

--dick seymour

Subject:	 Unexplained Slewing
Sent:	Tuesday, November 30, 1999 12:15:03
From:	eashkena@concentric.net (Ezra E. Ashkenazi)
I have a 125 Etx with the latest version of autostar. I have noticed
that (even with fresh batteries) that for no particular reason the
telescope sometimes slews away from the target. Also when I "Enter to
Sync". it seems to have some sort of memory and slews away from the
target after I press enter. Is this a normal "bug" or is there something
wrong with the scope or autostar? Perhaps you or one of the contributors
to your web site can help?

Thank You 
Mike here: Some users have a reported a "runaway" slewing with the Autostar. So far I don't think there has been a reason found.

Subject:	 Autostar on LX50?
Sent:	Monday, November 29, 1999 16:22:33
From:	rutger_amons@hotmail.com (Rutger Amons)
i own both a etx 90ec ans a lx50 8". Do you know if the autostar is also
usable on the lx50? I think its should be about the same thing, and i
really don't know why it shouldn't work. Any ideas?
Thanks, Rutger Amons

Subject:	 Etx Command set
Sent:	Monday, November 29, 1999 13:06:59
From:	commanderneo@home.com (Alexandre Harvey)
I have called Meade 2 time and they now have told me that the command
set for the etx-90ec with autostart is not the same as the lx200 and the
are planing on sending me the command set as soon as I get it i will
post it for all.

Alexandre Harvey 
From Canada

Subject:	 Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Monday, November 29, 1999 08:55:24
From:	jmannix@princesshouse.com (John Mannix)
I switched from Polar to Alt/Az mount and had some success this past
Saturday.  After performing a 2 star Alt/Az alignment I had great
success with stars facing North and East but when I slewed (go to) South
to look at the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn I could not get them into my
field of view.  If I used the sync for Jupiter then Saturn the southern
sky aligned pretty well but slewing back to the North I encountered the
same problem. Any thoughts?

Thanks John
Mike here: If you are running the current version of the AS software, then I suspect you might not have been precisely Alt/Az HOME aligned with the ETX mount. If your align stars were in the north and east, this could happen just like you describe.

Subject:	 Software Updates
Sent:	Monday, November 29, 1999 08:32:41
From:	dwil@esinet.net (Dean Wilder)
I recently purchased an ETX90EC with Autostar controller from
Astronomics.  I requested that the lastest sofware be installed, after
reading some of the problems people had been having with earlier
versions.  The sofware I received was version 1.1.j, according to the
"Statistics" function on the Autostar.  Some of the problems are:  When
you try to select several alternative alignment stars, it goes into a
loop.  Also, after using the synch function to center an object, it
moves back to where it was before you centered the object.

I was told that this sofware is what Meade is currently shipping.  In
one of your answers, you said we should have at least version 1.2.

Also, I'm interested in using the Meade Epoch 2000 software to control
the telescope from a laptop.   It is mentioned prominently on the Meade
site, but I was told that it is not yet available.  What's the story on

Thanks.  Your web page is very helpful.

Dean Wilder
Mike here: Glad you like the site. Meade has had newer versions available for some time. Check the Autostar Software Downloads link at the top of the Autostar Info page on my site. I don't know what's happening with Epoch.

Subject:	Downloading
Sent:	Sunday, November 28, 1999 16:19:16
From:	SMalin1@aol.com
Mike would there be any chance that you could find a place on your web
site to give step by step directions for downloading the latest software
for the Autostar. What a great help that would be for those of us who
are not as computer smart as some of your readers. The words "dearchive
the zip file to a temp folder on hard drive" is a bit intimidating to me
and I would guess others as well. So it would be great if you could take
us by the hand and step by step show us how it is done.

I thought I did everything right when I downloaded the latest from Meade
but when I connected the Autostar using the cable I bought from
Scopetronix an error message kept coming up that the Autostar was not
connected and so I could not complete the download.

I am sure I did something wrong but do not know what.
Thanks much from
Selwyn Malin  
Mike here: I suspect you have something wrong with one of the Windows files. If you have the cable in COM1 you may have to modify a DLL or the Windows registry. Being a Mac person, I leave those details to Windows experts. Fortunately, when I installed the Autostar software on my Mac using Virtual PC with Windows98, it just worked. Hopefully one of the Windows types will offer something.

Added later:

Mike thanks for the quick comeback.

Perhaps someone familiar with windows will come through with the help I

I had my Autostar updated when I sent the ETX back to Meade to have the
motors fixed as there was a terrific amount of backlash especially in
the RA drive. I sent the Autostar with the scope and they updated the
software. Meade never charged me a dime for shipping or anything, really
great service. I might just send the Autostar back to them for the
update. Do you think that would be a good idea? And would they do it???

Thanks again Mike,
Selwyn Malin
Mike here again: I'm sure Meade would update the Autostar.

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Saturday, November 27, 1999 23:15:52
From:	JunoM@aol.com
? does the ds use same autostar as the etx ?
Mike here: Yes and No. See the further down this page for more. Also, see the DS Feedback page.

Subject:	 Netscape or MS Explorer??
Sent:	Wednesday, November 24, 1999 17:44:24
From:	samos@inforamp.net
A few months back there was some confusion about whether you should use
Netscape or MSExplorer to download the Autostar update tool and new
firmware.  One of those programs didnt loadload the files properly, but
I can't remember which one it was. Does it matter anymore? Will either
program do? I"m using an older version of Netscape (#3) ... am I asking
for trouble?

Many thanks ... and Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your U.S. readers
and ETX fans.

Mike here: While I believe the cause has been fixed, the problem occurred mostly with Netscape. However, for many other reasons, I recommend you upgrade your Netscape 3 to a version 4.xx of Netscape Communicator.

Subject:	 a satellite's tail...
Sent:	Tuesday, November 23, 1999 22:50:23
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Well, with all the recent chatter about TLEs and updates, i should'a

I recently downloaded/upgraded to v1.3c... so i assumed (dummy! dummy!)
that that would have included updated TLEs for satellites and such. Ha.
My feed-the-Autostar computer is -not- on the modem/net, so it depends
upon the packet received from Meade in auto.zip.  Since my original 1.1j
Autostar had a long list of satellites in its database, i figured that
was contained in the full zip file from Meade.

So Sunday night (Nov 21) i visited http://www.heavens-above.com a site
which provides star charts and visible paths for satellite passes (a
wonderful site), taking the earth's shadow into account. A 10-day
prediction list showed a MIR pass scheduled for 18:26 to 18:28 from West
towards the north, where it'd disappear above the Big Dipper.  Nice and

So at 18:20 i drag out the ol' (2 months?) ETX90/EC, plop it on my
pre-aligned marks, and fire it up... as quick as i can i get to
"satellite" and select "MIR".  -Very- quickly it says "Pass found", ...
but claims it's gonna be ("was" by then, -140 seconds ago) at 18:20! So
i tell it GOTO and it whirs up from home position... heads CCW towards
the west.... and keeps going!  It points SOUTH!  Whoa, Nellie (scopie?).
So i tell it to go Park its little head in shame, and wait a few
minutes. Through breaks in the clouds MIR -does- appear, heading (as the
web site said) from West to  North, disappearing behind a cloud above

I go back inside, visit


(the page Meade's Download page take you to for Satellite downloads) and
fetch MIR's TLEs.  I then use the Autostar's
Select-->Object-->Satellite-->EDIT function to check on its idea of MIR.
In short: Autostar was still using a 1998 set of numbers for MIR.  They
were (sometimes) way off... i neglected to start writing down the -old-
numbers 'til late in the game. I did the same check for the ISS
(international space station, also called Zarya). The Autostar was using
numbers based upon the 12th day of 1999.

I put in the newest (1999, 325th day) numbers for MIR and the ISS. Like
sjv (Nov 19th msg on your site) i noticed that the numbers reported back
after entry were different than those entered. It's probably an
industry-standard six-significant-digit number system inside the

Then, to check, i told the autostar it was once more only 18:15... and
asked it to find a pass of MIR. This time it claimed it was going to be
at 18:28!  About a minute late! So i pressed GOTO, and at least it
slewed to the WestNorthWest, stopping about 10 degrees up from the
horizon... which may explain the later "rise time" than Heavens-above
predicted.  (i'd be happier if the ETX had said 18:27).  Since the clock
on the wall said 11pm, (and the clouds outside said "No!") i couldn't
really test it.

Clouds/rain have followed the last two evenings, so i can't do a
"ground-truth" (space-truth?) check of the new TLEs in the Autostars
sticky little fingers.

I have just visited the oig site (cited above) and fetched their larger
download files. I'll try to figure out which ones directly correspond to
the ones in the Autostar and see about a massive TLE update.  A report
shall duly follow...


Mike here: For those who've been asking about it, there is a model #493 Autostar. As described on Meade's web site: "#493 Autostar Computer Control System: Supplied complete with 2 control motors, battery pack accepting ten (user-supplied) AA-batteries, control panel, and Autostar hand controller. Permits the full range of Autostar functions on any DS model, including automatic GO TO object-location, as described on p. 78. Note: Owners of DS telescopes already equipped with the #492 EC System, above, need to purchase the #495 Autostar handbox, only, to convert their telescopes to full Autostar operation."

Subject:	 Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Monday, November 22, 1999 10:20:54
From:	jmannix@princesshouse.com (John Mannix)
I have an ETX-90EC with an autostar, mounted on a meade deluxe tripod
set up in polar mode (41.5  degrees). I set the scope up in the polar
home position pointing at Polaris through the eyepiece.  In an easy
setup one star polar alignment the scope repositions itself to Polaris
but now the eyepiece is under the scope making it very difficult to
center Polaris.  Is this normal?  Which method of alignment is easiest
Polar or Alt/Az?  Should I change the tripod back to Alt/Az mount?. I
have not been able to perform a solid Polar one star alignment in many
tries. Any thoughts?

Thanks John
Mike here: Unless you need polar (like for piggyback astrophotography), stick with Alt/Az. You'll likely get better results from the Autostar AND the ETX-tripod combination will be more stable. If you do need polar, use the 2-star align as you will get better results.

Subject:	re autostar
Sent:	Monday, November 22, 1999 02:42:50
From:	J0wich@aol.com
Is it possible to use the autostar that comes with the etx with the ds
series? It would make sense if it could.
John Chuter
Mike here: I believe you can use the #497 Autostar with the DS series. But I couldn't find any definitive answer on Meade's product info on their web site.

Subject:	 Autostar 49x
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 1999 21:41:31
From:	jchalfen@goldengate.net (John Chalfen)
I was scrolling through the Autostar portion of your site and saw a
message regarding the Autostar 493. I have seen this also, except the
box that I saw said it was for the ETX series telescopes. They have a
person who knows his stuff and he was surprised too.

Just when I thought I knew what was going on, something comes along and
totally confuses me.


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

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

Subject:	Meade Autostar High precision
Sent:	Saturday, November 20, 1999 19:38:40
From:	DAVCOR@aol.com
To: Engineering @ Meade
I have two ETX 90mm telescopes, the original and the EC.
I have noticed that the Autostar system does not seem to maintain the Hi
precision selection between uses. I would suggest that the setup
dialogue offer the selection if you do not think it is wise to leave it
in the high setting. Frustrating to have a great night, brag it up and
go to show it [demonstrate] only to have the targets missed.
keep up the good work

Dave Cordner

copy to Mike Weasner: fyi & GREAT site

Subject:	 SATELLITE->EDIT and 'tle' files
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 22:23:37
From:	daisydog@earthlink.net (sjv)
Perhaps someone can help me.

I was trying to revise the HUBBLE 'tle' information(found from the Meade
web site) using the SATELITE->EDIT->HUBBLE last night, and noticed that
some entries had to be truncated (because the Autostar did not allow
enough digits) - and others had one or two extra digits of
precision(that I filled in with zeros).

The 'tle' reads as follows:

1 20580U 90037B   99315.98804219 +.00004316 +00000-0 +43700-3 0 02457
2 20580 028.4692 189.8697 0013521 323.3432 036.6267 14.88587119323851

so...assuming I am understanding this correctly, I found the following

Epoch Year = 1999
Epoch Day = 315.98804219 (Autostar does not allow the last two digits)
Inclination = 028.4692 (Autostar allows one additional digit)
RA Asc. Node = 189.8697 (Autostar allows one additional digit)
Eccentricity = 0.0013521 (Autostar does not allow last digit)
Arg. of Perigee = 323.3432 (Autostar allows one additional digit)
Mean Anomaly = 036.6267 (Autostar allows two additional digits)
Mean Motion = 14.885871 (Autostar displays a leading zero)

This is probably just academic - but does anyone know why the precision
varies this way?

Also, I noticed that all the data changed slightly when I went back to
check my entries. For example, My Epoch Day now reads "+315.988006". Can
anyone explain this?

BTW: While I was viewing Jupiter the other night, a satellite tumbled
through the eyepiece. I manually tracked it for a while - trying to
haphazardly resolve the dim, rotating square. I was able to make out
what was probably a solar panel.  (As a new telescope (ETX-125EC) owner,
I thought this was a pretty cool thing.)

Thanks much,

Mike here: I suspect that the precision that the Autostar uses is sufficient for its accuracy.

Subject:	 Connecting to Autostar with Mac
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 21:39:59
From:	daisydog@earthlink.net (sjv)
Well, I successfully updated my Autostar #497 with VirtualPC (running
Windows NT) on my G3 Macintosh...using the Meade #505 connector kit and
the DB9 - 8 pin serial adapter that is part of the Palm Pilot "Mac PAC"
kit. Thanks for the tips on your pages.

The first time through, however - scared me. Despite minor
inconsistencies in the README file, I managed to find the "update"
button I needed to press. The upload timed out on page 8, the software
re-initialized my Autostar, and wham - the Autostar only displayed "U T
O S T A R" on the LCD. Setting it in "flash load" mode and retrying did
the trick.

I may have been surfing the web(this site probably) sometime during the
first attempt - which may have caused the time out. I recommend allowing
your computer and Autostar to have some uninterrupted quality time when
using the update software.

Thanks again,


Subject:	 Re: Reset for failed autostar update?
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 20:41:28
From:	waltwarren@workmail.com (Walter Warren)
Already tried that without success.  The display remains blank.  There
are some faint clicking sounds from inside the handset though.  I don't
think safe mode was on my system to begin with. It was part of the
update I was trying to load.

Walter Warren, PE
Mike here: If your Autostar was any version prior to 1.1j, then it doesn't have the SAFE LOAD feature. You'll have to return it to Meade. If it does have the SAFE LOAD feature but you can't get it to enter that mode, you'll have to return it to Meade for repair.

Subject:	 autostar
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 16:55:40
From:	jkenney@InfoAve.Net (John Kenney)
Do you know of anyone who was uploading 1.3 and it quit in the middle?
It happened to me. Now all I see is "(c) Meade[1.3] A U T O S T A R". is
there anyway to get it back to where it will down load again?
Added later:
Found out about the flash load. sorry to bother you. Also while I have
your attention.... Thank you for putting up such a good site. It is very
helpful and informative for a newbie like me.

Subject:	 Car Battery Power, Autostar
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 10:52:26
From:	formisano@email.mc.ti.com (Formisano, Paul)
I'd like to share some of my latest experiences with my ETX.  I finally
fixed ALL the alignment and tracking errors I was having with Autostar
and the ETX90EC.  Here is what I did:

1. I built my own PC interface cable from info on your site, and
downloaded Autostar v1.3c from Meade.

2. I went to Radio Shack and bought connector Part #274-1573A, and some
small car battery clips. I made a DC power cord with these and some old
speaker wire.

3. I connected the ETX to a new fully charged car battery.

4. Using Autostar Setup, I calibrated the motors, then I trained both
drives.  To get better accuracy when training, I did it at night using a
streetlight about 400 feet away, and I "defocused" the light until I got
an image that almost filled the 26mm eyepiece field of view.  The
defocused light was very easy to center.

5. I leveled the Meade tripod, and with the scope in Alt/Az mode, I
loosened both axis locks the aimed the scope to Polaris, centered it
fairly well, locked the RA axis in the base, returned the tube to level
position (Alt/Az home) and locked the Declination axis.  This set up the
scope to true North.

6. I then used the easy alignment procedure in Autostar.

I went to Jupiter, Saturn, and a couple of Messier objects and they were
all near the center of the 26mm eyepiece!  Not only that, but tracking
was so good that after an initial correction when I switched to a 9.7mm
eyepiece I did not have to adjust anything for the whole time I spent
looking at Jupiter, which was at least 5 minutes! There was ZERO drift! 
I got the same results with Saturn.


Subject:	 Reset for failed autostar update?
Sent:	Friday, November 19, 1999 07:26:57
From:	waltwarren@workmail.com (Walter Warren)
I had something bad happen last night while trying to update my Autostar
software.  Nothing appeared to be happening during the update and after
a couple of minutes the autostar screen went black.  The update program
on the computer then froze also.  Now the autostar won't turn on at all.
Do you have any idea if there's a way to reset it to factory default

Walter Warren
Mike here: You can try the SAFE LOAD mode to recover your Autostar and redo the download. Hold down the ENTER key and the SCROLL DOWN key at the same time and kept them down as you turn on power to the ETX. The start up the downloader software on your PC.

Subject:	 adding elements and links
Sent:	Thursday, November 18, 1999 21:05:49
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca  (Dan) asked about how to add elements (comets,
sat's, etc.) to the Autostar... and you gave the put-em-in-Ephemerides
Folder answer.

There's another, possibly easier way (which i've used) for Satellites
(but not comets? i wonder why... another "Wish List" item for Meade):
you can enter them into the Autostar directly.

It's under the Select-->Object  menu tree.  Under the Satellite choice
you have four sub-choices: Select (to choose one to view), Add, Delete
and Edit. Under Add you provide the data extacted from the Two Line
Element (TLE) listing for the satellite.  Be aware that the 'scope
doesn't accept as many digits as the TLE tables provide. You can choose 
"Edit"  for an existing satellite to get a handle on what it -will-
accept, and also (when you're Adding) the number of available digit
spaces is pretty clear.

Your site has an -excellent- guide to doing this as the first entry of
your Autostar Information (vs. Feedback) page from Adrain Ashford's July
26th '99 message. (following my own following suggestion:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html )

Once you've added Satellites this way, they can/will survive Autostar
Software updates if you answer "Yes" to the Update procedures "save
existing elements?" question. (when i updated from 1.3b to 1.3c, i told
it "No"...and it appeared to -still- take the time to copy them from the
handset to the PC.)

On another matter: Those are great Transit photos... but kinda hard to
locate on your site (until i thunk to use Search). May i humbly (tug of
forelock)(yes, long gone from too much tugging) suggest that when you
reference them on another page (like this one) that you include a link,
which will make it much easier for lazy folks (Me! Me!) to find them.
(Hypertext... a tool of the... hmm... 50's)

Thanks for the site
Mike here: When you come to the site, there is a long MENU frame on the left side. Look under Astrophotography for the Transit of Mercury. Did you miss that link? I do try to include direct links as much as a I can.

Added later:

nope... my fault... i was thinking "sun", not "planet" (i did notice the
"Transit.." entry in your menu column... eventually.)  But, as
acknowledged in the original note, i'm lazy (good hallmark of an
engineer, one of my college profs used to say... makes one invent
something to avoid working)


Subject:	 Autostar Alignment Stars
Sent:	Thursday, November 18, 1999 20:31:04
From:	strburst@mindspring.com (Paul)
For those who are interested in manually selecting the stars for
Autostar alignment, Skymap Pro 6 has, on their web site, the Autostar
'alignment star' database which can be integrated into their star
charting program. With this you can make a sky chart printout showing
only the Autostar alignment stars to help you locate and decide which
ones to select. You can also use it to control the ETX since the new
version 6 has an Autostar driver which works very well.

A fully working demo version less the logging and planing tools is
available.The registered full version with the added logging & planning
tools and extended database is an excellent package. The link to Skymap
is ......


Paul P
Member- South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association

Subject:	 ETX electric focus and autostar control
Sent:	Wednesday, November 17, 1999 12:58:46
From:	wahlin@colutron.com (Erik Wahlin)
Just received the Meade #1244 focus, and hooked it up to the #497
Autostar. The latest software download (1.3c) for the Autostar must have
changed the way you access the focus control. Now when you hold the MODE
key down for two seconds, the Autostar goes directly to the focus
control. Before you had to surf through the telescope status display
using the bottom up and down arrows (4 times) of the autostar to get to
the focus menu. This is much more convenient. Thanks Meade. I have read
comments about being careful with the focus on this site  and filed a
flat area on the focus shaft to prevent the focus gear from slipping and
causing the shaft to run into the scope.

Erik Wahlin

Subject:	1.3c
Sent:	Wednesday, November 17, 1999 11:00:23
From:	LooneyRoo@aol.com
Updated to version 1.3c the other night and had great results. One thing
though... At the beginning of my viewing session, I was manually slewing
and the Autostar beeped and read "Under Construction." It then
initialized and I had to redo the setup. It didn't happen again, but I
figure this is some sort of bug that might occur again in time. Just
thought I'd pass it along.

Nice to see you are still chugging along with the website! Keep up the
good work.

Mike here: I hope you passed the bug report to engineer@meade.com.

Subject:	 Meade corrected their Website... 12 Nov 99
Sent:	Monday, November 15, 1999 21:07:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
On the bottom of Meade's download page, they have links to Comet, Minor
Bodies and Satellite elements sites. One of the frustrations of that set
of links was that the Satellite link involved a built-in password, and
that password was obsolete!  Hence the link didn't work. (digging around
at the target site oigsysop.atsc.allied.com/ eventually  located
the "get a temporary password" page, which allowed accessing the data,
but it wasn't easy).

But with Meade's Nov 12th update of the page, the current link works!

(I haven't checked the ETX's v1.3c database yet to see if they've added
the UARS satellite... a fairly bright high-latitude beastie.).

(in Seattle... is this really HEAVY dew, or a puddle?)

Subject:	 Autostar 1.3c short note...
Sent:	Monday, November 15, 1999 20:56:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
My ETX90, 1.3c update, me, and clear skies in Seattle all got together
tonight for the first time. And either i did a better setup than usual,
or the database is better, too.

I didn't bother to reTRAIN the drive (they don't appear to erase the
stored user data during updates, even if i didn't ask it to retain Comet
and Satellite elements). But i did go through an Easy Align at 6:58pm
PST... it chose Capella and Vega, in that order.  Then i asked for
Jupiter as my first GOTO...and it went 180 degrees CW... and *nailed*
(well, stapled) it. Well within the 26mm eyepiece. Prior to this, v1.3b
kept ending up about 4 degrees too "late" (i.e. lagging behind Jupiter's
motion).  I don't remember v1.1j being as "bad" as 1.3b had been.  This
time it was about a half degree (one Luna-width) "late". Then a quick
hop to Saturn... also a little off, but just inside the eyepiece's field
of view (FOV).

Now: due to local obstructions I then -moved- the telescope 6 feet south
to a new platform. (another spot on my back deck's railing).  I have the
spots marked to allow fairly accurate alignment of the ETX's base to the
same north-point.  I then (without using the controller or loosening
either of the locks) reacquired/centered Saturn in the eyepiece. This
-should- be equivalent to a "one star align", but does involve
"exploring" the scope's backlash (looseness of bearings/gears).

Then: GOTO Mars. It ccw slewed almost 180 degrees, and ended up only
about a degree out of the eyepiece's FOV, but well within the
viewfinder.  Then i tried SYNC... and it worked perfectly! (with v1.3b,
it would SYNC, then 10 seconds later make a 1 degree or so positive move
in the forward-precession direction... usually running the target right
out of the FOV.). I asked it to return to Vega (to see if it could
return there).  It was a bit off (out of 26mm eyepiece FOV, but not too
far.), but that could have been the result of the shifting of the scope
around the deck.  I tried SYNC there, too, and again the target (Vega)
remained stable after SYNCing.

Sync still ignores the speed controls.  Whatever speed you last
commanded before GOTOing, it still goes at.  About the only piece of
"plan ahead" required by the ETX/EC.

Then i asked (from Vega) for Alberio, but it started to go the long (CW)
'way round, so I cancelled the operation and told it "Park".  Which it
did.  The long-way may have been justified by the stops, since Alberio
would've been close to the full CCW limit.

Then dragged in for dinner, and now it's cloudy. Sigh... no Orion's
Nebula tonight.

So, so far I'm quite happy with v1.3c.  Four stars.  (ok, ok... two
stars, three planets)

clear skies (they must be somewhere...)
Have fun!

Subject:	 does that Autostar box say 493? Ninty Three???
Sent:	Monday, November 15, 1999 20:26:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Whilst rushing thru a Nature Company-like store (wife and mother-in-law
in tow (or towing), no time to browse and ask questions...) ... there
was a nice ETX & DS display... and, sitting under the usual tiny 497
controller box was a MUCH larger box (hey! maybe it has an 8.5x11"
manual!) holding what looked like a 493 (three?) controller for the "DS
Digital Scopes"...???

Is it true?  do the DS series use a different controller?  What are the
specs? What's the price? Is it electrically compatible with the ETX

...or were my glasses dirty?

ohhh... for the lack of three minutes to do more investigating...

--dick (now 1400 miles away from there)

p.s. re: your planned power outage... you're doing that JUST to see the
Leonids, right? It'll remove all temptation to fiddle with your own
Mike here: Could that have been a #495? I have no infuence on the power company. But instead of sleeping, I'll be out watching (I hope) the Leonids (I hope) the morning of the 18th.

Added later:

I squinted (in passing) real hard, and it sure looked like a 3, not a 5.
But logically it -must- have been a 495.  (why the bigger box?) I'll try
to prowl the Seattle stores (telescopes are -not- a hot item 'round

if only it'd be a wide-area outage... Dark Skies courtesy of [insert
power company name here].

Subject:	Re: Autostar A1.4 update and 1.3c ROM's
Sent:	Monday, November 15, 1999 11:11:03
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
I read Bruce Oltman's Nov. 13 post and he seems to have had the same
problem I did regarding updating to the 1.3c ROM's, but he says "I
wasn't lucky enough to have a working controller after the corrupted
software was initialized. Mine was only capable of displaying garbage.
It was not possible to get it into the download mode to try again."
Well, mine also displayed garbage after the first try at the update, but
I DID NOT have a problem going into the SAFE LOADER mode to attempt the
second try. Bruce doesn't say specifically that he tried doing that,
only that he couldn't get it into the download mode -- obviously if the
controller update was unsuccessful, the attempt to go to the standard
Download mode after that would probably not work. But I was under the
impression that the SAFE LOADER mode is similar to Boot ROM's in your
computer -- that no matter what happens to the modifiable flash ROMs
(like a failed update attempt), at least the Boot ROMs will remain
untouched and always give you a way back in.

Bruce, did you try holding down the ENTER key and the SCROLL DOWN key at
the same time that you turned on power to the ETX? That should put you
into the SAFE LOADER mode, then you continue the software download from
there. That should have worked!! I would guess that if that does not
work, then the Autostar Controller is truly fried and would need to be

Stan Glaser
Added later:
oh, by the way -- I e-mailed Bruce Oltman a copy of the post I sent to
you along with a little bit more advice and he got back with me later in
the day saying my suggestion (and how-to) to go into SAFE LOADER mode
and retry the update worked successfully. He wasn't aware that he could
do that! I guess I earned my boy-scout badge and one gold star today.
Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Stan Glaser

P.S. -- you obviously don't have to post this e-mail, but my response to
his problem should be since it might affect other people having the same
problem. Your site is great -- keep up the good work (it must take a
helluva lot of your time!).

P.P.S. -- my wife and a co-worker of hers and his wife and myself are
going out to Blair Valley in Anza Borrego Wednesday afternoon and
staying through the evening into Thursday morning to catch the Leonids
-- we're hoping for a great show (and clear weather!!!) -- you live in
and around the Southern California area, right? -- are you going to be
able to get out and see the meteor shower?
Mike here: Weather permitting I'll be observing the Leonids from my backyard.

Subject:	 Entering elements into Autostar
Sent:	Monday, November 15, 1999 05:05:02
From:	dbjarnas@toronto.cbc.ca
How do you enter new elements (comets, satellites etc) into the
Autostar? Ive gone to Meade's web site manual but for some reason can't
find exactly how you do this.
Many thanks
Mike here: Put the downloaded files into the Ephemerides folder and run the Autostar downloader application. I've not yet had time to actually do this myself however.

Subject:	 Re:  Autostar A1.4 update and 1.3c ROMs
Sent:	Saturday, November 13, 1999 14:22:51
From:	baoltman@home.com (Bruce Oltman)
I've gotten into a situation with the 1.3c update similar to Stan Glaser
(stantastic@aol.com), but I wasn't lucky enough to have a working
controller after the corrupted software was initialized.  Mine was only
capable of displaying garbage.  It was not possible to get it into the
download mode to try again.  My next step is to call Meade for help or a
return authorization.

It seems that the updater should have a better error recovery plan than
to just give up and intitialize the Autostar!

BTW, I use VPC on a mac too, but used Internet Explorer 4.0 to download
the entire zip archive, including the A1.4 updater.

Bruce A Oltman    |  42.064 N. Latitude
baoltman@home.com |  88.038 W. Longitude

Subject:	 Uploading Comet elements to Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, November 13, 1999 09:34:45
From:	nick.lewis@btinternet.com (Nick Lewis)
Can anyone tell me how to download comet elements from the web, and then
get them in to Autostar?

When I click on New Ephemerides, first I get an error message saying
that the Updater can't open newcomet.cmt, then that TempComet.ROM is too
small to contain data.

Any ideas? I can't find anything useful in the help file or the readme.

Mike here: When you downloaded the files from Meade's web site did you just click the link or use the contextual pop-up menu to save as a file? Sometimes the latter helps avoid corrupted downloads. Did you put the files into the Empherides folder?

Added later:

I didn't do anything specific - a set of up to date comet elements came
across when I acquired Autostar Update 1.4. But they don't appear to
have been transferred to my handbox when I upgraded to v1.3c, nor can I
make them do so.  Should I be downloading another set of elements?

Subject:	 Autostar Temperature Problems
Sent:	Friday, November 12, 1999 06:49:16
From:	ggreaser@tscnet.com (Gary Greaser)
I had my scope out the other night for the first time since it has
gotten cooler and noticed that the scope would start to act erratically
after about an hour or two. The scope would just start slewing on its
own, or the Autostar would lockup during slewing to an object, it would
even lockup during polar alignment. I believe the temperature was in the
middle to upper 30's. The first time it happened I thought it was the
batteries so I changed them, but the problem continued, I even tried an
external battery source. However I noticed that once the scope was
warmed-up it would work normally. In an attempt to isolate the problem I
placed the Autostar in the refrigerator for a few minutes while keeping
the scope at room temperature.This confirmed that it was the Autostar
that was the problem. I'm using the scope in the polar mode and I'm
currently running version 1.1 in the Autostar. I talked with Meade and
they recommended upgrading the software, which I'm currently in the
process of doing. I was wondering if this is normal or if anyone else
has experienced this problem.


Subject:	 AutoStar Questions
Sent:	Friday, November 12, 1999 04:32:01
From:	wmbrady@olg.com (Bill Brady)
There have been a number of questions regarding the differences between
the two AutoStar units. While these questions are better answered by
Meade, and I only have the DS unit, I can tell you this: The $99 unit
(#495) for the DS series includes setups for all models including the
ETX and all types of mounts. It is used functionally in the same way:
i.e.. it replaces the #492 motor control unit. It has the same download
features, however, since Meade has posted no downloadable files yet, I
cannot test this (I do have the cable kit), and I cannot verify that the
unit will work with an ETX because I don't have one. I strongly believe
that it will work with all models, the *only* difference being the size
of the database (number of identified objects).

In short, I think if you have an ETX and want to save $50 you can buy
the DS #495, I think if you have a DS and want a bigger database get a
ETX AutoStar #497, but ask Meade or a dealer *first*. One thought,
putting a #497 on a DS may not make sense, why work scrolling through
more objects that you can't see with a DS 'scope? and you can specify a
user object.

If someone wants to bring an ETX/497 over we can check it out. 
Mike here: It does appear that Meade now has #495 as well as #497 Autostar updates on the web site.

Subject:	 Autostar update
Sent:	Wednesday, November 10, 1999 19:12:22
From:	jazzn2day@home.com (Eric Gregoire)
First of all great site! It gave me enough confidence in the great
little ETX to buy one.

I just wanted to add in my positive two cents regarding the newest
Autostar update. While I haven't used every nook and cranny of it, it
looks great and I had no trouble getting 1.3c into my Autostar. My
computer system is pretty up to date(PII 400 w/128MB running Win98), I'm
not sure if that may be what's giving some people problems.

Just ordered an Orion Solar filter in hopes of keeping track of an
active solar year ahead. Also hoping Santa brings me a Zoom EP for

Eric Gregoire
1 Homestead Ave
Smithfield, RI 02917

Subject:	Autostar A1.4 update and 1.3c ROMs
Sent:	Tuesday, November 9, 1999 15:06:04
From:	Stantastic@aol.com
Just a little info regarding my latest attempt at upgrading my ETX
Autostar Controller that some people might want to be aware of. I
downloaded the A1.4 Software Update (which contains the 1.3c ROM update)
the other day and tried the procedure this afternoon. I never had any
trouble before, but today was different. I'd also like to point out that
I'm running Virtual PC on a Mac and also downloaded the files from
Meade's website using Netscape Communicator.

After unzipping the original file, loading it into Virtual PC, and doing
all the preliminary cable connections and other shenanigans needed to
get ready, I ran the new A1.4 software. It now asks to save all the
satellite, comet, etc. data in individual files before continuing, which
I elected to do. Then I began the actual update of the ROMs and on "page
16" received an error which read something like "Couldn't Erase bank 8"
-- my only option was to click OK, then was presented with the
"Initializing Autostar Handbox" dialog box (yeah? -- but the software
never finished loading, duh!). I realized this wasn't going to get me
anywhere, so shut everything down and did a restart on the controller
(just out of curiosity) and as I suspected, the controller software was
shot. I restarted again using the "Safe Loader" procedure and tried
again, this time (knowing the data in the controller was no good)
bypassing the initial startup procedure of wanting to save my comet
data, etc. Proceeded again to do the update and got a little further --
"page 22" -- but then got a similar warning, this time "Couldn't erase
bank 11." I figured it was either time to use the 1.3c ROMs but go back
a step and use the older update software, OR call Meade to let them know
I was having a problem. I decided to call -- talked to an Amy in
Customer Support, she got a recommendation from a guy somewhere down the
hall (maybe -- I don't really know where he was) and suggested I go back
to the web site and try downloading just the "ROMs13c.zip file" by
itself and overwriting the Autostar.ROM and dbase.ROM files in the
Ephemerides folder, which I did. Well, after that, everything worked
just fine, and my Autostar is now upgraded to 1.3c.

What I'd like to point out is this, though. We've heard this problem
before on your web site about Netscape having problems in downloading
the files from Meade's web site. I personally have not had a problem
before, nor did I think I had a problem this time, either -- I did the
exact same thing this time as I did before. The byte sizes of the two
ROM files that came with the A1.4 update matched exactly those that were
shown on Meade's web site for the individual file downloads, so I
figured that they were fine. But now I see they weren't. The byte sizes
of the ROM files contained in the ROMs13c.zip file (which eventually
worked) on Meade's web site matched exactly those that came bundled with
the A1.4 software update, but apparently there is a difference --
perhaps it only happens if downloaded through Netscape rather than
Internet Explorer. Could also be because gremlins.

Stan Glaser

Subject:	 Autostar 1.3c review (SkyMap also)
Sent:	Tuesday, November 9, 1999 12:47:31
From:	formisano@email.mc.ti.com (Formisano, Paul)
As promised, here is a brief review of my experience with the Autostar
ROM 1.3c.  I have used it twice since downloading it.  I used the Alt/Az
Easy setup each time.

The first night out I took the ETX90EC to my friend's house and he's in
a very light polluted area -- so I didn't get to see very much.  Unlike
v1.3b, it didn't slam into the hard stops when aligning, but accuracy
was not enough to get more than 5 out of 10 guided tour objects I went
through in the 26mm eyepiece field of view.  I trained the drives
earlier in the day, and leveled the Meade tripod, and the batteries were
almost new -- so maybe it was just slop in the drives.

On my second night out, I hooked up a trial version of SkyMap to the
Autostar with my laptop.  After a successful alignment, I established
the link with SkyMap.  SkyMap immediately put a crosshair on the screen
representing the position of the ETX in the sky -- cool!  As I
understand it, SkyMap uses its own database to control the telescope. 
So I was able to use Autostar as well as SkyMap to control the ETX, each
using its own database independently.  This made for interesting control

I setup SkyMap to show only deep sky objects brighter than Mag 8.  Then
I proceeded to click the mouse on the nearest objects on the screen and
select "slew to".  The ETX slewed just like using Autostar, and the
crosshairs showed the motion across the simulated sky and the new
pointing position.  I went through at least 10 deep sky objects,
Jupiter, and Saturn with mixed results.  Most deep sky objects were at
or near the edge of the 26mm eyepiece field, but Jupiter and Saturn were
about one full field away. After centering each object, I asked Autostar
to Identify it.  It got every one, and since it lists the angular
distance to the object I was able to get an immediate indication of
where the Autostar thought it was pointing. Results varied, but most of
the time the Autostar would have missed the object in the 26mm eyepiece,
but would have put it in the standard finder. Several times I used the
Autostar GOTO button after identifying an object that SkyMap slewed to,
and Autostar moved it out of the eyepiece view.  I also noticed that
Jupiter was moving out of the field of view after about 2 to 3 minutes.
I monitored the battery level on the ETX (it started around 90%) and
now, after about an hour in 20 deg F air, it was about 50%.  So maybe
the battery level was too low to track well; I'm not sure how low you
can go.

Anyway, there were a couple of open clusters I wanted to see before
packing it in, so I used the SkyMap software to slew completely around
the long way from the South to the West.  Surprisingly, each cluster was
in the eyepiece field, and the tracking was perfect!  There wasn't even
a hint of movement at 48X for the 2 minutes or so that I viewed each
cluster.  I checked the battery level -- 44%! By this time my fingers
were nearly numb, and the laptop screen was so cold the mouse pointer
was invisible when it moved, so I packed up.

One thing I learned from this is to get a piece of smoked glass to cover
the laptop screen.  It destroyed my night vision no matter how I
adjusted the brightness, regardless of the "red night vision mode"
available in SkyMap. In fact, next time I will probably use SkyMap to
make a list of objects I want to view BEFORE going outside.

I'm now eager to try Polar alignment.  It may yield better accuracy on
the GOTOs, not to mention that direction of drift in the eyepiece will
tell me if it was my bad alignment or the RA drive timing that causes

Overall, I'm happy with Autostar 1.3c's accuracy. Considering it had to
use two motors to track in Alt/Az mode, it did well enough to put every
object in the finder.  Skymap was also excellent, with the advantage of
real-time visual feedback.

Happy viewing!

Subject:	 (finally) successful update 1.3b-->1.3c
Sent:	Monday, November 8, 1999 20:51:20
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
...and all of the problems prior to this were -not- Meade's fault (blame
my oddball collection of pieced-together PCs). In fact, it demonstrated
that AutoUpdate 1.4 can, indeed, find and use COM2 all by itself. And
the usually blessed thanks to Mike's site for the users' warnings about
problems with the 1.3c downloader.

I -do- wish that the AutoStar Update program didn't get its head wedged
in a variety of ways.

1) wouldn't it be nice to start it, and read the Help and About stuff,
-without- plugging in the Autostar?  (who? me? trust a -program-? Heck,
i write them!)

2) After the download, the Autostar resets itself, so i turned it off.
Then i clicked the [about] box, then (accidently) clicked it again... (i
was -thinking- of mousing on [Help], but my index finger moved
first...).  One of the Update Ephemeris dialog boxes came up (Asteroids,
maybe?) ... and wanted the Autostar in Download mode. (should it really
be called a "dialog box" when it's in monolog mode?). *Nothing* would
get that box to go away and drop me back in access-to-[help] mode. I
finally hit the [x] on AutoUpdate's main window... and that
disappeared... and then, a few (10?) seconds later the "Put Autostar in
Download Mode" box reappeared! (See it rise from the DEAD!).  Clicking
the [ok] box finally killed it. The [x] (kill this window) button on the
"put in download" box is not accessible. Various tried-and-true Windows
keys (ctrl-C, esc, (ok, i didn't use alt-f4... )) had no effect upon the
"put in download mode" box.  Clicking its [ok] box would make it go away
for a bit, until it noticed that i was -not- going to let it chew on my
happily updated Autostar.

Sigh.. someday i'll get to read the Help text.

Now, if only the rain would go away, i could test the telescope on
something other than paint spots on the ceiling (ohhh.... neat winter
project... tell the scope to tour constellations, shine a flashlight
into the eyepiece, paint glow-in-the-dark where the light hits the
ceiling... result: **accurate** night-sky spots, corrected for room
distortion....) (kids: don't try that at home without your parents'
permission... ;-) (parents: put the 'scope on the pillow, so the stars
are right when viewed from bed)

--dick (where's my paintbrush?)

Subject:	 Autostar with no display after using Update A1.4
Sent:	Monday, November 8, 1999 19:50:03
From:	portquip@ix.netcom.com (WD Jenkins)
I just tried to download the new  A1.4 Autostar Update and after
fumbling through inaacurate instructions and a shaky update program, my
Autostar just quit.  All it will do now is light up dimly all over the
display and then after four or so minutes settle into a underline
pattern accros the display.  It does not attempt to initialize so I
assume the damn thing is fired. Say it ain't so!  Is ther a way to reset
the software or reverse the damage done by attempting to download the

David Jenkins
Mike here: You can try going into the safe load mode (hold down the Autostar Enter and Scrolldown keys at power on) and then attempting to download to the Autostar.

Subject:	 Autostar Query
Sent:	Sunday, November 7, 1999 18:00:31
From:	relgert@datanet.ab.ca (Rob\Karen Elgery)
I have a somewhat embarassing question I was wondering if you might help
me with.  I have only recently joined the ranks of computer owners and
am still on the bottom of that extremely sharp learning curve regarding
computer literacy.  I have downloaded autostar v1.3 from the Meade site
and it seems to be working fine.  I do not, however, understand the
technobabble that I am reading on your site.   Can someone please define
the following terms in plain english so that my education can move
     i)  ROM's
    ii)  downloader
   iii)  Firmware vs. software
BTW - after I downloaded v1.3 from the Meade site,  I just unzipped it,
opened it, and clicked on install and 30 minutes later my autostar said
it was running version 1.3.  Have I missed something?  It seems to work
fine however I keep reading all the trouble other people are having with
the download and am wondering if I missed something or is it really as
easy as my experience.   ---  Thanx  ---
Mike here: Computer terminology, like any specialized field (including astronomy), is confusing at first.

ROM = Read Only Memory (means you can't change it as it is in the hardware). Usually contains the operating system or portions of an operating system for a device.

Downloader = Software that does downloading (called "Autostar Update tool" on Meade's site).

Firmware = Similar to ROM but may be user updatable (as in the case of the Autostar).

Software = Programs you run on a computer, whether a Macintosh, a PC, or an Autostar. This is what does the (normally) useful things that computers do.

Most people probably don't have problems downloading the Autostar updates into their Autostars. Most of the comments come from those users who, for whatever reason, have had difficulties. And it is appropriate for them to inquire about the difficulties.

Subject:	 DS80EC/ Computer Namd Stars
Sent:	Friday, November 5, 1999 07:43:30
From:	wmbrady@olg.com (Bill Brady)
The following is a readout of the named stars presented for a one or two
star alignment with my AutoStar 497 (the DS Series Computer). I find
this list handy when selecting alignment stars for my nights observation
plan. I hope you won't blame me for transcription errors, my spell
checker commited suicide on this file.

Cor Caroli
Diphda (Deneb Kaito)
DM is CoD
Kaus Australis

Wm. "Bill" Brady, Harwood MD - Time to clear the garden.

Subject:	 Autostar Feedback
Sent:	Friday, November 5, 1999 05:49:42
From:	gbgesq@earthlink.net (Gary)
I downloaded the latest Autostar software, sat back, and watched my
system crash.  Repeatedly. I had not had problems with the prior
upgrades.  I gritted my teeth, as I had gotten to the point where the
software found my controller, and induced me to enter the download mode
on the controller (you know, the part where you put the controller in
the download mode, it warns you (upon pain of death, or worse) not to
shut the power, etc....Anyway, with no other choice, I rebooted my
Autostar, and lo and behold - the crossed fingers worked - my baby had
stayed at 1.3b, with no damage.  I tried several more times, and each
time no success to download.

Then, I said to myself, "Self, use the new roms with the old downloader"
which worked perfectly.  From what little I could see from the new
downloader, it appears that it will show you more data about each item
being downloaded (my "old" downloader, from about September, had the two
bar graphs).  So, uncle Gary's suggestion is to use the new roms (put
into the empherimdes subidrectory, or however you spell that thing) and
DON'T use the new downloader.  Suggestion number 2 is to keep the older
downloader, and install the new one into a new subdirectory, so as not
to overwrite the old downloader if needed.  I don't know if the problem
is local to my computer (my downloading machine is my old 486 notebook)
or some problem with the coding.
Happly slewing,

Subject:	 more Meade updates
Sent:	Friday, November 5, 1999 00:34:10
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
It appears that less than a day after posting Autostar Updater vA1.3,
Meade now has vA1.4

I can't keep up with this, and I have YET to even upgrade from my
original v1.0c firmware, though I have the cable and every version of
the ROMs and Updaters that has been posted.

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'

Subject:	 RE: Autostar Update with v1.3c
Sent:	Thursday, November 4, 1999 07:11:12
From:	formisano@email.mc.ti.com (Formisano, Paul)
Thanks for your help.  I've already received an email from another
fellow confirming the same problem I had with Autostar Update vA1.3. 
Meanwhile, I used the Autostar Update vY1.2 to successfully download ROM
v1.3b.  The problem with ROM 1.3b is is often slews the long way around
and also doesn't know where the hard stops are.  I had my first hard
stop "crash" last night -- ROM v1.3c is supposed to fix these problems. 
Has anyone tried downloading ROM v1.3c with the older Autostar Update
vY1.2?  Is it possible?

Added later:
I figured out how to download Autostar ROM v1.3c.

1.  From the Meade website, download the Autostar Update Client
Application for Windows (auto.zip) and unzip it -- it's now
AutostarUpdate v1.2 as of Nov 4, even though it says vA1.4 on the
website.  If you already have Update v1.2 you can skip this step.

2.  Download ROMS13c.zip, unzip it, and overwrite the Autostar and dbase
files in the Ephemerides directory with the new ones from ROMS13c.zip. 
You need to do this or else you'll get ROM v1.3b which is currently
packaged in the auto.zip file.

3.  Then run AutostarUpdate and you should be able to download ROM

If the weather is good, I'll try out 1.3c tonight and give a report

Subject:	 Autostar Update Program Bug
Sent:	Thursday, November 4, 1999 04:32:45
From:	LRandyB@worldnet.att.net (Randy Bynon)
In response to Paul Formisano's post (in the ETX board):

I sent a bug report to Meade about a fatal error I got with version A1.3
of the update loader program. The next day they posted version A1.4 of
the upload program. I tried it and it worked although documentation and
help seems rather lacking... it took me a while to get it to actually
send the updated software to my #495 Autostar.

On the plus side.... I've had problems with accuracy with my Autostar. I
had tried some of the ideas Bill Brady posted in DS message board and
those helped somewhat... my problem seems to be more with the DS114
plastic mount than the motors or clutch slippage. But I found that
updating the software made a WORLD of difference. The Autostar actually
got targets in the viewfinder 100% of the time and in my 9mm eyepiece
about 80% of the time. I was thrilled.

And thanks for the great site!!

Randy Bynon

Subject:	 Autostar question
Sent:	Wednesday, November 3, 1999 17:41:34
From:	tuomo@tuomo.screaming.net (Tuomo)
I recently had to replace a faulty Autostar controller for my ETX90. The
dealer didn't have any new Autostars in stock so I decided to take one
that was out of the box as it appeared to be working fine plus had the
latest software.

The replacement seems to be working fine. However, I cannot determine
which version it is. It should be #497 but how can I be sure as #495
looks just the same?

Please let me know what would be the best way to check this.


Tuomo Yillipulli

PS Thanks for a great website!
Mike here: Gee, that's a good question. The #497 I have shows 35-4700-00 imprinted on the back at the bottom. Maybe the "47" means #497 and the #495 would have "45". Just guessing here.

Added later:

My controller shows the same numbers at the back.

I had a look on the Meade web site and found out that #495 is actually
called Autostar and #497 ETX Autostar. A quick check of the the photos
confirmed this. My controller is called ETX Autostar so it must be a
#497 then....

Subject:	 Autostar Update with v1.3c
Sent:	Wednesday, November 3, 1999 10:44:42
From:	formisano@email.mc.ti.com (Formisano, Paul)
I really like your site! I've learned quite a bit of helpful information
there. Great job!

I just purchased an ETX90EC with Autostar version 1.1j and tried to
update Autostar to version 1.3c with Meade's latest update program --
without success.  I know you're not Meade's technical support, but could
you post my message so I can find out if anyone else encountered and
solved the problem I am having?

The Autostar Update program (Version A 1.3 Nov 1 1999) is able to read
and acknowledge Autostar and tell me the version, but as soon as I put
the handset in download mode and start the download process the software
crashes and I get an error message of "fatal error - program will be
shut down" and when I press help I get "AutostarUpdate caused a stack
fault in module csh.dll at 0137:100034e6...".  I'm running a 486/100Mhz
laptop with Windows 95 and 20 megs of RAM.

By the way, I first downloaded  Autostar Update to my desktop PC
yesterday morning (Nov 2 1999) and the Autostar data was version 1.3b,
later that day I downloaded it again to my laptop and the version was
1.3c!  So my guess is that 1.3c's Autostar Update has a problem and I'm
the first one to encounter it.  I'm going to try using version 1.3b and
see if that works.  I've tried unzipping the files again, rebooting,
etc.  The good news is my Autostar is still OK with v1.1j. Any help will
be appreciated.


Subject:	 Autostar 1.3c available.. for both models!
Sent:	Wednesday, November 3, 1999 08:52:56
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Dick Seymour)
Let me be the 1500th to tell you that, on Nov 2nd,  Meade posted for
download Autostar code version 1.3c ... for both the 497 -and- 495
handset. (thereby finally answering the question: "can a $99 Autostar be

The Readme File for the roms indicate that the changes are (from 1.3b, i

    Fixed direction of GOTO's between 270 and 360 azimuth
    Fixed error in calculation of hardstop.

I hope that means that the 'scope will be less tempted to take the long
way 'round, and have fewer sessions of grinding against the stops...

The AutoUpdate Readme file says that the two Autostars download
differently... my guess is that the "big" one (the 497, now called the
"ETX Autostar") takes its downloads from two large files: autostar.rom
(640k) and dbase.rom (549k). The DS family's lil'feller (the 495, now
called (by Meade) the "Autostar handbox") seems to use a flurry of
smaller files (page00 (32k), Common (13k), Ic (27k), and User.rom(32k)).
The Page00 may be used by both Autostars, i'm not sure.

If you fetch the 3 meg ZIP file, you get everything for both handsets.

I haven't sent it to my Autostar yet (long story involving confused PCs)

Next item in the Autostar software wish list: *multiple* beeps when an
alarm expires. Single beeps get lost in the general usage of the
Autostar (arrival, sync, align, etc.) "Two if by timer, three for alarm,
four for satellites..." that sorta thing.

Next item on the ETX Hardware wish list:  A 12 volt-to-RJ45 power cord
so that i can power the Autostar independently of the ETX... so i don't
have to bring the ETX to the computer for Autostar-stuffing. (for us
truly weird folks, a 4-pin harddrive power connector would be adequate
for the non-rj45 end.  But i'd take a connector which would mimic the
telescope's external power jack)(and i don't remember if RadioShack
offers the scope- side jack size)

have fun updating... (still no speed control in sync... sigh)
Added later:
i should'a waited 'till i could look at v1.3b's layout.

the 495's ROMs are in a different ZIP file. (now, theoretically the 495
has less memory than the 497, but the ROM files are certainly similarly

the Autostar.ROM file for the 497 is 640k the one for the 495 (the
-smaller- controller) is 641k (on my PC).

The Dbase files are  497 -- 549kb,    495 -- 483 kb.

-i- haven't verified the size of memory in eitehr Autostar. (i did open
mine up, and the only memory chip on the non-keyboard side is only
256kb... i did NOT remove the card to see if there were more chips on
the keyboard side.)(this, of course, assumes i interpreted the chip's
part number correctly. No bets on that...)

The page00, common, ic, user.rom  are (i believe) common to both As's.

more later... 

--dick (gee... it's raining outside... guess i gotta stay inside and

Subject:	 The Autostar, LX200 commands, and CCD Photography
Sent:	Tuesday, November 2, 1999 17:37:15
From:	webmaster@aln.uwstout.edu (Peter Tratechaud)
I have some interesting ideas that would be wonderful if all the pieces
work and thought they should be shared with other owners.

From what I understand the Autostar command set is the same as the LX200
command set, but some people have had a few conflicts from what I read.
Has anyone been able to control a ETX electronic focuser via LX200

If it can be done, it may be possible to use the ETX-125 with a Autostar
for some CCD imaging.  Meade's CCD products are almost entirely targeted
at the LX series of scopes and use the LX200 command set to control all
scope function for CCD use.  If there is someone with a ETX and a LX200
with a Meade CCD imager and feel like tinkering they might be able to
get the CCD imager to work on the ETX with the Autostar plugged in.

The CCD imager equipped with a auto glider might be able to extend the
length of exposure time a ETX can be effectively use for.  Besides the
advantage of greater sensitivity of a CCD vs. film, CCD software
sometimes has guide star software to help in long exposure times and
sends LX200 commands to the scope to get the best image possible.  (It
may be that the Autostar and LX200 use almost the same settings/software
in High Precision mode.)

Just think, a ETX using CCD technology with good skies should make it
possible to see stars below the 15th magnitude.  Throw in some filters
and you could produce galaxy pictures similar to the sides of a Meade
box.  With some practice on tracking known minor planets, 5" ETX owners
could try searching for new asteroids.  All on a OTA that cost under
$1,000 and a total setup under $2,000.

I admit this all might be totally in left field and completely
impossible, but it could work.

In order to use a CCD autoguider with a ETX there would have to be
either a new Aux port added physically and supported by the Autostar or
a software upgrade to allow the current Aux jack to be able to be used
with a autoguider.  This would mean the loss of focus control from a
laptop, but the autoguider support would be much more importaint to

Pete Tratechaud
Mike here: Search the site for "CCD"; several people have used one with the ETX-90 models.

Subject:	 Meade autostar update & website
Sent:	Tuesday, November 2, 1999 12:30:11
From:	FLamorce@dataradio.com (Frederic Lamorce)
I don't know if you have seen on Meade website all the DS line and
ETX125! also in the autostar download now there's 2 version of the ROM,
one for the #495 and one for the #497. Also in their ASReadMe.txt your
site is mentionned! impressive, they rated it very good :) flicitations!


Frdric Lamorce, http://www.dataradio.com, 1-514-737-0020, UIN 4940051
Dataradio Inc., 5500 Av. Royalmount #200, Mont Royal, Qubec, H4P 1H7
BeDevId #15453 - Q: what's be? A: http://www.be.com
Mike here: Nice to hear that Meade listed our site!

Added later:

well, it's not my site but yours :)
you can check the file here 
it's on www.meade.com/support/auto.html page
and they cite only one site: yours :)

long life to your site and clear skies!
Mike here: I maintain it. Many others, like yourself, contribute LOTS of useful information!

Subject:	 autostar question
Sent:	Tuesday, November 2, 1999 07:59:45
From:	Vincent.Nagy@gianteagle.com (Nagy, Vince)
Hi there.  What a great site!

I'm impaled on the horns of the great Celestron N5/Meade 125 debate. 
Read reviews and opinions, and for everyone that likes one I've found
someone who swears by the other.. such is life.

The one thing I haven't gotten a straight answer to, though, is this: 
Can the Meade really track earth orbit objects?  I haven't heard anyone
saying "I've just seen Mir and it was great" or "Hubble was cool".  Now,
I know better than to expect the menu listings for these objects to be
accurate, as complicated as orbits are.  But, if I could find the
current updates for these entries, type away on the controller, and have
a look at these objects, well that might just seal the decision.  Do you
have any advice or input for me?

Also, is there a way to tell a "version 1" 125 from a "version 2" 125
from the outside of the box?

Finally, if you post this question to your site, please let me know
where to look for the responses.  I think I've hardly scratched the
surface of your site, and am learning more every day.

Thanks for your time.
MIke here: The Autostar can track earth orbiting objects; just don't expect to see any details through the ETX. I'm not aware of any identifier on the ETX-125EC box.

Added later:

Bummer!  Is it a magnification issue, or trying to stay locked onto
something moving that fast while keeping focus?  I'm sorry if this is a
silly question: as you can tell I'm very new to this, and I'm not sure
what to expect.
Mike here: Definitely a magnification issue to start. Those objects are SMALL, even though only a few hundreds of miles away. Tracking could be an issue depending upon a LOT of factors.

Subject:	 Autostar Update v A1.3 and ROM v 1.3c
Sent:	Tuesday, November 2, 1999 01:30:27
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Hi Kiddies

Just letting you all know that Meade has just posted Autostar Update v.
A1.3, along with new ROM's v1.3c for BOTH Autostar models #495 and
#497...they require different files, both of which have been posted, and
the Update software now recognizes the different models, according to
the Readme files.

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'

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