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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 October 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:	 autostar in southern hemisphere
Sent:	Monday, October 30, 2000 12:10:14
From:	laurent_limoges@hotmail.com (laurent moi)
Good night Mike !
My name is Laurent Guichard and I live in Reunion Island. I send you
this mail because of my autostar and of Meade !

I got a bign problem with my autostar and my ETX90 EC. I don't know how
to realize the alignement with the autostar surely because of my
geographical situation. The Meade Manual for Autostar is writen for
people who live inb northern hemisphere so that I relly don't know how
to realize the home position firstable and I Don't know how to align the
telescope.

I would be very happy if you could help me to realize that dream : see
something the the eyepiece of my telescope with the help of my autostar
!

Thank you very much for all (and excuse me for my very bad english, I am
a spanish teacher in Reunion Island !)

Laurent Guichard

Laurent_limoges@hotmail.com
Mike here: I'd suggest putting the Autostar and ETX into Alt/Az mode. Be certain you have your location properly set in the Autostar. Put the ETX control panel on the West side your mount. Then (guessing a little here), where it says to rotate the ETX counterclockwise to the HOME position and then back to North, rotate clockwise to the hard stop and then back to South. The rest of the HOME position stuff should be the same. If any Southern Hemisphere users have a better (or more correct) method, I'll post it.

Subject:	 Question on updating Autostar software
Sent:	Monday, October 30, 2000 11:24:10
From:	EDing@idecpharm.com
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
Mike here: Check the Autostar Information page for a link to past versions.

Subject:	 Autostar: Alt/Az versus Polar mounting
Sent:	Saturday, October 28, 2000 11:40:27
From:	dlangham@win.bright.net (David Langham)
You must be a very patient man to be able to answer all these questions
from us novices. Anyway, you have great web site and it's very, very
helpful.

I have just purchased an ETX-90EC with an Autostar computer controller.
I have used the Autostar extensively with smaller scopes such as the DS
models and the ETX-60AT, so I am pretty familiar with it's operation.

What I want to know is, when using the Autostar, is it best to mount the
ETX-90 on a tripod in Polar or Alt/Az, or doesn't it really make a
difference since I'm using the Autostar? I would assume that using a
Polar mount would be better, but since the Autostar can track objects in
Alt/Az mount pretty decently, is it necessary or recommended to mount it
in Polar?

I assume that you use Polar mounting, but do you use the Autostar also?
I'm somewhat familiar with setting circles, but is it really necessary
with Autostar?

Thanks again Mike, hope I didn't confuse you or myself too much!
Mike here: Most users find it better using Alt/Az with the Autostar. Also, weight distribution over the tripod is better in Alt/Az, resulting in better stability. Unless you need Polar for long duration astrophotography, there is almost no need to use anything but Alt/Az. The one non-photographic exception is when viewing objects at or nor the zenith, especially with attachments at the rear port; you may find Polar more convenient in this case.

Subject:	 Autostar powering
Sent:	Saturday, October 28, 2000 10:01:49
From:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu (Emory Braswell)
Mike, I have not bothered you for about a year, and you were a great
help then,  however I have been steadily reading and learning from this
great site.  I saw some time ago in the autostar feedback a wistful
desire for a cable to power the autostar  directly so one doesn't have
to connect the 125 to it when one only wants to play with the autostar.
I suppose Meade hasn't yet produced such. Have I missed any instructions
as to how to make one?  What connectors and what pins should I power?  I
am not very good at this so is there any cable etc which I could buy off
the shelf?  I use a small 12 volt lead storage battery for my
125-autostar power source.  Thank you much!  Emory Braswell
Mike here: Nothing that I recall on directly powering the Autostar.

Subject:	 re: ETX70 vs. a PC
Sent:	Tuesday, October 24, 2000 21:25:29
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	gill_todd@emc.com
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site... (on the ETX-70AT Feedback)
and i'd love to try to help.

First, you can check the quality of connection 
between your PC and the Autostar by using HyperTerminal
instead of the Meade software.

(i don't have an ETX60, i've got an ETX90...
your 506 connector set theoretically coverts 
the PC's rs232 signals to "i2c bus" signals for 
connection to the ETX60's AUX port.  My ETX90
has the Autostar directly connected to the PC
by a dedicated rs232 port, and the cable is just
dumb copper).

Connect the 506 cable from (let's say) COM1 of
your PC to the AUX port on the ETX.

Do NOT turn on the ETX yet.

Turn on the PC, and under STart>Programs>Accessories
should be a HyperTerminal folder (i'm assuming Win95 
or 98... if you've got different, let me know).

Start Hyperterminal, and under the File menu is
New Connection.   Use the windows and sub-choices
to tell it to use the COM port you connected to,
and set the speed to 9600 and the stop bit to 1,
no flow control.  (or whatever the 506 connector
set specifies for speeds, etc.).
Tell Hyperterminal "connect using: DIRECT to COM1"

Save these settings as "ETX" or something memorable.
Now you should be facing Hyperterminal's empty window.

Turn on the ETX.   With a #497 Autostar, an "X" appears
in the window after the INITIALIZING beep.
Now, on the PC's keyboard, type a control-F
The ETX should respond with an A or a P
(Alt/Az or Polar mount).
If all of the above (or at least the last) happens,
then you've verified your hookup and operation of the
#506 cable set, and it becomes Meade's problem.

If -none- of the above works, the 506 may be faulty.
It's still Meade's problem, but at least you've fingered
the guilty component.

If you bought it locally, drag the whole shebang to the
store and swap parts until you identify the real culprit.

If the rs232 connection -does- test out OK, you can 
play with the LX200 command set as described in Mike's
Tech Info pages.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	 Java release...coming soon???
Sent:	Tuesday, October 24, 2000 14:59:09
From:	Rustymax@swbell.net (John Hughston)
I check back to your site and Meade's site at least 1-2 times a week for
any Autostar updates.  I am also keeping an intrested eye on that Java
release that has been "coming soon" for it seems a couple of years now. 
A question if you know the answer.  It is, why doesn't Meade come to the
21st century and have an e-mail address that any company that wants to
build it's business usually has.

John Hughston
Dallas, TX
Mike here: No news on the Java release mentioned on Meade's Autostar Updates web page.

Subject:	 Re:  tracking problems
Sent:	Tuesday, October 24, 2000 13:34:15
From:	horrox@HONet.com (Michael Rathbun)
JasonLaw3@aol.com wrote of Autostar tracking problems.  I have an
ETX-125 and see the identical problem.  Moving an object left in the FOV
with the left arrow key works for an instant, and then the drive cuts in
and moves the object about twice as far to the right.  The only easy way
to center an object in the FOV is to move it completely out of view to
the left and let it drift back in.  Moving an object to the right does
not cause the problem.

This is the case regardless of the degree of care taken to retrain the
motors, and happened both before and after upgrading the firmware in the
Autostar. There are no other obvious problems.

I haven't asked Meade about this yet...

mdr

Subject:	 The ETX/Autostar in EDN Magazine
Sent:	Monday, October 23, 2000 20:28:48
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
On the ETX listbot bulletin board/mailing list  
( etx.listbot.com ),
Matt Foerschler  posted
a note alerting us to an article about the ETX and
Autostar in Electronic Design News magazine (EDN).

The article is available at their website as:
http://www.ednmag.com/ednmag/reg/2000/10122000/21hiw2.htm

It really doesn't say much more than the instruction
manual, although i found the gear and encoder ratios 
(in the sidebox at the end) interesting.

--dick

Subject:	 Controlling antennas
Sent:	Sunday, October 22, 2000 22:14:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	mjnimmer@collins.rockwell.com
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site, and have a few comments:

> The Antenna is only a few pounds and well balanced
> over the center of mass.
ahhh... but what's the Moment of Inertia?

and what's "a few"?
The ETX90 has woefully inadequate clamps and gearing
for any sort of torquing load... even hanging a 16 oz
camera on a short tube on the back is too much for it.
Counter balances help, but it your antenna is at all
long, it'll have twisting effects far outweighing its
mass. (let's mix metaphors, shall we?)
The ETX90 barrel may weigh about 4 pounds, but the
"heavy" end is only 4 inches from the Altitude pivot,
and less from the Azimuth pivot if it's tilted up.
The light end is only 7 inches from the pivot.
I can easily cause either of my clutches to slip (hence
blowing the feedback, since it's taken from the motor
shaft, not the final drive).

You -might- employ a technique shown at

people.txucom.net/bedair/Autostar.html

where he uses Ford Taurus electric window drives as
his final gearing... allowing MUCH heavier loads to
be easily handled by the ETX's drive machanisms.
(and he buys the cheaper DS-series as a starting point).

If you read Mike's archives, you'll meet scores of tales
of seld-destructing Alt drive mechanisms, and that's 
from normal no-extra-load useage.
Jordan Blessing's ability to sell an all-aluminum final
 drive replacement for $60 is an example of how much
the customer base has to fight the problem.

good luck,
please keep us posted it you try it
--dick
And more:
Subject:	 a tad more...
Sent:	Sunday, October 22, 2000 22:58:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Mark, 
from your follow-up note:

> When you say repeatable and precision, do you mean that the ETX base
> will drift?   Once it is aligned, can it do 1-2 degree in the
> horizontal? 
> Does the base rotate forever or is it -180 deg to +180 deg? 
> If there are 'stops' does it hurt the unit to align to the stops,
> assuming the base was secured and unmoving?

In normal ETX90 operation, i slew across the sky to probably a dozen
objects an hour, if not more.  The ETX system is easily capable of
 1/4 degree repeatable accuracy after 180 degree swings, 
both in Az and Alt.
Unit-to-unit differences will affect that.  My own has over 3 degrees
of mechanical slop in the Altitude axis, and almost none in Azimuth.

The encoders are 36-vanes on the motor shafts, and the final gear ratio
is 12,320 to one.  Thus there are 4928 encoder pulses per degree, and
the Autostar hears about every one from a PIC chip in the base.

For its star and target tracking/GoTo operations, the Autostar/ETX try
for single arc-minute accuracy. Reality at the end of the mechanical
drive is not usually quite that good, although sometimes it's
stunningly good.
Backlash appears to be merely averaged out, rather than precisly
accounted for depending upon direction of travel and the previous
move's history.
Meade is constantly tweaking their backlash corrections, so different
versions of the firmware will exhibit "better" and "worse" 
characteristics depending upon your particular needs.

The new LX-90 advertises 5 arcminute pointing accuracy.

The new ETX60, ETX70 and (future) LX-90 do NOT have Az rotational
limit stops.

The older ETX90 and ETX125 do.  The older units can spin 360+270
degrees from stop to stop.  The typical astro user sets the CCW stop
to Az 240, and the Autostar software avoids slewing beyond 270 (CCW)
 and 90 (CW) a turn-and-a-half later.  So, if you've already swung a
full 360 from the CCW stop, and then swing an additional 180 degrees
(you're now pointing NE), and -then- ask the Autostar to [goto] a
point at Az 100 (ESE), it'll take the long way around
(i.e. swing 300-odd degrees CCW instead of 60 degrees CW).

*Manual* (and rs232-directed) slewing -can- be done directly to the
 stops. Usually (note armwave) damage is NOT done by "hitting the
 stops", but, as noted, you'll completely uncalibrate the Autostar's
 knowledge of the pointing angle.

Another contender in the drivable-drives market is the Celestron
 NexStar-5. It also does not have Azimuth limit stops (well, it's 
optional if you want to warn it about connecting cables).
 It theoretically has a *much* better mechanical drive assembly.
Like the Autostar, it can be directed from an external PC.
  They also have their problems, fan sites exist at:
http://www.koessel.com/nexstar/
http://www.egroups.com/group/nexstar

another unbiased comparison (with covers-off photos!) is at:
home.att.net/~celestron/125n5.htm

Conversly, unlike the Autostar, the Nexstar's controller is
firmware-in-ROM.
So updates and bug fixes require hardware replacement from Celestron.
The Autostar can be downloaded, and in some cases self-patched to
address specific problems or add features.  
I've done this for myself and other folks.

good luck on the project
--dick

Subject:	tracking problems
Sent:	Friday, October 20, 2000 22:24:27
From:	JasonLaw3@aol.com
Mike, thanks for running this great site. The information provided is an
oasis.  Here's my problem...I own an Etx-125.  I do an easy align, and
then the scope find an object.  Almost 100% of the time, the scope gets
the object (say its Jupiter or Saturn) in my view finder.  I then use
the arrow keys on the autostar controller to get the object centered in
the eye piece.  The telescope, however, does not track the object
properly, and within a matter of seconds the object is out of the eye
piece.  Interestingly enough, the scope will track the object at a
consistent distance out of my eye piece.  Repeated attempts to center
the object in the eye piece only leads to the same problem.  I have
tried doing a "sync", only to have the same thing happen.  Please help
with any suggestions to avoid this problem.  Thank you very much.  Jason
Mike here: Any time the Autostar is not performing as it should, retraining the drives seems to cure most problems (until the next time). Other things to check include your location and mount type.

Subject:	 re: slewing problems...
Sent:	Friday, October 20, 2000 22:17:25
From:	sammarsh@pacbell.net (Sam Marsh)
I just got the 497 controller for my 125... when i first started using
the system to align in the Alt/Az mode i noticed that the drive would
runaway in the Az clockwise direction not stoping until it reached the
'physical' stop.... then still trying to go anyway!!!! well i followed
the posted suggestion about re-training the drives and 'presto' runaway
slewing is no more!

another vote for the fix.

P.S. any word as to when Meade will release a Win2K compatible version
of the updater? i've tried to replace all the DLL's it calls to try to
work around it... no luck (I knwo about the VMWare solution...it works
but it's obviously not THE solution..

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC with Autostar
Sent:	Friday, October 20, 2000 20:16:25
From:	ken_roe2@hotmail.com (Kenneth Nicholson)
I recently noticed my telescope pointing west when the stars are in the
east and vice-versa, even with easy alignment it goes west when it
should go east.It also tells me stars are below the horizon when I can
plainly see them about 30 degrees above the horision.It seems to find
Polaris OK. I have reset my autostar and recalibrated the motors with no
affect.I have used this setup for over a year without noticing this
problem until today.Would anybody know what might cause this and how to
correct it?
  Ken
Mike here: I assume you have checked the date/time/DST/location/mount settings. If these are all still correct, you should not be seeing the problem.

Subject:	 re: controlling the Autostar from a PC
Sent:	Thursday, October 19, 2000 18:43:12
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	xmcvs@free.fr
Hi...

I saw your note on Mike's site.

If you check 
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html

(scroll down the page) 
you will find the complete list of the LX-200
commands the Autostar understands.

As of v2.0h, the only change is that the control-B
no longer enters the debugger.

An additional note: the :Qx# commands do not work
correctly.  They stop the :Mx# motion 90 degrees
away.
Therefore a :Qe#  stops a :Mn#, 
 a :Qs# stops a :Me#, and so on around the circle.

The :Q# does stop all :MA# motion, but not :MS#
motion.  Using any :Mn/e/s/w# command kills the
sidereal drive... and no LX200 command will re-start
it.  It can only be restarted by [goto] on the Autostar.

I have posted patches to the firmware v2.0h which 
improves or corrects a number of the above problems.

I recommend that you send specific requests to
engineer@meade.com to keep them aware of your,
their customer, needs.

good luck with your project.
--dick

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, October 19, 2000 11:01:18
From:	mjnimmer@collins.rockwell.com
I am working on a little side project, where we are trying to point a
small directional Antenna toward a mobile transmitter.  I suggested that
we try to use the base from a Meade ETX telescope and replace the scope
with the Antenna. The Antenna is only a few pounds and well balanced
over the center of mass.(similar to the scope, I think.   From your
experience with the scope, do you have any suggestions or comments?  I
have never actually used one myself.   We intend to control its
direction with serial commands from a Web based control page.(mix n some
linux, a sprinkle of Java and some serial port modules)    So mostly I
am asking your impression of the drive mechanism it self, does it seem
cheaply done, or will it last  a while and stand up to the elements?

Also are the base units from the ETX -60 and ETX-70 the same as with the
90EC? that would be cheaper still.   I did read somewhere that you can
plug the serial port directly into the base of those,and not even use
the autostar hand held controller(desired for our use).  We thought
about going with the LX200 base, but it is much more bulky and
expensive, I hope you will tell me that it would me overkill.

I would appreciate any thoughts,

Mark Nimmer
Mike here: Interesting project. I suppose you could use one of the ETX bases and the LX200 command set. Depending upon the pointing accuracy you need, the ETX could do the job. But it you need repeatable, precision pointing, it is probably not accurate enough. If you don't plan on enclosing the system, I doubt that the base and electronics would survive a really damp environment over time.

Added later:

Thanks for your comments, Mike.  I did have one followup question if you
don't mind.

When you say repeatable and precision, do you mean that the ETX base
will drift?   Once it is aligned, can it do 1-2 degree in the
horizontal? Does the base rotate forever or is it -180 deg to +180 deg? 
If there are 'stops' does it hurt the unit to align to the stops,
assuming the base was secured and unmoving?
Mike here: Since the gears are not precision gears, you will get some minor variability, probably in the range you indicate. There are hard stops that prevent the rotation of the base but it is greater than 360 degrees so back and forth should not a problem. You just won't be able to continuously move in one direction.

Subject:	 The Mac G4/450 DP / USB-to-serial / ETX-90EC / Virtual PC "conundrum" revisted
Sent:	Wednesday, October 18, 2000 10:25:03
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
or "How I Spent My Waking Hours Worrying about the Bomb"

Hi, Mike --

Just a quick note. I FINALLY found a couple of minutes to play around
with VirtualPC on my new Mac G4/450 DP (with the USB ports and without
the old 8-pin DIN serial ports). Seems that I have been worried about
nothing. Running the older version of VPC 2.1.3 (that DOES NOT
supposedly support USB), I was STILL able to run the latest Autostar
updater and talk to the handbox!!! What I'm assuming is that the driver
for the Keyspan USB-to-serial adapter is taking care of the handshaking
problem. So, as far as I'm concerned, I now know that everything works
(and that the newer VPC 3.0.x is NOT required to perform any handbox
updates).

Now, the only thing to do is sit back and wait (and wait, and wait, and
wait, and . . . ) for Meade's next Autostar update. It's been 7 months
since the last updater -- with Meade's quarterly profit share reports
showing business is zooming through the roof, hopefully they've spent
enough money to make the next update a humdinger. (yeah, umm, right!)

Take care, clear skies

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net

p.s. -- Saw Uranus through a 16" scope a couple months ago; saw Uranus
through my ETX-90EC last week. Let's see now, where did I leave my
checkbook?   ;-)

Subject:	 show me the way to go home !!
Sent:	Monday, October 16, 2000 12:44:26
From:	afrisina@yahoo.com (Tony Frisina)
hi mike.. yea, i know the next line !!anyway, i have
had good luck with the daisy max view i mentioned
earlier. put the dot on jupiter , saturn, and the moon
and saw them fine with the 28mm and the barlow . have
not been able to get results with the 9mm. however,
that's not my problem. homeing the scope is !!
here's what i did

1.placed delux tripod w/N leg facing north. 
2.mounted etx90ec with 2 leg mounting locations on
either side of N.
3. rotated scope ccw till it hit stop.
4. rotated scope cw until dial with numbers is over
control panel. that's not even 180 degrees and the
scope is now facing north also.
This is the problem, if i was to pivot the scope as in
polar alignment, the scope would point at the ground.
Nothing there i want to see !!if I rotate the scope
180d cw it would now be pointing south , but i then
could point the scope up towards polaris. 
only problem is 
i would now have to rotate everything so the 
n leg would be pointing south. I am in NY state !!
I have yet to try the alt/az alignment cause of this
problem. If any of this makes sense, please help... thanks
Mike here: It sounds like you are trying for Polar mode but the step you are missing is to put the ETX at 90 degrees DEClination. In this position, the ETX will be pointed towards Polaris (in the Northern Hemisphere).

Subject:	 Hi mike
Sent:	Monday, October 16, 2000 08:59:56
From:	xmcvs@free.fr (Vincent STEINMETZ)
I'm writing some software to control DS scope from PC.

It seem that DS autostar don't recognize RG# command

1 has someone info about it ?

2 does ETX recognize this command ?
if you can move at guide rate from software, with NSEW arrows it does !

3 Fooey, why do meade people not implement this function: without it is
impossible a track a star using a CCD or Webcam

Thank you for helping!

8-)

Vincent STEINMETZ
xmcvs@free.fr

Subject:	 Epoch 2000
Sent:	Sunday, October 15, 2000 10:57:16
From:	tmort@pacbell.net (THOMAS E. MORTON)
I recently purchased a ETX 125EC and I also acquired the Epoch 2000
software.  I would like to know which of the protocols to use under the
telescope protocol menu.  The only choices are none, LX 200 and LX
200(remote).  Should I try to update the software or will it work with
the LX 200 setting?  Thanks for your help.
Tom Morton, tmort@pacbell.net
Mike here: It might work for some things in the LX200 mode.

Subject:	ETX lover here, hiya - and thanks!
Sent:	Sunday, October 15, 2000 06:56:28
From:	NikonExpert@aol.com
What a nice site for us ETX lovers. I have a problem with my autostar,
497, 2.01. The clock seems to be off exactly 40 mins (fast). If I go to
event, check the sun set/rise, or moon set/rise, it shows 40 minutes
later than the actual time. Yep, the location, time, date and so on are
correctly set. I am new to your site, any reply email would be nice,
since I am not moving around on the forum to well yet. I will spend lots
of time on your site, thanks. Charles
Mike here: I believe there had been some reports of these times being off; I forget how long ago and which Autostar software version. Have you seen any other discrepancies, like the Autostar being consistently 40 minutes of Right Ascension off when GOTOing?

Added later:

I am new to this, and cant report any success. It does not "goto"
anything I ask it to. I am hoping that if I enter my time minus 40 mins,
it will be OK and start finding stuff.  Any suggestions or things you
suggest to try would be appreciated.
Mike here: You mean the scope doesn't slew to anywhere in the sky, regardless of the object you select? Have you tried following any of the tips on the Autostar Information page?

And:

Oh yes sir, it goes, but misses its mark. I plan to carefully re-train
the scope, and carefully align again tonight. I will set the clock
40minutes slow, since it shows +40 on all the events I have ask of it
(sun rise/set, moon ditto). But yes sir, it slew's, beeps - but misses
its mark.
Mike here: Retraining, rechecking your location, and Daylight Savings Time setting, are good ideas.

And finally (for now):

There is no question that I have the location, and daylight savings
correct. Plus, I enter the time exact too. But, it still is showing 40
minutes added to the sunset or sunrise / moonset and moonrise. I will
change the time, subtracting 40 mins and try it, then if that wont work
I will add 40 minutes, and see what happens. I will let you know. It is
cloudy tonight, but I will do it ASAP.  Chas.

Subject:	 Autostar information..
Sent:	Friday, October 13, 2000 14:55:47
From:	goran.thisell@sentec.se (Gran Thisell)
Well its another cloudy night.
Have done everything now with my new ETX 90 but star gazing...
1. Downloaded the latest Prom version "h"
2. Read through all terrifying user reports on broken knobs, slipping
handles et.c
3. Read about how to repair and improve the horrible backlash, that I (also)
have..
4. Decided to go "EQ" and went back to the shop, bougth the super tripod.
5. Decrypted Meades manual, and pretends i have found altair (still
cloudy..) in polar mode.
6. Has gone through the Autostar a lot, found that one can adjust from
siderial rate...
7. Prepared to find the cel. eq. A good place is
http://www.rpb.mcmail.com/finder.html

They have used ETXs two finders as examples. What strikes me is that the
Ursa Major probably is not even visible in my 28mm ocular when properly
polar aligned.

(I really would like som clear skies now, had a quick look the first
night through clouds when I bought it 2 weeks ago...)

Hi
Joe

Subject:	 New user / Upgrading firmware...
Sent:	Thursday, October 12, 2000 16:46:44
From:	goran.thisell@sentec.se (Gran Thisell)
It still cloudy outside so I decided to try to "upgrade" my Autostar Prom
1. Downlodaed "Update 2.1"
2. Downloaded the latest?? "autostar.ROM"
Now in "statistics" it says ver 2.0H, (before it said 2.0G)

Seems to work fine, had though to enter my site info again.

What has changed?

Joe
Mike here: The help or readme file has some info on changes from version to version. As I recall, the only thing that changed in h or i had something to do with a foreign language.

Subject:	 Fw: Autostar and NOT-SO-COLD Temperatures.
Sent:	Tuesday, October 10, 2000 01:07:55
From:	tpmiles@bellsouth.net (Tony Miles)
Tonight I finally got to test out the new Autostar 497 that Meade sent
me last week. And I have to say that I'm quite happy with its
performance. This marks the first night every that my ETX and I were
able to hit every target within the FOV of the 26mm eyepiece. It was
around 30-32 degrees tonight. The Autostar never experienced any
blanking out or wash-out even after one and half hours of use. The only
problem I did notice was that when text would scroll by on the Autostar
it was slightly hard to read. I figure that adjusting the scroll speed
will correct that minor inconvenience.

Funny thing is I finally get the ETX to work flawlessly just after
buying a brand new LX200. More than likely when the LX200 gets here,
I'll be selling off my ETX and accessories. Go figure!

Take care.

Subject:	 What version of Autostar software?
Sent:	Sunday, October 8, 2000 13:16:10
From:	pol@alaska.net (Paul Loughman)
I just received my #497 Autostar Computer Controller. I've read the
manual, but no where does it describe (or identify) what version of the
software it is running.

How do I determine which version it is loaded with, so I'll know what
update (if any) I'll need to download and install form the Meade site?

Thank you.

--
Paul O. Loughman
Mike here: When you power on the Autostar you will see (briefly the short version number). To check the full version more leisurely, go to the Statistics menu.

Subject:	 Autostar trap
Sent:	Saturday, October 7, 2000 20:51:25
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
After having my current Autostar for the better part of 6 months with no
difficulty [my first one was replaced after it started to blank out in
cold weather], tonight the unit locked up on me with the display "Proc
Trap 2". I was looking at Jupiter at the time, it was one of the first
fairly cold nights and I had been out for about 2 hours when this
happened.  From what I can tell by what's posted in the Autostar
Information folder, there really isn't any fix for this you have to just
turn off and re-start.  Hopefully I won't have this problem again.  Just
wonder if colder than usual temperatures were a factor.

TEB
Mike here: I doubt that the error was due to the cold. I've had it occur once here in Southern California.

Subject:	 Meade 4504 bozo message
Sent:	Friday, October 6, 2000 18:46:29
From:	hacksaw@attglobal.net (David Lucas)
I also have a Meade 4504 that I purchased at Costco last week.  I
unfortunately did not get in on the $50 coupon deal.  I also got a
surprise I didn't expect.  When using the Starfinder (Autostar) handheld
controller, the digital display goes solid "on" (all display dots are
lit) immediately after the "initializing" message.  In fact, it appears
to be a contrast problem, as the display can still be read if one halds
the display at a slight angle from straight ahead.  Anyway, the display
is scrolling a message about not looking at the sun and not looking
through the 'scope while it is moving.  The message continues to display
that if the warning has been read and understood, the "5" key is to be
pressed.  However, there is no "5" key on the controller.  I have
pressed all of the controller keys in various patterns and sequences,
but I can't get beyond the message.  I can, however, get the word "bozo"
to display if I press the SPEED/? key.  It's not "6020", either.  It's
"bozo", all in lower case.  I have called Meade support twice (on my
dime).  They supposedly sent me a new handheld controller and they want
me to return the defective one.  The new controller has yet to show up.
I thought Meade would be doing a little more to make the situation
right, perhaps even sending me the controller via FedEx.  I guess I'll
take the damn thing back to Costco and stick with my non-EC ETX-90.  My
questions:  Has anyone ever seen this "bozo" message problem before.
Also, is Meade typically this lax on their quality control and customer
service?  To me, their attitude has been almost cavalier.

Subject:	 Re: Autostar and NOT-SO-COLD Temperatures.
Sent:	Wednesday, October 4, 2000 14:48:09
From:	tpmiles@bellsouth.net (Tony Miles)
Well, last month I wrote to yall about a problem I was having with my
Autostar 497. After about 10-15 minutes of use in around 50 degree
nighttime temperature, the screen would either blank out or wash out in
red. From what I have read on this website this was a common problem
others had been experiencing.

So, I decided to do a little experimenting with Meade Customer Service.
I wrote Meade a letter explaining my problem. I waited a few weeks later
and then I called them.

For the letter I wrote I got a response that stated basically that there
had been some issues with the Autostar being sensitive to changes in
temperature. The temperature change only affected the Contrast Setting
of the screen, nothing else. This could be solved with adjusting the
contrast in the Utilities menu prior to have the problem occur. This
seemed to eliminate the problem with the screen blanking.

When I called Meade, the customer service guy stated he hadn't heard of
any problems with the Autostar being affected by temperature changes. He
thought the best thing to do was to send me a new Autostar and for me to
return my old one to them.

Well, I just received my new Autostar today (only took four days to get
here to Georgia from California). I will see if this Autostar has the
same problem as my old one.

I'll keep you posted....
Seeya,
Tony

Subject:	 Revisiting USB on the Mac G4/450 DP
Sent:	Monday, October 2, 2000 12:29:50
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Just a point of interest. I fiddled with some settings this morning and
successfully (yeah!!) connected the ETX-90EC to the Keyspan
USB-to-serial adapter. Using Starry Night Pro 3.1 and the Info-Genie
plug-in, I could both slew the scope to any location centered on screen
in SNPro -and- follow within SNPro any point the scope was pointing to
using the Autostar handbox. Sooo, it can be done.

My only last task is being able to update the Autostar using VirtualPC
(or SoftWindows). This exercise will remain left to the "writer" as soon
as he can find a spare hour or two (or three).

Take care and clear skies,

Stan Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net

p.s. -- my wife and I are planning to go to the Sequoia's next week and
the ETX is definitely coming with -- either the trees will be in the
way, or they all got burned down in the last fire  :-(

Subject:	 Re:HELP
Sent:	Saturday, September 30, 2000 18:47:02
From:	nmackenzie@seaside.net (Neil Mackenzie)
Hey Brian I was wondering which part of the fork arm do you have over
the control panel?Because you should turn it so the fork arm with the
numbers is over the control panel (about 3/8 of a turn) Hopefully this
will solve yor problem!
Stuart

Subject:	 Refraction Correction
Sent:	Saturday, September 30, 2000 12:37:00
From:	H.Ebrahimi@kermaniran.com (Hassan Ebrahimi)
When I say my ETX90 to GoTo an object it slews to it and starts tracking
it with a constant rate but it seems that because the program does not
account for refraction of light in Earth's atmosphere the object slides
up the visor in low altitudes especially under 10 degrees.

Does other more professional telescopes like LX200 compensate for
refraction when tracking low objects.

Thank you.
Hassan Ebrahimi 

Subject:	 Re: Help
Sent:	Friday, September 29, 2000 22:39:10
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
To:	kahunadad@earthlink.net
Hi, Brian:

you stated on Mike Weasner's website:

I 
tilt the tripod head to 41 degrees (I live in Toledo Ohio) level the
tripod and start autostar.  I then select say a star, hit enter, then go
to.....the scope starts to slew (counterclockwise) trying to get around
to the star and hits the hard stop before it gets there.  thats
it....any ideas......


Just from what you state above, it sounds like you go right into a GOTO procedure after turning on the Autostar without doing an alignment first. Is that what you're doing? You need to enter the date, time, daylight savings? mode, and then perform either a two-star Easy Align or a one-star align BEFORE you can begin to do GOTO's. It's also important that you have the site location set correctly (for Toledo, Ohio).

I'm also not quite following you when you say you "tilt the tripod head to 41 degrees level the tripod and start autostar."  If you're operating in Alt/Az mode (which is best for beginners) the base of the ETX should be level with the ground (i.e, the tripod pan head should be level) and the ETX optical tube should be parallel to the ground. Nothing should be pointing at a 41 degree angle when you turn the power on.

Also, there's been a question as to whether the control panel should be facing east or west; but if we assume the control panel is facing west and you turn the ETX base counterclockwise until you hit the stop and THEN turn the scope clockwise until the fork sits directly over the control panel, you should only have turned CW about 135 degrees.

Wanna try it again?

Good luck and clear skies,

Stan  Glaser
stantstk@pacbell.net


Subject:	 re: Help (ETX/Autostar)
Sent:	Friday, September 29, 2000 20:27:35
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	kahunadad@earthlink.net
Hi, Brian...

I saw your note on Mike's stie, and hope I may be able to help...

I've even had what you report happen!

The -first- thing to try is to tell the Autostar to Calibrate 
the motors  (-not- Train Drive)
Plug it all together, and turn it on.  Answer the Date/time/daylight.
You're now facing Align/Easy.
Push [mode]
You're now facing Setup/Align
Push scroll-down (the [v] key on the lower right of the keypad)
 four times.  
You're now facing  Setup/Telescope
Push [enter]
You're now facing Telescope/Telescope Model
Psu the scroll-up key ([^]) twice.
You should now see:  Telescope/Calibrate Motor
Press [enter]
The ETX should slew a little to the right, and then a little up.

You've just told it to spin the motors, and to read-back how many
 "ticks" the encoders see for the spin.
Sometimes (very, very rarely) that value will get corrupted,
 and the Autostar will therefore have a very wrong idea of how
 far to spin the base to achieve a target
(for those of you who'd prefer to -test- that situation,
 get to the Align/Easy screen, press [mode] to escape it,
 press-and-hold[mode] for three seconds, release.
 You should now be seeing the RA/Dec screen.
Press scroll-down [v] once, yo'll see the Alt/Az screen.
Using the big slew keys, press the --> key to rotate a known 
amount (one or two hours on the RA scale on the base of the ETX).
Each hour is 15 degrees.  Did the Az readout agree?
If it did not read anywhere -near- 15 degrees per "hour" of rotation,
 your Calibration is probably incorrect (or you've been playing with
 the Az. Encoder Ratio setting... naughty, naughty!).

Now, there are other possible sources of Brian's problem.
From his paragraph:
> ...spin it counter clockwise till it stops then back clockwise till
>the arm is over the control panel) and point it due north 
>  I tilt the tripod head to 41 degrees (I live in Toledo Ohio)
>  level the tripod and start autostar.
First thing: DOES IT WORK IN ALT/AZ???
Is the Telescope Mount set correctly? 
(Setup>Telescope>TelescopeMount, use scroll-up to see "Alt/Az",
 press [enter])
If you are tilting your tripod, then you need that to be in Polar.
(i have to ask... some folks don't realize you've got to tell the
scope you're planning to tilt its world on it)

>  I then select say a star, hit enter, then goto.....
Whoa!!!   DID YOU EVER ALIGN IT???
You never said so!

If you aligned it, did the alignment go OK?

> the scope starts to slew (counterclockwise) trying to get around
> to the star and hits the hard stop before it gets there.  thats
> it....any ideas......
Details, please, Details:
What star? where was that star in the sky? was the slew in the
correct direction for the shortest path to that star?

Do the SLEW keys work in the correct direction(s)?
  <-- is CCW,  --> is CW

Brian also said (referring to setting the stops):
> [the control panel] is on the west side.  When I turn it clockwise
>  from the Hard stop I am turning it maybe 180 degrees....
> maybe a little more maybe a little less
hmmm... my hard stop is at about 8 o'clock, if viewed from above.
Hence my turn-to-north is only about 120 degrees (1/3rd circle).

Is your CW hard stop one-and-a-half turns CW? 
 Mine is at about 4 o'clock (viewed from above, North is 12 o'clock)

more details, please...
(or reports on whether Calibration worked).
good luck
--dick

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