Last updated: 29 September 2000

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

Subject:	 Re: Interface with G4/450
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2000 23:38:49
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
To:	jimwilkins@compuserve.com
Hi, Jim --
In regard to your question about interfacing the G4/450 with the ETX --
I wanted to add something to Mike's answer, because I just purchased a
DP G4/450 about two weeks ago and I'm still having problems.

First, I'm assuming you already own the ETX Interface cable kit (or made
one on your own). It is designed for a 9-pin D-type serial connector for
the PC, not the Mac (at least not any of the latest Macs with either
8-pin DIN or USB connectors). My old computer had the 8-pin DIN
connector, and I had already made a 9-pin D-type to 8-pin DIN adapter
for numerous other devices. The pinout connections for that adapter are
as follows:

9-pin D-type      8-pin DIN
 3 --------------- 4
 5 --------------- 3
 7 --------------- 2
 9 --------------- 5

I had this all working on my PowerCenter Pro 210 (Mac clone), and with
the ETX Interface cable and my adapter I was able to update the AutoStar
handbox (running VirtualPC on the Mac), and also control the ETX
directly with the Info-Genie plug-in to Starry Night Pro.

Having purchased the G4/450 I lost my 8-pin DIN serial port and am now
stuck with two USB ports. I purchased the Keyspan USB-to-Serial adapter
(which provides two 8-pin DIN ports) and have tested it successfully
with an X-10 Powerhouse CP290 RS-232 Computer Interface (which I use to
control the lights, etc. in our house). That interface also has a 9-pin
D-type connector, so with 9-pin-to-8-pin adapter that I made, everything
worked as expected. I was, as you might guess, disappointed when I then
tried to connect the ETX in the same fashion and tried to control it
through Starry Night Pro. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I tried almost
everything (I say "almost" because I'm hoping I'll stumble onto
something that I didn't try). So I still haven't had a successful
handshake between the two devices with that setup.

My other "assumed" problem is updating the Autostar, since I can't even
get the simpler configuration to work (i.e., direct control using SN
Pro). On the PowerCenter, I was using VirtualPC 2.1.2 with expected
results. But VPC 2.x does not support the USB protocol, so it's useless
on the G4/450. I haven't had time to try using VPC 3.x on the G4 (which
claims to support USB) as of this writing.

If you or anyone else has had any success, please e-mail me directly or
to Mike Weasner.

Good luck, Jim (and, as always, the secretary will disavow any knowledge
of your actions -- I just had to say that!!)

Stan Glaser

Subject:	 Autostar Cable Suggestion
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2000 17:45:59
From:	tim@columbia.total-web.net (Tim Sheets)
For those of you still looking for the easiest way to fabricate a cable
for your autostar....

Radio Shack part number 279-998, Handset Quick Connect Moduler Plug.
This plug, in combination with a db9 serial cable makes an easy to
assemble cable, for $4.99 plus tax.  As for the serial cable, I just cut
the end off of an old serial mouse.

Hope this helps.  Tim

Subject:	 Re: Dec motor runs in polar mode
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2000 09:27:27
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
I really believe the Autostar programmers took this into consideration.
That's why I had a declination drive on my old photo-equatorial, even
though it had been permanently pier-mounted and aligned with great care.
While guiding a deep-sky photo for an hour or two (in the days before
CCD's), I would have to "bump" the dec. drive with the guiding joystick
every so often. In the case of the ETX, the Autostar does the bumping.

Subject:	 Autostar updates on a Mac?
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2000 07:49:52
From:	ade2000@mac.com (Ade Ashford)
I have an iMac DV with the Keyspan USB > serial adaptor, MacOS 9.04 and
VirtualPC v3.03 (I also have VirtualPC v2.13 on the machine).

I wish to upload updates to my Autostar using VirtualPC, but I was
wondering if you knew of a dealer selling an Autostar > Mac serial cable

Any help or suggestions gratefully received.

Clear skies,


P.S. The ETX site just keeps on getting better!
http://www.macmad.co.uk - Lat/Long 52.7N 1.2E - iMacDV and MP2Ku owner
Thinking PDA? Think 'Newton' - 'Now Everyone Wishes They Owned NewtOS'
Mike here: Don't know of anyone selling a specific Mac cable but there are adapters. I use the adapter that came with one of my digital cameras. Works great. You could also build your own cable using the info on the Autostar Information page.

Added later:

I found a DB-9 to Mac mini8 cable with my Olympus digital camera! Thanks for
your patient advice. Had I been more attentive I would've seen the
following: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_mac.html.

Subject:	 Dec motor runs in polar mode
Sent:	Wednesday, September 27, 2000 00:45:17
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
Regarding Phil Towers's puzzlement over the dec motor running in polar
mode [Autostar Feedback, 26 September], isn't this just the Autostar
compensating for less-than-perfect polar alignment? I use only alt/az
myself, but it seems to me that if the AS can create a virtual polar
mount in alt/az mode it can also make occasional declination adjustments
while IN polar mode, no? Only with perfect PHYSICAL polar alignment
(that is, with the scope's R.A. axis absolutely parallel to the Earth's
axis) would the dec motor never run.

Bill Collins
Mike here: If you tell the Autostar it is in Polar mode, then it shouldn't know that it needs to make adjustments. But I suppose the software could have been written to use the alignment data to make slight adjustments. If so, that is a good feature by Meade.

Subject:	 an observing report...and a thank you to Meade
Sent:	Sunday, September 24, 2000 21:08:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
If you troll through the archives of Mike's site, you'll frequently read
postings of mine picking at  ETX and Autostar bugs. Well, there are
times when it gets it *just right*. This evening was one of them...

This evening i popped out on my deck, ETX90 in hand, to try and catch
Mercury.  The Seattle western horizon was ablaze with streaks of mare's
tails glowing red from the sunset.

I did my usual setup, thanks to using Park to put it to sleep. Aim at
local North landmark, power up, give it the time, and [goto] Venus.  It
swept around and pointed at the clouds. Thru the viewfinder i could see
it was about a degree high of Venus (dimly perceived through the
clouds), and a little to one side. But i'm used to that. I moved the
tripod a bit to correct the Az centering. I waited the minute after the
beep, and indeed, it crept down and brought the planet to within 1/4
degree of dead center. So i selected Mercury, and it dropped a bit, and
swung north. I waited.  It beeped, the motors gurgled to themselves for
a while, and i was left staring at pink bands of clouds, with the local
horizon just below the 26mm's field of view. So i waited, watching the
colors gradually change. The sky darken. I periodically peeked into the
eyepiece, and checked the viewfinder. And finally... there it was.. a
faint, brighter piece of the pink.

Mercury is a sufficiently rare object, and i've got a number of personal
memories tied to seeing it (eclipses in Africa, clear evenings
discovering it shining), that it's one of my touchstone objects, and
warms my heart to see it.

It never fully escaped from the clouds... but continued to be easily
visible through the eyepiece. Never the viewfinder.  And the ETX
followed it down.  As it neared the horizon (some 4000-foot hills, about
50 miles away), i believe it began to show the refractive effect of the
atmosphere, and began to lag behind the ETX's center of view. Not
much... less than 1/5th of a degree, but perceptibly. The horizon line
crossed the center of the field of view, but Mercury was still above it.
Then it hit the distant trees, silhouetting the top of the one which
finally swallowed it.  The ETX burbled on.

I peeled myself from the eyepiece, and looked to where it had gone. The
horizon was still faintly visible, back lit by the darkening, but still
pink, clouds.

I looked for Venus... it wasn't visible.  I told the ETX to [goto] it.
At the sound of the beep, it appeared in the viewfinder, again about a
degree low.  Thirty seconds later the drive changed its sound and Venus
was dragged up to the crosshairs, and centered in the eyepiece. The
Autostar predicted planet-set in about 20 minutes, so i came indoors to
start writing this.  After a bit, i went back out. Venus was now shining
like an aitplane's landing lights beneath the clouds.  I dashed back in
to show my wife the sight.  Then back out to follow Venus down. Much to
my surprise, it was going to be setting a bit North of where Mercury had
gone down.  It was heading towards the middle slopes of a 6000-foot
mountain, about 40 miles away.  Since it was higher, it didn't appear to
be showing the refractive lagging that Mercury had shown, about a
third-degree lower. Then it surprised me... green flares began rising
from Venus's bright top.  A red arc appeared hugging its lower limb. As
you probably know, the sun can show green flares if viewed setting over
the ocean in the proper conditions.  I've watched a lot of sunsets, but
have yet to catch a flare. Now here was Venus, putting on a
Olympic-torch-class display. The show continued as it traversed the
final fifth of a degree to the treeline. Where it pulled the final two
aces from its sleeve... First, it passed directly behind a tree... Venus
was large enough to -fully- silhouette the tree.  Another flare
flickered above it. Then it disappeared... and then winked back.. one
tiny flash from far within the wall of trees, flickering between the
branches, or tree-gap.  Then it was truly gone.

I stepped back, and looked up at the darkening skies and emerging stars.
 Arcturus was beckoning higher up, the Big Dipper was showing more stars
than usually are seen two hours later here in-city.

But i've had my dose of beauty for the night... mayhaps four of them.
And i'd like to thank the folks at Meade who put those sights before my
eyes.  Sure, any ol' motor-drive could've done it. Any ol' careful
setup. But in this instance, it was the ease of plopping the scope on
the deck, aiming at the neighbor's chimney, turning it on and saying
[goto] that made it an enjoyable, effortless breeze.  That made it
casually achieveable during a busy afternoon.


Subject:	 Interface with G4/450
Sent:	Saturday, September 23, 2000 13:39:12
From:	jimwilkins@compuserve.com (Jim Wilkins)

What cable do you use to interface with your Mac?  I have a G4/450 that
I'd like to interface with an Autostar for my ETX-90.  I have USB-SCSI
adapters, etc., but I'm lost as to what cable to buy?

Mike here: The Autostar cable is a serial cable so you'll need a USB-RS232 converter or a PCI serial card.

Added later:

Is it that simple?  I had assumed that since it was a PC cable, the
pinouts would be different or something.
Mike here: The converters handle the protocol differences as well as the pinout differences.

Subject:	 Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, September 24, 2000 01:19:37
From:	phil.towers1@virgin.net (Phil Towers)
I downloaded the latest firmware from Meade to upgrade from my original
1.3. version. Everythings fine BUT!, I now get the dec motor running now
and again.The mount is in polar mode so I assume once the scope has
slewed to an object the dec motor should stop, and the R.A. drive should
start tracking.I would like to hear if anyone else has had this
Cheers Phil. 
P.S. Great web site
Mike here: Normally, the DEC motor should not run in Polar mode. Is tracking accurate? If not, check that the Autostar is set for Polar and that your latitude is correct.

Subject:	 Meade ETX Astrostar Update Software & Windows 2000
Sent:	Thursday, September 21, 2000 10:17:09
From:	jscherer@zhone.com (John Scherer)
I have a pentium 400 Mhz Laptop which I run Windows 2000 professional
on.  I ran into a problem  with Windows 2000 and Meade's update software
for the ETX Astrostar.  It won't run!  Not even for a second.

Not sure if anyone else has reported this problem but it sure makes it
hard for me to do an upgrade.  Now I have to bring everything into work
just to have access to a computer with Windows 98.

BTW Mike,  Great, no Awesome site!


John Scherer
Mike here: That's true (as reported on the June 2000 Autostar Feedback). However, see the Autostar Information page for a workaround.

Subject:	 Back to the USB issue...
Sent:	Tuesday, September 19, 2000 11:02:04
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Well, as luck would have it, two weeks ago my PowerCenter Pro 210 (Mac
Clone) finally bit the dust -- as of this moment, still don't know
what's wrong with it, but screen remained black, hard disk and CD-ROM
would not boot, intermittent startup bong. Basically, a SOHO owner's
nightmare. I needed to get up and running in a hurry, and I'd been
scoping out the new Mac G4's for over 6 months, so I dived in and bought
a Dual Processor Mac G4/450. Screamer!!! This baby is F-A-S-T, even
without the second processor kicking in (I'm waiting for OS X and all
the software upgrade stuff that's sure to follow).

When buying the new system, I also needed to get a USB-to-Serial adapter
and opted for the Keyspan. So far, the things I've tested on that
adapter have worked, but I haven't gotten around to testing the ETX yet.
My first test will be to see if Starry Night Pro will send commands to
the Autostar.

But, I did a check on your site and found a message from Tom:

refer to
Subject:         Autostar Update
Sent:   Friday, January 21, 2000 08:46:27
From:   katetom@znet.com (Kate Lister)

wherein he states that he can't even get VirtualPC 3.0 to run on his G4
system. I was running VirtualPC 2.x on the PowerCenter Pro and was able
to do Autostar updates. Without doing much experimenting yet and without
trying a reinstall, I haven't been able to get VPC 2.x to run on my new
G4. And I'm starting to wonder that if I ever do, will I be able to tap
into that USB-to-serial adapter successfully. I know that VPC 3.0 (which
I don't have yet) touts itself as having USB control, but if it doesn't
even run on a G4, then who cares.

I know you just got yourself a new G4/450, too -- but I think you said
you'd still use your older PPC model if you did an Autostar update (I'm
assuming on a test device since you own an -RA model). Since my old
computer is kaput, I don't have that option (at least at the moment). We
haven't seen any Autostar updates since 03/07/00 anyway, and promises
from Meade have all fallen through. And the Java-enabled updater thats
"coming real soon now" -- ha, that's a laugh.

Any NEW insights from anybody having a G4 model with only USB connectors
and an Autostar handbox that needs updating would be greatly

Take care and clear skies,

Stan Glaser
Mike here: I do run VPC 3.0.3 on my G4/450 and it works fine. I don't use any USB devices from it however and can't attest to what happens with the Keyspan converter and VPC. And yes, I still use the 8500/G3/300 with the Autostar.

Subject:	 PC control of the electric focusser
Sent:	Tuesday, September 19, 2000 04:28:14
From:	xrr@altern.org (xrr)
First thank you for your site, It has been a great help and Meade should
also thank you (I hope they do :-) ) as your site was also a great
incentive for me to buy an ETX 90EC...

I have a question concerning  the electric focuser for the ETX... I saw
in the LX200 commands list that some commands are used to control the
focusser. I'm wondering if the autostar is able to control the focusser
from a software point of view. I know that you can control the foccuser
from the autostar but I'm wondering if you can do that from a PC hookded
to an autostar using the LX200 commands.

Many thanks,

And a response from our resident Autostar expert:
Subject:	 re: LX200 focussing commands
Sent:	Tuesday, September 19, 2000 09:15:55
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Yes... the Autostar understands and performs the LX200 commands
for focusser controls.
Those are:  :F+#   :F-#   :FQ#   :FF#   :FS#


Subject:	 Autostar and cold
Sent:	Sunday, September 17, 2000 19:06:58
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Just read the note from tpmiles about the autostar blanking in not so
cold termperatures.  I was one of the people who had significant trouble
with this back in the winter months.  I reported the problem to Meade
and they suggested that this was a problem with the electronics in my
particular unit, and not some defect in the Autostar design.  I sent the
Autostar in and about 3 weeks later a new unit showed up.  I've had no
problem since then and it's been approxmately 6 months since the unit
was replaced.  Of course these were spring and summer months.   Hoping
that problems don't show up when its really cold again.

Tom Brown (teb1013@hotmail.com)

Subject:	 Autostar and NOT-SO-COLD Temperatures.
Sent:	Saturday, September 16, 2000 04:33:12
From:	tpmiles@bellsouth.net (Tony Miles)
Well, this morning my Autostar 497 suffered the infamous screen blanking
at cold temps. However, the temperature was not that cold. The low was
around 48 degrees and the blanking took place after about 30 minutes of
use. When it started happening I would have to cut off power to the
scope and turn it back on. However,  it would blank out again before it
would slew to the second alignment star. After several attempts to
realign I decided to take the Autostar in and let it warm up to room
temp. I brought it back outside and kept it in my pocket to keep it warm
between use. No problems when I would do that.

And to think this is only mid-September...looks like I've got a long,
frustrating winter to look forward to...

See ya.
Mike here: Last winter (Northern Hemisphere) there were similar reports. Just something to be aware of for colder climates.

Added later:

Well, I don't know if I consider Atlanta, Georgia a colder climate...but
it's just one of those things to deal with.

Subject:	 Question on Autostar...
Sent:	Friday, September 15, 2000 10:01:04
From:	luca@toth.it (Luca)
I am a novice "Astronomer"....
I've been through your webstie 5 or 6 times and I find it very
informative. But I haven't found the answer to the question I have:

If I install the Autostar Accessory on my ETX90/EC, someone told me that
there is a possibility to make the telescope move automatically from the
computer, just by simply clicking on the stars, comets, ect of interest
on the pc screen; I need to know, is this possible, or is there a modify
that must be done?

Please let me know, or address me to a website that can clear my

Thank you very much and congratulaions on your website!!!!

Mike here: Yes, you can control the ETX from SOME astronomy software packages. Unfortunately, I don't have a definitive list online (anyone want to prepare one?) so it is necessary to read through the Autostar Feedback pages. You can search for "Autostar" and "software", which should limit the search somewhat. If you already have a software package that you like, check with the company that did it and ask if they have an ETX driver or one that will work.

Sent:	Wednesday, September 13, 2000 22:36:04
From:	jburrell@maui.net (Jerry Burrell)
Can you tell me if the autostar works in hawaii? Iv'e heard that because
hawaii is so close to the equator it does not work. 
Sincerly jerry
Mike here: The Autostar should work from Hawaii. Don't know why it wouldn't.

Subject:	 intriguing stuff
Sent:	Wednesday, September 13, 2000 20:51:59
From:	slvrbula@mato.com (Tony Bulat)
I was able to replace my autostar within 10 days, thank to John Piper
and Meade. The new one is version 2.0g, and works great. I tried to
upgrade the autostar to version 2.0h(i), but I don't know if I succeeded
or not. Upon rechecking the version, it still said 2.0g I will attempt
this again as I downloaded again as per Dick Seymor's instructions and
have a different looking product staring me in the face. The download
and attempt to upgrade to version 2.0h(i) went perfectly, the version #
shown on the auto- star remained unchanged. Is this normal? You'll find
this interesting. With my new autostar,I was attempting to enter all the
correct data following startup and initialization. I inserted the
correct coordinates, local time, yes to daylight savings time, properly
alighned and leveled the base, set it up properly in the home position
for "polar" alighnment, did the easy 2 star alighnment, and found myself
10-15 degrees off my intended target (the moon). I checked, and
rechecked 2-3 times with the same results. I finally decided to check
the info in the autostar under setup>site>edit. The home name was OK,
the Lat/Long was OK ( even tho Long. has a minus sign infront) the
kicker was the time difference from local to GMT. My local time here is
MST, and on DST. I thought the difference was -7.0 hrs. That didn't
work, the target was still off 10-15. Next I tried -6.0 hrs. and it was
twice as bad in the same direction-lower and further left. So, I tried
-8.0 hrs. and then it hit the nail right on the head. This makes no
sense! I'm on MST and DST and the time difference between here and GMT
is -6.0 hrs. My A-7D background and all my maps say West Long. is
positive.  Where did I go wrong? Are cartographers and fighter pilots
that dumb, and astronomers that smart?
            Thanks for your website, and thanks to you
            Tony Bulat
Mike here: Don't know about the time problem but in Autostar older versions, west longitude was positive. It was changed in 1.1m to west being negative. As to the version number, that is odd.

Subject:	 proc trap question
Sent:	Wednesday, September 13, 2000 00:12:35
From:	jmstriegel@stthomas.edu (Jason M. Striegel)
I attempted to polar align my ETX 125 today and managed to snag a Proc.
Trap 2 error with my new autostar.  After searching Meade's info in vain
I came across your site which documents these problems.  Perhaps this is
a question already answered on your site, but is there any way to
manually reset the device?

I am stuck now with the two options of returning it through Meade or
purchasing the rs232 adapter and having a hack at it.  Somehow,
purchasing more equipment from Meade to make their defective product
function correctly seems a little strage :)  I'd like to send a little
rant off to them, but it's just my luck that they don't have an email
adress posted.. ugh..

Anyway.  If you happen to know of any way of resetting the autostar to
it's purchased state, your knowledge would help me immensely.

Thanks for your time.

Jason Striegel
Mike here: Do you mean it comes up in this error mode every time you apply power to the ETX? If you the download cable you can install the latest version (which may or may not be newer than what was in the Autostar when you purchased it). You go into the SAFE LOAD mode (Enter/Scrolldown at power on) which allows you to download again.

Added later:

Yeah, as soon as the Autostar starts spitting out the sun warning, it
crashes.  It only gets about half of "WARNING" out.  From your reply I
am guessing that this isn't common behaviour.  Perhaps it is defective.
Mike here: Can you get it into the SAFE LOAD mode?


I don't have an rs232 adapter yet. I am debating whether to take it back
or get a cable and hack at it... of course I could take it back and get
a cable to hack at the new one :)

Subject:	 re: List of stars in the Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, September 12, 2000 23:12:57
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

Whenever you see a commercial product offering "9,000 stars", suspect
that they're using the Yale Bright Star Catalog.

The Autostar is probably using the 5th edition, and frequently refers to
entries in it as  HR 5455  or some such. The "HR" is the Harvard
Revision of the (football-rival Yale's named dropped) Bright Star

IF you web-search for "Bright Star Catalog" you'll find a few sites
which offer it.

The double star catalog looks suspiciously like:

and that www.chara.gsu.edu   link may lead you to others.

There is a NASA site which has many many catalogs, many of which combine
to create the Autostar's databases.

As i write this, I'm on the wrong PC to locate all of the bookmarks i
made to -that- site.

Mike here: Thanks to Dick, there is now a more complete (but unofficial) listing on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	 re: autostar woes
Sent:	Tuesday, September 12, 2000 22:56:20
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
or: scaring the Daylights out of it.

Whenever you see a 15 degree RA error, suspect Daylight Savings.

Even if you "correct" the error by slewing during Easy Align, it's still
going to mess up in surprising ways ... such as planet and Moon
calculations... it's going to calculate where they should be in RA and
Dec, and even if it's correcting where RA/Dec so-and-so is, it'll think
the Moon (especially) is elsewhere. (about a half-degree, or one full
moon width, off).

The DEFAULT setting for Daylight Savings is "off" So if your first
Date/Time setting just blew past that answer, it's blown.

A week ago i mis-set the time, the alignment slews were way off, and it
was a half-hour fight to point at -anything-. Until i turned it off in
disgust (planning to restart and try again).  Even as the glow of the
display was still fading in the dark my original time mis-set stomped on
my memory... (followed rapidly by a slap-to-forehead, then "ouch" 'cause
i still had the Autostar in my hand).

Once you've -set- the Daylight Savings to ON, it'll remain there in
subsequent power-ups.

--dick (of the frequently bruised forehead)
Subject:	 Re: autostar woes
Sent:	Wednesday, September 13, 2000 09:49:55
From:	rmoore5@ix.netcom.com (Rob Moore)

Both you and Mike indicated that the daylight savings setting was the
problem and sure enough, when I checked it last night, it was set to
off.  I've set it to on and now I have to wait until a reasonably clear
night to try it out.  Thanks for much for getting back to me!

Rob (whose forehead is also bruised!)

Subject:	 List of Stars in Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, September 12, 2000 19:21:16
From:	ddenat@home.com (Don DeNatale)
Has anyone compiled a list of stars that the Autostar contains? I
suppose it would actually be several lists since we have Named, SAO
Catalog, Double, etc.  If you know of such a set of lists, I would
really like to get it.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Iguana Don
Mike here: There is a list on the November 1999 Autostar Feedback page.

Added later:

Thank you.  I now have a list of the Named Stars.  Do you think anyone
has listed the Doubles, SAOs, or Variables?  I appreciate your help.

Subject:	 Autostar woes...
Sent:	Monday, September 11, 2000 16:31:36
From:	rmoore5@ix.netcom.com (Rob Moore)
I've recently purchased an ETX-125 and after three or four tries have
become pretty discouraged with the Autostar alignment.

I've found the home position as shown in the manual, leveled the base by
using a spirit level, and pointed it north by using the North star. I've
followed the instructions carefully according to the manual and they
agree with what the AutoStar controller is asking for.  When I use Easy
Align, it invariably tells me to find Arcturas and slews somewhere over
near there.  Arcturas is never within the the finder (carefully aligned)
and I have to move the scope with the controller, at least 10-15 degrees
to get it centered.  The next star has similar results, but isn't quite
as far off.  From then on, I can tell it to goto a given object and it
points somewhere in the vicinity but the object usually isn't even in
the finder scope by 5-10 degrees.  I've trained the drives twice
carefully on an object at least 10 miles away.  What am I doing wrong?

Is there a software update that I need for the Autostar?  Should I
return the entire scope to the dealer and try to get another or get it
repaired?  Any help would be gratefully appreciated.  I also have a
Questar and have at least some experiance with these things....

Mike here: Sorry you're having trouble. I have 2.0h in the Autostar on the ETX-125EC and it performed flawlessly on a demo for a local person last Friday night. You didn't indicate what version you're running so don't know if updating will help or not. But from your description of being off 10-15 degrees, gee, that sounds like a Daylight or Standard Time error. This may be a dumb question but have you selected the proper site location and time?

Added later:

Well, I've selected  San Jose, California as the site and put in the
correct time to within a minute or so.  I don't recall if the controller
said that daylight savings time was in effect or not but I left it at
the same setting.  I'll check when I get home tonight and make sure that
it's set properly.  Actually, the time setting shouldn't make any
difference once you've aligned on two stars would it?

Subject:	 re: alignment 
Sent:	Saturday, September 9, 2000 21:20:02
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

Having a level table is perhaps the most important part of Alt/Az
alignment.  Anything providing over a degree of tilt to the base is
going to really mess up the poor Autostar's attempts at alignment and
subsequent GoToing.

And yes, the Andromeda Galaxy is "merely" a broad "faint fuzzy". It's
also the furthest object you can see by naked eye... 2.2 million light
years away.

(ok, ok... having the correct Latitude, Longitude, Time Zone, Local Time
all affect it too... it took me fifteen minutes of
air-turned-blue-by-swearing a week ago before i turned it off and -then-
realized i hadn't set the time correctly because i was "only" going to
adjust my Site data... but i forgot and moved on to alignment with a 1.5
hour error in the clock...) (this was during the -only- clear night of
an 8-day drive through British Columbia -specifically- to take my ETX to
dark skies.... they were dark, alright... dark clouds.)

(after correcting the clock, it was a very successful viewing
night... many Messier objects which are simply invisible in
city haze were standouts... and it was the first night in a
year that i was able to naked-eye the Milky Way)
(it was also coincidentally my ETX90's first anniversary)

Subject:	 Re: Autostar Update Failure
Sent:	Friday, September 8, 2000 21:11:52
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)

My usual first step when hit with such a message
is a complete re-install of the Updater kit.
i.e. download 
-again-, unpack it to an empty folder,
and click on Setup in there to fully install the package.

*then* try another Updater session.
That error message is not in clear text in any file in the
Updater's directory.

ok..ok... it takes about 14 steps before i lower myself
to doing the correct thing... do what i say, not what i do...

Subject:	 Star 2000 guider and ETX
Sent:	Thursday, September 7, 2000 18:58:56
From:	kevin_edw@hotmail.com (Kevin Edwards)
Just a quick update on a recent posting by Paul Boudreaux (Sept 6, 2000)
regarding the Star 2000 self-guiding software for the MX series of CCD
cameras from Starlight Xpress.  According to the information available
on the Starlight Xpress message board, it is unlikely that the Star 2000
would work successfully with an ETX/Autostar combination.  For example,
Terry Platt writes that "The ETX is unlikely to guide well with STAR
2000. It has small drive gears and plenty of backlash, so lots of
guiding problems." Even the LX50s seem to have problems.

I hope this helps.

PS I'm actually planning to purchase an MX516 Starlight Xpress and the
Star 2000 self-guiding software for use on my LX50/piggybacked ETX (call
me a masochist!), so I'll keep you posted on how this turns out.

Best wishes,


Subject:	 Help with Autostar alignment please
Sent:	Wednesday, September 6, 2000 22:59:53
From:	tim@columbia.total-web.net (Tim Sheets)
As I have noted previously, I am overwhelmingly pleased with the
ETX90/EC's optics, wow!  But I am having trouble with the Autostar
alignment.  I've tried a dozen times to no avail.

I believe I trained the Autostar properly.  When I am asked to put the
scope in the home position, what I have been doing, since I don't own a
compass, is centering Polaris, then moving the scope's vertical axis
down to level with a carpenters level.

Then I hit enter, the scope slews to the first "easy align" star, and
even when it's a star that I am familiar with, it doesn't hardly get
even close.  After aligning the star properly, the second one isn't

The only thing I can figure is that the "table" that I set the scope on
must be perfectly level as well. My driveway is sloped so the "mount" or
in truth "table" is not level.  So, this mount is not level, the the
scope, in home position is.  Is this my problem?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Mike here: In Alt/Az mode, the ETX base must be level or nearly so.

Subject:	 STAR 2000 Selfguiding software for the MX5 series CCD camera
Sent:	Wednesday, September 6, 2000 08:57:30
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
I just thought I would let your readers know about a new posting on the
Starlight-Xpress home page for their MX5 series CCD imagers. Their
STAR2000 selfguiding software works just fine with the ETX90/125EC Meade
series telescopes. This downloadable upgrade software uses the MX5(B&W)
or the MX5-C(single shot color) CCD camera to autoguide the ETX
telescope with the Autostar controller. No additional hardware is needed
for the ETX other than the serial control cable from the computer to the
ETX/Autostar controler (which your home page shows you how to make). The
latest color and also B&W versions of the software are available at
www.starlight-xpress.co.uk/  along with a quantity of useful information
at the site on CCD imaging.

I just downloaded the software and am anxiously awaiting the first clear
night to try it out. It seems we had nearly 50 cloudy nights in a row in
the Washington DC area this summer - bummer! Not much has been posted at
the Starlight-Xpress site on using the ETX with the MX5 series CCD
cameras, but the site claims that all will work just fine. I'll try to
keep you informed on my progress in using this new selfguiding technique
with my MX5-C color CCD camera and the ETX125EC.

Paul Boudreaux

Subject:	 Autostar Update Failure
Sent:	Thursday, August 31, 2000 19:10:45
From:	radowning@home.com (radowning)
I have searched through the archives, and either I'm a complete dolt, or
the message I'm looking for is not there... There, now that I've lowered
your expectations, let me describe what I'm seeing.  When I try to run
the Updater, I get the message 'Windows Read Error' from the program,
which then closes. Now, I know that I saw those symptoms before, but
alack and alas, I am unable to find the old report.

Currently using 1.3c (working, for all of that) but trying to go to

    Thanks, Rob
Mike here: The only "read error" I could find was on the Feb 2000 Autostar Feedback page (in the Feedback Archives).

Added later:

Ahhh.  OK, thanks, Mike.  I'll look it up.

Subject:	 Re: Fwd:  Autostar High Precision mode/ M81 and 82
Sent:	Thursday, August 31, 2000 10:27:58
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
 re: High Prec to m81 and friends...

I agree with Bill... and i've sent notes to Meade asking that other
non-obvious stuff get added to the HP list... like Neptune, Uranus and

--dick (on vacation 'til Sept 9th)

Subject:	 Autostar High Precision mode/ M81 and 82
Sent:	Thursday, August 31, 2000 00:24:35
From:	billcollins3@juno.com (William D.  Collins)
Perhaps the answer to Pierre Henrotay's question as to why high
precision mode doesn't work with M 81 or 82 is that the Autostar
programmers inadvertently omitted them from the special data set which
triggers the two-step HP behavior. I suspect that there is a flag field
for each object in the AS database. IF the flag is set  AND high
precision is ON, then the HP process begins. Otherwise the AS treats the
object as it would a star, that is, it just slews directly to it. This
is a guess, of course, but something of the sort is going on. Maybe you
can call this to the attention of your contacts at Meade.

HP mode works every time the user selects Go To  for a manually keyed
RA/Dec position (assuming it's been turned on), so one could just use M
81's / 82's co-ordinates to invoke the HP process.

Bill Collins

Subject:	 re: exiting a Tour
Sent:	Wednesday, August 30, 2000 20:34:02
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To exit a tour is harder than it used to be.
Basically... LEAN on the Mode key.
Hold it down for more than 3 seconds.
Be prepared to repeat.
At some point you -will- catch it just right, and either
pop up to the RA/Dec display, or to simply the Tour's name.
Then one more [mode] brings you fully out.

At least, that's how it is in a 497 Autostar.
I hope there's enough of a common code-base that 494's
 (the new lil' fellers) perform the same.

Agreed... it's a pain in the finger

Subject:	 Autostar cel. coordinates
Sent:	Wednesday, August 30, 2000 09:31:42
From:	cdcopy@t-online.de (cdcopy)
is it possible to get the cel. coordinates when slewed to a specific
point to position afterward to that point?

e.g. Set the scope to M31 - make some corrections -> Get the coordinates

Markus Barth
Mike here: I believe the answer is "yes". But I'm traveling and don't have access to my Autostar. Try holding down the MODE key for a couple of seconds (or is the ENTER key?).

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