AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 December 2008

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, 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:	can I connect ETX 70 to modem port of my laptop?
Sent:	Monday, December 29, 2008 23:43:37
From:	TONY GRIGORE (weimberger@gmail.com)
Hello I'm Tony and recently I bought an ETX 70 . I don't have #506 cable
to connect it to my laptop. What possibilities - home made - I have to
connect it to my laptop?
Thank you
Tony
Mike here: NO, NO, NO. Do not connect it to the model port. You can cause damage. For the AutoStar #494 (standard with the ETX-70) you will need the #506 serial cable. However, due the electronics embedded in the #506 cable, you can not easily make one yourself. If you really want to connect your computer to your telescope you will either need the #506 cable or get an AutoStar #497 and then use the easy-to-make #505 serial cable. If your computer has only a USB port and no real RS-232 serial port, you will also need an AutoStar-compatible USB-serial adapter and driver for your computer and OS. Not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thank you very much Mike. I'll try to find out a cable #506. I live in
Ireland in Dublin and here there is no Meade shop or distributors. If I
would have the electronic scheme of the adapter I have the posibilities
to make it at home. I asked you about the modem port because I found an
option in AutoStar Suite : Telescope - Protocol - AutoStar via Modem and
I supposed I can connect modem and telescope. Anyhow I'm no going to
damage the telescope or the laptop so I will follow your advice.
Thank you
Tony

photo

Mike here: If you want to try to make your own #506 cable and you can get the components, there are some articles on the #506 cable on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

Thank you Mike.

Subject:	Changing scrolling speed.
Sent:	Monday, December 29, 2008 17:18:58
From:	John Huntsberger (banjojohn@earthlink.net)
I have the ETX Premier Edition.  How do I change the scrolling speed to
make it faster?  Thank you, John

John Huntsberger
Austin, TX

Be curious always!  Knowledge will not      	
       acquire you; you must acquire it.
Mike here: See the ETX FAQ page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Custom 505 connector set question
Sent:	Monday, December 29, 2008 15:34:57
From:	Christian Tucci (discjockct@aol.com)
Hello. I was looking around on your site and found info about building a
custom "505" cable for use with my "497" autostar on my ETX-80. The
guide said on the AUTOSTAR end of the cable I should have a RJ-10 size
plug. I saw somewhere else on your site that I needed a RJ-11 size plug.
I just want to know which side I need for it. I look forward to your
response. Thank you!
Mike here: The AutoStar end is a RJ10 (smaller than a RJ-11). What goes on the computer end will depend on how you will connect it to the RS-232 port on the computer or USB-serial adapter. The Meade cable comes with a RJ-11 on that end.

And:

I am going to wire the autostar RJ-10 side direct to a 9 pin serial
plug. Then I will use a USB-serial adapter. That will work, right?
Mike here: The RJ-10 side goes to the AutoStar. Wiring the other end directly to a USB-serial adapter is fine. Whether or not the adapter will actually work with the AutoStar will depend on whether it supports the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for more info. Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar.

And:

Great! Thanks fro all your help!

Subject:	Autostar 494 from ETX-60 on a DS-2090?
Sent:	Saturday, December 27, 2008 18:48:21
From:	Brian Underwood (brianu@ncf.ca)
I have an older ETX-60 with a 494 Autostar, and I recently bought a
closeout DS-2090 without an Autostar.

My 494 does "work" with the 2090, but as expected, the DS series 'scopes
do not exist in the ver 1.0 494 firmware!

I'm wondering if it's worth attempting to update the firmware on the 494
to the latest version, as there are number of DS series 'scopes that
come with the 494?  I realize that this probably dictates the need for
the oddball 506 cable...

On that note, would you, or any of your contacts, have a 506 cable that
I could "rent" for a short time to do the update?  (I don't anticipate
using the PC control part of the 506, so buying it for the sake of a
firmware upgrade is a bit pointless...)

Thanks,
Brian Underwood
(Ottawa, Canada)
Mike here: There is no user-installable update for the #494 AutoStar. You will either have to get another #494 or a #497 AutoStar or keep swapping the existing AutoStar. However, if you do swap you will have to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES each time you swap it from one telescope to the other.
Subject:	autostar control in french
Sent:	Friday, December 26, 2008 09:38:01
From:	william tracey (willietracey@hotmail.com)
I hope this email finds you and your family in good health.
Please I wonder if you can help me. I bought a ETX-70-AT for my son in
france.

Please forgive me I'm a complete novice at this. All the software for
the computer are in English but the actuale controller is in french. Can
I change the language back to English on the controller .Thanks for your
help in advance.Wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Wiilie.
Mike here: Unfortunately, there is no user-installable update for the AutoStar #494. You would have to send the AutoStar to Meade for a language swap. OR, get a #497 AutoStar, which is user-updateable.

And:

Thank you for your extremely quick responce. Just one more quick question
question if you dont mind. Is it possible to buy an autostar hand controller
in English. Thanks for your help.
Willie.
Mike here: Yes, you can buy another AutoStar. But get a #497, which works on the ETX-70 and is user-upgradeable. Or if you can find one, get the older #495, which you can update via software to a #497.
Subject:	RE: AutoStar
Sent:	Thursday, December 25, 2008 21:41:43
From:	Richard W. Jackson (richardwjackson@swbell.net)
I have tried a variety of drivers to get my paddle to sync up with the
Computer
I will try it all
Please  share your ideas
Thanks
Mike here: Again, did you purchase the #505 serial cable or make it yourself? What USB-serial adapter are you using?

And:

I simply bought a serial to USB cable from a local electronics store
Mike here: That won't work. You will need a #505 serial cable for the AutoStar #497. You can easily make one using information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You will also need a USB-serial adapter (and its software driver). However, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend using a Keyspan adapter.
Subject:	Autostar - Site Coordinates - Accuracy
Sent:	Thursday, December 25, 2008 06:05:11
From:	Ludwig Krijgshaftig (ludwig.krijgshaftig@xs4all.nl)
Since I do not have a GPS unit connected to my ETX-125PE, I need to
enter the site coordinates manually. Apparently the Autostar (497) only
allows you to enter degrees and minutes, but not the seconds of the
latitude and longitude. However, when you use the Autostar Updater
software from Meade you can enter site information under Tools - Edit
User Data... This option does allow you to enter the full coordinates,
including seconds. But when you then verify this information in the
Autostar, it still only shows degrees and minutes. Even more, the
minutes shown are like the seconds are truncated, not rounded up where
applicable.

Question is: does it really truncate the seconds or is it still
calculating with the full coordinates but just not showing the seconds?
Alternatively: does it actually matter to have the site coordinates this
accurate for an ETX-125PE?

Tonight and the coming four nights we are finally having clear skies
after six weeks of clouds, so I will try and see if my site coordinates
are any good.

Kind regards,
Ludwig

And from our resident AutoStar expert:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The 497 Autostar only cares about arcminutes, not arcseconds (at least
in these aspects).  The object catalogs are in arcminutes, the site data
are stored in integer arcminutes, the City catalog is in arcminutes.

Positional *Calculations* are (usually) performed in "floating point",
so they are carried out to the arcsecond level (Train Drive results
are in arcseconds, for example).
Meade's typical floating point format has a 23 bit mantissa, so its
"6 plus" significant decimal digits accuracy matches the 1296000
arcseconds-in-a-circle range fairly well.

For all functions of the 497 Autostar, a site's location to an arcminute
(about a mile) is more than adequate.  I've run tests with as much as
30 arcminute intentional error, and could see no difference in apparent
performance, including satellite tracking.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Is an autostar an autostar?
Sent:	Tuesday, December 23, 2008 19:34:12
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
As Mike wrote, the Autostar can be moved back and forth,
as long as you -either- do a Calibrate Motors and Train Drives
each time (although you might get by with the Calibrate from the ETX90).

-or- (and he missed this bit)
since you're running StarPatch, you can easily add my "Edit Train Drive"
patch to the Autostar... now the flip back and forth only requires
the Calibrate Motors (maybe, try it with the ETX90's results on both systems)
and you can -key in- the Train Drive results for each model.

So do the Train Drives -once- for each scope, and then key in that
scope's number when you've moved the Autostar to it.
(the Edit Values is in the Menu as a "scroll down" from the
Train RA and Train DEC two entries)

This means you do not have to -perform- a Train Drives each time,
just re-enter it (not much harder than entering the time and date)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	AutoStar
Sent:	Sunday, December 21, 2008 21:18:13
From:	Richard W. Jackson (richardwjackson@swbell.net)
I hate to ask you a dumb question but a renewed interest in my ETX-90EC
compels me

I have the auto star paddle finally hooked u via USB Serial Adaptor and
I believe I have downloaded from Meade the usb driver

In case I didn't could you send me the link

Also what is the software that operates the paddle - update etc?

Thanks
And 
Merry Christmas

------------
Richard W. Jackson, CIMA
Mike here: Please see the Announcements: Email Change Notice page for an important announcement.
If you have the Meade USB-serial adapter there is software for it on Meade's downloads page. The AutoStar Update Application version 4.6 is also on the downloads page. Go to http://www.meade.com/support/downloads.html.

And:

I did and I get the error message that it cannot connect to autostar?
Thanks for your help
Mike here: Check the connections on the #505 serial cable. Did you purchase one or make it yourself? Also, check for serial port conflicts; typically this could be fax software.
Subject:	Is an autostar an autostar?
Sent:	Sunday, December 21, 2008 09:52:22
From:	Jim Jewell II (jjewellii@yahoo.com)
I have a 497 autostar currently connected to my etx90.  It has a
starpatch single unit license on it so I get my autostar updates there
so my addon gps unit will work with it.

I recently received a complete used meade LXD75 mount that came with an
autostar of course.  I'm about to mount an 8" 2080 SCT to it & put it to
use.

Now the question: will the autostar for the etx90 work okay with the
lxd75 mount?  I would rather not have to spend the $ for another
starpatch license since I plan on moving the gps unit from the etx90 to
the lxd75 mount. Both autostars are 497's.  Is there any difference in
these inernally such as programming, control parameters, etc. that are
"factory burnt" into them?

Hopefully there is no difference between them internally.

Thanks for your great site & thanks in advance for your help once again!
 
Jim
Mike here: Yes, the AutoStar will work on both mounts. HOWEVER, you will have to select the mounting mode, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES each time you swap the AutoStar from one mount to the other.

And:

Wow!  I guess you sleep as little as I do!  Thanks for the fast
response.

I suspected it would be okay to swap the autostars, but just needed some
"reassurrance". And yes once installed & completely assembled the mount
type change, calibrate & train drive functions shall be done.
 
Thanks once again!
Mike here: When you swap the AutoStar back to the ETX you will have to go through the same steps again. And then when you switch it to the LXD75 you have to repeat them. Eventually you may tire of doing it everytime and dedicate each AutoStar to their own mount.

And:

Yes I see what you mean.  I'm still up in the air about keeping the
ETX90 anyway.  If I do keep it I'll then just buy another GPS setup for
it.  In either event I definitely don't want to play musical chairs with
the autostars!
 
Thanks again!
 
Jim

Subject:	Autostar 497
Sent:	Sunday, December 14, 2008 08:07:22
From:	Walter Ruben Robledo (rubenrobledo@yahoo.com.ar)
I wanted to know if serious possible to handle the focuser, with DS
motor DEC + Autostar 497, since could to visualize in the PC coordinates
the DEC and to relate them directly to the position of the focuser. Is
it feasible this?
There any way to display data from the encoder?
Greetings.
Walter Robledo.
Crdoba-Argentina.
Mike here: There are four articles on using "commands" to program the AutoStar on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on the ETX Site. Check those.

And:

Excuse my ignorance, my handling of the English language is very limited
like my programming skills.
You can help me a simple way for me to visualize my PC in the feedback
encoders?
Thank you very much for your help.
Walter.
Mike here: Simple way? Well, the AutoStar reads pulses (essentially 0 and 1, in programming terms) from the encoders, which it uses to determine movements. Since the AutoStar starts from a known HOME position (once aligned) it can determine where (generally) the telescope is pointed. More details in those articles I mentioned.

And:

Soon I will have a Celestron CPC 8 "and I would like use parts of my old
telescope drive, to make the focus remotely .

My goal is that the autostar # 497 + Ds motor being applied to control
the focus of my telescope and do not like the alignment can be done
without the DS motors on the mount.
Mike here: You should be able to run the motor with the AutoStar. An alternative to writing your own software would be to use one the many applications, ScopeDriver or Astroplanner, both of which have Mac and Windows versions, that can control the AutoStar. Links to info about ScopeDriver, Astroplanner, and others on the Accessory Reviews: Software page. You will also need a #505 serial cable (whether or not you write your own software). See the cable info section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If your computer has only a USB port and not a RS-232 serial port, you will also need a USB-serial adapter. Note that not all work reliable with the AutoStar; check the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page for details.

And:

Thank you very much for your invaluable help.
Greetings.
Walter.

Subject:	autostar 494
Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2008 12:24:59
From:	Bryan Hahn (vonamberg@rock.com)
I am having a big problem with my autostar 494. When I turn the autostar
on the sun warning comes on and instructs me to press 5 to clear the
warning but as you know i have no number 5 lol. I have emailed meade a
few times but i get no response. Is there anything i can do to fix this
or do i just need to break down and by a 497? Thank you for any help you
can give me.
 
Vonamberg
Mike here: Odd. Try pressing the MODE key several times or any other key.

And:

Thank you for responding so promptly. When i try hitting any key a
couple of times it says bozo amd I have to reset the power.
 
Thank again,
 
Vonamberg
Mike here: Have you tried changing the batteries? If you search the site for "bozo autostar" you'll see that this problem has been reported a couple of times in the past.

And:

I checked on your site for it and came up to this page
http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/dsDec00.html second paragraph and it
seems they installed the wrong software. I do have the 505 cable kit but
cant seem to get it to work have to try an hyper terminal emulator to
see if i can get it to work. Again thanx for the help.
Mike here: There is no user-installer update for the #494 AutoStar (which requires the #506 cable, not a #505 cable). So you have a couple of choices: contact Meade (call them) or get a #497 AutoStar (or a #495, which you can upgrade to a #497 with software).

And:

Just went looking for a 495 and I gather thats a model no longer made.
As for meade i doubt they will help me because this unit was bought in
2000. Again thank you for the excellant help.
Mike here: The #495 is getting harder to find. But if you search eBay or Astromart or other places, you might find one.
Subject:	Using 492 DS Drives with #497 Hand Controller?
Sent:	Thursday, December 11, 2008 01:31:25
From:	Keith Woodard (kwits@comcast.net)
I just purchased a Meade 492 DS Drive kit; it comes with a 492 hand
controller.  I guess this controller is AstroStar or is it AutoStar. 
What is the difference?  The basis for my questions is your patch
website:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html
 
Best Regards,
Keith
Proud USAF Veteran of Operation Desert Storm
MP:  (318) 512-8565
AIM:  kwoodard65
Mike here: Since you mention interest in patches, I'll let the Dick Seymour, the author of the patches, respond.
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I'm not sure about what a "492 hand controller" looks like.

There are three generic devices which can control the DS motors:
(a) the basic "-EC" hand controller: this has no numeric display,
merely a few red LEDs and 8 buttons (four directional,
two focus, one "speed", one "mode".)
(b) the "494" Autostar: this has an alphanumeric display, ten buttons
(directional, "enter", "mode", "goto", two scroll keys an a "speed").
(c) the "497" Autostar: this has the alphanumeric display, and twenty
buttons: the same as the 494 plus ten numeric keys.

Handboxes (b) and (c) are full Autostars: they provided computerized
database and "GoTo" functions for the telescope.  My patch kits only
apply to the (c) 497 Autostar (also marketed by Meade as a "495",
but if it has numeric keys, it's upgradable and patchable).

have fun
--dick

And:

Attached is a picture of the Meade 492 DS drive kit; it is GoTo
upgradeable.  I am unsure what that entails.  Please note the hand
controller.  You are correct; it does not appear to be a Autostar
device.

Thanks!
Keith

photo

Mike here: That looks like an EC-style (non-AutoStar) handcontroller.

And:

I apologize for all of my questions but after so many years of being
idle as an amateur astronomy, I am playing catch-up in this process. 
What does "upgradeable to GoTo" mean for this drive system?
Mike here: No problem with questions. That is one of the reasons I do the ETX Site. I suspect, but don't know for certain, that it means an AutoStar could be used.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
As Mike guessed, it means you can buy a 494 or 497 Autostar,
plug it in in the place of the hand controller,
and you'll have a full GoTo system.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar unit scrolling
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2008 10:41:19
From:	David Lamont (david.lam57@googlemail.com)
Many thanks for your information about Telrads etc ten days ago. I knew
there was something else I wanted to ask you. Age creeps up very fast!

My ETX handset is not scrolling information consequently I cannot tell
what it is saying. It is though the wording is pixillating. If I press
any key it will show something i.e. setup, time date etc but one needs
the scrolling to do anything. Without it I am completely lost. The top
line is ok.

Is the handset kaput or is it possible to correct it?

Again my many thanks for any help.
 
Kind regards,
 
David Lamont
Mike here: Have you tried adjusting the scrolling speed? Have you tried adjusting the display brightness or contrast?

And:

Thanks for the suggestions of changing contrast, brightness and
scrolling speed. To some extent it works. But of course slowing the
scroll speed means I have to wait eons for the info to come through. The
top line of lettering is generally fine. The bottom line is acting as
though I am running on batteries that are running down - a sort of slow
flashing/pulsating as the wording moves along, not unlike the cursor on
ones computer. When I input something this slow flashing even happens on
the top line but generally stays OK.

Would Meade Europe be able to do anything?

Suffice to say, I would rather not have to purchase a new handset!

Kind regards,

David Lamont

PS although I have had the instrument since December 2006, my move to
France and sorting out the house and move precluded much use of the
scope. Really it has only been used for about four hours!
Mike here: Have you changed the batteries or tried an external power source. Also, what temperature are you using the AutoStar? It doesn't like really cold temps! You could also try reversing the HBX cable and see if that helps. Also, check the condition of the pins on the connectors and inside the jacks. They should be clean, not too depressed nor bent sideways. You could try a RESET (and then a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES). Or you could reload the AutoStar software. Failing all that, it could be that either the display cable is loose (or corrided). You could open up the AutoStar handset and check that. You could contact Meade for a repair but that may take longer than you'd want to wait.
Subject:	AW: How to connect Autostar HBX to MyPAL PDA
Sent:	Sunday, November 30, 2008 22:53:00
From:	Familie Barodte (barodte@web.de)
thank you for the fast answer.

This cable is used to connect the Autostar to a notebook whitout a
serial port.

I want to use a PDA with ist own connector to autostar!

The connector of the PDA is USB. The autostar is Serial/RJ11.

tnx

Gerd
Mike here: You will need a PDA adapter then. That will have to come with driver software for the specific PDA model/OS. Check with TheSky technical support.

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Copyright ©2008 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2008 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/dec08/autostar.html