Last updated: 31 December 2008

This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the PC, Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Serial Port Connection Problems on a Mac  Book
Sent:	Sunday, December 28, 2008 10:59:04
I have ScopeDriver  X installed on my Mac Book and would like to control
my ETX 70 with it.When  I try to connect the telescope,I received the
following information,that the selected port could not be open and that
it might be being used  by another application.I know the cable and all
the connection are good since I can control the telescope when I run
Windows XP using Parallel Desktop on my Mac with the Autostar Suite

As this is my first e-mail to you ,I must say I am thankful for all the
information that is present on your site and hope you might have a
solution for my problem.

Mike here: Are you using a USB-serial adapter, and if so, whose? I have used a Keyspan Twin Serial adapter successfully on my PowerBook G4 and MacBook Pro laptops under Mac OS X.


I am using a Hama USB RS -232 serial 9 pin adapter.The model # is
00039703 and was  purchase from a store here in Germany.

Mike here: You mentioned the adapter worked in Parallels/Windows XP. Was there a Windows driver that was installed for the Hama USB-serial adapter? If so, have you also installed a Mac OS X version of a Hama driver?
Subject:	World Wide Telescope
Sent:	Tuesday, December 2, 2008 18:53:43
From: (
Hello.  Have you had any experience with the World Wide Telescope yet? 
I have a Meade DS-114 with the Autostar 497.  I am trying to get it to
connect, so I can control my telescope from the software and all I get
is an active x error.  Do you have any ideas or help with this issue?
Thank you,

David Pleasants
Mike here: I haven't used the Worldwide Telescope since it has a limitation of being on Windows only. I hadn't heard that it supported a serial connection to the AutoStar via the #505 serial cable. Have you tried other telescope control software on your computer?
Subject:	Autostar Two Star Alignment - AstroPlanner
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2008 16:19:56
From:	Ludwig Krijgshaftig (
Today I have tested the connection between AstroPlanner software on my
PC and my ETX-125PE. Connection was OK and without any problem. I can
let AstroPlanner slew the scope to any selected object and even watch
the dataflow to and from the scope. Very nice.

However, AstroPlanner also has functionality to select the best pair of
stars to align the scope. This would even be better than the autostar
auto alignment procedure. I was just curious how it worked and started
to use the autostar two star alignment method rather than the auto
alignment. I quickly ran into trouble though with the scope running
itself against its hardstop. Obviously not good for the scopes gearbox
and all.

Then came across your July 17, 2006 instructions on the Mighty ETX site.
Unfortunately this did not help either. I probably did not understand
correctly. I have tried the following:

1. Computer Control box to West;
2. ETX full CCW to hardstop;
3. ETX CW to North (less than half a turn);
4. Two star align on AstroPlanner pair of stars;
5. Fail against hardstop (CCW).

Then I tried:
0. (Not sure anymore if Computer Control box was still pointing West at
this stage, also not sure if that is important in this procedure);
1. ETX full CCW to hardstop;
2. Normal auto align (usage of LNT for North and levelling);
3. No verification of auto align stars, just press ENTER when autostar
states it is pointing at the alignment star;
4. Use autostar controls to slew to Alt 0 and Az 0 (difficult to keep
there as scope is in trackingmode and continues sidereal motion);
5. Two star align on AstroPlanner pair of stars;
6. Fail against hardstop (this time CW, not CCW).

Then I gave up. Any idea where I messed up?

Also do not understand in your instructions why you first use the
autostar controls to go to Alt 0 and Az 0, and then loosen the Dec knob
and move the scope manually to Alt 0.

Any further help you could give would be most welcome. Thanks.

Kind regards,

AstroPlanner has functionality to "park" the scope to Alt 0 and Az 0 and
then disconnects the comlink. The ETX slews to Alt/Az 0 allright, but
then continues its sidereal motion...
Only when using the "park" function from the autostar utility menu did
it really park.
Mike here: What page specifically are you referencing for 17 July 2006? As to using Astroplanner for aligning the AutoStar, I haven't used Astroplanner to control the ETX in some time. And I never tried using it for alignment. I suspect you still need to align the AutoStar BEFORE asking Astroplanner to try anything. But it should still be able to select stars for a 2-star alignment on the AutoStar; you would just select those stars manually. I could be wrong though since I don't use software to control my telescopes.


From: (
I haven't used the AstroPlanner but I'll try to check it out sometime
this week. In the meantime, maybe the following will answer some of your

When you power on the scope, Autostar has no reference as to where the
hard stops are. Setting the Control Panel to the west and the OTA to the
CCW hard stop helps the Autostar to know where the hard stop is. For a
auto-align, Autostar 'thinks' it is starting from the CCW stop and
therefore won't run into the stops during an alignment or a GOTO. For
two-star align, it 'thinks' it is pointed true north and level and the
CCW stop is less than 180 degrees CCW from that point and the CW stop is
at least 500 degrees CW from north. Then, when it slews from one object
to another it will always go in the direction that won't encounter a

The July 17 2006 message your referenced says to loosen the LEFT knob to
allow moving the declination circle to zero, not the entire OTA. This,
along with setting the RA circle to zero, gives you a quick reference
for positioning the scope to north and level for a two-star align. What
you're doing is letting the LNT find true north and level in case you
don't have a level and don't know exactly where north is.

When you do any align, the scope remains in the sidereal tracking mode
after the alignment is complete. To turn it off, you can go to the
Setup- Targets option in the Autostar menu and select 'Terrestrial' .
Another way is to select a Landmark and GOTO it. This automatically
selects Terrestrial. What I did was to create an 'artificial' landmark
for 0/0 Alt/Az and name it ZERO. I can then slew to north and level by
selecting that landmark.

Hope this helps.
Mike Hogan


Apologies for the confusion, but my previous mail was directed at Mike
Hogan. I copied you to keep you informed.

It refers to the Mike Hogan contribution of 17-Jul-06, which is on a
page called Autostar Feedback, last updated 4-Aug-06.

His message is titled "Re: Autostar Two Star Alignment". It is an
extensive instruction how to do this correctly.

You are right that you need to align before, that was already clear to
me, no problem there.

AstroPlanner does not control the ETX for alignment, but you can use it
to slew to selected objects AFTER aligning. It just has this feature of
selecting a pair of stars for alignment and claims that this is better
than the pair selected by the AutoStar.

I wanted to verify this claim and then ran into described problems with
the two star alignment method.

Kind regards,

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