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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK

Last updated: 31 December 2011

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, #497EP, AudioStar, cables, and 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 for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.


Subject:	In regards to troubles using Autostar and my computer; Anthony Pine
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2011 16:36:25
From:	Anthony Pine (anthony.pine@my.jcu.edu.au)
I have been trying to figure out why my autostar 497EP controller is not
connecting to my computer. I have spent the good part of 2 months and
about $150 on adapters and controllers with out any success. I know it
might sound like I haven't done my research on the matter, but I have
literally read every manual and FAQ guide on the matter and something is
considerably wrong to the point I am having to send you this email. What
I have is 4 high end USB-Serial port (db9-rs232) cables including 2
Keyspan, 1 meade, and 1 Ebay Meade Seller I have two of the meade
connection cables for the handset to the serial port. I have 1 497 EP
controller and a ds2000 mount (with a regular 497 controller in the
mail). I have downloaded and successfully installed the PL2303 prolific
hardware and also tried about 3-4 others recommended if that one doesn't
work (without success). I have the Autostar suite & updater installed
and also Starpatch. None of these programs can provide a connection to
my controller, even whilst using the right com port/connection
criteria/etc. It just results in a timeout. I am using a Macbook running
windows 7 64bit through bootcamp (separate hard drives). I have also
tried the connection on 5 (yes 5) different windows pcs running all
versions of windows (xp, vista, 7). I am just very confused, frustrated,
and just about to throw in the towel on everything autostar and was
really hoping that you might know of something else to consider. It is
all rather frustrating because the telescope and 497 work great and so
does my computer, but the connection its just not there...and never
picks up no matter what I do.

Sorry if that came out a bit jumbled or rushed, have gotten rather
frustrated from spending another good part of 4 hours trying to figure
it out today alone. 

All the best,
Anthony Pine
Mike here: Have you checked the pinouts on the #505 serial cable? See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Since even a Keyspan adapter and StarPatch software doesn't connect, I would suspect the cable.

And:

I am not too sure what you mean? Do you mean the cable wiring like in  http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html ?
Yes I have talked to Meade and Telescope City and they both said the 505 cable, but I had received two replacements that are still producing the same results. 
Thanks for the quick response
Anthony
Mike here: Yes, that article would work. By checking the "pinouts" I mean is it wired correctly. But since you have multiple cables that have the same problem, bad wiring on the cable is probably not the problem (although it wouldn't to confirm the wiring is correct). So, check the pins in the DB-9 connector and the small jack on the base of the AutoStar. They should be clean, not too depressed, nor bent sideways.

And:

Ya they look brand new and clean. Thanks for your help mike, I will wait
on the new controller in the mail and give you a response to how that
connection goes. The only possibly thing I can think of is that the AUX
port on the controller doesn't work. 
Take care and again thanks for all you do on the site and through emails like these.
Anthony
Mike here: You are using the small port on the bottom of the AutoStar, not an AUX port on the telescope. Right?

And:

Yep.


Subject:	Re: problems updating some new tours
Sent:	Tuesday, December 13, 2011 15:27:02
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Well, this is why i like to get copies of problem Tours.

Your examples revealed "invisible" characters in the files (why ASU was unhappy),
*and* (extra points) revealed a weakness in Andrew's MyScope Tour parser
(which he's fixing).

I'm attaching the three "cleaned up" tours... in which i have replaced
the Tab characters (which were following the DEC values and separating
the object titles from their text descriptions) with double spaces.  I 
have tested loading them into my 43Eg Autostar with ASU, and "running"
them once they're in there.  They now work.

Thanks very much for letting us play with them
have fun
--dick

And:

From:	solargenes (solargenes@gmail.com)
well, alas, the three files you sent back to me did not work... they had
the same problems the original files had, i.e. aries - the title showed
up from my autostar controller, but none of the specific items; draco
was fine, auriga only one item showed up..  let me know what's next..
many thanks! : )   julie

And:

I think I figured out the problem - I wasn't changing the date in my
auto controller when uploading the files... i didn't think i needed to
do that since i was just uploading files, but i should know better by
now... anyway, i've loaded several and so far they work.. thanks again! 

And more:

I loaded all of the tours and out of about 300 items, only 7 didn't
load, so I can live with that!   I think it was the date thing plus a
few other hidden characters here and there.  Thanks again.  

And:

It turns out that the *real* reason Julie wasn't seeing objects loading into the Autostar...
was that she was not "properly" setting the *time* when testing.

Since Aries and Auriga weren't "up" (in the Autostar's view), it didn't offer the objects.

The files did have tabs in them, but ASU wasn't actually tripping over them.

have fun
--dick


Subject:	problems updating some new tours
Sent:	Monday, December 12, 2011 13:06:09
From:	solargenes (solargenes@gmail.com)
I created 27 double star tours (based on constellations) and only 8 of
them uploaded correctly.  For the rest, there is not really one thing
that is wrong; some of them didn't upload any data at all; some are
missing one or two items, some only have one or two items.  

Telescope is ETX 125PE
ASU version is 4.3
Controller is 497 / handbox version is 43Eg.

Looking at some of the other information on your site, I suspect that
problem has something to do with the windows 7 compatability issues, or
something like that.   Let me know if you have any insight. 

Any help is most appreciated, as always! : )

Thank you.
Julie Clayton
Mike here: Are you trying to load all the tours into the AutoStar at one time? If so, have you checked the available AutoStar memory? Have you tried loading one if the problem tours by itself? Beyond that, perhaps Dick Seymour has some thoughts.

And:

I have tried loading them one at a time, and I have checked the memory,
which is fine. They are all fairly small tours... none of them are more
than 15 items.  I also tried loading Eagle Creek's 'Aries' tour, which
wouldn't load, and Clay's 'Aries' tour, which wouldn't load.  Can't
quite believe that my ETX doesn't like Aries, but it sure seems that
way. : )   Aries isn't the only problem, though.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Usually this symptom is due to "bad" embedded characters in the Tours.
Examples include the full-quote (") in the middle of a scrolling text
(usually indicating "seconds"), which ASU sees as the end of the text
string.

Andrew Johansen's free MyScope application can pre-screen Tour files for
syntactic "correctness".
http://members.optusnet.com.au/johansea
You can walk through its list of issues to clean up the tours (and then
helpfully repost them).

You're also welcome to send copies of (or links to) the Tours to me, and
i'll see what happens.

What flavor of Autostar firmware do you have
((setup/statistics(enter)(scroll))?
That will also let us know what type of Autostar (497, 497EP, AudioStar,
etc) you have.

good luck
--dick


Subject:	Meade Autostar 494 update failed
Sent:	Sunday, December 11, 2011 10:27:39
From:	Alan Paisley (alanp@alypeely.co.uk)
I am new to astronomy and my Wife bought me a second hand ETX-70
telescope. I am extremely pleased with it and have been looking at
Jupiter and its moons. I bought an USB to serial converter and set it up
with the Autostar Suite. This was working fine and I was finding my way
ground the software when I pressed the update function. This started an
update then terminated with an error saying that the 494 controller
could not be updated. My handset is now not working and does not show
any display. I have tried starting it while holding down the Enter &
Down arrow and sometimes get a flash on the controller but still cannot
get it to work. Please let there be someone out there that can help me
get this back up and working. Failing that where can i get a replacement
in the UK.

Thanks 
Alan Paisley
Mike here: The #494 AutoStar ROM can not user updated. Also, there is no SAFE LOAD function on the #494. You can try resetting it via software; see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. As to a replacement, I suggest you get a #497 AutoStar, which is user upgradable.

And:

Thanks very much fire the quick response can you recommend a UK suite to
purchase a 497?
Mike here: There are several UK dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page. Be certain to get a #497, not a #497EP.

And:

Thanks again I will let you know how I get on.
Mike here: Note that the #497 uses the #505 serial cable, not the #506 that the #494 uses. Also, be aware that not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. For more info, see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.


Subject:	RE: Issue - Accidently turned AudioStar to Autostar
Sent:	Friday, December 9, 2011 23:17:04
From:	Challenger, Ben (Dubai) (Ben.Challenger@sgs.com)
Andrew,

You are truly a legend!! I now have audio star back on my handset. What
country do you reside in so I can buy you a beer or preferably a
pitcher?

Truly - Thanks to all involved on the ETX site !

Cheers,

Benjamin Challenger

And:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
Gday Ben

> You are truly a legend!! I now have audio star back on my handset. 

Excellent.
That makes you the second person in the world to achieve
that feat :-)  
Just be reminded that you cannot use the ASU to load tours etc 
to the Audiostars either ( as it screws them up too )
If you want to patch the firmware to fix a lot of the current bugs
i suggest you continue to use StarPatch in its std mode.
If you want to load tours etc, then you need to use my 
PEC editor. Other than that, have fun.

> What country do you reside

I'm "down under".

Andrew


Subject:	Issue - Accidently turned AudioStar to Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, December 8, 2011 18:10:00
From:	Challenger, Ben (Dubai) (Ben.Challenger@sgs.com)
OK searched your site and the fixes don't work I had an audiostar  my
serial-USB adapter arrived to I went to update it  and it did but to
5CE2. I'm trying to get it to re-install A2S6 or A1F7 but using the
force starpatch method doesn't work, and I'm having issues with the
renaming methodology of ASU
 
Any tips?
 
Benjamin Challenger
Mike here: You didn't say what USB-serial adapter you are using. As has been reported frequently on the ETX Site, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. I'm not certain whether that still applies with the AudioStar. For the AutoStar, I recommend Keyspan adapters.
Beyond that, perhaps Dick Seymour has some thoughts.
Now back to observing from my observatory!

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I'm CC'ing Andrew and Chris (Mr. StarPatch) on this.

Please describe what happens when StarPatch "doesn't work" when trying
to restore A1F7 to your Audiostar (in place of ASU's installation of
5CE2).
(since we've recently managed to rescue other people)

Was it ASU that did the mis-install?

good luck
--dick

And:

Hi - Yes ASU installed EP5CE2.

I downloaded starpatch trial v 1.803 plus the BuildA1F7.rom, and put
both in C:/

Opened up CMD and cd'd to c:/ and executed starpatch.exe ForceHandset

Starpatch opens up and I select the audio star handset in starpatch,
along with the BuildA1F7.rom and continue to update,

It goes through the process but after the final confirmation to install,
I get the following error message:

Erase of page at 0xE10000 failed
Handset Flash Memory is not working properly, 

Do you want to retry the Erase?

It makes no difference clicking Yes as continues with the error. So
click no to abort the installation. I think the only functionality
difference between A1F7 and 5CE2 is the fact I have now lost audio but I
am not sure if that is all (Fairly new to ETX 125- only had 3 days). 

I have tried renaming the rom's in ASU 5.9.3 to no avail, I may be
missing something. 

Any help is greatly appreciated as I'd love to get this back to A1F7 or
A2S6 as was originally shipped!

And:

Oh... you hit *that* problem.

The newer Audiostars use a memory chip that has a different erase
sequence than the older ones and the 497EP (for which 5CE2 is
appropriate).

5CE2 firmware cannot cause a portion of that Audiostar's memory to erase
(Meade has three different memory chip families in the Audiostar)

The updater programs (both ASU and StarPatch) depend upon the *existing*
firmware to perform the erase prior to the rewrites... and with 5CE2 in
there, it can't do it.

I believe Andrew and Chris have worked out a "two stage back-door
mechanism" to overcome your situation, but i don't know it offhand.  I
suggest waiting a day or so until they respond.

Of course, the *other* approach is to contact Meade and have them send
you a new Audiostar (since it was their ASU that nailed you).
The downside of that method is that you'll be without a handbox for a
week or three (or four), but you'll be ahead of the post-Christmas
rush/crush on customer service...

I'd give Andrew and Chris a chance at it before invoking Meade.

You are correct that the functional "autostarring" is the same for 5CE2
and A1F7...
but i do NOT recall if the memory-chip issue will bite you when you wish
to update the User Objects (add new comets, update the satellite data,
etc).

good luck
--dick

And more:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
> I'd give Andrew and Chris a chance at it before invoking Meade.

If Starpatch is barfing at the very first erase,
then its 99% sure to be the new style memory chip that is the problem.

> You are correct that the functional "autostarring" is the same for 5CE2 
> and A1F7...
> but i do NOT recall if the memory-chip issue will bite you when you wish 
> to update the
> User Objects (add new comets, update the satellite data, etc).

After bricking a MkII Audiostar in this manner, you cannot erase or write 
ANY flash.
Ie loading/editing user objects via ASU or the Hbx wont work either.

> > However It doesn't look like I've lost any functionality
> >apart from audio by being an autostar
>> as opposed to an audiostar... do you know if that is indeed the case?

Sort of.
You lose Audio and the Autoscrolling when the scroll keys are held down
( but the killer is you cant do tours etc and cant ever update the 
firmware ).
Other than that it works :-)

I have developed a two stage means to fix the hbx and have tried it about
a dozen times on my own Hbx successfully, but i havent found a third party
to try it on their Hbx yet.
You must understand beforehand, the Audiostar ( and 497EP ) handboxes
have no "protected" safeload code in them,
( which is partly why this has happened and you cant trecover from it )
I have a program you can run that will tweak a few bits "live" in the memory
then forcibly reload ONLY the safeload region of the hbx.
After that, you have to start the hbx in safeload mode then use Starpatch to 
reload
the full file.
Wanna be a guinea pig????

Andrew 

And:

Thanks for the detailed reply. If you think this has a good chance of
working I'm game to try! Though I would request detailed instructions as
this is a little out of my comfort zone!

Ben

And:

From:	Chris Carson (ccarson@pixsoft.ca)
Yep, Andrew worked out a way to correct the problem.  I don't know the
details so I'll leave it to him to explain the magic.

Regards,
Chris

And:

... and i'd like to remind everyone that Ben is *not* in a convenient
location for exchanging his Audiostar with Meade (although perhaps he
gets good service from Meade Europe?).

good luck
--dick

And:

> ... and i'd like to remind everyone that Ben is *not* in a convenient 
> location for
> exchanging his Audiostar with Meade (although perhaps he gets good service 
> from Meade
> Europe?).

He's in Dubai???? Theres probably a direct flight from LA every day :-)

>> Thanks for the detailed reply. If you think this has a good chance of 
>> working
>> I'm game to try! Though I would request detailed instructions
>>  as this is a little out of my comfort zone!

Oh its very simple to do, its just that its not covered by warranty. ;-)
If the fix i do fails to initialise correctly,
then it wont/cant erase anything anyway so no harm can get done anyway.
However, once it starts, it only takes about 20 seconds to run,
but ANYTHING going wrong with your comms can ruin it.
This is true of any update of the 497EP and Audiostars,
but with std updates, it does databases first,
so any comms problems show up at that point.
In this case, you will be starting with the safeload code.
Based on the fact you have already loaded 5CE2 with your setup
i am happy your cabling/converters work OK,
but just understand that its not 100%.

Andrew

And:

OK sounds great let's do this!!! Please send relevant program files and
instructions and I will get this done.

Regards,
Ben


Subject:	#505 Cable Assembly
Sent:	Wednesday, December 7, 2011 02:26:54
From:	Jim Poulette (jim@jimpoulette.com)
Thanks for the instructions on the #505 cable! It was easy and
It works perfectly.
 
I'm using it, not only to upgrade the AutoStar OS, but to connect
AstroPlanner to my telescope. It's all working really well !!!
 
Clear skies!
 
Regards,
Jim Poulette
NH


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