Last updated: 28 February 2007
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 email@example.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: meade 494 controller Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 05:05:36 From: Dave Rigby (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hi, I have been looking at your site, (very nice), and I was wandering if it is possible to get a patch that will allow me to use the Meade 494 controller with a RA DEC mount, at the moment it only list fork mount models. I have looked on your patch page but couldn't find what I was looking for, please can you help? Many thanks DaveMike here: I have forwarded your request to the patches author, Dick Seymour.
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) There are a bunch of answers to that, all different from what you'd like to hear. Practical Answer: it's not really feasible Engineer's Answer: it can be done, but it's difficult and risky Reasons: (a) I don't make patch kits for the 494's. Meade doesn't provide downloads, and there are at least 8 different programs sets in the 494's out in the field, so i don't have the information i need to create one. (b) the 494 is not programmed with "SafeLoad"... if the patching process were to be interrupted or fail for -any- reason, the 494 would be dead in the water. (see next) (c) the central chip -does- have a built-in bootstrapping system. An example of attempting to use it is here: http://home.comcast.net/~lynol1000/as_494_gc/index.html (but that brings us back to (a), above) What -can- you do? (d) there is a model of the 494 programmed for German Equatorial mounts (GEM). It has "Starfinder" as the exterior label, and was supplied by Meade with their 4504 and 114EQ/DH-4 telescopes. Joining the 4504 Yahoo http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade4504Telescopes/ group and asking there may get you one (or watching www.telescope-warehouse.com ). Another possible source might be the RoboScope group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope/ (e) buy a 497 Autostar, and use it... it knows RA/DEC mounts ("Polar") and GEM. This is by far the easier/recommended course. Sorry 'bout that... good luck --dick
Subject: ASU Version 6 By Werner Schfer Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 05:55:55 From: Kim Miau Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) My ASU 4.6 doesn't save the background image previously set as well. However, after I install the Meade Autostar Suite, it works. I guess Meade forgot to include some files with the updater. The icon image of the ASU is corrupted too. Regards. -- -Robin Lee My Astronomy Blog- www.AstronomyNotes.net
Subject: ASU Version 4.6 Sent: Friday, February 23, 2007 09:15:45 From: Werner Schfer (email@example.com) I used ASU Version 3.6.1 since a long time without problems. Now I updated to version 4.6. Now I have the following problems: If I use in the Option Menu -> Advanced Startup the program does not save this option, the next time I start the program, the program starts with the small window. The same problem if I choose an other image for the background, the program did not save the new background image. I use Windows XP. Can you help me? thanks in advance and kind regards Werner Schaefer Cham Switzerland Excuse some possible faults in my english, it's not my mothertongue.Mike here: I haven't seen any similar problem reports with version 4.6. But it sounds like a preferences file could be corrupted. Since I don't use Windows I haven't installed version 4.6.
Subject: My #497 Doesn't Have Any Word On It Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:48:54 From: Kim Miau Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) My #497 can't show any word right now. So, I just unscrew the back cover and saw the handbox and plug out the connector of the LCD panel to the handbox circuit as seen on attachment 1. I saw that the fingers of the end of the connector is worn (another end is melt onto the panel). Is this the problem? Can we touch the plastic connector which have some lanes printed on it? How do I get the replacement?
Regards. -- -Robin Lee My Astronomy Blog- www.AstronomyNotes.net
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) Yes, you can safely touch the contacts, and/or perhaps gently clean them with a dry tissue paper. The connector has a locking bar that can be pulled out about 0.5 mm . Then you can slip the cable into the connector, then slide the locking bar back into position to hold it. Sometimes the bar does not hold the cable well enough, in which case a thin piece of paper can be slipped in on the "back" of the cable, before locking the bar. That helps. I think you have the "new" display module, which means a 494, 497 or Autostar II handbox display will all fit it. You could try to get a new module from Meade, and one of the Yahoo RoboScope group members posted that he had spare modules. You could try Bill Vorce's at: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.telescope-warehouse.com He does ship overseas. good luck --dick
Subject: autostar reset Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 17:46:37 From: GARY WADE (GARYCW@SHAW.CA) sorry to bother you with this question but i cannot find the info on resetting the autostar.I am refering to the reset from what appears to be a dead autostar. Thank You For Your Help and Thanks for the Great Site. Gary WadeMike here: if you mean SAFE LOAD (or FLASH LOAD), hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on the telescope. NOTE: you will then have to reload the AutoStar's ROM using the software from Meade's web site.
Thank You for the quick Response
Subject: Q: How to patch AUTOSTAR "quiet slew" speed for current firmware? Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2007 17:29:00 From: J??rg Graffe (email@example.com) as a beginning amateur astronomer, I'm thoroughly impressed by the sheer volume and quality of your web site. I have the following problem: I recently purchased a Meade LXD-75 SN 6" telescope. Unfortunately, the GOTO slewing is still very noisy even in "quiet slew" mode (while apparently still using a fast 1,5deg/sec instead of the ordinary 5deg/sec as the slewing speed). This is all the more a problem as I live in a neighborhood where it is rather quiet (at least during the night, when I hope to be able to use the telescope for astrophotography soon :-). Sometime in 2001, Richard Seymour suggested patching the AUTOSTAR firmware to modify the GOTO slewing speed to solve this problem: http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/autostarMay01.html Now, as far as I can tell, Mr. Seymour's patch referred to an "ancient" version (v21ek) of the AUTOSTAR firmware. Not being an embedded systems programmer myself ;-), I was wondering if there would be a way to apply such a patch to a current version of the AUTOSTAR firmware. I am currently using AUTOSTAR firmware version 4.2Gg (German language version). (I'd even be willing to switch to the English language version if required.) Could you give me some hints on where to find (or how to construct) such a patch for more recent versions of the AUTOSTAR firmware? Looking for hex codes "FF" and "C6 FF" in a current firmware image turned up so many hits that I wouldn't dare to mess with the image for fear of damaging any vital parts of the program logic. (Apart from that, I'd assume that recent firmware images would probably also use some kind of checksumming to secure themselves against tampering.) I'd be very grateful if you could help me with this issue. I'm currently even considering to upgrade to the LXD-75 8" SC scope, but the whole practical feasibility of this (revived :-) hobby of mine depends on being able to take photos of the nightly skies as quietly as possible... Thank you very much, J. Graffe from Bocholt/Borken in GermanyMike here: I will let our AutoStar patch writer Dick Seymour address that.
Subject: Autostar 497, Buttons Do Not Always Work Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 19:49:48 From: Danny Chieppa (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have two Meade Autostar 497 hand controls. One of them works fine, the other is driving me nuts. Some of the buttons do not respond with a single press. I have to hold it down very hard. This happens with the Enter, Goto and the different Number buttons. The worse buttons are the four used to slew the telescope in different directions. I have to use two fingers pressing very hard to get the buttons to work. The hand unit is used but looks new. I've taken it apart but the circuit board does not look like there is anything I can service on it. If I remember correctly it's running on 33E software. I don't think a newer version of software will cure the button problems. I have not seen this problem described in the FAQ section. If I've missed it and it has been covered, my apologies. You have a great site. It's been very helpful to me since I bought an ETX125 several months ago. Clear skies, Dan Chieppa New Bedford, MAMike here: Perhaps all you need to do is clean the keys. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject: ETX125 Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 19:19:04 From: Gerald Jenny (email@example.com) Well it has happened all of a sudden the autostar quit and I cannot seem to find out why I have a ETX 125 with auto star and GPS the gps lite comes on but no auto star how can I test the condnuity of the cables I guess that is the first place to start and any other help you can advise thanks Jerry PS the site is greatMike here: There are some testing articles on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Did you perhaps connect the GPS into the wrong port (and thus fry the AutoStar)? Have you tried without the GPS connected?
Subject: RE: Daylight Savings ZONE or TIME Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 05:43:35 From: Littell, Charles C CIV USAF 88 CG/SCCV (Charles.Littell@WPAFB.AF.MIL) Thanks for the response. Since I can't remember seeing the constellations abruptly leap across the sky at 2AM on Daylight Savings night, I guess resetting the LNT clock won't be an issue. Politicians are probably funding studies as we speak to find a remedy to this lack of government control. Chas Charles C. Littell, IIIMike here: If Congress had their way, the constellations would jump!
Subject: Autostar-ETX default home position Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2007 14:21:19 From: Fernando Campuzano (firstname.lastname@example.org) I use to drive my ETX-125 in polar mount. Due to the accesories I have at the rear port (SCT 2" adapter, off-axis guider, DSLR camera) is not possible at all to start a power-up of the Autostar with the correct Polar home position. So, I usually start with the scope at 180 degrees AZ (pointing South) and 0 degrees DEC. Then I sync the scope to this point from the laptop via Starry Night. My question is the following: When you power-up the Autostar (and stablish Date/Time/Daylight saving) it assumes the usual Polar home position, so coordinates when pressing MODE for two seconds, are 90 degrees DEC and LST+12 hours as RA. So the need to sync to my "modified" home position. Do you know if it is possible to patch the Autostar ROM in such a way that it assumes when powered-up the coordinates 0 degrees DEC and LST as RA? I think this could be quite helpful. Thanks a lot for your site. Fernando Campuzano
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) I agree that it could be quite helpful. In fact, RA=LST and DEC=0 is the default LX200gps and RCX400 power-up position and PARK position. For your request i have three answers: (a) send the request to firstname.lastname@example.org ... if they could add it as an alternative PARK position, that would be the best solution. It would be nice if they could add the full "custom park" feature of the LX200gps, but i think Meade is running out of space in the power-off memory. Having -one- alternate PARK would only take one bit. Remembering the full coordinates of an alternate PARK takes 6 bytes. (b) my -usual- response to the general "a custom PARK patch" is that it is not within the "range" of my patching methods to provide a "fits all" solution... ..but... (c) your -specific- request (RA=LST, DEC=0 for a Polar mount) may be feasible. (the DEC seems easy, it's the RA which is a problem). I'll spend some time and see if it can be done. There are two halves to it: making it go there for PARK (easy), and making it realize that it's there when it next powers up (hard). A half-way solution of RA=(LST+12) and DEC=0 i -think- is fairly easy. That would, at least, keep the camera safe. I'm about to be very busy for a week, so if i haven't sent a follow-up message (with a patch!) by Feb 21, feel free to ask how it's going.... One quick question: which hemisphere are you in? Northern or Southern? have fun --dick
Thanks for your fast reply. My hemisphere is North. Fernando Campuzano
Subject: Re: ETX-80 Daylight Savings Time problem Sent: Friday, February 9, 2007 19:50:13 From: Bill Weeber (email@example.com) I'm using the bubble level/compass that fits into the eyepiece holder to get the scope into home position. First, I release the vertical lock and level the scope and lock it down. Next, I release the horizontal lock and point the scope to true north which is 9 degrees to the right of magnetic north on the compass. After locking the horizontal lock, I double check the bubble level/compass to make sure it is level and pointing true north. At this point I turn on the AutoStar and go through the menus for Easy Align. First I get past the warning about solar viewing by pressing the speed button. Then all it takes is 3 presses of the enter button and the scope slews to Sirius which it has selected as the first alignment star. Getting Started: Enter Align Easy: Enter Alt/Az: Enter Tonight I did a reset, so I had to go through the one time initialization procedure. Here is what I entered. Daylight Savings Time : No Location: Raleigh, NC (not zip code) Model number: ETX-80 I double checked the time and date and they are correct. When I follow the alignment procedure that I outlined above, the scope points about 30 minutes to the left of Sirius. My best results come when I advance the clock by one hour and align the scope to magnetic north instead of true north. Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong? Thanks, -BillMike here: Does sound odd. Since the date/time are correct the clock chip seems to be OK. Have you tried a different city in the same time zone?
I did use the scope in another city early on and had similar problems. This was when I was first learning how the use the scope and had not done as much experimentation. Tonight I tried a different approach. As I mentioned in my previous email, changing the Daylight Savings Time setting did not seem to have any effect on the outcome. This is odd in and of itself. I wanted to eliminate any errors from compass readings or proximity descriptions to the target star from my experiments. To do this, I referenced all my home settings and star alignment positions to the vertical setting circle and horizontal setting ring. Using the leveling compass I put the scope in the Alt/Az home postion (magnetic north). I adjust the vertical setting circle to "0" and the horizontal setting ring to "0", so I don't have to use the leveling compass anymore. Here are the results from various alignment attempts using different setup parameters. Reset Location Time DST Vertical Horizontal No Raleigh +1Hr No 38 11.5 No Raleigh +1Hr Yes 38 11.5 Yes 27606 +1Hr Yes 38 11.7 Yes 27606 +1Hr No 38 11.9 No 27606 current No 36 10.8 These measurements took place in about a 30minute time span. As you can see the Daylight Savings Time setting does not change the outcome. Also, the city and zip code give the same results as expected. I even went through the reset procedure on two of the tests to make sure there are no settings lingering from a previous experiment. I also took some data points so you can see how close I'm getting to the actual alignment star (Sirius). This is with the clock advanced by one hour. It appears to me that if it was actually daylight savings time, the correct DST time would work irregardless of the DST setting. Reset Location Time DST Vertical Horizontal No 27606 +1Hr No 38 12.5 Before Spiraling in 38 12.4 After Spiraling in So I'm wondering if this is a common problem that no one has realized they have, or is this problem unique to my scope. Thanks, -BillMike here: Interesting results. Just to confirm, you have the AutoStar #494? And what software version is in the AutoStar?
The manual says #494 AutoStar. The software version that I read out of the AutoStar is 13Ed.
Subject: Daylight Savings ZONE or TIME Sent: Friday, February 9, 2007 10:31:15 From: Littell, Charles C CIV USAF 88 CG/SCCV (Charles.Littell@WPAFB.AF.MIL) I cannot find an answer in the manual (ETX-125PE) or your (excellent!) site to this question: Does setting Daylight Savings "YES" make it toggle on and off automatically per calendar date? And "NO" would mean your location does not observe DS? Or, does DS "YES" manually fix DS offset, requiring manual change twice a year? Thanks--ChasMike here: It does not change automatically with the calendar. And NO means not currently observing Daylight Saving Time at your location.
Subject: ETX-80 Daylight Savings Time problem Sent: Thursday, February 8, 2007 19:50:57 From: Bill Weeber (firstname.lastname@example.org) I got the ETX-80BB for Christmas and cannot get the alignment to work properly. I have experimented extensively with the alignment and it always seems to be about an hour off of where it should be after it slews to the first reference object (usually Sirius). Since it seemed to be an hour off, I tried setting the clock one hour later than normal to see if this would help. Now the scope slews close enough and I can spiral in to achieve alignment. -------- Settings to get correct alignment Date correct Time 1 hour later than actual (11:00 pm) Daylight Savings Time No Location 27606 (Raleigh, NC) --------The following two settings result in exact same improper alignment Date correct Time correct (10:00 pm) Daylight Savings Time No Location 27606 (Raleigh, NC) Date correct Time correct (10:00 pm) Daylight Savings Time Yes Location 27606 (Raleigh, NC) My experiments suggest that the daylight savings time setting does not work properly. Is anyone else experiencing this kind of problem? Thanks, -BillMike here: I (and others) have had some problems using ZIPCODE so I recommend using CITY NAME instead (assuming you did use ZIPCODE). Another possibility is if you are using a Magnetic Compass to locate North. The Magnetic Variation for your location is nearly 9 degrees. That means if you used Magnetic North instead of True North, your HOME position would be off by 9 degrees or over 30 minutes in the sky. Since you indicate the initial alignment star is off by about an hour, could this be the cause?
Thanks for your quick response. I have tried all of the recommendations that you suggested with no success. I have even entered my latitude and longitude as my location and factored in the magnetic declination. Making changes to the Daylight Savings Time setting has absolutely no effect. I would expect this to cause an hour difference, but it doesn't. Regards, -BillMike here: OK. Lets back up a step. Describe how you set up the telescope for the alignment.
Subject: Autostar chip burnt out Sent: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 11:11:59 From: Steven A. McKay (email@example.com) Hi there, I'm lost since Meade support in the UK is non-existent so you are my only hope. I have just spent about ten minutes using my ETX 125. Everything was going fine, I was just using the buttons on the handset to look around the sky. Suddenly there was a little electrical cracking noise, the screen went funny on the Autostar 497 handset and there was a smell of burning from the handset. Now the thing still switches on but it just says "LX90" and will do nothing else. It's clear the thing has wrecked itself - is there anything I can do? It was bought second hand so no real comeback there. Is there even any point buying another handset, chances are this will happen again. I took the back off the handset and the chip that's blackened is the one just above the little round thing (a speaker?) - would you have any idea why this particular chip would burn itself out during normal operation? Any help or advice would be fantastic as at this point I see no option but to sell the scope minus handset on eBay and just buy a 'scope with no electronics. Thanks for your time Steven McKay, Scotland
From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) >> Hi there, I'm lost since Meade support in the UK is non-existent so >> you are my only hope. Actually, many people have had success with BC&F, who are the Meade importers/distributors. They're in London: +44(189)261-6131 Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.telescopehouse.co.uk There are some "used telescope" web sites in the UK, some are listed here: http://www.r-clarke.org.uk/astrolinks_vendors.htm There is also a 497 Autostar for sale for $100 on www.astromart.com http://www.astromart.com/classifieds/details.asp?classified_id=480407 (the seller is in Canada, so he may not have any problem thinking about posting it to Scotland). >> I have just spent about ten minutes using my ETX 125. Everything was >> going fine, I was just using the buttons on the handset to look >> around the sky. Suddenly there was a little electrical cracking >> noise, the screen went funny on the Autostar 497 handset and there >> was a smell of burning from the handset. >> Now the thing still switches on but it just says "LX90" and will do >> nothing else. >> It's clear the thing has wrecked itself - is there anything I can do? >> It was bought second hand so no real comeback there. Is there even >> any point buying another handset, chances are this will happen again. >> I took the back off the handset and the chip that's blackened is the >> one just above the little round thing (a speaker?) - would you have >> any idea why this particular chip would burn itself out during normal >> operation? That chip is directly connected to the main cable heading to the telescope base. If anything went wrong inside the base, or if you had (for example) a 505 serial cable plugged into the base's AUX port instead of the proper second hole in the Autostar itself, such damage could happen. That chip is also -unique- to the 497/495 Autostars... it's a pre-programmed PIC chip. good luck --dick
Thanks for the help Mike, I'm just going to sell the scope back to the guy that sold me it and buy another one (probably not an ETX one). Cheers Steven McKay
Subject: autostar problem Sent: Monday, February 5, 2007 17:29:56 From: Chris Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a meade ds-2130, the optics are great, the trouble im having is with the autostar 494. First night out, home position, alignment done with sirius and rigel. Goto between these 2 stars, perfect ,I thought I was in good shape, then tried to goto the plaides...the scope went into crazy mode and did 4 or 5 complete 360 rotations before i turned it off. The rest of the night i just used the motor manually to view. What is happening, is it a bad autostar unit ?Mike here: Some things to consider: CALIBRATE MOTOR, TRAIN DRIVES, and don't use stars closer than about 90 degrees to each other for alignment stars (ideally, let the AutoStar pick the stars).
Subject: Autostar Direction keys and alignment stars Sent: Friday, February 2, 2007 06:55:15 From: McNamara, Donal (email@example.com) I have one issue for you. I am familiar with and comprehend the Left and Down arrow concept for Drive training. (IE The last thing you should do to centre the reference object before Training is to use the Left and Down arrow keys). Just wondering if the same principle applies to centering alignment stars or even doing a Sync on a star! PS Love the site. Its been a great resource to me for years. Keep up the good work.Mike here: Probably does. As Dick Seymour keeps reminding me (and I keep forgetting since I don't worry about it): "You want the final motion to be -towards- the west, so that the sidereal drive -continues- moving in the same direction."
Subject: Converting Autostar 495 to 497 Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 19:05:41 From: Jerry Rozanski, AIA (firstname.lastname@example.org) I just bought a new #495 on ebay and plugged itinto a ETX-90ec. All I get is ""Use ETX Autostar with this model" On your webiste you answered this question for someone else a few years ago. Could you please tell me EXACTLY which patch files and programs I need to download (today) in order to upgrade my 495 to a 497? Providing the link would be extra special! I tried to figure it out on your info page but there is so many I dont want to install the wrong patch and make things worse. I ordered the 505 cable kit and will have that shortly so that I can link up with the computer. Thanks a lot! Jerry RozanskiMike here: The upgrade is available from Meade's Autostar page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html). Get both the AutoStar Update application (version 4.6) and the AutoStar update (4.3Ed). You may have to put the AutoStar into SAFE LOAD mode (it will display FLASH LOAD READY). Don't try that unless a normal update fails (i.e., the updating application doesn't recognize the AutoStar). If you have only USB see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on the ETX Site. If you use Mac OS X get "AutostarX" (same page); if you use Linux get "Lin_Autostar" (same page).
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