Last updated: 26 February 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 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: USB to Serial Adapters Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 16:29:22 From: Warp (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sorry to bother you, but do you know if this cable (PDF) should fill the need for connecting the AutoStar to a laptop USB in order to run the AutoStar Suite software for guiding and imaging? Thanks for your input. WarpMike here: The answer is "maybe". Not all adapters are created equal. So not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. I use a Keyspan adapter on my Macs and it works well (in Mac OS X). For more info on USB-Serial adapters see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site.
Subject: ETX-70AT & #506 Cable problems. Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 20:22:19 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) It's been a while since I used my ETX-70 with my computer. I have been wanting to lately and what I found is this. When I plug in the #506 cable to the ETX and power it on, I can see the the 494 handset gets some power to it, but it does not illuminate. It shows basically like a greyed out square. When I try and connect to it with several programs, it says that the scope is not connected. I have tried this with different PC's. Replaced batterys. Used with and without a serial to USB adapter. When I unplug the #506 cable, everything with the ETX is fine. Could this be a problem with the #506 cable or am I missing something else? Thanks in advance, Mike NutterMike here: Well, since the #506 has some active electronics it could be that something inside that little box is fried (from static electricity?) or that a pin inside the jack or the connectors is bent or too depressed or dirty. Those would be the most likely culprits.
Subject: Help Wanted, re Autostar #494 Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 19:16:03 From: Mike Pilgrim (email@example.com) Not sure how to list, so "Help Wanted" says it best. Long story short, while thinking I was performing soft reset of my 494 Autostar hand box on my ETX-60 (depressing Enter and Scroll Down arrow button at Power On), I succeeded in apparently "killing" the box totally. Now, on power on, nothing happens...no lights, no nothing. I don't have nor do I think it cost justified to purchase the appropriate cable which allows a software update from the PC (is it the 505, or 506 cable part.........which sells for about $45?)....... Ironically, one can purchase a New 494 on eBay for about that same price. It is entirely against my personality however, to throw away the hand box, which I honestly feel is salvagable. Here's what I propose as a possible solution.......or at least a way to have peace of mind. If someone out there has the above mentioned cable, and you would be willing to receive my 494 (I pay shipping both directions) for the purpose of attempting to revive it, I would be most happy to go to that extent with you. Or, if you feel as I do, that the device is capable of reviving through a PC connection and subsequent software upgrade, and if you have a need for this 494, I'll accept $25 as a purchase agreement, and I'll pay to ship it to you. Please correspond via email for details. Whether option number one (you attempt software upgrade and ship back to me), or you take it off my hands for the afore-mentioned offering, I believe each of us will sense a feeling of accomplishment. While many may view this as a pie in the sky idea, there may be someone out there who sees merit in this suggestion. Let me know if you have an answer. Thanks, Mike Pilgrim Boca Raton, Fl PS. Forced to focus on my ETX-60 while the ETX-125 is off to Meade for repairs to stripped gears in the RA gear train.Mike here: There is no SAFE LOAD mode on the #494 since there is no user-installable ROM update from Meade, even if you had the #506 serial cable. That said, you might see the article "Repairing #494 AutoStar" on te Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Best choice might be to get a #497 AutoStar, which is user-updatable and more flexible and capable.
Thanks Mike. I sort of felt there might be no good answer for the 494, but wanted to at least put out a feeler with my dilemma. Actually, I do have a spare 497 which I am using, and I agree this is really the best answer for the reasons you mentioned. Given your explanation and my concurrence that it really isn't worth pursuing, you need not go any further with my "help wanted" information. My plan is to eventually sell the ETX-60, and I really hate to equip it with a 497 if that could be avoided. Consequently, I have incidentally, latched on to a 494 off of eBay for $30, so I think I'll stop worrying about reviving the dead one, only after looking at your referenced information. Thanks again for your helpful information. Mike Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fl
Subject: re: autostar Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 09:44:46 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) To restore your Tours (and i'll bet it's forgotten comets and asteroids, too) you need to use the Autostar Updater to (re)fetch them from Meade and reinstall them. When using the Updater (ASU), it is very (too?) easy to accidentally delete all of the "user objects", which includes the Tours, Asteroids and Comets. There's a warning screen which pops up, but you may have missed it in the hubbub of trying to restore any function at all. Check out: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/guide-libraries.html for a click-by-click guide of how to use ASU to install objects. good luck --dick
Subject: schematic to make RS232 to USB cable for DS-2000 series relector Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 15:23:07 From: Southard, Eugene I've been searching through your website (without luck, so far) for a schematic that will show me how to wire up a cable that will run from my 497 autostar to a USB port on PC (windows XP). This is for a Meade DS2114ATS-TC reflector. Also, I would appreciate your leaving my email address off of any website postings. Many thanks for any help or advice you can point me towards... Again thanks, MerleMike here: Going from the RS-232 Serial Port on the AutoStar to USB requires more than just a cable. You have to have software that converts from the RS-232 protocol to USB. On the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page you can find information on making the #505 serial cable. Then you will need a USB-serial adapter; I suggest reading the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page as not all adapters work well with the AutoStar. I use a Keyspan adapter on my Macs and it works well.
Subject: autostar Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 11:33:54 From: PATRICK GARLAND (email@example.com) on monday i went to update autostar497 from my lpi suiteautostar froze not knowing what to do i went on to the m/weasner etx site got autostar going again but after starting up again tour had vanished but worse to come the etx is badly of in ra and dec can someone please help posted fri 15 febMike here: I presume you did a SAFE LOAD to reload the AutoStar. After that did you did you do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES?
thank you for your email could you tell me how to safe load im new to thisMike here: When you were updating the AutoStar and the application locked, how did you restore the AutoStar? Normally that would require putting the AutoStar info SAFE LOAD (also known as FLASH LOAD) mode. For more on SAFE LOAD see the article "Q. The power went off while I was updating my AutoStar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the FAQ page.
Subject: re: Can a Garmin eTrex be connected to auto star497? Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 20:53:03 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) As Mike suggested, using his site's Search for "garmin gps autostar" locates the reference to http://www.stargps.ca and from there looking at their "cables" page locates a $30 hookup cable for the eTrex -to- Autostar, plus the need to buy their firmware modification package for $79. However, once you've done all that, your eTrex GPS -will- set the Autostar's Time, Date and Site information. Meade's GPS unit (not an add-later accessory) connects to the Autostar via a totally different communication channel. You can get "half-way" there by buying (if still available) one of the DS -family's LNT modules for $40 plus shipping. That provides a separate battery-powered clock which the Autostar -will- access at power-up. But it does not provide the eTrex's site data, and the battery powered clock (at least mine) doesn't keep time very accurately over the course of a month. have fun --dick
Subject: Re:505 question (Astar Fdbk Feb. 11) Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 17:44:42 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Meade supplied 505 cable set includes a cable with a RJ11 on one end and a RJ10 on the other, plus a RJ11 to DB9 female adapter. The RJ10 end goes to the AutoStar. The 505 set was supplied with the AutoStar Suite Software (full edition, not Astromomers edition) Standard computer serial ports are DB9 male. I've never seen one with a female serial port but some very old computers used a 9-pin female for old EGA monitors; VGA video uses connectors the size of a DB9 but with 15 pins called a sub-D15 high density. The homemade 505 cable replaces the RJ11 connector with a DB9 female, eliminating the need for the adapter. I suggest you check the connector on your computer and make sure it's a serial port. If the computer is a newer laptop, chances are the port is an aux video port with 15 pins and you may not have a serial port. If that's the case, you will need a USB to Serial adapter, several of which are reviewed on Mike's site. Regards, Mike Hogan
Subject: Etx Solar viewing Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 07:07:28 From: aol (Stpferris@aol.com) Hi again, and thanks for site and recent replies, Does the sun have a catalogue number to "Fake the alighnment proceedure"and then punch in the number to find and track the sun. Regards Steve. (Clear Skies in ENGLAND!!!!!)Mike here: Due to lawyers and safety, the Sun is not an object in the AutoStar database. However there are some alternatives. See the articles "Setting a Solar Tracking Rate" and "Adding the Sun" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Keep in mind that you need to use a proper solar filter on the telescope and finderscope (unless covered) to avoid damaging the telescope and your eye.
Subject: Can a Garmin eTrex be connected to auto star497? Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 21:13:16 From: David (email@example.com) I have searched all over your site but must be missing the answer to this question. I have a Garmin eTrx gps hand held and would like to use it to set up location and time. I have tried connecting it to the serial port on the Auto Star unit but it never seems to communicate. My expectation was the auto star hand box would show getting gps information. I have never been able to see this. Is it possible I need additional software to make this operate? If so could you point me to where I can learn about this? I have an ETX 125PE and current update to the auto star box. I think it is 43eg. I have also looked at Meads web site but found no information there except cables needed. Any help would be greatly appreciated, David SchillingMike here: Some GPS units will work and some won't. There are some GPS articles on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page or you can search the Site for "garmin gps autostar" and find all the Garmin GPS/AutoStar info.
Subject: 505 question Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2008 06:43:50 From: Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've been looking at the "as_cable505" file on your website for hours and I'm stumped. As I understand it, you have a rj10 plug at the Autostar end of the cable, and a db9 Female at the PC end. But the serial port on the PC is also Female. Do you just use a male/male connector between them? Why not just end the cable with a male db9 plug? I'm sure I'm missing something obvious.would sure appreciate your help. Thanks.and thanks for a GREAT site! Frank Bahia, BrazilMike here: There is a lot of AutoStar cable information under the "Cable and Power Information" section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. One end is a RJ11 (not 10) for the AutoStar end. What you need to put on the computer will depend on what type of RS-232 port your computer has.
Subject: Re: Lxd75 Creep after beep and no update Sent: Saturday, February 9, 2008 20:21:32 From: Dan Dolaptchieff (email@example.com) Do you have a site you reccomend for walking thru the menu on the autostar? jack said there used to be a dvd available to utilise it to the fullest. thanks danMike here: You might check out the Helpful Information: Tutorials on the ETX Site. Also, see the "50 Lessons on ETX" on the Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page. The same company has some additional DVDs available now.
Subject: Autostar sidereal rate Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2008 14:52:20 From: Piotr Kucharski (firstname.lastname@example.org) Last few days I was working on my Autostar II with Your 43a patch loaded. Currently I'm working on substituting original DS motors with Maxon gearhead + encoder ones on my ATM GEM mount (so patch was required). I did calculations for new Ra ratio, but apparently the worm is rotating too slow with new motor. I double checked original motor gear ratio (448:1) and encoder ppr rate (36ppr). I was told Meade motors I was using were used in 100 tooth worm wheel with 4,56296 Ra ratio. My new ratio for Maxon motor with 231:1 gear, 100ppr encoder and 359 Byers worm wheel gives 23,46241. I checked the time of single worm turn at sidereal rate and it is 260 seconds, instead of 240. I'm having problem finding where did I err, or otherwise what sidereal rate Meade's Autostar is using - 86400, 86160 or 93500 seconds a day ? Do You have any knowledge how Autostar is using Ra rate value entered ? Do You know how many seconds of sidereal day it's using ? Is it possible Your patch is using modified values or algorithm for counting motor encoder pulses ? Do motor rotation calculations depend on telescope type chosen in Setup ? Regards Piotr KucharskiMike here: First off the patches are from Dick Seymour, not me. Second, the 4.3 patches are for the AutoStar #497, not the AutoStar II. At any rate, I'll let Dick respond. Over to you Dick.
Oops, my fault. Twice. Patches are Dick's, indeed, and my Autostar is labeled ETX Autostar. My old memory upgraded it to AS II. Regards Piotr
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) >> Last few days I was working on my Autostar  with Your 43a patch >> loaded. Currently I'm working on substituting original DS motors with >> Maxon gearhead + encoder ones on my ATM GEM mount (so patch was >> required). >> I did calculations for new Ra ratio, but apparently the worm is >> rotating too slow with new motor. There is a document "GearRatioGospel" posted in the Files area of the Yahoo Roboscope group (a group dedicated to putting Meade motors and Autostars on a wide variety of mounts). It describes some of the calculations required. But since you are also changing the -encoders-, that simple technique may be inadequate. >> I double checked original motor gear ratio (448:1) and encoder ppr >> rate (36ppr). I was told Meade motors I was using were used in 100 >> tooth worm wheel with 4,56296 Ra ratio. >> My new ratio for Maxon motor with 231:1 gear, 100ppr encoder and 359 >> Byers worm wheel gives 23,46241. >> I checked the time of single worm turn at sidereal rate and it is 260 >> seconds, instead of 240. I would -think- that just changing your 23.46241 ratio proportionally (the multiplying by 240/260 or 260/240) would give you the value you seek. The Gear Ratio number is the number of encoder "ticks" per arcsecond of OTA motion ... so that's another way to figure the number. >> I'm having problem finding where did I err, or otherwise what sidereal >> rate Meade's Autostar is using - 86400, 86160 or 93500 seconds a day ? >> Do You have any knowledge how Autostar is using Ra rate value entered >> ? Do You know how many seconds of sidereal day it's using ? Since the unmodified DS scope tracks stars accurately, they are using 86160, but that specific number may not appear frequently in the code. They also use the number of arcseconds of motion per clock second, and they also use the number of arcseconds per 6 milliseconds. Their code is not simple. >> Is it possible Your patch is using modified values or algorithm for >> counting motor encoder pulses ? "my patch" includes many smaller patches. One of the patches (a complicated one, with many sub-options) is for PEC operation with different counts of final gear teeth. You do NOT need that patch for normal operation (at least at first). Only the "add a 4504 to the list of known telescopes" -does- load the 4504's Ratio, but only if you select -that- telescope. My patch kits do not affect any other model's Ratios. >> Do motor rotation calculations depend on telescope type chosen in Setup ? Yes... some of the models have quite different Ratio settings, but after you have selected a model, you can menu to "Ratio" and put in whatever values you want... they will be remembered when you turn off the power, but they -can- be kicked back to Meade's value if you (re)select a telescope model later. have fun --dick
Subject: Firmware bug in the ETX 80 with 494 autostar V13E Sent: Friday, February 1, 2008 09:02:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Mike, have you ever seen a firmware bug in the 494 w/ V13E that makes it move forward a month when the power is cycled. It does this only on the 31st of the month. Otherwise it behaves normally except for losing about 15 sec/ day.The back up battery in the scope is good. Any ideas? Thanks for the great web site! Charlie CongerMike here: My #494 still has 1.0E and there is no user-installable update available. So I can't comment directly on that bug. Normally the date defaulted to will be the last entered date. The time should always default to 20:00:00 (or 08:00:00PM). It should not default to 19:59:45.
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