AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
[Home!]
Last updated: 28 February 2009

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, AutoStar III (for ETX-LS) 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 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:	now Meade's broken the link to Tours...
Sent:	Friday, February 27, 2009 08:19:22
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You may get mail...
The main Autostar support page's "Tours" link now gets a 404 error.

At the -moment-, this link:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/EtxAutostar/AutostarTourFiles/DeepSky/
takes you to a "fall back" Tour directory.

You, Mike, might want to archive those Tours (if you haven't already).
(it looks like the change happened on 24th Feb 2009)

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Grrr..... Thanks. I guess they have fired the webmaster. They sure don't seem to care about their web site anymore. The AutoStar support page still doesn't show the LXD75 nor the ETX-80. I hadn't archived those tours but I just grabbed them and have archived them. The link is on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page under the "AutoStar Tours" section.
Subject:	Autostar version
Sent:	Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:29:34
From:	Patrick A Riggins (PRIGGINS@stx.rr.com)
I really like your web site.It is a big help. I am very new to astronomy
and purchased a used UHTC ETX-125EC with Autostar 497 handbox and many
accessories. Everything is in excellent condition and seems to work
great. I have been reading a lot about updating the Autostar. How can I
tell what version I have?
Patrick
Mike here: Setup>Statistics>Version

And:

Thanks for the tutoring. I have version 26Ec. That's pretty old from I
know. I read on your website about the issues with updating the 497 at
this time. What is the safest route I should take to update?

Patrick
Mike here: You can get ASU 4.6 and ROM 4.3Eg from the Helpful Information:   AutoStar Info: AutoStar Software Archive page. You will need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 port on your computer. You can easily make the cable; see the cable information on the AutoStar Info page. If your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters.
Subject:	re:  Autostar Updates
Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 2009 22:25:11
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Mike, in your reply, you wrote:
> Where'd you get ASU version 4.85?

I believe 4.85 came with one of the Autostar Suite updates.

It happens to be the one on -my- laptop, and is dated Jul 15 2007.
It also happens to be the first released one with the "update MySky"
button in the center.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Dead handbox after upgrade and alleged fault with Autostar software
Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 2009 05:12:47
From:	James Harris (james.harris.1@googlemail.com)
A tale of woe which I send in hopes that either others know a fix or to
warn anyone else who might try the upgrade.

In short, after going through the software upgrade procedure my Autostar
handbox died and won't respond even to the Safe Load keys so it seems
there's nothing I can do to recover it.

The longer version is as follows. My Autostar which I think is a #497
seemed to be fine but I wanted to add comet Lulin and thought it would
be a good idea to upgrade the software at the same time. I downloaded
the latest ASU Client from

http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Here is the first error. The web site says it is version 4.6 and is
1,654 KB in size. The downloaded file, when run, says it is

version 4.88 2008 Jun 8 21:08:19 PT (C) 2001-2007

and shows as 404 KB in size. Running it does not go into the install
process but presents the Autostar update program directly. Still it got
connected to the handbox. Notably although it could connect it showed
memory full in the lower right hand corner and could not communicate
with the handbox without crashing.

I already had an older version of ASU on another computer so I tried
that instead. It reports itself as:

version 4.85, 2007 Jul 15 00:58:21 PT (C) 2001-2007

This time connect showed Avail. Mem.: 64512 Bytes. I pressed the Upgrade
Autostar Software Now button and told it to check the Internet for the
latest version which it found to be 59Ef. Here is potentially the second
error. The Meade web page says that 43Eg is available but the update
software found 59Ef.

Trusting the software (foolishly as it turned out) I got it to download
59Ef and then told it to upgrade. The handbox previously was working on
43Ea. It took some time to do the upgrade. I didn't measure the time but
estimate it was somewhere between half and hour and an hour. Something
made a noise at this point. When I checked the computer it looked like
it had finished but the handbox screen was blank. There was no response
to buttons so I power cycled the handbox ... but it came up as still
blank.

I have tried powering it up in Safe Load mode - i.e. with Enter and
Scroll Down keys pressed and various other combinations - but
unfortunately it is still blank. Nothing I can do seems to generate any
response from the handbox.

I have tried a different handbox. (Fortunately I have another one from
another telescope.) It works fine with the same scope and cables etc.
but the faulty hand box is still dead.

Has anyone else had this problem or is aware of a fix?

The last part of the tale is that I spoke with a telescope supplier and
they say Meade is aware that they have some faulty software on their
Autostar update page and are working on a fix. I can't believe Meade are
aware of software causing the symptoms I have described above. If they
were then surely they would take the errant software off their web page
wouldn't they?

I don't know if the alleged error is with the ASU or the Autostar
software but for anyone thinking to upgrade just now, beware. A dead
handbox is expensive to replace.

James
Mike here: Sorry that you missed the AutoStar update warning that I posted on the Announcements: Warnings! page on the 1st of February. That could have saved you some grief. However, since you did miss it, see the article "Recovering from a Bad AutoStar Download" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Perhaps that will recover the AutoStar.

And:

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I didn't see that warning message.

I've done as you suggested and followed the instructions on the page
Recovering from a Bad AutoStar Download [UPDATED!] (02/12/09). I had, in
fact, followed them before but I went over them again. It's OK until
step 3. Where the instructions mention wording saying the Autostar is
ready to accept a flash update mine is blank. It does not seem to
respond to Enter and Scroll Down on power up. It just sits there with
nothing on the display.

In case it was just the display that was faulty I tried completing the
rest of the steps but ASU reports it cannot see an attached Autostar.

Unless you know another way to reset it it looks like my handbox is
fully dead. It was working before the "upgrade." I suppose it is
possible that something else has failed but it's a bit of a coincidence
that it happened just at that moment.

If you have any other suggestions I'd be glad to try them.

As others have said it's a great site. Have you ever considered
converting it to a wiki?

James
Mike here: Bummer. You might call Meade and tell them what happened. Since it is THEIR fault, hopefully they will send you a replacement, correct AutoStar. As to a wiki, yes, I considered it. But that would take more work to moderate than my automated scripts running on my Mac.
Subject:	Autostar Updates
Sent:	Tuesday, February 24, 2009 20:16:02
From:	Peter Hughes (peterchughes@hotmail.com)
I have 2 Autostar update questions:

1.  I have an ETX-90EC (2000) and I'm ashamed to say that I have never
updated the firmware on it's Autostar.  The version showing on the
display is 1.2!  When I attach the 497 to my laptop (ASU 4.85), it comes
up with unrecognised unit and version.  I dont think this is a
connection problem because my other 497 comes up with unit ID and
version (see below) on the same ASU software.  How do I go about
bringing this early version up to date?  Would it be possible to update
one Autostar from the other?  I want to sell the scope and feel I should
update the 497 first.

2.  My latest acquisition is a UHTC ETX-125AT.  The Autostar shows up as
version 43Ea on the ASU.  I have read the articles posted on your
website, so I know there are more recent versions of the firmware
available (and where to find them).  My question is how much benefit the
updates would be to me with my scope.  I know the 497 is used with other
Meade scopes and that a lot of the fixes are to benefit them.  How does
the 'lay' person know whether an update is necessary or recommended for
his scope?

Thank you so much for your website, it has really been valuable to me. 
I have gone from being disillusioned with these scopes to being in awe
of what they can achieve.  It has rekindled my interest (so much so,
that I bought a new scope) and I look forward to many happy hours of
exploring the skies
 
Best Wishes to you and all your Contributers,
Peter Hughes
Grand Cayman 
Mike here: Where'd you get ASU version 4.85? Meade's site has 4.6. You can either clone from the newer AutoStar to the older one. You'll need a clone cable for that (see the cable information on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page). Or you should be able to update to a more current version using ASU 4.6. It might require an intermediate version update (older versions available on the AutoStar Software Archive on the AutoStar Info page). If all else fails, try SAFE LOAD. Like all software, unless you having problems with your current version, updating to a newer version may not be required. Of course, you do get bug fixes (as well as new bugs sometimes). See the article "AutoStar READMEs" on the AutoStar Info page for what's changed in each version.
Subject:	Re: Problem with 497 Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, February 24, 2009 16:48:56
From:	Paul Beckmann (wa0rse@gmail.com)
I have located a pair of LXD55 drives with boards, gears, motors,
housings, on Astromart by posting a 'wanted' ad. Norman Lloyd in Canada
had them and is selling them to me for a very reasonable price. I am
also hot on the trail of a spare AutoStar. One way or the other I'm
going to get this baby back on the air (and most likely have some
components for "spares".)

Thanks for your thoughts. I will keep you in the loop in the coming
weeks. While I'm waiting for the drives to arrive, I'll do some
"homework" on the early postings to the Roboscope group.

--Paul

Subject:	Custom Tracking Rate? -Autostar 497
Sent:	Friday, February 20, 2009 21:12:03
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
This will be a tough question. The starting scenario is: Star is
centered in a 26mm EP. After 1 hour of Equatorial tracking, Azimuth
error has placed the star MIDWAY between EP center and extreme left edge
as viewed thru a diagonal.(i.e., azimuth motor needs slightly more
speed). Elevation remains near perfect.

Question: Can the "Custom" option in "Tracking Rate" menu be used to
slightly speed up the azimuth in equatorial tracking?

If you decide to burn this e-mail in front of witnesses I will
understand. :-)

-Larry 
Mike here: Changing the sidereal tracking rate to something different will affect the movement across the eyepiece field of view. HOWEVER, the drift you are seeing can be caused by several variables, such as slippage, motor calibration, polar axis misalignment, drive training, optical axis misalignment. If you want precise tracking in polar mode, do a drift alignment.

And:

I have done all the usual steps and am doing drift alignment now. That
is why I thought it might be possible to fine tune with "Custom" what I
cannot take out easily by drift alignment. I cannot do a visual on the
polar star at all in this location and am shimming the tripod legs
position against a firm support(house framing) for drift alignment. My
objective is CCD at prime focus EAST only. -Larry
Mike here: Keep in mind that most of your exposures should be way less than an hour long. Use shorter exposures and stack the images to produce a final image.
Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Friday, February 20, 2009 10:55:42
From:	Gary Hart (gary_e_hart@msn.com)
Help. I have had my ETX for some time now and neglected to upgrade the
Handheld (Ver 1.1j) over the years. I have the #505 attached to my XP
Desktop and keep getting an error "Check Autostar Cable or try a
different serial port...". I have the exact same error from my Laptop
and the cable\unit seems undamaged, and I updated the COM1 port to the
specifics suggested.

Question is what can I do to update? AU 4.6 finds the unit on COM1 and I
have tried several ROM files (59Ef back to 2.x) and all provide the same
error - any suggestions?
 
Thank you in advance.
Mike here: First, I just discovered that your email had been rejected as SPAM due to the missing Subject line. Please read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site Home Page; thanks for understanding. As to the AutoStar update, DO NOT use 5.9Ef; see the AutoStar Update warning on the Announcements: Warnings! page. You can find the best update (4.3Eg) in the "AutoStar Software Archive" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. You may need to install a later 1.x version first and then you should be able to update directly to 4.3Eg. As to serial port errors, typically that is due to a serial port conflict, like fax software. If you are using a USB-serial adapter, be aware that not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page for more information. I recommend Keyspan adapters. Alternatively, you can try StarGPS, available from www.stargps.ca.

And:

Hi Mike - thanks for the prompt response; mea culpa on the Subject Line.

I am not using USB but the Serial adapter directly from my PC and it is
configured as COM1 - AU finds the unit fine, and I have tried using 1.0a
with the same results. Also, tried a laption with the same results.  Any
other suggestions I can try? Do not mind investing in something (USB,
etc.) if that would solve - let me know.
Mike here: What does StarGPS report?

And an update:

StarPatch 1.6 worked perfectly. Noticed the red power light was dimmed
slightly and suspect full power needed for these updates. Added external
power, reset with the Enter\Down arrow and now on 4.3G. Thanks again for
the prompt response and the site - both excellent.

Subject:	re: Problem with 497 Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, February 18, 2009 23:14:04
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Some additional info, and a wild guess...

The "version 2.0a" you were seeing was the version of *Safe Load*
(which harkens back to 2000).

As for your "Dec kills Autostar", i'd guess that it's either a
dead (or shorted) MOS FET driving the Dec motor, or a shorted
coil in the motor itself.  I vote for a shorted FET.
They drive the motor in an H-circuit, with the motor as the "-"
in the H, and each half vertical leg being a FET (field effect transistor).
The motor is reversed by having either the upper left leg and lower right on
-or-
the upper right leg and and lower left.
Those two states cause current to flow from left to right -or- right to left
through the motor.

The top and bottom of the H are connected to +12 and 0v respectively.

If one of the half-legs was shorted "on" (conducting), then turning on
the other half of that leg would short-circuit +12 to 0 instead of
routing current through the motor.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	Paul Beckmann (wa0rse@gmail.com)
I did find the MOSFETs in the Digikey catalog and ordered up 10 apiece
this morning, just to have some additional in the "parts inventory" and
to avoid the minimum $$ handling charge. (They were about $1.50 apiece.)

It will be a simple thing for me to swap them out since I have
significant surface mount experience. Your analysis, Rick, makes the
most sense of all I've heard so far.

Fingers crossed!

--Paul

And an update:

I received the MOSFETs today from Digikey and replaced the two on the
Dec controller board. Plugged everything in and it didn't work. So... I
made up a new Autostar to control panel cable. Plugged everything in and
.... it worked! (sort of...) So the Autostar cable may have been bad or
intermittent.

However, without pressing any Autostar key, the dec motor went wild, the
RA motor ran, I couldn't get the MODE key to respond. Turned it off.
Turned it back on. Same thing. Then a "tick" sound as the Dec motor
halted abruptly. Turned it off. Turned it back on. Was back as square
one with the fading Autostar display after the "Welcome to Autostar"
message.

My interpretation of events is that somehow the PIC received bad
commands from the Autostar and/or the PIC itself is blown (partially).
At some point, the H-bridge received the "turn on" command for two
MOSFETs on the same side of the bridge, exceeded the device current
capacity and shorted. When the power comes up on the Dec when the
"Welcome to Autostar"  message ends, the power shorts and somehow drags
everything down.

I'm going to replace the MOSFETs again, pull the Dec motor coil cable,
see if there are any shorts or opens, and probably replace it in any
case. If it's bad, it could be the source of the bad commands to the
PIC. Then try again.

This is a complicated one. If the dec cable doesn't do it, I have the
feeling that the PIC controller chip is bad on the board. There isn't
too much else on the board. Any other ideas?

--Paul

Subject:	autostar 43Eg
Sent:	Wednesday, February 18, 2009 18:39:01
From:	BOWMANJ49@aol.com (BOWMANJ49@aol.com)
I hope you have time to help me with problem. I am just about at my
witts end with this. I have recently converted an LXD 500 mount to GOTO
with DS motors. The problem I am having is with my autostar controller.
I had version 33 installed and changed it to 43Eg recently. I followed
the advice online concerning not to download from the meade site. I
downloaded it first to my computer and then installed it. This went when
through without any problems. Since the weather here has been bad lately
I tried a rough alignment indoors. The mount slews to Sirius and Rigel.
These stars are not always available to me. If I confirm enter and
alignment is sucessful I try to slew to Dubhe and the mount slews west
of Polaris. I have connected autostar to The Sky software and the slews
are close. Disconnected they always go west. I have checked my location
(N 40.325-W -79.606) the time zone (-05.00hrs) and the correct time. I
have chosen the LXD55/75 mount type in telescope with polar mount
selected. I have checked Roboscope group to no avail and I am at a loss.
I have used Meade scopes and mounts for sometime and have never seen
this happen. Should i have left the 33E vesrsion installed and loaded
the 4505 patch. Also I have changed the dec/ra gear ratios form + to -
and back again, turned mount off to save change. The change stays but
there is no change in the mount slews. There are no motor faults and
everything else seems to work properly. One last thing comes to
mind,could there be a problem in the DS control board I am using? I hope
you can give some in site into this problem Mike.            

Thank You in advance-----------------Jeff
Mike here: I'll let Dick Seymour, our resident AutoStar Expert, respond.

And:

thanks mike---------jeff
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You can revert to version 33 by downloading it from Mike's archives
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/downloads.html
(the patch kits for the older versions are also there at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/patch_archive.html  )

BUT... try using stars -other- than Sirius and Rigel for aligning.
Those two stars are giving many people problems (during my own
indoor testing, i let it use them, i tapped [enter] without moving
the scope from where the -Autostar- put it, and it declared:
"Alignment Failed". ).
You can tell the Autostar to use other stars by tapping [scroll down]
when it asks you to center one you don't like (or cannot see).

When you complete the two star slew, it also tells you how -far-
from the pole it thinks your RA axis is.  The goal is to have that
report " < 5 arcmin from pole"
If you are seeing large offsets (greater than 30' on either axis),
then GoTos may suffer.

When you change your ratios from + to -, does the motor reverse -then-?
(it should).  You do not need to turn off the Autostar to "lock" the setting.
If you look at the telescope Model (and tap [enter] to exit), that will
revert the Ratios to that model's setting.  So once you've set the Ratio,
do not revisit the Model.

Given your report, those are my first (and common) guesses...

What ratio values are you using?

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Problem with 497 Autostar
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 2009 07:16:24
From:	Paul Beckmann (wa0rse@gmail.com)
I did my belt drive conversion and put things back together. I think it
worked fine one night but then, soon after, the mount began exhibiting
weird behavior. (I did do the new ratios for the belts but didn't do
training.)

My mental model of the setup is that there is no motor control in the
mount itself, that it is all in the Autostar, so I figured the Autostar
was acting strange. Did a reset, powered it up and down a few times,
still the same random movements without commands as before, right after
startup.

So, I figured I'd reload flash. Used the cable I got when I did the
Hypertune, fast computer, had to use the "safe mode" download, of 43Eg
firmware. It goes through the flash load, looks like it is doing
Initialization, correct first 2 messages come up on the handset, then
the handset goes dim (no text) and ASU 3.61 says: "Check cable, restart
Autostar and try again" or something like that. The handset is version
2.0a --

Any thoughts? I'm wondering if the handset is too early a version to
handle this flash. I don't have access to any earlier one. It doesn't
look like it's completely dead but I can't get the mount going.

--Paul Beckmann
Jim Beckmann Observatory
Mendota Heights, MN
Mike here: First, get the AutoStar Update application 4.6 from Meade's web site (or more safely, from the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site). Also, download the AutoStar 4.3Eg from my archive and put it into the Ephemerides folder. Then run the ASU 4.6 and install 4.3Eg into your AutoStar. Once you've done that, do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. As to movements on power on, that is normal; the AutoStar is testing the motors.

And:

Thanks for the info. I'll get ASU 4.6 and give it a try with your 4.3Eg

Yes, I know motor movement at the beginning is normal. What I was
experiencing was *after* alignment and some time of use. The movements
were spontaneous and erratic and were not correlated with button presses
on the Autostar. So, that is what led to the Autostar update step that I
now seem to be stalled at.

I really appreciate your pages and all of the information!

--Paul
Mike here: Be certain to read the AutoStar update warning on the Announcements: Warnings! page on my ETX Site. That's why I suggested using the archived versions.

And:

Did as you suggested. The 4.6 ran well and, after the firmware download,
I got the "successfully transferred" message box. The display on the
Autostar looked normal.

I turned off the mount, unplugged the data cable, and turned it back on.
The Autostar was back to its old action: initial message with the
version shown, then a second message, just like before "Welcome to A u t
o s t a r", then that message that fades away. Arrgh!

For some reason I decided to see what happened if I unplugged the cable
to the Declination drive. Message 1, Message 2, fade, and then...The
regular message "press 0 to align and Mode for menu"!!! Plugged it back
in, same failure. Took the declination motor off, looking for arc-over
burns or jams or something. Nothing. Took the motor totally out of the
housing, plugged it in: failure. Unplugged the POWER to the controller
board on the declination motor, just in case it was a power draw
problem, plugged it in: failure. Tood the RA motor off looking for
something obvious in the wiring of the Dec motor cable jack. nothing.
Plugged everything together: failure. Unplugged the dec drive cable:
fine.

So, do you think it's the cable or connector to the Dec motor? Or
something else you've heard of?

Best, 
--Paul Beckmann
Mike here: Have you checked the batteries? It almost sounds like a low power condition. It could be a cable problem; check for bent, dirty, or too depressed pins in the jack and connector. Or it could be a blown circuit.
Subject:	Autostar menu for 497 upgrade?
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 2009 00:16:17
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
Is there a Autostar menu in pictorial form that can be viewed that can
show any changes from an upgrade from 43E to 43EG?

I cannot find any Declination limits catagory on elevation.

Thank you. Larry 
Mike here: Don't know if this will answer your question, but there is the article "AutoStar READMEs" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

I went through your info listings....again.

It looks like this is a "Patch" that should be added to the 497EG
downloads. There will be many times telescopes will be substituted by
users on Autostar mounts(modified ETX'S & DS series one-arms), and
setting a safe limit of declination could head off a disaster.

Thanks Mike. Hope Richard gets interested in this. :-)

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>> setting a safe limit of declination could head off a disaster.

If you mean for upward travel, it's already there:
Setup/Telescope/Max Elevation.

If you mean for downward travel, each -model- of scope has
a different value (such as -26 degrees for the ETX90).

I could probably warp the current "Min AOS" (use to control when the Autostar
will attempt to start a satellite tracking pass) setting to affect
the physical elevation... but that will have to wait a week due
to current time commitments. (which means it may happen tonight ;-)

watch this space...
have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re:ETX Park Position
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 2009 00:16:04
From:	Mike Hogan (mhogansr@comcast.net)
I noticed a Park problem with my 125PE a few years ago and think it may
be related to the Magnetic Declination for the observing site.

When the PE initializes, it detects magnetic north and then calculates
and applies a correction to true north based on the lat/lon of the site.
All subsequent positioning uses both the initial value plus the
correction. If the Autostar doesn't apply the correction when Park is
selected, then the scope will end up parked at magnetic north instead of
true north.

As I recall, I ran a few tests using different lat/lon values for the
site and the Park error seemed to be consistent with the magnetic
declination for the site values. My memory is a bit fuzzy about it since
I was doing a lot of testing on several PE characteristics at the time.

It would be interesting to know Mr. Farrant's location to see if his
error is the same as the mag declination.
 
Regards,
Mike Hogan
From:	John Farrant (johnfarrant@gmail.com)
Mike Hogan was interested in my location .. 60 odd miles north of
Alicante - 38deg 46 mins north, 0 deg 3 mins west.
 
Thanks,
 
John

And:

It looks like I may be mistaken about the cause of the Park position
error. The mag declination for the lat/lon Mr. Farrant provided is less
than one degree. I guess I'll have to do some more testing.

Regards to all,
Mike Hogan

And:

For the record, my ETX-90 is an EC model circa 2003, so no magnetic or
other LNT issues here. Moving from V4.2 to V4.3 has clearly changed the
Park behavior (apparently for the better) yet you are seeing a
repeatable and significant anomaly with a V4.3 version? Presumably this
can't be faulty encoders or slipping clutches, or you'd have bad GOTO
accuracy as well. Could location have anything to do with this? (about
53 degrees N in my case). I woudn't have thought so? Is your ETX a 90 or
some other model?

John.

And:

From:	Andrew Johansen (johansea@optusnet.com.au)
I doubt it.

I can only speak for 43Eg, but when you align, two basic encoder var
datums get set for Home and Nth "Rough" Home is set using the Mag offset
( if LNT and full align done ) and start position if not. This position
( mag offset ) only affects "how far from home am i" calcs for cordwrap
and slew direction

When you actually align, ( or unpark ), the basic datum for "Home" is
set/reset. This stays fixed and it is used for PEC ( its not always Nth
) A second datum adjust is then tacked onto this to allow for minor
tweaks to Nth. A third variable is then used when synching to adjust the
second var These last two stay in lockstep, ie add to one, deduct from
the other.

Now, when they park, they set datum 2 to zero and park at datum 3 Thus
if you have done a lot of synchs, it is quite conceivable you will park
off Nth but it shldnt be by a large amount, unless the calcs of datum 2
were wildly wrong in the beginning
 
Clear as mud :-)
If you are running the latest patched 43Eg, my latest PEC editor has a
special page that will allow all these vars to be peeked

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

And:

My scope is an ETX-125, about 2003.
 
I've just repeated the experiment - aligned on Sirius and Capella
followed by a slew to Castor. Parked the scope and checked the
readings. ALT: 1 deg 37 min,  AZ: 1 deg 03 min. I did this a second
time and got ALT: 2 deg 11 min,  AZ: 1 deg 12 min.  This is strange,
because when I tried this just before I emailed Mike originally I
definitely got 346 degrees azimuth after a park - twice!

I'm now at a complete loss to explain the previous figures. A blocked
encoder wheel slot would only produce a ten degree error ( thanks Dick
for this information). Why 14 degrees?

I'm just trying for a third time. Again Sirius and Capella. Didn't slew
to Castor. Did a straight Park after the second alignment star. Scope
slewed opposite to previous Park direction i.e low az to high az. Guess
what?  ALT: 0 deg 1 min, AZ:  346 deg 29 min !!! Got it! The strange
thing is the scope took a much longer time to reach it's final rest
position. Maybe 3 times longer. It seemed to be having a problem.
Paused at 347 for about 5 seconds before finally finishing up at 346.
It never reached 359.

Of course! Parking from Castor it went from high AZ to low AZ. Parking
from Capella it went low AZ to high AZ - if you see what I mean. There
is where the difference lies. Clockwise and Anti (sorry - Counter)
clockwise.

This is starting to get interesting.

I feel vindicated. 346 degrees has returned!
 
Wow!
 
John

Subject:	Autostar malfunction
Sent:	Sunday, February 15, 2009 20:03:37
From:	Darryl Guy (guyszoo@gmail.com)
Is there a reset for the AS 494? About five minutes after I turn it on
it acts like the batteries are low and the screen displays random
letters/symbols. If not can I replace it with the AS 497. I have an EXT
70 that I recieved as a gift around five years ago and have never fully
utilized. I am glad I found your site. Thank you for your resources.

Sent from my iPhone
Mike here: There is a RESET in the AutoStar menu tree. Try that if you can read enough of the display. If the software has not become corrupted, you might be able to adjust the readability of the display by adjusting the brightness and contrast (from that menu item). If the AutoStar has failed, you can use a #497 AutoStar with the ETX-70. Now if Meade would only release an iPhone-AutoStar controller!!!!

And:

Thanks Mike. I managed to find the reset and it appears to have worked.
Now the fun (and a ton of questions) begins. I'll try not to be a pest.
If I can get it aligned I'll be on my way. Thanks again.

Subject:	re: Autostar query for DS-2000 Reflecting Telescope
Sent:	Thursday, February 12, 2009 22:13:03
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
What Mike keeps trying to convey is that you may have to
INCREASE THE SLEW SPEED after it asks you to center the star,
before you try pressing the slew direction keys.
Each time it slews to an alignment star, it leaves the Autostar
set to move very very slowly (both the tracking and the slewing).

You increase the slew speed by tapping the [speed/?] key,
while watching the display.  The top line will cycle through
the nine available speeds: Guide (the slowest), 2x, 8x, 16x,
0.25 deg/sec, 0.5 deg/sec, 1.5 deg/sec, 3 deg/sec, Max
and then back around.
During the alignment process, the Autostar beeps and asks you
to center the star with the speed set to a (truly glacial) 8x.
That's 8 times sidereal, and sidereal is 15 arcseconds per second.
So 8 times that is 2 arcminutes per second.  At that rate it would
take 15 seconds of continuous slewing to move the width of the
full moon.

Don't wait for a clear night, try it today, indoors, when you're
awake and warm.  The "Calibrate Motors" procedure does -not-
require any stars, it just runs the motors for a couple of seconds
as it measures the internal signals.
Then "fake" an alignment, and try changing the speeds to see the effect.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: ETX Park Position
Sent:	Thursday, February 12, 2009 19:43:05
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
That 346 degrees sounds suspiciously like one encoder vane gap is
dirty.   Since there are 36 vanes, taking one out of the equation
creates a 10 degree error in a 360 degree swing.

Try this: set the scope to Terrestrial, and bring up the Alt/Az
display (press [mode] 3 secs, release, scroll)

Now center a landmark, note the AZ readout.
Slew a full circle around, recenter (creep up on it instead of
hunting), and note the AZ readout.

Clean encoder, good "Calibrate Motors" means you should see
darn close to exactly 360 degrees (i.e. return to original value).
Dirty encoder will show 350 degrees, even though you slewed 360.

If it tests "dirty", then opening the base and cleaning the
encoder disk may help.

You could also simply be experiencing slippage on the AZ clutch.

good luck
--dick

And:

From:	John Farrant (johnfarrant@gmail.com)
I'll follow yours and Dick's advice and see what happens. I probally
should have realised that the error points to an obscured encoder slot!
Sorry to trouble you.
 
Regards,
 
John
Mike here: No trouble at all. Let me know how it works out.

And an update:

Just a follow up to the incorrect Park position.
 
Before a Calibrate Motor and Train Drive, the results of a 360 degree
swing were (after two runs) 359  53' 31" and 359 54' 03". After
Calibrate Motors I got 359 46' 04". I then did a Train Drive and the
figure was 000 09' 33". Not quite sure what it all means although I
still get a 14 degree error in azimuth after a Park command. Last night,
before I did the calibration etc, objects were spot on in the middle of
a 26mm eyepiece. Lesson learnt - forget the Park command!
 
All the best
 
John
Mike here: Just curious, what happens if you SLEEP the system after setting to 0 degrees azimuth and then wake it up and try the 360 degree rotation test?

And:

I set the scope to 0 degrees azimuth and applied SLEEP.  Woke up the
scope after about ten minutes and carried out the 360 degreee rotation
test. The result was 359 degrees 54 mins 55 secs.

With the built in gear slop I'm not sure we can draw any proper
scientific conclusions to these experiments. All I can say is that I'm
astounded at the figures. +/- 8 minutes or so is indeed a remarkable
result given the plastic gear train. This comes out as a rotational
error of +/- 0.037 percent! If only the PE was as good!
 
Regards,
 
John
Mike here: Thanks for doing the test. Does seem pretty accurate.

And:

From:	John Hall (john_d_hall@hotmail.com)
I saw your email (and Mike's response) on the ETX site.

FYI, we had similar trouble with the park position on my father-in-law's
LX90 a while back (telescope mounted on a solid pier in a dome). It
looks like a bug crept into the firmware because it only started
happening after we updated the Autostar from v2.6Ec to v4.1Ec.
Eventually, Meade released v4.3Eg and this fixed the park problem. So
-some- versions of the Autostar firmware don't park properly - check
your version.

I hope that helps?

John.

And:

I also had a problem with the Park command a year a so back. Can't
remember what version I was running, but it was definitely a late
version. I sent an note to Meade Engineering regarding the failure of
the Autostar to remember which direction to slew for the final park
position. As far as I can tell this has not been corrected as I tried
the Park the other night and the scope slammed into the hard stop - or
it would have done if I hadn't released the AZ clamp! This particular
fault has not been sorted. I should add that it doesn't occur everytime,
it depends on the last AZ position, ie where in the sky you were last
viewing.

If this wasn't serious enough there remains another fault with the Park
command in that the final azimuth reading appears to be about 14 degrees
out. In other words where the scope should finish up at 0 degrees, it
stops  short at 346 degrees. This is repeatable! At least on my scope
(497 patched version 43GC). Final alt seems to be ok - not sure about
that .. It was suggested that I had a blocked slot in the encoder wheel,
but this proved not to be the case.

To return to the  other night. On powering up  after a Park, I slewed to
Castor. The star was nowhere in the 26mm eyepiece and on the edge of the
field of the finder - maybe two or three degrees away from it's prepark
position which had been spot on before!

As I mentioned to Mike Weasner, I've lost faith in the Park command and
I won't be using it again.

I'm not convinced that there are any Park command differences between AS
versions. I think it depends on where the scope's final postion is. It
needs intensive investigation across AS versions and scope final Az/Alt
orientation. Is it worth it, I asked myself? No! What are your thoughts?

Clear skies to you John
 
John

And more:

That is very interesting. In the case of my father-in-law's LX-90, the
park errors were small and subtle, if I remember correctly. I think you
could barely see it on the setting circles, but it was enough for
subsequent GOTOs to be off target, warranting a re-alignment.
Unfortunately, he lives too far away for me to (easily) try some further
tests on it, but I do have an ETX-90 here (just on a tripod). I could
try a few things on this scope, bearing in mind that I don't normally
use Park since the whole set-up gets moved after each observing session.
Nevertheless, errors of 14 degrees would be very obvious, so I should
see that just testing it in the daylight.

I've a feeling that the gremlin we had (with the LX-90) might have crept
in with the first v4.x versions, possibly with the introduction of the
'PE' models to the Autostar firmware. The readme notes hint that the
parking code was changed around this time. There are comments like "Park
position now shortest distance on ETX scopes" and "Park position fixed
after automatic alignment". However, once we got onto v4.3 the notes
included "Fixed park position on LXD55/75's", so they clearly changed
the Park code again. After this my father-in-law believes his scope
-does- park correctly, although the possibility of random errors
admittedly remains. In fact, I'm sure he -has- had to realign it from
time to time. Hmmm.....

I dare say that very few ETX users ever use Park, since it is really
intended for telescopes that stay on a fixed mount, so Park problems are
probably not well explored. I've copied Dick on this, given that he is
familiar with the 'innards' of the Autostar and I will be interested to
know his thoughts. For example, I'm wondering if Park issues could be
telescope model specific? The LX-90 doesn't have hard stops, so Park
might behave differently on an ETX when it has to avoid them??

Regards,
John.
Mike here: Yeah, ETX users probably rarely use Park. Sleep possibly more often but still not a frequently used feature.

And:

What version of firmware -is- involved here?
The full identifier is under Setup/Statistics[enter][scroll up]

Possibly contributing to the issue is a quirk of the Autostar's
alignment routine that Andrew recently dug deeply into.

The quirk is causing northern hemi folks who do Auto aligns with
Sirius and Rigel to get frequent (alt/az) "Align Failed" and
(Polar) random, relatively large, polar offsets reported.

It's triggered by using alignment stars which are relatively low
(or high) elevation, and too close together in azimuth.

Once alignments are strange, PARK must follow.

As for the model-differences in PARK, it really bubbles down to
whatever "flags" are set in the program.  The LX90 "no hard stops"
can be somewhat overridden by setting "Cord Wrap >ON", which tells
the Autostar to -not- ignore the hard-stop limits.
GEM mounts have additional considerations ("meridian flip"), and the
bug mentioned in the "ReadMe" files involved Meade PARKing the scope
at one position, but mathematically assuming it was somewhere else
on the next power-up (i -think- it was ignoring the "meridian flip"
effect, so it randomly (depending upon the previous targets you'd
GoneTo) would wake up 180 degrees out-of-phase.  Sometimes on both axes.

I must differ with Mike's PARK opinion: i think few people SLEEP
(especially astronomets :) and far more PARK.  In fact, if you're using
PEC with a 497 Autostar, you -must- PARK to maintain the synchrony between
Autostar and worm angle across power-cycles.  Even though i don't use PEC,
i PARK my ETX90 (and LX200gps) almost every night, since it -does- return the
scope to a known position and mind-set.  I can always Align to start the
next session, or i can roll the dice and just "wake from PARK".
I have landmarks which allow a fairly accurate physical setup, even though
i dismantle the scopes and their supports to move them into daytime storage.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Hum, maybe a Park/Sleep survey of ETX users should be done? Knowing additional details of who is using Park/Sleep would be required; we'd want to know if the ETX is in a permanent installation, used for astrophotography, mounted in Alt/Az or Polar, and maybe more info.

And:

Hi Dick,

Thanks for responding.

I've just tried a quick experiment on my ETX-90, which is currently
loaded with 42dd. I started off in the home position with the setting
circles carefully zeroed. I powered up, entered the date and time and
'faked' an alignment. It chose Rigel and Procyon. I simply hit 'Enter'
and it said the alignment was successful. I did a GOTO to Castor, and
then parked the scope. I could see that the Alt circle was at about -1
degree and the Az circle at about 23:55 - definitely not zero. I powered
back up again and without moving the scope, pressed 'Mode' and checked
what the Autostar thought the coordinates were. It came up with Alt 00
deg 00 min 00 sec, Az 359 deg 05 min 03 sec. I repeated the exercise and
got a similar result, but this time the Az was 357 deg 28 min 26 sec
(further out). I tried again and got yet another Az reading, somewhere
between the previous two!

The Az position actually looks a bit random. I noticed that when it
parks, it slews at a high speed to the park position. It is almost as if
it just 'throws' the scope at the park position and doesn't care if it
overshoots a bit?!? I expected it to carefully 'home in' on the final
park position, like it does when performing a GOTO, but no.

I can't vouch for the LX-90, but right now I don't think I would trust
what my ETX-90 is doing.

Any thoughts?

At some point, I'll update my Autostar to 4.3Eg and see if that changes
its behaviour.

John.
Mike here: Before updating, see the AutoStar warning on the Announcements: Warnings! page.

And:

Thanks Mike, I'd read about the issue on your site. Not a very good
state of affairs! I'll use the same updater and firmware file that I
used to update my father-in-law's LX-90. I know that this worked!

Regards,
John.

And:

John/Dick,

Very interesting! I've just updated my ETX-90 to V4.3gg (i.e. with the
latest patch kit as well) and have just tried a couple of Parks. It
-does- behave differently! This time, it does seem to 'carefully'
home-in on the park position, not just fly at it like it did before.
When I switch back on, the Alt position remains at zero and the Az is
within a few seconds of zero. What's more, the setting circles now look
like they really have gone back to the positions where I zeroed them.
Before, even though the Autostar reported an Alt of 00d00'00", the
setting circle was consistently at -1 or -2 degrees. Now it looks like
zero. So this looks like a bug has been fixed in V4.3 and probably
explains why my father-in-law has been happy with parking his LX-90
since I stuck v4.3 on that.

John.

Subject:	ETX Park Position
Sent:	Thursday, February 12, 2009 15:45:53
From:	John Farrant (johnfarrant@gmail.com)
Just out of interest I thought I'd investigate the Autostar park
command. I did a two star alignment - Sirius and Rigel (they seemed a
bit close together - but that's what AS chose!) and then slewed to
Castor. So far so good. I then selected Park and the scope slewed to
what it thought was 0 degrees altitude and 0 degrees azimuth. However
the scope finished up at minus 2 degrees in altitude and 346 degrees in
azimuth. I repeated this eight times and the results were the same.
Needless to say, switching on and entering the correct time and date and
re-slewing to Castor resulted in the star being missed by at least 2
degrees. I can definitely say that the Park option fails miserably. I
wondered if you have ever tried the Park option and if so, what you
found. Thanks Mike.
 
Kind regards,
 
John
Mike here: It has been a few years since I actually used Park in actual use. I don't recall having any problems. Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES recently?
Subject:	Meade alt-az mount with Autostar 497 controller
Sent:	Thursday, February 12, 2009 07:34:58
From:	Eric Africa (eja24601@yahoo.com)
I am considering a used Meade alt-az mount with an Autostar 497
controller. It is a single-arm mount similar to the Celestron mount.

I was wondering if this mount can be operated in equatorial mode. I used
to have an LXD-55 mount, and I saw where its controller can be
configured to operate ETX and DS mounts in addition to the LXD-55.

For visual, I will be more than happy operating this mount in alt-az
mode; the equatorial mode will come in play when following and (more
importantly) shooting eclipse or transit sequences on the road. I'm
hoping that if the tripod that comes with the mount does not include the
ETX-style built-in wedge, that I can always play with the mount's legs
to approximate an equatorial mode. Again, it doesn't need to be precise,
just enough to reduce field rotation.

Thanks for any input/advice on this.

The scope I have in mind to place on the mount is a C-11. 
 
Just kidding! A Borg 76ED will be the primary passenger.
 
Eric
Mike here: It is likely a DS-style mount. It would work with the AutoStar #497. But whether the Polar option would appear in the menu when the AutoStar is connected to the AutoStar, I don't know. Perhaps our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, can chime in. I think he may have developed a patch to provide this capability.

And:

Thank you so much for your quick response, Mike! Dick, I eagerly await
your response.
 
Eric

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>> I was wondering if this [one-arm DS] mount can be operated in equatorial mode.

Maybe.

At power-up the Autostar asks the telescope base "what are you?"
It gets a gross "motor-card-type" response, and from that determines
which one of four lists of a dozen or so models to offer under
Setup/Telescope/Telescope Model
If you are offered a Polar-capable model, you could accept -that-,
and change the Gear Ratio settings to match your actual mount.

I'm pretty sure it does -not- allow a one-arm DS model to be switched
to "Polar".

However, my patch kit for 43Eg -does- change that behaviour, and allows
you to access >Polar for any DS mount.  It's the "DSXmount" sub-section,
and is activated/implemented as a part of the default (*) set of choices.
((*) i.e. if you just install the kit without changing anything, it'll
happen)

Patch kits are referenced under Mike's Autostar Info page:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html
under the "patches" group in the right column.

p.s. i have my doubts of the "default" DS Tripod doing an adequate job
given a C-11, and the DS tripod probably does -not- have a built-in wedge

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Borg 76ED, not a C11 will be used.
Subject:	How to verify update download.
Sent:	Tuesday, February 10, 2009 15:22:52
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
After great difficulty I managed to download the handcontroller to 43eg?

The controller still says 43E...so is there a way to verify the
download?

Tnx. Larry 
Mike here: On startup, the AutoStar displays an abbreviated version. To see the full version number, go to the Statistics menu.

And:

I am in business..... Thankyou Mike!.  My big problem was selecting the
right ASU(I finally used ver. 4.86), and highlighting BOTH update files
for WINZIP to place in my Eph. directory. From then on all went well
thanks to you. -Larry

Subject:	Re: Autostar query for DS-2000 Reflecting Telescope
Sent:	Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:12:29
From:	Jayne Topping (jayne1.topping@virgin.net)
Apologies for delay in responding.  I followed everything you said - I
did a Calibrate Motor, Train drives and I even did a reset the day after
you suggested it but this is the first clear night we have had since
then so I have just tried to test it out.

I asked it to do an easy align and it aimed for Rigel which I could see
quite clearly.  However, it didn't stop anywhere close to it (it was in
the general direction).  It asked me to press enter (but I could still
here it slewing slowly).  I tried to press the arrow keys to align it
with the star but it wouldn't move it.

I then changed batteries (both batteries are brand new Duracell - I have
only used them once when testing this out a few weeks ago).  The second
attempt also chose Rigel but it only just started slewing and then it
just stopped although Autostar said it was still slewing.

I would welcome any further suggestions you may have.

Kind regards.

Jayne
Mike here: When trying to center the alignment stars, have you tried increasing the slewing speed? It could be that it was slewing, albeit very slowly. When the AutoStar goes to the alignment stars, and it says "slewing", does it ever make a BEEP sound to indicate that you can now center the star? You should wait for the BEEP before trying to center the star.

And:

Thanks for your quick response again.

Yes it did BEEP and gave the message to press ENTER but I could here it
still slewing very slowly so I didn't do anything for a little while but
waited for it to stop.   As I said, the sound didn't stop and I was
unable to use the keys to centre on the star properly.

I have just been out again to try yet another battery (not new) and it
slewed about 1-2 inches and then stopped.  I tried the other two
batteries again and it did exactly the same thing.  I have no more
batteries left to try.

Any other suggestions?

Kind regards.

Jayne
Mike here: The sound you hear is likely the telescope already tracking (to compensate for the Earth's rotation). But if the telescope slews 1-2 inches and then stops when trying to align, there is some problem, either you are overtightening the axis locks, there is an intermittent communication between the telescope and AutoStar, or there is a problem with the AutoStar iteslf. Which model AutoStar do you have, a #494 (no number keys on the keypad) or a #497 (has number keys)?

And:

There are no number keys so I assume it is a #494.

I don't think I am overtightening as it has managed to slew quite a way
round sometimes as it did earlier when it almost lined up on Rigel.

If there is

1.  an intermittent communication between the telescope

or

2.  A problem with Autostar itself

What should I do next?

Kind regards.

Jayne
Mike here: Yep, a #494 AutoStar (meaning, no way to update the software yourself, unlike with the #497). Check the pins on the HBX jack and HBX cable connector. They should be clean, not too depressed, nor bent sideways. Try unplugging and reconnecting the HBX cable several times.

And:

I have checked the HBX jack and cable connector.  They seem fine - like
new (I have hardly used it).

I have unplugged and reconnected several times.  It slewed a bit further
but still just came to a stop without reaching its target and it didn't
BEEP. It just continued to say it was slewing even though it wasn't.

With two of the batteries, when it started slewing the display on the
Autostar became incredibly faint.  Then when it stopped it returned to
it's normal brightness.

With the third battery I didn't get this but I did get a message saying
that there was a motor fault - either new batteries needed, an
obstruction, or it was overloaded.  It then tested the motors.  This may
have been the battery that I have had for quite a long time.

Do you think I need to try with fresh batteries bearing in mind two of
them are only a couple of weeks old and have only been used with this
AUTOSTAR and because of the problems, must still have lots of life left
in them.

Regards.

Jayne
Mike here: If the display is dimming while the motors are running at high speed, it would seem that there is a battery problem, either with bad batteries or perhaps some corrosion in the battery compartment on the contacts. Be certain you are fresh, non-rechargeable batteries, and that they are inserted correctly and properly seated. If the batteries and connections are OK, there may be something draining the power; perhaps a short circuit or some obstruction inside the mount.

And:

I will buy new batteries tomorrow and try that.

I did do the unforgiveable I have to confess and leave the battery
connected all the time I haven't used it (over 4 years) but the battery
I took out had not corroded and there is no sign of corrosion although I
will look more closely at the contacts to be sure.

I also don't think there is an obstruction inside the mount.

I will check all of the above but if these are okay then maybe as you
say, there is a short-circuit.

I will get back to you soon.

Kind regards.

Jayne

And an update:

Just to let you know that I have put a brand new battery in and
attempted to align it.  It slewed towards Rigel very well but then went
straight past it and the slewing noise changed (I thought maybe it was
still moving to compensate for the earth's rotation as you said) but it
slewed a lot further and ended up pointed right up and got stuck by the
tripod base.  It never actually came to a stop although it did BEEP
(when it was way past Rigel).

Do you think it must be a short circuit still?

Regards.

Jayne
Mike here: When swapping batteries it always a good idea to CALIBRATE MOTOR again. The slew to the stop is normally cleared by doing a RESET. After doing a RESET you do need to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES again.

And:

Okay thanks for that Mike,

I will have to leave it until next week then as I am away tomorrow.
Will let you know how I get on.

Kind regards.

Jayne

Subject:	Autostar remote distinction?
Sent:	Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:08:31
From:	stange (stange34@sbcglobal.net)
I am not clear on exactly what the difference is between a 495 remote
and a 497 remote.

Is it entirely a software difference or is their a physical change in
these remotes?

Meades site is not clear to me and I have several experimental single
arm AutoStars, one is with a 494 remote the 2 others are
multi-pushbutton. The labels are no clue at all.

My intent is to have or obtain a 497 remote(if different from a 495) for
use with an LXD-75 mount whenever I find a good mount for sale. Most
confusing.....

Larry 
Mike here: Physically, they were the same. The #495 (which has been discontinued for a number of years) can be upgraded to a #497 by installing the #497 4.3Eg (or earlier) software. You will need a #505 serial cable and a RS-232 port. If your computer has only USB, you will need a USB-serial adapter. But note that not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, it you haven't already read it, see the latest item on the Announcements Warnings! page.

And:

Ah you are making it clearer....

Both of the 2 remotes come up with 43e when turned on. So from what you
are saying it appears that the upgrade to 43eg does MORE than just
change the star data base. Is that correct Mike?

Thanks a bunch on this. -Larry
Mike here: Each AutoStar software updates fixes bugs and may add more features or newer telescope support. To see what each version added, see the article "AutoStar READMEs" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

One last question for now.... :-)

Is the upgrade a one-way situation where after an 497 upgrade, it should
NOT be used on a AutoStar mount that came with a 43e programmed remote?
or said another way.....

Can a 497 upgrade be reversed by reloading 43e (if it is necessary
later) to enable putting the remote back on the original mount?.

I really appreciate the help Mike. It is all to easy to interpret
Meade's vague language wrong.

Larry
Mike here: As noted on Meade's AutoStar page (www.meade.com/support/auto.html), the #497 AutoStar supports the same telescope models that the #495 did. So, updating the AutoStar won't matter; it should still support the older model telescopes. If you do need to ever downgrade, you can find most all the older updates on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info: AutoStar Software Archive (unofficial) page on my ETX Site.

And:

GREAT-GREAT-GREAT Mike!

I am finally clear on this after about a year or so!

Meade needs to hire you as an advisor.... (IF) they still habla
something more than Chinese communications now.... :-)

Larry
Mike here: Glad to be able to help.
Subject:	Upgrading Meade #497 Autostar to 59Ef
Sent:	Sunday, February 8, 2009 10:21:32
From:	MJS (mjscharmack@beyondbb.com)
Yesterday, I upgraded my Meade #497 Autostar controller to 59Ef using
the Autostar Update program installed on my computer.  After the update
was done, my Autostar controller went belly up and it will not start up
properly.  All I get is a bunch of junk on the two-line screen.  The
Autostar update program will not communicate with the Autostar
controller now.  I have used this same computer and Autostar Update
program to install updates in the past without any problems.  How can I
get this fixed or will I have to buy another Autostar controller?
 
My Autostar controller is connected to an LXD55 telescope.
 
Any help would be helpful
 
Thanks,
 
Michael Scharmack
Mike here: First, see the Announcements: Warnings! page. I posted a warning about this bad update on 1 February 2009. Second, a gratious plug: subscribing to site update notifications via the RSS feed or the email notitification service would have alerted you to a new Warning and possibly prevented this from occurring to you. Third, see the "updating a 497" feedback from 1 February on the Feedback: AutoStar page (further down this page) for more information, including how to revert.
Subject:	Alternate Alignment Stars on Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, February 7, 2009 12:24:25
From:	Robert M (smata671@yahoo.com)
When performing the Easy two star alignment (or any other alignment for
that matter), how does one reject the star that Autostar has selected,
so as to get another that might be more visible or recognizable?

Thanks!
Mike here: Use the UP or DOWN arrow keys at the bottom of the AutoStar handcontroller.
Subject:	GEM and AutoStar #497
Sent:	Tuesday, February 3, 2009 20:23:38
From:	Keith Woodard (kwits@comcast.net)
Thanks for your prompt feedback.  Maybe you can answer this question. I
have downloaded the latest patch (v43Eg) for my AutoStar 497 for your
website and I would like to confirm that my hand held is indeed
compatible for a GEM.  Under the telescope mount menu, there is a
selection for ETX, DS, and LDX75/LDX90 (by memory).  Is the latter
option the corrected one for a GEM telescope?

Regards,
Keith
Mike here: The option for the LXD55/75 is the GEM version. And yes, the AutoStar #497 is compatible with the LXD55/75 mount.
Subject:	ETX 90EC-Autostar Updating
Sent:	Sunday, February 1, 2009 11:51:04
From:	Paul Haines (hphaines@ca.inter.net)
Finally was able to upgrade my Autostar.
For some reason  Windows XP would not allow me to access my serial port.
Problem was resolved by using a generic USB to Serial converter and
StarPatch software.
 
Now, if it would only warm up and stop snowing----
 
Thanks for your help.
 
Paul 
Mike here: By the way, see the Announcements: Warnings! posted today on the ETX Site.
Subject:	updating a 497
Sent:	Sunday, February 1, 2009 04:03:38
From:	Douglas Hornick (hornickd@hotmail.com)
Another fine tip found on your site has got me out of a bind.  I
installed the Autostar Suite Astronomer Edition that came with my scope
and was playing around with the telescope pull down and found update
Autostar.  I chose the Upgrade Autostar Software Now button and selected
the radio button to find software on the internet.  It found version
59Ef which I thought strange since that was not mentioned in Meade's
download section.  Uploading this firmware scrambled my 497.  Luckily
you had helped a person named Jim with a similar situation and I pressed
the enter and scroll down buttons, then turned on the scope.  I then
uploaded the most recent version on Meade's site 43Eg and my scope's
back in business.  Thanks again Mike.

Doug 
Mike here: Wow. Wonder why it got such a strange update??? Glad you got going again.

And from our resident AutoStar Expert:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Oh, the *** hits the fan... (i was able to duplicate the experience)

DO NOT USE ASU TO UPDATE YOUR EXISTING 497 AUTOSTARS!!!

Meade has silently introduced a new "497 Autostar"
As far as i know, it's only being shipped with the new LX90's.

It has a -completely- different processor (Toshiba TMP92CM22FG instead
of Motorola/Freescale M68HC11) and memory layout (2MB!),
far smaller part count, etc.etc.
Totally machine-level firmware incompatible with the older 497's.

As far as i know, there's no way to tell them apart -externally-,
but the new one arrives bearing v59Ef when you fire it up.
v59Ef appears to be a simple "port" of v43Eg to the new platform
(i.e. the original higher-level program was compiled with a new target
platform).   Limited testing by others have shown it to have many of
the same bugs as 43Eg, so it's a fairly accurate "port".  It should be
"plug compatible" with existing telescopes.  Since it's a new internal
processor, my patch kits will not work with it (yet).

One BIG improvement is that they've used gold on the keypad contacts.

ASU (as of last week) couldn't handle 59Ef and the -new- Autostar.
But i was not aware of it accidently picking -up- 59Ef and trying
to cram it into the -old- Autostar, until you sent this note.

Investigations have shown a "beta" ASU which appears to work with the ETX-LS,
(like you, i can't really tell, since i don't have one)
but which does -not- appear to work with the new 497 Autostar.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick! My "fixed" LX90 had 4.4Ea but that was a few months back.

And:

Although the human-readable page doesn't show it,
if you -download- the ASU from Meade's support page,
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html
you get that "new" ASU.

How it handles 59Ef will take me a few minutes to test...

have fun
--dick
Mike here: And that AutoStar page still shows LXD55 but not LXD75 and no ETX-80...

And more:

(you were supposed to get this one before the immediately previous,
since it defines "new ASU")
((but i think the "new ASU" will still mess up (haven't sacrificed
my old 497 yet))

There actually may be a new ASU, too...

http://www.meade.com/support/auto/

has:
Build.rom               26-Jan-2009 17:25   1.0M
Build.rom101003         01-Feb-2006 11:58   1.0M
Build.rom102303         01-Feb-2006 11:58   1.0M
Build.rom120203         01-Feb-2006 11:58   1.0M

and

Au2.exe                 26-Jan-2009 17:25   404k

(those "builds" with the trailing numbers are -older- versions,
the numbers are their "dates of retirement"  (thus the third one
was retired on Dec 2nd, 2003))

have fun
--dick
Mike here: For those who may have inadvertantly downloaded the wrong versions, I have posted AutoStar Update Application v4.6 and the AutoStar #497 v4.3Eg Build ROM file on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info: AutoStar Software Archive page. Get these older versions to restore your AutoStar if necessary.
Subject:	ETX-80 Autostar Issue
Sent:	Saturday, January 31, 2009 21:15:01
From:	Mark Millward (markmillward@frontiernet.net)
I was gifted an ETX 80AT-TC with Autostar as a present for Christmas.
Despite me being 47 years-old, this is my first telescope and I have to
say that using the device in manual mode is absolutely fantastic.

However, I am having terrible trouble setting up the Autostar software.
I have read a couple of similar posts to this one on your fantastic
site, but none of your answers seem to fit my issue.

I live five miles north of Croghan, NY, just south of the Canadian
border.  I go to great pains to set up the physical position of the
telescope, ensuring that it is pointing north and level,  When I switch
the Autostar device on and try and use the Easy Align option, the
handset goes through everything that the manual says it should.  I enter
my zipcode and then select "No" for daylight savings.  However, when the
telescope moves to its first alignment star, it points to an area of the
sky that is, and this is only an estimate, about an hour ahead of where
the star actually is.  I thought that I may have entered "Yes" for
daylight savings but on further inspection of the options, it is
definitely set to "No".  I thought that maybe I had read the
instructions incorrectly, so I set the daylight savings option to "Yes"
but I do not detect a difference in the position of the telescope when
it goes back to its first alignment star, i.e. it is still way off.

Am I doing something wrong or missing a vital element in the manual?  I
love the results that I have seen so far, but I would really like to use
the Autostar software on the handset to make my viewing even more
enjoyable.

Thanks in advance, Mike.

--Mark Millward
Mike here: Are you using Magnetic North or True North for the HOME position? You need to use True North.

And:

I align with north using the compass that comes with the telescope, so I
guess that I am using magnetic north.  Is there an easy way to set up
for true north without having to find the Pole Star?  As you can tell, I
am very much a "newbie" when it comes to these sorts of things.

Thanks,
--Mark
Mike here: You need to adjust for the Magnetic Variation (also called Magnetic Declination) for your location. See "Magnetic Variation (Canada)" on the Astronomy Links page.

And:

Much appreciated Mike...looks like that will do the trick once I have
worked out how to adjust for the declination on the telescope.

Many thanks,
--Mark

Feedback Archive

Check the Feedback Archive for previous editions of the AutoStar Feedback page.


Go to the ETX Home Page.


Copyright ©2009 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2009 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feb09/autostar.html