Last updated: 28 February 2009

This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the Windows (including the Meade AutoStar Suite), Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me 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:	Autoguiding question
Sent:	Thursday, February 26, 2009 19:24:34
From:	Joe Faith (
Let me start by saying, "Great site".
I've got a autoguiding question that seems unanswered.  I'm tempted to
build this idea myself, but perhaps it's already done and I just haven't
found it.

Given that current computers are quite fast, I can't see why there
wouldn't be an autoguiding solution that just uses a PC and a digital
camera only.
The PC should be able to connect to the camera and remotely take the
pics.  There is software to do this
The PC is able to move the telescope, there is software to do this as
So why isn't there software that can:
a)       show a current image stream (aka what the LCD would show) and
select something to use as a guidestar
b)       start taking images and compare 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 and so on.
c)       Based on the movement of the guidestar in the pics, send
commands to the telescope to adjust to keep the guide star in place.
d)       After a few pics, the software should be able to make some
basic assumptions:
e)       If X (pixels from previous mark) isn't 0, tell the scope to
move X amount.  If it moved to much, next time shift X-1, or if not
enough X+1, and so on
This should make it grab the guidestar, and hold it pretty well after a
few moments as well as taking the pictures that you want in the first

It would seem that it should be able to both guide and take pics with a
single camera and a PC.  Perhaps not the best for an area of the sky
with a vague subject (nebula) and no guidestar.    As long as the camera
was able to pick up a guidestar, a simple setup should work.

Am I completely offbase?  Already tried and it didn't work?  Software
already out there and I haven't found it?  Just seems obvious, but
perhaps I'm missing something.  Suggestions?

Mike here: Remember, if the guidestar has already moved, the image has already been captured. So that frame (or frames) has to be thrown away by the software. Of course, the AutoStar Suite tracks objects when using the DSI or LPI.
Subject:	ETX-70 Austotar 494 #506 cable problem
Sent:	Sunday, February 22, 2009 03:56:26
From:	Fabrizio Piccinini (
I have some problem using #506 cable connected to an ETX-70 with
autostar 494 (fw 12I).

I'm using Meade Autostar Suite v.3.19

-The "Remote Handbox" functionality doesn't work at all. When I launch
it I get "Connection timeout getting next node" error;

-If I Connect to the scope using serial connection, and I choose an
object on the map clicking "slew telescope", the scope move on the
object and then disconnect. If I re-connect the application often

-"Autostar Telescope Control" doesn't work and it freeze often the

Can you suggest me some check to do?I have also tried Autostar V5.00 but
I have much more problems with this...

Mike here: First, AutoStar Suite works with the AutoStar #497. I suspect you will have problems with the AutoStar #494. I suggest you try one of the other applications, such as AstroPlanner or ScopeDriver with your AutoStar #494. Second, if you want to continue trying AutoStar Suite, have you enabled the Network Protocol? The applications that make up the AutoStar Suite can not all use the same serial port at the same time unless Network Protocol is enabled.


first of all thanks a lot for your suggestions.

IMHO, I'm using Autostar Suite Astronomer Edition bundled with the cable
so I suppose that since #506 cable is designed for 494, the software
should be compatible with this version of remote.

When I have tried the Remote Handbox I was disconnect from the
application so there should be some other problem in the communication.

Regarding using othe software I'll check what you have suggested.

Thanks a lot
Mike here: The "Autostar Suite Astronomer Edition" should work. Possibly a serial port conflict (typically fax software). Are you using a real RS-232 port on the computer or a USB-serial adapter? Not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Re: Information request regarding "Magic Focus" Envisage software
Sent:	Thursday, February 19, 2009 15:38:27
From:	wayne (
Thanks Mike/Jim.
In my endeavours, I had previously found the same information, and
nothing else. It would appear there is no futher significant information
else at this time.

I shall have to find out myself.. I like doing that too, but with our
weather, I prefer to concentrate what little time our cloudy English
canopy grudgingly allows, to imaging , and not so much to

Just the same, many thanks for your kind council on this.


Clear skies.

Wayne (Portsmouth UK)

Subject:	Information request regarding "Magic Focus" Envisage software
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 2009 17:33:51
From:	wayne (
Trust all is well with you.
I have used a meade LPI for some time and I am shortly to be replacing
it with a DSI 2 colour.

I am looking for information regarding the so called "Magic Eye" focus
using the latest Envisage software (version 7.05). The original LPI
software described two green triangles that moved closer together and/or
further apart as you swept through focus. It seemed a little awkward,
but the concept was simple. Although Mead has subsequently updated the
software, it is regretable they have not paid the same attention to the
manual which still shows the original software. For the most part, this
would not matter, as most of the software interface is either similar or
identicle to the original software. That is, with the exception of the
"Magic Eye" focus. Gone are the two triangles, and we currently have
some kind of grapical representation of heaven knows what.

There is nothiing on Meades website to help, and even the instructional
videos/manuals Meade has placed within its website still refer to the
old "Triangles" method of focusing as per the original software.

I have used an un-modified Toucam for my planetary imaging for some
time, hence the problem was not an issue as I was using different
software with which I relied on my old MK1 Eyeball. With the
soon-to-be-arriving DSI 2, the question has again taken a more prominent
position, as I would prefer the benefit of knowledge in the use of the
new "Magic Eye" representation of achieving optimimum focus. I am
confident it is probably better than the old "Triangles" method, but I
can find no information on its use on the web. Is there a PDF file or a
website which explains the operation/interpretation of the new "Magic

It seems very odd that Meade would not place amended instruction manuals
on this updated software on its own website, but then, I have to note,
there appears to be precious little (if any) updating of the
Manuals/instructional videos of any of Meades products. It would appear
Meade will place the original Manuals on their website, but have chosen
not to support its firmware updates with amended manuals. I consider the
reasons for this are as murky and impeneterable as our UK weather.
Clear Skies
Wayne   -  Portsmouth - U.K 
Mike here: I searched the ETX Site for "Magic Eye" and one of the articles had this:
	A Google search led me to this thread:
	Follow it down and the answer is there. Mind you, as someone says in the
	thread, I don't think that you can beat a good Hartman Mask - I made an
	excellent one for my LX 200 out of a flower pot tray!
Hope that helps. I don't use AutoStar Suite.
Subject:	ETX-60 and Meade LPI
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 2009 10:27:36
From: (
I am wondering if Meade's LPI will work with my ETX-60. If not, is there anything I can do to make it work?

Thank you,

Bob Jones
Mike here: The software that is used with the LPI (Meade's AutoStar Suite) requires a #497 AutoStar. If you have only the #494 AutoStar (no number keys on the keypad) then you would need to purchase a #497 AutoStar ($150).


I just read something about a #506 connector cable. Would that allow me
to use the LPI?

Thank you for your prompt respose.
Mike here: The #506 cable is for use with the #494 AutoStar to allow computer control of the AutoStar and update objects in the #494 AutoStar from the ETX-60/70/80 models. However, you still need a #497 to use the AutoStar Suite and LPI. Then #497 uses the #505 serial cable. Also, if your computer has only USB and no real RS-232 port, you will need a USB-serial adapter. However, not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page on my ETX Site. I recommend Keyspan adapters for use with Macs and Windows.


Sorry, it was a #505 connector cable.  Ok. Thanks for your help.

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