AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
[Home!]
Last updated: 30 April 2002
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, 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. 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:	Problem when installing Meade electric focuser?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 30, 2002 16:59:22
From:	Wryword@aol.com
I was wondering if you or anyone else has experienced a problem in the
initial alignment  process after installing the Meade electric focuser
on the 125.

A while back I sent my scope to Dr. Sherrod for a supercharge.  When it
came back, it performed perfectly.  It aligned very accurately and
tracked very accurately.  He did a grand job with it.  Because it can be
difficult to manually focus when the scope is aimed toward the zenith, I
decided to use the Meade focuser and installed it.  Since doing that, I
have been unable to achieve an accurate initial alignment, and the
errors have been large.  Since the focuser is controlled by the handbox,
I was wondering if there needs to be a re-calibration or other
adjustment.  Or does the focuser itself, the little black box,somehow
impede the movement of the scope?

I ask this because I just can't imagine why the scope now has such
trouble with alignment.  I am not doing anything differently in the set
up process, and the trouble began only after I put the focuser in place.
 The manual that came with the focuser did not mention any need to
re-train or re-calibrate, and the unit is light enough that I would not
think it would affect the drives.  So I am scratching my head on this
one.

Thanks again for your site.
Mike here: Haven't heard of any such problems related to adding the focuser. However, it can't hurt to reTRAIN the drives. Anytime the Autostar acts up (which is rare for me these days) I always reTRAIN. Also, if you have updated the Autostar, you should at at least reTRAIN the drives.
Subject:	Language
Sent:	Monday, April 29, 2002 14:43:17
From:	thierry.desormais@free.fr (thierry.desormais)
Bonjour,

First my english is very bad, I am sorry (I am french). I have just buy
today an ETX-125-EC with AUTOSTAR #497 and need help.

My problem: When power on the Autostart, this one speak in english. What
is the way to restart totaly this parameter language in french.

Many thanks.
Mike here: If the software in the Autostar is version 2.3 or later it is likely it is English only. However, if it is older, you can just RESET the Autostar from the SETUP menu (always a good idea when purchasing a new one to clear out any garbage from previous hands).

And:

Bonjour,
Many thanks for your prompt reply
I have just phone to MEADE France and they accept to exchange for #497
french language version.
See you later on your WebSite
:-)

Subject:	Question on Auto Star Handbox 495
Sent:	Monday, April 29, 2002 8:32:08
From:	JAS.KAREN@prodigy.net
I'm glad that I found your site. I have a Meade DS- 114Ec with 495
Handbox. I just recently downloaded the AutoStar #497 Version 25Ea onto
my handbox without rebuild my library option. My previous version of AS
was 2.? something and now it indicates it as an ETX 497 instead of a
495.  However, I did set the scope to a DS114 with ALT/AT mount.  Mike
did I do anything wrong in using the AS #497 download?  Meade web site
implies that the #497 download works on all DS models but I'm not sure
if they meant for it to be downloaded into a 495 box which looks the
same as the 497.  What is the difference b/w the two handboxes (Is it
only internal memory)? Should I rebuild the handbox back to AS 495 2.0i
(12/14/00) which I found on your web site? If you have a procedure or
web page which explains the fix...please let me know.

James T.   (just a beginner)
Mike here: Not to worry! Your #495 Autostar has magically transformed itself into a #497. It is the real thing! That's one of the nice things about being able to update the Autostar.
Subject:	Re: New AS problems... :-/
Sent:	Sunday, April 28, 2002 18:56:58
From:	gypsyd@charter.net (Doug N.)
Well I did it again!  All this talk about Autostar issues...

I got Mike's upgrade notice, so I went to the AS site and found the new
Autostar 25Ea. I started downloading it, and my Autostar went black.
Then the program came back with 'Bad Comm. Port' message, so I
re-started both the program and the Autostar. Now I have a message on
the Autostar that says "Proc. Trap 2", and it will not do anything else,
and the program will not run.

Suggestions??

I searched the Meade Autostar site, but cannot find an answer.

Thanks

Doug
Mike here: Use SAFE LOAD to download whenever your Autostar gets sick or dies during a download. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys, then power ON. You'll see FLASH LOAD; launch the Updater application. The app will recognize the SAFE LOAD condition and let you download.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
> Autostar 25Ea. I started downloading it, and my Autostar went black.

That sounds like equipment failure on your Autostar, HBX cable
 or power supply.  
"going black" is not a normal part of downloading.

> Then the program came back with 'Bad Comm. Port' message, so I
> re-started both the program and the Autostar. Now I have a message
> on the Autostar that says "Proc. Trap 2", and it will not do anything
> else, and the program will not run.
> 
> Suggestions??

Follow the Safe Load procedure which is described in the Updater's
own HELP system. (also in the clear-text file HowToSafeLoad.txt
 in the ProgramFiles\Meade\ASU folder. )

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: ETX commands for satellites,  asteroids,  comets?
Sent:	Sunday, April 28, 2002 10:11:52
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	pluto@projectpluto.com
The ETX's Autostar (and Autostar Updater) send over the User Bodies
as a 64 KByte memory image.  They don't talk "individual objects"
(the LX200gps Autostar II may... "Real Time Update" of individual
objects was added to ASU3.5).

So, for a 3rd party program to "add" an object (or change one) it would
have to act like the ASU: pull the 64 K page into the PC, (re)build
the linked-list data structures with the new object in place (and we're
talking big-endian byte ordering, that's a motorola CPU in there),
erase the Autostar's receiving page, and then send the entire 64KB
back to the Autostar.

Meade doesn't publish the data structures, and may (as they just did!)
change them without warning (they finally added a fractional epoch-day
to all orbiting bodies.. so the structure is -different- for different 
firmware versions...).  I haven't bothered to -fully- untangle -all-
of the body structures, but they're fairly simple. It's the underlying
link-structure i've never had need to fully puzzled out.. i can locate
the first link for each body-type, but have not chased (with a memory
dump) what happens next (such as: do they have an index of addresses,
or keep objects together in memory (<-no, i know that's incorrect)).

The AUD files which the Updater maintains contain more information
than what's in the Autostar, so they're not a great guide, either.
I think it's the SatTracker program "gets around" it by simply spitting
out a text file of TLEs of "what's up tonight", and then the user can
ASU that over to the Autostar for tracking.  If they wish.

So, sorry, the answer is: it's quite difficult, and transferring the
data to the Autostar requires putting it in Download mode and commanding
a page erasure... do you feel lucky tonight?

If you wish, i can send a description of the Downloader protocol, but
using it does run the risk of turning Autostars into paperweights.
(yes, you -can- wipe out the SafeLoad code, too...)

Ahh... you have a 494 Autostar with your ETX70, perhaps... that's
even weirder... they only devote 32KB for objects, but the hardware
requires erasing 64KB... so one page of the -permanent- database is
also erased!  The ASU has copies of those available for restoration.
It sends over the Objects, and then the restoration page.
Do you feel -very- lucky?  (and the 494 doesn't even -have- SafeLoad).

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	pluto@projectpluto.com (Bill J Gray)
Many thanks for this explanation!  You're right;  this does sound very
unpleasant indeed.  I may tackle it eventually,  but I'm in no rush to
do so,  especially since a total of zero users of my software have asked
for this feature.  (Well,  one,  if you include me.)

I'm also not eager to add such a function,  post it,  and then hear from
a slew of customers who have turned their Autostars into paperweights. 
Hadn't realized that was a possibility!

The subject _was_ brought up,  sort of,  by one user with a Nexstar. I
was able to get information about how satellites and asteroids are
handled by that scope,  and it is _very_ easy to do there.  One
(admittedly very small) point for Celestron in the long-running "Meade
vs. Celestron" saga.

In any case,  there are a slew of other features that are higher
priorities.  At present,  you can use my software to point the scope at
a given target,  or get a chart showing the current scope location. So a
lot of useful features really ought to be worked on before I leap into
such "nifty" things as playing with the satellite data.

Thanks!             -- Bill

Subject:	Re: ETX 90 EC Servicing
Sent:	Sunday, April 28, 2002 8:27:16
From:	Linda.Jennings1@btinternet.com (Linda Jennings)
Thanks for your comments. I have contacted Meade UK and they have
suggested a local company that could help with the servicing. So I will
let you know what their like.

I have one further question if I may. I understand from recent
advertisements that the 497 Autostar controller now contains a database
of 30,000 objects. Does the latest download from the Meade web site
cotain the extended database? If this is not the case as I have bought
my ETX-90EC kit second hand how can I tell how many objects are
currently in its database.

Many thanks for your help,

Duncan Cassidy.
Mike here: Version 1.x of the Autostar ROM had some 12,000 objects. Version 2.x brought it up to some 30,000. So you only have to check the version number that is displayed when you power it on. Alternatively, you can use the Setup-->Statistics menu to see the full version number.
End of 30 April update

Subject:	ETX commands for satellites,  asteroids,  comets?
Sent:	Saturday, April 27, 2002 17:19:17
From:	pluto@projectpluto.com (Bill J Gray)
I've just purchased an Autostar ETX-70,  and have found your site to be
very helpful on a slew of small points Meade didn't bother to cover in
detail.  There _is_ one area where I've been unable to find any data, 
though,  on your site or anyone else's.

Meade gives a nice description of the command sets for programming the
LX-200 and Autostar.  But there's no data on how to feed the Autostar
satellite,  comet,  or asteroid orbital elements.

I realize one can go through Meade's software to do this.  But I am the
author of _Guide 8.0_,  a star charting/desktop planetarium program. 
Right now,  you can click on satellites,  asteroids,  and comets and get
data about them.  It would be nice if the program also had a "send
elements to the Autostar" option.  (Most other LX-200/Autostar commands
already work,  such as "slew to this object" and "draw a chart showing
where the scope is pointed" and so forth.)

Any ideas?  I've done quite a few Google searches,  but have had no
success.

Thanks!              -- Bill

Subject:	Autostar 497 Update Problem
Sent:	Friday, April 26, 2002 0:56:21
From:	retrimble@rogers.com (Ralph E. Trimble)
I have a problem with updating my 497 Autostar for my new ETX-125EC. (My
present tracking is TERRIBLE!) I am a Macintosh user (yes, I've read the
"Update Autostar using a Mac" section) with a cable modem. I *do* have a
PC for the odd thing like synching my Casio PocketPC, using my Intel QX3
Computer Microscope, and so on that I can't do with my Mac, but it does
not have a modem or ethernet card and there is no way I can connect it
to the Internet.

I tried downloading the Autostar software update from Meade to my Mac,
transferring it to a Zip disk, and installing that on to my PC. However,
I quickly discovered that this software is only an installer, which then
tries to connect to the Internet to download the specific software for
my ETX and Autostar. This is obviously my problem!

My question is, is there someplace on the net where I can find the
required software for my ETX-125/Autostar-497 and download the whole
thing to my Mac so that when I transfer it to my PC it won't have to
connect to the Internet for any other files?

In this time of fast cable modems, I am very surprised that Meade does
not make these individual files available for download. It seems to me
it would be much easier, and make for less traffic on Meade's site, if
every time someone wanted to update their software they did not have to
connect twice to do so.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Love your site!

Ralph Trimble
Mike here: There are two files: the updater application (currentl 3.50) and the latest ROM file (currently 2.5ea). Place the ROM file inside the Empherides folder after you install the updater application onto your computer. Then the application can update from the local file instead of looking on the Internet for it. No cable modem required on either Mac or PC.
Subject:	A question from a novice
Sent:	Thursday, April 25, 2002 23:56:13
From:	oscarr@mexis.com (Oscar Rodriguez)
Hi, I just bought my STV 7E
I have an ETX 125 with autostar
Can the STV7E autoguide my scope
If so, please advice me how to do it.
Regards
Oscar
Mike here: Nope. I'm not aware of any no software do to that.
Subject:	new firmware ... v25Ea
Sent:	Thursday, April 25, 2002 19:33:25
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
...and my patch kit can be smaller...

--dick

Subject:	re: Autostar 497 Tracking question
Sent:	Wednesday, April 24, 2002 22:05:16
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	simo5@mindspring.com
> The Autostar is a great tool, but some times I enjoy the manual method
> of star hopping to find objects.  Once found is there a way to tell the
> autostar to track an object?  I've been through the manual several
> times, and it's not clear if it will do this.  I'm hopping the Autostar
> users have a way to do this.

Three ways:  i suspect you're skipping the Alignment steps.  When you
press [enter] for the last alignment star, the sidereal drive starts.
Then, until you do something to stop it (go to a Landmark, for example),
it will take up and track whereever the scope is pointed in the sky.
That's what Mike was referring to in his answer.
So that's the first method: Align.

Second Method: even if you don't align, GoTo some Astro Object (planet,
star, moon, whatever...).  -That- starts the sidereal drive.

Third Method:  Setup > Targets > [scroll to] Astronomical [enter].
 *that* starts the sidereal (tracking) drive, too.

In all but the LX90, the sidereal drive should be quite audible.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re:  Meade coiled cord
Sent:	Wednesday, April 24, 2002 21:58:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	Dazphotog@aol.com
>>(The stock Meade coiled cable is a straight through design.)

>This is not correct. The stock cable is wired very oddly, pin 1 is
>connectedto pin 8, pin 2 is connected to pin 7, pin 3 is connected to
>pin 6, and pin4 is connected to pin 5. Meade obviously did this so that
>if the cord goesbad ...we would have to buy one from them. A stock cat
>five cable is wiredstraight thru...so will work as an extension...but
>Not a replacement.

Actually, if you get an 8-wire -telephone multiline cord-, it may be
"properly" wired for Handbox usage.  (i haven't verified this, i build my own)

I agree with your displeasure at the term "straight through"..
  pin numbers should always be used.

But i think i know where the term comes from.
Imagine that you are holding the Autostar against your stomach, with
the top LED against your skin/shirt, display down, facing at the floor.

Imagine the pinout of the cable... you'll see that the wire on the left
exiting the Autostar is still on the left as it disappears into the ETX.

So it goes "straight" between two facing sockets.

(me? i'd call the Autostar cable a "crossover", since it does do the
1-to-8, 2-to-7, etc. shift.  To me, "straight through" means 1-to-1, 2-to-2)
But a Crossover Cat-5 cable will NOT operate an Autostar.

But a Cat-5 cable -with a female/female coupler- becomes a "straight through"
extension cord, so it can be used to -extend- an existing Meade cable.
(male pin 1 eventually leads to female socket pin 1)

confused yet?
have fun
--dick

Subject:	LXD 55 6" arrived
Sent:	Wednesday, April 24, 2002 20:11:28
From:	gillmj@rpi.edu (Joe Gillman)
Our college astronomy club 6" LXD55 reflector arrived yesterday via
direct shipment from Meade.  We ordered thru astronomics.  Today was
first light for the beautiful scope, looking at sunspots with our older
6" sun filter.  Interestingly enough the filter was about a half inch
too big so either the tube is narrower than the older Meade reflectors
or this one is a little less than 6".  It was my first solar observing
with a scope and I was impressed with the detail of sunspots visible. We
then proceeded to radio shack for a 1000mA 12V power supply since this
is more viable than 8 yes 8 D batteries. Okay so we do a rough polar
alignment with the polar scope. Yes the mount includes a polar alignment
scope which is great for a $675(incl 75 shipping) goto scope. We had a
more experienced club member help to collimate the scope which took him
about 20 minutes with the provided collimation screws.  Ok now to the
autostar part: we do an easy align, polaris is more or less in the
finder (we didnt want to fuss with the mount for a perfect polar
alignment). So after hitting enter with Polaris, it picks Arcturus to go
to next. It gets halfway there and then.... the dreaded MOTOR UNIT
FAULT.  My friends did not train the drives so thinking this was the
problem I did that and tried aligning again. So we get the same result.
I try a 2-star instead of easy alignment and it also gave me a MUF. Then
going back to easy-align again, and lo and behold it worked! All hail
the mighty robo-scope!!!! Jupiter and Saturn were in the field of the
26mm eyepiece, and I centered Saturn in a high power eyepiece and hit
identify it said Saturn was 14' away, meaning my alignment was off by
14'.  The moon was full and we dont have a dark sky site so deep sky
objects were out of the question, but it was great to get the autostar
working. Luckily we dont have to call Meade just yet.

End of 27 April update

Subject:	February 2006 date in the Astrofinder
Sent:	Monday, April 22, 2002 18:26:55
From:	jrostmark@yahoo.com (Jack Ostmark)
Help!
I am just starting out with my ETX90EC and Astrofinder program. I have
yet to make it function properly. My first problem is that there is a
February 2006 date in the program and I am unable to remove or change
it. I am sure I saw something about this in one of the notes to you but
I cannot locate it.
Point the way please. 
Jack Ostmark 
New Paltz, NY 
Mike here: This question comes up occasionally (maybe I should put it in the FAQ). You need to update the Astronomer's Control Panel plug-in. See /acp.dc3.com/meade.html.
Subject:	Meade coiled cord
Sent:	Sunday, April 21, 2002 23:41:51
From:	Dazphotog@aol.com
>(The stock Meade coiled cable is a straight through design.)

This is not correct. The stock cable is wired very oddly, pin 1 is
connectedto pin 8, pin 2 is connected to pin 7, pin 3 is connected to
pin 6, and pin4 is connected to pin 5. Meade obviously did this so that
if the cord goesbad ...we would have to buy one from them. A stock cat
five cable is wiredstraight thru...so will work as an extension...but
Not a replacement.

Don Boyd

We emerged to see-once again-the stars
B'Leeve Photography-Meeting Your Needs for That Moment in Time
Don Boyd
Richard B. Lee

Subject:	Home Position -- will the correct way please stand up
Sent:	Sunday, April 21, 2002 21:02:31
From:	psydoctor@netzero.net (psydoctor)
I'm a greenhorn with my ETX.  Before I foud you, I couldn't goto
anything.  Thanks to you I learned my Dec circle was way off.  Got my
first real use last night, thanks!

Just a quick question.  I use Az mounting.  I used the home position of
turning counter clockwise until hitting the stop ... etc.

But my Meade manual says for Alt/Az Home Position: "Losen horizontal
lock lever and rotate telescopt clockwise until vertical lock dial,
right fork arm, is directly above computer control pannel.  Then rotate
counterclockwise 180 degrees until dec setting circle, left fork arm is
directly above computer control pannel."  It then says to set dec to 0
and point the whole thing to north.  Have you heard of this method of
getting into home position before?  Is it better or worse than the
traditional turn counterclockwise until you hit a hard stop method?

Thanks again for all of you help and fantasyic information.  Without you
I would still be wondering why I couldn't goto anthing!

Dr. Jim Gregory
Mike here: That HOME position setup does seem backwards.
Subject:	Autostar 497 Tracking question
Sent:	Sunday, April 21, 2002 17:38:25
From:	simo5@mindspring.com (MindSpring Account)
The Autostar is a great tool, but some times I enjoy the manual method
of star hopping to find objects.  Once found is there a way to tell the
autostar to track an object?  I've been through the manual several
times, and it's not clear if it will do this.  I'm hopping the Autostar
users have a way to do this.

Thanks,
Dave
Mike here: Once you do the alignment the Autostar will always "track". Just slew to the object you want to observe using whatever technique you like. When you stop slewing, the Autostar will resume tracking.
End of 24 April update

Subject:	Questions for polar alignment.
Sent:	Saturday, April 20, 2002 12:30:48
From:	dellagiustina@tiscalinet.it (Loris)
Hello Mike, many compliments for your web site.
My name is Loris, I live in Milan in Italy, my telescope and a etx 90 ec
with autostar. I have this problem, after i have stationary the
telescope in a polar way, like requires the manual meade, autostar asks
me to insert the declination to 90 degress with the keyboard. That keys
need to press in sequence, for insert this value in a correct way, and
therefore use the telescope in polar formality.
Excuse for my english, many thanks.
Hello, Loris.
Mike here: If I understand your question, I think you just need to put the tube at 90 degrees Declination as part of the HOME position. You can do that manually or by slewing with the Autostar controller arrow keys. Unless you have calibrated the DEC scale don't assume that its reading is correct. The tube will be parallel to the fork arms at 90 degrees Declination when the ETX is mounted in the proper Polar mode. For more on Alignments, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	manual 497
Sent:	Saturday, April 20, 2002 2:40:05
From:	ms.cor@mclink.it (Massimo Corbisiero)
there is a manual for 497 non organized in html as is presente in meade site?

For example a 497manual.doc or a 497manual.pdf document?

---
]\/[assimo Corbisiero
Segretario UAI
Mike here: Yes there is. See the FAQ page and grab the LX90 manual.
Subject:	re: Autostar Inquiry
Sent:	Friday, April 19, 2002 23:06:51
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	MeteorMik@aol.com
Although "ETX90" may appear when you first enter the Telescope Model
screen, the -selected- model has an ">" in front of it.

That's true in any of the multiple-choice screen displays.

have fun
 dick

Subject:	Upgrade problem
Sent:	Thursday, April 18, 2002 18:41:38
From:	dwcrawford@attbi.com (Delbert Crawford)
I attempted to update my autostar software, but now It doesn't work at
all. After connecting the cable between the computer and Autostar, I
turned on Autostar and went through the normal setup with the date and
time, then went to the update menu and pressed enter to update.  The
Autostar displayed Downloading do not turn off.  It was like that for a
very very long time.  Thinking maybe I was supposed to start the
Autostar update software on the computer I started it and ran an update
through it.  Occasionally I would look at eh Autostar display, but all
it ever showed was "Downloading do not turn off".  After running an
upload from the computer software I noticed the Autostar display was
blank.  I tuned it off and disconnected it from the computer and turned
it on. All I get when I turn it on is a display   "(c) 01 Meade [22e]
and below that AUTOSTAR". After 5 seconds the display goes blank and
that's it.  That's all it does now. I'm afraid the batteries may have
died in the download process.  How do I recover from this?

Delbert Crawford
Mike here: Have you tried downloading from the SAFE LOAD mode? If not, hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on the ETX. Release the keys, launch the updater application on your computer and repeat the download. Have fresh batteries already installed!

And:

I want to thank you very much.  Your suggestion was right on.  It worked
like a charm.  I now have my Autostar up and running again.  I was even,
for the first time, able to track the ISS with it.  Thanks again.
Delbert Crawford.

Subject:	Issue upgrading autostar
Sent:	Thursday, April 18, 2002 3:08:16
From:	bobrose@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
To:	jbedardmtl@sympatico.ca
There is a problem with the new updater and W2K. It seem that the
updater will lose commutation with the  comm. port if there is any
inactivity. The solution I have found is to not use the "Connect"
button, Just go directly to the "Upgrade Autostar Now" (firmware
upgrades) or "Send Data" (if only upgrading user bodies). If the updater
loses commutation with the comm. port I have found the updater will not
recover. It must be restarted.

bob rose
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
I haven't seen this behaviour, but i don't run Win2k  (i'm a 95/98 kinda guy).
There has also been some issues raised in the LX200gps crowd (and Bob is
one of those), but i thought they were (somewhat) addressed by upgrading
to 1.1a.
And, of course, a note should be sent to engineer@meade.com with
 "ASU Updater bug" in the Subject line, detailing W2K version, patch level,
target Autostar type/firmware, phase of moon... the usual stuff.

With regards to > jbedardmtl@sympatico.ca (Jacques Bdard)'s problem,
you were right Mike, that ancient of an Autostar requires that
it be placed in Download Mode before proceeding.

How W2K interacts with the ASU is an area i hope to remain blissfully
unaware of... (but eventually i suppose i'll visit XP)(next decade).

have fun
--dick
And this:
From:	jbedardmtl@sympatico.ca (Jacques Bedard)
Thanks,

The solution was to put the Autostar in the download mode.  I now have
an updated autostar.

Subject:	ETX download
Sent:	Wednesday, April 17, 2002 20:44:17
From:	SMalin1@aol.com
Any chance you can include a section on your web site on how to properly
download the latest Meade updates to the Autostar. I find it very
confusing and have been afraid to attempt it for fear of causing my
Autostar to become unstable. I mean a take you by the hand and show us
exactly how and what to download and then how to get it into the
Autostar. I bet a lot of your readers would really appreciate that. And
I bought your book and hoped I would find a chapter devoted to just that
but alas there was none. I really enjoyed the information galore the
book has. Thanks so much for it.
Selwyn Malin
Mike here: Check out the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Autostar Information page.
End of 21 April update

Subject:	Autostar Inquiry
Sent:	Wednesday, April 17, 2002 5:52:14
From:	MeteorMik@aol.com
When I choose ETX125 in the Autostar telescope menu to designate the
model and hit enter, it always shows the ETX 90 when I go back to that
menu again. Is this the way it should be and that is just the default?
Also, does this actually matter since they are both ETX models?
Thanks, Meteormik.
Mike here: The setting is retained, it is just the display that looks wrong.
Subject:	Issue upgrading autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, April 16, 2002 20:09:25
From:	jbedardmtl@sympatico.ca (Jacques Bdard)
I am attempting my first upgrade of my Autostar used with my ETX 90EC.
It is currently at version 1.1j.  I have installed the latest version of
the ASU (3.4).  If it is of any help, I am using Windows 2000
professionnal. When performing the upgrade, the proper com port (com1)
is found and I select the Internet ROM upgrade.

After the reset instruction message box, I received the following error:
"Check Autostar cable then power cycle Autostar and try again".
Following these instructions get me to the same point.

In order to test my cable, I shut down the scope and retried the
upgrade. When the ASU tries to discover the Autostar by scanning the
ports, it is not found.  Afterward, I have successfully controlled the
scope with SkyMap Pro ver 8.  I therefore assume that the cable setup is
functionning.

Further testing using the advance function in the ASU, it seems that I
have successfully connected to the handbox but attemps to retreive data
from the handbox resulted in an application crash.

Am I missing a step?

Does Meade provide any technical support?

Do I need to put the autostar in download mode?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Mike here: The solution is probably to put the Autostar into Download mode first. Later versions of the Autostar ROM did this automatically but 1.1 didn't. Meade does provide one-on-one technical support via the telephone.
Subject:	Problem
Sent:	Monday, April 15, 2002 19:50:21
From:	mfaria@comcast.net (Mark Faria)
Does your ETX site have a section for problem identification (My RA runs
continuously when slewing to the first star during the easy align ) I
have an ETX90 EC.

Thanks!  This site is great. I look forward to taking advantage of all
the information available and the do it yourself projects.

Mark
Mike here: There is no "problem ID" section although that is a good idea (only wish I had time to implement it!). There could be several reasons for the slewing past the first alignment star. Check the proper HOME position; check all the settings in the Autostar (date/time/location/DST/telescope/mount). If everything is correct, do a RESET, RECALIBRATE, and reTRAIN the drives. Changing batteries or using an AC adapter may help.
Subject:	ETX 125 Polar Mode
Sent:	Monday, April 15, 2002 7:38:14
From:	MeteorMik@aol.com
I'm curious how owners of the ETX 125 find the autostar accuracy in
Polar alignment mode. Also, I'd like to know the best way to set the
home position with the telescope polar aligned on the wedge.
Thanks, Meteormik.
Mike here: I rarely use my ETX-125EC in polar mode so I'll leave the answer to others.
End of 17 April update

Subject:	re: VB Control of ETX-90 and SAC camera
Sent:	Friday, April 12, 2002 20:37:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	jeremyjackson@comcast.net
>When I am using my program, the scope takes off and slews.  I've noticed
>that it only does this when I am running my VB program and after about
>15 to 30 minutes of operation.  Has anybody seen this?

I haven't encountered it lately, (Meade fixed stuff), but i suspect you're
seeing stack overflow in the Autostar.

Send fewer commands, or send them less rapidly (fewer commands per minute).
IF you're commanding "GoTo" (:MS#), and send -another- GoTo before the
previous one finishes (beep!), the system may stack them instead of
cleanly abort the previous.
Ditto with all other commands (say you start a GoTo, then command some
date/time operations, then play with the site data, then slew up a little,
etc.etc.)
If you're running firmware older than 21-something, it's -definitely-
stack overflow.
One motion command per second is about the safe limit.
You can toss in a couple of "where are we?" during that second, but not
much more.

Laid back and casual.. the secret to happy Autostarring...
have fun
--dick

End of 14 April update

Subject:	My Autostar #495 has now became a #497 !!
Sent:	Thursday, April 11, 2002 1:46:32
From:	rafapadi@teleline.es (Rafa)
Hello, Mike. I'm writing to you is spite of the the fact many people do,
because I do not know what to think. I purchased an Autostar #495 for my
ETX-70, version 2.0g. I downloaded ASU 3.40 and after all the
connections and settings, I pushed the "Upgrade Autostar Software Now"
button. All was OK, I assuming that the ASU would download the correct
version for my #495 handbox.

But It downloaded the 2002 2.4E version that I believe is for the #497.
Now my handbox has been updated (it hasn't the multi-language selector
anymore) and moreover, after the process now the ASU control panel at
the PC is telling me that all is correct with my #497 (!!) Autostar. Yes
the ASU tells my that I have a #497

What has happened? Have I been graciously upgraded? Can it that true?
(correct) The ETX-70 seems to behave normally with its new "#497'"
handbox...  In the Telescope Selector" the ETX-70 does appear. Do I have
now all the databases of the #497? (i.e. the New General Catalogue).

Really, I'm puzzled. That's being one of the most interesting exciting
brain-teasers I've ever passed thru...

Thank you for your attention.

Best Regards, Rafa Padilla.
Mike here: Yes, it is possible to upgrade a #495 to a #497 and you've done that.
Subject:	VB Control of ETX-90 and SAC camera
Sent:	Wednesday, April 10, 2002 9:51:55
From:	jeremy_jackson@waterfurnace.com (Jeremy Jackson)
I've recently wrote a program in VB that controls the telescope slewing
(north, south, east, and west), but I've noticed a few problems and
thought somebody might have a solution.

When I am using my program, the scope takes off and slews.  I've noticed
that it only does this when I am running my VB program and after about
15 to 30 minutes of operation.  Has anybody seen this?

I also figured out that the slow and medium slew rates work only when
the scope has been aligned and the Autostar is ready to accept goto
commands...

My ultimate goal is to write a program that controls the telescope and
my SAC camera.  If somebody wants my source code or has some they want
to share, let me know at:

jeremyjackson@comcast.net

Jeremy Jackson
Mike here: Have you checked the Autostar Commands info on the Autostar Information page?
Subject:	Re: autostar alignement problem
Sent:	Wednesday, April 10, 2002 7:25:18
From:	smorren@vub.ac.be (Serge Morren)
First I checked all the setups which were correct. Then I trained the
motors again horizontally and vertically. At night I checked the working
of my Autostar. Alignement put on easy. Going to the first star:
vertically correct, horizontally not correct although more correct then
before, but still the star not visible in the viewfinder. I center the
star and put on enter. I let him move to the second star and what
happens? The ETX turns completely around and stays blocked at his
fardest point with the engines still running and making noise, it looks
as he wants to reach a point he can't go to (farder then mechanically
possible). I had to put it off because the motor stayed turning. Then I
put again the telescope in starting position (turning counterclockwise
en then coming back until the right arm is positioned above the
computer) en put it on to do the alignement with one star. Again he
turns around en stays blocked in a position with working motor. So it
still seems to me that the Autostar doesn't know the horizontal position
of the ETX. The only thing I can imagine now is that maybe after
updating the proceeding of turning the scope counterwise to the 'click'
has maybe changed? Or does it matter that I do that with the Autostar
allready "on" ?
An ETX lover but desperate autostar owner!
Serge.
Mike here: >(turning counterclockwise en then coming back until the right arm is positioned above the computer)
That's the clue! The left fork arm is the one to be above the control panel. The rotation back from the hard stop is only about 120 degrees.
Subject:	Home-made 505/6 cables?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 9, 2002 6:40:57
From:	Steve.Johns@LAKENHEATH.AF.MIL (Johns Steve Civ 48CS/SCBBA)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com
I'm having a blast with our EQ-114 'scope thanks to the help provided by
you and other members of your Webbmunity ;-)

I will acquire a 495/9 handpiece, but I noted several references to
home-made cablesets, yet was unable to find them on your pages or those
of MWeasner.

Additionally, I'd like someone to tell me how to safely power the
handpiece for PC I/O operations without having to haul the 'scope
around, or de-install the motors (!) each time. (I read too that THAT
was a problem)

I did discover that ours is a Starfinder, is GEM and Tripod-smart, but
lacks the I/O socket offered by the 495/7 sets.  I D/L one mans 'fix'
for this, but seriously... can the Starfinder be re-programmed, or was
that an April fools joke?
Mike here: The cable and power info you seek is on the ETX Site on the Autostar Information page.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> I'm having a blast with our EQ-114 'scope thanks to the help provided by you
> and other members of your Webbmunity ;-)

Great!  the 114eq's (and 4504) are quite decent scopes.

> I will acquire a 495/9 handpiece, but I noted several references to
> home-made cablesets, yet was unable to find them on your pages or those of
> MWeasner.

Which cableset?
The rs232 cable is covered at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html 

and the no-scope-needed power/pinnage requirements is at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_power.html   

with another take on it (a photo essay) at
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_power-box.html

All of that info is on Mike's "Autostar Info" page,
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html
under the "Cable and Power" section (lower right corner)
 of that info  page.   

> I did discover that ours is a Starfinder, is GEM and Tripod-smart, but lacks
> the I/O socket offered by the 495/7 sets.  I D/L one mans 'fix' for this,
> but seriously... can the Starfinder be re-programmed, or was that an April
> fools joke?

The "fix" you downloaded may have been my "how to add an AUX port"
(hmmm... can't find the link right now)
It allows using the Updater to add/change/remove User Bodies
(Satellites, Tours, Asteroids, Comets, other), and allows control of
the telescope from programs like StarryNight and ACP ...
 but does NOT allow "re-programming" the Starfinder.
And still requires a $50 506 cable set.

[ok, ok: you COULD, physically, reprogram. But Meade has never released
an update for the Starfinder, nor a downloadable update for the 494. 
(the 494 has seen newer versions factory-installed over the years)
Meade's position on the matter seems to be that only the Autostar with
numeric keypads are deemed User re-programmable]
[the Starfinder/494 do NOT have the Emergency Safe Load feature, 
so any problems reprogramming them turns them into total toast.]

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re:  Site lost during Update
Sent:	Monday, April 8, 2002 23:36:59
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	werner.schaefer@mibag.com
OK, i'm now back in from -using- the telescope, and have had a moment
to read the "what works" file... i see that the "Set Site" functions
-are- implemented in the Autostar.

I haven't had a chance to test it, but sending the following series of
commands might allow you to restore at least one site's data:
(replace "ddd" with degree numbers, "mm" with minute numbers)

#:SMfrankfurt#:Stddd*mm#:Sgddd*mm#:SGhh#

Which would set the location as Frankfurt, :St  sets latitude, :Sg sets
longitude, :SG sets hours from GMT

You can see the syntax the Autostar would like by issuing :G commands
instead of :S  ... the same second letter should cause the Autostar
to send to -you- the data it has about that site.
The :Wn#  (with "n" being 1,2,3 or 4) should select which site is
active.  The :SM refers to Site 1

However: i have NOT tried the above (yet)

So, it's -feasible-, but it's not particularly -easy-.

Sounds like a good request to send to engineer@meade.com
Put "suggestion for Autostar Updater" in the subject line.

good luck
--dick

End of 11 April update

Subject:	Updating Owner Infos and Observation Site Data
Sent:	Monday, April 8, 2002 4:02:37
From:	werner.schaefer@mibag.com (Schfer Werner)
Every time I changed the ROM Version of the Autostar (I use the #497
Handbox) I must made a new input of my personal objects and other
personal data. The new input of the user objects is no problem with the
ASU and the PC

But the input of owner information and of observation site data is only
possible via the handbox. It would be very helpful if there were a
possibility to maintain this datasets with the PC.

Do you know if it exists a respectively patch or software?

Thank you and greetings from Switzerland

Werner Schaefer
Zug
Mike here: I don't think there is a way to save the Site data to disk and have it reloaded from the application. However, I don't lose my Site data when doing an update. What is the process you follow to do the ROM update?

And:

Thanks for your quick answer. Here are my facts:
1.	I'm using ASU Version 3.40 and ROM Version 2.4 Ea, Hanbox  #497
2.	First I copied the old ROM File from the Ephemerides directory to
an other directory (for saving).
3.	Then I made a download from the MEADE web-site, unzipped the file
to the Ephemerides directory.
4.	At last I pressed the "Upgrade Autostar Software Now" button. Then
the PC need about 30 minutes to upgrade the Handbox.
5.	This all had the same effect as an RESET

I hope you can do something with this information.

Kind regards

Werner
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
It also depends upon the version you are coming -from-.
If it is old enough, the data in the stored-across-power-off memory
has moved from the locations where it used to be stored.
(and 24ea has added some items up there, for the LXD55)

So (and i didn't see the original message) i can't say with certainty
why it (effectively) RESET, but i can make broad guesses.

From v23Eb to v24Ea  you should -not- have seen the problem.
(i have gone both up and down between those versions)

The LX200 rs232 protocol allows you to -receive- the current Site
data from the Autostar... but it does not let you SET it.
(i think, i'd have to review the page on Mike's site
( http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html )
which lists what functions and what doesn't)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: [LX200GPS] Dr. Clay - A few questions
Sent:	Sunday, April 7, 2002 19:08:52
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Glad you got Mike Weasner's new book.  You have some good questions
here, and the similarities between the operation of the Autostar II and
the original 497 are as different as day and night as you probably are
already realizing.

The training of the LX 200 GPS is NOT at all like training the ETX or
the LX 90 telescopes....the training as I have stated before is nearly
identical to the "PEC" training that was done on the original classic LX
200s.

For that reason, you have a full 8+ minutes to "train" the main RA drive
as that is the periodicity of the worm gear....a little more than 8
minutes.  However, major mistakes in that training can cost you a lot of
accuracy in overall tracking.  I highly recommend a careful training
with no error that amounts to much.  What I do is two "dummy" trainings
first....you will quickly learn by the second time what errors are
common to YOUR system and recognize them by the time they turn around
the third time....when you do this for yourself, you will clearly see
what I am referring to.

Train at very high power and use a cross hair eyepiece to keep a bright
star centered....I turn the star image slightly out of focus and keep
the crosshair on the DARK CENTER of the image....works perfectly.

When uploading new firmware (not comets, asteroids, tours, etc.) it will
be absolutely necessary to train the scope anew....it is my
understanding that Meade is now working on firmware upgrades that this
will NOT be required of, however.

As far as ETX groups other than Mike Weasner's....there are none. 
Period.  That website in my opinion has done more to help the average
telescope user - NOT just ETX users - in their thirst for knowledge and
understanding of telescopes, the sky and proper observations.

Good luck with the new 10"....you are going to love it!

Dr. Clay

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Dr. Clay:

  I just got my copy of Weasner's book on the ETX.  As you know, I own
  both an ETX -125 and the 10" LX-200 gps.  Your contributions in the
  book were excellent.  I have a question about my LX-200.  In the drive
  training mode when you do the training and you make a mistake
  (overshoot for example) in the book on the ETX you say to reset and
  then redo the training.  Is this the same for the LX-200 gps can you
  train it again or must you do another reset first?  Also do you
  recommend a similar reset after downloading updates to the ASII like
  you do with the ASI?

  Final question.  Is there an ETX group like this that you monitor?

  Thanks

  Randy 

Subject:	Autostar 495 power?
Sent:	Saturday, April 6, 2002 20:13:47
From:	bdewitt@ix.netcom.com (Brent DeWitt)
I'm stumped,

I built a simple adapter for powering my newly acquired 495 separate
from the scope.  All polarities have been checked about a dozen times
and I'm using the battery pack as the voltage source with just pins 1
and 8 of the RJ-45 connected.  When I plug the system together, nothing
happens.  No damage to the 495, no lights, no screen display.  Is there
some handshaking from the 495 to the scope base that needs to happen to
wake it up?

Any ideas?

TIA,

Brent DeWitt
Mike here: Did you use the info on the Autostar Information page?

And:

Yep, and interpreted it totally bass-akwards!  I discovered about 15
minutes ago that I had stupidly reflected the pinout wrong.  I guess the
good news is that you _don't_ fry a 495 Autostar by reversing the
polarity!

Sorry for the waste of your time and bandwidth.

bgd

Subject:	Meade speaks on USB to Serial...
Sent:	Saturday, April 6, 2002 20:09:06
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
at:

http://www.meade.com/USB_Serial/USB_SER.html

oh... i just started reading it.... it's a DEVICE for SALE!

A Meade-blest USB-to-serial adapter.
Driver software for Win98, ME, 2000 and XP.

--dick
Mike here: I heard they were coming out with one. I didn't see a price; wonder how it compares to the offerings from Keyspan? At least Keyspan has been doing such converters for a long time and supports Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X as well as Windows.

And:

It is probably a third-party device (it's not black!)
and (to read the webpage) immediately requires a driver update
to even work with the Pixtor.
Why don't they just toss in a floppy?   (<- Wintel-centric view)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Laptop control
Sent:	Thursday, April 4, 2002 20:35:27
From:	mike@e-axis.com (Mike Luis)
I just finished emailing you about the the minor problems I had with my
ETX 125ce. Thanks alot for your help.

I had one question for ya that I totaly forgot about.

I have a lap top with Starry night Pro. (I lost the mannual for Starry
Night, not that there was anything about scopes in there) I know the
program quite well. However now that my new scope is compatible with a
lap top I was wondering how to configure StarryNight Pro to work with my
Scope. Don't I have to align the stars on my computer with what the
scope sees? I aslo have Sky version 4 by the way.

So I was just wondering if you can guide to some info on this. Is Starry
night a bad choice to work with the ETX? Is there astronomy software
that works really well with the ETX? Starry night is an amazing program,
the best I've seen. It would be a shame to use any thing else. The ETX
mannual goes as far as "it can be done" wow thanks Meade.

Any thanks for your help in advanced.

Mike
Mike here: I don't have Starry Night but there is a plug-in or something that allows it to control the Autostar. Yes, you still have to align the Autostar but once that is done the software should be able to control it.

And:

Well don't I have egg all over my face. Right after I sent you the
previous email it occured to me the Starry Night  pro might have a PDF
version of the mannual. Well it did, and it did mention telescopes...and
specificly mentioned the ETX 90 and 125ec. I attached the jpeg. If you
want the PDF to offer on your web site I can email it to you. Apperently
it's a plug in.

If you can still add any info or know of extra sites I can visit please
send then

ANYWAY, thanks in advance (That's what I meant in my previous email)

Mike
Starry Night

End of 8 April update

Subject:	setup shortcut
Sent:	Thursday, April 4, 2002 17:17:05
From:	krugagc@hotmail.com (william weatherford)
A little tip for all.

If you are like me, your ETX is your down an' dirty scope, your comet
catcher, your "its always on the tripod ready to be plopped down in the
backyard" scope.

Here's a tip to speed up your setup.

When winding up a seeing session, always "park scope". You will find
this function under "utilities".

At the beginning of your next session, level scope base, unlock RA and
DEC and shoot Polaris. Lock RA, then level OTA and lock DEC. Turn on
scope, enter date and time and voila!, your scope is already aligned and
ready to target and track! No more aligning! Cool, huh! (i havent
performed an align in months)

Clear skies all!
Thanks Mike for your great work!
Bill Weatherford
Omaha, Ne

Subject:	8" Schmidt-Caddegrain Upgradeable to Autostar? Model 2080
Sent:	Tuesday, April 2, 2002 18:34:15
From:	tysonstephen@shaw.ca (Tyson Stephen)
I have a ETX 60, Pretty new to astronomy, anyways I really enjoy
Autostar. My Grandfather has a Meade 2080 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain
Telescope. He has loaned it to me, and I suppose I have been spoiled
with the Autostar. My question is whether You can Purchase the Autostar
Star and upgrade his telescope with the gearmotors and what not? He has
the gearbox just for tracking.

Thanks
-Tyson Stephen
tysonstephen@shaw.ca
Mike here: Maybe. See Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	erratic slewing
Sent:	Tuesday, April 2, 2002 7:31:59
From:	Steve.Johns@LAKENHEATH.AF.MIL (Johns Steve Civ 48CS/SCBBA)
To:	e.de.mooij@hccnet.nl
You said:
>Last august I bought a LX90 with Autostar. But The telescope doesn't
>work properly. After some time, the telescope starts to act crazy, if I
>give let the telescope slew to a certain point in the sky, it keeps
>turning around its azimuth axis, and I was wondering if this is a
>problem with the telescope or with the Autostar

Are you using 1.5v batteries? Use only Alkaline...NOT NiCD or LiMH as
the latter are 1.2v and your problem might be a 'low-voltage' fallout.
;-)

Subject:	Re: autostar alignement problem
Sent:	Tuesday, April 2, 2002 4:03:02
From:	smorren@vub.ac.be (Serge Morren)
I will ask first the person who sold it to me. As soon as I tried it out
I will let you know. The problem in Belgium is that we have a lot more
cloudy days then clear skies! Another qiuestion: if you want to let the
autostar follow the moon during daytilme: how do put it on? (alignement
not possible because of no stars, the same question to see for instance
the ionner planets)
Mike here: You can do a "quick alignment", which is what I do during the day. Set the time and HOME properly and then just accept each star as centered. There are other techniques as well; see the "Quick "Align" with the Autostar" on the Autostar Information page.

Feedback Archives

Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Autostar Feedback page.


Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.


Copyright ©2002 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2002 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackApr02/autostar.html