Last updated: 30 April 2003
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 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:	Polar mount
Sent:	Wednesday, April 30, 2003 11:58:39
From:	ppascal@net.yu (PASCAL POITEVIN)
My name is Pascal Poitevin, I just got few month ago my ETX 125 with the
tripod #884

I am not very good to set up my scope on a polar mount with this tripod,
and so i will appriciate if you can send me a picture how the scope
should be set on this tripod

Sincerely yours
Pascal Poitevin
Mike here: See the article "Easy Polar Alignment" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	ETX 125 AutoStar Easy Alignment 
Sent:	Tuesday, April 29, 2003 21:28:15
From: (John)
I have recently purchased the ETX-125EC with autostar.  The problem I'm
having is, when attempting to align my telescope with autostar, after
slewing to the first star(and any subsequent stars) in the easy
alignment option, the arrow keys don't function, preventing me from
centering the star.  The scope does locate the star named, it is only
the centering function that I'm unable to complete.  Is there a step I'm
missing? I'd appreciate any suggestions.  John
Mike here: Have you tried increasing the slewing speed by pushing one of the higher number keys? I usually use a speed of 5 or 7 when making alignment adjustments.
Subject:	etx 
Sent:	Tuesday, April 29, 2003 15:12:16
From: (dan hester)
Thanks for the great site.  I have e-mailed you a couple of times..and
its always been positive about my etx-125.

I do have a slight problem I could use some input on.

The unit is very accurate..puts most objects near center in the 26 mm
eyepiece...unless it is beyond about 60 degrees up.

The go-to always puts objects that are high in the sky very low in the
eyepiece...or just below the fov.  Any suggestions?   Dan
Mike here: Some thoughts: do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES to retune the Autostar to the telescope. If you still see the problem, try using an object at 60 degrees (or thereabouts) altitude for the training and see if that makes a difference. Let me know. Oh wait a minute; are you talking about 60 degrees declination or 60 degrees altitude, and how is the telescope mounted? And where are the alignment stars located? Have you tried alternative alignment stars?


Thanks for your quick reply.  I was talking about altitude in my recent
msg. The unit is especially inaccurate when objects are almost straight
up. The training idea makes sense, since I trained on a tall light pole
about a quarter mile away. Could be too low. But as I remember, i had
the same problem recently when I trained on Polaris. The unit is picking
Sirius and Aldebraun(spelling?) most of the time here on the east coast
of North Carolina.  Dan
Mike here: I could see some inaccuracies in Right Ascension near the Zenith since the RA lines get closer together as you approach the pole. But then just being near the Zenith shouldn't be the only problem; GOTOing objects north of the Zenith should exhibit some errors too if the problem was an inaccuracy during the alignment steps. Let me know about the retraining.


I had a great experience tonight thanks to you.
On your advice..I made some changes before going out.
I mentioned problems with the go to...
Here's what I did:
1. Removed bottom and used the point of a toothpick to remove excess
grease (and grit!) from the worm gears on all axis.
I did this with the unit running.
2.  I reset, set percentages to 15. calibrated.
3. Used a 5 dollar laser pointer taped solidly to the scope to train
drives. I trained the drives with the unit pointing above 60 degrees to
see if it solved my problem with missing high objects.
After the training...the unit put the dot very close the the origional
spots in the garage ceiling every time.
Tonight...the etx put every object almost center in the 26 mm
eyepice...including Jupiter..almost straight overhead.
I got some great views of the planet using..get this...a 10mm plossel
with a 2x barlow!  plenty of detail. Thanks again for the advice...and
keep this site going.  Can I help?:  Dan
Mike here: Super! Glad things worked out. If you are interested, see the "Supporting the Mighty ETX Site".
Subject:	training the etx?
Sent:	Monday, April 28, 2003 20:48:04
From: (Dave Knutsen)
I recently purchased an ETX90 as a second scope.  It's go-to function
has more of a learning curve than I'd anticipated but the wealth of
articles posted on M Weasner's site have helped.  In your article on
drive training I have a couple of questions I hope you can answer for
me:  1. To point the telescope higher than the object for training (in
the viewfinder I assume), will the object therefore be lower in the
eyepiece?  Then to slew down means using the "down" arrow to actually
bring the object up in the eyepiece?   2. How would this specifically
work for RA?  3. How does one calibrate the motors?  How often should
one calibrate and train the motors for a new scope?  Can you post this
so someone can answer my request?  Thanks for any help,
Mike here: I think you may be misinterpreting the TRAINing step. The concept was to point the telescope upwards at an angle to place a better load of the drives than just being in a horizontal position. That is why some of us prefer to use Polaris for training; it is conveniently located (for some of us) and is reasonably fixed during the time it takes to train. BUT any fixed object will do. Just center the object in an eyepiece (I use the 26mm but others prefer using a higher power) and following the prompts on the Autostar. Do it for both the RA (or Azimuth) and Declination (Altitude) drives. To CALIBRATE, just select that from the Setup-->Telescope menu. There is no other user interaction. Under normal circumstances, once you have done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES there is no reason to redo them. However, anytime the Autostar acts up, doing a TRAIN is a troubleshooting step that can clear up the problem. If that doesn't help, do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN. And if that doesn't clear any problems, then a RESET, CALIBRATE, TRAIN can usually resolve it. One time that you do need to TRAIN is after updating the Autostar ROM. Otherwise you'll get the odd "rubberbanding" behavior, where the Autostar attempts to re-center an object after you center the object following a GOTO.
Subject:	etx125 questions
Sent:	Monday, April 28, 2003 09:22:17
From: (Marcia Lewis Smith)
I'm the one who was worried about training my 125.

Did the training, it went reasonably well - pretty simple.


On the first night out I got a MOTOR FAILURE message.  Shut down for the

Went to the store and bought brand, spanking new batteries.

Went back out last night - got a MOTOR FAILURE message after about five
minutes, BUT also noticed that when I pressed the button for UP it
slewed down and DOWN was up.  The right and left (yes I know there are
real technical terms, declination, etc) movement was inconsistent,
sometimes it moved by handcontrol, sometimes it didn't.

I am waiting for the store (ScopeCity) I bought it from to open - any
advice I can gauge against what they are going to tell me?

Should I return the scope?

And are these difficult maneuvers?

Mike here: Could you be overtightening the axis locks? They should be just finger-tight and just tight enough to let the telescope move via the handcontroller. To answer your questions, no RESET and CALIBRATE are not difficult; just select them from the Autostar Setup menu (Calibrate is under Setup-->Telescope, just like TRAIN DRIVE). Unlike TRAIN DRIVE, there is no user action required for the RESET and CALIBRATE beyond selecting them. And yes, doing them could help.
Subject:	LX200 command language
Sent:	Sunday, April 27, 2003 07:19:53
From: (Peter Thejll)
we are still working on a modification of the Autostar software in order
to turn an ETX90 with an Autostar into a 'remote observatory where no
keypresses are required'.

We have a question regarding the LX200 command language that we wonder
if you or anyone reading your ETX site can answer?

What is the LX200 command language equivalent of doing an 'easy align'?

I see that the :G0#,...,:G2# commands might be relevant, but are these
the equivalent of some key presses on the hand box? How does one do the
dialog that the handbox requires?

Perhaps some combination of G's and :CM# commands make up the equivalent
of an 'easy align'?

Any information on what the :CM# command actually does, would be much

    Best wishes,

    Peter Thejll
From: (Richard Seymour)
>     we are still working on a modification of the Autostar software in
> order to turn an ETX90 with an Autostar into a 'remote observatory where
> no keypresses are required'.
>     We have a question regarding the LX200 command language that we
> wonder if you or anyone reading your ETX site can answer?
> What is the LX200 command language equivalent of doing an 'easy
> align'?

You can pick up a shareware program (it will work without paying the us$20
fee, it just won't have the entire catalog)  Astroplanner.
It has an "align" function, and you can display the "dataflow" between
the PC and the telescope.
The author, Paul Rodman, participates at the yahoo group dedicated to
the program:

There is also an astroprogramming group, mainly tracking the ASCOM drivers.

And remember: an ETX Autostar does NOT implement all of the LX200 commands.

And now for your specific questions.  
First, a warning: i do NOT drive my scope with the LX200 serial command
set, i merely try to analyze behaviour... so i do NOT have in-depth
personal experience with them that hte above-mentioned list folks do.
For me, "it moves" is deemed "successful"... i do not usually try to
determine how -accurately- an LX200 serial command operates the ETX.

>     I see that the :G0#,...,:G2# commands might be relevant, but are
> these the equivalent of some key presses on the hand box? How does one do
> the dialog that the handbox requires?

I don't think those commands are implemented in the ETX 

>     Perhaps some combination of G's and :CM# commands make up the
> equivalent of an 'easy align'?
>     Any information on what the :CM# command actually does, would be
> much appreciated.

In the Classic LX200, you would GoTo an object (or load its coordinates
with the :Sd# and :Sr#), then correct the  pointing, then issue :CM# (sync).
That would tell it "here!"

You can "align" one of these scope by doing the same thing... power up,
ignore alignment (if you PARK the previopus session, the ETX will avoid
the Align/Auto prompt for you.. it will go directly from time/date to Object).
The give it a target and an :MS# command.  When it arrives, correct it
and :CM#.   
I haven't tried this recently, but i believee that last time i did, it still
requested an [enter] key.  I haven't figured out how to do that remotely 
(yet), but i'll take another look at it.

But: if you have a permanently mounted scope, your Park/WakeUp -should-
still be aligned! (mine is, if i don't move the scope).
With my manual keypadding entty of time, i usually arrive at a target 
after a PowerUp within 20 arcminutes... and for my creaky ETX90, that's good.
(i really do need to open it up and regrease)

Will your telescope be permanently mounted?
Polar mounted (even better)?
If so, you may find that minor RA errors in GoTo can be adjusted by simply
changing the -time- you tell the Autostar to shift its pointing east and west.

have fun
Mike here: AstroPlanner was recently reviewed here.


From: (Peter Thejll)
Dear Richard and Mike,

thanks for your replies to our questions regarding the patching of
Autostar software in order to achieve a system suitable for a remote
observatory. We have tried option c) 'trying again', and have indeed
succeeded. We now see (we did not before) that the version is 'S6Ed' and
that upon power up the Autostar goes right to the 'Align' menu item. If
the scope has been parked in 'home' position the Autostar ignores the
Align item, as you stated, and goes right for the 'Object' menu item. We
have thus achieved our first step, thanks to your help!

Over the weekend we further developed a set of LX200 commands, and as
you say in your email sent during the weekend, the ETX90EC does indeed
not use all the LX200 commands.

Thanks for the pointer about the Astroplanner software.  We have looked
at it and are still learning. At first glance it seems the 'align'
command that Astroplanner has is not the same as the Autostar full align
item, but more like a 'sync' command, but we shall learn what we can
from the nice display of commands that pour out.

We are beginning to think that we might be able to use just the idea
that if the scope is parked in home every time and powered down, it will
not require the align business on power up. We think we could even fake
an align if we can point the telescope remotely with Astroplanner-type
commands - perhaps at a diode placed due north  and level and having a
look with a CCD-cam through the telescope. Once the scope is aligned we
power down and that should be it.

We need this setup in order to Observe the Moon with full field imaging,
so pointing accuracies need not be highest quality - some tens of arc
minutes should be enough.

Thanks for your help!

    Peter Thejll

Subject:	Autostar 497 ?
Sent:	Saturday, April 26, 2003 05:10:32
From: (John Huttemeier)
Last year I had a problem with corrupted firmware and had to safe load
my #497 handbox. At this time I didn't check the controller to see if
everything was operating ok. and have since forgotten many of the issues
of updating the handbox. I do have quite a file of your information from
your website. I am now getting back into using my DS114 telescope and
have a problem in the AZ axis, immedately after I move to the left and
stop, the scope immedately moves 2-3 degrees to the right bypassing the
orginial starting location, also after I move in the ALT axis the scope
moves a small amount in the AZ axis to the right. I have reset,
calibrated & trained the handbox, this all when ok. and the  problem
still exists.

The software shows as 23b.

I'm thinking about changing the software version back to the orginial as
a way to check the handbox. I have the "Build.rom" file, Can I use the
ASU program to load this into the 497 handbox?

I have looked at your website and see various software updates, What is
the latest version for the DS114 & the 497 handbox?? Can you please
identifiy the file name I need to down load?

When the patches are listed as a update, does the patch modify the
existing software or load a complete new modified file? Do I need to
sequencely load all the patches from the first through to the last?
example 23a then 23b then 23c etc?

Any ideas you have on this problem and Your comments will be

Thank You
John Huttemeier
Mike here: The latest version for the #497 is always on Meade's Autostar Update page. The Autostar Updater Application always uses that version until you ask it to use one on your local hard disk. The patches are applied to the local hard disk version and you then load that on your Autostar. Most patches are inclusive.


Thanks for the previous information.
I should have asked which patch on your web page is the latest suitable
patch for the DS114 & Autostar 497 hand box.

Thank you.
John Huttemeier
Mike here: The patch kits are specified by Autostar ROM version number. So if your Autostar has 2.5Ea use that patch kit; if it has 2.6Ed use that one.
Subject:	Autostar II question
Sent:	Thursday, April 24, 2003 07:18:08
From:	Anonymous
I am a local Arkansan from Hot Springs. I wanted to say thank you for
the effort you put into your site and the transfer of your skill sets in
your feedback threads. I have not been able to resolve the following
problem with my Autostar II controller. I researched your website
threads and those of Clay Sherrod and could not find this particular

Equipment (new purchased less than a year ago)

LX-200GPS 8" f/10 UHTC

Everything worked fine from the factory. Autostar II was shipped with
ver 1.0 software. I made the modifications from Peterson engineering for
the LX-200GPS (my version of the supercharge). Everything was successful
and scope operated perfectly. I used the scope for a few months before I
decided to update the Autostar II. I went to the Arkansas Sky Website
for Autostar updating and
familiarized myself with the information. It is straightforward and
presented very little problem. For the update I used my HP Pentium 4
Laptop and standard mead RS232 connecting cables. I use a cable
broadband connection for internet.

First Try...I opened the ASU interface, connected and selected the LX200
Autostar II handbox, local file selection which pointed to the ver1.6b
and started update. The telescope was on and the hand controller was
asking for the align method. Things went fine all the way to the end.

The ASU script message " will reset hand controller" the autostar lit
red with its familiar LX200 GPS c2001 Meade message, the ASU script
message showed the "ver1.6b" on the laptop. After about one minute the
message on the hand controller changed to " flash eprom err". Followed
by this message " no senor board, the telescope cannot communicate with
the auxiliary sensor board" the message also said I could continue to
use the scope by the one or two star alignment method.

Second Try..I called Meade and they suggested I download the file from
the web and try the update again. Again I opened up the ASU but this
time selected the www. For file location and selected the "erase user
data button" And upgraded.  Again the hand controller status was waiting
for the align method decision. Also when I turned the hand controller
back on it did recognize the new ver1.6b but would give the message " no
senor board, the telescope cannot communicate with the auxiliary sensor
board" what I did not see was the "flash eprom err" it only appeared
once after the first update. After this attempt,.. same problem.

Third Try.Simultaneously turning on the telescope and pressing the #9
button on the controller 3 times. The hand controller was now waiting
for download. I opened the ASU and repeated all the steps from the
second try. After update the same message appears after the ASU resets
the hand controller.

I called meade and they told me they would have a technician phone me.
Two days have went by and still no call. Do you have any ideals?

I would like to hyper terminal in the eprom and debug. I found a mention
on a thread about a patch but this did not apply to the Autostar II with

Does the eprom sit in the hand controller or on the micro processor

Do I ask meade to send out a new hand controller, micro processor, or

Or do you think I can correct this problem myself?
Thank you,
Hot Springs
From: (Richard Seymour)
A question: have you tried a simple RESET from the keypad yet?

From your description, you successfully downloaded/updated the
Autostar three times. (and blew away your Tours and Comets when
you did the Erase User Banks).

I would recommend:
(a) when it complains about the sensor board, press the [mode] key
 to get up to Setup > Align, and then scroll to Setup > Reset.
 Press [enter] twice to force a Reset.
 See if it complains after that.

(b) If it -does- complain, do what it says: do a one-star or two-star
 align.  It will think it's in Irvine California, but roll with the
 flow... If can manage a GPS Fix, it'll prompt for a better site name.
 If it cannot manage a fix, just tell it today's date and time, and
 (for the first pass) let it think it's in Irvine... it will choose
 a couple of stars an slew to them... let it.  Press [enter] as if
 they were centered.  Check out other scope operations. (GoTo indoors
 is nice an warm and dry...).  Remember that you've erased your Comets,
 Asteroids, Landmarks, Tours, User Objects.   

If (b) is successful, but didn't get a Fix, now use the mode and
 scroll keys to Setup > Site > Add  and add your own location.
After that, choose Utilities > Park, and PARK the scope.

Now power up again, and do (b) over, but this time it'll be with 
your site information.

Now go back to the PC (no scope yet) and use the ASU to fetch objects
and Tours from the Internet (it's under the File menu)... 
(if you wish... you don't have to).
After you've got them on the PC (do a Save ) you can reconnect the
Autostar and do a [Send data] to shove them back out.
If the "flash error" message reappears, you may have a bad section
of memory.

> I would like to hyper terminal in the eprom and debug. I found a mention
> on a thread about a patch but this did not apply to the Autostar II with
> GPS.

Hyperterminal is used to verify communication problems.... it will NOT
help in your situation.

> Does the eprom sit in the hand controller or on the micro processor
> board?

Unlike the 497 Autostar, the LX200gps does not use the on-chip eprom.
All it uses are the Flash Ram and some battery-backed up memory.
Your battery might be weird.  But leave it for the moment.
The "sensor missing" is a new test with v1.5 and newer...
It is probably not detecting your level sensor, or the home sensor.

> Do I ask meade to send out a new hand controller, micro processor, or
> both?

The handbox has nothing to do with this problem.  The computer is
inside the base (directly behind the power panel, see
for a photo.  I also recommend visiting that website:   for a Weasner-like LX200gps
experience (but without the moderated forum).
You should also join the LX200gps yahoo e-group, starting at:
Clay hangs out there, too.

If it really -is- unable to "find" the sensor board, it may just be
a coincidental loose connector inside the base or the left (Dec Scale,
not Dec Clamp) fork.  Opening the covers and looking could clear it up.

But first try the above stuff to assure yourself that, otherwise, it's

good luck
And more:
> Hello Richard
> You are not going to believe this! When I arrived home tonight, sitting
> on my doorstep was a package from Meade. It appears they have rethought
> my original request on Monday for a replacement board. I installed the
> new board, went outside and powered up the scope. The autostar
> controller now shows version 1.5c. Initialization, the scope discovered
> it was not in its original location; I selected Hot Springs, Arkansas
> and continued, it performed the usual GPS routine and setup
> successfully. I ran it through a number of tests with 100% success. I
> also connected with my software and everything performed perfectly. I
> parked the scope for about an hour went back out and everything
> performed perfectly. I turned off the scope went back inside and waited
> another 30 minutes or so and powered up again. Interestingly this
> version does not automatically go into GPS mode; it takes you to the sun
> warning and than stops at the alignment request. So I can say with
> confidence everything has worked out so far. I will not be upgrading to
> 1.6b just yet...I will wait a few version changes before I attempt this
> again. Does this make for sound reasoning? Is there anything you
> recommend I do? And does version 1.5c correct the problems associated
> with hard stops?
> Regards
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Seymour []
> Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 5:46 PM
> Subject: Re: RE: Autostar II question
> Hi...
> > Thank You Richard......
> > I did exactly as you suggest but the problem still remains.
> Rats.
> > The information you provided me was excellent and far
> > superior to any technical support I received from Meade.
> Some tech support people have walked owners through similar
> diagnoses... it's (unfortunately) a "who you get on the phone"
> thing.
> > It is unfortunate that Meade offers only one option to this
> > problem.......send the scope back for repairs....
> > I suggested I take out the two boards and they could send
> > replacements. But that was not an option they would give
> > me.
> I could defend them by saying that they tried that route
> a year ago... and had a LOT of damaged boards due to user
> installation errors, and/or "it still doesn't work" followed
> by eventually shipping the scopes back.
> But i agree that board swaps seem logical (but what if
> it's a bad cable?  Board swapping wouldn't find that until
> the third go-round.)
> >I worry more about shipping issues and optic quality than
> > technical.
> They reported run the entire scope back through production
> after the repair, so it gets set back to "new scope" optical
> testing before being shipped back to you.
> And be sure to have -them- pay for the shipping.
> > If I do nothing and leave the scope as is,(wait for a new
> > update that MAY fix  this problem)
> A new firmware update will NOT fix your problem.
> You're the only person reporting it, so it's a "your scope
> is sick" versus "the firmware is broken" issue.
> In the "board swap" arena, it could conceivably be the
> Autostar itself mishearing sensor responses.
> One other thing to try is to reload the -old- version of
> firmware. (although 1.0 would be difficult...) and see if
> the problem returns/recurs (well, the old firmwares did not
> TELL you the sensor wasn't there... they just rammed the
> telescopes into the hardstops looking for it...)
> >than the added expense for GPS for the moment is negated.
> >If I send in for repair Meade said it would take 6-8 weeks.
> > As you know in Arkansas the best time weather condition is
> > before it gets too HOT...And when I pressed the time issue
> Why not drive it over to Dr. Clay Sherrod?
> (i think he's out of town at the moment, but that's inferred
> hearsay, instead of real knowledge)
> He may not have spare parts, but he has experience with
> the beasts.  You might be able to resolve it in an afternoon.
> I think his address is
> good luck
> --dick
And Richard Seymour wrote:
> > You are not going to believe this!
> I am scraping my jaw off the floor even as i write this...
> > When I arrived home tonight, sitting
> > on my doorstep was a package from Meade. It appears they have rethought
> > my original request on Monday for a replacement board.
> Which board? which board?   i'm quite curious.
> > I installed the new board, went outside and powered up the scope.
> > The autostar controller now shows version 1.5c.
> > Interestingly this version does not automatically go into GPS mode;
> > it takes you to the sun warning and than stops at the alignment request.
> Correct... that's the "new" behaviour... 1.5c and 1.6b both operate that way.
> The GPS receiver is "listening" while you're preparing the alignment,
> so it has a better chance of getting a "quick fix" when it finally wants it.
> > So I can say with confidence everything has worked out so far.
> > I will not be upgrading to 1.6b just yet...I will wait a few version
> > changes before I attempt this again. Does this make for sound reasoning?
> The only major two bugs in v1.5c are:
> Polar Training -says- to use a star, but they broke it and it really
> wants a landmark.
> Cal Sensors will not improve the first alignment slew.  If you're
> getting a "good enough" first slew, don't bother with Cal Sensors.
> > Is there anything you recommend I do?
> Use 1.5c until you see a feature you can't live without, then upgrade.
> > And does version 1.5c correct the problems associated with hard stops?
> Which problems?  (if nothing else, it's already demonstrated that it
> complains about missing sensors rather than smashing into the stops...
> that's a start)
> But 1.5c (nor 1.6b) will -not- prevent you from manually slewing into
> a hardstop, no.  IF you lean on the key, it will smash.
> But it won't go there due to a GoTo.
> have fun, congratulations on the only-slightly-delayed Easter egg.
> --dick

Subject:	home position of etx-125 in southern hemisphere
Sent:	Wednesday, April 23, 2003 22:26:38
From: (Andrei)
Aiming to achieve a perfect home position of my ETX-125 here in southern
hemisphere must I orient the telescope and mount in order to have its
control panel facing "EAST"?

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and in addition I purchased a Deluxe
Field Tripod and I'm stil confused in following both ETX and tripod
manuals in respect to the step "Alignment".

Hoping to hear from you, sincerely

                       Jos Carlos da Silva

Mike here: See the article "Southern Hemisphere Alignment Tips" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	training etx125
Sent:	Wednesday, April 23, 2003 19:29:10
From: (Marcia Lewis Smith)
Just got my new etx125 and am going to train it.  If I screw it up the
first time, can it be retrained?  Sounds stupid, I know, but I'm
enthusiastic, not adept.

Mike here: You can TRAIN anytime. The latest overwrites the previous one. But under normal circumstances you only need to TRAIN once. If you download a new Autostar version you also TRAIN after that. And if the Autostar starts acting funny, TRAINing (and sometimes CALIBRATE and TRAIN) will usually fix the problem. Occasionally, a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN might be required to totally clear out a problem. And for really serious problems, redownloading and then CALIBRATE and TRAIN.


Thanks so much - Under normal circumstances I always screw up something
mechanical the first try - my computer guys loves me for it. They make
it seem like a life or death issue in the manual - it induced immediate
panic in me - I am really excited about this scope and don't want to
screw it up.

You have a terrific site and provide an unbelievable service.


Subject:	etx 125
Sent:	Wednesday, April 23, 2003 19:20:46
From: (dan hester)
I commented a few weeks ago that my new ETX 125     was working great
and quickly becoming my favorite.

I have since had a few bugs...after downloading the latest
software....but now, all is well again.

My ETX    developed a serious jerky tracking problem.  I tried a reset,
retraining, re -calibrating, changed percentages as per your
site...nothing worked.  The go-to was a little off at the same time.

Last night...I started over.  Dumped the memory in the Autostar,
re-installed the software.

I then reset, and went through all the steps...being careful to only
train the drive once...and one calibration only  .  I set percentages at
10 percent. Tonight...the etx showed its stuff again..just like it did
the first time I downloaded new software.

It only misses when the object is almost straight up....then it puts the
target in the lower part of the eyepiece almost every time.  Everything
else is almost dead center...time after time.

The only thing I need now is some dark skies.
Thanks for all the good advice.  Dan

Subject:	re:  LX90 with APM #909
Sent:	Monday, April 21, 2003 22:37:01
From: (Richard Seymour)
You asked:
>  is there another piece of software that I could try to prove my connections?

Try the techniques described in:

and there is the Meade Updater, too.. but it is also a go/no-go 
answer, versus diagnostic.

The most common source of a blocked port is a Palm Pilot Sync program
being too greedy and not releasing the COM ports.

good luck

Subject:	LX90 with APM #909
Sent:	Sunday, April 20, 2003 10:20:26
From: (John Cuckney)
I have progressed from an ETX70AT when I found your pages invaluable to
an LX90 (which does make appearances on your pages as it is similar to
top ETXs .. or is it the top ETX?)

I have been playing with CCD cameras and now decided to go for 
autoguiding to get longer exposures - I have installed a APM #909
adaptor to my LX90 and connected a STAR2000 guider from Starlight Xpress
through its CCD port.

I cannot seem to get the guiding to work with the StarM7C software which
I have.

I have tried to see if ACP (Astronomer's Control Panel) software would
work to at least get the scope to slew manually; again without success -
ACP says to check serial port and cables etc..

(ACP will work through the serial connection with Meade cable to the

I have found a page on your site - - is there another piece
of software that I could try to prove my connections?

John Cuckney

Subject:	Autostar II disassembly
Sent:	Sunday, April 20, 2003 09:56:19
From: (david c)
I've got a newer LX200 GPS.

I've also got IDA Pro, one of the best disassemblers out there.

However, the only chips I've worked on are the Intel x86's.  I don't
know the first thing about the 68HC11.

Since the chip isn't in the Autostar II, do you know what flavor it is,
still E1 or what?

Where is the entry point?

Ida Pro adds comments, Xrefs, etc.  If there are any chunks you need
after I get it disassembled let me know.

Thanks -

From: (Richard Seymour)
> Since the chip isn't in the Autostar II, do you know what flavor it is,
> still E1 or what?

I'm not sure if it's an E1, but it is a 68hc11, and the E1 model
is as good as any... the LX200gps doesn't seem to use the on-chip 512
byte EPROM

> Where is the entry point?

According to the reset vector at the top of memory, B463
Which happens to lie on memory page two.

> Ida Pro adds comments, Xrefs, etc.  If there are any chunks you need
> after I get it disassembled let me know.

If the IDA can handle/better decrypt floating point routines
(not the "how to multiply FP in an 8-bit platform" so much, but the
sweep of the complex routines such as orbital calculations),
that's be nice.

What we really need is a "dis-C" instead of a disassembler.
(i used to have that for PDP-11's and VAXes)
I wonder if the original WindRiver OS/9 operating system had that?
(time to exhume ancient OS manuals)

i wish you the same fun i've had doing it (and fewer headaches)

> If there are any chunks you need after I
> get it disassembled let me know.

And, of course, the denizens of the Yahoo LX200gps group would love to
also reap the benefits from your results...
have fun

Subject:	ETX AutoStar in Polar Mode.
Sent:	Sunday, April 20, 2003 04:05:44
From: (Peter)
Hi, I hope you can help me.

I've had my ETX125 for about two years now.  I want to use it in Polar
mode, but the Autostar stubbornly refuses to set to Polar Mode.  I can
change it, but when I go back, there it is in Alt-Az mode again.  I know
it is wrong because if I try to align in Polar mode it misses everything
by miles, not just slightly, it has even ended up pointing below the
horizon.  In fact it is so useless I have stopped using it, but I want
to find "invisible" objects so I really need its GoTo feature.

I think the version of AutoStar I have is 2.0 (start-up screen).  I know
there are more recent versions and I'm getting the cable to enable me to
download it, but I am wondering if this is a known problem with the
earlier versions or if there is something I am overlooking.

Thanks for a very useful web site.  I've followed your guidance on
cleaning up the motor drives and an extremely sloppy dec drive is now as
firm as a rock.

Peter Lloyd.
Mike here: I presume that GOTOs are OK when the Autostar is set for Alt/Az and the telescope is Alt/Az mounted. But when you set for Polar and mount the telescope in Polar mode (with the telescope tilted for your latitude) things go bananas. First off, be certain you start with the proper Polar HOME position. Once you've done that it SHOULD work. If not, have you tried a RESET to see if some garbage needs to be cleared out?


Thanks for your prompt reply, Mike.  Yes, it worked fine in Alt-Az mode
and I have indeed been setting the right home position.   I haven't
tried a Reset. I'll do that and see what happens.

Thanks again.

And later:
The reset seems to have worked.  Mind you I won't know for sure until
I've been able to retrain the motors and so on, but at least it is on
Polar now.

Subject:	etx problem
Sent:	Saturday, April 19, 2003 12:08:08
From: (Chris Sinkinson)
I think I'm doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what! I want to
enter in the lat/long co-ordinates for my home site here in England. But
when I do I get an error beep and the numbers are not accepted. My lat
is 50.911, the nearest it will accept is something like 50.5, my long is
1.822 west, but the nearest it will accept is 2.0 ... It doesn't seem to
accept any fraction above .5 So could you tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Mike here: Are you entering XX degrees and XX.X minutes?
Subject:	RE: autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, April 15, 2003 12:44:18
From: (Rua, Jose (DHS))
Mike, Thanks for your reply.  Also thanks for your very useful web site
and book. They facilitate  using these scopes very much.  Keep up the
good work.

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Monday, April 14, 2003 15:09:52
From: (Rua, Jose (DHS))
My spouse and I are newcomers to owning our first telescope system since
we were teens.  After some research, we recently spent a bit of money
and brought an etx125 with a rather complete accessory system. 
(Including your very helpful book, thanks.)  So far we are getting what
we expected especially in terms of terrestrial use and non-autostar
assisted astronomical use.  As we get comfortable with the system we
hope to start trying some photography.  (We live on the ocean with great
views and rather accessible dark skies.)

We have begun to "play" with the autostar and already have a question
that we are waiting on Mead to get back to us on.  Perhaps you can
expedite this...

This may sound dumb but: in the set up menu- site- edit, it asks for our
time zone. Do they mean such as Eastern Time zone, etc. or something

Also, can you recommend a resource to facilitate our getting our extract
latitude and longitude?

Some day we hope to send you some pictures.  Thanks for your time.
Jose and Drusilla Rua
Miami Beach, Fl.
Mike here: The time zone value is an offset from GMT. So -4 (EDT) or -5 hours (EST) for Florida. For lat/long lookups, there are some links on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	New ETX125
Sent:	Sunday, April 13, 2003 11:53:30
Just received my new ETX125 (cast forks) and keep referring back to your
great website. I have studied your motor training, home position, and
alignment sections and have a few questions if you don't mind.

The first chance I had to train the motors (using Polaris for alt/az),
placing scope in home position, and then "easy" was a
disaster. GoTo was off several moon widths. Sooo, I tried retraining and
going through the whole process again. OOPS...I forgot to reset AutoStar
(version 26Ec). Is reset necessary?

Also, I noticed later (in the house where it's warm!) that AutoStar has
an option in it's menu : Target...Terrestial (motor drive off) and
Astronomical (motor drive on) with absolutely NO explanation. Does
target have to be set each time AutoStar is initialized ?

My declination clamp takes what I consider to be a lot of force to lock
and still has a 1/8 " drop when trying to level. The R.A. clamp is a
little better but still needs force. Does Meade continue to put to much
grease in the system? Why? Should I consider degreasing or should I
reset Autostar and try again? Can you explain the difference between
"easy"and "two star" alignment"? I'm guessing that "easy" is AutoStar
choosing 2 stars and "two star" is the user choosing 2 stars. Is this
correct? Again, the manual is no help!

Sorry to bother you, but Meade's manual leaves a lot to be desired and
I'm afraid that a lot of us would be totally lost and disgusted if it
wasn't for your expertise and GREAT website!!

THANKS!!!         	       	       	       	 Don S.
Mike here: Check the date/time/location/mounting mode settings in the Autostar. Don't forget DST too. Also, don't use Magnetic North for the HOME position. Now, RESET is not always necessary; only after doing an upgrade and sometimes to clear out any oddities that the Autostar might be doing. The Autostar can be used to point at terrestrial objects and since those don't move you don't want the drives tracking; with astronomical mode you will track objects in the sky. The last setting is retained. I wouldn't do any mods until you gain some experience so that you will know something can be improved. For now, don't worry about the drop when trying to level; yes it can be a nuisance but lets see if it improves with use. In "Easy" mode the Autostar picks the stars; in two-star you pick 'em.


Thanks for the quick reply. I have been using Polaris for home position.
My date ,time (DST), location (within 30 miles), and mounting mode have
all been correct. Will keep at it (if the weather cooperates).   Thanks
again, you've been GREAT

Subject:	re:  Not upgradeable 497?
Sent:	Thursday, April 10, 2003 21:37:02
From: (Richard Seymour)
If it has a numeric keypad, and is not broken or an Autostar II handbox
(a dumb display from the LX200gps telescope), then it IS upgradable.

The 494 (no numeric keypad) is NOT upgradable.

good luck
Thanks guys. Now, I just have to win one on ebay...
James Seay

Subject:	re:  Consultation
Sent:	Thursday, April 10, 2003 21:34:36
From: (Richard Seymour)
Other sources and friends can be found at:

An "E-group" devoted to discussing putting (usually) Autostars on 
Christopher Erickson (the moderator) has also put DS motors on many
Other people are now using LXD55 motor sets on CG-5 mounts.

And, yes, Steve Bedair was the leader in doing it first...

have fun

Subject:	A little Autostar trouble
Sent:	Thursday, April 10, 2003 15:08:23
I know the sky fairly well with binoculars, and so I decided to get a
telescope. I purchased a Meade ETX-105EC with an Autostar #497. I can't
get it to align properly, though! Often it slews nowhere the star I know
it is looking for or tries to rotate the scope past the hardstops. I
must have missed something in the manual. I can use the scope fine
without the Autostar but it seems to have a lot of potential. Can you
please just explain the easiest, simplest way of aligning the Autostar?
Mike here: There are Autostar alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. Take a look at those. Typically, errors are caused by incorrect HOME position, incorrect date/time/location (don't forget DST).
Subject:	Consultation
Sent:	Thursday, April 10, 2003 11:29:58
From: (Francisco de Paula Martnez)
Sorry if I disturb you, but I'm trying to find a solution for the following.

I own an ETX with Autostar #497

I also own a 10" Dobson.

What I would like to do is to motorize my Dobson by taking advantage of
the Autostar to convert my hand operated Dobson in a fully GOTO one.

Does nay one know how I could do this? 

For instance, with the Meade DS model motors or #1702 Dual Drive?

If so, how could I get them?

Other means? 

Thank you for your help.

Best regards

Francisco de Paula Martinez
Mike here: See "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" on the Astronomy Links page. Also, see the Autostar Information page for some ideas. As to where you can get motors, try eBay or the "For Sale" on this ETX Site for used telescopes.
Subject:	Not upgradeable 497?
Sent:	Thursday, April 10, 2003 05:58:40
From: (James Seay)
Is it possible to get an Autostar 497 that is not upgradeable? I am
looking to buy one on ebay, and one of them says that it is not
upgradeable. Just wondering if I can end up with a problem by buying one
James Seay
Mike here: Unless it has something broken (like the serial port) a #497 is upgradeable. Maybe it really isn't a #497...
Subject:	Firmware v1.6A for LX200gps released
Sent:	Tuesday, April 8, 2003 22:07:27
From: (Richard Seymour)
Meade has released a new firmware update 
for the LX200gps line... version 1.6A.

To quote (and expand upon) their Readme file:

    Fixed Polar Backlash Training.
    Automatic Alignment changed to no longer point to true north.
    Improved Automatic Alignment pointing.
    Each alignment using Automatic will refine offsets for that site.
    Temperature reading when it becomes stable (will appear in Utilities 
                when ready).
    Fixed backlash in Polar.
    If can't find GPS, user asked to select site.
    Remembers changes to Guiding Rate after power off.
    Can select GPS at start-up or when needed.
    Can turn off Beep (in Utilities).
   It also displays Satellite Rise Times to second accuracy.
   It displays time-to-rise in hh:mm:ss format (instead of pure seconds)

                have fun
And an update:
v1.6b is now posted on Meade's site for the LX200gps
(-really- fixing the sidereal-tracking-during-Polar-Training)

Subject:	RE: Mac and Autostar - happy partnership
Sent:	Tuesday, April 8, 2003 01:29:52
From: (Jon)
Thanks for the advice  after checking the Meade web site I found it (the Meade USB adapter)
(doh) however I still feel that Meade could support the Apple users of
the world, software included. Anyway I decided to go out and buy the
Keyspan adaptor and this is my set-up:

I am currently running an iBook running Mac OS 10.2.4
A Keyspan PDA Adapter + Drivers (Mac and Windows)
Meade #505 connection kit.
Virtual PC ver. 6  running Windows 2K

Install the drivers, in both operating systems.
Shut down 
Connect the USB adapter and Autostar and start up everything
In VPC 6 open the settings for the open operating system  
	Com port 1  Set it as the modem in the standard way
	Com port 2  Select the adapter and deselect the modem radio button
OK (You may have to change the settings in Keyspan driver)
Open ASU  Options > Set COM port > change it to COM PORT 2

Thats it.  Simple.  It also works very well with Scope Driver X. 
Hurray!! I havent yet got the upgrade for Starry Night Pro 4 but Im sure
it will work just fine.  I am a happy man now

Once again, thanks to you and everyone

Jonathan from England

Subject:	Autostar and "below horizon" message
Sent:	Monday, April 7, 2003 23:26:40
So I finally got a chance to use the Autostar with my ETX-105.  I
trained the drives during the day, and at night performed an "Easy
Align" by nudging Sirius and Cassiopeia (sp?) into the center of the
eyepiece and the scope.  Saturn was almost right overhead, so why, when
I found it on the object menu and pressed "goto," did I get an error
message saying it was below the horizon?  I thought that maybe I'd
misentered the time or location or something, but then it wouldn't have
found the guide stars either, right?  Any ideas what might be wrong?

Appreciate your help, and great site!

Mike here: Fixed objects don't care much about the year but moving objects like planets do. Check the year entry. Let me know.
Subject:	ETX-125 home position in southern hemisphere
Sent:	Monday, April 7, 2003 19:48:52
Aiming to achieve a perfect home position of my Etx-125 here in southern
hemisphere must I orient the telescope and mount in order to have its
control panel facing "EAST"

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and in addition I purchased a Deluxe
Field Tripod and I'm still confused in following both Etx and tripod
manuals in respect to the step "Alignment".

Hopng to hear from you,


              Jos Carlos da Silva
Mike here: See the "Southern Hemisphere Alignment Tip" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	RS232 Cable
Sent:	Monday, April 7, 2003 15:40:24
From: (Darrell Fichtl)
Thanks for the info. $34 for the Meade cable is a real screwing.
Darrell Fichtl
Computer Professional Rescue

Subject:	north
Sent:	Monday, April 7, 2003 12:12:14
From: (Mary)
I have done the custom set up on my ETX 60. To use a compass I heard I
need to change the RA? Or spmething to that effect. Could you instruct
me as to what to do. I am in a small town in texas and when I do the
initial setup (align) I am way way off. please help. And do you possibly
have a picture of the location of polaris? thanks
Mike here: For alignments, you use TRUE NORTH not MAGNETIC NORTH. When using a compass you need to adjust for the local magnetic variation (see the Astronomy Links page for sites that calculate this for you). You can find Polaris on star charts; see the article "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Autostar Information for charts of all the alignments stars as well as Polaris. There are also alignment tips on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	re:  Autostar ASU 361 on NT
Sent:	Saturday, April 5, 2003 15:33:49
From: (Richard Seymour)
I believe you have to be running as an Administrator to both Install
*and run* the ASU.

have fun
--dick (who telescopes with 98se, but works with XP)(NT -can- be avoided)
From: (Dave Wallace)
I'm running NT 4.0 (service pack 6a) on a "white-box" desktop system. 
It runs fine.  And, no, there won't be an icon on the desktop (unless
you create a shortcut yourself).

Subject:	Mac OSX & autostar help
Sent:	Friday, April 4, 2003 16:11:18
From: (Dr. Kirk Petersen)
First of all, thanks so much for the great site and your book( it's
light years ahead of the manual). I got an ETX-90EC for my birthday last
month. I've got:

ETX90-EC----Autostar----StellaNova Serial-Autostar Cable----Keyspan
Serial-USB Adaptor------iBook running 10.2.4

the iBook, using Keyspan Serial Assistant sees the serial port. I turn
on the telescope, open Scopedriver or Astroplanner( I purchased
StarryNight Backyard before I got the telescope, I'm considering
upgrading to Pro) and the programs can not communicate with the scope.

Do you have any suggestions or could you point me to a site that might
help. Is there a chance that the cable is bad?

Thanks for any help you can offer,

Mike here: I have been successful with version 1.4 of the Keyspan driver with a PowerBook G4/500 (will be trying soon on a new PowerBook 17") and 10.2.4. Be certain to get the latest version.
Subject:	ETX, MAC AND ME...
Sent:	Friday, April 4, 2003 0:44:15
From: (Jon)
All I can say is - shame on Meade for not catering for those of us who
own a new Apple Mac (No serial ports!!!).  I have read your various
topics on this matter and  understand that you used an adaptor from your
digital camera but didn't say which model....HELP!  I bought the 505
cable from Meade only to discover that I can't connect it to my iBook.  
I find it infuriating that a company as large a Meade can't sell an USB
adaptor or instead of the standard one to fit in to the USB ports of
either a PC (IBM, Dell, etc..) or a Mac.  (Not bitter or anything!).  I
tried fitting a Palm USB adapter, which didn't work either.  I now
understand that I will have to make a cable or buy one from the States
and then buy a Keyspan Serial to USB adaptor of which I could only find
a PDA one but I don't know if that will work!  All I want to do is
connect my ETX 90EC to my Mac, download Autostar software via Virtual PC
and control the telescope.  PLEASE HELP ME - there must be an easier
Jonathan from England

PS Great site and book I use it all the time - a giant wealth of knowledge!

Jonathan Highman
E-mail -
Mike here: Meade now sells a USB-serial adapter but it is for Windows only. Belkin and Keyspan have more intelligent adapters and software for Mac and PCs. Keyspan (and probably Belkin too) have a model that has DB-9 ports (mine had mini-8; hence the need for the converter that came with my Ricoh digital camera).
Subject:	Tracking issues
Sent:	Thursday, April 3, 2003 14:39:43
From: (Kathy Koerber)
I finally got a chance to use my Autostar controller for the first time
last night.  I wanted to run a couple of questions by you to see if
there is a way I can improve my experience with a piece of equipment
that I think has a lot of potential.

First, when I was finally able to get the GoTo to work about right, the
tracking feature vibrated the telescope (ETX 90 EC) so that the images
were difficult to see.  Would this be a factor of the fact that I had
the scope set up on a deck?  Would placing it on the ground help?  I got
so frustrated that I ended up turning the 'scope off and back on to make
the tracking feature go away.  But then, I was not able to use the GoTo
option either (not without re-aligning which kicks the tracking back
on).  Is there anyway you can use the GoTo feature to find an object but
then turn the tracking off without turning off the 'scope?

Secondly, when I was trying to center an object in the FOV (while the
'scope was tracking), I had one of those mysterious random slews.  It
was almost as if the 'scope was rebelling against me trying to control
it while it was trying to track.  I was using the AC adaptor, so it was
not a battery issue. Do we know what causes those slews or how to
prevent them?  After I re-located the object, the tracking was off. 
This was another reason I wanted to turn it off - it's easier to keep
the object in the FOV manually than fighting against the tracking
function that is not on the same object I am.  I guess I should have
done a re-GoTo to resolve that issue, but I would still like to know if
anyone can answer the questions I have posed.
I appreciate any help you can provide.
Mike here: The vibrations can be exagerated depending upon the surface or mount the telescope is on. A HARD surface will show vibrations more than a soft surface. But if you place the telescope on the ground you will likely reduce the image quality from heat rising from the ground. As to the random slew, there are many factors that can cause it. You didn't say what type of AC adapter you were using but some may be more prone to problems than others, especially low-amp ones. The only way I can think of to disable tracking AFTER a GOTO would be to switch to terrestrial mode.
Subject:	Autostar ASU 361 on NT
Sent:	Thursday, April 3, 2003 14:39:09
From: (Patten, Scott D)
G'day Mike,
I hope you are well and looking forward to a hot summer in Ca. this

Just a quick one, I decided that i would try and see if I could stuff up
my autostar unit by upgrading the software.

I went to the document compiled by Dr. Sherrod and downloaded the ASU. I
have tried to execute the program but I get a quick window pop up, as if
the command is executing and that is it. I am on a NT laptop. I cant see
anything on the desktop. Does the program work on NT systems?


Mike here: Since it works on Windows2000 I would have thought it would work on NT. But then I tend to shy away from using Windows so I'm no expert.
Subject:	re:    EXT-90
Sent:	Monday, March 31, 2003 21:53:38
From: (Richard Seymour)
No, that's not the batteries... Simply write it off as poor Meade

You've actually discovered the answer:
Before GoTo'ing a planet (or any object, for that matter) you HAVE
to press ENTER before pressing GOTO.

With the Planets, it then calculates where the planet is -now- (they move),
and that information is needed for the slew to work.

By not pressing ENTER before pressing GOTO , you are actually GoingTo
the -last- target you selected.  That's why it doesn't move very far.
"Selection" is done with the ENTER key.

If you are looking at (Star) Named / Sirius 
press [enter] and it becomes   Sirius / Alp CMa
(Alpha Canis Major)  
*now* it is truly selected.

Maybe i should say it as: Unless the object's name is on the TOP line
of the Display, it isn't selected (yet).

have fun

Subject:	re:  LX90 quality issues  and  trouble with alignment & tracking
Sent:	Monday, March 31, 2003 21:45:16
From: (Richard Seymour)
Unfortunately Meade US  gives full responsibility for European repairs
to their distributors.  So your telescope probably did NOT return to
the US, it was probably repaired in Germany.

If it were my scope, i would try to -photograph- the problems...
the dust nests, the scratches, and include those photographs when
the scope was returned to Meade Germany for repair (second attempt).
With a firm example of the complaints, they would have a harder time
claiming they had "fixed" it if they had not.

The Dec delay -might= be corrected by the full sequence of
Setup > Telescope > Calibrate Motors
Setup > Telescope > Train Drives > Dec Train
Setup > Telescope > Percentages > Dec (or Alt) Percent
... in that order.

for the reasons behind each step.

The 40" (do you really mean arcseconds?) mirror shift is (to quote Meade) 
"within specifications" (40 seconds is quite good).
You can perhaps lower the shift by running the focus back and forth
along most of its travel.. this redistributes the grease on the main
mirror's carrier.  Do not stress the focus mechanisms at the ends
of the travel... be gentle.

The "kicking motor" -may- be addressed by the Calibrate/Train procedure.

good luck

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