Last updated: 30 April 2004
Subject: Etx 60 Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 16:55:50 From: "Tom Gardner" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have the ETX60 and one problem I have is the two star alignment. Problem is that it will call up stars to align too that I don't know of or where they are located. Is there a way of knowing what stars it will try to align with behand? With having a tree problem in my area, sometimes not all stars I can see. My thought was to know in advance the stars it may try to align with and before going out, make sure they are high enough in the sky and their location. Thanks TomMike here: You might want to look at the article "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Autostar Info page. The Autostar picks stars that are "visible" and that depends upon your location and the date/time. If a star is obscured you can skip it (press the DOWN ARROW) or, if you started with a good HOME position, even accept it as centered.
Subject: ETX 125 EC Question Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 11:12:56 From: "The Blaisdells" (email@example.com) I have read somewhere on your site that when you switch from batteries to a power supply or AC adapter that it is neccessary to retrain the drives. Since I have batteries onboard and opt to use my 7amphr rechargable power pack instead, do I have to retrain EVERY time I use my scope with the power pack? Or should I simply remove the batteries? I have been experiencing random slews and having the scope go to someplace other than the desired spot.When setting the time I use 24 hour setup. Does this affect the daylight savings mode? I am -5hrs. UTC during EST.Should I reset it to-4hrs.? Thanks, Rick BlaisdellMike here: Whenever changing the power source it is recommended to reTRAIN DRIVES for best results. It isn't "required" though. Random slews can be caused by many things, including dirty or unstable power, loose connections, radio interference, and dirty encoders. 24 hour time only affects the time display; so you still must set Daylight Savings correctly for your location.
Subject: Training Drives ETX-125AT vs. EC Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 06:50:20 From: Dieter.Wolf@DNSint.com When you train a drive with the Autostar you - simply speaking - let the Autostar learn how to finetune the electrical signals with the mechanical movement of the scope. The results of this learning process get saved within the Autostar, not the scope. Does this apply ONLY to the GOTO precision or to the tracking precision too? Many times I use my ETX125 for bright objects I can 'goto' easily by hand (e.g. planets) so I use the Electronic Controller which is quite handsome for that job. But I am wondering, if there may be a difference in tracking precision using the EC or the AT. Thanks for your answer and clear skies, DieterMike here: The Autostar provides both GOTO capabilities and tracking capabilities, so yes, training will effect both.
Subject: re: autostar feedback Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 06:13:31 From: "Chris Williams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) First, thank you for your awesome site; I've enjoyed and benefitted from it for a good long time now (it gave me the courage to do a DS roboscope mount for my old etx-90ra recently-which turned out great and was surpisingly simple to do). I wanted to write about a problem I was having with the autostar (497, 3.1e) I purchased for it; in researching it on your site I found that I'm having the exact same problem as described Edward Alexander (2/28/04) in that I cannot use the arrow keys during alignment at all, and in fact they seem to not work beyond any kind of alignment for that matter. During alignment, it slews perfectly to where it thinks the star is, once there, it seems to immediately start tracking it rather than allowing you to use the arrow keys to actually align (I say this because I can hear the motors, and the autostar is still is waiting for you to press enter to confirm alignment while it does). I've "faked" alignments to get it going and to try and perform the sync function on a known object, but even when the enter key is pressed for the required 2 sec's or so to do, the object is apparently still being tracked and the arrows keys do not work. (Additionally in training the drives, it seems to want to move the motors when it prompts you to do so to align, but does not do so in any appreciable amount, though a ever-so-slight sound can be heard coming from the motors anyway.) I've also trained the drives and I've calibrated them, changed ; I've done just about everything I can think of thus far, save for my next step: reloading the software version (just got a cable to do so) and/or downgrade the version. I'll keep troubleshooting and will email back if I find what's wrong. Thanks again. Regards, Chris WilliamsMike here: Once the Autostar arrives at the alignment it continues to refine the position until you hear the BEEP. So the motors keep running. Are you waiting for the BEEP before attempting to center the star and pressing ENTER?
I wanted to be sure of my answer so I did a phantom alignment just now to be sure: yes, I do wait until the beep of the initial star alignment (and the "slewing" disappears replaced by "press enter to align") and the problem still exists. The arrow controls do not work, and seemingly the autostar starts tracking the alignment star immediately at the beep itself (as I sit writing this, my scope is next to me and I can hear the tracking noise of the motors tracking the alignment star it's tellimg me press enter on once I've corrected it's initial alignment....of course, I can't do so). Essentially this makes alignment impossible, and is quite puzzling.What happens if you try a higher slewing speed?
Subject: Recent Autostar download problems with ETX-90 Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 10:22:06 From: "Langton-Gilks" (email@example.com) I use an ETX-90 with the Starpatch GPS system. I recently downloaded Autostar v 31E. The immediate result was the worst control I've ever had on my ETX-90 -reallyawful "creep after beep" etc.andthe telescope literally "fights" me in Alt. and Az. when I'm centerring and then "Sync" the object I've selected. It shoots all over the place! The first time I downloaded 31E Inoticed that the az/alt % had been set at 50% each. So, I downloaded 31E aSECOND time using ASU 3.61 and the resultwas the same. I performed aRESET,CALIBRATE and TRAIN MOTORSand I'm still left with terrible performance, the ETX-90 still "fights" me and creeps like a cat in a crypt after I've performed a"sync". Before this 31E download my scope was working fine. Is it possible to get hold of the previous autostar software versions? -or am I being really stupid here and doing something wrong. I hope you or anyone else who's had this problem can help me out. Many thanks Toby L-GMike here: Redownloading and doing the RESET/CALIBRATE/TRAIN DRIVES steps usually solves any of these problems. But since odd things are happening, also check the telescope model/mounting mode (just to ensure they are correct). I'm not certain what you mean by "shoots all over the place". Do you mean you are experiencing random slewing? If you are experiencing "rubberbanding", training should solve that. But if you want to downgrade, see the "Autostar Software Archive (unofficial)" on the Autostar Info page.
Thanks for your reply, yes -"shoots all over the place" = much rubberbanding with both the alt and az. drives moving the scope well away from the chosen object once it has been centerred.(eg: centerring the moon and then doing a "sync" causes the drives to move the Moon right out of view.) I'll check the items you suggested, -interestingly enough, I RESET again last night, -only to see that the alt/az %s were back at 50% again! -ie: it appears that the default alt/azsetting for the 31E patch I've now downloaded a couple of times now, is 50%. -? Has anyone else had this problem I wonder, or does it point to my scope having a fault in it's processor?Mike here: If you are applying a patch, DON'T. Stick with the stock Autostar software so that we have a good starting point.
Subject: Autostar ver 24E Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 03:46:48 From: "colin matin" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have acquired a ETX90 with Autostar ver 24e displayed on screen. I believe that the latest ver is 31e. Can you tell me how old the 24e ver is and would I be losing much by not doing the 31e update until I become familiar with the update procedure. Thanks Colin.Mike here: Version 2.4 is a couple of years old. You won't lose much but there are good reasons to upgrade: improved tracking, more up-to-date data, bug fixes. Feel free to learn what you've got. Then upgrade later once you have the cable.
Subject: RE: Question about scope alignment Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 10:44:55 From: "Rick Hudson" (email@example.com) Hi gents, a quick reply to Dick's questioning of my persistence ;)~ Copying to Mike for his input <<< I've gotta ask: how many times were you out with the scope (especially fighting the conditions you were)? 1? 3? 5? >>> At least a half-dozen times or more. I went out again LAST night, much earlier - at Twilight, in fact, and was REALLY confident that I could get it, as I was able to quickly, effectively, and very confidently find Polaris. Alas, I then tried to do a polar align, and spent HALF a damned HOUR looking for Arcturus, which, naturally, I could see very easily with the naked eye, and which had a reddish look to it, dunno if it's supposed to... But, then, through the scope, of course, it was nowhere to be found. Then I repeated the cannot-find-it-procedure or cursing, swearing, and hand-waving whilst looking for Capella. Then I went back inside and designed another website instead. =) I think it was Mike who suggested the GREAT idea of going out earlier in the evening, at twilight. It was one of you two; whoever it was, thank you, that is INVALUABLE advice. Dick, that also solves the condensation problem: no problems with focusing tonight, as I went out WELL before the dewpoint inversion hits at around 2 AM. We're all pilots here, we all know about ambient pressures and condensation / sublimation. I'll have to get one of those commercial leading-edge deicing systems for my telescope, Dick, that seemed like a good idea. The problems I've had are several-fold, but all rooted to a common cause, I've discovered: 1) The viewfinder is useless, since the image it displays is upside down and backwards and the magnification is not of useful range for bridging the gap between naked-eye and scope. It also doesn't hold its alignment because its mounting screws are crappy and their guide-holes PLASTIC! So they can get cross-threaded easily 2) Light-gathering is TOTALLY different through the scope than through the viewfinder/binoculars/naked eye, and until I really know for SURE SURE SURE that I have a particular star centered, I will never really be able to know what stuff looks like through the scope, because, frankly, I won't know for sure what I'm looking at. Sounds like circuitous logic, but it's actually not. This relates specifically to stars, because I think the "confusingly alike" factor is MUCH worse through the OTA than through binoculars (which I employed also to limited effect) and with the naked eye. Stuff appears less bright the higher the magnification used to look at it, it seems. This might be something that's obvious to you, but I didn't think about itin retrospect, it makes PERFECT sense due to diffraction of light through the atmosphere. Obviously, the eye is looking at a particular object through a MUCH greater number of suspended water particles that diffuse light (thereby amplifying the intensity of said objects relative to the observer) because you're looking through a larger relative subtended angle of sky. So, basically, I'll just need to keep guessing, but get some sort of gunsight or straight-through viewer. 3) You can't sight down the barrel of an ETX cause it's too fat. Too much parallax. Trust me, I'm a designer, I make straight lines for a living. This also means I have a black-belt in pattern-recognition, which is why I thought I would take to this like a duck to water. Turns out it's more like a Duck to Latin. Good news is, I have a solution for all three. 1) replace the viewfinder with an accurate, useful one, most likely a Lee-Enfield-type WWI Rifle sight. Notch and pin, no magnification.; 2) replace the viewfinder; 3) replace the viewfinder. I think that should solve the problem. What do you guys think? I'll do a bit of research on the red-dot-laser-pointer approach, too, but I'm not as confident in that system. I can't see how it would work. </R>Mike here: In some circumstances they work fine. Take a look at the photo of the Scopetronix LightSight on the Accessory Reviews - Finderscopes page. It shows the red dot (overexposed) superimposed on the background seen looking through the finderscope.
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) >>I've gotta ask: how many times were you out with the scope >At least a half-dozen times or more. (reading ahead) at 2am... i highly recommend using these things when you're a little fresher. >I went out again LAST night, much earlier - at Twilight, in fact, and was >REALLY >confident that I could get it, as I was able to quickly, effectively, and very >confidently find Polaris. Alas, I then tried to do a polar align, and spent HALF a >damned HOUR looking for Arcturus, which, naturally, I could see very easily with >the naked eye, and which had a reddish look to it, dunno if it's supposed to... Yes, arcturus is reddish.... but the above leads to another question: Why, if it's being such a pain, are you trying for POLAR operation? IMHO That's -much- harder to set up correctly to any great accuracy. By all means use the smarts the telescope has and first get it going in Alt/Az. Much easier (and the eyepiece doesn't move to painful orientations). You can even mostly ignore Polaris. >But, then, through the scope, of course, it was nowhere to be found. Then I >repeated the cannot-find-it-procedure or cursing, swearing, and hand-waving whilst >looking for Capella. Then I went back inside and designed another website instead. >=) See above comment re: polar. >I think it was Mike who suggested the GREAT idea of going out earlier in the >evening, at twilight. It was one of you two; whoever it was, thank you, that is >INVALUABLE advice. Dick, that also solves the condensation problem: no problems >with focusing tonight, as I went out WELL before the dewpoint inversion hits at >around 2 AM. I'll be modest: it 'twas me who suggested twilight. I use it all the time. You can also observe a number of interesting (brighter) stars and the five major planets in the early evening. Come summer, the 11pm twilight we have really cuts into observing. (Alaskan readers can laugh). >1) The viewfinder is useless, since the image it displays is upside down and >backwards and the magnification is not of useful range for bridging the gap between >naked-eye and scope. It also doesn't hold its alignment because its mounting screws >are crappy and their guide-holes PLASTIC! So they can get cross-threaded easily If it's the right-angle finder, the motions/mind-set you have to make to center a star are exactly the same ones you'll have to make in the main eyepiece. My way of thinking of it is: for up/down, move the Frame. For right/left, move the Object. The plastic screws are adequate... think of them as serving as fuses. If anything's going to break, it's the cheapest item, and you can get more at the pick-a-nut drawer at the hardware store. (4x40 i think). >2) Light-gathering is TOTALLY different through the scope than through the >viewfinder/binoculars/naked eye, and until I really know for SURE SURE SURE that I >have a particular star centered, I will never really be able to know what stuff >looks like through the scope, because, frankly, I won't know for sure what I'm >looking at. Sounds like circuitous logic, but it's actually not. This relates >specifically to stars, because I think the "confusingly alike" factor is MUCH worse >through the OTA than through binoculars (which I employed also to limited effect) >and with the naked eye. Stuff appears less bright the higher the magnification used >to look at it, it seems. This might be something that's obvious to you, but I >didn't think about itin retrospect, it makes PERFECT sense due to diffraction of >light through the atmosphere. Obviously, the eye is looking at a particular object >through a MUCH greater number of suspended water particles that diffuse light >(thereby amplifying the intensity of said objects relative to the observer) because >you're looking through a larger relative subtended angle of sky. So, basically, >I'll just need to keep guessing, but get some sort of gunsight or straight-through >viewer. Um... except for a dew-soaked soggy corrector plate, "suspended water particles" have little to do with it (unless it's actively foggy). Even then, they extinguish the dim objects first. (i can observe Jupiter with my ETX90 when it's totally obscured by clouds for naked eye). >3) You can't sight down the barrel of an ETX cause it's too fat. Too much >parallax. Trust me, I'm a designer, I make straight lines for a living. This also >means I have a black-belt in pattern-recognition, which is why I thought I would >take to this like a duck to water. Turns out it's more like a Duck to Latin. Since i sight down both my ETX90 and 10" LX200gps, and every other telescope i've ever used, i'll leave that as a matter of learned experience. For a new scope i can aim at the space needle, look in the eyepiece, center the restaurant, then look over the barrel. That provides adequate calibration. And ya know those cheesy plastic screws? They are also pointed at the target, and there's two in-line easily placed. >Good news is, I have a solution for all three. > >1) replace the viewfinder with an accurate, useful one, most likely a >Lee-Enfield-type WWI Rifle sight. Notch and pin, no magnification.; See "plastic screws", immediately above (cheaper and already at-hand) >2) replace the viewfinder; >3) replace the viewfinder. Many folks do... the ETX90 came with a 6x erect-image straight-through viewfinder. Meade sells the right-angle one as an upgrade (it came with the 125). I added a saddle to allow both the straight and right-angle to coexist on my scope. It doesn't take much mind-flipping to slew properly between the two, and it gives me what i like. I realize that 95% of the planet loves the zero-power finders, but i find them exceedingly difficult to use (for one thing, i can focus the active finders to my rotten vision.. so i can operate without glasses... if i use a "red dot" finder, i have to take my glasses on and off repeatedly during the process. Boring. >I'll do a bit of research on the red-dot-laser-pointer approach, too, but I'm not >as confident in that system. I can't see how it would work. It does... it's -exactly- like a heads-up targeting display on a jet fighter's cockpit. Spot-in-space. Aim and shoot. have fun --dick (heading outside into the clear twilight..)
Subject: Autostar time Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 01:51:40 From: "MMIC EOD" (email@example.com) Sorry to trouble you, I have looked at your site, Meade and the Web in general but can't find out what 'LST' means. The Autostar info read out displays (for example) Time 08:36:00 pm LST 10:04:37 when we are 1 hour ahead of GMT (UST) Why not 07:36:00 UST ?? All best wishes, SteveAnd an update:
Sorry, I think I've answered my own question, LST = ?Local Sidereal Time ??Mike here: Yep.
Subject: autoguiding with a Mac Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2004 21:11:39 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Seen on the LXD55 Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/message/29234 to wit: (quoted without permission)(--dick) From: Rodolphe Pineau (pineau@r...) Date: Sat Apr 24, 2004 10:54 am Subject: autoguiding on mac with a webcam .. it's now possible !!! For all the mac users in here, Keith Willey as release the new version of his AstroImager software and this one include an autoguiding function compatible with the LX200 and Autostar enabled telescopes. I haven't try it yet but it looks easy to use. the link is : http://keithwiley.com/software/keithsImageStacker.shtml You will of course need a usb-to-serial adapter (I'm using the keyspan ones) and a 505 cable to connect to the autostar. Rodolphe -- ..../ Rodolphe Pineau RTI-Zone /. .../ http://www.rti-zone.org/ /.. ../ m68K Robot / OS X / Unix / Atari / Astronomy /...Mike here: Keith's webpage says "Autoguiding on LX200 or compatible telescopes and mounts". I haven't checked further to see if that includes Autostar #497 or Autostar II.
I hadn't had a chance to even -look- at his website when i sent that. Classic LX200 commands should work with an Autostar II, and some do work with the 497. Since it's a pure-Mac .sit format, i cannot evaluate it here at home. http://keithwiley.com/software/keithsImageStacker.shtmlMike here: Here's the README (not posted here). I don't see anything about autoguiding although there is some mention of periodic error.
Yes, from the Readme it looks like: "we show you a target pattern. You may wish to manually guide to keep the star at the target's center". No "auto" in that "guiding". However, i see that his -webpage- say "OS X required", but the ReadMe does not say that. In fact, it cites it as running on a 9.something platform. So the program may exceed the ReadMe's feature list.Mike here: I didn't catch that. I have the app; just fired it up with the iSight attached. Don't see anything in the menus that would imply guiding.
Subject: help Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2004 12:52:19 From: "liam" (email@example.com) I am new to using telescope & I was trying to find out how to setup my 125 ETX. I posted a question on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade-Uncensored/but I have recieved two different answers could you please help me out here. I am going to copy my question and answers to the bottom of this. I will truely appreciate any help you can give me here. I need some help with setting up my 125. I have read about what to do but I an still a little confused. I am overseas where there is no local astro clubs to ask anyone directly. So any help will be greatly appreciated. This is what I think is supposed to be done. 1: Set up tripod to viewing height & level it off. 2: Attach the etx with the control panel facing in a due west direction. 3: Level the 125 & rotate it clock wise until it stops there rotate it counter clock wise until the tube is facing due north. should be <Rotate counter-clockwise> I assume that you've entered your location latitude & longitude? Get this info from a map or a GPS receiver. Do you wear spectacles for viewing? I have the 105 (same viewfinder) and wearing spectacles when using the viewfinder reduced the field of view of the finder to about 2 degrees, instead of the 7 degrees quoted by Meade. Consequently, the telescope only occasionally slewed near enough to its set-up alignment stars for them to be found. Once I'd realised this, and took my specs off for initial set-up, matters improved dramatically. Practice has improved my setting up, and I now find that the 'scope points fairly close to where it should - and I can keep my spectacles on. Malcolm Milton Keynes, UK www.megalith.freeserve.co.uk/oddimage.htm http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/ms1938/ From: "Pepper, Mike" (pepperm@u...) Date: TueApr20,2004 5:25 pm Subject: RE: [MeadeUncensored] Meade 125 ETX setup rotate counter-clockwise till it stops, then clockwise to point it North Sorry for the short reply earlier... After pointing it north, and turning it counter-clockwise to the stops, then clockwise back to North... You are now in the "Home Position" You should have it in this position when ever you set-up. The more level, the closer to North, the more accurate. After getting to the Home Position, you can now power up the scope. Make sure that the time entered is as close as possible. again all of this affects how accurate your GOTO's are going to be. If using for the first time, make sure that you have the correct location entered into the AutoStar. 20 miles can make a difference. If your city or town is not listed, find your latitude, and Longitude. Load them into the AutoStar and save them as your location. Once done choose the Easy Align. use a low power eyepiece, I always use the 32mm. The AutoStar will choose a bright star in the sky, normally the brightest around. let it slew, find it in the finder scope and center it in the eyepiece field of view. Do this for the nest star as well. You can then select an object and you should be pretty darned close. If it never has been done, Calibrate the drives, and train the motors. When training the motors, select a land based object at least 30 degrees above the horizon, and at least a mile away. If your like me, then train on Polaris at night. But only Polaris, the others will move too much and goof you up. I hope that this helps. From: "Mark P" (markp@w...) Date: WedApr21,2004 9:45 am Subject: RE: [MeadeUncensored] Meade 125 ETX setup No, No. Unlock AZ clutch and rotate counter-clockwise until you hit the stop. Go back clockwise until the control panel lines up with the left fork arm. Lock clutch. This is the HOME position. Level scope and point the tube north by adjusting the TRIPOD ONLY. When the tripod is level then level the tube. Once level and north turn the scope on and do a two star alignment. As others have said, be sure your location and time are correct. Good luck. Mark P. rockville...md...na...terra...solsys...orionarm... Which is right they both say similar things but not exactly the same thing. I also have a second question that I posted there could you help me with that one as well. I looked at your site which I must say is great its packed with so much info that my brain is kind of fried from reading so much of it though. I tried to find the answers first before writing you but I either couldn't find them or just missed them. I need help here first I am completely new to using a telescope & I am a little imtimated by any technical. I bought the StarGPS because I thought it would make my life easier with my new 125 ETX. I now realize I have no idea what I am doing and no one to ask about because of where I am. I am currently working in Russia so I can't just join a club to ask others about this. Any help will be really appreciated here. I got the software installed & I get a GPS reading on autostar hand set but what do I do next. I thought once I bought the StarGPS and connected that it would do everything it self. Maybe it is I don't know. Once it recieves the signal it still ask to to a Alignment why is that? Please if any one has any experience with using the StarGPS and the Autostar can you give me a step by step instruction on what to do. As Mike Pepper correctly posted, all the StarGPS does is tell your telescope the correct time, date, and your physical location (which is handy if you are in a strange environment). After that, the telescope operates as a plain ol' ETX125 with Autostar. So yes, you then follow the prompts and instruction manual. You can "walk through" the following indoors in the daytime, simply to get familiar with the buttons and motions. Assuming you're Alt/Az "mounted" (scope sitting on table), and have it in proper "home" position (power panel on west side of base, scope spun CCW until it goes "clunk", then spun CW about 120 degrees so it points fairly due north, barrel level (parallel to ground)). If you ever hit a "hard stop", it means you didn't get this setup correct. Now turn it on. Let the StarGPS do its stuff. (if you installed it correctly, it will skip the Time and Date questions.. but if you have not told the Autostar a nearby City, it may have the Time Zone incorrect. But that may be OK). Now the Align/Easy prompt should appear. Tap [enter]. The scope should slew to the vicinity of whatever (hopefully) bright star it mentions. You now use the viewfinder and eyepiece to locate said star, and the slew keys to bring it to the center of the eyepiece. If you have to slew a lot, you can change the speed by tapping a number key. I use 3 for close work, and 5 or 6 to move a distance. Once the star is fairly centered, tap [enter], and the Autostar will choose a second star and try to slew to it. It will probably arrive as far "off" as the first star did, don't worry. As before, center it and tap [enter]. Done. If it chose a star which you cannot -see- (trees, buildings, coulds), just tap the [scroll down] key (lower rightmost on pad) and it'll choose another. OK... assuming things went well, it should say "Align Successful" and you're ready to play. The screen will be saying "Select/Object". Tap [enter]. Now it's saying "Object/Solar System" Tap [enter] Now it's saying "Solar System/Mercury" Tap [scroll down] until it says Saturn or Jupiter. TAP [ENTER] <-- always tap enter to "select" an object. It will now say "Calculating..." <-- only for moving objects It will then display that planet's -current- position. Tap [GoTo]. It'll GoThere. Enjoy. (if you ever hit a situation where it says "Slewing..." but doesn't actually go anywhere, that means you forgot to tap [enter] before tapping [goto]) Visit Mike Weasner's Super Site for oodles of help. Read the Beginner's Tips page. http://www.weasner.com/etx have fun --dick Again thanks for any help you can give. A newcomer that always wanted to see the stars. Best Regards Liam EganMike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site. Your message was originally DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject line.
That was allot faster then I thought ever possible for a response to a email. The confusion I am having is that both replies to my question said similiar but not exactly the same thing. I will try to shorten them 1 said CCW to stop then CW to north The other said Unlock AZ clutch and rotate counter-clockwise until you hit the stop. Go back clockwise until the control panel lines up with the left fork arm. Lock clutch. This is the HOME position. Level scope and point the tube north by adjusting the TRIPOD ONLY. Which is right? Again thanks for the help!Mike here: Read those articles I mentioned. But as I noted, CCW then CW.
Subject: Re: AS494 Cable/Test THANKS Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 08:36:44 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) >Thanks, Dick. I really appreciate the advice. I'm sure somewhere down the road >I'll be buying a 495/497 (and beyond that, a larger, more sophisticated scope), but >for now this is what I have to play with. And it's given me more viewing pleasure >in the short time I've had it than anything else I've had previously. The same was true with my ETX90... i used it almost every night that was even -thinking- about clearing for two solid years... in Seattle. (GoTo is great for partly cloudy skies... when the hole-in-the-clouds gets there, the scope is waiting!) Can you take the 506 and scope to a local dealer and have them demonstrate its operation? Or a friend with a similar telescope? If you have access to an oscilliscope, i can suggest other tests, but without more instrumentation than a bent paperclip, the 506 is difficult to deal with. > Now, when we get the kids kicked out of the house.... Nah... convince them to pool their pennies and buy you a 497 for birthday/xmas/father'sDay... have fun --dick
Subject: re: Difference Autostar 495 497 Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2004 22:14:13 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) Mike was not blunt enough: There is NO mechanical/electrical difference between a 495 and 497. They are -exactly- the same internally. The "ETX Autostar" and "Autostar" labels are merely adhesive labels. The only difference between a "495" and a "497" is the program inside, and if you update -either- model with Meade's current Updater and 31Ee (or 27Go) firmware, they -all- become full-functioning 497's. a 495 is a 497, just as a Euro coin is a Euro is a Euro, without worrying about the nationality of the design on the back. have fun --dick
Subject: re: Question about scope alignment Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2004 22:06:11 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ya know? That happens to me a lot too... not only Polaris, but other areas of the sky i'm not familiar with. But Polaris is -almost- easy... if you do two or three things to prepare: (a) set up in Alt/Az (you don't need Polaris for that) (b) align as per normal. (c) GoTo Polaris. (d) Due to the math, it stands a moderate chance of slightly missing it (e) however, it -is- the brightest star in that 2 degree circle of the sky, and (here's the real trick) it's a double star. (f) so center the brightest star you see, and look through the eyepiece. With luck, you'll see it as a bright star with a (very) nearby companion. (g) if, however, the scope missed by quite a bit, or it's still hard to sort the 2.2 mags from the 6's, then GoTo Mizar. (h) Mizar is a close double, with another (third) star off to one side. It's the handle at the bend in the handle of the Big Dipper. (i) if the scope did not automagically center -that-, then do: (1) press [enter] 3 seconds, release. (2) scope should beep and ask you to center the star. (3) slew to bring the close double to dead center (4) tap [enter]. (5) You have just "SYNChronized" the telescope to the sky. (j) Now try GoTo'ing Polaris... it should be almost dead center. So what have we done (or tried to do)? We've looked at Polaris with the scope knowing where to go (we hope). You can get a handle on the relative brightness and surrounding stars. Maybe draw a sketch. That gives you a -lot- of feedback and experience in -looking- at that area. You've also (hopefully) seen how Polaris -is- a close double, so that all of the other possible choices which are only singles are instantly recognizable as the wrong ones. have fun --dickAnd:
From: "Rick Hudson" (email@example.com) Hi, gents - Well, despite all your efforts at being so kind and thoughtful, regretfully, it's all for nought, and I am giving my ETX-125 away to my father, who will get much more use (and joy) out of it than I will. I have done my best to explain that my problem has nothing to do with allignment, or synchronization, or whether a star is a single or a double. It is much simpler than that, and this is obviously why I am not able to communicate the challenges that I am experiencing effectively. The problem I am experiencing in summary, Dick, is that the ETX-125 apparently has *so much* light-gathering ability that I cannot tell a magnitude 2 from a 7 through neither viewfinder, nor scope. Result: naked eye shows Polaris all by its very lonesome up in the sky, as one expects...."relatively" isolated... Yet, looking through the scope (whose viewfinder is aligned to the OTA to the best of my abilities to do so) reveals not a scaled-up image of what I saw with the naked eye, and not even a scaled-up image of the very center bit of the viewfinder area. Instead, what it shows is a spackling of stars of equal intensity and random placement, with bear no relationship whatsoever to the actual thing I am trying to look at. Therefore, I CANNOT ALIGN THE SCOPE, because whatever alignment I'm in (say alt/az) when I try to align the scope, it goes "Center...Arcturus and press ENTER". Well, that's all well and good, assuming two things: 1) the slewing got you somewhere NEAR arcturus, which it very roughly does; however, I do not know in which direction to move the scope to CENTER the damned star I'm looking for, and I have a snowball's chance in hell of finding it in either the viewfinder, or the OTA eyepiece; 2) I even recognise Arcturus when I see it. WHich I obviously don't, because i have yet to see any star which is visibly brighter than any other star. Mike referred me to some fairly detailed star charts which represent a certain chunk of sky, but they are not useful, unfortunately, because they only represent a very small segment of the sky, and have absolutely no cross-referenceable data between them! There's no way to tell what/where those obscure and seemingly arbitrary chunks of sky actually ARE, unless I happen to recognize either the shorthand abbreviations used for the constellations or the shape of the constellations themselves. Regrettably, there are neither large, identifiable stars (that I recognize) on either, nor are there any points of reference such as compass directions or an indication of Polaris...save on one: but not all. So, basically, these instructions are WAYYYY too advanced, and it seems that basically I'm screwed by where I live - Seattle. I'm sure all of you guys live in SOuthern California, where you have 300 clear nights a year; I, hoever, live on the waterfront in a place that averages 900% relative humidity all the time! So even when it's clear, it's fuzzy. I have yet to see anything other than the moon crisply...and it takes an exceptional night indeed to be able to focus on any stars at all, beyond making them blurry blobs in my viewfinder/eyepiece...again, all of the same intensity. THis I think is also a product of the reduced FOV one gets (and thus less light emitted into teh scope vs. what you see by the naked eye)...is this a known phenomenon? SHould it be SO pronounced (ie: your eyes take in more ambient light and the atmosphere bends the light due to water vapour suspended in teh air) that one cannot tell the difference between a super-bright star like Sirius, and a really-not-at-all-sirius miniature teensy-tiny star? I mean...I would expect a BRIGHT star to still appear brighter than a DIM star, whether it's with the nekkid eye, or through the eyepiece. A star is a freakin' star, it's not like it changes MASS in teh time I look through the eyepiece. Which leads me to believe that I am either: 1) Not finding the correct stars at ALL, 2) Unable to identify WHAT the heck i'm seeing. THe fact that I cannot even get far enough to tell Arcturus or Rigel or Betelgeuse, or ANY of those alignment-stars apart from their blanket of identical neighbours is the reason that I cannot CENTER on those stars (because I can't FIND them, as they look no damned different than the other 999 points of light that fill my eyepiece) ...and therefore, I cannot align my scope. Sorry to rail on about my situation, but THAT is the problem I am having, nothing more complex than that. If I could solve the problem of telling one star from another, NOT WITH THE NAKED EYE, which can be done by position, but through SOME OTHER WAY (can I mount a gunsight on my scope instead of that stupid, useless "viewfinder" piece of turd?) then I would actually be able to align my scope, and then, in theory, be able to actually enjoy it. At this point, however, there's not much hope of that, because I don't see how I can possibly elucidate any more clearly the challenges that I am having, and I am not sure whether you gentlemen, despite your vast combined experience and your kindness in reaching out to help a newbie, will be able to help. I dunno. I can't see a damned thing except a mess of white blobs. no structure, no patterns, NOTHING that relates to what I see when I look up at the sky at where (I think!) the scope is pointing. Any ideas? Is there such a thing as an ACCURATE star chart, that has ALL of the stars? In digital format, ideally, so one could zoom in on it to show further detail? (I think I'll stick to flying!!) THanks anyway, gentlemen, ]</RICK>Mike here: I remember that when I first started flying (back in 1972) that I thought I would never learn all those instruments (in a Cessna 150). Then I moved up to an Air Force T-37 (jet). Wow, were there ever INSTRUMENTS in that jet! And it moved faster so my brain had to move faster. Then they kicked me out of the T-37 into the supersonic T-38. WOW! EVEN MORE INSTRUMENTS AND WAY FASTER! How could I ever learn and catch up and get ahead of the plane???? But I did. It is just a matter of taking things a step at a time, which is what the AF did. Same with learning the night sky. Sorry to see you lose interest.
From: "Mark Gibbons" (firstname.lastname@example.org) You just posted a query from Rick Hudson" (email@example.com), Wednesday, April 21, who couldn't align on Polaris because he couldn't identify it once looking through the eyepiece. "How can I tell one featureless white speck from another through the scope???" As a beginner, I too had this problem, until I added a unity-power finder - in my case, the Rigel Systems Quikfinder, but there are loads of others available. Being able to look at the sky without any magnification with a red circle superimposed upon it where the telescope is going to point makes alignment with anything naked-eye visible easy! You then only need to use the finderscope for very small fine tuning if necessary. It didn't cost very much, and I would regard this as one of the most useful accessories to have. Regards Mark Gibbons MinchinhamptonAnd more:
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) First off, -i- live in Seattle. 1 block west of the zoo. Slight less humid, but last night was an example of typical Seattle thin overcast with stars peering through it. We can do this... i telephone-talked someone through aligning an ETX70.. she was in the middle of Burien, with only 1/3rd of the sky visible. On their main street (streetlights everywhere). Second: it was obvious from your original posting that it's the magnified view through the viewfinder and eyepiece which is fighting you... I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM. (never ask me to find a star pattern in binoculars). Since you're a microsoftie, i assumed you were in the dark(er) skies of Redmond (or eastward), which -really- generates a too-many-stars problem. Third: how to work with fewer stars: start earlier in the evening. In twilight. 8pm at the latest (at the moment) Then there are -very- few stars visible, even in the viewfinder. (Arcturus will be visible, Polaris won't) Fourth: fake it. Tell the scope [enter] as it walks through the alignment, (yah, that's arcturus, yah, that's capella) Then tell it to GoTo Jupiter (Select/Object/SolarSystem/Jupiter [enter] [GoTo] (the "enter" is vital )) Jupiter is that bright thing fairly high up if you face southeast in the early evening, transitioning to west-of-rather-high-up around 10pm. (i'd suggest Venus for this, but the Autostar has been muffing Venus recently, but only by a finder width or so) Now simply pick up the entire scope and point it at Jupiter. (or Venus). You're now much more aligned. (not perfect, but better) Now (as with the first note), ask the scope to GoTo the previous alignment stars... and look through the viewfinder. Tell ya what... you can always drop up here and we can walk through it, or we can do it by phone. This is a "bad" time of year for bright stars (two months ago was better). There are lots of work-arounds for getting alignment working (assuming the telescope is operating properly mechanically), including identifying a local landmark for a -precise- due-north alingment, and having a bubble level to level the barrel. Given those, it is possible to align the telescope within an eyepiece-width with *no* stars. Mike referred me to some fairly detailed star charts... (i have to admit i am NOT a great fan of those charts...) I, hoever, live on the waterfront in a place that averages 900% relative humidity >all the time! So even when it's clear, it's fuzzy. I have yet to see anything other >than the moon crisply...and it takes an exceptional night indeed to be able to focus >on any stars at all, beyond making them blurry blobs in my >viewfinder/eyepiece...again, all of the same intensity. Um... the telescope weighs all of what, 15 pounds? Toss it in the Cessna and take it to (say) Friday Harbor or Jefferson Cty airport. Walk to shaded side of terminal building. Observe. You could also do such things as: visit one of the monthly Seattle Astronomical Society's Star Parties. Held the weekend closest to the 1st quarter moon (hence, tomorrow) at Greenlake (near the Bathhouse on the NW corner of the lake) and another site further north (Google the web for them, i forget the URL). You can bring your scope or not, but there's usually a dozen scopes or so of varying sizes, and -very- helpful people. The Greenlake site is frequently foggy due to lake-effect, so it'll somewhat mimic your "coastal" conditions. And there'll be oodles of folks who can point at ARcturus. ... Which leads me to believe that I am either: 1) Not finding the correct stars at ALL, 2) Unable to identify WHAT the heck i'm seeing. I vote for both. I would've suggested Saturn above (it has rings, that makes it recognizable.. but it's not overly bright) THe fact that I cannot even get far enough to tell Arcturus or Rigel or Betelgeuse, or ANY of those alignment-stars apart from their blanket of identical neighbours is the reason that I cannot CENTER on those stars (because I can't FIND them, as they look no damned different than the other 999 points of light that fill my eyepiece) ...and therefore, I cannot align my scope. Don't use the viewfinder! Simply (there's that word again) sight over the barrel and aim it that way. The "viewfinder effect" is one reason people really like the "Telrad" and "Daisy RedDot" "zero power" finders. They're just a square of flat glass with a red LED image floating "in space".. you look through it at the unmagnified sky, and move the scope to place the red dot on the star you're trying for. Sorry to rail on about my situation, but THAT is the problem I am having, nothing more complex than that. If I could solve the problem of telling one star from another, NOT WITH THE NAKED EYE, which can be done by position, but through SOME OTHER WAY (can I mount a gunsight on my scope instead of that stupid, useless "viewfinder" piece of turd?) then I would actually be able to align my scope, and then, in theory, be able to actually enjoy it. See above... people do use Daisy-brand gunsights. I dunno. I can't see a damned thing except a mess of white blobs. no structure, no patterns, NOTHING that relates to what I see when I look up at the sky at where (I think!) the scope is pointing. (a) it's possible you are unable to achieve focus due to some other problem. Can you focus sharply on landmarks in the daytime? (b) There certainly -are- places where viewing is impossible. Those places do NOT include: downtown London, San Diego, San Francisco, Buenos Aires (you want warm and hazy?), Seattle. Any ideas? Is there such a thing as an ACCURATE star chart, that has ALL of the stars? In digital format, ideally, so one could zoom in on it to show further detail? Dozens. StarryNight is one. "Cartes du Ciel" is a freeware program with an immense database, runs fine on Windows. "Astroplanner" is another ( www.ilangainc.com ), shareware... it's really targeted for a different mission, but has an OK planetarim feature (paying for it gets access to the millions-of-stars catalogs). Personally, i occasionally find them -less- helpful for the same reason you're having trouble: too many stars, and not looking like what i -see- (i need a "haze filter", somewhat like is available in Flight Simulator). "ALL the stars"... be careful what you ask for. There are paper star charts available at Captain's Nautical (Elliot Ave, across the street from the golf complex) which go down to 6.5 magnitude, or 9th magnitude and further... you're probably seeing to only 10th magnitude (i'm interpolating for your 125 as being between what my ETX90 and 10" LX200gps achieves), and probably are only achieving 8th or 9th mag due to haze. Captain's will also have a number of the planetarium programs. have fun --dick P.S. ..i've used my ETX90 at Shilshole Marina, too... the seeing isn't -great-, but it's feasible. Dew forming on the front corrector plate can completely foil any attempt at observing. If you're right on the water you would have to take massive measures to avoid that.And even more:
>Yeah, basically, my scope was dripping wet after ten minutes outside. >Water not just beading up but running down the sides of the OTA. Well, i'd venture to say that THAT was the root problem. Once the front plate is dew-covered, you will not be able to use the telescope without convincing it to dry off (and towelling is not a good method). To delay dewing up, one uses a dew shield... just a tubular extension of the barrel at least 1.5x the diameter in front of the scope. To prevent dewing up (if possible), you add heat. Just as fog forms at 5 degrees F above dewpoint, you've got to keep the optics of the scope at least that warm too... and you're pointing them at space, so they're cooling more rapidly radiatively than surfaces not "looking up". The heat is usually in the form of an electrical heating element (a "dew strip") wrapped around the nose of the scope, applying gentle (roughly 3 watts/inch of diameter, if i remember the number correctly) heat to keep the front plate just above the critical temperature. Myself? I use a dew shield, and if i see/sense dew forming, i give it a gentle (from 6 feet away) blast with a small hair dryer. >I may as well have dipped it in the lake, quite frankly. So like you >say, short of going elsewhere (seems the easiest massive measure to >take) I can't think of what I could do. (from other note: >Flight Simulator sorry... been there, flown that (altho not for a few years) and it's nothing like actually being in the Cessna (yes, i have a ticket, too). If you're looking for dry skies, let me recommend Chehalis airport... it's 52 KM away, so it counts as cross-country. Big runways (comforting for student pilots). Not much traffic (ditto). (although the stuff coming up out of McChord can be impressive as you're puttering by...) Burlington/SkagitCty airport is another good destination for this kind'a goal. hmmm... time to write/publish a "Washington State Guide to Astronomically Useful Airports" ... now -there's- SF. (note that Mike is going to WesterCon in July) have fun --dick
Subject: Question about scope alignment Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 11:51:48 From: "Rick Hudson" (email@example.com) You might remember me as the guy who made this ETX graphic a while back (removed). I have now learned, of course (largely thanks to your help) how to align my ETX (in THEORY) either for Polar or Alt./Az. However, there is one huge problem remaining, and this stops me dead in my tracks before I can observe!! In fact, it's only one tiny baby-step further along than where I was originally: And it's this: I line up the scope as I'm supposed to, and attempt to center, say, on Polaris. But the light-gathering capability of the scope is so enormous that when I look with the naked eye, I see ONLY Polaris in a huge empty field of sky: yet when I look through the viewfinder, I see HUNDREDS of stars, literally, and there's no way to correlate that pattern of stars to what I see with the naked eye. It's of course even worse once I look through the main scope. The problem is, of course, that there are hundreds of stars in the viewer, and they all look like they're the same: if I can only (at first) just eyeball it in pointing my scope toward Polaris, but then in looking through the viewer I get lost, how in the heck do I know which star is Polaris?!? So obviously, the same problem happens whenever I try to align the scope any other way, either. I cannot FIND any bright stars at ALL, because they look totally different with the naked eye vs. through the viewfinder, vs. through the scopeand of course, I can't see any of the really dim stars with the naked eye, so whatever discernible patterns there might have been in the star layout prior to looking through the viewfinder basically disappear because a) the viewfinder is too powerful; and b) its field of view is too narrow. I am running PocketStars on my pocketPC, and trying to use that to figure out where these stars should be, and that's helping, but it's still not solving the problem. How can I tell one featureless white speck from another through the scope??? Thanks, rickhudsonMike here: You need Dr. Clay Sherrod's "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Autostar Info page.
Thanks for the reply; I'll give this a shot, see if it helps me out.
Subject: AS494 Cable/Test Question Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 16:27:32 From: "Tony Miller" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'm using a 494 Autostar on a Meade DS90AT package scope. After searching, bit the bullet and bought a #506 telescope-to-computer interface cable, which Meade bundles with their AstroFinder package (Starry Night Bundle Edition and ACP Trial Edition), even though the scope came with the software... but not the cable. No luck establishing any communications with the 494 Autostar through the #506 cable using the bundled software (OS Win2K), on COM1, 9600-N-8-1 and no flow control. Tried using Dick Seymour's Autostar Communications Testing from the Autostar Info page. Fired up Hyperterminal with the same parameters, powered up the scope/Autostar after connecting the 506 cable, and got nothing. But the info is for Autostar 495/497, and I'm not sure whether it's 100% applicable or not. Next step would be cable testing. Dick's info says #506 cable testing is beyond the scope of the posted document. Are test instructions for the #506 cable available? And I know it's impractical to home-build the cable, but do you or Dick have any different instructions for testing the 494 setup specifically? I'm calling customer service / tech support too, but am not counting on the info I get there. Yes, I know the main advice is just buying a 495/497 and going the simple #505 cable route. But I'm "thrifty", and would prefer to be able to update the otherwise perfectly functioning Autostar that came bundled with the telescope and has given me more viewing functionality than anything else I've had. Thanks for your help. Don't know how you find the time to do everything you do. Yep, Meade should pay you guys some big bucks, because you're helping them retain a user base that would besmaller without the information you provide. TonyAnd from our resident Autostar expert:
From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) Well, you said it yourself: >Yes, I know the main advice is just buying a 495/497 and going the >simple #505 cable route. But I'm "thrifty", and would prefer to be >able to update the otherwise perfectly functioning Autostar that came >bundled with the telescope and has given me more viewing functionality >than anything else I've had. Being "Thrifty" means saving about $30 now, but still ending up with an Autostar which cannot be firmware-updated. Yes, you can update/freshen the User Objects and Tours (unless it's an early model), but you still end up with an Autostar which requires scrolling to enter numeric data (very painful if you like to enter satellite data from the keypad). And you have the "black box" of a 506. >I'm using a 494 Autostar on a Meade DS90AT package scope. After >searching, bit the bullet and bought a #506 telescope-to-computer >interface cable, which Meade bundles with their AstroFinder package >(Starry Night Bundle Edition and ACP Trial Edition), even though the >scope came with the software... but not the cable. You -really, really- want to download the patches from StarryNight and Dc3dreams for that package... but once you have them, it will work very nicely with the DS90 (i've used it with a 494'ed ETX70). If fact, i prefer that version of StarryNight for many duties, and i'll frequently start it up in preference to StarryNightPro4.5 on the same Win98se laptop. >No luck establishing any communications with the 494 Autostar through >the #506 cable using the bundled software (OS Win2K), on COM1, >9600-N-8-1 and no flow control. Win2k may be contributing to the problem (i can't remember if it's W2k or WinNT which fights AutostarSuite), but Hyperterm should survive. >Tried using Dick Seymour's Autostar Communications Testing from the >Autostar Info page. Fired up Hyperterminal with the same parameters, >powered up the scope/Autostar after connecting the 506 cable, and got >nothing. But the info is for Autostar 495/497, and I'm not sure >whether it's 100% applicable or not. The "X" at power-up, the the "tie pins 2+3 together to start a self-test" do NOT work with the 494/506. Meade uses different methods to self-test a 494. Which version of firmware is running in your 494? (they never say, do they?) Setup > Statistics > [enter][scroll up] If i have a dump/listing of it, i'll look for other test points. >Next step would be cable testing. Dick's info says #506 cable testing >is beyond the scope of the posted document. Are test instructions for >the #506 cable available? And I know it's impractical to home-build >the cable, but do you or Dick have any different instructions for >testing the 494 setup specifically? I'm calling customer service / >tech support too, but am not counting on the info I get there. The only valid pieces of the as_test.html page are the final ones: In Hyperterminal, try typing a control-F then a :GC# and :GL# (no enters or spaces, so you're really typing :GC#:GL# ) Those should return an "A" (for alt/az mount), the date and the time. >Yes, I know the main advice is just buying a 495/497 ... Some other issues with the 494/506 are that the 506 is limited to 70 characters per second (vs. the 497's 900+), and the sheer lack of poke-and-prod points for home self-tests. It -did- serve to provide great insights into the operation of the i2c bus communication protocols, speed and AUX ports. (since we knew what we were feeding it from the PC, it was easier to decode what it was saying to the Autostar) I was using a "loaner" 506 which has returned to its owner, so i'm unable to do direct testing at this time to help suggest other tricks. I'd be happy to buy yours for $30 if you decide to dump it. Anyway, give the above commands a try, and report back... good luck --dick
Subject: GPS-Mate Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 08:13:39 From: "Cohen, Carl R" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Have you heard anything about the GPS-Mate from BC&F Astro Engineering. It does not need any software to be loaded on the Autostar. It states.. "you just plug it in, press a single button and it works immediately" The link to it is: http://www.hfo.org.uk/ Thanks CarlMike here: Heard of it. I'll be reviewing a new similar device from the StarGPS-LX manufacturer soon which has similar capabilities.
Subject: Difference Autostar 495 497 Sent: Monday, April 19, 2004 11:51:28 From: "Frankie" (email@example.com) I'm a bit puzzled, I'm trying to find the differences between the autostar 495 and 497 from meade. Is there any way to identify from the outsite, the 2 autostars. The only piece of information I can find is: Both 497 and 495 have full numeric keypads. 497's have "ETX Autostar" written above the display. 495's have just "Autostar" written above the display. Both 497 and 495 have full numeric keypads. 497's have "ETX Autostar" written above the display. 495's have just "Autostar" written above the display. Both 497 and 495 have full numeric keypads. 497's have "ETX Autostar" written above the display. 495's have just "Autostar" written above the display. - the 495 has a line that says "Autostar" above the display - the 497 has a line that says: "ETX autostar" above the display But any webpage with a picture of the autostar say "Autostar" Even meades own webpage about the autostar doesn't say "ETX Autostar" but the description says part number #497 Can you help me ? regards Frank from HollandMike here: Not really. I have two; the older one says "ETX Autostar" and the other "Autostar" (came with my LXD55). Since the Autostar is now used with more than the ETX, naming it just "Autostar" is appropriate. A #495 can be upgraded to the functional equivalent of the #497 with software from Meade's site.
Subject: ETX Random Slew Sent: Monday, April 19, 2004 08:13:02 From: Kathy Koerber (firstname.lastname@example.org) Has Meade resolved the random slew issue associated with the Autostar controller? The amount of random slewing I get renders the Autostar controller useless. I sure would like to use this $150 piece of equipment, but frankly, I have much less frustrating evenings with the standard controller that came with my ETX 90. Also, I am about to buy an ETX 125 and sure would like to hook the Autostar up to that and use it for what it was designed for (and maybe even get the GPS unit), but not if the random slew issue remains. I have tried new batteries and using the AC adaptor but to no avail. Nothing I can do seems to help. Does anyone know if Meade is working on this? Has anyone experienced the problem with newer Autostar controllers? I was going to keep my Autostar and purchase the 125 from Discovery who offers the 'scope w/o Autostar, but if newer controllers have eliminated the random slew problem, I would be willing to purchase a new setup somewhere else to get a properly functioning Autostar. Any help you or your readers can provide would be most appreciated! -KathyMike here: If you are referring the ETX-125EC model from 1999-2000, yes. There is an item I posted on the Announcements - Meade page on 4 January 2001. Have you updated your Autostar to the current software version (3.1Ee) and done a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES?
I have an ETX 90 EC purchased in Dec. 2002. I have not updated my Autostar version since I purchased it in 2002....is that something that will help? I hope to use the Autostar controller with a new ETX125 that I am going to purchase in the next couple of days.Mike here: I would recommend updating. Also, keep in mind that when you switch a single Autostar between two telescopes you need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES on each switch.
Subject: Best two-star alignment pairs for ETX Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 08:47:24 From: Perng (email@example.com) Is there a good thumb rule in choosing which 2 stars for an optimum 2-star alignment? Should I choose by certain distance in the Alt. and Az.? Or, should it really be certain distance in Dec and RA? For example, Dubhe and Alkaid could be at similar distance to each other in both Alt and Az depending on the season, but they are very close to each other measured in the Dec and quite far apart in the RA. I seem to experience different degrees of GOTO accuracy with ETX-125 using different alignment pairs of stars. All the time, I use Altaz mode. Thanks PerngMike here: Couple of options: Check out AstroPlanner (see the Accessory Reviews - Software page); it includes a "Best Pair" capability. Or, as I noted in my original ETX-90EC comments back in June 1999, "... some thought should be used when either manually selecting alignment stars or accepting the Autostar's selections. Dr. Leon Palmer from Rigel Systems reminded me that the Pole area is one of the worst places to select an alignment star because of the convergence of the RA lines at the higher declinations. This convergence means that a small error in angular position translates to a large error in the right ascension value. Errors in position are compounded and can even result in an opposite alignment when trying to align on Polaris, which isn't precisely at 90 degrees declination. Dr. Palmer advises to use stars that are about 90 degrees (6 hours) apart and near or on the celestial equator for the best results."
Subject: Training in the dark, singing in the rain. Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 06:26:11 From: "MMIC EOD" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hope your website is better, it was in bed with the 'flu last time I needed it. What an extraordinary body of info you have and thanks again for making it available. Why can't Meade, who make all the money out of this lark, either do the same or subsidise you to do it (only better I suspect). The honeymoon is over with my ETX125. Read a lot of your technical tips, bought the scope, got it out of the box, no altaz backlash, carted it outside on a crystal clear night, pointed at Polaris, calibrate, train, easy align, bang straight to Sirius and the second guide star too, goto Jupiter, dead centre, goto Saturn, dead centre, quick tour everything where it should be. Glass of Scotch, off to bed, what a little gem. Then a clear day after several gloomy ones, thought I'd polish up the training with my newly made cross hair eyepiece, out into bright sunshine, reset, calibrate, train on a terrestrial object. Clear night, point it North and level, easy align on Capella damn star not even in the finder and so it went on. Manually located Jupiter which, although the tracking was running, shot across the FOV like a ball from a Roman candle. Two glasses of Scotch, off to bed, what a load of expensive rubbish. Then, deep in the bowels of your autostar section I find 'Autostar - Optimising Training Values' which explains what 'calibrate' does. No need to repeat the article but first it sets up the optical encoder on the motor shaft depending on ambient light levels. So, if you calibrate your scope in bright sunlight you may well get nonsense at night. This is exactly what happened to me. Also, after about an hour's use, the az axis deloped about 1 of backlash due to the worm and wheel bedding in and wear in the sad little nylon bushes the worm runs in. Rather than try to push the worm harder into mesh with the inaccessible Allen key grub screws I just slightly slackened off the three pozidriv self tappers holding the worm carrier casting and levered the worm further into mesh with a small screwdriver beside the grub screw farthest from the drive pinion end of the worm. I had the luxury of using feeler gauges to select the right thickness of brass shimstock to slip between the end of the grub screw and the worm carrier but easier (and perhaps better) would be to hammer out a " wide 1/16" thick brass strip to a wedge and use that further adjustments are then just a question of pushing the wedge in a bit more. Be careful tightening up those self tappers. They should be proper engineering screws in tapped holes for this application. But they aren't. Questions 1. From what I read from your website is there any reason not to calibrate each time one prepares to use the scope? 2. Is it now considered acceptable (with ver. 3x of Autostar) to train without a reset? 3. Why in the name of Aleph the Unreasonable did Meade think it was possible to position an unbalanced mass on inadequate bearings driven through underdesigned gears mounted in sloppy nylon bushes by motors from an electric toothbrush to the precision required to centre celestial objects reliably and repeatably in even a low power eyepiece? Why not bite the bullet and put a proper optical encoder on the output shafts to directly measure al + az. They can keep using their toy motors and gears because then they're measuring position at the output (which is what any sane engineer would do) rather than position at the input to a series of somewhat inscrutable variables? We have a saying 'spoiling the ship for a ha'porth (half penny worth) of tar'. Here is a superb set of optics mounted in a visually appealing manner on an excellent tripod, a clever controller which brings the wonders of astronomy to people who haven't the time and/or inclination to learn that the finest astronomical object, the PlugHole Nebuloid, can only be found by locating the 14 th magnitude star Polyglot in the constellation of Scrofula and they screw the whole thing up for want of a few tens of dollars spent on mechanics. A crying shame because the thing is nearly perfect. End of Rant!Mike here: Website has been fine. How's your connection to the Internet?
Thanks for the info. I think your server went down while the US was fast asleep. I expect they were doing an oil change. #3 ask Meade - you jest, I assume. All best wishes, Steve
Subject: Training failure update Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 16:50:22 From: (email@example.com) Just an update to the problem I had wrote you about on March 18, 2004, which I attributed to rubberbanding. I had just upgraded to Autostar 31E. After suggestions from your users, I downgraded to 30D. Then initialized, set DEC % to 10%, calibrated motors, and trained with 13mm, and then Easy aligned. Autostarfound 4 objects, in the 13mm FOV, and tracked them all for better than a half hour a piece. Yahoo!!!! Now I just need to figure out this LPI!!! Thanks for your help, and that of the other fine folks here. Also Mike, you were gonna post some shots I got with my LPI and ETX90 of Jupiter, but I haven't seen them. Did I do something incorrect? TimMike here: Thanks for the update. As to photos, did you check the "Guest Astrophotography Gallery" as well as the "Helpful Information - Astrophotography" pages? Sometimes photos go to one or the other, depending upon the photo, info supplied, and my whims at the moment.
Subject: ETX 125 alignment problems Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 11:51:07 From: "dean.mansell" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hope you can let me know what I am doing wrong whilst setting up my new ETX 125. I have had it now for 3 weeks and am very happy with the brief views I have had so far however there is one thing I cannot seem to sort out. I have tried carrying out easy alignments in both Altaz and Polar mode and on both occasions have had problems with the scope hitting the 'hard stop' when trying to find the second alignmentstar. I am pretty sure I have the scope setup with my deluxe field tripod as described in the manual. A curious thing also seems to occur whenit tries to locate the second star, instead of slewing approx 90 degrees west, it chooses to go 270 degrees east, is this normal in your experience? Hope you canhelp me out, I have tried searching your site for similar problems but so far havenot found anything. Cheers Dean Mansell - UKMike here: First off, check the alignment tip articles on the Autostar Info page. But I suspect you are not doing the proper rotations to/from a hardstop as part of the HOME position. And yes, the Autostar will take the "long way around" to avoid "cord wrap".
Subject: AutoStar: No buttons functional on initialisation. Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 02:57:10 From: Dave Turner (Dave.Turner@janes.co.uk) I hope you can help with this. Whilst using my Autostar (build version 31Ee) to synchronise on Castor I needed to change from slewing speed (1) to something a little faster (5). However when I pressed '5' to change slewing speed the Autostar 'locked up' with no buttons functional. I've checked that no cables are damaged and that my ETX125 functions correctly with the manual controller both on battery and external power. Now whenever I turn on the Autostar it runs through initialization and then sticks with the top line of the display reading 'speed = 64x' and the lower line continuously scrolling with the message 'for help press '?' or press ENTER to continue'. (Note I've shortened this standard message). No buttons appear to be functional. Is there a button sequence to cold reset the Autostar? Or am I going to have to try reloading the software using Enter & Scroll Down on power up as noted in one of your other postings? Thanks in hope, and for your excellent website. Dave Turner London UKMike here: If none of the buttons work to get you out of that mode then yes, you can do the SAFE LOAD procedure.
Thanks. That did work with one small glitch that may be of interest. I tried three times to reinstall the build version that had been running well for some time (31Ee) but this failed with an error each time. In the end I reverted to the build 30Eb which successfully loaded. The odd thing is that the original reason for upgrading from 30Eb was that I'd not been able to control my ETX125 via the AutoStar from the Meade software with it. With the reload I now can! Hopefully the problem is not due to dodgy RAM. I'll keep you posted of any further developments. Regards Dave Turner London UKMike here: Glad that worked. With the 3.1Ee version, are you using a local drive version or are you getting it directly from Meade's site each time? if the later, you might try downloading the build file separately and then using that version.
I attempted to reuse the 3.1Ee local build version that I had previously downloaded and used for the original successful upgrade. I'd be surprised if this had corrupted but I will try another download from Meadce as you suggest and run a hex compare. Thank you for the suggestion.
Subject: re: autostar menu language change Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 21:20:19 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: "A09" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike's answer is correct, here are the details: The last Autostar 497 version which allowed changing languages was v2.0, back in 2000. With the arrival of v2.1, you have to completely replace the firmware (a 35 minute job) to change the language. The language is signified by the first letter after the digits. So 2.1Ea was the first English-only version. 2.7Go is version 2.7 in German, at patch-level "o". I am aware of a 31Sg (3.1, Spanish, level "g") The original (pre-v2.1) Autostar had 14,000 astronomical objects and 6 languages. From v2.1 on, they removed the multi-language space to provide 31,000 objects. You can get the Updater and the 31Ee (English, level e) from: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html have fun --dick
Subject: Autostar failure update Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 09:14:34 From: "Phill Powell" (email@example.com) Quite a long time ago I wrote to you about the failure of my #497 and you asked me to keep you up to date. Well it's been a long drawn out process. Basically my Autostar stopped working and I could not bring it back to life. Meade's agent in the UK was less than helpful, their response was it's always the handset, it can't be fixed, send us your money and we will send you a new one. As I said before,since both the 497 and the terrestrial controller stopped working at the same time, I was not convinced that a new handset would work. Not surprisingly my local dealer, the one who couldn't do enough when I was thinking of buying the scope, didn't want to try it on his, or lend me one to trial. Guess I wont be using him again. Anyway Mike, eventually I managed to get a 497 from ebay and hey, it doesn't work!! Now the dilemma, Is the new 497 faulty or is it my ETX? Looking on your site I saw a design for a power supply to test 497s and power them whilst updating. I built one and connected my 497 to it. Still dead!!! About a week later for some reason I connected the power supply direct to the 497 rather than to it's lead via a female/female connector. Wow it works. So after all that trouble it seems it may be the spiral cable between the 497 and the ETX that is at fault. I'm on holiday at the moment so as soon as I get a chance I'll get a replacement cable from Maplin for about 3. I do have one major problem left that maybe somebody on your site can help with. I've taken the plugged connectors off the circuit boards in my ETX and lost the drawing I made. I've looked at the pictures on the site but none give conclusive proof as to which connector goes where. I don't want to power up the scope unless I absolutely sure they are on correctly. Best wishes and thanks for a great site. Phill
Subject: autostar menu language change Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 07:05:02 From: "A09" (firstname.lastname@example.org) we want to change autostar menu language and programme into English. bought with meade ETX 125 EC in Belgium,Autostar came with menu only in French. ThanksMike here: If the language is changeable, see the FAQ page on the ETX Site for info. If not, you will have to update it using the 3.1Ee version on Meade's web site.
Subject: expensive USB-serial conversion Sent: Monday, April 12, 2004 16:46:08 From: "Niall Saunders" (email@example.com) As far as the lack of serial ports on notebook PCs is concerned, perhaps it would be more appropriate if somebody pointed out to Intel (the instigator of the Universal Sometimes Bus) that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the good old Legacy (hardware-based) RS232 Serial Port. Whenever you buy ANY 'USB to Serial Converter', then what you are getting IS cheap - and cheap is nearly ALWAYS 'nasty'. The USB port requires a great deal of often 'flakey' software to support it, and a 'USB Serial Port' is NOWHERE EVEN CLOSE to being 'the real thing' - it is simply even MORE (and even flakier) software, cobbled together with a few resistors and diodes, all trying their dismal best to PRETEND to be something that they just are not, and can NEVER be. However, all that said, there IS a perfectly simple solution, that has been around for years. Just say "NO". Just don't consider buying a PC (or a MAC for that matter) that does NOT offer a HARDWARE-BASED (and BIOS-LEVEL supported) 'true' RS232 COM Port. There are LOADS of manufacturers that are slowly realising this - and many of the Taiwanese 'clone' manufacturers were smart enough to realise that they were going to be 'stung' if they stopped offering hardware connectivity - and so usually offer a system that has BOTH RS232 Serial and USB communications on-board. And don't be tempted to get too attached to BlueTooth either - rumour has it that this particular technology has ALREADY been abandoned in favour of the more robust (and more easily configured) 802.11 Wireless technology. (But, at the same time, don't get TOO attached to 802.11, as the original 'b' concept, offering 11Mbps has already been superseded by the 'g' revision, which at least increases the speed to 54Mbps. Not quite full 'LAN' speeds - at 100Mbps - but at least the 802.11g system is 'backwards compatible'). Sorry that this may not be truly 'ETX' or 'LXD55' subject material, but on the GPS discussion forum that I moderate (at www.globalpositioningsystems.co.uk/forum) connectivity issues are the singular MOST COMMON problem that users encounter and ask about - and USB issues lead that particular thorny field by a LONG WAY. True, USB solutions DO have a place in the world of PCs and MACs, but NOT at the expense of a tried and tested system like RS232 serial comms. After all, you 'could' steer your car using a joystick but, if you didn't have to, would you 'want' to? Cheers, Niall SaundersMike here: Actually, as an ex-fighter jock, I might! As to USB converters, I agree that they can be flakey. I had lots of problems until Keyspan got it right for Mac OS X. Now it just works (as it should).
From: "MMIC EOD" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for the reply + useful info. In a previous incarnation I specialised in dragging inaccessible data out of mainframe computers via their serial ports (in those days all terminals connected via RS232) so I have had fairly intense love-hate relationship with that 'D' connector. I think the USB is a considerable improvement although, as you suggest, not quite as predictable as it should be. The thing I don't understand is why the connector is ALWAYS the wrong way up (I am reminded of a statistician who noticed when his kids dropped their bread at tea it always fell butter side up - after formulating an hypothesis based on observation he confirmed that the bread was buttered on both sides). My problem is a fait accompli - I bought my laptop before I got the Meade (and the Meade promises to be another love-hate job). My now old fashioned Kodak digital camera is quite happy connecting to USB or serial via the same port - I have no idea how - and I would expect the Autostar to do the same. By the way, Mike, if you do read this, I have discovered that the AS handset controls the weather. If you do a reset when it is raining it continues to rain indefinitely. I can't find this choice in the menu tree under 'setup' - 'weather' but it is something users should be aware of. All best wishes, Steve
Subject: RE: problems with extending the autostar cable Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 15:22:44 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: "Tom Ross" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Well, i can think of an obvious test: Create a cable only 1 or 2 meters long. That should remove the voltage drop effects. (24 awg is not very thick, and the Autostar does draw up to 120ma) If that works, that demonstrates that you do have the cable construction style properly sussed, and it's a length issue, and you'll want thicker conductors (or paralleled chunks from your spool). If it doesn't work, then it indicates that, well, the sussing is suspect. good luck, please keep us posted --dickAnd: Pre> Thanks for posting my problem. I got a reply from Dick, I have sent him a reply as follows: 'Hi Richard Thanks for the reply. I tried what you suggested and still no joy...so after racking my brain I decided it must have to do with the contacts on the RJ 45 plugs not connecting with the female sockets in the scope and handset. So a friend was round at my house and I mentioned it to him and he looked at the plugs and said he could see a sliver of plastic over the end pin! (the multimeter probe must obviously have pushed this out of the way when testing for continuity) He scraped it off with a scalpel and now the cables work fine! I hadn't noticed them even when using a magnifying glass to insert the wires! So it seems I got a duff set of RJ 45 plugs (I did pick the cheapest ones as they looked just the same as the more expensive ones...obviously the moulding quality isn't as good ..will get different ones next time) What puzzles me is you saying 24 swg isn't very thick? I did at first get a reel of this wire in 8 core.... custom1.farnell.com/cpc/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CPC+Catalogue&product%5Fid=254987 because the individual coloured wires looked better and similar to the Meade curly cable ones, but I found they were too wide at 22swg to fit up the little guides in the RJ 45 plug. Again maybe a different plug manufacturer may have slightly wider 'wire slots' I don't know. So when one of the other forum contributors said that cat 5 network cable was ok I returned the other cable and swapped it for this... custom1.farnell.com/cpc/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CPC+Catalogue&product%5Fid=278015. Which was also a third the price per meter. Anyway all seems ok now ..the 5 meter and 6 meter and 2 meter cables all work fine. I will get some better quality plugs and try some even longer runs. Thanks Again Tom' So Mike it may be worth you adding it to your next update to alert any future users of the possibility of 'duff plugs'...thanks again for a great site..Tom Ross And:
From: "John Hall" (email@example.com) Tom, Over only a few metres, the different characteristics of the CAT-5 cable itself shouldn't be a problem, so I suspect that this has something to do with the RJ-45 plugs.... For what it's worth, I occasionally come across odd computer network cables that don't work with some pieces of equipment (PCs, hubs etc.), despite them being wired correctly with no shorts etc. Presumably the gold prongs in the socket are not making proper contact with the gold blades in the plug. It must be some mis-match in the plastic mouldings or something? I've also seen some RJ-45s that are a 'sloppy' fit and push in a bit too far, and you have to pull the plug back a little to get a connection. Also, most RJ-45 plugs have a plastic 'noggin' on the end of the locking tab that protrudes slightly at the front of the plug. This is interestingly absent on the curly cable that came with my ETX/Autostar. All of this suggests to me that the manufacturers of these things don't always stick to an exact standard. Either that, or "RJ-45" itself isn't an exact standard? Since you've tried making a couple of cables (and presumably tried reversing them?), it doesn't sound like a one-off bad plug to me. You might have to try a different source of RJ-45 plugs perhaps? John.And another worthwhile thought:
From: Don Sutherland (firstname.lastname@example.org) Tom Ross was having problems with two extension cables he made for his ETX hand box. Since the two cables he made have the same problem, it is possiblethat the RG45 connectors heboughthave moulding defects that prevent the pins in the hand box or telescope from making contact with one or more the pins in the RG45 connectors. Another possibility is that the pins on the crimper, that press theRG45 contacts against the wires,are not properly aligned and are shaving one or more pieces off the plastic separating the RG45 contacts. These bits of plastic may be preventing the pins in the hand box or telescope connectors from making contact, even though the cables testgood with a continuity checker. I would suggest that he use a magnifier tocarefully inspecttheRG45 connectors. I hope this helps. Don Sutherland
Subject: re: Astronomer's Control Panel Software Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 15:14:21 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: "Mike" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I really suspect that your cable is incorrectly wired. First, the Windows Device Manager only "tests" the internal PC components of the COM port hardware, not the external hookup. It will say "working properly" even if the connector was (carefully) sheared off with an axe. To test the systems involved, try the steps listed at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html have fun --dickAnd:
From: "Mike" (email@example.com) Thanks Mike, but what does the Autostar have to do with the connection between my computer and the telescope? I'm gonna check out Dick's suggestion. Thanks for the 497 update info. MikeMike here: If you want the computer to control the telescope, the Autostar has to be in the loop. The computer sends commands to the Autostar, which then controls the telescope.
O.K., I've been losing it then, because I've been going directly to the aux port on the telescope. I thought that's the way ACP worked...So, I've been doing this all wrong?? Thanks!! MikeMike here: #505 serial cable connects between the Autostar and the serial port on the computer. The Autostar connects normally to the telescope.
Subject: Time/Date Entry Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 02:03:21 From: "Merv" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hi, I wonder if you can tell me why the Autostar #497 software doesn't store & update the Time/date from session to session as many other programs that use these data do, Astro/Satellite/Ham Radio? Thanks Alan TindalMike here: As Ashton-Tate (the software company, now gone) used to tell me when I was beta testing one of their products and commenting on some interface issues, "that's the way it is designed". The Autostar does remember the last entered date but always defaults to 8pm (or 20h) on power-on. In order to maintain a running clock when powered off would require a real-time clock and a backup battery. That would add costs. Those other programs you mention use your computer's clock.
Subject: Astronomer's Control Panel Software Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 11:06:56 From: "Mike" (email@example.com) Several folks recommended I get with you on this. Do you have any experience, or can you give me any advice on how to troubleshoot this program not communicating with my scope. I've literally tried everything. Bob Denney suggested going to HyperTerminal and typing in #.GS# to no avail. It was supposed to provoke communication from my scope (ETX-125EC) which it didn't. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!! MikeMike here: There are some articles on the Autostar Info page on testing the Autostar comm. If you need the newest ACP, get it from their web site (link on the Astronomy Links page). As to why the Autostar is not talking to your telescope, I need more info, like what error message are you getting? Typically it is a com port conflict that keeps it from talking to the computer.
Thanks for the quick response. The specific error verbiage I'm getting from ACP is, "Scope failed to respond to initial command. Check your serial cable and verify scope is powered up." I do have the latest version of ACP. Checked all the pinouts at Bill Arnett's site per the online help menu--and they're good. I went to Device Manager to verify that the port was O.K. Can't see anything openly assigned to port 1. Tried using HyperTerm and typed #:GS# and the scope still didn't respond--This was a test recommended by Bob Denney. Many thanks! Mike MazzilliMike here: I still suspect a com port conflict or a problems with your Windows configuration. Does the Meade Autostar Update Application see the Autostar?
Not sure I understand what you're asking here. Could you please explain. What update?Mike here: Meade has a free application on their website that allows you to update the #497 Autostar. Get it from
Subject: clock Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 09:37:56 From: Stan Hewlett (firstname.lastname@example.org) I Just received lxd55 10 inch newtonian, the auto star slews by alignment stars,sometimes it trys to slew around in circles, I bought meades astrofinder software and the control panel tells me that the scope clock is set for feb 7 2006 when I had set it for april 9 2004, I did the training several times, checked motors, any suggestions? STan HewlettMike here: As to the Autostar, be certain you have set the mount, CALIBRATED, and TRAINED DRIVES. As to the ACP, you need the update from their site (see the Astronomy Links page on the ETX Site).
Subject: ETX125 Autostar help needed. Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 09:30:53 From: "Steven Gill" (email@example.com) have recently purchased a Meade ETX125 and I am having problems with the Autostar controller. In Manual mode using the arrow keys, it will only move along the vertical. When I try and move either left OR right it just makes a horrible whinning noise. Can anyone help please? SteveMike here: Couple of thoughts: Don't overtighten the axis. And did you set the telescope model and mounting mode, and do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? Don't forget that you have to TRAIN DRIVES on both axes separately.
Many thanks for the quick response. I have set the telescope model and mount settings. When I CALIBRATE or TRAIN Drives the telescope will not slew along the ra axis. I have tried the axis lock at varying tightnesses, still no joy. Once again thanks for you swift response. SteveMike here: What happens if you change the slewing speed to be faster?
How do i change the slewing speed? I'll try anything, I'd hate to have to send it back!!!Mike here: Use the number keys, 1 is the slowest and 9 the fastest.
Nope same thing Mike. It'll move about 5mm in each direction but thats all. :-( SteveMike here: Not good. One other thought: if you have a #505 cable and Windows, update the Autostar software from Meade's site.
I agree its not looking good. I've only had it just over a month so have email the suppliers asking for a replacement or refund. Many thanks for you help.
Subject: Lat/Long Date: 4/8/04, 08:50 From: Doug and Louise Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org) Do you know of away other than GPS to get your location?Mike here: See the "Latitude/Longitude Lookup" on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject: problems with extending the autostar cable Date: 12/8/99, 11:21 From: Tom Ross (email@example.com) Hope you can post this on your excellent site: I read with interest all the posts from Dick and others re making a longer cable to replace the curly autostar one I (not the 'extend the existing curly cable method'). So I obtained a 100 meter drum (15! here from my local stockist in Lancashire England) of unshielded 24awg twisted pair cat 5 cable and some RG 45 plugs and a crimping tool.I I made a cable up (about 6m in length) and DOUBLE checked all connections ...I have made it up exactly as the curly lead is wired (ie pin 1 to pin 8 etc) and understand fully the way it is wired. I checked for continuity with my multimeter of all pins at each plug end and all are showing continuity with no shorts between pins on the same plug. However on trying it it just doesn't work! ...the handbox display is just blank. So I made another lead up this time about 5 meters in length and still no joy! Tried the curly cable and it works great. I am powering my ETX 105 with a car battery so a volt drop shouldn't be a problem. Has anyone any ideas. Thanks in advance. Tom Ross
Subject: re: ETX 90 Alignment in the Southern Hemisphere Date: 4/7/04, 21:46 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: email@example.com If you are Alt/Az mounted, the Southern Hemisphere is done *exactly* by the book (the same as the north) Power panel facing WEST Telescope pointing NORTH before powering up. (i just returned from 3 weeks in New Zealand with my ETX90, and i really have done it that way... it works!) have fun --dickAnd:
From: Alejandro Bascolo (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you for your suggestions! I just returned from a 2600 mts. trip to an open mining complex to show them our southern jewels and they were astonished! I will send you pics as soon as I setup again in the city. Best regards, Alejandro.
Subject: re: Star GPS Date: 4/7/04, 21:43 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Have you tried communicating with Chris Carson, the StarGPS inventor? (i've forwarded your posting to him). email@example.com Stunning Customer service is one of his goals. In the meantime, does your Autostar start up by saying "Looking for GPS" ?? If it does, then you have loaded the firmware correctly, and it's a connection problem to the GPS (or a dead GPS, or the GPS plugged into the wrong hole) If the Autostar does NOT say that message before asking you to key in the Time, then StarPatch has not fully loaded the StarGPS code. So please describe that watershed diagnostic, and we'll take it from there... good luck --dickAnd:
From: Job Geheniau (job@Studioa.nl) You need SPECIAL autostar software which is included in the stargps software!. Job Geheniau The NetherlandsAnd:
From: Chris Carson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dick Seymour informed of your problem posted at Mike Weasner's site. It sounds like you did not do an "Update Autostar" using StarPatch. This step is very important since it adds the GPS Setup capability to the Autostar. Try this and you will see that the Autostar then says "Checking for GPS". Refer to the instruction sheet or see http://www.stargps.ca/manual.htm#gps Regards, Chris Carson PixSoft Inc.
Subject: re: software connecton problem Date: 4/7/04, 21:36 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Try the tests listed at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html this gives you direct control/command of the serial line, rather than hiding it behind StarryNight or the Updater. good luck --dickAnd:
From: "Violette, Daniel R" (email@example.com) Paul, I have not seen a laptop with 2 comports (they may exist). Do you have 2 actual serial ports on that laptop? COM2 would be the second port and may be only set-up in the operating system (maybe for the internal modem), but no actual external port. You should be using COM1 I suspect. Dan Violette
Subject: re: Autostar problem Date: 4/7/04, 21:32 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: email@example.com, (SOMEday Mike will internalize this answer :-) Whenever the Autostar says "Slewing.." but doesn't move, the answer is always(*) "press ENTER before pressing GOTO" Now why were the Tours behaving differently, you ask? Because there are -two- ways to put an object in a tour. One is to just name it, as in "PLANET VENUS" and the other is to put the words "AUTO SELECT" in there, as in "AUTO SELECT PLANET VENUS" The "AUTO SELECT" in effect presses the "Enter" for you. That's what the -auto- commands: "automatically select it", rather than merely present it as a possibility. Tonight's Best uses Auto Select. have fun --dick * footnote: "always" = 99.5%
Subject: Re: Malfunctioning ETX after software update Date: 4/7/04, 15:34 From: Daniel Otto (firstname.lastname@example.org) I just wanted to let you know my ETX works again. After trying your suggestion, I called Meade Europe (I live in the Netherlands) and brought it to the Meade Europe factory in Germany. The service there was great. They told me to just go shop in town and that I could pick it up 2 hours later. They told me that there were problems with the electronics, but they didn't know what caused them. They replaced all electronic parts for free, including the Autostar remote. The ETX works perfect now. I just have to wait for a clear sky to try it out. I want to thank you for your help and advice and for making the best and most informative ETX-site on the web. Best regards, Daniel
Subject: Autostar problem Date: 4/7/04, 14:34 From: Jack Fox (email@example.com) I have an EX 125 with Autostar Version 26E. I've had it for a few months and are still learning. I always run the "Tonight's Best" to help learn the various objects. My "GO To's" are very good and both motors run well. Last night after setting up and doing a 2 star alignment, I tried using the "Double Star" tour for a change. After selecting a star, I pressed the Go To button and the Autostar read "Slewing, but the motors did not run and the scope did not move. I checked the RA and Dec locks and all were secure, not over tight or loose. I tried it several more times and even changed Tours to Solar System and Deep Sky with the same results. I then switched back to Guided Tours and Tonight's Best and the scope was fine again, slewing to the objects selected, no problems. All the other Autostar functions seem to work. It initializes fine and 2 star aligns just fine. Any clues? I do not have the cables to down load the newest version of Autostar. Do I need to send the Autostar controller back to Meade? Jack FoxMike here: If you are certain you pressed GOTO for each object, then I would recommend updating to the current version. If you have Windows and a serial port, you can easily make a #505 cable using the info on the Autostar Info page and the software (free) from Meade's site.
And an update:
I figured it out. After working with the Autostar controller for about an hour, I discovered what I did wrong. For all the other Tours such as Tonight's Best or Solar System, after you scroll to whatever object you want to see, you push "Go To" and it takes you there. But for the Double Stars Tour, you have to scroll to the star, then push enter and then push Go To, otherwise if you hit Go To first the scope will not move.
Subject: GOTO slewing is WAY off Date: 4/6/04, 20:35 From: Andrew McKelvy (firstname.lastname@example.org) Well, tonight I decided to get the scope out (ETX-09 w/ Autostar) and look at some double star systems but my telescope wouldn't cooperate. Last night I was downloading satellite orbital elements to my Autostar but when I was done I forgot to turn it off and the batteries were dead this morning (whoops). When I turned the scope on and put in the date and time it kept wanting to slew in the RA. I stopped the continuous slewing problem by simply running a motor calibration. Later, when I tried to polar align the scope, the pointing was way off. The object that was supposed to be centered was off by something like 15 degrees. I turned the scope off, made sure I was in the proper home position, leveled the tripod a second time, and tried alignment again with the same results, the target was well out of sight. I thought maybe since my batteries died and I had to recalibrate I should try to retrain my drives, so I did. This helped very little, if at all. Maybe I just didn't train properly. What do you think, Mike? Would my batteries going out affect my drive training or anything else in a way that my GOTOs are off? (It seems like it was the RA drive that had trouble. the Dec was pretty close, but I had to slew left or right a good ways) Any help you or your readers could give would be greatly appreciated. I'm hoping tonight was just a bad night. :-/Mike here: Well, there might have been a clue in your comments: "off by something like 15 degrees". Sounds like one hour. Did you forget to change the Daylight Savings Setting?
I'm fairly certain that I had the correct Daylight Savings setting. The default date/time/daylight settings say april 6th/8pm/yes so I'm assuming that since i says yes to daylight that I was using it last night, although I will make sure I was this evening.Mike here: You always say "yes" to Daylight Savings? Are you in an area (assuming you are in the US) that doesn't change?
And an update:
AHH! There is no need to wait until tonight to find out if you were right about the daylight setting. I just realized that my GPS receiver doesn't automatically account for daylight savings. Yet another victim of the dreaded time change. Thank Mike. Make sure all of your clocks are right ;)
Subject: software connecton problem Date: 4/7/04, 02:36 From: paul beresford (email@example.com) I recently bought an ETX 125, and a laptop to control it. I installed the software, starry night and ACP, no problem, and connected the 505-cable set that came with it according to the instructions. When I try and connect with the starry night "telescope / open connection" menu command using COM 2 communications port, I get the message "there appears to be no scope attached to your computer". When I try and connect with ACP I get "scope failed to respond to initial command, check serial cable and make sure the telescope is turned on". I know the serial port is ok, I can enable and disable it with the device manager, which tells me it is working properly. I know the cable and plug are ok, I have the same software installed on my PC and I get a connection first time every time when I try and connect in the same way, and it doesn't seem to matter in what order I switch the scope on or start the software. (I know, I've tried every combination). I have the "hallo northern sky" program and ASCOM drivers as well and they work fine with the 125 using the LX 200 settings on my PC, but again, not on the laptop. I tried reloading COM device using the find new hardware command after removing it with the device manager and now COM2 is COM 1 and still "there appears to be no scope, etc" despite the fact I have set the com ports accordingly in the preferences of ACP. My com port numbers have now become reversed, but that should not be a problem. I also tried reloading the software but still no joy. Because the components all work individually, the soft ware, the laptop, the cable and connectors, the scope and autostar, but not together, no one know what's to be done. The laptop is a IBM thinkpad 380 (P1 166, 32Mb RAM) and both PC and laptop use Win 95. I trawled most of your excellent site looking for similar problems and found one similar entry for an ETX 70, but no conclusive answer. Any advice gratefully received. Paul B.Mike here: Since the pieces work individually, hard to say. It sounds like you have ruled out a com port conflict and since ACP is working, perhaps you have the latest version (if not, get it from their website). Other than that, I'm stumped too.
Subject: Star GPS Date: 4/6/04, 04:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I purchased a StarGPS receiver and have attemted to load it onto my autostar (I have a Mead LX90 which I purchase last summer) but the AutoStar does not recognize it. I have repeated the process several times. The StarPatch software seems to load ok, and I have tried the reset function on the autostar (several times). The last time I used the scope it didn't even say it was searching for GPS as I believe it' supposed to after going through the initialization. Can you help me? Ron WellmanMike here: I don't have one so don't know for certain what might be wrong. Are you running the current version of the Autostar software (3.1Ee)?
Yes I believe I am. I did an update on the Autostar recently.
Subject: ETX 90 Alignment in the Southern Hemisphere Date: 4/5/04, 12:15 From: Alejandro Bascolo (email@example.com) Coming back to your wonderful site! I came back to my country (Argentina), which is located in the southern hemisphere with this wonderful scope. Regarding the alignment tips (which were written for the northen hemisphere users...), the tripod should be oriented towards the north, and then level the OTA wrt that cardinal point. In my case, should I need to orient the tripod toward south? Then the computer panel should be facing to the east, instead of west? I've been having troubles with the autostar, since it considers Jupiter below horizon when I have it almost at the zenith. I reset, calibrated and retrain drives since then by with no luck so far. Could it be any special tip for alignment tip for the southern guys? Thank you very much! Alejandro Bascolo.Mike here: There are a couple of Southern Hemisphere articles in the Alignment section of the Autostar Info page.
Subject: Polar Alignment Date: 4/5/04, 11:33 From: Doug and Louise Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org) I followed the steps on your site to do a Polar Alignment with AutoStar 497 and I did a Two Star Alignment and it seemed to be off. I am fairly certain I did the scope alignment correctly to Polaris. When it did get to the star cappella and it said Center and press Enter. The arrow keys would not move the scope at all. Do I need to center the star when I am doing a Two Star Alignment, while Polar Aligned and why did the arrow keys not move? Do you have any information on how to use the AutoStar? The manual does not have a lot of information. Thank You You website is wonderful. Doug ReynoldsMike here: There is a lot of Autostar usage info on the Autostar Info page. You might want to read through the alignment tips. Yes, you still need to center the alignment stars even though polar aligned. As to slewing to center the stars, did you try increasing the slew speed? I usually use a speed of 5 or 7 for centering.
Thanks for the information. I got it to work pretty good, Thank you. There is one thing the first object I went to was Venus and it was dead on in the center. Then I went to Saturn and then Jupiter and they were off and I had to move them to center. Any Ideas? It seems like the first time I tried to align it, it slewed closer to Capella and Dubhe. This time I had to move it more to get it centered on Capella and Dubhe. Any ideas on why this is happening? Also if I am in Polar Alignment should I be able to turn my RA and the North Star stay in the center or will it move slightly? Thank you so much for all you help. I have the AutoStar bug now. I have had my Autostar for a year and have not used it. I was intimidated. But since I have found your site I have become more learned and confident. Thanks DougMike here: Glad you got it working OK. If you have the mount itself perfectly polar aligned, you can move the telescope in RA and Polaris will revolve about the North Celestial Pole (which is about a degree away) but the NCP would stay centered. When using the Autostar it will try to do the same thing. As to why some objects were off, could be a reTRAINing is necessary. Also, check the date/time/location, as those can make a difference for non-fixed astronomical objects.
Subject: re: Finally tried to align Date: 4/4/04, 22:15 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org As Mike said, the noise may be normal (in current versions of the firmware, the telescope starts its sidereal drive at the alignment stars... that DOES sound somewhat like its chewing gravel.. slowly.) You can hear the sidereal drive without other factors by turning on the scope, answering time/date/daylight with [enter][enter][enter]. Then (facing Align/Easy), tap [mode] You're now seeing Setup/Align Tap [scroll down] a few times until you see Setup / Targets Tap [enter], then scroll down to Astronomical Tap [enter] The sidereal drive just started... does that sound like the Sound at Sirius? good luck --dick
Subject: re: "Check Mount" message using polar setup Date: 4/4/04, 22:11 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org The setting which is causing that is the Setup > Telescope > MAx Elevation set it to 90 and press [enter]. (even if it already -says- 90) have fun --dick
Subject: "Check Mount" message using polar setup Date: 4/1/04, 20:03 From: Andrew McKelvy (email@example.com) I've been using my scope/autostar in the polar setup and almost every time I tell it to slew to something I get a message telling me to check the mount because it may be close to a hardstop, even when the OTA is pointing straight up and there is no chance it will hit one. My question is: Is it possible to turn off the "check mount" message when slewing to an object in the polar alignment setup? If so, how can this be done? ThanksMike here: What version are you using? If not the current one, 3.1Ee, you should upgrade it. Also, check the connections and be certain the cable is fully connected. It shouldn't give you the message if you have done the proper CW/CCW rotations for the Polar HOME position.
Subject: Finally tried to align Date: 4/1/04, 18:55 From: Brian Starkey (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just wanted to know your opinion on this. I finally broke out the ETX90 (have had it for two weeks now and weather has been terrible) on my dining room table. Although I haven't gone through motor training yet, I decided to give it a quick align to see what it would do. Well, going through the motions (turn counter clockwise until it stops, then clockwise until fork is over computer control, then face north) Autostar told me it was looking for Sirius. After checking, it was around the correct area of the sky, but as it got there, the scope slowed In movement and the motors began to make this sound as if they were really struggling (Like something was stopping it inside.) Was wondering if you might have some insight on this? Thanks in advance, BrianMike here: First off, do the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. As to the different sound when it GOTOs, it is fine tuning the position. That could account for the different sound you hear.
Subject: Problems aligning ETX 125 Date: 4/1/04, 11:32 From: email@example.com I purchased a etx 125, and now wonder if I am out of my depth? Maybe its me being thick ! I just cannot get to grips with the alignment to enable me to use the goto system. I got your book, which is very good, but am still no wiseryou think this is the problem?? only joking. Please help Mike. . I am calling from England, doMike here: There are several alignment articles on the Autostar Info page; read through them. Play with the telescope indoors until you understand the steps. If you have specific problems, let me know.
Subject: Controlling an ETX125 with Meade's ACP software Date: 4/1/04, 03:45 From: Tim Poole (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a problem trying to control an ETX125 with an Autostar #497 via Meade's ACP software and was hoping that you may be able to help. I recently purchased Meade's Astrofinder software and connection kit and when I first installed this onto my PC and connected it to the telescope everything worked fine. I then did not use the scope for some time and now when I try and use this software it keeps coming up with an error message saying that no telescope was detected and to check both power and control connections which I have done and both appear to be OK. (The operation system my PC uses is Windows XP Home edition.) Out of desperation I took the supplied plug that connects the PC (via the COMs port)to the Autostar controller apart to see if the wiring was OK and out of the 6 wires within this unit only 3 appear to be used, the others are just left unconnected inside the plug. Do you know if this is correct and if it is do you have any ideas where else the problem could lie. Regards.Mike here: Do you have the latest version of the ACP software? Get it from their website. ACP is not Meade's software; use the link on the Astronomy Links page for the Astronomer's Control Panel.
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