AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 30 April 2004
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade Autostar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, is covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject:	LPI & Autostar Menu
Sent:	Friday, April 30, 2004 12:39:24
From:	"b1rxpb88" (dkmccoll@sympatico.ca)
I am a beginner, just finding my way through LPI and its confusing
manuals.  I am using the " Autostar via Comm Port " protocol  to connect
to my ETX125, but cannot bring up the Autostar menu. Is this only
available with the "Remote Handbox" protocol? Thank you for any help you
may be able to give!!!
    Keith McColl
    
Mike here: I suggest reading through my "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page. And I suspect you are getting the com port conflict.
Subject:	A heads-up about the Meade LPI Suite
Sent:	Friday, April 30, 2004 10:06:56
From:	"Dave Wallace" (d_wallace@ecrm.com)
I just checked Meade's website and there's a newer version of the LPI
software available for downloading.

http://www.meade.com/autostar/update/

Some interesting additions.
And:
Subject:	Meade posts Autostar Suite update
Sent:	Friday, April 30, 2004 12:37:06
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Visit:
http://www.meade.com/autostar/update/

to download a (nearly) 4 megabyte update to the 
Autostar Suite package.

The -previous- update affected the LPI Imager program.
This update affects everything else (the StarMap, the
Image Processor, etc.)

Details at the page cited above.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: It is version 3.16a.
Subject:	Autostar Suite User Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, April 20, 2004 06:19:25
From:	"Dave Wallace" (d_wallace@ecrm.com)
Like several other people who have sent you email, I had trouble with
the 505 cable Meade supplied with the Autostar Suite.  In my case, the
cable was mis-wired.  (The data-in and data-out of wires were
interchanged.)  Since I didn't have the tools to replace the connectors
on the telephone-style (black) cable, I solved the problem by re-wiring
the DB-9 connector in the adapter. But I suppose I was lucky; had other
wires been crossed instead, circuit damage might have resulted.

The moral of the story is that had I not first attempted to run the
software with my own home-built 505 (thanks again for the wiring
diagrams for that!), I'd have been looking for software conflicts on the
com port when the problem was actually hardware-related.  (Why I thought
to initially try the stuff with my own cable I have no idea, but I'm
glad I did.)

Ringing out a cable during manufacture seems like a no-brainer to me. 
Too bad Meade can't get the simple stuff right; they do such a good job
with the optics.

Subject:	re:  AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
Sent:	Sunday, April 18, 2004 23:00:07
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Yes, the Autostar Suite serial cable and the 505 cable are exactly
the same (i use them interchangably).

Since they both do the same =job= (serial communications to
the autostar), it stands to reason they'd be the same.

have fun
--dick
And:
Thanks for the info.  Given that the #505 is the same, I think I will
just live with the solution I have now.  If it becomes too annoying,
then I will make my own.

Many thanks for your help.

Kind regards,
Bill
Mike here: There have been some reports of bad #505 cables shipped with the Autostar Suite however.

And:

Yes, i took the inference of his question to be that he -had- 
a 505, and was wondering if he could use it in place.

(egad... seeking subtle nuances in -between- the lines of email...
what -was- i thinking? ('twas a long day))

have fun
--dick

Subject:	AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
Sent:	Thursday, April 15, 2004 11:15:18
From:	"William Pinnington" (bpinnington@hotmail.com)
Thought I would provide some feedback about the DB-9 to RJ11 adapter
that is included with the LPI and Autostar Suite.  Like Jim Beston
(April 7th), I had been struggling to get my computer to "find" my
telescope.  Not knowing which link in the chain to start with, I went to
your website and Jim's email made me check the DB-9 to RJ11 adapter.

After discovering the loose female connectors, dismantling/putting back
together properly/wiggling the autostar #497 serial cable, it eventually
connected.  However, the slightest movement and it disconnects.  I can
now take some comfort in knowing where the problem is and how to work
around it.

Thought I would share this with your readers incase anyone else is
having a similar problem.

I am thinking of making my own cable and adapter in order to get a
robust solution.  I was also wondering if the adapter and cable included
with the Autostar Suite is the same as the #505 cable which seems work
for most of the people most of the time?

As always, many thanks for your dedication to the site.

Kind regards,
Bill Pinnington
Manchester, UK

Subject:	Autostar suite
Sent:	Sunday, April 11, 2004 14:10:22
From:	"Roger Killackey" (roger@inlandcm.com)
Ok so Meade sells a nice little LPI with USB connections. Cool. The
connections are easy.

But what is with the rs232 jack to a serial connector? My laptop
computers are all new and do not have serial connections. I tried a
couple of serial to USB adapters Belkin and Cyber power and still cannot
get a connection. I played around with com port changes to no avail.
Help please.

Ardmore, OK
Mike here: The Autostar uses a serial connection, hence the RS-232 adapter. Meade sells a separate product to convert it to use on a USB port on a Windows computer. I've successfully used a Keyspan serial-USB converter on my Macintosh (they also have a Windows driver).

And:

Coolness.  Your email made me think of updating the Belkin converter.
The CD it came had a Windows XP driver however the update allowed it to
work. Thanks.

It does surprise me though that a new LX200 14" would not come with a
USB converter.  Thanks.

Subject: Problems with Autostar connections
Date: 4/7/04, 05:22
From: Jim.Beston@questintl.com
To: etx@me.com
You may remember that in March I had problems with getting my Autostar
Suite connections set up and working between my PC and 105. At the time
I thought I was simply doing something wrong and I eventually got it to
work.

Lately I have again had difficulties with the connections and I have now
traced the problem to the adaptor which connects to the serial port of
the PC and to the cable to the Hand box. This adaptor is supplied with
the LPI imager:

The hollow pins in the female "D" plug side were not fixed firmly in
place and were able to slide a little in their plastic housing. This
meant that they were not contacting one or more of the male pins - I
think three of the nine are actually used.

It is possible to prise appart the plastic housing on the adaptor to
gain access to the female pins. I have now wedged these forward in the
adaptor and everthing works, every time.

I obviously wasn't the idiot I first thought I was. I hope this helps
others and alerts Meade to the problem.

Kind Regards
Jim

Subject: Re: Problems connecting a laptop to a LXD55 and getting Autostar suite working (from the March 2004 feedback)
Date: 4/6/04, 12:32
From: Lankreijer-Kroon (jam.lankreijer@quicknet.nl)
I had the drivers installed from the beginning. In the meantime I have
searched on the Internet for more recent drivers, but I could not find
any. Keyspan and Belkin USB-serial converters are obtainable in the
Netherlands, but do you think they will make the difference ? As far as
I can see, there are no special references to the Meade bridge cable on
your site; I suppose that means that this cable does not have exclusive
characteristics.
Jos Lankreijer
Mike here: I can't speak about the Belkin from experience but the Keyspan one works fine on my Macintosh for both Mac OS X and Windows 2000 access to the Autostar. I seem to recall one report of the Meade cable working OK for Windows users.

Subject: autosuite software
Date: 4/6/04, 11:14
From: Margaret Cain (mt@mcain.freeserve.co.uk)
Just bought the autosuite & LPI.  Works OK on my desktop PC which runs
XP, but started installing it on my laptop which has Windows 98 and
encountered a problem. The autosuite side of things seem to work OK but
when I click on Image and try to access LPI imaging from the drop down
menu I get the following message

'A required DLL file MSCOREE.DLL is required.'

I have tried deleting the program and reinstalling, but still get the
same problem.  Wondered if you had come across this problem before, or
if you had any ideas.
 
Thanks,
 
Margaret Cain
Lancashire. England.
Mike here: I don't know if this will help but there is an update to the Autostar Suite available on Meade's Autostar Suite Troubleshooting page (http://www.meade.com/autostar/tsguide.html). There is also a new Quick Start Guide on this page, which adds serial cable instructions for the Autostar #497. There is a FAQ page at http://www.meade.com/autostar/faq.html, which currently mentions a Microsoft file error that may occur during installation.

Subject: LTI
Date: 4/5/04, 18:20
From: Gerald Jenny (gjenn@earthlink.net)
Well the saga is still running I got my desktop computer to run Meade
Autostar Suite but as of yet the laptop is not having anything to do
with it I called Meade and they said they would send me another
disk.Waht I don't under stand is why one works and not the other.I have
a HP Pavilion N3215 with 256mg memory running Windows XP Pro that is the
same OS I run on the desktop. So as soon as I receive the other disk
I'll let you know if that works.Boy what a chore.
 
Gerald Jenny
gjenn@earthlink.net
Mike here: Could be almost anything causing the problem. If you did the updates as I noted in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page then you should have the latest version. But perhaps something was wrong with the CD and it didn't install everything properly.

And:

well as of yet I have not received anything from Meade so I went ahead
and downloaded all the critical update from Micreosoft it took al nite
after that I reinstalled the Meade Autostar suite It did load as per
advertised and then I tried it out and got a picture very fuzzy,but  a
picture no the less will work on that some more.I guess the moral of
this exercise is to dowload all of the critical updates from
Microsoft.I'am still not sure why the picture is so fuzzy but I know my
desktop is a lot faster and I get a fair picture from it Maybe the
faster the CPU the better the Picture.Any other thing you can think of
let me know Jerry
Mike here: Glad you got it working. Fuzzy image can be due to many things: out of focus, image/telescope movement, etc.

And:

A big thanks for suport as always your web site is awsume keep up the great
work  ew all need suport at time and to have some one like you is really
the greatest Thank again and clear skies Jerry 

Subject: re: Dome Control
Date: 4/4/04, 22:37
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: blaisdell25@charter.net
There are two answers to your questions
(or two questions needing answering)

The first is the AutostarSuite Dome Control:
no one knows what it's supposed to control.
We're all guessing that it's some as-yet unannounced Meade dome controller.

That aside, there are a number of dome-control systems
which can work with your PC or Autostar.
Most were designed to work with the classic LX200,
which has -two- serial ports.
The PC would connect to one (telling the telescope
where to go), and the dome would connect to the other,
and would -ask- the LX200 where it was pointing.
Then the Dome controller would move the slit to keep
up with the telescope's motions.

If you were using an Autostar, without a PC, such
Dome Controllers would work with it, too.
But the Autostar has only one serial port, so it
would be slightly difficult to combine PC control
of the Autostar, -and- Dome-asks-Autostar dome control.

But there are also Dome Control systems which operate
with a PC, instead of with an LX200.
------
On the "who does it" front, i Google'd "observatory dome control",
( http://www.google.com ) and found a goodly number of hits. 
Some are:
http://www.homedome.com
http://directory.google.com/Top/Science/Astronomy/Business/Domes_and_Observatories/
http://www.astronomical.com/DomeControl.htm
http://www.company7.com/techin/
http://www.bisque.com/Products/SBOS/Default.asp

to name a few.
There's also a few Yahoo groups dedicated to the home observatory crowd:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eots-robotics-telescope-observatory/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/newastro_remote/
..
oh, heck... just view the list yourself:
http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=observatory&sc=-1&sg=20&ss=1
(there were 93 hits, many irrelevant to your needs, and i can't
even see the one i was -looking- for.. no, wait.. here it is:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Amateur_Astronomical_Observatories/
and
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/home_dome_users/

have fun
--dick

Subject: Autostar Suite problem.
Date: 4/4/04, 10:22
From: Richard Shoesmith (r_shoesmith@madasafish.com)
Just thought I'd share this with other users who may be experiencing
problems getting the 'Suite' to recognize or communicate with the
Autostar.

My initial attempts to connect continually resulted in Com 1 timeouts
and Autostar not present messages. I knew some communication was going
on because as soon as I powered up the laptop ( Win XP ), the Autostar
screen would go blank.

Com protocols were fine, no modem interfering ( Com 4 ).

Not having any method of checking the integrity of the supplied serial
connector cable I substituted my tried and tested #505 cable and
everything worked flawlessly. I think this is worth a try if you having
similar problems.

Regards,

Richard Shoesmith

Orkney, UK.

Subject: Dome Control
Date: 4/2/04, 06:10
From: The Blaisdells (blaisdell25@charter.net)
I recently purchased an LPI and noticed a dome control feature but have
not the foggiest idea how one would make a connection to one. I have an
ETX 125 EC. Am I out of luck? I am considering construction af a 7 ft.
dome. This would really be perfection. Richard W. Blaisdell
Mike here: If you make a dome with remote control capabilities you could use that feature.

And:

Any suggestion as to how the connection would be made? Is it via the AUX
port on my scope or directly to the computer? I am confused. If
constructed,it would be a homebrew projectand not factory made.
Suggestions for construction of motor assembly or a  link to info also
appreciated. Please post my email address in case any one visiting your
site could offer help. Thanks again, Rick.
Mike here: I had assumed it would be a serial connection between the computer and the dome control electronics. As to sources, all I can suggest is to search the Internet. Let me know what you find.

And:

I've searched the web with no avail as to dome controls. 

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