Last updated: 26 April 2005
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	RE: Autostar spouting code rather than information
Sent:	Monday, April 25, 2005 02:04:50
From:	Laurence Sillars (
Dear Mike and Dick

Many thanks for your previous email. It appears as though it is just the
information on Dubhe that is amiss -- whenever I select this object
(regardless of whether or not I have slewed to it) it spouts the same
code -- I guess it is just a programming error, but it would be good to
know if it appears on your handsets.

I now seem to be facing another problem -- a complete inability to make
the telescope align. Although this was done with ease the first few
times I used it, the last couple of times I have tried it just didn't
work. From my back yard there have been three stars visibly bright
enough to align on over the last week or so (Dubhe, Arcturus and
Regulus). I have tried all methods of aligning on a combination of these
on an Alt/Az mount but to no avail -- it either says align failed or
claims that it has been successful but then obviously isn't when I
select another object at it goes hugely wide of the mark. I have double
checked the stars are what I think they are on Starry Night and am
confident that my initial placing of the scope in 'home position'/north
was good. Feeling a little depressed but will keep trying!

All best to you both, 

Mike here: What happens when you let the Autostar pick the stars? Is the alignment successful? Keep in mind that when picking stars manually they should be about 90 degrees apart and ideally not near the celestial equator nor pole.


For the last few days it has picked Arcturus first. The next two or
three generally aren't visible from my garden so I go to the 3rd, 4th or
even 5th -- Pollox or Dubhe. I guess it gets less accurate each time you
stop it moving by scrolling down to the next option. However, even if I
do centre on a second alignment star it says 'align successful' but it
obviously isn't. Should I try a reset?

Many thanks again Mike!
Mike here: If your HOME position is very accurate, then you can select the stars as centered as centered, especially the second one, even if you can't see them. The more accurate the starting point the more accurate the alignment will be in this case. You can RESET, but then you will need to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES again.


From:	Richard Seymour (
>... However, even if I
>do centre on a second alignment star it says 'align successful' but it
>obviously isn't.

This is a bug/"feature" i've noticed (to put it mildly) in v33El
(and 33Ef, for that matter... i haven't chased it further back)...
It appears to be almost (if not truly) impossible to get it to
declare "Alignment Failed, Check Stars"

> Should I try a reset?

It won't help in the slightest....

As Mike said: align as accurately as you can, and an accurate
(barrel level and due north for Alt/Az) starting position helps.

have fun

Sent:	Sat, 23 Apr 2005 18:47:40
From:	"Damp" (
I don't know if it's correct requesting help here but my heart is
pounding with panic!

I was updating the Autostar hand set on my new ETX125 and the PC crashed
mid way, my hand set now shows a blank screen and my PC can't see it via
the com port to upgrade, what can I do to sort this out?
Denton Prior, Isle of Skye.
Mike here: Just found out that your email was rejected due to the blank subject. Apologies for that but it is discussed in the Email Etiquette on the ETX Home Page. Please read that item. Thanks.
You may just need to put the Autostar in SAFE LOAD mode; hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on the ETX. Then launch the Autostar Update application; it should detect that the Autostar is in FLASH LOAD mode and allow you to reload the ROM.


Thank you for your super quick response, now I can take a breath, 20%
and rising.

I was in a panic when I fired off the first email, I then found the
'Email Etiquette' and so followed the request. Thank you again for your
help, much obliged.

I've wanted a telescope for years (I'm 44) but could never justify the
expense but three weeks ago I gave in and got the ETX125 (I wanted the
LX200 but need to build my house first!). A nice optical device.  I've
looked at your fantastic web site and downloaded details on rectifying
mechanical problems.

The reason I attempted a reload was that I received a warning about
motor error last night and the tracking was odd, jerky.  The hand
controller was acting very oddly too when I went outside to
look,blinking dull, bright. Battery low was my first thought as I was
deliberately running down the rechargeable.  This morning I was looking
at the Sun using a power supply and noticed that the tracking was still 
'jerky'.  When I brought the equipment inside I could hear a
'clunk-clunk' as the scope was tracking.  I figured that the low battery
could have caused some corruption and so 'attempted' to reload.

I've treated the device like a jewel since I received it and hope that
the problem is simple.

100% Update complete, problem solved.

Thank you once more for you quick help, Yours is the best ETX web site
in the world, I've already got images of the classic Jupiter, Saturn and
moon and when I'm happy that its the best I can get out of the ETX I'll
send some in.

Denton Prior, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Subject:	re:  Autostar spouting code rather than information
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2005 22:48:47
From:	Richard Seymour (
Laurence Sillars said:
>Many thanks to you both -- I will let you know what happens (although,
>looking at the clouds through the window, probably not tonight!). LS

??why wait??

I always recommend testing this kind of thing =indoors= in the warm
(or cool) and dry...  why wait until a (rare) good observing night
to find out the Autostar is coughing hairballs?

Your symptoms certainly don't need real stars for testing.

have fun, good luck

Subject:	Question about ETX 125AT
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2005 04:04:09
From:	Philippos (
I am a new user of Meade ETX 125AT and I have some questions. The most
experienced person that can answer me these questions is you. Here are
my questions:

1. What Daylight savings means. What the telescope performs when this
function is switched to Yes and what when it is switched in No.

2. When I am trying to align it no bright star appear in the eyepiece.
All the stars have the same brightness.


Philippos Isaia
Mike here: Some countries (like the United States and Great Britain) will change times during the year. Sometimes they will move an hour ahead, then six or so months later, move an hour back. The Autostar allows for the local time correction. If your locale does not change times then just select NO. The alignment stars will normally be the brightest star in the sky in the area that the telescope is pointing. If you HOME position is close to correct and the date/time/site location are correct, then the first star should be fairly close to being where the telescope is pointed. Don't look through the eyepiece yet; look through the finderscope (which you should have aligned to the telescope first). Center the brightest star in the finderscope. Then you can center it in the eyepiece on the telescope.
Subject:	ETX-105, w/ MUF for autostar 497
Sent:	Thursday, April 21, 2005 20:57:42
From: (
inside during daylight I believe I aligned, calibrated and trained the
drives. The autostar automatically selected Sirius and Aldebran, I
selected the Moon

The time was: 5:31pm PDT, the RA read 20 over 4, the Dec. was 60.  I had
to put the TV on mute and even then I could almost faintly hear the
motor humming.

The time was 7:31pm PDT, the RA read 15 over 6, the Dec. was 37.  Does
all of this mean that if it were dark outside I would be able to see the
moon and the telescope would be tracking it in the night sky using the
autostar as the guide?

I was so excited, I picked up the controller and the coil came loose, I
plugged the coil back into the controller and watched it go through the
initialization process all over again.  This time autostar selected
Sirius and Arcturus and I once again selected the moon.

The time was 8:56pm PDT, the RA read 13 over 12 and the Dec. was 25,
once again it was tracking, at 9:51pm PDT the scope started moving on
its own as if it was searching & centering in on a object.  The
controller read:  motor unit fault, autostar detected motor failure,
NEEDS TO BE RE-ALIGNED before you can resume viewing, it said to press
"mode", the controller then read Testing motors, then proceeded with the
Sun Warning.  I turned off and unplugged the controller, I went to the
web site and started searching and reading all my eyes could take on
motor unit failure, by then the time was 11:30pm.


When the coil came loose from the controller should I have did the
re-set, re-align, calibrate and drive trainning all over again before I
allowed the autostar to select Sirius and Arcturus, was this what caused
the MUF message?  What is the proper way to write (record) the RA on
paper?  Does the controller remember what was being tracked, the RA and
Dec numbers before it came loose?

The ETX-105 and the autostar 497 seems a lot more complicated than the
little ETX-70 or is it because it is larger and cost more.  I'm still
having fun with my Xmas purchase and no I have not read the manuals 3
times yet.  I read a little from the manuals then view again the
subjects on our web site, then I practice on the telescope.  Tonight I
will start all over again and try 8 brand new fresh batteries.  I look
forward to reading your reply.

Berkeley, CA
When the Autostar loses power (from either the ETX being turned off OR the cable comes loose, it starts back at the initialization stage. So you need to realign again. When power is interrupted by the cable coming out it is possible that the Autostar memory can become corrupted. If the connection is intermittent the MUF can occur. So, there can be many causes of what you were experiencing but a RESET should clear out any problems as well as restore the Autostar to factory defaults. You will need to do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES again. As to Right Ascension, it is normally written as either 19:12:30 or 19h12m30s.
Subject:	RE: AutoStar freezing up & a new question
Sent:	Wednesday, April 20, 2005 12:24:33
I found the Moon - easy when you know how!! - Thanks Dick.

Have you any thoughts on the new wirelss Autostar??
It would be great if, in addition, you could connect between the
telescope (ETX or LX200) and a laptop wirelessly.

Is it possible?

Kindest Regards

From:	Richard Seymour (
Certainly... just throw money.

You can use "Bluetooth" serial links to do it. (about $150)
(limited range: 30 meters)
In the not-too-distant future the ZigBee
(or is it ZeeBig?) technology will provide greater range.

There have also been pre-Bluetooth serial links available
for (literally) decades.  $100 to $300 price range.

You can also attach an El Cheapo laptop/desktop to the
scope, and use normal wireless networking to reach it
from elsewhere.

Lotsa ways.

have fun

Subject:	Motor Unit Fault after having been powered at 21 Volts
Sent:	Tuesday, April 19, 2005 11:55:06
From:	Vagelis Tsamis (
By mistake I have powered my ETX125 with 21 Volts DC for about 10
minutes! Then suddenly I heard some weerd noises and switched to 12V.
After that, I have a systematic "Motor Unit Fault" message at every
align attempt. Symptoms:

a- When ETX needs to move left to find the 2nd allignmentt star, it
simply doesn't move at all. Then I get the "motor unit fault" error
message. b- the Left arrow does not work at all when I try to move
around the tube with the handbox (non-alligned). Up-Down-Right arrows
work ok.

I would appreciate any help from you, Mike, as soon as possible. I need
to operate the telescope at a public observing session in 24 hrs from
now. Any chances?
Thank you in advance.
Vagelis Tsamis,
Mike here: You might be alright. Do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and reTRAIN DRIVES.

And the bad news:

No use. Left Arrow (<) does not work = motor can not move left.
What next?
Mike here: Well, you may have fried some component on the circuit board of either the ETX or the Autostar. If your ETX was an EC model and you have the standard handcontroller you might want to try that just to see if you can slew the telescope.


I will check with another autostar tomorrow. But I am afraid I have
fried smth in the motor circuits. In that case I have to contact the
dealer in Greece, right? Can it easily been fixed here or should it be
sent to a Meade factory?

Mike here: If the problem isn't in the Autostar (which I suspect it isn't) then a repair trip will be necessary.
Subject:	LX200 SCOPES
Sent:	Tuesday, April 19, 2005 10:32:56
From:	shirley m feickert (
Do You know where the web site is to do Hand Controller updates?
I know Meade has one for LX200 GPS units.
As always
Mike here: If you mean the Autostar or the Autostar II, that is at:
If you mean the old LX200 model, don't know.


Yes Sorry, I was referring to the Classic.

Subject:	RA/Az problem in a 90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, April 19, 2005 06:07:40
From:	Tom & Barbara Andrews (
greetings from a land of naked eye globular clusters.

I have a 90EC plus Autostar, bought second-hand. On first use of the
whole setup tonight, some problems were immediately evident:

On beginning to train the  drive, I found the scope wouldn't move
horizontally, though the  drive was making a noise like a stuck pig.
Sometimes it would slew after many  seconds, but it would take off hell
for leather regardless of what speed I  had chosen. I ended up turning
the lock to what felt like uncomfortable  tightness. It seemed then to
go at the chosen speed, but the first press  and each change in
direction would mean a delay of at least 10 seconds of motor noise
before it started turning. Needless to say, I don't think the  drive was
trained correctly, as little or no movement happened when the  scope
slewed for the Az training.

The GOTO slewing seemed to be  fine, though not as accurate as I'm used
to. As soon as I selected  the object, horizontal slewing began

When it came time to manually  find and centre the object, the drive
played up as described above.

It seemed that pressing the Az  buttons would sometimes result in some
vertical movement downward before  the horizontal movement began.

Long story short, the noise and delay seem to happen when under manual
control, when non-GOTO slewing is involved such as with the drive
training, and (I think) when I tried a spiral search by pressing GOTO
after slewing to an object was complete.

Apart from looking for a solution, I'm also just baffled about how a
problem in the gears could be apparently fine when normal slewing is
taking place. Look forward to hearing from you.


Mike here: Did you do a CALIBRATE MOTORS before doing the TRAIN DRIVES? If so, I would suggest doing a RESET, check the telescope model and mounting mode, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then TRAIN DRIVES.


Thank you for the quick response. Are you on the East Coast? 

I had done all those steps. Did them again in the light of morning which
didn't help the problem, but I can now be a bit more specific.

The delay in Az slewing still happens (if the direction is different to the
previous movement), but it seems that the length of the delay is inversely
proportional to the selected speed. At max speed, it takes over a second to
start moving; at 1 deg/sec it's close to 3 seconds; at 0.5 deg/sec it was
around 6 seconds; 64X took more than 10 seconds, etc. 

This explains why GOTO slewing seemed to be normal last night. There was
actually a slight delay in horizontal GOTO slewing, but only a short one as
it was slewing at max speed. And if it was in the same direction as the
previous movement, there was no delay at all. When I was slewing manually,
it was usually at a slower speed for centering, so it was those times I
noticed the long delay.

So, it seems that the Az gears are making noise for a while before they
"take up" and move the scope. 

If it helps, the noise is different and louder than with the Alt slewing.
The lock lever feels like it's at normal tightness when it's just over half
way around, but it doesn't slew. It feels like I'm over-tightening in order
to get it to slew at all. In calibration it made noise but didn't move
horizontally. During Az drive training it slewed itself a little in the
second direction (must have been the same direction it tried going during
the calibration), but it hadn't moved in the first direction. And there is
definitely a very slight downward motion (apparent when looking through the
scope) during the grinding that takes place before it begins to move.

Sorry about being pedantic. I'm trying to get everything in as the time
difference sometimes makes quick communication difficult.

Mike here: Nope, West Coast. Sounds like you are now talking about "backlash". You can adjust the "percentages" to change the amount of backlash. See the articles "Saving Backlash Percentages" and "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.


Hi again. Sorry, didn't work after following directions to the letter. I
had high hopes though, as the problem described in the instructions
about slow response on changing directions seems to be exactly what I
have. The frustrating thing is when I watch it calibrating, and see no
movement to the right even though there's noise.

At a high percentage I did see evidence of more jerkiness, but the
delays were still just as long.

Mike here: Rats. Lets try one more thing. Maybe the encoders are dirty or the lubrication needs to be redistributed. Sometimes this will fix that: unlock both axes and move the telescope tube slowly by hand, back and forth, hard stop to hard stop. Repeat it several times for both axes. If more serious cleaning would be required for the encoders, you will have to disassemble the base.


That didn't work, so I think the next step is to take it to our local
Meade dealers in Sydney city. I know they're good. I'm terrified of
taking precision instruments apart (unless you can convince me
otherwise). It does feel fairly stiff in Az, even when completely

When I tried it after that last method, I started with the Az lock only
half way around, though that was still quite tight. In one of the
directions, as I had my fingers on the lock lever, I felt it tighten a
little as the movement began.

Anyway, I'll let you know when I've got it nailed.

Cheers and thanks again,

Subject:	Autostar spouting code rather than information
Sent:	Tuesday, April 19, 2005 05:28:43
From:	Laurence Sillars (
I would be most grateful for you advice with an autostar problem. I
bought an ETX105 a couple of months ago (not the PE) and, although
mostly fine, the autostar handset  occasionally spouts code in the
section where it normally gives information on an object. Last night I
was looking at Dubhe and instead of words I got something like

'SV=23 a ls 4965 Pta' -- this is not an exact transcription but it was
along these lines and 5 times as long. The handset wasn't too cold, I
had plenty of power, etc etc so I can't think what might be causing it
other than a software glitch. I have also had one Proc Trap 2 message
although this hasn't come back. I haven't tried a reset or uploading any
thing from the Meade website.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,


(p.s anyone in Merseyside/Wirral UK who reads this I would be very
pleased to hear from you)
And from our resident Autostar expert:
From:	Richard Seymour (
If the handset continues to operate properly, and if it's not repeatable
(i.e. choose something other than Dubhe, then come -back- to Dubhe...
is it still garbage?) then i'd tend to suspect the socket the display
module's cable is (supposedly) seated in.  Or a loose bit of something
conductive rattling around in the Autostar's case
If the -only- symptoms are non-repeatable display errors: suspect the
display.   (or its connector).
If the non-repeatable errors don't affect operation (other than the display),
suspect the display.

If the errors are repeatable, suspect the memory or processor.
(hence try a Reset and, if that doesn't cure it, a firmware reload)

One Proc Trap 2 in a few months of operation is not to be -expected-,
but it's not -all- that much of a rarity, either (and a flakey connector
or a loose bit rattling around could cause it).  If a Proc Trap appears
every time you do a certain sequence of operations, then tell us about
it (so we can see if we can triggero one too, making it a firmware bug).
If we can't replicate it, then it's a sign to reload your firmware.
If it's -still- there, then it points to a hardware (flakey memory or
internal data transmission) problem... which you should sort out before
the warranty expires...

The display connector is a "zero insertion force" connector:
there is a plastic sleeve which is moved about 1mm in and out of the main
body which serves as a clamp for the flat cable itself.  If that sleeve
isn't fully seated, the cable can have intermittent contact.
The photo at:
shows the cable and connector.

have fun
Many thanks to you both -- I will let you know what happens (although,
looking at the clouds through the window, probably not tonight!). LS

Subject:	Daylight savings
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2005 21:16:11
From: (
Greetings once again,

I've ignored this for a while, but i thought i might ask finally.  I am
in the US, East Coast region.  When the Autostar is setting up, what
should i be entering for Daylight savings time.  YES, or NO at this time
of year.  Ive never been positive and i think this is affecting my
prealignment slewing.

When i select stars to align to, it is usually pretty wrong.  Correct
region, but not nearly in the viewfinder.  Once i center it, the same
happens for the second star.  After this, if the alignment is successful
i usually dont have a problem.  Not quite sure though.  Could this be
just wrong DST settings?  Thanks once again.
Mike here: If your location changes time (Spring forwward, fall back) then you need to change the Daylight Savings setting accordingly. So, right now that would be "Yes".
Subject:	does autostar have information on titan
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2005 15:24:18
From:	MailAc - (
I read a little on titan today and with it being a good clear evening
here I thought I would ask my autostar to locate titan for me as I am a
newbie. I was unable to locate titan in the autostar, does it or is it
supposed to hold this information. I have a rough Idea where titan is
located but sadly I am not that good yet at co-ordinates.



Swindon UK
Mike here: Nope. You could manually enter its Right Ascension and Declination or you could just GOTO Saturn and use a star chart showing the position of Titan for that date/time.
Subject:	Autostar Latitude input failure
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2005 06:56:52
From:	Thomas Sprlein (
I'm using Autostar 33El and want to input my current site information
(50.7670N, 7.0330E).

When it comes to inputting the latitude, the Autostar gives me a beep
signal and won't accept the data. Longitude data is no problem.

Trying out a few other latitudes, I discovered that Autostar will let me
input latitudes up to 50.59 only, then again from 51 on.

I know the difference between 50.77 and 50.59 is no biggie, but I just
don't get why Autostar won't accept the data.

Any ideas?

Best regards,

Thomas Spoerlein
Mike here: The decimal is not a decimal in this case; it is a divider. That is why it jumps from 59 minutes to the next whole degree.
Subject:	Autostar Tracking, without alinment.
Sent:	Sunday, April 17, 2005 14:39:49
From:	Stanley Fisher, Ph.D. (
I live in NYC and through my apartment window I get excellent views of
the Sun and some of the planets.  Is there anyway to set up Autostar on
my ETX90AT so I can have it tract Sun, Moon or planets without going
through an Autostar alignment, which would almost be impossible in the
apartment.  Thanks.

Stanley Fisher, Ph.D.
Mike here: Two ways: Fake the alignment by going though the alignment process and accept the alignment stars as centered. The better the HOME position the more accurate the results. Or you can put the telescope in Polar Mode and select Astronomical from the Targets menu item.


Thanks for the information.
Stan F.

Subject:	Updating the AutoStar 497 Handcontroller??
Sent:	Sunday, April 17, 2005 00:03:24
From:	Dan Hait - Real Estate Traffic Pros (
My name is Dan Hait, and I know you're busy, but I'm hoping you can fill
in the missing blank for me.  I am brand knew to astronomy and bought an
ETX-90PE w/UHTC.  I have 2 problems (so far), one being trying to find
the red dot in the SmartFinder, but I haven't finished trying all the
tips from your 2/23/05 update, so I won't ask for your help on that

My problem now is that I'm trying to upgrade the AutoStar to version
33EI.  I am connecting the cable to the AutoStar and the other to my
computerwhere the problem comes in.  My laptop doesn't have a serial
port to use, so I am trying to connect it to the modem jack directly. 
I'm above average knowledge on the computer, but I'm stuck on this silly
one.  I can't get the ASU Software to recognize a COM port, much less,
do I know how to make sure the settings are as described.

Is this a necessary update?  Can you please help me if it is?

You can respond back to this email address and use an alternative CC to (just in case).

Lastly, I saw a reference to a video you made, but I can't find it on
your you have that link?

Thanks in advance, 

Dan Hait
Mike here: As you know, the modem port is NOT a RS-232 port. That's why the serial cable connection to the Autostar is not working for you. You will need to get one of the serial-USB adapters (Meade, Belkin, Keyspan; I use a Keyspan one with my Macintosh). Regarding the SmartFinder red dot, see my PE comments linked from the top of the current ETX Premier Edition feedback page; I have a photo there which may help. The LNT demo video is available on from my review.


Yep...I found it tonight. Also fixed the Smartfinder as you said.  It
works, but my red dot is more of a red that normal?  If not,
any ideas?

I also just did a complete setup test INSIDE and all went well.  I'm
about to go outside and give it a try...and can't wait.

Thanks again,

Dan Hait
Mike here: There is a report and fix for a "dash" red-dot on the current ETX Premier Edition feedback page.


OK....first night out "on auto pilot" was a total flop.  Every time I
did an automatic alignment it was pointing to different stars with the
same name, ie. It said the first one was Artchuas, but it pointed to 3
different stars each time I aligned.  Then when I finally got an
alignment complete, I did a GoTo the Moon, and I got one of those
messages you got, that the Moon doesn't rise until 6:13am.  It was right
about my head and very clear!!  I did 2 resets and 6 auto aligns and
finally gave up.

I'm not sure what the next step is.
Mike here: That sounds similar to the Autostar problem I reported in my PE comments. If you used a zipcode, try a nearby city name.
Subject:	slewing the ETX 105EC during alignment issue
Sent:	Saturday, April 16, 2005 13:15:19
From:	MailAc - (
Firstly many thanks for the excellent site, I am totally new to this and
the site is a godsend. Could I raise a query for any help please?

I have set up my 105 easy align, the telescope slews as required but the
documentation says that the arrow buttons need to be used to centre the
object in the FOV. However when the telescope stops slewing and I hear
the beeps I am unable to get the telescope to move using the arrow
buttons. Are there any seasoned pro's out there who maybe able to help.
I have checked all clutch locks and they are tight.


 Swindon, UK
Mike here: Have you tried increasing the slew speed with the number keys? I usually use a 7 for fast slewing and 3, 4, or 5 for smaller movements.


Thanks for the advice, it now allows me to slew after finding a star


Subject:	Autostar question
Sent:	Saturday, April 16, 2005 11:45:48
From:	Paul (
Hoped you might add this Question to relevent section.

Will any Autostar hand controller work with any scope?

I am looking to buy one for my ETX 125ec and I believe the  Meade number
for this one is #497, however I have seen a few around on Ebay and I'm
tempted to go for one second hand to limit the cost! One in particular
is a #494, the question is will it work with my 125?


Mike here: As noted on Meade's Autostar Update page (, the #494 has a limited set of telescopes it works with. The #497 works with more telescope models. Check that page for the specifics.
Subject:	Unable to Complete Autostar Update
Sent:	Thursday, April 14, 2005 13:58:20
I've been attempting to do an Autostar Update on my ETX 105 EC.
Can't seem to be able to do it.

Current Autostar Version is 30E
I downloaded the ASU software to my DeskTop.
When I click on Upgrade Autostar Update Now I get an Error message:
Could not connect to Autostar. ASU will perform search of all COM Ports.

I then get another Error message:
Could not find COM Port,
Check connection & try again.

This happens when I connect the 9 Pin cable to the back of the computer
and when I use a USB adapter.

What am I doing wrong ? Thank You.

In prior message I forgot to sign it. Thanks.
Larry Schlaefer
Jupiter , Fl
Mike here: Sounds like a possible port conflict with some other software, typically fax software. Check that.
Subject:	Autostar and Servo drives
Sent:	Thursday, April 14, 2005 01:40:48
From:	Coppola Luigi (
I am an happy owner of an ETX and Autostar #497.
I am so satisfied by the Autostar that I would like to use it on 20" Dobson.
I am realising the movimentation  of the Dobson with an intelligenmt
servo system, that may accept any speed or position commands and may
deliver any feedback. I can freely program the interface on this system
(Digital I/O and serial). I  am looking for informations about the
communication between Autostar and ETX in order to implement the same
interface as in the ETX in my telescope.
Who could help me?
Mike here: There is a lot of information on the Autostar on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. In particular you might want to look at the link "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" that is there.


 I'll give a look.
Bye, Luigi

Subject:	RE: AutoStar freezing up
Sent:	Wednesday, April 13, 2005 12:42:02
As promised in my reply to yourselves, in my mail of 27th March, I have
had another couple of sessions with my Autostar II and LX200GPS and can
report as follows:
1)    Problem with freezing
         It did lock up again when aligning on Dubhe but got going again
after a while!
         However last Sunday it would not slew to the, clearly visible,
moon. - I was careful to press "enter" after selecting the Moon and
before pressing "Goto".
        It would slew to everything else though. A bit of a puzzle,
maybe a reload (or update) of the Autostar II software is required?
2)    Alignment - I find I have completely trashed my Calibrate Sensor
settings I forgot that I, a) Had to turn off and on after doing the
calibration and then align and b) I also forgot I had to turn the smart
mount on! This despite Dick enumerating all the steps in his reply to my
mail in the Yahoo LX200GPS group on October 30th last!!

3)    GPS - after failing on four seperate occasions to get a GPS fix in
the last two outings there has been no trouble at all.
Best Regards and thanks again for all your help!
From:	Richard Seymour (
>1)    Problem with freezing
>It did lock up again when aligning on Dubhe but got going again after a while!

I still haven't a  clue, since mine doesn't do that.

>However last Sunday it would not slew to the, clearly visible, moon. - I
>was careful to press "enter" after selecting the Moon and before pressing >"Goto".

 ..but what did it show on the -display- when you did that?
 Did it show the proper calculated RA/DEC for the moon at that point?

>        It would slew to everything else though. A bit of a puzzle, maybe a reload
>(or update) of the Autostar II software is required?

Possibly... but i'd like more data (such as the above "what did it show?")
before saying Yea or Nay.

>2)    Alignment - I find I have completely trashed my Calibrate Sensor settings I
>forgot that I, a) Had to turn off and on after doing the calibration and then
>align and b) I also forgot I had to turn the smart mount on! This despite Dick
>enumerating all the steps in his reply to my mail in the Yahoo LX200GPS group on
>October 30th last!!

Smart Mount makes a miniscule contribution... Cal Sensors can correct a 
very large (15 degrees and more) error.

>3)    GPS - after failing on four seperate occasions to get a GPS fix in the last
>two outings there has been no trouble at all.

I still vote for local interference and/or satellite positions as being
the culprit.

have fun


Thanks for your replies.

I'll keep an eye an the freezing and see if I can gather more info!

As far as I can remember the display just said "Moon" I don't think it
gave any co-ordinates but I'll check again next time out.

I agree with you on the satellite positions  - could be interference if
they were behind my house wall etc. I only had a 60? field of view from
where the scope was positioned at the time.

Thanks again.

>As far as I can remember the display just said "Moon" I don't think it gave
>any co-ordinates but I'll check again next time out.

Then you hadn't really "selected" the moon, and it simply 
slewed to the last target you'd given it.

In the LX200gps, it actually takes -two- [enter]s to get the Moon

The LX200gps sequence is (display:  top line/bottom line)
Select/Solar System  [enter] Solar System/Mercury [scroll up 4 times]
Solar System/Moon [enter]  Moon/Overview [enter]
Moon/Calculating... -->  Moon/RA hh:mm Dec dd:mm

*now* it's really selected and calculated, and a [GoTo] will actually get there.

>I agree with you on the satellite positions  - could be interference if they
>were behind my house wall etc. I only had a 60? field of view from where the
>scope was positioned at the time.

Quite possibly... GPS positioning works best with low-angle satellites,
so a major chunk of obstructed horizon can hurt.

have fun

Subject:	Starpatch Error Question
Sent:	Tuesday, April 12, 2005 18:17:52
From:	Train, Dave (
I get the following error message when I try to update my Autostar 497
with the latest (33FA) download:  "Invalid R parameter at line 44 while
applying the "GPS Setup" patch   RBAD0000000".   I have since
successfully used the Meade ASU to update my Autostar but the error
message keeps on appearing and preventing the StarPatch update to
proceed.  My Autostar statistics indicates that it has version 33E1

The Autostar and the ETX-90 both seem to be working OK but I can't use
my StarGPS!  Please let me know if you can help diagnose my problem. 

David Train
Mike here: I'm not familiar with a 3.3Fa version.


From:	Richard Seymour (
It's quite simple...
You need to download a new version of StarPAtch from Chris' site

A few versions back, Meade changed the way the firmware was
arranged in the Autostar, and the old StarPatch couldn't safely
handle it.. so Chris laid a trap (the invalid R) in his newer
patch files which the new versions of StarPatch will avoid,
but the old versions will fall over.

At which point the user would visit to read about
the error, and download the new version.

have fun
Chris changes the version numbers to help track updates...
"33fa" is Meade's  33Ef  plus Chris's version "a" of our combined patches.

There'll be a new version along RealSoonNow to match Meade's recently
release v33El.   I assume Chris will call it  33la

have fun
From:	 (
When Patch33FA.spf is selected the display shows:

Patch33FA.spf 24-Jan-2005 for Build33Ef.rom
*** Requires StarPatch 1.5 or a newer version, see ***

Which often helps!

Chris Carson
Thank you all for the quick responses.  I will try this tonight.  I will
thank you in advance and you won't hear from me when it is successful.


Subject:	Re: Erratic slewing
Sent:	Tuesday, April 12, 2005 07:02:49
From:	Denis Simoneau (
Many thanks for this quick and......hopefully, useful response. I will
test it over the next few days and provide you with feedback.

One thing for sure, the telescope has not been jerked around. However,
you could be right regarding low battery power, although the integrated
alarm didn't warn me. I'll try it out using an AC power outlet. I would
have thought that failing batteries would get me only part of the way
through the inializing process, not going past my alignment star without
hesitating the slightest.

Also, I had already done a reset......with similar results.
Delicate things!
Thanks again!
Denis Simoneau (Montreal)

Subject:	Erratic slewing
Sent:	Monday, April 11, 2005 11:12:28
From:	Denis Simoneau (
Not sure if this where I should be posting this but "out of the blue",
my LX90 went berserk when slewing to the alignment stars during setup.
Do you think it is an Autostar (497) malfunction or the telescope
Thank you,
Denis Simoneau
Mike here: Depending upon what actually happened, there are several possibilities: low battery power, dirt on the encoders, loose cable connection, corrupted Autostar software, or just a glitch in the Autostar memory. Solutions: change the batteries, unlock the axes and rotate the telescope by hand from hard stop to hard stop several times, check the connections, reload the Autostar ROM, or do a RESET.
Subject:	protocol question
Sent:	Friday, April 8, 2005 18:31:01
From:	ralph kluge (
does LX200 and LXD75 have the same interface protocol?

Hi I am new to this and waiting the delivery of my new Meade 6" LXD N

I have some software that supports the LX 200 and was wondering if it
will also work with the LXD 75


Ralph, Melbourne AU

Mike here: The Autostar can use some of the same commands but the connection protocol is different (I believe) although both use serial.
Subject:	Autostar 497 firmware v33El at Meade's site
Sent:	Friday, April 8, 2005 16:50:01
From:	Richard Seymour (
Meade has posted a firmware update:  v33El 
(that's a lowercase "L") at:

The ReadMe simply says:
Upgrades to 33Ef

Added Zip Codes.
Some serial strings fixed.

Upgrades to 33El

Fixed site problem
Fixed LST display

have fun

Subject:	Re: ETX125PE Drifting issue
Sent:	Monday, April 4, 2005 23:57:50
From:	jeffrey kramer (
I tried the scope again tonight under better seeing and the optics are
okay.  Believe it or not, I had trouble with the mount again.  The
drifting problem came back and calibrating and re-training would not get
rid of it. Also, my gotos would start off okay but after a few objects
the scope was missing them by a few degrees.  I did a full reset,
calibrate, and re-train and it worked terrific for an hour.  I also
trained the scope on an object about 45 degrees up instead of Polaris
which is only 26 degrees high here in South Florida..  This scope is
very fussy.   Shouldn't it maintain the training for a few months? 
Also, do you think my scope is going to be okay now?  I just want to
observe and am getting a bit tired of of constantly testing it to see if
it is working correctly.

Thanks again.  I appreciate your help.
Mike here: Training normally doesn't have to be done very frequently although some Autostar users will CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES before every observing session.


What would cause the scope to hit the first few objects in the fOV of
the eyepiece and then start missing them by a few degrees (anywhere from
2 to 5 degrees).  Should the reset, calibration, and training take care
of this? I do not want to do this everytime.  I used to own an eTX-105
and did not have to update training that often.
Mike here: Some possible causes: dirt on encoder(s), slippage while slewing, sloppy training, sloppy centering of the alignment star(s).


I tried the scope tonight.  This is my 5th night in a row.  The final
shot for this scope.  Initially the gotos were good and the tracking was
good. I was encouraged.  I went to several stars and a few Messier
Objects.  All was well.  I went to Saturn and viewed it for a bit.  The
tracking was good.  I then went to Castor and the same thing happened
that happened last night.  It was a few degrees off.  I tried a few
other objects.  The same thing happened.  I tried Syncing on a star but
it made no difference.  I then turned the scope and did a fresh
alignment.  Now, the first alignment star was about 15 degrees away. 
The 2nd was in the smartfinder.  All gotos were the same....a few
degrees off.  I have given this scope every chance and test I can.  I am
calling the delaer tommorrow for an exchange.

Thanks for all of your help,

Subject:	re: Training Drives for ETX 125PE
Sent:	Monday, April 4, 2005 22:21:11
From:	Richard Seymour (
Oh, dear...
Ed asked [paraphrased]:
> Do you have to retrain when you switch from Alt/Az to Polar
Mike wrote:
> Yes

I'm going to beg to differ... one reason i wrote my patch kit was
to investigate this very question... and the answer (in my experience,
and by engineering analysis) is No, you don't have to retrain.

Train Drives measures the backlash of the gear train between the
motor/encoders and the optical barrel's actualy motion.

That doesn't change when you change the mounting style.

My patch kits let you -see- the numeric result of Training which
is stored in the Autostar.  They only store -one- number for each
axis, irregardless of the mounting style in vogue when you trained it.

If you have my patch kit installed, you can train in Polar, and you
can Train in Alt/Az.  If you do that -multiple times- for each style,
you'll find that your train-to-train results vary more than any 
differences between Alt/Az vs Polar.  (this is not true for an LX200gps,
due to what i consider serious bugs in their Polar Training method.
For an LX200gps, i recommend -only- Alt/Az training, even if the scope
is tilted on a wedge. )

More background info at: 

have fun

Subject:	re: LX200GPS Question
Sent:	Monday, April 4, 2005 21:31:25
From:	Richard Seymour (
Jim F (writing as Shirley) asked:
> Why doesn't Meade say anything in the manual or anywhere else about
> calibrating the sensors?

It's at the top of page 18 in my old LX200gps manual.

> I was told by a friend helping me last night, That with this scope,
> "Calibrating sensors"is a must .

Actually, it's not a must.  It only affects the accuracy of the
initial alignment slews during Alt/Az Auto and Easy Alignment.  
Beyond that, the data aren't used.

Mike wrote:
> I don't know about the LX200GPS but with the other Autostar telescopes,
> you need to CALIBRATE MOTORS whenever changing the power source,
> whether installing fresh batteries or switching to/from AC.

Calibrate Sensors has nothing in common with the 497 Autostar's Calibrate Motors.
In fact, Mike will find Calibrate Sensors in his ETX105 PE, since it's
part of the setup for the LNT module in the finder.

The LX200gps does not have any "Calibrate Motors" analog... i believe it's
due to different technology in the encoders (such as truly opaque metal
disks, so the "fudge for inaccurate semi-translucent plastic" of the
regular Autostars is not needed.

What Calibrate Sensors -does- is tell the Autostar the -exact- offset
between your local magnetic north and true north...

have fun

Subject:	re: ISS on Autostar
Sent:	Monday, April 4, 2005 20:28:36
From:	Richard Seymour (
> What do I use for the decimal point when entering the ISS orbit info,
> such as the epoch year? 

The two articles i recommend are:   <-- short
and   <---long

To -specifically- answer your question (now that i've figured out
what you're -really- asking (i think)): the Autostar supplies them.

(changing the signs on stuff is NOT obvious, however, use the 
slew keys to put the cursor on the sign, and the up/down scroll
keys to change it +/-)

So if you're entering the mean motion, you'll be prompted with:
and as you key in  15.5555 it will be properly placed.
If you wanted to enter 5.555, just key in 05.5555
or use the right/left slew keys to position the cursor where you'd like.

> Also, do I only enter the requested info from the Autostar,
> such as the epoch year, etc, or do I enter the entire line
> of numbers.  AND, do I enter line 1 and line 2? 

As the above-cited pages describe, You enter only what it asks for
at each prompting screen, and it uses one number from line 1,
and the other numbers are "line 2" in the order they appear on the line.

have fun

Subject:	ISS on Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, April 3, 2005 15:22:42
From:	Tom (
What do I use for the decimal point when entering the ISS orbit info,
such as the epoch year?  Also, do I only enter the requested info from
the Autostar, such as the epoch year, etc, or do I enter the entire line
of numbers.  AND, do I enter line 1 and line 2?

I searched the Autostar sectiin but couldn't locate it, maybe it's me.


p.s.  Bet you can't wait to get out to your Oracle location.
Mike here: See the article "Tracking ISS" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.


Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the section regarding
decimal points.  Must be the cloudy skies around here!

Thanks Mike (and Dick).

Subject:	Autostar ll handbox crash while updating
Sent:	Sunday, April 3, 2005 15:14:11
From:	Gregory and Deborah Blount (
While updating my Autostarll handbox on my LX200 GPS, we had a power
glitch which shut off both the scope and computer.

Now, when the scope is turned on, it just says Meade LX200 GPS.  Nothing
else happens.  The computer cannot find the scope.  I tried the Safe
Load  (hold down enter and scroll down keys) to no avail.

Can you please direct me to instructions for fixing this?
Gregory Blount
Mike here: I don't have an Autostar II so I've sent the message to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour.


Thanks.  It is really a big help having folks like you to contact when
all else fails.
And an update:
Dr.Clay just sent me instructions on fixing my problem.
Thanks again!!
From:	Richard Seymour (
Safe Load for an LX200gps is reached by typing 999 immediately
after power-up

This is described in the Updater's Help pages under "Damaged Handbox"

good luck

Subject:	Autostar crashed
Sent:	Sunday, April 3, 2005 07:30:49
From:	Michael Peterson (
I have been a passive reader of your site for a year and  now. First,
let me say that your site has been a big help to me with my etx-125.
Second, I'm at a lost on how to get my Autostar 497 back and working. I
have followed what I believe to be most of the steps you mentioned on
the web pages to no avail. Here's what I have:

Autostar 497
Autostar Suite 3.18 comes with ASU 3.62
Belkin Serial to USB converter cable to hook up to windows pc

My controller has worked fine for the past year and half. I didn't see
the need to update the roms until recently when I purchased a new DSI.
In the instructions somewhere I think it told me to make sure I have the
latest rom upgrades etc. During the update mode, my laptop died and I
had to reboot. That's when I lost the data in the controller.

I set the 497 controller in Safe Mode like you suggest. The ASU can
connect to my controller through com 4. Everything seems fine. The
updater ask if I would like to download from the net or one of the files
I have placed in the Ephemerides folder. I actually have a red light on
the connection to "monitor" the connection to the controller. The ASU
tells me that the software has been updated, but the controller either
reboots or just stays in the flash mode setting. I never get a decent
response from the 497.

I have tried several rom upgrades i.e. 33.ef and so on. Does the most
current Rom upgrade contain all the data that I need to reload the
controller? Or is there some other rom pack that I should try first and
then upgrade in sequence? Nothing seems to make the controller work. Is
there a step that I am missing?

Short of sending it back to Meade, I don't know what to do.

Thanks in advance for you help!

Kind regards,

Michael Peterson
Atlanta, Georgia
Mike here: When you put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode, does the ASU show the Autostar in SAFE LOAD mode? If so, you should be OK. If you have a slow internet connection, download 3.3Ef from Meade's site and then install from your hard disk. And yes, the ROM files are complete.


I hope your getaway was a good one. 

The ASU ask me if Autostar is in Safe Mode, I answer yes and then it
continues. It gets to about 40% complete then it resets the handbox and
windows dialog box comes up saying download finished. I hit ok, but the
handbox won't start up again. It seems to only take about 20 seconds or
so for the download, so that makes me wonder if I'm doing something

The ASU software shows me all the items downloaded to the handbox. It
all looks fine, but still can't use the handbox except for safe mode.

I went and picked up a new controller today. It came with version 26e
loaded on it. I plugged it into the EXT and it said I had a motor drive
fault. I did your steps mentioned, replace fresh batteries, reset,
calibrate(get the motor error now there). ETX will not do anything now.

I tried to download new version of firmware to the new remote. It stayed
in the download don't turn off for close to 2 hours. Nothing was
happening, so I shut It off again.

Now, I have two controllers not working doing the same thing after
upgrading to the latest firmware.

Thanks for your continued help!
Mike here: It could be the Belkin driver then. Try a computer with a real serial port.


Did you have any other suggestions to my follow up question?
Mike here: Don't know why the new (old) Autostar didn't communicate with the ETX but since both had problems with the update, I suspect the Belkin driver. If you have a Macintosh, you can try AutostarX (of course, you will also need the Belkin Mac OS X version driver).


So, you think the belkin driver might be the cause? It sees the handbox,
tells me the version etc. Then it shows me what is on the handbox from
the menu in the ASU. Very strange.

I can goto Belkin and see if there is another driver to use...
Mike here: If the driver doesn't communicate correctly and reliably then the Autostar won't update correctly.

And more:

I downloaded belkin driver from web, reinstalled but it is the same
version as the one on their disk. Still can't get the controller to boot
Mike here: Time to try a PC with a real serial port then.

And an update:

I did what you suggested and hooked up the handbox to my home pc. They
both took about 20 minutes to update. I now have both controllers at the
latest revs. Problem now is that I'm still getting motor fault errors
after resetting and then trying to calibrate. After reading your
website, I'm thinking I might want to open up the telescope and see if I
can locate something not right. Let me know your thought on this

Thanks again for the handbox update.
Mike here: Check the cable connections, fresh batteries, locks not too tight.


The batteries are fresh, and the locks are just tight enough to hold the
scope in place. I was reading somewhere on your web site that talked
about taking off the bottom of the scope to see if some wires are grease
might be causing the problem. I have taken off the rubber feet covers
and I'm going to gently remove it to see if I can see something that
would be loose. I'm not that mechanical, so I might just have to send it
to Meade if I can't get it working.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions or articles that I can
read up on.

Mike here: Since the problem started after you restored the Autostar ROM, check the mounting mode and telescope model settings in the Autostar. If they are correct, you could check for a disconnected wire although why that should happen just as the ROM update failed... Well, Murphy continues to rule!


I will do just that and let you know. I have checked the model settings,
but didn't check the mounting mode.

All this and I have a nice new DSI in the box just waiting to get hooked

My wife thinks I'm nuts and I should just get the kids Tasco out with a
couple of beers!

I'll let you know what I find out.
And an update:
Well, I took the ETX 125 into the local Meade dealer and he tried to
work on it some. We tried a few different controllers with older rom
loaded. The telescope would work intermit. Seems every time you moved it
some, the motor fault error would pop up again.

Solution was to send it back to Meade for repairs and/or exchange.

I want to thank you and the guys at Camera Bug for helping me out.
Hopefully I will get a functioning scope back in time for some May


Michael T. Peterson

Subject:	ETX125PE Drifting issue
Sent:	Sunday, April 3, 2005 07:20:44
From:	jeffrey kramer (
I received my new ETX-125PE on Friday and sent you my first light
observing report.

The only part of the ETX-125 that bothers me so far is the fact that I
have to compensate when centering an object.  After I press, say the up
arrow key, when I let go, the object will drift a bit more before
stopping.  I need to place the object below the center and then it will
drift in there.  The same holds true for the other directions.  I have
your ETX125 book and this seems to be a common issue.

I have calibrated sensors and trained the drives.  My goto accuracy is
pretty good and the optics are good.  The only issue I have is the
drifting mentioned above.

Do you know of anyway I can remove this drifting?

Mike here: If doing an accurate TRAIN DRIVES doesn't solve it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then the TRAIN DRIVES.


Thank you for responding to me.  I did a calibrate motors and a train
drives.  It seems to be much better now.  My star test seems to be only
about average.  My view of Saturn tonight was decent but not
spectacular. I also own a Televue NP101 and was wondering if maybe I am
expecting a little too muich from this scope optically?

Thanks again,
Mike here: There are a lot of variables when observing, notably sky conditions and letting the telescope reach thermal equilibrium. Even the best optics, objects won't look good if these two are not considered.
Subject:	LX200GPS Question
Sent:	Sunday, April 3, 2005 07:09:24
From:	shirley m feickert (
Why doesn't Meade say anything in the manual or anywhere else about
calibrating the sensors?

They talk about "Training  the drives",  "Polar Alignment ". I was told
by a friend helping me last night, That with this scope,"Calibrating
sensors"is a must .

Can You steer me right?

Mike here: I don't know about the LX200GPS but with the other Autostar telescopes, you need to CALIBRATE MOTORS whenever changing the power source, whether installing fresh batteries or switching to/from AC.
Subject:	Training Drives for ETX 125PE
Sent:	Saturday, April 2, 2005 07:31:13
From:	Ed Stuckey (
Training drives in Polar and Alt-Azimuth mode. I read all the articles
on your site, however I have a few lingering questions. If you train the
drives in Polar mode is this info stored in the onboard computer? If you
then train the drives in Alt-Azimuth mode and switch between modes is
the info in both polar and Alt-Azimuth retained? Or do you have to
re-train if you switch modes?

Also if you train the drives and in say 3 months decide to train drives
again is it necessary to do a reset before training?

Thanks again.
Mike here: Training data is stored in the Autostar. And yes, you need to retrain when changing mounting modes. Doing a TRAIN DRIVES doesn't require a RESET but if you change batteries or switch to a different power source (AC to batteries and vice versa) you should do a CALIBRATE MOTORS.

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