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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: 505 and 506 cable REDUX Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2001 23:34:22 From: email@example.com (PUGSL) You probably have typed message 24 times by now about the #505 cable (which you can build/emulate easily) versus the #506 (ETX-60/70) cable (which you can't) with its 'active electronics'. Yet, my inner child truly rebels at the thought of "can't", so I persisted in searching... I found a site which advertises a PIC based RS-232 to I2C convertor. http://www.emicros.com/i2c232.htm this only gets you halfway there -- now to figure out what commands are sent (serial to I2C)! And note the price: $125 (twice what the Meade #506 cable and software costs street). So, maybe you can, but it just costs too much and is too much of a hassle. End of story number 24. Great site, keep up the good work
Subject: Is there a reset button???? Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2001 01:14:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rod Hook) I bought my ETX90-CE used from a guy back east.............Now I live Idaho..Now my question is how do I tell the telescope where its at now........???????????????? Thanks RodMike here: If you have an Autostar, do a RESET from the Setup-->Telescope menu. This puts the Autostar back (mostly) in the factory default condition. Then follow the prompts. Also, you will have to TRAIN the drives (from the Telescope menu).
Subject: swapping between 2 autostars on 1 etx125ec Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2001 00:52:17 From: email@example.com (SR) I have two #497 autostars... I know (I think)that if i swap one autostar among two etx125's I'd have to recalibrate and retrain...but do I have to do anything if I swap two autostars on one etx125 if i previously trained each on a particular etx125?? reason I ask is because I want to update one autostar to 2.2er and leave other with its original 2.0g till i'm sure it works and also would like to compare. thanks. SteveMike here: As long as you only use the Autostars on the same telescope, I don't think you need to RETRAIN after each swap.
Subject: re advice with setting up etx 70 Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 09:36:05 From: DeanlCarter@aol.com I know you have heard this millions of time. I live in Wales, Uk and have bought an etx70. I have been getting used to the scope and am having difficulty getting correct auostar set up. I have located correct longtidude and lattitude for my area and input this into the auto stars memory. I input date and time. set scope to home postion, ( 0 degrees), pointing north. As yet i dont have a tripd, i have the telescope placed on a table, so im not sure hoe level it is. Im calcluating north just by pointing at polaris and following a plumb line, is this ok? When it slews to Cappella, usuallly first allignmrnt star on easy allign, its usually in the field and takes a bit of centering. When it slewed for the second, Vega, it appeared to be a way off? could this be? the site settings for the scope the mount i have the scope on not an accutate home setup please help thanks Dean ps really useful site, well done.Mike here: As to errors introduced during alignment, if the Autostar is set for Polar mounting and the telescope is placed in the Alt/Az (which is sounds like you are doing) then you could have a problem with alignment stars. Other than that, it sounds like you have done everything correctly. See the various alignment tips on the Autostar Information page for some other possible suggestions that may help improve your alignments.
Subject: Astrostar Programming Question Sent: Monday, August 27, 2001 22:34:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Campbell) I have written a number of programs in visual basic in the past for the LX-200. I'm trying to adapt them to a project I'm working on with an ETX with no luck. I can get basic movement commands to work (e.g. #:Ms# #:Mn# etc) however the slew rate is very slow and sending the :RG# :RC# :RM# :RS# make no difference in speed. If anyone has some sample code (suggestions) to share, it would Greatly appreciated! Thanks, Joe :) email@example.com P.S. I have tested the scope with commercial software it all checks out just fine.And from our resident Autostar Expert:
(paraphrasing) > :RG# :RC# :RM# don't work correct... as described in my notes on Mike's site, and in the "Autostar interpretations of LX200 commands" at Meade's site, those are not implemented in the Autostar (mantra: an Autostar is NOT an LX200) What is/are implemented are the :Sw2# :Sw3# and :S4# commands, which are faked to be equivalent to the keypad 0, 5 and 9 key slew speeds. (1x, 64x sidereal, and "max", which will vary with telescope model... assume 5 degrees per second) So try those if it's an Autostar.... references: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_commands.html and, if you don't believe those, http://www.meade.com/support/CommandSet.html enjoy the project --dick
Subject: Autostar Accuracy-Light Pollution Sent: Friday, August 24, 2001 22:59:59 From: Soularo@aol.com having some problems with autostar. Using easy one star for alignment, usually not very successful. About 50% will put in view finder, hardley ever in fov. Noticable when searching for deep sky objects, and outer planets, such as Uranus. I have the etx 90 ec. Also, light pollution, just how effective can I expect my etx in relatively poor seeing conditions, say less than 100 visible stars. Thanks, NealMike here: You didn't mention what version of the Autostar you have (1.0g, 1.3c, 2.1Ek, 2.2Er?) nor what mounting mode you are using. Older versions were less forgiving of HOME position errors than newer versions, especially when using only a single star for alignment. But if you have the date/time/Daylight Savings/location/mounting mode settings all correct and you start with the proper HOME position (Alt/Az may be more accurate with older versions) you should get reasonable results. Be certain you are pointing the ETX to TRUE NORTH, not Magnetic North. If using Alt/Az be certain the ETX base is level or reasonably close to being level (use a bubble level if you have to). If using Polar mounting, be certain you have the ETX base tilted to compensate for your latitude. If you still have problems, try RETRAINING the drives. If that doesn't help, RESET and RETRAIN. There are several articles on aligning techniques on the Autostar Information page. As to light pollution and (any) telescope performance, you will be able to see some celestial objects, notably the brighter and larger ones. However, extended faint objects like nebula and galaxies will be exceedingly difficult to see from heavily light polluted areas.
Not exactly sure how to tell which version, all I can find is #497. The mount is the standard meade feild tripod #883. Typically, when I point north, I do use a compass, and when I use the "one star", it generally points to it, although in the finderscope, not the fov, say using a 26mm eyepiece. What concerns me is hunting for deep sky objects, such as any of the messier objects. Not sure if It has really found them and put them in fov, or becuase of light pollution, I just can't see them. Mabey I have reached the practical limit of the scope with regards the light pollution factor, as I said, with the naked eye, I can see very little stars on the horizon, till I get to about 40 to 50 degrees up. At the zenith, not much of a problem, say finding m13, which is a strain on my neck, but auto start will put it in finder scope, but rarely fov. I have read about syncronization. Should this be something that can help.Mike here: The Autostar version briefly appears when you power it on. A fully version number is available in the Utiiities-->Statistics menu item. Depending upon where you live the "magnetic variation" between Magnetic North and True North can be 0 degrees to almost as much as 20 degrees. So, it can make a difference. And if you mis-identify the single star for the alignment, you could be compounding the error (although if the error is really bad the Autostar should tell you so). And yes, you are correct: faint objects may not be viewable from your location. My recommendation is to learn to use the Autostar using bright objects (Mars and the Moon are in the evening sky now); don't worry about Synch yet. Then try it out in a darker location.
Subject: accuracy of the GoTo's Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2001 05:57:55 From: SchafeWe@ch.sibt.com (Schfer Werner) My Telescope (ETX 90 EC with Autostar, SW version 2.1 ek) functioned very well. Special the GoTo's were very exact. (About 80% in the FOV of the 26mm eyepiece, the others in the FOV of the finderscope). Some nights ago, a little accident happened. A friend of me stumbled over the cable of the external power supply. The connection was interrupted. I aligned the Telescope according to north (forgot the hardstop). During the Easy-Alignment the Telescope runs against the hardstop. Now the accuracy of the GoTo's became much worse. (Most of the objects in the FOV of the finderscope, some outside of the finderscope's FOV, no ones in the 26mm eyepiece). I made a new calibrate and a new training of the drives, without any influence on the accuracy. What do you propose? Thanks and kind regards from Switzerland, and congratulations once more to your great site. Werner SchaeferMike here: Try a RESET (different than CALIBRATE) and then a RETRAIN. If that doesn't work you may have some corrupted memory in the Autostar that would require redownloading the ROM files.
Best thanks for your proposals. I reloaded the software, and now it seems that the the accuracy is again much better. But because of the weather conditions, I was not able to carry out sufficient tests. Best greetings Werner Schaefer
Subject: Autostar Sent: Monday, August 20, 2001 17:16:36 From: L&D Benschop Thanks for a great site. I have a question pertaining to the Autostar download. Does anyone know if the programs resident in the PIC micro's on the motor cards can be updated? I understand that the Flash chips memory is for the 68HC11 in the Autostar, I am wondering if Meade has also stored some PIC related info in the flash memory in the Autostar. I am guessing not... Also; Richard Seymour has done a great job enlightening us all on the inner workings of the Autostar - (thanks Dick), I was wondering if anyone has extended information about the motor card itself. Specific interest for me is (1) What chips are on the motor board? (2) Are the motors PWM controlled by algorithms in the PIC, based on commanded goto positional data from the 68HC11? (3) Does the PIC micro take the encoder counts and place the count data o the I2C bus or does it place position data on the bus? Has anyone put a protocol analyzer on the I2C bus and figured out if Meade is using standard I2C protocol? Just wondering... I have a 497 Autostar but no motor cards. My goal is to make a Autostar based worm-drive mount for my scope. I have checked out Bedair's site, very nice stuff. I want to use larger servo motors and am thinking of building my own motor control circuits with PIC micros, then use the Autostar for the brains of the system. Len Benschop - Ontario CanadaAnd from our resident Autostar expert:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) > I have a question pertaining to the Autostar download. Does anyone > know if the programs resident in the PIC micro's on the motor cards > can be updated? not to my knowledge... but i don't do PIC chips, so i don't know if the on-board ones are memory-locked or not. > I understand that the Flash chips memory is for the 68HC11 in > the Autostar, I am wondering if Meade has also stored some PIC related > info in the flash memory in the Autostar. -data- for them, but not code. example: Calibration involves sending a single command to each axis. The motors spin and stop, and then they each return a byte value, which is stored in the Autostar. On subsequent power-ups, those bytes (one per axis) are sent -to- the telescope. As far as i can tell, they're the fine tuning for how much W to PWM to achieve a particular speed. > Richard Seymour has done a great job enlightening us all on the inner > workings of the Autostar - (thanks Dick), tip of hat, you're welcome. > I was wondering if anyone has extended information about the motor > card itself. (at least) a couple of other folks have dug into them a little bit, but primarily from the viewpoint of trying to drive them without having an Autostar... direct PC-to-ETX. I haven't heard progress reports in a number of months. I'll forward their addresses in a bit... > Specific interest for me is > (1) What chips are on the motor board? which PIC chips they use are mentioned on the Meade PDF files (and maybe the telescope's manual) > (2) Are the motors PWM controlled by algorithms in the PIC, based on commanded goto positional data from the 68HC11? Yes. (Pulse Width Modulated for the non-acronym-scentii) No. The Autostar does 99% of the positional work. *it* compares encoder readout with desired position. The motors just whirr at Autostar-commanded speeds. > (3) Does the PIC micro take the encoder counts and place the > count data o the I2C bus or does it place osition data on the bus? 24-bit Raw encoder numbers (perhaps even change-of-encoder... the Autostar has roll-over capabilites, and Ye Olde Versions of the Firmware could be convinced to shw the raw encoder readout on the Display. > Has anyone put a protocol analyzer on the I2C bus yes... i've used a digital storage scope, and some of the above- mentioned folks/correspondents have used i2c adap[ters.... which leads to: > and figured out if Meade is using standard I2C protocol? no... they cheat. The i2c calls for 9-bit data cells, and i forget where the datalines are allowed to flip. Meade uses 8-bit cells, and flips/reads the data on either the leading or trailing edge of the clock depending upon their mood. (this drove a "real" i2c user batty until understood) If you have a 497/495 Autostar, the axes' datalines are a common wire. The clock lines are individually driven to provide "multiplexing". The AUX data and clock lines are totally separate. In a Starfinder/494Autostar, all three data lines are tied together, and the clocks serve as the "who should listen/talk" mechanism. > Just wondering... I have a 497 Autostar but no motor cards. My goal is > to make a Autostar based worm-drive mount for my scope. I have checked > out Bedair's site, very nice stuff. I want to use larger servo motors > and am thinking of building my own motor control circuits with PIC > micros, then use the Autostar for the brains of the system. May i suggest, since you can buy a complete-with-starfinder ETX60 for us$99 to $140, *do so*... and then perhaps hang a follower circuit across a dummy "motor" load resistor. Let your follower drive the bigger motors (although, why? the DS- motors seem to do quite a good job, looking at Steve's creations) (yes, yes... faster slew speeds...) (this will also give you a 350mm FL, 60mm aperture finderscope for your final instrument) Or, find a friend with a 4504 or DS- model... see if they've had Meade send replacement motor units for mechanical reasons. Peek inside. Perform long-term borrow... > Len Benschop - Ontario Canada ahh... increase all prices by 50%. Sorry... good luck... i'll dig up the other addresses... --dickAnd:
Thanks for the info Dick !! I have a NexStar5 ( I like the scope, just wish that it had worm gears and flashable memory). I am working on my own mount for a larger scope. I have the mount partially designed, I have already made the worm gears and worms. My original intention was to build and code a 68HC11 scope controller driving stepper motors. I have been aquiring parts and information for about a year and a half now. After visiting the Weasner ETX site and reviewing the Bedair scope mounts, I started leaning towards a home-built mount with an Autostar controller... Then it happened... I bid on and won a (brand new - still sealed) Autostar 497 for $80 CDN on e-bay. That's about $54 US. Not bad. The seller lived 10 minutes from me and dropped it off at the door (talk about service!!). He introduced me to the newly formed DRAA (Durham Region Astronomical Association). I couldn't dream of building and coding a micro for that kind of money (although the challenge is still lingering in my mind). Yes, Slew speed is the main concern for me. My worm gears are 245 teeth - with a thread pitch of 18 TPI on the worm. I'll need to crank on the motors to get a decent slew rate. Still chewing over if I could code a PIC at the motor to receive the velocity command and return the position data over the Meade version of I2C. I may have to break down and buy a 492 motor set - just to attempt a code upload from their PIC. This is going to be easier than building my own controller from scratch, but still maintains a technical challenge. A win-win situation. I'll keep you posted on what I come up with. Thanks again; Len BAnd this:
> I have a NexStar5 ( I like the scope, just wish that it had worm > gears and flashable memory). and here i've been, wishing my ETX had the Nexstar's Pittman gearbox. "the grass is always greener..." > I am working on my own mount for a larger scope. cool.. > I have already made the worm gears and worms. My original > intention was to build and code a 68HC11 scope controller driving > stepper motors. ... > us$54 Autostar via E-bay... > I couldn't dream of building and coding a micro for that kind of money Sound like me and my first micro... i'd settled on a mc6809, some form of memory mapping, picking through video controllers... and then Radio Shack brought out the Color Computer. $400 for a fully assembled system which'd cost me over $300 in parts. *and* with a sneaky new Motorola memory-mapper/video-chip (i called motorola and received photocopies of hand-written data sheets). No contest... and that CoCo was a hacker's paradise... they'll even run Unix (OS/9 as it was called... in 1985) > Yes, Slew speed is the main concern for me. My worm gears are 245 > teeth - with a thread pitch of 18 TPI on the worm. The worm pitch doesn't matter, does it? One turn advances the main gear one tooth. (it's late, i may be missing something obvious) So 245 turns per 360 degrees. The ETX has about 108 teeth, if i remember, so you're only 40% of that... You'll get 2.0 degrees/sec easily (i think). > I may have to break down and buy a 492 motor set - > just to attempt a code upload from their PIC. You may find that a fully-assembled ETX60 is cheaper than a motor set (altho i -have- seen motor sets on Ebay). have fun --dickAnd this:
Dick and Mike Thanks for the info... The ETXStar would have the metal fork arm(s), pittman motors and encoders and the Meade worm gears...oh yeah...and an Autostar Computer. The TPI comment - yup - you're right - only important if you desire to know the circumferential (is that a word?) speed of the worm gear
Ahhh; a fellow 6809er !! That was the first micro that I built a complete circuit around. (I only used the 6800 Motorola trainer board before that) I still have the original 6809 board that I built, 6821 PIA's, LED 7-segment displays and all !! A nostalgia item that I never will part with (who else would want it anyway?) Best Regards... Len Benschop
Subject: LX-90 Autostar Wandering Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 22:22:20 From: SixFootFve@aol.com Thank you very much for putting up the very helpful page. I recently purchased a LX-90 equipped with the Autostar. I had version 2Ek software on the Autostar and it was giving me fits with unsolicited "wandering" after performing a GOTO operation (like to the planet Saturn). What would happen is that when I tried to center Saturn up in the eyepiece after the GOTO, the Autostar would slowly point the telescope back to the starting position (only a few arc-minutes away). I repeated this several times trying to move the scope on both axis from different directions to get Saturn centered and the Autostar kept moving it back. Very frustrating! I think there are gremlins in my Autostar. I updated to 2Er hoping the problem would go away but it hasn't. Do you know of a fix for this? Thank you very much! Tom Nord Yonezawa, JapanMike here: The affect you're seeing is called "rubberbanding" or "creep after slew". It is fixed in 2.2Er but you have to RESET and RETRAIN. In fact, you should always RESET and RETRAIN following any Autostar ROM update.
Thank you for the quick reply. Your reset and retrain did the trick! No more wandering and much happier observing! Thank you! Best regards, Tom Nord
Subject: 497 Autostar Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 21:32:20 From: email@example.com (Gary Myers) has anyone done an analysis of the comms from the 497 to the scope? This is an I2C bus so you would have had to do a conversion to 232... if someone has the protocol established I would love to have the info. Gary Myers www.RXDesignOnline.comMike here: There are some articles about the communications and commands on the Autostar Information; look through there.
Subject: Autostar help Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 14:48:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Bert) I'm getting frustrated with trying to get the Autostar feature to work on my new 60AT. I can do a two star alignment and have it return to the original two stars within the field of view of the 29mm lens, but when I then try to view other objects it doesn't even come close to most of them. I've seen it be as far as 20 degrees off the moon. How in the world can it be so far off the moon and seem to go right back to the two alignment stars and a handful of other stars? DavidMike here: It sounds like you may have the Daylight Savings Time setting incorrect (one hour error equals 15 degrees). Check that. If it is correct, check the site location and the time you start the alignment. If everything is correct, is there a possibility that you accepted the alignment stars on the wrong stars?
I'm sure that it is the site location that is the problem. I have tried to figure out how to set the location, but I simply can't find it. There is no prompt for it and I can't find anything about it in the manual. So I'm assuming that it is the Alt/Az alignment that sets the location. In order to set that I simply focus on Polaris and drop the lens till the Dec is set on 0. That seems to me to be the only variable. Everything else that I'm doing appears to be correct. Since it is summer I use Vega and Altair as alignment stars. It's pretty hard to miss them. I'm in Las Vegas so I'm using PDT. Should I be using GMT? I just can't think of anything that I'm missing. :-(Mike here: It sounds like the Autostar was used before you got it (perhaps in the store). I suggest you RESET it (from the menu). When you do that you will be prompted for your location. You can change this later from the menus but I think you should do this RESET to clear out any "garbage" left over from people playing with it before you. The Autostar NEEDS to know its location (City or Latitude/Longitude) before it will operate correctly for GOTOs. And using PDT for Las Vegas is correct.
Subject: ETX90EC encoder problem Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 10:02:01 From: email@example.com Some time ago I had a problem with continuous motor errors on my scope preventing me from performing alignment actions, the scope would stop during when slewing to an alignment star. Eventually I discovered by accident a command on the Autostar [ver 1.somthing] that indicated the actual encoder values - I think I held the MODE key for 3 seconds whilst in a calibrate motor or train drive function but can not remember . I found that the Az encoder 'ticks' passed through 0 somewhere in the scopes normal movement range which I suspected may be responsible for the problem. I had been using the scope for terrestrial applications using the Autostar to move the scope and not going through a full astronomical alignment procedure and suspect that this may have confused the factory settings for the zero position of the encoders. To fix my motor fault issue I slackened off both mechanical locks and ran the motors until I reached the mid point of the numeric encoder ranges and then locked my scope at 45 degrees elevation and 180 degrees Azithmuth, I then used the motors to drive back to the home position and then re-initialised the scope. Once I had performed this step I could calibrate the motors and then set the alignment. I have now uploaded the latest Autostar firmware, re initialised and re-trained the drives etc and am once again having strange problems with my Autostar in that the scope actually moves 90 degrees for an Autostar indication of approximately 60 degrees, this has the effect of the scope running into the end stop during a go-to in the alignment steps. I can make the Autostar display 90 degrees for 90 degrees travelled in Azimuth by changing the Az ratio from approximately 1.3 to 1.9. but have not yet attempted a re alignment. The Attitude functions correctly. Note I always use Alt-Az mode My questions are :- 1) Do you or your readers know how to display the encoder information in the latest software 2) Is their an alignment procedure for making sure the encoders do not pass through 0 in normal use ( I think this confuses the scope) 3) What is the normal range of gear ratio's for Az and Alt Thank you Colin McKenzie Brussels firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Autostar features Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 16:12:01 From: email@example.com (Rick Kindelberger) Thanks so much for the great site. A wealth of info! I read somewhere on your site that with the new Autostar software (I don't know which revision) one could focus the ETX, or enter focus mode, using the Autostar with the Meade electric focuser. I also read somewhere that a spiral search can be started after a "goto" command by pressing the Autostar enter key for three seconds. I wrote this stuff down when I read it, but now I cannot find it again, and I was wondering if there were other features I might like to use that I don't know about. Is there some place where these features are listed? How do we find out about them? Thanks in advance, RickMike here: The LX90 manual (see the FAQ page for its location) has a lot of excellent info on the current Autostar software.
Subject: LX90 Creeping Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2001 03:57:45 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (bnewton) Hello. As a newcomer and not over bright, I hope you'll bear with me... My present frustration with the LX90 is 'creeping'. Not only after a go-to, but every time one adjusts with the arrow keys, or touches the focus. To be fair, I haven't yet trained the motors, or indeed made any adjustments via Autostar's menu's. The telescope creeps too far to keep an object in view even within the 26mm lens and it is really frustrating trying to calculate where the object has gone and reposition so that it eventually drifts back into view. I'd be really grateful if anyone has an idea to overcome this. The Autostar Info page is no help (to me) as I'm too dumb to programme a computer! And in Cyprus there's only one dealer, a great chap, but he's just trying to learn himself... The weather's hot here and we're naturally in shorts - and while I write a wild kitten is trying to climb my legs which already look as if they've been pulled through rolls of razor-wire! Good luck, and thanks for the opportunity to join in your site, Yours, Brian (Brian J. Newton)Mike here: As has been noted many times, RESET and RETRAIN cures most oddities. Since you have NEVER TRAINED I strongly urge you to do that. It is required for the Autostar #497 on the ETX models. Since I don't have an LX90 I can say whether or not it is required out-of-the-box with that model.
Thanks very much for the quick reply. Just after sending the original E-mail, I did retrain, twice over. Also found Autostar's default telescope was ETX - which is strange for one supplied with the LX90. I also followed a tip from your June update, in not wasting too much time on the alignment stars, while being as accurate as possible... and set the time a minute ahead. The result was a night of perfect performance. No creeping and excellent tracking, including Saturn for over an hour. Another difficulty I had before now, was finding true north, for the home position. I tried a compass, but the house is mainly reinforced concrete... with all that hidden iron, plus the telescope itself, the needle went haywire. Although Meade do not recommend using Polaris, I found, finally,that by centering Polaris perfectly and then lowering the scope to a horizontal position, the alignment stars came up well within the 26mm lens. After that, every 'GO TO' was wonderfully accurate. Thanks again and best wishes, Brian.
Subject: Upgrading Autostar Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 16:06:14 From: email@example.com (Rossi, Peter (Peter)) Your Web Site is my very favorite. I check it immediately after I receive the update notice from your Server. Like Jackie Gleason used to say, "You are the GREATEST". (I know, I left out the Baby part.) I just received my ETX-125EC back from Dr. Clay three weeks ago. It is loaded with Autostar Version 2.2Eh. Would it be beneficial for me to upgrade it to Version 2.2Er?? Has the upgrade solved known problems?? My problem is that I do not want to lose all of the work done by the FANTASTIC Dr. Clay. He programmed my four most used locations plus added a database of comets, satellites ... I guess my problem is that I don't understand how to upgrade the basic software version without affecting the other data. Do you, Clay and/or Dick have a step by step procedure for upgrading the software version without disturbing the customized data?? This process in writing would be a real asset to EVERY ETX owner!! If it already exists on the Site, I have not been able to find it. Thanks for your Site: Peter RossiMike here: If you are happy with 2.2Eh, don't give in to "version-itis". There are some improvements with 2.2Er but with Clay's tuneups you may not need the new version. As to detailed, step-by-step instructions, nope, no one has written one.
Thanks for your very prompt answer. Might be an interesting project for Dick to take under his wing if he has any free time to spare (Ha, ha!). Write up an Autostar upgrade instruction guide taking into account the different options. (Complete replacement, Partial replacement saving some client data and Partial replacement saving all client data.) The Autostar instructions leave a lot to be desired. You start the upgrade process not knowing if your ETX will ever work again. I know as an ETX owner, I have lots of questions regarding the upgrade process and the use of the Meade Utility Version 2.4 for addressing and updating the Autostar. Such a guide would be a HUGE HELP. Such a guide would lower your Server traffic volume. Such a guide would be an instant success!!! A MILLION Thanks to you, Clay and Dick!!!!!! Peter Rossi
Subject: Alignment problems Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 00:36:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ken W Anderson) When I do an easy 2 star alignment, I have a concern . Lets say I pick my first star as vega, I hit enter and it starts to slew to vega, it stops , it is somewhat close. I have to unlock my declination and radial to move the scope?shouldnt I be able to center vega with the slew keys on the autostar? before I go to my next target which would be arcturus and the same happens on that star as well. It just seems to me I should be able to use the autostar movement keys to allign instead of unlocking the axis.Mike here: You are correct. Use the slewing arrow keys to center the alignment stars. Do not unlock the axes to move the telescope tube by hand. If you can't detect any motion when slewing to an alignment star, increase the slewing speed by pressing a number key (assuming you have an Autostar with the keypad).
Subject: Dead ETX 90 Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 22:17:20 From: email@example.com (Ted Weiler) It was suggested I send my question to you guys... I had a very sad thing happen the other night and wondered if any one else had ever had the same, or similar experience. We were on vacation and it was a fabulous clear night in the high desert in Eastern Oregon. I set up my ETX 90 to use with StarryNight Pro on my laptop as I have done numerous times before. Turned on the laptop, turned on the scope. Everything started to initialize normally. Then the AutoStar display started to dim and I smelled something burning. I quickly disconnected everything. Unfortunately, the ETX90 electronics are dead and it appears that the serial port and PCMCIA ports are dead, or badly wounded, on my laptop. I'll know better when I get to the office tomorrow. The scope is under warranty and it will go back to them in the morning. Both the scope and laptop were being powered from a 12 volt deep-cycle battery. The scope connected directly and the laptop through a 12-volt power adapter. All polarities were correct. Thoughts on what might have caused this? Ted and Marie Weiler www.WeilerClan.orgMike here: Did you inadvertantly have the serial cable from the computer plugged into the ETX base or the Autostar? Some users have made the error of plugging it into the ETX base and that can lead to problems like you've reported.
I am beginning to think that must be what happened. I am fairly new to it but have set it up a number of times over the last few months and done it correctly. As soon as things started to go south I immediately disconnected everything. It all happened pretty quickly and it was a week ago. I simply don't know. I suppose it would actually be good to know if that is what happened rather than have it be a mystery. I imagine Meade will let me know when they get a look at it. Hopefully it will be covered under warranty. If not, do you have any idea what it costs to repair/replace the electronics? Seems like a bit of a hole in what appears to be an otherwise very good design. I design medical equipment. We would never consider having the same connector for two uses which if connected improperly would destroy the device. I wonder what made them think that was a good idea? I was just referred to your site and haven't had a chance to look around much yet but it appears to be full of good ETX information. Thanks for putting it together. I am sure it will help me a lot as I get in to this (once I get my scope back). TedMike here: I agree that using similar ports for different purposes can be a problem. Sort of like using a DB-25 for both SCSI and RS-232 serial. Or phone RJ-11 jacks for non-phone devices... Point being that Meade is not alone in this flaw in human factors design. As to whether that will be covered under warranty, only Meade can say.
Subject: Re: Autostar-OLD version-dead Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 16:32:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Nick JustNick) Ok Mike...thanks for the response. I have 2.4 Updater and the ROMs...however, the autostar is dead. I mean NOTHING happens when I hook it up to AC power and turn on the etx. I can hear it "clicking" but after that nothing...no lights, no beeps, nothing. Is it time to bury this poor thing or is there some way to "force" it to accept new software? Thanks in advance for all the help. NickMike here: If the SAFE LOAD mode doesn't work, then it is time to check batteries (or use an AC Adapter) and connections. To try SAFE LOAD, hold down the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN (not SLEW DOWN) keys and while keeping them down, turn on the ETX power. If the Autostar is working you'll see the words SAFE LOAD on the display.
Just to clarify the situation (and maybe in all of your email you've heard of someone in the same boat): Currently NOTHING works on the autostar, not with batteries, not with AC power. I plug it all in, power up the scope and it stays blank...all I can hear is some faint clicks and thats it. When hooked up to the PC and appropriate cables I power it up while holding down the keys indicated and still nothing. Is there anything at all you've heard of to recover a dead autostar with old software that will not respond to any safe-load attempts or direct power ups? Thanks again, NickMike here: The info on the "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" article (Autostar Info page) might help. See the part about using a terminal program. But if no display, I suspect there is a problem in the ETX base, the jack, the cable, or Autostar jack, or the Autostar itself. If you can try another ETX or Autostar, you should be able to tell which is bad. If you have the standard handcontroller, does it work?
Subject: Autostar 2Er upgrade problem Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 17:39:55 From: email@example.com (Larry Clay) I just recreantly got my new ETX125 and Autostar 497. The Autostar came with ver. 22Eh. I got the Roms22Er.zip file from the Meade Autostar update site and unzipped the files and downloaded to my Autostar per the instructions using the new Autostar Update Client. To my surprise, after doing the download I discovered that my Autostar was now at ver. 21Ek! I recalled seeing something about this in the archives on your site so I went and re-read the post ( July 26, 2001 from Don Williamson). He apparently had a similar problem and was directed by Meade support to download the actual files (Autostar.ROM and DBase.ROM) from the update site. This fixed his problem. OK, said I, I'll do the same thing. After downloading the files mentioned above and updating my Autostar I found that I was still at ver. 21Ek!!! It would appear that in an attempt to fix the files on the update site, the Meade engineers fix it real good! Now there isn't any way to get the correct files from Meade. I plan on contacting Meade Monday during normal business hours to inform them of the problem. In the mean time, can you possible email the correct Autostar.ROM and DBase.ROM files to me? Zipped or not, I have a broadband connection. If you don't feel comfortable doing this I will understand, but I have no idea how long it will take Meade to correct the files on their site. Thanks, Larry ClayMike here: After you downloaded the file from the portion of the Autostar Update page (Meade's site) which shows:
07/06/01 ETX Autostar model #497 Roms22Er.zip (file size 426,434 bytes) This file contains both Autostar.rom, Dbase.rom, and update.txt. Update.txt is a text file containing the major changes from version 21Ek. Please note that this version is ENGLISH only.You have to manually REPLACE the two ROM files in the Ephemerides folder with the new ones (dated July 5, 2001). Once you do that rerun the Autostar Update Client application A2.4 (which came with 2.1Ek, which you just replaced with the 2.2Er ROM files). Is this what you did? And an update on the Update.
Thanks, you nailed it. I copied the files to the Autostar Update folder instead of the Autostar Update\Ephemerides folder. I had miss-read the instructions. I really hate when I do that, but at least no one can say I'm perfect:. FYI the zipped files on the Autostar update site are correct now. Keep up the good work. Your ETX site is great. Larry ClayMike here: I suggest you NOT call Meade. Isn't it terrible that we always jump to conclusions like that. Glad you were able to determine what was wrong.
Subject: ETX 125 Motor Training Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 14:43:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed) There's a question I've been searching the site for and haven't found an answer. If one wishes to re-train the motors, must the AutoStar" be 'Reset' first? I have re-trained several times, each time doing a reset first. It's a real pain having to re-enter the site information after each reset. Ed..Mike here: No need to RESET. I just RETRAIN if the Autostar acts up (and I'm sure it is not operator error...). However, if RETRAINING doesn't solve the problem then do a RESET and RETRAIN. And whenever the Autostar ROM is updated, do a RESET and RETRAIN. But there should not be a need to RETRAIN very often if it was done well.
Subject: Re: Alignment malfunction Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 12:41:34 From: email@example.com (John Wood) Thanks Mike. RESET and RETRAIN worked fine. There had been no Autostar upgrade but a new battery for power. Regards...............John At 09:04 PM 01-08-08 EDT, you wrote: >I always recommend that if the Autostar goes batty, RESET and RETRAIN. >Solves most ills. Let me know.
Subject: Change telescope model Sent: Friday, August 10, 2001 21:45:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (theodorejr) I recently downloaded the newest version of the autostar software 22.er and uploaded it to a 495 and a497 etx Autostar. I can nolonger change the telescope model Is this a common situation Thanks Ted TheodoreMike here: Do you mean you can't select the proper model (it doesn't show in the menu) or that the ">" doesn't appear by the model you previously selected?
Subject: Autostar-OLD version-dead Sent: Friday, August 10, 2001 9:29:48 From: email@example.com (Nick JustNick) Great site, I've visited many time but never really had a problem with my ETX EC...until now. I had version 1.0c (I know, 400 years old) and I finally got the #505 cable set and proceeded to upgrade to the latest and greatest. However, something died during the "downlaoading...do not turn off" phase and eventually it just went blank. I got the ETX and autostar over 2 years ago (at least) and so I don't know what to do about getting it replaced or repaired. Before I have to resort to going back to the Discovery store and getting another one, are they ANY "Flash Loads" or other tricks that you know people have used on version 1.0c? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, NickMike here: Using the 2.4 Autostar Updater application and 2.2Er ROMs (according to the info on the "Important Download Information" page; you should have been able to update, even from 1.0c. Might have seemed locked up but might not have been. Previously, you had to set up to version 1.3, and then upgrade to the latest from there. But that may have changed with the latest versions. Any chance that your batteries died during the download?
Subject: upgrading autostar and blown rs232 ports Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2001 17:36:03 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Sharpe) Great site.... I recently purchased an etx125ec. The first night the unit seemed to slew to the 2 alignment stars (polar mode) OK, but every other slew was barely in the finder scope. after reading up on your site, i decided to tune up the unit myself, performing all of the hardware mods mentioned on your site. When I got to the software upgrade for the autostar controller, all hell broke loose. I downloaded the latest revision from meade, and hooked up all cables with power off to all systems. After booting up the computer, and the scope, I ran the meade program and it could not find the autostar. I doublechecked all port settings 9600, 8,1 no parity, no handshaking, and tried again. Still no luck. I shorted pins 2+3 on my rs232 port on the computer, and using hyperterminal could not see any characters come back. Thinking this was a computer problem I then got my laptop and performed the shorting test on it's rs232 port. I could see the characters coming back into hyperterminal when I shorted 2+3, and verified that they did not come back when the pins were not shorted. I ohmed out all cables and checked wiring of the rj11?? to the db9 connector...All seemed OK according to the several drawings that were on your site. With everything looking good, I then proceeded to rehook up autostar, scope, and laptop computer with all power off. I rebooted and tried to update autostar....Same results, the meade program reported that it could not find autostar. Looking at the control panel / system/ device manager, all com ports reported OK. I then repeated the com port test on my laptop, shorting out pins 2+3, and to my surprise, the characters did not come back. This setup fried my com port on the laptop! I then purchased a pci serial card, and tried the whole mess again. same result, Hyperterminal reported good results shorting pins 2+3 BEFORE I hooked up the autostar / etx125, and failed the pin 2+3 test after the autostar update failed....3 attempts, 3 fried com ports... For several days i have been trying to get a response from meade, their customer service dept tells me it's a software problem, and passes me over to a phone that has an endless ring, with no answer.... Note that I am using the meade AC adapter with this setup. It is putting out 15vdc, although the transformer says 12vdc. But from the email i have read on your site, this seems normal. I have plans to get the SAC IV ccd imager, and starry night pro, to control the etx, but at this point I am hesitant about plugging the telescope / autostar into anything, lest it gets blown to smithereens.... My attack plan at this point is threefold: 1- Harass Meade incessantly until I get to talk to somebody who can help me there 2- Verify proper voltages on the rs232 lines coming out of the Meade 3- Sending you this e-mail in the hopes that someone out there has had a similar experiance and can share some knowledge... I am also considering putting another external serial card at risk by attempting an autostar upgrade with the AC adapter unplugged, just on internal battery power. Another thing I have noticed is that if I have all the cables hooked up, autostar to scope to pc, and power up the pc first, the power led on the scope lights up halfway. When I power up the scope, it reaches normal brightness. I assume this is just the rs232 power from the pc causing the half lit state. Is this normal? Could this be part of my problem? Thanks for any input you might have, and keep up the good work on the site. I am impressed enough with the wealth of information here that I have made your site my startup homepage! Thanks, Bob SharpeMike here: Two things: I have NEVER seen my ETX LED light up with the computer power. But then I don't use a PC so can't say whether that is normal for PCs. The comm test mentioned on the Site is obviously not supported by Meade and any tech you talk to there may or may not be aware of it. As to what's happening, from what you describe it sounds like a wire may be crossed someplace, in the ETX base itself, the serial cable, the Autostar, or perhaps your comm ports (although the latter seems unlikely since you have used different comm ports).
From: email@example.com (richard seymour) If you check out the procedure outlined at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_test.html and http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html they detail how to test the Autostar end of the game... it has a self-test which will verify that its connections and internal components are happy... no need to sacrifice another PC card. --dickAnd:
I tried to get the autostar in the "rs232 testing" mode, but with no success. It looks like the autostar, or whatever electronics are in the scope is the cause. I tested this using scope battery power only, as I am wary of the unregulated ac supply and my blown rs232 ports.... I will probably bring the autostar back to the discovery store, where i bought it. They are usually pretty good about doing exchanges. Do you know what electronics are on the little board in the scope? Are the rs232 lines just hardwired to each jack in parallel, or do they go thru some chips before going out to the autostar?? Anybody have a schematic on the board supporting all the jacks? Thanks for all your help! Bob.Mike here: There is "Dick Seymour's Autostar Schematics" article on the Autostar Information page but nothing on the board inside the ETX base.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) er... does the light dawn? > Do you know what electronics are on the little board in the scope? > Are the rs232 lines just hardwired to each jack in parallel, or do > they go thru some chips before going out to the autostar?? Anybody > have a schematic on the board supporting all the jacks? The rs232 lines do not GO through the base of the scope. If you have been plugging your PC's serial cable into the AUX jacks on the scope... that's the problem. Don't DO that!!! They are NOT rs232. The only rs232 port is on the Autostar -itself-. On the bottom, right under the scroll-up key. If you've been plugging -anywhre- else, that's the probable reason for death-of-serial ports (unregulated 16v directly into your PC, although an rs232 input should be able to handle that (since the original standard was +/- 25v ) If you had a Starfinder (no numeric keypad), then yes, you'd plug a #506 serial cable in to the AUX jack... but they still are NOT rs232. (the 506 generates rs232 all by itself). --dickAnd more from Dick:
...and, re-reading your original message, (mis)usage of the AUX ports would definitely cause the dim-LED symptom you reported (and which i missed on the first reading). So, i suspect your Autostar and (with luck) ETX are still happy (do you have a focuser?)... although you could have conceivably damaged the Autostar's AUX driver circuits. The AUX connections on the ETX's inner circuit card are merely printed-circuit traces putting the two AUX ports in parallel with eachother, and with two of the Autostar's signal lines and the power and ground. No active nor passive circuitry at all, other than that. --dickAnd the best news (and a warning):
From: email@example.com (bob sharpe) i'm embarrased.....very embarrased..... You are right, I was plugging the pc line into the AUX line of the scope, assuming the signals went thru the HBX port. I do have an autofocuser, but luckily, everything seems to still work! Retracing my steps, I re-read the meade instructions on the web that instruct how to use the cable set to upload to autostar.....it's all there, including their warning NOT TO PLUG INTO THE AUX PORT! Now, I read this stuff before attempting anything, but I think I made 3 critical errors: 1- I glossed over the instructions at warp speed, due to the fact that I work on electronics just about every other day! Didn't give it a 2nd thought! AUX means RS232, right???? 2- I was so hyped up about learning how to use the scope ( this astronomy is all new to me ), that AGAIN i speed-read the scope manual, and somehow assumed that AUTOSTAR and SCOPE were one entity, not 2 separate objects to be treated separatly. ( Hook the pc cable up to the AUTOSTAR, the instructions said...) 3- In my speed reading hell, I somehow gleened that the 4 conductor port on the AUTOSTAR was to be used ONLY for cloning to another autostar. Now, considering that, for a living, I 1- Run my own semiconductor manufacturing equipment parts, refurbishment, and repair business 2- Help design boards using Protel 3- Repair all sorts of complicated boards for this equipoment 4- Program in VB and C 5- etc, etc, etc for me to make this kind of error is akin to : 1- a baker mistaking salt for flour 2- a bartender making a strawberry daiqueri, using bud lite... 3- Jesse Jackson preachin about infidelity....( wait, that won't work...) anyhow, I've decided to take a step back, and just observe the waxing gibbous moon for the next 3 months, until I can once again trust myself to plug a 3 pronged plug into a 3 holed socket ...... naahh, i'm goin after saturn this weekend, if possible...... thanks again for all your help.... Bob.And:
Since the focuser system involves two-way communication with the Autostar ("are you there?" "yes"), the fact that it still works indicates a fully-happy autostar. ..which leaves you free to start repairing a bunch of PC/laptop serial ports.... glad it turned out OK... --dick Idiot-proofing is EASY... professional-proofing is perhaps impossible..Mike here: catches all us professionals!
Subject: Question about High Precision and Synchronizing Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2001 15:21:21 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (hpwallner) I use "high precision" nearly entirely during observing sessions -with DS motors (Vers.22ef) and with my ETX 125 base with an Astro-Rubinar 100/1000 Vers.22er. Of course there`s a noticeable improvement in GOTO accuracy. But as I want to understand things better here`s my question: Using HP Autostar slews to a star near the object i want to observe and asks to center it. Does this "overwrite" the entire align process? As i understand it HP syncronizes the current telescope position to the calculated position of the star. The encoder system counts the steps while centering and takes them into account for the final GOTO calculations -right? I didn`t notice any inacurracy in HP GOTO to different parts of the sky. So what exactly is the "Enter to syncronize" function doing? Basically you have to do the same steps as in HP. Centering a star and press enter. But why does this only work for a limited part of the sky? Does this function "magnify" initial setup errors like time, north, level..? And why does new firmware improve GOTO accuracy? I can understand that with the solar system objects (better and more accurate algorithms) but with the stars? Isnt the encoder resolution a limit? Thanks: Peter WallnerMike here: I can't say whether GOTO accuracies are really "improved" with 2.2Er or just what the user experiences is improved. However, what can be improved are to allow more variations in the HOME position accuracy as well as the math used to do the calculations. The more precise the developer can make all the calculations the more precise the GOTOs will be, even with (typically leveling) errors introduced in the HOME position. As to the math behind the HP mode, I'll leave that to our Autostar expert, Dick Seymour.
From: email@example.com (richard seymour) Quick short answer re: HP: "I don't know". It's a -really- messy/convoluted chunk of code... my hunch is that it biases the alignment, at a fairly esoteric level (i.e. as if you'd done a 3-star align), rather than simply keep a "ten steps left, 5 steps up" offset. Someday i'll have that chunk better understood, but at the moment it's rather beyond me. So it's a constant tuning procedure... if the guide star is centered when you get there, then you're not changing alignment. Warning: if you hit [enter] -during- the slewing to a guide star, the alignment -does- get totally whacky... > Does this "overwrite" the entire align process? better to think that it "skews" it a little bit. > >So what exactly is the "Enter to syncronize" function doing? HP and SYNC are -exactly- the same operation, where the scope knows the RA/Dec of the target, and your eyeball is adjusting the position. But the Autostar doesn't give up on what it already "knew", so it's a stretch (with trig functions attached) rather than a shift. > >But why does this only work for a limited part of the sky? Well, it improves it closest to the new "anchor" point, but there's no reason that it should mess up the rest of the sky, unless the initial alignment (or scope base placement) was poor. I've had SYNC improve 90% of my sky at times. >Does this function "magnify" initial setup errors like time, north, > level..? doesn't touch "time", and how much it skews the others is a case-by-case answer. IF you're in Alt/Az, and your base isn't level, then the Az axis is tilted relative to the sky... and things go downhill from there (the scope actually determines from the alignment that it's at a different Lat/Long than the Site says). >>And why does new firmware improve GOTO accuracy? I can understand that > >with the solar system objects (better and more accurate algorithms) >> but with the stars? IsnYent the encoder resolution a limit? What they keep tweaking and (hopefully) improving is/are the minor corrections and elements of the equations used in determining where to put the scope for a given RA/Dec. And backlash corrections. The Autostar uses really primitive floating point (32-bit... hence 6 plus a smidge significant digits) and rolls with it. Your PC, for exmple, can use 32-, 64- and 80-bit floating point. There are -lots- of minor tweaks they're constantly adding/tuning to try and improve how well it works. Long-term Comets were another recent improvement. (pushed by Linear A2) Mike said: > I can't say whether GOTO accuracies are really "improved" with 2.2Er > or just what the user experiences is improved. i vote for both. In some cases MEade has -removed- complications in some of the motions... trusting/demanding better Polar setup if the user has an LX-90, for example. They -do- get better... there are occaisonal potholes in their code, but overall the general user experience has grown much richer... --dickAnd more from Dick:
I said: > occasional potholes... but i must admit to not finding any new ones in 22eR. It's really solid (there are a couple of teeny tiny old ones, but they're very esoteric (such as poorly handling satellites with -really- eccentric (0.7) orbits...)(or geostationaries). it gets the geostationaires half-right: it shows where they are *now*... then decides they'll set in 4 hours. --dickAnd:
Thanks to both of you. Having "more stars alignment" would be an improvement Dick. At the moment i`m quite happy with GOTO accuracy. One question: Does the larger worm gear (LX90) influence GOTO accuracy? - I think no because the encoder resolution is still the same -Alt.and Az. rates are changed but the basic calculations are still the same. And I get great results with both setups. I hope Meade`s "esoteric" level is restricted to there alignment procedure (ritual?) I agree -user experience is very important. That`s why i like the Autostar - you have to learn and try a lot. Most of the times (if it doesn`t work like i want it to) i find out that the mistake was on my side. Satellite tracking was such a learnig experience. Thanks again Hans Peter Wallner
Subject: Alignment malfunction Sent: Wednesday, August 8, 2001 17:54:28 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Wood) Mike, thanks again for all the work you put in maintaining your site. It is a stupendous resource in learning and trouble shooting the ETX. Last night, after several weeks working well, I had a new (to me) problem. I placed the ETX-125 horizontally pointing North and turned it on. After the preliminaries I chose easy align. Autostar chose a star then slewed the ota straight up, past the zenith and kept the declination motor running while it rotated it to NW . After pressing "enter" it left it pointing almost straight up and rotated back to E. The ra settings may well have been correct for the stars chosen but the declination was clearly wrong. After turning off and putting it back in home position, the same thing happened a second time. I have not read of others describing this malfunction. Do I just have to do a "reset"? Regards..............JohnMike here: Have you received upgraded to a newer Autostar version? If so, it sounds like you need to do a RESET and RETRAIN. If you haven't upgraded, doing a RETRAIN can solve the problem (depending upon why it occurred in the first place). If that doesn't work, then RESET and RETRAIN. I always recommend that if the Autostar goes batty, RESET and RETRAIN. Solves most ills. Let me know.
Subject: autostar update 2.1ek Sent: Wednesday, August 8, 2001 11:20:06 From: email@example.com (jt.stinson) I recently downloaded and upgraded my autostar 497 to version 2.1ek. I had no trouble discovering a couple of major problems with this version. After reading up on your site i see that although these problems have been identified there seems to be no fix. If this is the case i need to know so i can get rid of this version asap. Currently i can not observe with this version. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Jamie.sMike here: I strongly suggest you update to 2.2Er, available on Meade's site (since 6 July 2001).
I guess in my frantic panic i gapped that one. I didn't even see that upgrade. It must be this blastid heat wave. We Canadians are just not used to it. I didn't think the thermometers went this high. Thanks again. Jamie.s
Subject: Re: LX90 manual, Autostar abbreviations Sent: Wednesday, August 8, 2001 4:37:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Emory Braswell) Thanks for your quick answer. I downloaded it last night from the astronomics site. But I still havn't found a good glossary for all the abbreviations used by autostar in the star descriptions. What a great site and what great experts! Emory BraswellAnd:
From: email@example.com (richard seymour) Well.... let's take a stab at it... Since there are (perhaps) thousands.. Can you provide specific examples of which abbreviations are among the more opaque? Some require/expect some background reading, such as the "Del. Scut." you sometimes see... (Delta Scutum-type variable star, so named because Delta Scutum was the first commented-upon example.) (but i'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to dig deeper into what kind of variable that is). (HR is Harvard Revised... the original Bright Star list used for the database (see postings under "database" in Mike's "Autostar Info")) So please provide a clue/starting point, and we'll ramble from there. --dick
Subject: Re: ADVENTURES WITH AUTOSTAR Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2001 21:45:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) To: Ed Johnson (EdHiker@mediaone.net) v22eR is better in the creep-after-beep arena than 22eH, but careful training and percentage-setting help, too. If you always make your final slew in a with-sidereal direction, that'll also pretty much cancel it (i know you can't control how a GoTo arrives... but accurate training (setup > telescope > Training > Az Train (and Alt Train) -can- completely remove creep-after-beep. > I made a test bed, using two Meade motor assemblies running a > ALT-AZ platform having gear ratios of 82 and 89, with a > small refractor attached. cool... DS- or 4504- motors? > The first thing noticed is that "creeping after the beep". > I would assume that the beep means it's done acquiring > the object, all to be done now is compensate for the earth's > rotation. Did I assume wrong? Training motors has made this > a sometimes affair, a bit of a game. How do I turn all this > black-box-itis off? What you're usually seeing is the backlash-compensation invoked by the motors -reversing- from the GoTo (or manual) slew to the direction mandated by the sidereal drive. > The printed Autostar manual is abysmal, so I printed out the > version from Meades website, making an enlarged/sharpened > copy of "AUTOSTAR PRIMARY MENUS AND OPTIONS" > that is where I make my notes --- things like > "sync", "slew speed", and how to enter RA/DEC for GO TO. The Autostar manual also does not cover the "Browse" and "Spiral Search" introduced with 21eK. For those, refer to the LX90 manual http://www.qsl.net/wb5rue/lx90.pdf (that link will be valid for only a few days... it's posted elsewhere, too (the Files section of the LX90 egroup, astronomics)...but that's the link i can find at this moment) > The manual has no index, under Acrobat (and any browser) you can search for text.... > The jury is still out as to how well all this will work. > Last night, I got to within 1/4 degree of most nearby > objects, after using SYNC. Tracking is nothing to write > home about, more testing to be done. You should be able to get within 1/4 degree, i'd think. > I tried three planetarium/astronomy programs, my vote goes for > ECU, its fast, intuitive, and fun to use it controls and tracks > through the Autostar. http://www.nova-astro.com/index.html thanks for the reference... good luck --dick
Subject: autostart Sent: Monday, August 6, 2001 21:19:30 From: email@example.com (Vincent Autieri) My telescope came with the autostar but no Meade Autostar #505 Connector. I'm sure I have the connectors to construct a compatable one, but I don't have the pin layout(the DB9 side is a no brainer, but I don't know about the other side.) I would be grateful if you knew what it was and could pass it along. Otherwise I'll need to order and wait... Thanks in any case! VMike here: See the cable info on the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site. Also, the Meade Autostar manual online has the info.
Subject: ADVENTURES WITH AUTOSTAR Sent: Monday, August 6, 2001 18:55:29 From: EdHiker@mediaone.net (Ed Johnson) ADVENTURES WITH AUTOSTAR -- a few days after my Meade motor system first light (or is it first flight?) -- The following should be taken in spirit of adventure, this is all new. How perfect is "PERFECT GO TO"? Amateur telescopes can reasonably aspire to 30 arcseconds RMS, placing objects in the center of even the highest-power eyepiece. http://www.tpsoft.demon.co.uk/pointing.htm ****************************************** I made a test bed, using two Meade motor assemblies running a ALT-AZ platform having gear ratios of 82 and 89, with a small refractor attached. Firmware downloaded and installed is 22eh. It took some looking to find out that Meades updater called an earlier version, not from the web, but residing where else than in a folder called "ephemerides". (I renamed the two files in question and unplugged my modem) -- later I see "Mike here: If you grabbed the Autostar Updater 2.4 from Meade, the downloaded ZIP file includes 2.1Ek. To get the 2.2Er ROMs, download them from Meade site, unzip them and place them in the ephemerides folder, overwriting the older ones that are there. Then run the Updater and download to the Autostar." The first thing noticed is that "creeping after the beep". I would assume that the beep means it's done acquiring the object, all to be done now is compensate for the earth's rotation. Did I assume wrong? Training motors has made this a sometimes affair, a bit of a game. How do I turn all this black-box-itis off? The printed Autostar manual is abysmal, so I printed out the version from Meades website, making an enlarged/sharpened copy of "AUTOSTAR PRIMARY MENUS AND OPTIONS" that is where I make my notes --- things like "sync", "slew speed", and how to enter RA/DEC for GO TO. (today I used this for tracking the sun, (with filter)) The manual has no index, on a couple of occasions, I've used Google goes to the appropriate Weasner page. The learning curve is a bit steep for something sold in department stores! The jury is still out as to how well all this will work. Last night, I got to within 1/4 degree of most nearby objects, after using SYNC. Tracking is nothing to write home about, more testing to be done. I tried three planetarium/astronomy programs, my vote goes for ECU, its fast, intuitive, and fun to use it controls and tracks through the Autostar. http://www.nova-astro.com/index.html Ed JohnsonMike here: Just a reminder: RESET and RETRAIN following any Autostar update.
Subject: LX90/Autostar menu question Sent: Monday, August 6, 2001 17:13:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Bader) I recently discovered your Mighty ETX page and have learned quite a bit browsing around. However, I'd like to ask for a pointer or two about the Autostar menu, if you have a moment. (BTW, I really got a kick of you posing with the ETX. Ain't digital wonderful?) Basically, I haven't been able to figure out how to get access to most of the 16,888 stars stored in it. When I browse a constellation, I can get maybe the first 5 to 8 Greek-letter stars before it recycles back to alpha. It's not much better when I go via the double-star route. While I've gotten a few lists of interesting double stars (I'm a junkie) off the net, including the 10-page MAPUG list, I find that many of the SAO numbers aren't in my Autostar. And while it works fine entering the coordinates, I'd like to benefit from what all is there. Recently, someone posted a question (more or less) about this to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lx90 . In message 10857, Clay Sherrod replied by suggesting pressing buttons to "learn the vast amount that some unidentified programmer has done an excellent job of cramming into that little Autostar of ours." I've tried every button-pressing approach I can think of, and haven't figured out how to get farther than I have. (BTW, my membership in the message group has been pending for several days, or I wouldn't be bugging you! Thanks for your patience, if you've gotten this far.) Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance. Regards, Bill BaderMike here: When you go under Select Object, select Stars. Then scroll to see all the options there (e.g., Named, Double, Variable, SAO Catalog).
Subject: Re: updating autostar Sent: Sunday, August 5, 2001 4:59:53 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) To: Jason Thanks for the kind words! There are so many great articles posted on Mike's ETX site for the Autostar that I would refer you to: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html which is the overall directory index for all of them. Under that you will find a plethora of material that you need from "flash loads" to versions, to re-entering your lost astronomical data, and yes - to even uploading new firmware! Dick Seymour and others have done a tremendous job on keeping all of us up to date on the latest and best methods (and frustrations!) with Autostar and new versions. If you don't find what you need there, please write back. Good luck! By the way, v2.2eR is a very good version for the ETX and LX 90 scopes....one of the best so far. Clay Sherrod -----Original Message----- hey clay, great job guiding us. im sure you know how invaluable your contribution is. is there a page on this site or any site for that matter that deals with updating the autostar? i have the cable, and am ready to do it, but in true meade style, the instructions are minimalism at their best. thank you for your help. jason
Subject: Autostar satellites list? Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2001 9:08:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (pst) If you like to view comets, asteroids, and satellites then you need to constantly update your autostar with current ephemerides. Harvard University has a nice site http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Soft16.html that posts CURRENT comet and asteroid (minor planet) ephemerides in AUTOSTAR format. All you do is download the file and drop it onto the autostar updater. I have not found a site that does the same for CURRENT satellite ephemerides. I do know that Heavens-Above (http://www.heavens-above.com/) and Celestrak (http://www.celestrak.com/) have orbit data for sats, but I don't think either regularly posts CURRENT sat data in AUTOSTAR format. Does anyone know of such a site? Thanks! PaulAnd:
From: email@example.com (pst) On Thursday, August 2, 2001, at 08:14 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > Nice find about the Harvard site. It would be nice if someone did the > same for current satellites. Thanks. Actually, someone does. I did not realize it, but the proper file format for autostar satellites is simply the TLE format. I just tried it. I originally thought that the file would need to be in some type of Meade proprietary format, but the files from Celestrak work fine! Just drag the file to the updater! Paul
Subject: Park and GOTO hitting a stop on Two-Star Alignment Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2001 22:08:35 From: email@example.com (Blais Klucznik) Several weeks ago I mentioned that it is possible to have the GOTO run into one of its mechanical STOPS while slewing per 497 GOTO command. Although there has been skepticism from a few readers plus the fact that it happened very seldom it was somewhat hard to prove. Well this condition arrived again last night. As I had PARKed the ETX125 just prior to bringing all equipment into the house a few days ago, I once again took the scope outside and positioned it on the 887 pointing within a few degrees of Polaris although still in the horizontal PARK'ed position. PARK'ed that is using the Rev2.2er ROM software GOTO command. When it got dark enough, and after initializing the 497 I raised the scope using the 497 and just had to tap the left arrow to center the 'North' star in the eyepiece. The next step was to lower the declination until the OTA was level with ground for I am using the AltAz mounting. Then I started the Two-Star alignment. The first star was DENEB and the scope slewed so that it placed DENEB just slightly below the crosshair in the finder. A slight nudge of the down arrow and it was centered. For the second star I chose ARCTURUS. The scope slewed clockwise and drove into a mechanical stop before it could reach the RA or horizontal coordinate of ARCTURUS. At this point I shut off all power and used the familiar mechanical adjustment to locate the CCW stop etc. Now according to Meade's UPDATE.TXT file that is included in the ROMS22ER.ZIP file PARK command should, I would assume, return the scope to the original HOME position you started with. Quoting from that same UPDATE.TXT file: "4) For ETX-90 and ETX-125, park position is always home position." Apparently I mis-interpret Meade's statement. The PARK command simply seems to move the OTA level with ground and pointing North. So I suggest that when you are ready to start to align your scope the next time out first insure you are positioned per the manual, ie, approximately 130-140 degrees CW of its CCW stop. Blais Klucznik firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Autostar upgrade problem Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2001 22:04:15 From: RLibby@aol.com I an currently using ver 2.0, and was trying to download the 2.ek using the A 2.4 download program. After verifying that there was an autostar present, it set up, all set to go... Clicking on "get from web", it tells me that the firmware is current.. How do I get to ver 2.1ek? Ralph LibbyMike here: If you grabbed the Autostar Updater 2.4 from Meade, the downloaded ZIP file includes 2.1Ek. To get the 2.2Er ROMs, download them from Meade site, unzip them and place them in the Emphemerides folder, overwriting the older ones that are there. Then run the Updater and download to the Autostar.
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