AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 August 2002
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 etx@me.com. 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:	Modem connection?
Sent:	Friday, August 30, 2002 14:15:18
From:	eregouf@hotmail.com (Dr. Paul Fougere)
Thank you for your quick reply to my last email.

I now have a technical question.   I own a new MAC G4 , 733MHz.  This
beast has a built in Internal 56K V.90 modem, which is connected using
an ordinary telephone handset connection.  Can I  use this as one end of
a cable to be used for downloading upgrades from the Meade web site?  It
seems to me very silly to use the 505 cable set with a 4-pin to 8-pin
cable followed by a serial adapter followed by a serial to USB adapter. 
Isn’t  the modem connection on the MAC a serial port?

I have VPC 5.0, so that I should have no problem doing a PC download
followed by an upload to the 487b autostar.

Thanks again!

Paul F.
Mike here: The phone jack on a modem is for the phone line and is NOT a serial connection (as in RS-232).

Subject:	AutoStar problem (ISS)
Sent:	Thursday, August 29, 2002 12:53:20
From:	robotman@tlab.net (HD Bolch)
Sky & Telescope, and others tell me that the ISS will appear 9/2 as per

    Date, time                       Sep. 02, 6:09 am
    Duration                          6 min.
    Appearing                        18 above SW
    Max Elev.                        75 above ENE
    Disappearing                     10 above NE

But when I tell AutoStar it is the above date, time, & to track ISS, it
gets the AOS & LOS positions about right, and the tracking duration is
about six minutes, but the scope never rises above ~15 degrees!

What the hey, over? It knows the lat/lon to the minute.

I would *really* like to track this thing - the last time it came over,
it was so bright in the 70X lens that I feel sure I can see structure
with the 200X. But it moves so fast that  I don't think I can track it
manually at 200X.

Any help will be most appreciated,
TIA,

HD
Mike here: For starters, check the ISS articles on the Autostar Information page. That may clear things up for you.

Subject:	New Autostar software released
Sent:	Monday, August 26, 2002 22:45:00
From:	bdickson@mweb.co.za
Meade has posted new software version for the 495/497 (2.6Eb) and for
the Autostar II(1.3t), as well as a new updater (3.61) that reportedly
works with the older builds. As usual, the URL is
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html .

Presumably the 2.6Eb build is a fixed version of 2.6Ea (posted a couple
of weeks back). The 1.3t build apparently fixes 2-star allignment errors
in the southern hemisphere, plus other issues.

clearest skies

Bruce
bdickson@mweb.co.za

BTW - After stripping my '105, I got the pointing accuracy quite good.
Backlash and rubber-banding are virtually undetectable, and it reliably
points to within ~15' of what I'm looking for. After degreasing, it
turned out that the worm preload needed to be tightened up _a little_ ,
and all the problems went away.
 
b.

Subject:	Help again....
Sent:	Sunday, August 25, 2002 20:42:29
From:	mike@e-axis.com (Mike Luis)
Hi it's me again (The guy who asked if he could rotate the ETX with his
hands...)

Well the skies finally cleared up and I tested out my 125 ETX. WOW!!!
Even though there was only one NCG object up, a star cluster.  WOW
again. Unreal great stuff.

But something wierd happened. You see I waited 5 months to get this
scope so I hope this is a fixable problem cause I'll scream if not. I
aligned my scope ALTz mode. Used Alkaid and Aloith to algin the scope.
It was working fine, finding stars almost dead center. Then I got a
"motor failure" message and had to realign. So I did and used Alkiad and
Vega this time. Looked at NGC 869. Then the same message.

What is this? Am I screwed yet again?

Thanks for any help you can give to shed light on this annoyance.

BTW I was using the 12v adapter, the temperature here in Toronto was
about 21C I'm guessing in Farenhite that would be 60F. It was a great
night.

Thanks Again
Mike
(Gettin mad now)
Mike here: Have you ever TRAINed the drives? If not, do that. In fact, any time the Autostar acts up (which isn't often under normal conditions), you should reTRAIN. Sometimes it may be necessary to RESET, reCALIBRATE, and then reTRAIN. The second possibility is the stars you chose. As alignment stars and errors, see Leon Palmer's comments on my original ETX-90EC comments page.

And:

Thanks for the reply. Actually I called Meade tech support. I got 2
different answers from two different tech guys. One said that I would
have to UPS the scope to California, and from Canada that would be
pricey. So I called again for a second opinion. The second guy asked
about the base clamp (RA). He asked if it was tightened. I told him that
the clamp went all the way from right to left. That might be the
problem, he told me that it should go only half way. Using a .050 allen
key take off the clamp and tighten the bolt that sits under it a bit
more. He also suggested that I should use a power pack energy source or
a car's cig lighter over the 12v adapter (AC). The smallest fluctuation
in power can cause the motors to screw up. I was using a circuit breaker
that was plugged into an extension chord. He then told me not to use
that set up, if your going to use the AC adapter try to plug it directly
into the wall.

So since his suggestion would only cost me 10 bucks (allen key set) I
decided to try his suggestion first. A huge improvement, I was out last
night for 4 hours but I did a motor fault message (when my fridge turns
on the lights flicker) it might have been my fridge or some other surge.
But that was after 3 hours. Hour later I was tired and ended the
session. I could sincerely see a difference. The night previous I got 2
motor fault messages in 1 hr and a half.

I hope this can help someone in the future.

Your site is a God send.

Mike.
Mike here: Super! The RA lock repositioning is a cure (mentioned on the FAQ) but I didn't think it applied from your description. And yep, power glitches can cause problems.

Subject:	Autostar problems?
Sent:	Sunday, August 25, 2002 10:23:43
From:	markcurry@megawan.co.za (Mark Curry)
Wondered if anyone may have information on my problem:

I have used the spreadsheet in Autostar tips along with the 26ea
autostar software, Dick's Patch and Clays guide to set up my ETX-125. I
am experiencing 3 problems still.

1./ I am still getting a "rubber banding" movement after centering and
object. The autostar moves Az movements back about half a FOV in a 26mm
plossl.

2./ When I move the scope right at slow speeds, I can see the scope
seems to "climb" up the gearing on the Az worm (I think). When I move
the scope left, it descends whilst moving. Both movements are about one
tenth of the FOV in the 26mm eyepiece. After the initial 5 seconds or so
of slewing, the movement corrects and the scope then slews fine in Az.
This only (seems to) happens with a direction change.

3/ Intermittent motor failures.

Do you know if this is introduced with the 26ea software? I didnt really
use the original sw shipped with the scope so I cant tell. The scope is
new, so I havent opened it up at this point. I can understand the
software causing 1 above, but I fear 2 may require some "brain 
surgery". I would send it to Clay to Supercharge, but I live in South
Africa.

Thanks again for the great site!

Regards

Mark Curry
Mike here: Sorry about the problems you are having. At this point I assume you have done the RESET, RECALIBRATE, and reTRAIN drives steps. So I would suggest redownloading the software (either 2.6Ea or the new 2.6Eb). Don't forget to reTRAIN following the download to the Autostar. Let me know if that helps.

And:

Thanks for the response. Yes I have done the Rest, Recalibrate and
retrain as well as the percentages. Thought I'd also have a quick look
inside to check out the RA worm gear. It seems that when I slew from
left to right, the worm gear moves sideways in its housing before
turning. There seems to be rubber o-ring mountings that compress at
either end of the gear . This looks like it may be causing the central
mounted toothed gear to "climb" up or down the worm gear before it
starts to turn the toothed gear itself. (I will try and take a few
pictures)

I wonder if Clay (I read he received his new version of the 125
recently) or any of the other technically minded have come across this.

One thing, from the way this scope is built, it looks light years ahead
of the old mechanicals (I have no experience of the older scope, but was
looking as Jordons Tune up guide). The castings are great, and the
bearings in both Alt and Az look like they will last forever! Using
Dicks patch for 2.6EA, the backlash is 230 in Alt and 950 in Az. I also
used the spreadsheet model to take 3 readings and average them out, but
there was not a great difference.

I must say that the scope always GOTOs with the object in view of the
26mm after initial alignment, but typically it is near the edge of FOV.
Maybe I am expecting too much, but I find the climbing and descending a
bit irritating.

I am worried about fix 2.6EB as Dick has no patch. Do you think it an
improvement on EA?

Regards

Mark Curry
Mike here: As to patches, it takes time for Dick to check the new builds and then develop, test, and release a patch. Since I'm traveling I haven't upgraded.

Subject:	Hi Polar Align
Sent:	Friday, August 23, 2002 23:21:56
From:	mike@e-axis.com (Mike Luis)
I know your on vacation and I will wait till you get back to answer this
email. I emailed you this week about a flash movie I did in efforts to
try and understand how to polar align my scope. I burned (the motor) a
previous ETX I had and I don't know why or how. (I suspect that it was
because it wasn't aligned or anything) But I want to give the new one a
shot (if the sky would ever clear up). I've given up on the polar
alignment attempt and figured that I'll ease in to polar alignment after
using the scope in ALTz mode for a while. I downloaded the ALTz tutorial
from your site. It's great,

1. Set Home position. 
2. Level the Tube.
3. Center a star or two.

BUT!!! There are a few things it does not mention which I know one must
do first. What do I have to do first?

Test motors?
Train motors? 
Alt train?
Az train?

Also when searching for "hard stops" (unlocking the base clamp) to get
the home position, do I rotate it counter and clockwise using the
Autostar or just with my hands? (dumb question I know).

Finally, the DEC numbers on my scope do not line up. When leveled
horizontally it's off by about 10 degrees. If the tube is leveled does
it matter or am I up the creek?

Thanks in advance
(A guy who is eager to try out his new 125)
Mike
Mike here: Testing, training the drives only needs to be done on first use of the telescope, or after upgrading the Autostar, or switching the Autostar to another telescope, or anytime the Autostar begins to act "funny". You don't need to do it for every alignment. That's why it isn't mentioned in the tutorial. The rotation to the hardstop is done by hand (as that is the quickest way) although you can use the slewing arrows on the Autostar if you want. As to the Declination scale, see that entry in the FAQ.

And:

Thanks Mike

That clears up alot.

Mike

Subject:	ETX -125/Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Friday, August 23, 2002 14:05:08
From:	bruce.vaughn@colorado.edu (Bruce Vaughn)
I am yet another rookie ETX-125 user that has problems with polar
alignment and Autostar.  I have followed all the tips Meade offers, plus
those from others.   When I choose polar alignment in the Autostar
program, it always slews to a location that looks like its about 1 hour
off the true location for the given star, and despite my corrections, it
fails the polar alignment procedure every time.  This is true for Easy,
One Star, and Two Star alignments.   I thought this was a daylight
savings problem in the setup- but alas, no- I tried it with "yes" and
"No" answers to the daylight savings query in Autostar and got the same
result.

I have all of Meades tips on alignment, as well as others found at your
wonderful web site!    Bob Jorczak's download on alignment tips is well
done for Alt-Az mode, but doesn't go into polar alignments. Clearly I am
missing something- Any idea what?

Heres my laundry list of things I am doing:

1.  Level field tripod, with "N" leg pointing to Polaris.

2.  Set ETX-125 to 90 declination.

3.  Adjust wedge on tripod to my latitude (N40, almost exactly for
Boulder, Co.), and verify Polaris in cross hairs of  the EXT-125. Rotate
telescope about this axis to observe any small change in the position of
Polaris (usually minor).

4.)  Turn on the EXT and choos polar alignment, and follow its steps.

Your help is most greatly apreciated!

Many thanks,
Bruce
Mike here: In your description of your steps, you didn't mention rotating the telescope tube counterclockwise to the hardstop and then back clockwise. If you don't do that you'll likely hit a hardstop at some point, either during the alignment or while GOTOing an object. That would not account for the 15 degree error you are seeing, which does sound like a "time" problem. Have you tried aligning with the telescope in Alt/Az? I would suggest trying that first until you get comfortable with the procedure. AND, unless you absolutely positively need to be in Polar mode you may want to consider staying in Alt/Az as the telescope/tripod is more stable in that orientation. And the Autostar will accurately track objects while in Alt/Az. If you want to go back to Polar mode, then what you will have learned in Alt/Az about the setup and alignment process will still be applicable.

And:

Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I'll give it a go in Alt/Az mode.

Thanks again,
Bruce

Subject:	serial cable options
Sent:	Thursday, August 22, 2002 20:56:35
From:	dwcrawford@attbi.com (Delbert Crawford)
I have an ETX-90EC, and have used the serial cable with my desktop PC to
download upgrades and data.  I am considering getting a new laptop for
my wife, which of course I could also use to drive my ETX on occasion
;-)  .  I have looked around at laptops in the stores, and have noticed
not all have serial plugs in the back, including the one my wife was
interested in.  Is there a USB port cable, along with software available
for the ETX-90?
Mike here: There are several solutions: Meade, Belkin, and Keyspan.

And:

Thanks again for the tip.  I see that the solution is to just get an
adapter from USB to 9 pin serial connector.  Is there any software
needed to recognize that it is now connected to a USB port or does the
plug and play function just recognize it automatically?
Delbert
Mike here: Since RS-232 serial communication is different than USB serial communication, a driver is required. The three I mentioned will include it. Keyspan, and I believe Belkin, have both Mac and PC drivers; Meade is Windows only.

Subject:	Autostar Time Setting
Sent:	Wednesday, August 21, 2002 15:58:50
From:	matt@mitab.net (Matthew Hunt)
First thing - and I know everyone says it - but great site! Its saved me
hours of time!

I wonder if you could answer 2 very quick questions regarding the time
settings for a 497 Autostar...

I live in the UK and we are currently one hour ahead of GMT (called BST
or British Summer Time) - I have set the Daylight Saving feature in the
Autostar to ON - could you confirm this is correct?

When I reset the scope a Time Zone option appeared - what should the
Time Zone setting be in the setup? I have set it to +1 (as UK is
currently one hour ahead of GMT/Univeral Time) Is this correct also?

Many thanks in advance

Matthew Hunt
Mike here: Since I'm not in the UK I'm not certain which settings would be correct. I'll post your message on the next Site update (which is delayed while I'm on travel). Or you could search through the feedback pages for someone in the UK; I know there are several ETX users there. Or you could just set it one way and see if the alignments are off by 15 degrees (1 hour) in Right Ascension. If so, then try a different setting. Let me know what you learn.

Subject:	Version 3.61 firmware
Sent:	Wednesday, August 21, 2002 10:44:17
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
A quick note that I have just heard from the software developer at Meade
stating that the bug that prevented SAVING the edit box for user data
has now been fixed and there is a NEW version of ASU update
online....this is the "Updater" and not the firmware!  So this will need
to be uploaded again for this to be fixed on your existing v1.3t or
v2.6eB firmware.

Per Meade:
"........It was a simple little bug in the Autostar Update code.  I've
fixed it and posted rev. 3.61 on our web site.  Any users who saved .usr
files under the 3.60 code will be able to retrieve it under the 3.61
code.  Thanks for the input........."

Dr. Clay
----------------------------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
And more:
Saving you user data is working fine. I do not know why it would not
save to file before, but apparently it helps to shut the computer down
and reboot; then the file takes fine.  I had not rebooted after
uploading the new v3.61 and apparently that is all it took........

I think this is going to be an excellent added feature that many folks
have been asking for for a long time....saving your data onto a diskette
or a file on your PC is a wonderful way to quickly upload, reset and
still have all the data necessary once done.

Dr. Clay

Subject:	re: Backlash tutorial please
Sent:	Wednesday, August 21, 2002 02:07:30
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Todd
There really is not special method for the backlash percentages at
all...it is mostly trial and error and will depend largely on personal
preference as well as scope performance.

Go to the article that I posted on Mike Weasner's site when this feature
first came available for Autostar 497:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_tracking-percents.html

You will see that you can set the percentages to anything you like, but
too high a setting and the scope will react in a jumpy manner, while too
low and the scope will not have effective backlash control. The default
settings of 01% allow for NO "jump start" in compensating for backlash
delay....if you have one of your axes that is responding
instantaneously, then there is absolutely NO need to add any value to
this....on the other hand, an axis that has a long delay before
responding (the RA particularly with the LX200 GPS scope....), then
start with a value of say "20" and work your way down until you get
immediate response when reversing directions but NO jump.

Dr. Clay

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Todd
  Subject: Backlash tutorial please

  Anybody care to come up with a quick description on how to setup the new
  backlash percentages?  This looks like a very useful feature If I'm
  correctly guessing what it might fix.

  Thanks,
  Todd

Subject:	Your Help - Please?
Sent:	Sunday, August 18, 2002 22:02:31
From:	thx1326@swbell.net (Hi-Fi_Guru)
First of all your site is awesome.  Having stated the obvious - now to
my mundane question / problem.

I've been using my AutoStar v24xx with my LXD55/SN10 with no problems.
Tonight, I upgraded to 26ea and then your patch.  Since the upgrade, the
control for the 1240 electric focuser has gone away.  If I scroll
through the options and tell it that the scope is an ETX90 or 105, then
I have focus control again by holding down the mode key or the "0" key. 
Of course the settings are now all wrong for the LXD55.  If I switch
back to the LXD55 setting, the focus control disappears again.

Is there a way to get the 4 speed focus control "patched" into this new
version?  Or, do you have copies of the older ROMS that you might mail
me so I can get it back?

What would you suggest?

Thanks in advance!

Respectfully,

D. Sherfy
Mike here: I will forward your message to Dick Seymour, who is the author of the patches. As to older versions, see the Autostar Software Archive on the Autostar Information page.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Interesting... I think you're seeing fall-out from Meade adding the
APM (Accessory Peripheral Module) to the LXD55's code.
I would've -guessed- that you could still reach the Focus control 
by leaning on the [mode] key for 3 seconds an releasing...

I'll look into the code and see if there's an avenue... since Meade
doesn't sell a focuser for the LXD55, i could understand how they'd
"forget" to include it in the code.

In the meantime, Mike referred you to his archives.  Good luck and...

Stay tuned... 
--dick

Subject:	494 Autostar LCD doesn't light up
Sent:	Saturday, August 17, 2002 17:39:04
From:	DanieStern@aol.com
I just connected the Autostar # 494 to my ETX- 60 AT . The power is on,
everything is working, but the LCD doesn't give any message at all.
Should I replace the part? D. Stern
Mike here: When you turn on the ETX do you hear the beep from the Autostar? Do the slew arrows work to move the telescope? Is it possible that the display brightness is turned way down? The brightness adjustment under the Utilities menu could be difficult to get to if you can't see the screen. But to try adjusting it do this:

1. Power on the ETX
2. After the beep, wait a couple of seconds.
3. Press ENTER three times slowly (Date, Time, Daylight Savings)
4. Press MODE (takes you to the Setup menu)
5. Press MODE again (takes you to the Select Item menu)
6. Press the Scroll Up arrow key once (takes you to the Utilities menu)
7. Press ENTER
8. Press the Scroll Down arrow key 4 times (takes you to the Brightness item)
9. Press ENTER
10. Press the Scroll Up arrow key 4 times (to go to maximum brightness)
11. Press ENTER

If you don't get the display back, try to new batteries. If that doesn't work, get a replacement.

And:

Thank you very much for your imputs! Unfortunately it's still not
working. I'm going to replace it. Thank you again for your prompt
response! Danielle.

Subject:	Alt/Az Home position
Sent:	Saturday, August 17, 2002 15:52:10
From:	derek@harding39.fsnet.co.uk (Derek Harding)
Having a South facing garden I am unable to view the pole star during
the easy two star alignment operation, I therefore use a compass and
align with the magnetic North. Also as the light polution where I live
is quite intense so I have to accept that the telescope has aligned to
the two selected stars. When I select the Moon I find the telescope is
facing approximately 15 degrees to the West. This error I assume is the
variation between polar and magnetic North. Can you please tell me what
the variation is so as I may compensate for the difference.

Regards. 
  Derek Harding. 
  Poole Dorset. 
Mike here: There could be two reasons for the difference. One is magnetic variation as you mention. You'll have to look that up for your location. There are web sites that can help; see the Astronomy Links page. The difference could also be time. 15 degrees is also 1 hour. Perhaps you need to turn on or off the Daylight Savings (an unfortunate USA thing) in the Autostar.
Subject:	A solution to bad alignment found at last...
Sent:	Friday, August 16, 2002 4:54:05
From:	rafapadi@teleline.es (Rafa)
A couple of months ago I made this question to you regarding my ETX-70
alignment:

>I own an ETX-70. With its autostar 494, all used to go as smooth as silk. 
>But I purchased an Autostar 495 (now 497) and since then onwards, 
>telescope align has been impossible. I've been trying: a careful seeking 
>of the north, using a goniometer for a parfect 0 degrees elevation adjust, 
>and of course, I have RESETed, CALIBRATEd and TRAINed (in that order) the 
>autostar with the telescope. But the alignment always goes off between 15 
>and 30 degrees. I believe that it (perhaps) is related to the values of 
>Alt/Az ratios to be defined and set in the Autostar (I believe there are 
>two pairs of these values), that maybe are not correctly set in it. Could 
>it be? If so, which would be the correct values for the ETX-70?

And then, you gently, replied to me:

>15 or 30 degrees off sounds like a possible time issue.  Check the
>Autostar time setting, location, and Daylight Savings Time setting.
>Also, check the telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar.  Also,
>does the #494 still align correctly?  Since I'm away I can't check the
>other values.
>
>
>Mike Weasner

And even more, I received more advice (really, one have reasons to be
grateful indeed):

>Since you have the 494, you can look at Setup > Telescope > Ratio
>and write down the RA and Dec ratios.
>Then reattach the 497, and verify that its values are the same.
>
>If they are -not- the same, you can enter new numbers at that
>display.
>
>I have used my normal 497 on my ETX-70 quite frequently, and i have
>not seen the problems you describe.
>I -do- have to do a Calibrate when i move the 497 from my ETX90
>to my ETX70, and select the Model.
>
>After that, it works properly.
>
>Thinking about it, i have -not- tried it with 25Ea... (the
>ETX70 was out on loan, it's now back).
>I'll try tomorrow and will report if there are problems...
>
>
>good luck
>--dick

Well, I've been following your advices, reading the handbook over and
over again, re-exploring the ETX site...and yet nothing.

However, the other day...

I discovered an pair of items at the Autostar Setup>Telescope Menu  I
hadn't realised before. Moreover, the manuals, the printed ones and also
at Meade's web itself, do not say a word about them. Or at least, I've
not been able to find it out.

The items are Setup>Telescope>Az/RA Percent and Setup>Telescope>Alt/Dec
Percent

The original default value written there was 01% in both places.

However, at my #494 Autostar, the value was... 85% in both.

So I changed the value at my new #497 and Hey presto! The telescope went
again smooth and reliable.

I upgraded the Autostar dorn 2.5E to 2.6E and the "...Percent" values
were again resetted to 01%. I've changed them again to 85%.

I don't know what these values mean, their purpose or whatsoever.
However, their equalisation with those ones previously existing at my
#494 Autostar helped me fix my #497.

I want to thank to all of you for the assistance. If I ever demand you
for a piece of advice, you can be sure that I'll be working the answer I
may receive. Gratitude is becoming somehow scarce in these days...

With my best regards,
Rafael Padilla.
Mike here: We tend to forget the percentage settings since they are factory set and normally don't need adjusting (although there is a tip about doing just that on the Autostar Information page).
Subject:	Date and Time in Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, August 15, 2002 15:29:17
From:	Gus.Anton@ispat.com (Anton, Gus S.)
I recently purchased an ETX70-EC with the #494 Autostar controller.
After initialization, I turned off the scope and returned the following
day and turned on the power. The "DATE" and "TIME" had not changed. 
Also, the instructions on calibration suggest I use the north star(I
live in Nortwest Indiana). Will any bright star do as calibration? Also,
can you tell me how to keep the time and date current.

Do you think there is a problem with the memory?

Thanks

Gus Anton
Crown Point, IN

P.S.  Can you tell me about some decent finderscopes for the ETX70-EC?
Mike here: The Autostar does not keep current time when powered off. It remembers the last date to make it easy to enter the next date. The time defaults to 8pm (or 2000) on power-up. By "calibration" I presume you mean "training". Select to calibrate from the Autostar menu does not require any user intervention. Selecting to train the drives requires a fixed object view. Polaris, the North Star, works fairly well as a fixed object if you don't take hours to do the alignment. The small red-dot finderscopes can work well on the ETX-70AT. Of course, they don't provide any magnification. If you want magnification you'll have to go with a different style. See the Accessory Reviews - Finderscopes page.
Subject:	Re: Update 
Sent:	Thursday, August 15, 2002 11:09:29
From:	m_fromm@umwestern.edu
Thanks for your reply.  I have been away for 2 weeks.  I downloaded this
file from your website: Autostar Updater 2.4 and #497 Autostar ROM 2.1ek

Is this straight forward, or could you email me a quick list of steps I
should do so I do not wipe my controller clean.

Thanks,

Marc
At 08:35 PM 7/30/2002 EDT, you wrote:
>All the older updater and ROM files are archived on my ETX Site at:
>
>http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/downloads.html
>
>Try using the Autostar Updater 2.4 to bring the Autostar to 2.1ek and 
>then the latest version from Meade's site.
>
>Mike Weasner
Mike here: The update is straight forward; just follow the README. If you want more info, there are some instructions on the Autostar Information page.

And:

After extracting the zip file I noticed there was only one file:
Auto.exe.

Do I need to download the Autostar ROM 2.1 ek separately or doe the file
from the link: Autostar Updater 2.4 and #497 Autostar ROM 2.1ek already
have the ROM file in it?
Mike here: It already has the ROM file.

And an update:

Thanks for all your help.  I updated my autostar to version 26e.

Marc

Subject:	Hello Again
Sent:	Thursday, August 15, 2002 9:25:42
From:	mike@e-axis.com (Mike Luis)
I emailed you back in March when I just got my ETX 125. However the
thread on the back of the scope was extremely loose making it impossible
to tighten a T-Adapter to it. I brought it back to the store to exchange
it, well the other 2 he had left were also defective. So to make a long
story short, that was March 1st it is now Aug 15 the owner of the store
called me yesterday to let me know that the scope was in town and will
be here today. HOLY MOLY!! . Appearently Meade is taking care of their
own distributing and that is where the delay was. Any way during this
huge wait I was tinkering with the scope. I set it on the tripod
straight up. I did'nt tilt the tripod head or polar aligned it or
anything scince it was indoors. I pluged my autostar in to it and was
trying to figure out how to configure it. Well I secelcted a 2 star
alignment. I picked Altoiz or what ever it was and it started to move
highspeed on it's own. I was shocked I thought I had to find the star,
it was looking for it by it self. Any way when the scope hit a 90 degree
angle looking straight up the gears or what ever just went nuts and made
a grinding noise. Now when you move the scope it moves smooth then
grinds again in every direction.  What did I do?

So since this scope is going back today and I'm getting a new one. I do
not want to repeat the same mistake. Can you tell me what I did wrong.
And when it comes to aligning with the autostar. What's the idea. I
assumed I pick the 2 stars then it know where it is so it's point and
go.

Can you help?
Mike here: Hard to say what you did wrong since you left out several steps in your email. You need to set the telescope in the proper HOME position, that is, proper for the mounting mode you have the Autostar set to use (Polar or Alt/Az). When you power on the Autostar you get asked some questions, the last being to select the alignment method. If you select "Easy" the Autostar selects the alignment stars for you and starts slewing the telescope. There are several alignment modes in the menu. You can select the stars or have the Autostar do it. You can use 1 or 2 stars. So, be certain you have selected the method you want it to use. For more on aligning, see the Autostar Information page.

And:

Thanks Mike

Oh ya and the new scope is fine.

Mike

Subject:	Autostar & Windows 2000
Sent:	Thursday, August 15, 2002 4:54:32
From:	smpriest@skybest.com (Stephen Miller)
I could not connect to my autostar, the update program could not find
the autostar.  I purchased a usb to serial adapter at Radio Shack,
installed it and the program connected fine.  I also use Astroplanner. 
Had same problem, but it was solved with the usb to serial adapter.

Keep up the good work.

Steve

Subject:	RE: RE: Polar Alignment - Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Wednesday, August 14, 2002 20:31:31
From:	Doug.Stickland@team.telstra.com (Stickland, Doug L)
I had picked a city (Sydney). I shall keep searching - "the truth is out
there".

Cheers...............Doug
And:
From:	tedlandy@bigpond.net.au (Ted Landy)
Have you checked that the scopes control panel is to the EAST when you
Polar align? This is opposite to what is written at

http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx_tuneup5.html where it says

"B - the base control panel should be on the WEST side of the
telescope/tripod assembly as shown;"

I reckon you need to spin your entire scope including the base 180
degrees when switching align modes if you are a Southey.

I have a new ETX125 and am in Sydney. Up until now I have been ALT/AZ
aligning but your post got me curious so I gave it a whirl in Polar
alignment.  First attempt sort of worked but shortly after alignment
things ground to a halt when the scope came up against it hard stops mid
slew. This was because the way I incorrectly had the scope on the tripod
with the control panel WEST for ALT/AZ necessitated me turning the forks
an extra 180 clockwise past true home position to get the eyepiece on
top. Or to put it another way home position had the eyepiece pointing at
the dirt.

Now it you are in the southern hemisphere as I am, you face the scope
North for ALT/AZ and South for Polar alignment.

From what I have read the home position is always going to be fully anti
clockwise then clockwise until the first fork is above the control
panel. (In both Polar or ALT/AZ alignment.)

The only way I can see that you can achieve these two requirements in
the Southern Hemisphere is that the control panel must face West for
ALT/AZ and East for POLAR and this necessitates you spin the whole thing
including tripod around 180 degrees. You could also  remove the scope
from tripod and turn it 180 and re attach it.

As soon as I did this the alignment worked perfectly in POLAR mode.
Everything was the right way up and no problems with the hard stops.

If this is not the problem you might want to check the latest Autostar
26Ea upgrade from Meade which includes "corrected Polar Guiding for the
Southern Hemisphere".

Hope this helps.

Ted.

Subject:	Polar Alignment - Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Wednesday, August 14, 2002 15:33:46
From:	Doug.Stickland@team.telstra.com (Stickland, Doug L)
Firstly, great site, an unbelievable amount of information and tips
which (for me) made the learning curve very gentle. I've had my 'scope
about 2 months (ETX125EC) and I'm simply blown away by the optics.

Luckily in Australia, we have some very close deep sky sights and the
weather is pretty stable for most of the year which maximises the
viewing time and affords some great observation opportunities. Now to my
question, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to Polar Align using the basic
concepts (pointing the OTA and forks at the SCP, telling the Autostar
it's Polar Aligned, etc) but after alignment the first object I attempt
to view always results in the eyepiece ending up under the OTA.

Do you or anyone have a quick Southern Hemisphere Polar Alignment they
would care to share (I remember reading that you came to Australia at
one stage) ?

Cheers.............Doug
Mike here: Do you have your latitude set for N or S in the Autostar site location? There is a "Southern Hemisphere Alignment Tips" article on the Autostar Information page but it is for Alt/Az, not Polar. Perhaps one of your fellow Aussies will respond. When I went to Australia it was with my ETX-90RA (no Autostar).

And:

Thank you for the prompt reply, I must admit I never located a N/S
option in the Autostar - I'll check that tonight. I'll also check the
reference you mentioned in the Autostar Information page.
Thanks again.......

Cheers.............Doug
Mike here: I was referring to the Site Location. If you picked a City from the Country List you should be OK but if you entered a Site manually then you could have an error.
Subject:	ETX90EC
Sent:	Monday, August 12, 2002 9:01:28
From:	trc199@soton.ac.uk (Timothy CLARK)
I am an undergraduate at Southampton University, England. And have had
my ETX90EC for about six months. In that time I have had no problems
with the scope except one. Which I would be most grateful if you could
advise me on its remedy. The problem concerns a irritating movement of
the scope after alignment using two guide stars. I find after I have
aligned the scope in alt/az position with the 2nd guide star and have
pressed enter, the scope persists in moving the star into the very edge
of the bottom right hand corner of a standard 26mm SP eyepiece field of
view. Subsequently, every object I locate after the initial alignement,
has the annoying tendency to be centred around the same area as just
described. I have read the section describing ways in which to remedy
similar problems to my scopes on your web site. However, I have some
reservations about taking the scope apart as most electrical or
mechanical items I try to fix become inopperable after my
intervention.Thus I would  be most grateful if you could advise me on a
way to fix the scope (if possible) without to much disruptment to the
telescopes internal workings. I do not know which version of Autostar
the scope uses, apart from I bought the scope and autostar second hand
and believe both items to be a year and a half, to two years old.

Sorry I live in a cave !

Yours Sincerely

Tim Clark
Mike here: The simple fix is to reTRAIN the drives. Most times that cures Autostar problems. The next simple fix is RESET, reCALIBRATE, and then reTRAIN. You didn't mention what Autostar ROM version you have but upgrading to the current one (if you have the proper cable) can help (you will need to reTRAIN following any update of the ROM).
Subject:	re: re-alignment
Sent:	Sunday, August 11, 2002 23:39:34
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
Cloning doesn't transfer Telescope data... the receiving Autostar
will remember what it previously knew re: Calibration, Training,
Sites, Model, OwnerInfo.

Updating no longer wipes them out, either (usually... Meade could
reinstate that at any time).  The Updater announces that.

The -why- you may wish to Reset is that sometimes Meade changes
where they store the Training (etc.) data in the Autostar's
moderately-permanent memory.  If they move things, you could
end up trying to use your old Zip Code as your Az Training data.
The act of updating does -not- move the old data to the proper
new locations... but for a number of versions now, that doesn;t
matter too much.

When they add new things (like the increased precision of Asteroid
and Comet Epoch dates), you sometimes have to do odd things (like
select your telescope model) to have them take effect.
Reset is a quick covers-all-bases way to suggest doing that.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re-alignment
Sent:	Saturday, August 10, 2002 13:10:31
From:	brass@uconnvm.uconn.edu
I just updated my updater to Updater 3.51 and my two Autostars to 2.6Ea.
Somewhere in the process I thought that I read that the calibration and
re-alignment values would be saved.  In Dick's 3/19/02 missive in
Autostar Info he clearly says thatyou must reenter your city,
recalibrate, and realign. So am I wrong or has something changed? After
I finished my updating, one of my autostars had 2 of the 3 original
locations in it and the other one had one.  The latter Autostar did stop
loading tho and I had to perform a safe load.  So what is going on?

A second question involves cloning to a second autostar what is in the
first Autostar.   Will the training and calibration values copy over? 
Since these parameters are from the telescope and not particular to the
Autostar, why not? Unless Meade in its wisdom decided that would be a
bad idea. Finally, it is said that if you have a bad training session
you must reset, calibrate and retrain.  Why doesn't new training just
write over the old?

As usual, you are my final resource for my questions--I am very grateful
that you are doing what must be a very onerous (but wonderful) job.  
Emory
Mike here: To answer your last question first, if you have a bad training then just re-doing the train drives will (usually) solve the problem. It is when the problem is NOT solved that you should RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN. As to Dick's comment at the end of his writeup, I think he is referring to doing that AFTER a RESET and as he says, "for best operation". As cloning, the values are retained (according to a report on the Site) but I haven't done one to confirm this.

And:

Thanks for your quick answers--but I would also like to know if I saw it
wrong that the latest upgrades save the training and calibration values.
I know that that least some of the site locations are saved. -Emory
Mike here: I haven't installed the latest (been busy) so can't speak from experience. The quickest way to tell that I know of is to use it without retraining. If the upgraded Autostar "rubberbands" when you try to center an object to view, then you need to retrain.
Subject:	re: Satellite TLE data
Sent:	Friday, August 9, 2002 23:30:17
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	tedlandy@bigpond.net.au
The answer to your question (am i getting a duplicate satellite
TLE data set from Meade's link?) is fairly simple:
they are updated every 24 hours.
If you grabbed them more than 24 hours ago, they've changed.

99% of them really don't change that much... today's numbers
are -different-, but they describe the same orbit it was following
3 days ago (with too slight changes for the Autostar to notice).

The ISS changes quite a bit while the Shuttle is visiting, since
they use the engines for 10's of kilometers altitude shifts.
Other than that, updates more frequent than once per 3 days, or
once per week for most other satellites are quite sufficient.

have fun
--dick
And:
Thanks Dick - That answers my question nicely,
Ted.

Subject:	Keyspan settings??
Sent:	Tuesday, August 6, 2002 15:13:45
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Well, as usual, with Meade's latest 2.6Ea firmware release, I am AGAIN
having problems uploading to the Autostar. This is driving me crazy. I
recall that using the old Autostar software (pre-v3.x) I didn't have
this many problems; but I do like the newer version's GUI. The only real
problem I have is that it rarely works -- ARRGGH!!!! -- at least running
it under VPC v4.0 on my Mac G4/450 DP. When I shlepp the scope,
Autostar, and cables to my neighbor's Windows computer and run it all
from there, it all works. Seymour the Guru had told me how to readjust
the baud rate from within VPC, but that didn't solve the problem.

I've attached a window-capture of the Keyspan settings for the USB/COM
port that I have mapped over to VPC. For my own sanity (or is that
INsanity?), would you mind taking a look at all of the settings and
compare them to what you have (FIFO, buffer size, port emulation --
EVERYTHING!!) running on your system and send me either a screen capture
of YOUR settings that YOU have used, or a description of the
differences. I'm running Keyspan v1.8 (although I have 1.8.4 and 1.9,
and neither of those work either). The window is identical across all
versions, so just let me know what version you're running and what all
your settings are. I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,
Stan Glaser
keyspan
Mike here: Unfortunately, I don't have the Classic drivers installed on my Mac anymore. And I never got reliable usage from the Keyspan OSX drivers. I use my 8500 with real serial ports for Autostar downloads.
Subject:	LX 90 Auto star trouble   
Sent:	Tuesday, August 6, 2002 10:17:30
From:	Mariol066@aol.com
From Alex villalobos.

I have had  a lx 90 for months I use the auto star, but It never works.
I think I have trained it I have rest it many times. I have the time
right, everything right except the problem is the North I use  a
compoass,but I heard in your website about true north and magnetic north
have no idea of that, and if you could tell me how to track or how it
works because I want to start asrtophotography and I dont know how to
keep it from moving. I have never had luck with this auto star  I do
easy align and then I dont see the star I use a 26 I have unlock the
dec. What am I missing I never seen a nebulae with this auto star
because I am doing something wrong I have great sky's its dark, and all
but I can't understand how people say its easy because I have done
everything and still it doesn't work. If you can tell tell me about the
North problem and anything you think iam skipping please tell me because
I know I have a great telescope and I want to learn how to use it
correctly.
Mike here: Lets start with the simple things: can you see the North Star "Polaris"? Do you know where to look for it? If you do know where it is then that is where "North" is located along your horizon. If you don't know where Polaris is you can use the charts in the article "Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts" on the Observational Guides/References page. Alternatively you can use your magnetic compass, but as you've noted, there can be a difference in "True North" (used for astronomical purposes) and "Magnetic North" (used for navigation purposes). The difference can be zero or go up to about 20 degrees. Any error in the telescope HOME position will result in an error in where the telescope points for the first alignment star. If the difference is small, then the error will be small. If the difference is large, then the error will be large. If you have a local small airport, call them; they can provide you with the "Local Magnetic Variation". Or, a couple of links on the Astronomy Links page may help. Once you have the proper HOME position, the next steps are relatively easy. See the alignment articles on the Autostar Information page.

And:

Thank you for the quick reply I will try the North location later on at
night. I just have  a few more Question About Tracking and how do I do
it because I want to start astrophotography  of deep sky. Also  Do u
have to align everytime you have to use the telescope because when I use
it I have to align again. OK i get  you up to north after that i press
enter and its locates the two stars and there is were i mess up i rested
my auto star earlier and will star fresh tomorrow i think its that i
cant tell which star is which if you any  advice or guide it will be  a
great help.Thankyou for all the help already
Mike here: The align star charts I mentioned will show you the named alignment stars in the Autostar. So that should help you identify them. Yes, you will need to align the telescope every night. However, there are ways to avoid that: do a good alignment one night. At the end of the night put the Autostar into Park. Mark the positions of the tripod legs so that you can set up the telescope again in exactly the same position the next night. Then power on the telescope, enter the date and time, and you're ready to begin tracking again.
Subject:	Satellite TLE data
Sent:	Monday, August 5, 2002 18:51:39
From:	tedlandy@bigpond.net.au (Ted Landy)
I have downloaded Autostar object data from Meade using ASU. Is there
any way to know what the latest satellite data they have available is
prior to downloading it so that you don't download the same set again?
Mike here: If I'm understanding your question, data is only downloaded when you input it. If you're asking about changes to the satellite data on the web, I don't know if the pages are marked. But the Epoch Day could indicate the currency.
Subject:	Asteroid Data for ETX 125
Sent:	Saturday, August 3, 2002 23:04:28
From:	frontiers3031@msn.com (Douglas Holt)
I love your site.  Thanks for all the excellently organized links and
information.  One question...  I am hoping to catch a glimpse of the
upcoming asteroid (2002 NY 40) pass in the middle of the month and
wondered if you have any information on how to load this into my
Autostar?  The article link from space.com is here:
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/august_asteroid_020723.html  However,
the latest Meade update for the Autostar (26Ea) doesn't seem to list
this.  Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks (for everything),
Doug Holt
Pittsburgh PA
Mike here: See the article "How to use the Updater: Manipulating Libraries" on the Autostar Information page.

And:

I understand how to do that.  The 3.51 Updater makes it very easy to
update user objects or add to the asteroid list.  I was actually looking
for links to data.  I saw the one post on your site from Dr. Clay
Sherrod under your Alerts board regarding this, and used this.  But I
was hoping to see some corroborating data.  I just wondered if there was
anywhere else on the website you may have reference to this I might have
missed or knew of any sites that had data we could use that updated more
often than the Meade site.  Thanks again for the excellent ETX forum by
the way.  It has really helped me get into using my 125 much more
quickly and thoroughly than I would have on my own.  It is a wonderful
resource.  And too, thanks for taking time to read and reply to my
e-mail.  I am sure you are swamped with them.
Mike here: Well, I don't what you you might have missed but have you read the article "Asteroid Orbital Elements made (far) Easier" on the Autostar Information page?

And:

Missed that one.  Thank you.  That was exactly what I was looking for. 
Just wanted to confirm the data for the orbit since it is all fairly
new.

Thanks again,
Doug

Subject:	New firmware: v2.6Ea
Sent:	Friday, August 2, 2002 23:11:48
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Meade posted an update file (26Ea) for the Autostar
on their website:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Specifically:
    http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Build.zip

 Download it (or ask the Updater to get the newest version
from the web) and stuff it into your Autostar.

Among the new features are two additional menu items:
Under Setup > Telescope is "Quiet Slew"
it drops the maximum speed to 1.5 degrees per second.

Under Utilities > is "Beep" ... you can turn it ON or OFF.

So, -totally- silent  operation isn't here yet,
but it can be quite a bit quieter....

Give it a try... please post results
Patch kit coming ASAP...

 have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar 26Ea
Sent:	Friday, August 2, 2002 18:03:18
From:	loupwood@optushome.com.au (Peter L)
just a quick note to let you know that meade have updated the autostar
software, 26Ea is now available.

Regards Peter

Subject:	Elements?
Sent:	Friday, August 2, 2002 4:17:18
From:	marc.delaney@ntlworld.com (marc.delaney)
I was looking at the details for COMET 2002 O4 "Hönig". Can you tell me
what the three items after the declination figure refer to in the sample
below?

2 Aug 2002 22:31:32  23h04m33.71s  +54 01' 01.5"  1.290   0.601  9.8 102.9

I am rather a novice when it comes to comet ephemeris data!

Thanks. Best wishes,

Marc
Mike here: Where did the items come from (Site)? At any rate, see the Alerts article on Hoenig. For info on entering TLEs into the Autostar, see the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	re: Updating old Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, August 1, 2002 7:57:52
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	m_fromm@umwestern.edu
Mike's advice (a two-step update) will probably work..
but you might be able to do it in one step by
manually putting the Autostar into "download" mode.
That's under the Setup menu:
  Setup > Download [enter][enter]
Then the current Updater should be able to take over...

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re:  Autostar does not have my LXD 55 model
Sent:	Thursday, August 1, 2002 5:21:16
From:	gemmalady@msn.com (Lynn Laux)
Thanks , Mike for your prompt response...after looking over your awesome
Web page I sort of figured out it was a software update....I called
Meade, and sure enough...I just have to download the update from their
site and transfer it to the Autostar box.  The people at OPT were also
very helpful!  So, no worries!!

Subject:	ETX-70 #494-Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, August 1, 2002 0:46:47
From:	c-sorensen@appic.com (Chris Sorensen)
I already sent this message to engineer@meade.com but I don't really
know where to send it. So here it is ... Sorry if you're not the right
person.

Yesterday, I was updating the firmware on my -ETX-70 #494 Hanbox- using
ASU v3.51. Unfortunately, my PC crashed during the upgrade. When I got
everything UP & RUNNING again, the AutoStar did not display a thing
anymore (ROM empty, I suppose). So I took a look at the Online Help in
ASU, and this is what it said :
==================
How To Use The Safe-Loader To Restore A Damaged Handbox

If you encounter any problems while upgrading the software in your
handbox, the flash memory in your handbox or telescope may become
damaged, rendering the system non-functional (e.g., the handbox does not
display anything when powered on, displays garbage characters, etc.). 
This typically occurs if an upgrade command is interrupted in any way
before completion.

Fortunately there is an easy way to restore the damaged flash memory: 
Connect the handbox to the telescope and the PC with the telescope power
off.

For a #494, #495 or #497 Autostar, simultaneously hold down the "ENTER"
and the "Scroll Down" keys, (Hint: Do not confuse with the Down Arrow
key) and turn the telescope power on while holding these keys.  The
handbox displays "FLASH LOAD – READY" to indicate that you may now
transfer data to and from the handbox.
==================

So, I applied the above procedure, and unfortunately, NOTHING happened !!!
Now, I have 2 questions :
1- What can I do ?
2- In the case I had to replace the handbox, I thought I might as well
buy a #497. Can you tell me if this hanbox works on an ETX-70 ?

Thanks in advance.
Regards,

_________________________________________

Chris SORENSEN
Mike here: There is NO ROM upgrade for the #494 or even a downloadable ROM to fix it. Meade will probably have to send you a replacement. Or you can get and use a #497 for your ETX-70AT.

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