Last updated: 30 August 2003
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	I have a Telescope problem
Sent:	Saturday, August 30, 2003 05:45:59
From: (Diego Pinedo)
I really like your website but anyway I have a Meade ETX-70 and I have a
problem with the Autostar. When I put the date then time and say if I
have Day-light saving, a message pops up that say "Proc. Trap 2" without
the parenthesises. I can't get out from the message and because of that
message I can't search for certain things with Autostar. Can you tell
what this message means and how I can fix it.
Mike here: As to what Proc 2 means, see the article "Autostar Proc Trap" on the Autostar Information page. Most of the article is written for the Autostar #497. To try to clear it, try and press the MODE key several times after you turn on the ETX. If you get to the SETUP menu without the error, scroll until you get to RESET and then press ENTER.
Subject:	PC control with a Mac????
Sent:	Friday, August 29, 2003 15:59:04
From: (W.Sumner Davis)
Changed platforms from windows to Apple OS X. I am wondering if I can 
get an adapter cord to run my ETX 125 from the disc on my iMac or if I 
have to break down and buy a used PC for the observatory?


Mike here: See the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	autostar feedback pages
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 12:01:14
From: (Mike forster)
Wonderful site. Just wanted to comment on an etx 90ra conversion to
Meade ds 60 computer mount and autostar #494. I did this conversion a
couple months back and am really suprised at how accurate this auto star
#494 with the ds 60 mount and the etx 90ra can "go to" objects. I did
most of my initial leveling of the scope with a bubble level and
pointing north thru the finder scope to polaris, and then bring the tube
back down to level. Had great results.  Then I lost my bubble level  and
had I decided to try and manually align the scope by levelling it and
just point the etx main tube to polaris; and then level it by eyeball. I
did this several times over a period of 2 weeks and  still had great
results. This" go to" is very accurate-98% of the go to"s are in my
finderscope and very visible with a Konig 40mm. I then switch to a 25mm
Plossl for a closer view. (By the way, these etx 90's are very slow in
terms of photo speed. Use 30, 40 and 25 mm lenses for most Messier  and
NGC objects.)  I took a peak at the dumbell nebula and wanted to go to
M31 in andromeda. I found it ,clicked "go to" and the darn nebula was in
the cross hairs of the little finder scope! The 494 autostar is not
upgradeable but you can enter lots of your own entries with the correct
declination and acension. The Meade ds 60 motors are ok- the bottom
motor on the mount has too much slop in it, but  this did not effect
it's "go to" accuracy. I have found more objects with this in the few
times I have used it then in 5 years of "hunting" thru a finderscope.

So all you etx users and ds 60 conversions-  don't give up hope!  This
etx 90 ra conversion to ds 60 mount is a sure winner.

Keep up the good work and take care,     Mike Forster

Subject:	ETX90 remote setup question for general area
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 06:43:40
From: (Nick Howes)
Mike, here is one for you/Dr Clay or indeed anyone with previous
experience on this to try and answer

Okay here is the plan

Currently my PC laptop is in the garden on a 5m extension power cable
for viewing running Autostar controlling software (Starry Night bundle)
via the serial port Meade cable. PC web cam attached to the USB port on
the laptop. Has anyone any experience with running the Meade serial
cable with third party serial to USB adapters, in which case I could use
my Hub and run two active USB extension cables from the house (warm!) to
Garden to control the whole lot, or would you recommend running a serial
cable extension and the USB on separate ports, running a USB active
extension cable just for the webcam, and serial extension cable (anyone
got any clues where to get one?) for the autostar control?

The last option would be to Ethernet the whole lot up to a second older
laptop, and control this way, but I wouldn't know where to begin to get
that running properly?

Any tips or advice gratefully received

Nick Howes
Mike here: I use the Keyspan USB-serial adapter on my Macintosh. Works fine. See the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page. I'm sure others are using the Keyspan or the Belkin adapter on their PCs.
Subject:	DS-2114
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 07:08:18
From: (Delille, Fabrice)
My new telescope was running fine until I experienced some problem with
motors : when the telescope was about to stop on an object it then
sideslips fastly and could not stop until I shut power off. I whent back
to my dealer and it looks like it comes from my batteries although I
tested the same voltage on my set and a new one. Do you know if someone
else had a similar problem and if there is some way to test battery or a
new software release that warns user to change power.


Mike here: The Autostar does have a battery display and a battery alarm (Utilities menu).


Thanks Mike for this quick reaction (and for your wonderfull site

Unfortunately even if the documentation mention this option in utility
menu I did not find it on my Autostar, maybe it's a mistake in the
french version I use. I will try to live without it !



Subject:	re: "Rubber banding" A challenge for ETX owners.
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 22:08:46
From: (Richard Seymour)
A fascinating theory... i'll try some tests the next time i'm out.
(Align, GoTo, play (note rubber); power down, power up, set clock off
(try both 5 min fast and 5 min slow), repeat align and GoTo/play)

However, i don't think that Time affects rubberbanding.

Once the beep beeps, the scope is only tracking sidereally,
and honoring your slew requests.  It does not try to "maintain
station" with whatever target you GoTo'd.  (heck, you can use
the arrow keys to -slew- to a star, and observe rubberbanding
once you're there.)

My watch -is- set to WWV (via shortwave radio, not Atomic Watch),
or synchronized to the time display of my LX200gps, operating
nearby... in fact, the LX200gps -also- exhibits rubberbanding.
Which certainly removes the "two minutes off" factor.

Watch carefully when it rubberbands... you'll see it primarily 
happens if you are slewing -against- sidereal motion (eastward,
and with an up/down compnent based upon where you are pointed
in the sky).  Its root cause is the telescope re-engaging 
the sidereal drive (after your slew) and marching in a westward
(sidereal-ward?) direction.

It's an Autostar-commanded motion, and the only mechanical factor
is the amount of backlash your gear system has (with possibly
a contribution by loose DEC bearings).   Training and adjustment
of percentage -can- cancel it.

Alignment-wise, the Autostar treats a time error the same
as either a tilted base (so the stars are slightly too far 
east or west) or an error in Longitude (which works out to
the same thing, since a shift in position on the planet
"tilts" the base as it moves around the Earth's spherical shape.)

have fun
From: (Bob Morris)
I think you're right.


Subject:	re:  AOS in Telescope setup submenu
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 21:26:25
From: (Richard Seymour)
The "5" tells the Autostar to not try to track 
the satellite below 5 degrees above the horizon.
(or until it has -risen- to 5 degrees above the horizon.)

So, if you are surrounded by obstacles, you can raise that
value to an altitude where you -would- be able to see the 

That number affects -no- other operations of the telescope.

have fun
Mike here: Dumb me!


Nah... you were just remembering the days when i had it as a patch,
and it was in arcminutes...

have fun

Subject:	sun tracking on autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 14:53:25
do you know if its possible to track the sun on autostar  ?
Mike here: Since the Sun's position doesn't change much over a single day, yes, you can use the Autostar's normal tracking rate and track the Sun. But if you really want to, you can adjust the tracking rate but most people will never need to.
Subject:	re: train drive & finderscope issue
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 11:59:21
From: (Stan Glaser)
I read Mike's response to your question, but I'm not sure whether he
actually answered it!? But he didn't lead you astray, either ;-)

Eddie asked:

once i align this finderscope to the lens or anytime maybe i move it for
cleaning purposes or whatever does this affect the train drive setup?
hope this isnt a stupid question but as im new im not sure,

and Mike responded with:

Mike here: Moving the telescope tube does not affect the drive training.
But moving the telescope tube AFTER an alignment without using the
slewing keys WILL affect the alignment.

But to clarify his response, with respect to the FINDERSCOPE, if you
move IT (or remove it) and then replace it, NO, your train drive setup
will remain the same with regard to the OTA (optical tube assembly). And
as Mike said, if you move the OTA AFTER an alignment without using the
slew keys on the hand controller or Autostar, YES, you WILL affect the
alignment -- so, in that case, if you try to remove the finderscope and
end up moving the OTA in the  process, you will no doubt end up out of
alignment. But, odds are that when you move or remove the FINDERSCOPE
for cleaning (or whatever -- as you said), the FINDERSCOPE itself WILL
NOT align with the lens as it did before. You WILL PROBABLY have to
re-align the finderscope with respect to the OTA once you replace it.

My finderscope has managed to slowly move out of alignment with respect
to the OTA after numerous trip outings where I pack it into the hard
case. The rubber eyeguard on the finderscope presses just a little bit
against the inside of the case protector, and this has caused the entire
finderscope to misalign. Just fiddling with the set screws a tad will
bring it back into alignment with the OTA -- but none of that affects
the drive training of the scope itself.

Hope that clears it up just a bit (or maybe I'm the one who didn't get

Clear skies,

Stan Glaser

Subject:	Re:  Re: Etx Work
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 10:23:54
From: (Jeffrey White)
Hi and Thanks! got a great Etx site.. I was curious if you might have an
idea of what's going on with my ETX. I bought a older Etx 125 from a
local guy here about 3 weeks ago, I have had a few broblems with it but
they were easy enough to fix.. I updated the autostar 2 weeks ago to the
latest version and am just now looking for the deep stuff :) I had only
looked at Mars and the moon for the past weeks..... my problem is the
scope never ever puts the intended object in the FOV of the scope ot the
finder EXCEPT for the Andromeda galaxy and Neptune..... any other ones
are off by quite a bit... So I put the off objects into the FOV then I
re-sync for tracking...all is well....then off to m-31 again..bam! it's
in the FOV....then off to to M-31 or
Neptune....Right in the FOV.  The I have trained the gears, leveled up
the mount and the scope etc...Any ideas? Thanks! Jeff.
Mike here: That's an odd problem. First I would try a RESET (don't for to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES again). If that doesn't cure it, redownload.
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 10:10:02
Having visited your website I wondered if you would kindly answer me a
question on the above procedure as I have found the Meade instructions a
little misleading.After initializing the telescope say one or two hours
before an observing session,is it necessary to programme autostar again
with the time,date and location before performing the one or two star
alignment,before setting the Alt/Az home position?

Finally do you know if one can purchase the `Scopetronix`Flexi-focus
device in the U.K.?

I would be very grateful if you could reply a.s.a.p. Thankyou.

Derek Cattermole at DC60 ASTR
Mike here: There is a clock in the Autostar but I don't know of anyone who has gone 2 hours from startup to aligning. Could be an interesting test. Don't know about the FlexiFocus; check the online UK dealers shown on the Astronomy Links.
Subject:	Autostar 487 Time Zone error for Paducah,  Kentucky
Sent:	Monday, August 25, 2003 04:42:07
From: (Bill Allbritten)
I think we found a problem with the database in our 497.

We have been having fits trying to use the Autostar.  Nothing seemed to
line up during alignment.  I finally chose "Edit" for the site we had
chosen (Paducah, Kentucky, our nearest city, about 40 miles away) and
saw that -05 hours was the offset used.  We're -06.  We are in the same
time zone as Carbondale, IL, which is correctly given as -06 hours
offset .

Things worked better last night after we made the correction.  What
tipped us off was that last night was a very clear evening, we tried a
GOTO to Mars, and even though we could see it clearly above the horizon,
the Autostar declared the object to be below the horizon.  A check of
the SITE info showed the -05 offset; we looked at other Central Time
Zone sites in nearby states and saw the -06 used.

I don't see this issue mentioned in any updates on the Meade site.

BTW, our 90 really shows Mars well.


Bill Allbritten
Mike here: Report it to Meade at Don't expect a response though.

And an update:

Subject:	Meade did answer :-)  Inserted below.  BTW, love your site, much helpful information for my daughter and me.
Sent:	Monday, August 25, 2003 11:01:23
From: (Bill Allbritten)
Dear Mr. Allbritten,

Thank you very much for pointing out this error.  I will see that it is
corrected in our next release of software.  I am surprised that it has
gone this long without someone finding this error.  You can correct your
our site by editing the offset field.

Thank you again for taking the time to inform us of the error.

Regards, Meade Engineering Department.
  -----Original Message-----
  From: Bill Allbritten []
  Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 7:26 AM
  Subject: Database error in Meade Autostar 497

  Paducah, KY is shown as a -5 time zone offset.  It should be (as should
Bowling Green, Owensboro, Hopkinsville) a -6.  KY has two time zones.
Eastern ends about 30 miles west of Louisville.  This was giving us fits
with alignment.  Figured it out, new scope, when it showed Mars as being
below the horizon even though we could see Mars over the treeline some
distance away.

  Your update that's posted is wrong, too.


  Bill Allbritten

Subject:	ETX-90/ETC problem: slews over top of zenith during alignment
Sent:	Sunday, August 24, 2003 11:18:41
From: (Mike Stroup)
This is the first time I've had this problem with the ETX-90, and I've
had mine (with sporadic light use) for several years.  It got the
Tune-Up 19 months ago when I moved here to Hawaii.

Last night, I set up for alignment as always (Easy), and Arcturus was
the first star it picked.  It slewed around to the approximate position
on the horizon, but simultaneously is slewed up and over zenith and
appeared to have no intention of stopping until it reached the position
Arcturus would be in *if it were on the opposite side of the sky*.

I powered off to prevent anything from being damaged (including my

I doublechecked location, date/time, and rewound the base to the stop
and back out to north.

Same symptom, at least half a dozen times before I bagged it.

I could not (and cannot) remember reading of any reference to this
particular symptom on the site - did I just fail to search correctly, 
as well, or is this new to you too?

Thanks for everything,
Mike Stroup
Mike here: Check the batteries. If that's not it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know.


I was running on car battery at the time, and switched to power pack
battery (i don't use the AA's) - I'll to the Reset, Calibrate and Train
and get back to you.

And an update:

I am happy to report your suggestion made the problem go away.  Thank
you for all you do.

Subject:	"Rubber banding" A challenge for ETX owners.
Sent:	Sunday, August 24, 2003 06:26:07
From: (Bob Morris)
Clay Sherrod talks about "Rubber Banding" - "the phenomenon whereby you
GO TO an object, center it carefully, and suddenly AutoStar decides it
does NOT like where you put it and proceeds to re-position the object
where IT placed it originally at about 3x the speed your centered with!"

I am going to argue that it may not be a mechanical problem.

I "park" my ETX-90 after each use, then simply realign each time I
start. So the clutches are not changed. Two nights in succession I
experienced zero rubber banding one night and noticeable rubber banding
the next. Nothing had changed except ...

Well, when you do two-star alignment you effectively tell the scope it's
orientation in the universe. What other varible is there, assuming that
the lat and long are unchanged?

Well, time!

If the time is not right, then if you go to Mars, and center it, the ETX
will then decide that it must be somewhere else! Correct?

I had been quite sloppy about time, reading it off my cable converter
which I know is offset from our weather channel by 4 sec (which in turn
is synced to WWV) and then going outside and setting it. Probably
accurate to about 2 min.

But, I have an "atomic watch," which syncs to WWV every night. I don't
use it every day because I prefer my Casio moon pahse watch, which is
not all that accurate.

Last night, I decided to set time for one minute ahead of the current
minute on the atomic watch then press enter when the watch ticked over.

Time would be absolutely correct to the second!

Sure enough no rubber banding and Mars stayed steady in the center of my
highest power eyepiece.

Then, I purposely offset the time by about 2 minutes. Sure enough,
rubber banding started again!

Would ETX owners like to try this?

Will accurate time setting minimize, or eliminate, rubber banding?

Bob Morris
Mike here: Have you repeated this on a fixed object, like a star? Since Mars moves from night to night, its position is affected by time.


> Have you repeated this on a fixed object, like a star?

No, but I will.

I think a better test might be the following:

My ETX always seems to align with Altair and Arcturus.

When you align does it compute the position of the scope in 3-D space
wrt the stars at that moment (I am here) or at that time (I am here at
9:15 exactly)?

So. Set time perfectly. Align. Say it does Arcturus first and then
Altair. It is on Altair. Ask it to go to Arcturus. Should be perfect.

Now, set time wrong by 5 minutes. Align. Ask it to go to Arcturus.

If it aligned wrt 3-space and then recomputes where Arcturus is wrt to 3
space at that time it will be wrong because the time is wrong!

If it aligned wrt to 3-space ***at the wrong time*** it will be right.


> Since Mars moves from night to night, its position is affected by time.

Mars is always on the move wrt the stars.

Hmm. Is rubber banding different with a star and a planet as you


Let's consider the stars only.

The time has got to matter one would think.

Got to try some more experiments.

Mike here: If the time is off by 5 minutes, where an alignment star is located in the star will be off by 5 minutes. But once you align, the Autostar "knows" the fixed sky geometry. However, since the planets (and other objects) move with respect to the fixed sky, their positions will be off. Granted, 5 minutes won't be enough to normally notice.


What I *do* know is I can't recall any documentation (including
Sherrod's) saying "get the time as perfect as possible."

Most people's watches are off by one or two minutes at most.

In a telescope with no motors and an 18mm eyepiece, stars move out of
view in a couple of minutes. I know this since before I got my ETX I was
too lazy to polar align and plug in my Criterion 4" schmidt-cass.

Intuitively the difference between correct time and the time you input
should be a factor. If you input perfect time using a radio watch, the
time should remain within a second for the whole observing session that

If we had a flow chart of the Meade software we'd know exactly how the
time and alignment interact.

More later.

Mike here: The more correct the time input is the better the initial pointing for the alignment stars (assuming everything else is precise). But once aligned, time only matters for moving objects and for rise/set times.
Subject:	re:  Autostar 497 incorrectly claims Mars is below the horizon
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 12:28:11
From: (Richard Seymour)
To:	RNevins@NationalAsset.COM
Although you gave your location -accurately-, it would
have saved me a bit of a map-dig to have also named your
nearest local city... in this case, Louisville Ky.

So i told my Autostar Lousiville, 10pm 20-Aug,
and asked it for Mars. [enter]

At this point, it said "Calculating" and finally
reported:  22:44.8  -15 11

and pressed [goto] and it happily went.

Scrolling down through the Mars data, my 26Ed autostar
reports a rise-time of 9:22 and a set time of: 7:53am

So: since you so precisely described your site, i'm going
to guess that you manually set up your site's data.
The Time Zone entry should be -5, which gets adjusted
by the daylight savings answer to the current (-4) offset.

You can check your site's Time Zone setting under
 Setup > Site > Edit > (scroll up) Time Zone > [enter]

Try simply selecting Louisville as your site, and see if it's
happier (the Site Selection can be off by 15 miles without markedly
affecting Autostar performance).

With regards to:
> I have also tried to get the software programs Skychart III
> and Astroplanner to slew the scope to Mars, but they both
> report back "the telescope claims the object is below the horizon".

The programs arrive at an RA/DEC coordinate, and then ask 
the Autostar if it can go there.  If it (the Autostar) thinks
the time is an hour west of where it's really at, it will 
report "sorry, can't go there". ("2" in Autostar-speak)

have fun

Subject:	re: Train Drive after Battery Change?
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 09:52:14
From: (Richard Seymour)
> When you change the ETX batteries is it necessary
> to retrain the telescope?  

No.  Training measures a -mechanical- property of the telescope,
and changing the batteries does not affect that.

But you -should- do a Calibrate.  IT takes only 5 seconds, 
and adjusts the position encoders to the new voltage levels.
(Then align afterwards).

> Also, is it necessary after doing a Reset?

Yes, since the reset resets the Training values to Factory Default.
(about 2500 each).

Full background details at:

have fun

Subject:	re: Autostar problems
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 09:46:49
From: (Richard Seymour)
G'day Rob,

Taking the questions in reverse order:
> I also can't get out of the "Tonight's Best" 

To escape from a Tour, you have to press the [mode] key for -many-
(5? 10?) seconds.  Short taps only move on to the next item.

> 2.  The Solar System menu is useless.
> In Tonight's Best it goes to Mars

Ahh... you need to press [enter] before pressing [goto] for most
objects (except in tours, where it's done for you).
Try this: Solar Ssystem > Mars > [enter]
** it will now say "Calculating...", and then display Mars' Current 
NOW press [GoTo] and it will GoThere.
As a general rule, press [enter] beefore pressing [goto].

> 1. ... random "Drive Failure"
This one's harder.  It -may- be power-related... if you could use
an external supply (a lead from your car, a JumpStart-type battery,
an AC adapter), it would help diagnose.  
At least, after one happens, check the Autostar's idea of the battery
condition by leaning on [mode] for 3 seconds, release.
That will bring up the "Status" displays (probably showing your
current RA/DEC). Now tap the [scroll up] key to reach the Battery Level
display.  If that's below 70%, that's the cause of your "Failure".
For best results, do that investigation while the scope is puttering
along tracking the stars.
If, during normal operation, the batteries quickly drop from 100%
to (say) 80%, that can affect the Calibration result, and also
trigger the failure message (Calibration is sensitive to battery level).

good luck


Hi Dick and Mike,

Thanks again for the great help and advice.

I was not aware of that method to get out of the "Tonight's Best" menu
nor how to make the Solar System selections work.

Are these methods documented in the Autostar guide because I can't find
them?  At least that clears up two issues.

As for the "Drive Failure" I cannot test the 125 again because I have
already returned it to the retailer.

I guess I will miss the best views of Mars but I've had some great
observations in the last few days in between the failures.  Will the
viewing get much better?

I am just blown away by the level of support you guys offer.  It is a
pity most companies don't even respond to paying customers this quickly.
They should take a leaf out of your books!

My sincere thanks again and wishing you clear skies.

Rob Broadbent
Brisbane, Australia.
Mike here: Thanks. You wouldn't be able to tell any difference over a period of a few days. Unless a Dust Storm comes up...
Subject:	re:  Autostar CD Guide
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 09:27:16
From: (Richard Seymour)

> Is it worth $12.50?

Yes.  (if you feel you need another guide to setting up an Autostar/ETX)

Ringo Li's "Field Guide CD" is an honest, original creation and
compliation of procedures, operations and methods for setting up
and using an Autostar and ETX telescope.

It's not at all a collection of web pages from his site and other places
(such as Mike's site), but all original text, photos and drawings.
He even has some good tricks and methods i have never seen in other

Procedures are laid out in numbered, outline form, with a page
or two devoted to each objective.  If i remember correctly, it's
about 80 pages of text.

He does (as any similar guide should) describe (with attribution) Clay's
Kochab's Clock polar alignment technique, but restated in Ringo's own
words, with original, ETX-biased drawings which add another facet
of clarity to Clay's original descriptions.

Unlike Mike Weasner's book, the CD is not an "Observing Guide", with 
suggested targets and descriptions, nor is it thousands of words of
prose desriptions and supporting side-matter... 
Ringo's outline-like form presents the operations with a minimum
of fuss, but extremely clearly.

"Is it worth it?" is a subjective measurement.. your mileage may vary.
But Ringo's CD is another good example of "the manual which SHOULD
have come with the telescope"

have fun

Mike here: Apparently Meade is set to announce this:
"Autostar Software Suite and Lunar Planetary Imager available separately. While the Autostar Software Suite and Lunar Planetary Imager are both included as standard equipment with the new SMT versions of the LX200GPS, the two can also be purchased as a package for use with all existing LX200GPS scopes (those models equipped with the Autostar II hand control). The package is not available for non-GPS scopes. It can also be used with any Meade telescopes using a #497 Autostar hand controller (ETX-90/105/125 Maksutovs and all LXD-55 scopes with Autostar). The price of the Software Suite and Lunar Planetary Imager package is $149."
- from astronomics
I have no other info as yet.
Subject:	Autostar CD Guide
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 13:34:49
I was thinking about buying a CD from atozastro called "Field User Guide
Book CD for Meade ETX Telescopes" to help me use the Autostar. I was
wondering whether you think this is worth paying $12.50 for?

The Website is

Thanks, Matt Kidd. (UK)
Mike here: I have never personally seen it so can't comment on it.
Subject:	Autostar "time" question
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 10:24:02
From: (Patrick Nijs)
I just purchased an ETX 125 together with the Autostar.

I learned that everytime you startup, you have to indicate the date and
time. The time is asked in the AM/PM format. Is there anyway to change
this so that the time can be entered in 24-hour format ?

Thanks for your time

Patrick (from Belgium, used to 24-hour time format)
Mike here: You bet. With the AM/PM portion selected just scroll UP/DOWN until you see a blank. That sets it for 24-hour time (which is where I always have mine set). Don't forget to ENTER the correct time in 24-hour mode.
Subject:	train drive & finderscope issue
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 07:30:44
im very new to astronomy just bought a ETX-90ec,

i have set up the train drive in polar mode which is how i will use this
telescope but just bought a right angle finderscope,

once i align this finderscope to the lens or anytime maybe i move it for
cleaning purposes or whatever does this affect the train drive setup?
hope this isnt a stupid question but as im new im not sure,

tnx for all the info in your book, the mighty, ETX guide, its superb,
hope u can help, tnx eddie
Mike here: Moving the telescope tube does not affect the drive training. But moving the telescope tube AFTER an alignment without using the slewing keys WILL affect the alignment.
Subject:	Slewing problem
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 17:28:30
From: (David Morlan)
There are currently several posting related to the ETX-90EC slewing when
the Autostar is plugged in.  I have this exact problem.  When the
Autostar is plugged in and the scope turned on the scope starts to slew
(in my case in both axes) until a hard stop is hit.  The Autostar will
display the "Don't look at the sun" message.  It continues to do this
until I turn off the scope.  My scope is used, but the Autostar is brand
new (replaced by Meade partly due to this problem).   I did a RESET but
this did not help.  Meade says it is a gear problem, but this does not
really make any sense to me.  The scope seems to work fine with the hand

PS.  If I hit "5" as you suggested in an earlier posting the controller
starts to work, but the scope continues to slew.


From: (Richard Seymour)
Lots of possibilities:
(a) The Telescope could have an internal cable unplugged, so that the
motors do not talk to the Autostar.  Do your motors both slew if
the Autostar is -not- plugged in?  If so, that argues for this.
Fix: open base of telescope (screws under rubber feet) and look for
a loose connector.  Sometimes the wires get caught and they get
pulled free.

(b) the telescope's moving parts cut into a wire, and thereafter
either: (1) are causing the motors to slew or (2) damaged the
 Autostar's driver circuits, which in turn let the motors slew.
If (2), it could've damaged the new Autostar, too.
(this happend to mine)

Again, the fix is to open the base and -look-, but more carefully.
-Feel- the wires to detect microscopic cuts in the insulation.
(i couldn't -see- my damage, but it was certainly tactile).

Do you have the little hand controller which came with ETX90ec
when they weren't delivered with the Autostar as a package?
Does it work?

good luck

Subject:	Cable connections for LX200 GPS
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 15:38:25
I can see your site is ETX oriented, but in the absence of specific
diagrams from Meade, could you please help with the connections required
to download Meade software updates to my scope. I have followed the
procedure described in the manual, but when I initiate the download, my
computer states " unable to find port" although it is plugged in. Could
it be an incorrect lead, ( although my friend assures me it is a Meade
cable), or am I connecting incorrectly? My connection is the port from
my computer straight to the RS232 port on the telescope.(the one nearest
the Autostar connection)
Any info would be appreciated, especially a diagram!
Regards Ian (
From: (Richard Seymour)
First, i recommend/welcome you to join the Yahoo group:
thousands of members, hundreds of LX200gps's represented.

Second: it SOUNDS like you're doing it correctly,
but sometimes Windows has other programs running which grab the
COM ports and don't ley the ASU reach the scope.
Things like PalmPilot Sync programs, etc.

Also, in the Windows > Control Panel > System > Device Manager > COM port
Advanced window,  either turn OFF the FIFO option, or slide the speed
controls to the left (slowest).

Follow the recommendations listed in: 

(but ignore the part about the power-up "X", that's 497 Autostar)

Once you have hyperterminal talking to it, try :GC# to see the date.
That will verify that you have connection.
AFter that, the ASU should be able to reach it.

I'm corresponding with someone else who's having similar problems,
and in HIS case it sure sounds like his offical Meade cable is 

If you have an ohmmeter, check the pinouts at: 

and verify that your cable matches them.

good luck

Subject:	Train Drive after Battery Change?
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 13:51:09
I have a ETX105 with Autostar bought in April and am enjoying it - the
Meade offer earlier this year was a big time savings.   I have a
question you probably have answered before but I haven't located it.

When you change the ETX batteries is it necessary to retrain the
telescope?   Also, is it necessary after doing a Reset?

Thanks for your help.   Great web site!

Mike Boyd
Mike here: Redoing the TRAIN DRIVES is always necessary following a RESET, change in telescope model, updating the Autostar ROM, or anytime the Autostar acts up. Personally I have never found it necessary to do it when replacing batteries or switching from AC to batteries or back. However, others have found that it helps them when replacing or switching.


Thanks for the quick response!   The ETX is not finding the alignment
stars too well since my last battery change (the alignment stars fall
outside the finder fov).   I'll do a motor calibrate and a retrain
And a different perspective:
Subject:	Meade DS-114AT Autostar problems
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 15:20:41
From: (Merrill Kardon)
I recently acquired a Meade DS-114AT with Autostar. It's interesting for
a neophyte. Low batteries may cause Autostar to loose calibration
especially if you can't park the scope. If that happens, a new pack my
lead to a message of motor fault. Once you've replaced the batteries you
need to enter setup and reset the processor. Then go through the entire
recalibration procedure starting on page 16 in  the manual. Do not
overtighten the lock knobs, a firm feeling should be enough.For those
without docs, Meade makes them available online. Once again, having the
batteries go low during an operation is unfortunate with early scopes.
The newer ones may have a low battery feature; pay attention to a
warning. I found a 12volt C cell battery pack works great and lasts a
long time, plus they are rechargeable.

Subject:	Autostar 497 incorrectly claims Mars is below the horizon
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 06:48:08
From:	RNevins@NationalAsset.COM (Nevins, Robert)
I recently purchased an ETX-90EC with #497 Autostar using version 26Ed
of the software.  From the information provided on your page, I have
done everything I can think of to make sure it is setup and aligned
properly, correct time, latitude/longitude, DST, etc.  For about 3
months the unit performed wonderfully, but now it seems to be having
problems with finding objects.

The first problem is with easy alignment; basically, it is way off when
it slews to the selected alignment stars.  Before upgrading the firmware
to 26Ed, I don't believe I have this problem and nothing I have tried
has corrected it (including all the information on your page).

Second, I am having a problem with the Autostar slewing to Mars, even
though the planet is clearly visible.  At my location (38.3693 N and
85.3595 W) the planet Mars rises about 9:30 pm and is very visible by 10
pm.  However, for the last few nights I have asked the Autostar to GOTO
Mars around 10 pm, but it refuses and says that the planet is below the
horizon until 10:25 pm, but this is wrong.

I thought the problem must have something to do with daylight savings
time, but I have answered all the questions correctly.  Being in the
Eastern Time zone, and in a location that observes DST, the unit should
be set correctly. Similar to the star alignment issue, previously the
unit would slew with a high degree of accuracy, but no more.

So, could these items be related to the update of software, or is it
just operator error?  The Mars thing really has me stumped as I am
confident the unit is setup correctly.  I have also tried to get the
software programs Skychart III and Astroplanner to slew the scope to
Mars, but they both report back "the telescope claims the object is
below the horizon".

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Bob Nevins
Mike here:What about GOTO to a star; does it report incorrectly that it is below the horizon or is the GOTO way off? Since it sounds like you did the software update, did you redo the TRAIN DRIVES (both axes)? That is necessary following an Autostar ROM update. If the alignments are off now whereas they were fine months ago it sounds like perhaps you need to do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Autostar problems
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 04:46:48
From: (Rob)
Thanks for the great info on the site.  I have spent hours reading up on
the telescopes and accessories.

I have 2 problems I can't seem to solve with an ETX 125 and Autostar and
wondered if you could offer some advice.

1.  I often, and randomly get the "Drive Failure" message.  It can
happen 2 minutes into the observation or after 40 minutes of cruising
around the sky.  I have calibrated the motors, trained the drives,
ensured there is nothing obstructing the telescope, ensured the clutches
are tight enough not to slip.  Having ensured the setup was right I
thought power!  The rechargeable batteries are in perfect condition.
They are a 1.5 volt Alkaline (not 1.2 Ni-Cad) type which I recharge
after each use.  I even tried a new set of Duracells out of desperation
but that made no difference.

2.  The Solar System menu is useless.  It doesn't even slew in the right
direction, looking low and north for Mars, Neptune and Uranus which are
all out to the east and quite high in the sky by 8pm.  Mars is the first
item in the "Tonight's Best" menu and the scope goes right to it when

In each of these cases the telescope is initially levelled and pointing
north, home position checked, control panel pointing west and 2 star
easy alignment carried out.

I also can't get out of the "Tonight's Best" menu without scrolling to
the end.  In this menu the Mode button acts like the scroll down button
and scrolls to the next object in the list.  Is this normal?

In desperation I have reset the Autostar, and even upgraded the firmware
from 2.6Ec to 2.6Ed.  Still no difference.  Do you think a "Safe Load"
might help?

They are only about 3 months old and I have already returned them once
under warranty only to be told there is nothing wrong with them.  I am
tearing out what little hair I have left and am feeling very frustrated.

Rob Broadbent
Brisbane, Australia
Mike here: The two problems may or may not be related. Drive Failure can occur from dirty encoders, loose cable connections, low power, or hitting a hardstop. In your case, since it occurs at seemingly random times I would suspect either dirty encoders or a loose connection somewhere. The GOTO problems and other problems do sound like either a bad keypad or corrupted ROM. Certainly trying the SAFE LOAD mode can't hurt. Let me know.


Thanks for the quick response and confirming that I wasn't overlooking
anything in the setup.

No joy I'm afraid with the Safe Load.  The symptoms are still the same
with the Autostar.

As for the Drive Failure, I am not going to void any warranty buy trying
any repairs myself.  I will have to send it back again.

Best regards

Rob Broadbent
Brisbane Australia

Subject:	re: Autostar / Meade 505 connector cable question
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 23:05:58
From: (Richard Seymour)
I have to ask: you DO realize that the 505 plugs into the Autostar,
not the AUX socket, yes?

And the telescope has to be powered up and attached.

Have you tried connecting holes 2 and 3 of the 9-pin adapter
together (i use a bent paperclip), attaching it to the Autostar
and turning on the scope?  
If the cable is working, that will start the Autostar into a 
test sequence where it will ask you to press every key
(eventually you will get a PIC failure message.. that's OK).

That paperclip test does NOT check for swapped wires, merely 
that they're complete from end to end.

good luck
I do have the 505 connected to the handbox, rather than the AUX -- a
fair question :-)  I'll give a shot with your paperclip suggestion -
that's very interesting.  I did put a multimeter on the 505 and tested
it for connectivity and proper wiring - it is correct and functioning. 
Your test will be a good one to get an idea whether the Autostar is even
aware of the cable at all.  Have either of you ever heard of an Autostar
just being faulty in this regard?  It seems to be the only logical point
of failure now.  I know my COM port is good, I know the cable has
integrity.  I'm at a loss...  Thanks, fellas.

- Chris
As (i think) Mike said, the -usual- cause is some other program 
interfering with the COM port, thereby blocking ASU.
You can do the paperclip test in reverse, too... somehow connect
the two active pins of the RJ plug together so that things typed
into hyperterminal echo back to your screen.
(if you already have echo on, you'll see double-typing).

Ah!  If you have the cables connected, hyperterminal running,
and fire up the telescope: does the "X" appear on the PC's screen?
(that tests the "to PC" direction without needing a functional 
"from PC")

i -suspect- that the pins are swapped (2/3 or the Autostar end).
If the Autostar self-test works (if it sees the "X" coming back is
what triggers it), then that's 100% the cause.

good luck
And an update:
Here's the latest:

Dick, thanks to your suggestions, I've completed the following:

1) hyperterm echo test:
	I've tested cable integrity by connecting the ds9, shorting out 2/3
	on the RJ22 end, and watching the double-typed echoes come back.

2) Autostar self-test:
	Reversing the process below, I got the autostar to go into
	self-test, and ends up in a PIC error, just as you mention.

3) Connect the 505 and watch hyperterminal on handbox boot
	Looking for the 'X', but it never comes.  What I have gotten is an
	underscore, a space and a box-shaped ascii character while watching
	the handbox boot up.  The _ and box shape only showed up a time or
	two.  Now, every time it boots, it echoes one space character to the
	terminal.  No 'X'.

4) As might be expected, after the above failed, typing #:GVF# failed as

Here's what else I've tried this evening:

1) Resetting the handbox

2) Using Meade's Autostar Update program (as opposed to TheSky), I ran
through it's com port auto-detect process several times.  It always
returns with "Could not find Autostar.  Check connections.".

Now, because the echo test works, I'm clear that the computer is able to
communicate through the serial port effectively.  Also, I'm certain that
I'm using the right COM port because of these tests.

I'm also certain that the Autostar has at least some awareness and
interface with the cable and DS9, due to the characters getting output
to the screen during handbox boot.  The Autostar self-test also proves

So if the computer can talk through the cable, and the Autostar can see
the cable and computer, I'm at a loss for what could be in the way.

Thanks for all the help, you two!  I'm wide open to any other

- Chris
And from Dick:
At this point there's only three clear reasons for the observed behaviour:
(a) the DB9/rj22 adapter (or the cable) has pins 2/3 swapped. 
 You can check -that- with a voltmeter.  Relative to ground, the pin
 going into either device should be being held at about 5 v -negative-
with respect to ground.
  So, looking at the DB9 end (easier to probe... two paperclips):
  Pin 2 of the cable should be at -5v relative to pin 5.
 Or, look at the PC socket itself: pin 3 should be -5v (or more)
  relative to pin 5.   
 Now scurry to the RJ22 end: pin 1 of the cable should be what
 pin 3 on the PC was,  relative to cable pin 4.

(b) Rj22 pins 1 + 2 (or DB pins 2 + 3) of the cable are shorted
  together (but this would kick the Autostar into self test if 
 the cable were just connected at that end)

(c) COM port settings incorrect... but ASU takes over the port and
 -sets- it.  For hyperterminal, it's 8 bits data, no parity, no 
 control flow.  And, in the Device Manager, slide the FIFO buffering
 to the least (left) end, or disable buffering altogether (Com port,

i vote for (a)

good luck
Many thanks.  I'm on the phone with Meade right now to get their take as
well. I'll double-check the cable wiring once again just to be sure.

Thanks again, Dick.

- Chris

Subject:	re: daytime alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 22:59:36
From: (Richard Seymour)
> Sun?

On Mike's site:  

have (lots of filtered, safe) fun

Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 11:58:37
From: (Reid Nelson)
Ahh, someone from your site wrote and suggested using software to
control it from the computer rather than moving the handpaddle.  Makes
sense, so I've ordered the cable to use the software.  Thanks for
plugging my question in!

Subject:	ETX 125
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 08:25:42
From: (George C. Stradley)
I'm not sure I'm sending my question to the proper address, but I'll try

I recently bought an ETX 125 w/Autostar.  I have been using a Dob at our
local school star parties, but I decided to try an ETX as the little
children inadvertently bump the Dob eyepiece causing me to reposition
the scope many times during an evening.

Anyway, I am having difficulty using the "Easy Align" procedure.  I
think I have the gears trained properly as I have rechecked the training
procedure.  After "Alignment Successful" shows and I try to GOTO an
object I find I might just as well be using a Dob as I am not even close
to the object in either the finder or eyepiece.  (I check finder
alignment on Polaris so I doubt that is my problem).

Any ideas what I might be doing incorrectly or not doing?

George Stradley
Novice Program Chair
Houston Astronomical Society
Mike here: Hard to say what you are doing wrong without more data. But check the Autostar Information page on my ETX site for lots of alignment tips. Be certain you selected the proper telescope model and mounting mode and then did a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES once before actually doing any GOTOs. Also, check the date and location. And don't use Magnetic North; use True North for the Home position.
Subject:	Help with Meade #494 Autostar ....??
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 23:27:19
From: (Michael Ainslie)
I recently purchased an ETX-60AT telescope with a #882 standard field
tripod and a #494 Autostar.  According to the manual, the Autostar's
"Mount" mode (under Setup=>Telescope...) should be set in Alt/Az
configuration to work in coordination with the #882 tripod, but the
Autostar seems to be set in polar configuration and I can't get to the
menu to change it.  When I go to Setup=>Telescope, the only options
displayed are "Focal Length," "Az Ratio," "Alt Ratio," "Train Drive,"
"Tracking Rate," "Reverse L/R," "Reverse Up/Dn," "Calibrate Motor," and
"High Precision."  According to the manual, there should be two more:
"Telescope Model" and "Mount."  Is there any way to change the Autostar
configuration to Alt/Az without using Setup=>Telescope=>Mount?  If not,
is there any way to update the Autostar without the extra #506 Cable
Connector Kit?  (According to Setup=>Statistics, I'm currently running
"Version 1.0f" )  I've already tried to "Reset" the Autostar, but that
didn't get change anything...
Thanks ahead of time!
Mike here: Egads. Unless they moved it for 1.0f it should be there. There is no update available to the #494; you might need to contact Meade or the dealer where you purchased it since RESET didn't clear it.

And from our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour:

From: (Richard Seymour)
> According to the manual, there should be two more:
> "Telescope Model" and "Mount."  Is there any way to change the Autostar
> configuration to Alt/Az without using Setup=>Telescope=>Mount?

Ya know?  That sounds like you have a 4504 (or 114EQ-DH4) "Starfinder"
version of the 494.  That model -only- does the GEM mount, and does
not offer Model or Mount changes. (i have one).

If this is a new ETX, call Meade and arrange a swap.
This is their error for including the wrong Autostar.

> If not, is there any way to update the Autostar without the extra #506 Cable
> Connector Kit?  

No.  The programming cannot be changed in the 494/Starfinder with normal
mortal means.

good luck

Subject:	re: daytime alignment
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 01:23:45
From: (Gareth Evans)
Thanks Dick - as you might guess I'm new to all this!

One further question - I can't find the Sun in the Autostar anywhere (I
suppose to stop people from looking at it!).  Do you know where I can
download the info for the sun to update my Autostar?  I had a search of
the web at the weekend without success.

Many thanks
Mike here: The Sun is not in the Autostar for safety's sake. Fortunately, it is not too hard to locate in the sky. With the proper protection you can observe the Sun safely and the Autostar will track it fine once you have slewed to it.
Subject:	Autostar / Meade 505 connector cable question
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 12:38:02
From: (Beams, Chris)
Thanks for your great website - your wiring diagrams for the 505
connector cable are quite helpful.  A question for you:

My setup includes the following:

1) LX-D55 w/ Autostar
2) Meade #505 connector cable
3) Laptop with COM2 open
4) Software Bisque's TheSky astronomy software

I imagine you are familiar with all the above.

The scenario is simple:  Following all the instructions supplied by
TheSky, and properly connecting the cable, I consistently get "no
response from device ... error code 203" when attempting to link TheSky
with my telescope.

I have also attempted to send command strings through hyperterminal to
the handbox directly.   Same situation.  No response.

Having exhausted all the avenues I can think of, I am left with the
thought that my 505 must be a) defective or b) improperly wired.

In assessing the possibility of improper wiring, I see, as per your
diagrams, that my unit is correctly wired.  Short of getting a wire
tester on the cable (which is my next step), I'm at a loss for what may
be going wrong here.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks so much!

- Chris
Mike here: Have you tried the Autostar Updater Application? Can it communicate with the Autostar? One typical problem is that some other application has the Com port open (like fax software). I don't know what that error code is (I don't have TheSky); what does Bisque say about it?


Thanks for the response, Mike.

Yes, I have tried the updater program, and it's unable to communicate as
well.  It looks like it must be the cable - now, if I can just find a
suitable tester.. ;-)

Do you use the meade-supplied 505 cable for your uses, or did you a) get
it elsewhere or b) make your own?

- Chris
Mike here: I use a Meade cable. But many people have successfully made their own.
Subject:	ETX/PALM
Sent:	Sunday, August 17, 2003 06:03:55
From: (leon maile)
i wanted to ask you a ques about my palm m130 and auto star,i read on
your site that i could connect my palm that has planetarium loaded on it
and connect it to my auto star 497 and use it to view the heavens.i was
stuck to where i could get the cables to connect my palm and auto star
with etx105.
             many thanks leon

Subject:	AUTOSTAR 494
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 19:40:11
Could you please tell me why my display on my 494 unit has goes into (
WARP SPEED) meaning is scrolls so fast I cannot read the messages. Also
at times the motors are running and the unit is not moving. This is
strange because if I disconnect the unit loosen the drive units knobs
and re-home it will take off and align just fine.........any help will
be appreciated. thanks
Mike here: Use the UP/DOWN arrow keys at the bottom of the Autostar to control text scrolling speed. In order to track objects in the sky (that is, compensate for the Earth's rotation), the motors run but the telescope moves very slowly and is hard to see (sort of like watching the hour hand on an analog clock). Is this what you are referring to?
Subject:	Re: 497 version 2.6Ed new features???
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 07:12:02
Hi Dick:

Thanks so much for your answer that clarifies my mysterious "Check
Mount" message. I was getting used to hitting "GOTO" twice after every
slew! I'll set the max elevation to 90 degrees as I have an ETX 125,
reset, calibrate and train.

Clear skies,


Subject:	re:  125 ETX & Star GPS Questions
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 22:24:52
From: (Richard Seymour)
(paraphrasing:) Do i need to RESET after installing StarGPS?

That depends upon the firmware version you were using before installing
the StarGPS.  If it was already 26Ed (the current version), and you simply
add the StarGPS to that, then NO, you do not need to Reset.

If your 125 was operating an older firmware, then the answer varies
from version to version... so i'd try the scope after updating.
If it seems happy, then you don't need to RESET
If it does weird things (well, weirder than usual), then a RESET
 would seem advisable.

have fun

Subject:	re: 497 version 2.6Ed new features???
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 15:32:14
From: (Richard Seymour)
CHECK MOUNT is what the Autostar says when it thinks your planned
GoTo will enter a region defined as "dangerous" by your input.
(or lack thereof)
Among the new features in 2.6 is the ability to set an upper travel
limit (Max Elevation)... that should be 90 degrees for an ETX model,
and varies among the other models (you didn't state your telescope
model in your posting).

It's under Setup > Telescope > Max Elevation [enter]
Even if it says "90", press [enter] to "make it so".

A RESET followed by (re)selecting your telescope's Model
should also clear this message from your life (unless you
really are trying to slew the scope into a zone where components
might collide).

have fun

Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 12:21:09
From: (Reid Nelson)
A question for you.

I've got an ETX 70 on the roof of my house and am trying to operate it
remotely from inside (I hook a camera to the eyepiece), using cable
connections.  My problem is, I get on the roof and initialize the scope.
Then, I unplug the handbox, plug in a cable in its place which goes
inside my house.  I then go inside with the handbox and plug it into the

However, the scope realizes the box has been moved, and won't let me
proceed.   I try to fool it by placing it in "sleep" or "park scope"
after initializing, then turn it on from inside after plugging in the
handbox inside, but it still seems to know that I've moved the handbox.

I don't know why it doesn't want the handbox moved...any suggestions?


Mike here: Since power comes from the ETX, when you unplug the Autostar it thinks it has been turned off. I'm not certain there is going to be anything you can do. You could add an external power supply for the Autostar (see the Autostar Information page) but then you would have to modify the cable to draw power from the external power supply and communications from the Autostar-ETX cable. But even then the Autostar might see that communications have been interrupted. Nice idea though.
Subject:	ETX 90ec and Autostar 494
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 07:11:08
From: (Alex Stansfield)
I was wondering if the ETX 90ec will support the AutoStar 494, I've seen
conflicting opinions and was wondering what the answer was.


Mike here: If you check the Meade website ( you will see the answer is "no".
Subject:	Getting started w/ETX 90C
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 16:49:48
From: (Bill's e-mail account)
Having trouble getting started with my scope....any users who might be
able to help get started...can't seem to get alignment right so I can
use the "go to" info.

The unit is perhaps 5 or so years old...have there been software update
I can uipload into the scope/Autostar?

Any help appreciated.


Bill Griffin
Mike here: There have been MANY Autostar updates since 1999. See the Autostar Information page for updates and alignment tips.
Subject:	Autostar's star database corrupted?
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 13:42:01
From: (Deon Venter)
From sunny South Africa with a bit of frustration ....

I used ASU 3.61 to update Autostar 497. Went fine up to the last the
point where it is supposed to initialise and release the autostar for
operation - a message appeared saying that the upload was completed
press OK but the autostar still stuck "downloading do not switch off"
mode.Had to switch off & obviously corrupted autostar.

Anyhow back to safe mode, which eventually worked, but the star database
seems to remain corrupted (e.g. star names reads as funny characters,
although otherwise the autostar seems OK). I thought that the star
database actually uploads fresh when uploading the firmware from
Build26Ed.rom - I cannot find anything separate to refresh star

Have you got any advice?

PS from laptop, with the first round of trying, also had earlier version
of update still installed, but tried later with new fresh installation
of 3.61 on stand alone computer - same problem

Deon Venter
Mike here: All the data is in the ROM file now. What happens if you do a RESET? That might fix the bad text problem. If not the next step would be another download.
Subject:	ETX 125
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 11:51:53
From: (Fassaert Eric)
First : thanks for your job, it's magic for the users of TX 125 !!!!

I've some questions about mine that i bought few days ago with a
autostar 497. 1) Is it normal that the tube can touch the motor base if
i let it fall more than 30 ? It's not clear in the manual, on one side
they wrote it's not and other side that normal.

2) Autostar functions are ok oly : I can't change the language, and i
can't use the control of arrows at speed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ! It works only
at speed with the 6, 7, 8, 9. Is that normal ?

Thanks in advance for your help. And "bravo" for your site.

 Eric Fassaert
Mike here: No, the OTA should not reach the base but there have been some reports of that occurring. It may or may not present a real problem to you. As to the Autostar. Depending upon where you purchased the Autostar, you may have the English-only version of the Autostar software. You could check Meade's site for international information; some Meade sites have more localized versions. As to the slewing speed, that is really odd. Haven't had any reports like that. Perhaps a RESET would clear it.


Thanks you very much for your quick answer !
I'm a little bit disapointed with the point about the OTA. So it means
that i have a bad model ? But it's the second one that i have, i mean i
bought one in a shop where it was exposed, and because i've had some
little problems with the box not complete, the shop has change it to a
new one few days ago. But both of them have had the same problems.
Strange ! For the Autostar i will try to find a french version. Do you
know if meade has a email adress, i can't find it ?

Anyway thanks you very much and again : fine site that you make !!
Best regards.
Mike here: Meade doesn't use email for tech support, only voice and fax. Contact info on their web site.
Subject:	ETX125EC AS497 firmware v.?????
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 12:36:35
From: (Dan)
Thanks for still keeping your site updated! Ive been visiting off and on
since 99' Anyway Mike I think I have looked everywhere here: , however I havent been
able to find anything on "HOW TO DETERMINE WHAT FIRMWARE YOU HAVE"... I
would like to find out before I start doing ANY updating. My late
Grandfather passed away a yera ago this past March and bought this
ETX125EC after He veiwed my ETX90Astro! Well with MARS showing us
beautifuls scenes each eveing here in Illinois, we've been useing the
125 lately.

Appreciate the help.

Thanks again and BEST regards Dan

===== May the GREAT Lord, OUR CREATOR of ALL, have mercy on our
inadequacies as humans...  May He also give us the wisdom to show
kindness and patience to our fellow Man, and everything of Gods
    God speed to You all, my family and friends...  
           Dan  :)
Mike here: An abbreviated version of the version number appears on power-on. For the full version number, SETUP-->STATISTICS and then scroll until you see the version number.


THANKS a bunch Mike!!! Have a good one.

REGARDS & clear skies
Dan :)

Subject:	Re: Etx Work
Sent:	Wednesday, August 13, 2003 07:21:47
From: (P. Clay Sherrod)
To:	Jeffrey
Hello Jeff.  Try either of these two methods:

1) hold down the ENTER and right scroll key at the same time with the
scope OFF.....while holding, turn the scope ON;


2) immediately when you turn on the switch, start pressing "9-9-9-9-9-"
as fast as you can on the keypad.

Either way or at least one of those should get your Autostar into
emergency "Flash Load" status.

At that point attempt nothing but the upload to a fresh firmware.

Best of luck.

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)

----- Original Message -----
From: Jeffrey
> Clay, Lastnight I started to update my Autostar when
> and to what seemed to be about 1/2 the way done my
> connection dropped due to a new found worm virus on my
> computer that shut it down.. I am now re-trying to
> update it again on my work computer.... now nothing
> happens other than the autostar just showing a "n" on
> the screen when it's turned on. I could not find
> anything to troubleshoot this so could you shoot me a
> link on a how to fix? Thanks! Jeff.

Subject:	125 ETX & Star GPS Questions
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 13:37:16
From: (JENCOI)
I have a new, (July 2003) 125-ETX and am about to add the Star GPS to
it. After the update is complete must I do a Setup>RESET for proper
initialization? Will I have to re-CALIBRATE?  I know how to train but am
not sure (yet) how to re-CALIBRATE.

Clay Sherrods technical tips page
http://www.weasner.cometx/techtips/etx_tuneup2.html Has the statement,
"With the newest updater from Meade(ASU 3.61)it is NOT necessary to
always RESET the telescope after a new version of firmware is
uploaded;...........The Autostar will now retain all user data that is
stored if you wish.  This includes your 1)training, 2)calibration,
3)locations(sites)4)ephemeris objects and personal(owner) data.

Jack Dugan
Mike here: Select CALIBRATE from the SETUP-->Telescope menu. I still find it necessary to TRAIN DRIVES following an Autostar update; otherwise it "rubberbands".
Subject:	Autostar 495 Update/Upgrade problems on Mac
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 08:21:47
From: (Albert Valencia)
I've been to your site at several times and have
followed your instructions pretty closely, but I'm still having problems
trying to update the AutoStar 495 firmware and software on my Mac OSX
v10.2.6 running Virtual PC 5.0.2 with Windows 98:

I bought my DS114EC  used (in great condition) and it is my 1st time
trying to run the Autostar #495 v1.2.  I'm trying to upgrade/update to
v3.2.  I've got a fairly new Mac G4, 1Ghz with no serial port, so I
bought a Keyspan PDA adapter, and have downloaded KeySpan's latest
update.  I've got the Telescope connected to the AutoStar, connected to
a 505 cable, connected to the Keyspan adapter, connected to a USB port
on the Mac tower (not on a keyboard connector).

When running Virtual PC and Windows 98:

Keyspan software recognizes the adapter, and I set COM1 as KeyUSA 19QI1,
which it shows as a good connection, when tested with their software.

However, Virtual PC settings won't allow me to set COM1 to the KeyUSA
19Q1.  I keep getting the error message "COM1 probably in use by another

I've got the printer disconnected, and I'm using the USB port on the
Tower, not the keyboard.  The MODEM box is unchecked,

The Autostar ASU v 3.2 program cannot connect to the Handbox, because it
doesn't see it.

I know this should work, from reading your posts.

HELP!  lol


Albert Valencia
Mike here: Check that Windows is not using the USB port as well. I'd fire up my VPC6 to check my settings but what with the rampant Windows virus running around right now I'm avoiding Windows. I'm not even going to install the VirtualPC 6.1 update from Microsoft quite yet! Also, check that some other Windows program doesn't have the Com port in use; like fax software.
Subject:	Re: Re: Re: ETX 90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 05:12:31
From: (Nigel Hussey)
If I press the "5" key a getting started message appears and I am
requested to set date time etc, but the telescope is by now still trying
to slew beyond the eyepice so I turn it off.

You mentioned last week a RESET option, how does that
you thing there's any chance I'll have it working before the next
appearance of Halleys Comet?????

Only joking..........your help is very much appreciated.

Thanks again.
Mike here: You get to the RESET menu item by pressing MODE until you see SETUP, then scroll until you see RESET; press ENTER.
Subject:	ETX105 won't easy align and train drive setup doesn't work
Sent:	Sunday, August 10, 2003 05:07:32
From: (
I have just purchased a Meade ETX105) which works fine in manual mode,
but doesn't want to align and acts very strangely when I use the train
drive setup. With the telescope in the home position and an easy align,
the telescope rotates over 360 deg clockwise until it hits a stop. I
then have to turn it off. This happens every time. Thought I would then
try the train drive setup. I focus on an objest and press enter, The
telescope moces left and then right past the object and asks me to press
-> until it is centred. This would need to rotate just under 360 deg
which doesn't seem quite right. Regardless of which, the arrow keys are
now disabled until I do an OFF/ON procedure. Same occurs for the
anti-clockwise setup which goes too far left and again arrow keys are
disabled. I know the motors are still working, as the calibration moves
them. Arrow keys just don't work. Any help and advice you could give on
this would be much appreciated


Geoff Skinner
Mike here: When you say the arrow keys don't work, is that only during TRAIN DRIVES? Only during the Azimuth TRAIN DRIVES or also in Altitude training? I suggest doing a RESET (to restore things), then go through the set up again; be certain to select the telescope model and mounting mode. Do a CALIBRATE again and then the TRAIN DRIVES.


Mant thanks for your prompt reply. After I have centred the target, I am
prompted to press ->. It is at this point the arrow keys don't work and
won't work even if I press MODE until I OFF/ON. Also, the telescope
slews to the left and then the right automatically in one operation
before showing the press ->, and the telescope was left right of the
target, which I don't believe it should do

I have tried RESET, CALLOBRATE an then TRAIN DRIVES and I gt just the
same. I haven't tried altitude training yet, just the RA
Mike here: There may not be anything wrong. Here's how training works. You center a distant object. You press ENTER. The Autostar slews away from the object in one direction. It then slews back to the object but probably won't make it back all the way. It then prompts you to center the object using ONE arrow key. You use that key to move the object back to the center. While the prompt to slew back is displayed ONLY that arrow key works. If you overshoot you have to start over with the TRAIN DRIVES for that axis.


Again many thanks. The problem is that the slewing overruns i.e. goes
past on the right, with only the right arrow option available. Worse
than that, the right arrow doesn't work (in fact none of the arrows
work). On the other subject of the easy align, just rotating an rotating
more than 360 degrees until it starts grinding (presumably hit a manual
stop), do you have any thoughts at all
Mike here: Before doing the Alignments you need to put the telescope in the proper HOME position. That includes doing the counterclockwise rotation to the hardstop and then back to North. The hardstops are located about (but not quite) 720 degrees apart. If you reach a hardstop when aligning that normally means you didn't do the first rotation. But I am still concerned about the Autostar overshooting the object during TRAIN DRIVES. Perhaps the best way to proceed at this point is to install the Autostar software again. You need a #505 cable (buy or make), Windows, a serial port, and the Autostar Updater Application from Meade's site. If something is corrupted in the Autostar, redownloading the software should clear it.


Many thanks for your input. I've come to the conclusion that there is a
software fault on the autostar. Nothing I do changes the situation.
Haven't got a cable at the moment, but I have a range of ad-hoc cables,
so I'll see if I can find a spec and see if I have one that matches. If
that doesn't work, I'll contact my dealer for a new autostar unit.

Again, many thanks for your prompt response, it really is a lifeline
when there appears to be no direct e-mail to Meade. Inevitably
frustrated at the moment. Really enjoyed the moon last night, buy I am
very much a newcomer and need the autostar to nudge me in the right


Geoff Skinner.
Mike here: See the Autostar Information page for info on making the cable.
Subject:	Computer Control
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 07:42:01
From: (Andy)
Can you tell me weather the meade #505 kit, which comes with cable a
software, will plug into a laptop with only a USB connection?  The
information I've been given is vague. Other than the 505 kit which
software would you recommend for use with my ETX125.
Andy Cole
Derbyshire UK
Mike here: You need a serial to USB adapter. Belkin and Keyspan sell them with drivers for Mac and PC. You can see some comments about the Keyspan one in the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page. As to software, there are many applications that can drive the Autostar; see the Accessory Review - Software for some; also see the software section of the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	Problems with Astrocontroller and Easy Alignment
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 07:37:51
From: (TG Browning)
Cannot seem to get the bloody Astrocontroller I bought to function
properly and would like to advice.  First,  I have no paper manual
(didn't come with one--from Fry's Electronics and they still haven't
seen a replacement).  Do have the electronic version.

Okay, that said, I think the problem may be in the definition of "home"
position.  The vertical alignment is clear enough--level.  But the
horizontal one requests that you a; turn the scope counterclockwise
until it stops and then turn clockwise until the "forks" are over the
computer.  By forks I assume they mean the fork arms, but do HOW over
the computer (which I assume to mean the side mounted controls and
plug-in ports).  Put "a fork", one of them, over the computer?  But the
axis formed by the forks (plural) over the computer? And when they say
turn until the fork is "over" the computer--do they mean the first time?
 That's not in the middle of the range of free movement that the scope
has.  The second time (another 180 degrees) puts it much closer to the
middle of free movement.

Any help would be appreciated.

TG Browning
Mike here: I'm not familiar with the product called "Astrocontroller" but if you mean the Meade Autostar with an ETX or DS telescope, there are manuals available online; see the FAQ page. If you have the ETX, there are alignment tips and steps on the Autostar Information page.


Got up this morning and wasn't thinking too clearly.  Yes, I meant the
Autostar and after looking around your website, think I may have had my
questions answered.  Putting the control panel on the west--that's
probably where I'm goofing up.  Don't recall seeing that anywhere in the
manual but I've been known to miss quite a few things. Oftimes I just
need the same thing "told" to me a different way for me to catch on . . .

Will give it a try as soon as I get some clear skies, but I'm not
entirely sure how long that might be.  Maybe tomorrow night.

Thanks for the super quick response and even more thanks for the
website. Got hours of poking around to do.


Subject:	etx 125
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 18:04:28
my etx scope performs flawlessly. i also have an autostar controller.
but it from time to time moves, or adjusts its position all by itself!!!
for instance, after align. i will be veiwing and without even touching
the unit or autostar box it will activate drive motors and move anywhere
from 10 to 50 degrees. vertical or horizontal, it varies with incident.
can you please shed some light on this , if you could. i am out of
ideas. i have already tried reseting of unit as meade suugested to no

thanks another happy etx owner, my name is doug
thanks a bunch
Mike here: Could be several culprits. Have you recently updated the Autostar software? If so, did you TRAIN DRIVES again? You need to do that following every Autostar update. Also, check the battery power. Random slews can occur due to low power (also "dirty" AC power). Lastly, check the connections.


thank you very much for such a prompt answer, i very much appreiciate it
(you know how gazers get, not knowing) trying all your fixes. think it
is bad a/c adapt. or dirty power. doesn't seem to be doing it on battery
d/c. hope that is all it was!!! thank again,   doug

Subject:	ETX 125 Autostar software old version vs new version upgrades
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 16:55:07
From: (Susie Salvi)
Is there a huge difference in an older model ETX 125 vs a newer one? 
Other than the ball bearings, is an older version autostar software
(1.x) difficult to upgrade as opposed to a (2.x). Someone is selling a
125 with the older version.  The tech support at Meade said he would
stay away from an older version and stick with something in the 2.x
version.  Do you feel that I should look for a newer 125 because of the
software issue and is the older software really that difficult to


Mike here: Ball Bearings have no "bearing" on the Autostar. And yes, you should upgrade to the current version. It is easy; just get the Autostar Updater Application from Meade's site; install it and run it. You will need Windows, a serial port, and a #505 cable (which you can buy or make; instructions on the Autostar Information page). There isn't much reason to get a newer ETX-125 if your old one is working.
Subject:	RE : Autostar can't do motor training
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 09:32:02
From: (ph.barraud)
Yes I did. The Autostar said "Motor Failure". Disappointing for a new
telescope !
Do I have to send it back ?

Philippe Barraud
Suisse - Switzerland
Mike here: Try swapping the cable end-for-end. See if that makes a difference (it shouldn't matter but try anyway). When you power on the ETX, does the Autostar go through its initialization process? Can you then slew the telescope with the arrow keys?


Swapping the cables enables me to calibrate motors. 
But I can't train the motors ("drive not found"). When I start the ETX,
it goes through the initialization process. I can slew the telescope
with the arrow keys, both ways.
Mike here: Well, after this troubleshooting, since it is new, I suspect it needs to go back. There is nothing else you can do without voiding the warranty. The problem could be the Autostar or the telescope. Either could be swapped. If you can get your hands on another Autostar, you could try that first.


All right, I'll try to get a new ETX.

Thank you very much for your help.

I have just received your book. I am going to read it entirely...

By the way, have you ever tried to have it published in French language?
There must be many ETX-users who would appreciate it in France, Canada,
Belgium, Switzerland, Africa...

Best regards,
Philippe Barraud
Suisse - Switzerland

Subject:	497 version 2.6Ed new features???
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 08:01:18
After downloading 2.6 on my #497, two new things are happening, one of
which I like and one that I want to eliminate:

1) Spiral search - GREAT IDEA AND WORKS FANTASTIC!!! Last night I used
GOTO M31. Initially it was not visible in my 18mm eyepiece but when I
hit GOTO again and the SPIRAL SEARCH function kicked in, I found it

2) CHECK MOUNT - This appears every time after I hit GOTO. After I hit
GOTO again, the scope slews to the object I'm looking for. I checked the
mount setting and all is fine. This "CHECK MOUNT" pops up every time I
GOTO an object! How can I defeat this annoying feature?


Michael L.
Mike here: Spiral Search has been around for several versions. Glad you found it. It is useful. Check Mount has not been reported before. Do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES; perhaps those will clear it. If not, you should try a RESET, etc. If that doesn't clear it, redownload the 2.6Ed update and start over. Don't forget that after any Autostar Update you must TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Re: ETX 90EC
Sent:	Friday, August 8, 2003 01:22:31
From: (Nigel Hussey)
Not having much luck here!!!

Batteries brand new and fine.........but the Autostar continues to WARN
me about looking at the Sun and nothing else happens (Chance would be a
fine thing).

Thanks anyway.
Mike here: While the Sun Warning is scrolling, can you change the scrolling speed with the up/down arrow keys?


Yes the scrolling speed slows down, but the telescope does not react to
the direction buttons and contines to slew vertically, until stopped by
the eyepiece.

I dare not let it continue, as I am concerned the motors will be

I have to say it is frustrating as we have had clear nights here in
England for the last 7 days and I have not been able to take
advantage!!! (We don't get that many!!).

I have gone to the Meade site and printed the Autostar manual, but it
says the "Autostar must complete a basic initialization before the arrow
keys and other Autostar functions become active".

I do get the Initializing warning, but then I am warned about the sun
while the telescope heads in its vertical travel.

I have yet to see the screen "Testing Motors" from which the telescope
is supposed to move a short distance vertically and horizontally.
Mike here: What happens if you press the 5 key while seeing the Sun Warning? You probably won't see the Testing Motors message.
Subject:	Autostar errors
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 21:52:52
From: (Mark)
Hi My name is Mark, and I would like to start by saying what a great
site,it has helped me tremendously. That being said, I am a newbie, and
am having diffuculty keeping up with Mars, using an etx 90ec, and high
mags. I am getting good views using a 9mm and 2x barlow, but mars will
move out of fov quickly. Am I not getting setup properly, or is this
normal? I am using the Alt/Az setup. I can track pretty well at low
powers. My etx suffers from some rubber banding, and creep. It is still
under warranty, and I am wondering if it needs to be worked on. Any
suggestions you can give would be greatly appreciated.

  Thank You for your time.
Mike here: Have you set the Autostar to your telescope model and mounting mode? Have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES (don't forget to train both axes)? Do you have the proper date/time and location entered? What version of the Autostar software do you have? The latest is 2.6Ed.


Thank You for taking time to answer my email. I have my autostar set up
correctly for date/time, Location, I have calibrated 2 0r 3 times,
resetting before each train, and I downloaded the latest autostar
version 2 weeks ago. When I train drives I followed advice given on your
sight. I am not quite sure about how to set up my meade #884 tripod. I
always point the elevation adjustment north, is this correct? I am going
to try the train calibrate one more time, as described somewhere on your
site, training with the ota tilted to 45 degrees.I still wonder if my
etx should be able track a planet in high powers?or do i need to get it

Once again thank you for the prompt answer, and I certainly appreciate
all your hard work and all you do for us all.
Mike here: I doubt your ETX needs service; you just need to improve the training and then do as precise an alignment as possible. As to the tripod, it really doesn't matter which way you orient the tripod in Alt/Az mode as long as the ETX control panel is on the west side.
Subject:	497 Autostar without star locations
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 19:10:45
From: (Judy  Estes)
I purchased a 497 Autostar for my son from Ebay.  It does not have a
directory of star locations to enter into the autostar.  Is there a
sight available where I can download?
Judy Estes
Mike here: Have you done a RESET? And don't forget to set it for your telescope model and mounting mode. Then CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. As to star locations, do you mean there are no alignment stars that appear when doing an alignment or that there are no stars in the various Star submenus? If the later, then you should buy or make (details on the Autostar Information page) a #505 cable and use the Autostar Updater Application on Meade's site to update the Autostar software. You need Windows to run Meade's application.
Subject:	Autostar can't do motor training
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 06:12:28
From: (Ph.Barraud)
I cannot do the motor training for my new ETX-125, and therefore not use
it. When I attempt to do the motor training, the Autostar says: "No
drive found".
What can I do ?

Thanks for your help!

Philippe Barraud

Philippe Barraud
Suisse - Switzerland
Mike here: Have you selected the telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar? Did you then do a CALIBRATE?
Subject:	Best way to turn the scope off after a night watch?
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 04:44:27
From: (Mesnik, Roberto)
Ah! Now I've got it. When I turned the scope on and don't align it, I
can move around and not hear the gear going... and when I align it, it
will track until I turn it off, park it or sleep it.  And I figured out
that I was trying to move it around when tracking at the lowest speed,
that is why it wasn't moving. And I didn't understand that it would
track regardless to where you point it.  After you are done viewing (and
it was on tracking mode) for the day, what is the best way to shut it
off? I have been using the park scope feature...

I am amazed how fast you have been responding!! Sorry for all these
questions but my book is still on backorder!!!

Best regards, 
Roberto Mesnik
Mike here: Parking works fine if you always set the telescope back up in the same location or don't move it between sessions.
Subject:	using the meade etx 125
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 10:06:46
From: (Vic Judi Vreeland)
Well I have purchased YOUR book and have reviewed the Meade website and
I am sorry to say, I still do not know how to use the AutoStar 497 with
the scope.  I put the scope in the Alt Az mode and turned on the 497 -
Don't see how to calibrate it for MY location....after putting in date,
time it slews to some place and stops (internal stops stop it) Would
like to reset the controller, - does it have batteries inside the
controller????  I guess the instructions are too complicated for me.   I
guess I can use the scope with the manual control - or until I find
someone who can explain the use of the 497.  I think the book and the
web site assumes that one already knows how to use a scope and that aint
me!  I can build a computer, build a house and tear apart a car...but I
can't work this telescope....  Perhaps there is a video (or you could
make one) which would really show you how to operate the scope and not
assume you have prior knowledge.  All I can say is I did manage to get
the scope pointing north and that is about it.  I guess a good start
would be to know how to reset the 497 controller - I got it from another
person and can't find out how to put my coordinates in it.  This may be
more frustrating than rewarding.....I am 58 years old this month and
don't know if I have enough life to learn to use the scope

vic vreeland
cedar creek, Texas 
Mike here: Check the Tutorials on the ETX Site. There is one about aligning. Also, there are many tips on the Autostar Information page. There are no batteries in the handcontroller.

And an update:

Wellllllll - I think I am making progress - I have been able to change
the setup and list my location - date - time and etc....

Then comes the alignment (looks like it has to be reset each time it is
turned off, as well as clock time ((date stays correct)))

1.  Am I using the Alt Az correct -  I level the tube and tighten the
lock knob and then I point the base to the north
2.  Turn on the 497 - asks for date time etc....
3.  Try to locate an object - say Venus.... said "Not Aligned"
4.  Went into the alignment mode and the ETX starts searching for
stars....I don't know where they are - Does the ETX "see" them and
stop????  Doesn't appear to - Unit raises the tube about 20 deg and then
slews clockwise, searching, and then it stops due to coming to the end
of the gear run.   If I press enter - It looks for another star and then
another and so on.....
5.  Am I supposed to stop the scope when "I" see the objects?? (will
have to learn where they are so I can stop it or does the ETX actually
see the objects and stop???
6.  It went to about 6 locations and then said it was aligned  (of
course it wasn't since I had the unit on my porch in broad day light and
manually stopped the slewing so it wouldn't strain when it came to the
end of the turn..
7.  To bad you can't align it on the Moon - Now I can find that.  I have
access to star chart for my location.  Guess I need to write down the
stars the ETX is looking for and stop the unit (what key?) when they are
centered??? Right? Now that isn't an easy set up, in my opinion, but
then I may not be doing the setup right to begin with.....

If you hear a loud crash, I chunked the scope off the porch!!!!  Ha -
probably won't, but it can be frustrating....A lot like working with
some computers.  I probably should learn more about the placement of the
stars and etc., before using the 497.
Mike here: Congrats! Yes, the Autostar requires you to enter the date/time/DST each time you power (unless you put it to sleep). During the alignment process the Autostar slews to a bright star. If you have set up the ETX in the proper HOME position (read those articles I mentioned earlier) then the position should be close. You center the brightest star nearest to where the ETX is pointed. It does help to know these stars; there are alignment star charts available on the Autostar Information page. But this is a NOT a requirement to enjoy using the ETX. Many people do not know (at least initially) what star is Vega and what star is Altair, etc.


Thanks for the reply - I work for the fire department and will take up
the quest to operate the etx..... I was a little concerned when it
slewed and came to the end of the cam and just sat there
laboring.....Does the etx "see" the star and stop, or do I have to stop
Mike here: If you have put the ETX in the proper HOME position (and that includes rotating to the hardstop and back to North), then the Autostar will stop where it thinks the alignment star is located.
Subject:	pbm using autostar and Mars
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 08:55:17
From: (denis martinez)
Last night I wanted to see mars.

It was 22H50 (24 hours format) and Mars was visible above the horizon.
Alignement in polar mode was correct, date and time too and daylight
saving too. After a "goto object" on Mars, Autostar report me "Rise at
22:37" (humm don't remember exacly the message but sound like that).

After that nothing append and my etx do not move to Mars!

So I decided to position the tube manually ( using keypad ) on Mars and
process an "identify object".

Correct answer, Mars was identified by Autostar!

But after moving to another object ( a star) , Autostart again refuse to
point on Mars with the same message.

However Autostar give me the correct date and time.

If I press again the goto key to go to Mars, Autostar say something like
"Starting Circular search", even if i currently point on Altar!!

I dont understand whats append and why I'am unable to point to Mars.

In the past I have many times successfull point to Jupiter, so do you
have any idea on whats append now ?

Thank's for your help and your great work on your site. (An excuse my
bad English)

- Denis. ( etx 125 + autostar 497 rom 26E )
Mike here: Obviously it sounds as though the Autostar thought Mars was below the horizon. Do you have your location set correctly? Since the actual time and "rise time" were so close, it sounds your location in the Autostar is slightly off. Another possibility is a "time zone" problem.
Subject:	ETX 90EC
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 04:18:47
From: (Nigel Hussey)
Hi there, I have just purchased the above with the new Autostar handset,
but when I switch it on, the telescope heads off in an upright position
(it would go further but for the eyepiece!!!!), and does not respond to
me pressing the arrows on the pad.

Am I doing something wrong???

Mike here: Check the batteries. Are they inserted correctly and are they fresh? Once that funny upward slew is done are were you prompted to select your country? If not, do a RESET. Then follow the prompts.
Subject:	Autostar update (ETX 90EC)
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 00:34:55
You replied I can add a city from Site menu.
What Site menu ?
Thanks a lot, Mike.
Mike here: In the Autostar, go to the SETUP menu and scroll until you see SITE.


Thanks, Mike.
I know that procedure.
But I was thinking about a city list in the Meade website. In this way
you could download names and coordinates, without entering them.

Mike here: Sorry, doesn't exist. Interesting idea though.
Subject:	Autostar Latitude Input
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 20:33:16
From: (Antonio Gabriele)
Enjoy your website tremendously. I have attempted to input longitude and
latitude for my specific location. I have no problem entering the
longitude number, but for some reason the Autostar 497 does not accept
my latitude number (Autostar shows 000.00 but when I enter my number
which is actually -087.98  it doesn't work. Does this have anything to
do with the minus sign?
Tony Gabriele
Mike here: See the FAQ page as well as the article "Entering Longitude" on the Autostar Information page.


did find the article but I have one more question. My longitude is 87.98
West. Autostar does not accept this number & forces me to round when I enter 88.00 it accepts it. Will that make a big
difference in the overall scheme of things?
Mike here: Won't make a significant difference.
Subject:	Autostar and locating com port
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 19:45:59
From: (Stephen P. Sutton)
I have downloaded the latest ASU software and installed it. The program
cannot seem to find my com port. According to Device Manager the ports
are working properly. My system in XP and I have verified the settings
for the port and they match the settings called for. Any ideas, have you
heard of this problem before?
Mike here: Many Windows users seem to have port conflicts. I'm not a Windows person myself (preferring Mac OS X) so I don't know all the possibilities but check for fax software or some other software using the port. Also, are you using USB or RS-232 on your PC?
Subject:	Alignment tip
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 19:26:10
From: (Schlatter)
Here's an alignment tip that might better be titled "Alignment for

After a week of rain and clouds, my ETX-90 and I went out on the balcony
for an observing session -- clouds had cleared out and the sky was

My first indication something was wrong was when the alignment missed
both alignment stars by the same amount to the North of the star.  Then,
when it tried to find the moon, the scope slewed and missed the moon by
something like 15 deg azimuth, 10 degrees elevation -- not even close.

I tried three more times -- turned scope off, aligned, same results.  By
this time I was saying unkind words to the scope.

Then, on the fourth alignment I found the problem:  When setting the
DATE in alignment, DON'T FORGET TO SET THE YEAR.  I was aligning to 5
August 2000.

Yes, I apologized to the scope for calling it names.

Joe Schlatter

Subject:	Help on down/up loading tours to #497 autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 07:36:55
Kudos on the great web site.

I just SUCCESSFULLY downloaded version 26E to my 497. I would like to
load some tours also but I cannot seem to find an idiot proof
step-by-step guide as to how to do this. For example, I downloaded and
unzipped a number of tours, such as Claysaries, and saved them in the
Ephemerides directory of the ASU. When I run the ASU, nothing shows up
on either the right side or left side window!

I looked around your site for help on this but cannot seem to find it. I
know it must be there somewhere! Could you point me toward it?

Thanks and clear skies,

Michael L.
OK, after I wrote and asked how to down/up load tours to my #497 I
actually READ the "help" in the ASU and was able to import some tours to
the left side window AND transfer them to my 497. However, I still am a
bit confused on how this all works and have a few questions:

1) When I exited the ASU and restarted the ASU, none of my previous
downloads (both the left library and right handbox side screens) were
not there. Before I exit ASU, how do I keep this from happening?

2) When I selected an item (such as a tour) from the right side library
to xfer to my handbox, it appears that the process overwrites ALL of the
data rather than just transfer a particular file. Is this true?

3) Based on # 2 above, what is the procedure to manage my information?
Must I first download the handbox data each time before I try to send
new info from the library?

I obviously need help in understanding how the Autostar and ASU
interface and how to manage the files.
Mike here: See the articles "How to use the 3.x Update" and "How to use the Updater: Manipulating Libraries" on the Autostar Information page. Hopefully they will help you. If not, holler.


Thanks for the quick response and pointer to where I should look for the
information. I'll give it a shot today.

Quick note: While waiting for a break in the clouds last night (here in
Ohio, I may have to wait a looooong time...), I summoned up my courage
and disassembled my 125 to clean the clutches. With the information
contained on your site it was really not difficult. I did find excessive
grease all over both clutch assemblies and I cleaned them, roughened up
the mating surfaces, and relubed only the gear teeth. Hopefully, I'll be
able to see the results tonight.

Clear skies,

Michael L.

Subject:	re:  Suggestion on Autostar tutorials
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 22:04:52
From: (Richard Seymour)
There are two "city lists" in the Autostar.
One is the permanent 400-city database from which you can Select a city.
The other is a 6-entry "short list" of currently active sites.
When you select a city, you are adding it to that short list.
When that short list fills, it requires that you delete one 
to add a different one.
The last one you Select/Add/Edit becomes the "selected" site.

In the old days, the 6 sites and the 400-city list were separate.
You had to use "Site > Add" to add a site to the short list.
At some point, Meade changed to the programming to let you easily
add a city by simply scrolling off the "top" or "bottom" or your
active site list.  
So it -looks- like one list, but it's really two.

The programming of many features has changed since the manual
was written.  Every release of the firmware adds a tweak or
two, and even Mike's "how to use it" pages eventually show their age.
There are over 180 possible main menu choices in the Autostar,
the best i can suggest is keep pushing buttons (and asking questions)
until operations  become a little more clear.

have fun

Subject:	dead etx 125 & Autostar
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 15:42:52
What a fantastic Site! 

I Purchased a etx 125 and autostar about 2 years ago. have done very
little with it, but it worked fine then. now I turn on the telescope and
it appears dead.... The red Light goes on (on the telescope) but not
autostar. There is an ooccasional  blip in the autostar at the top where
the light for locating this is.

Reseting the autostar (pressing the enter key and the scroll down key
while tuening on the scope produces nothing.

Any ideas would be helpful.


John S.
Mike here: First off, you do not RESET the Autostar by pressing those keys. That puts the Autostar into Flash (or SAFE) LOAD mode in preparation for a forced download of the ROM file. You may or may not have messed up the Autostar. Are you sure the display is just not too dim to see? Can you slew with the arrow keys? Since you probably have the standard handcontroller, does it work? Are you sure you are connecting to the right port on the ETX base? Check the cable connections. Lastly, if all else fails, you can run the Autostar Update Application (if you have Windows, a serial port, and the #505 cable); that may clear out any corruption if that is causing the problem. You may have to do that anyway if SAFE LOAD has been enabled.



Mike here: It is possible that the wiring inside the cable has become loose. You can jiggle it and see if a connection is made. Try reversing the cable as well. Replacing the cable is possible; see the article "Long Autostar Cable" on the Autostar Information page for cable info. But you may still have to replace the Autostar.
Subject:	Autostar Upgrade
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 02:06:26
Great compliments for your very useful website !

I discovered it recently and I have to admit that I found more info than
in Meade website.

Maybe you already answered the following questions, so sorry in advance
about that. The website is huge and I did not have so much time to
explorer it completely.

I have an ETX 90EC and a DS 90 and recently I upgraded both the
electronic controllers with ASU 3.61 release. The questions are:

Are the electronic controllers compatible each other ? That is, may I
use the electronic controller of ETX 90EC to control DS 90 and viceversa

Is the file ASU3.61 valid for both the electronic controllers ?

Is the file Build.rom already contained inside ASU3.61 ? Otherwise, what
is it good for ?

For some unknown reason, I've lost some info inside electronic
controller of the ETX 90EC, like city list and some stars coordinates
like Polaris. How can I retrieve them ? Is there a website I can
download from ?

Thanks a lot in advance, Mike !
And clear skies !
Mike here: Yes, you can use the Autostar #497 with both the ETX and DS telescopes. But you will need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES every time you switch from one to the other. The software on Meade's site is for the Autostar #495 or #497, so it can be used with either model telescope. When you download the application, the firmware is not included, as stated on their site: "There is no handbox firmware included in this self-extracting executable, but once the Autostar Update program is launched, the latest firmware for your type of Autostar can be automatically retrieved from this web site." The city list appears when you RESET (since you need to reset your location, it asks for country and city). You can also ADD a city from the Site menu. Polaris is not listed as an alignment star.
Subject:	Suggestion on Autostar tutorials
Sent:	Sunday, August 3, 2003 06:54:52
From: (John G. Thomas)
Excellent web site!  I have a new ETX 90EC and Autostar 497, and I find,
as a new user, that its menu system is not entirely intuitive. Further,
the Meade Autostar manual is sketchy on basic items.  For example, when
adding to the site selection list, Autostar seems to add your selections
and edited additions to the top of the list, making those selections
easy to get to, I guess.  The trouble is, the list fills up rather soon
and the Autostar gives you error messages about this.  It's not clear
what to do about it.  Logic would have you just delete items, but the
items already in the data base don't seem to go away when you delete

What's needed is a good tutorial on the subject of adding sites and
other data manually.  Know where to find such tutorials?
Mike here: Check out the LX90 manual (see the FAQ page for manuals); it is a good description of using the Autostar. Also, check out the Tutorials page for a tutorial on updating the Autostar. See the Autostar Information for LOTS of information on using the Autostar.


Will do.  Thanks!

Subject:	Drive Training Errors with Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 18:17:46
From: (Daniel Hayes)
Great site, Mr. Weasner!

I had a quick question about training my ETX-90 drives, to take up the
slop.  When I used to go through this process, it would slew to the side
of my staionary object, and a portion of the way back, I would then
center the object and repeat in the opposite direction.  Now though,
when I go to train it, the scope jiggles, but the reference object never
leaves the eyepiece, as though my backlash is too big for it to even
try.  This only happens in the azimuth direction.  What should I try? 

Thank you!

Mike here: Try a CALIBRATE. Check the proper telescope model is selected. Then do the TRAIN DRIVES again. If you still have problems it could be that the axis lock is not fully engaged. What happens when you just slew back and forth? Does the scope move normally? Do you have the standard handcontroller to test slew with?
Subject:	ETX question
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 13:17:54
I always use an external power for my ETX90. No batteries in my ETX.
When I do a reset/train/calibrate motors I wondered how the ETX does
remember the new calbration if there are no batteries in my ETX and when
I switch off my external power.

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands.
Mike here: The Autostar has some non-volatile memory to retain settings when there is no power source. I use external power only with my ETX-125 and LXD55-8"SC telescopes.
Subject:	autostar alignment
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 09:15:38
From: (Jeff Beren)
Do you have any information on what type of alignment algorithm the
autostar uses?

Thanks, Jeff Beren
Mike here: No. But it is likely to be standard spherical trig...
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 09:00:42
From: (Cesar Brischetto)
To continue with the feedback, and for the sake of new ETX 90 EC users
(read this before splitting hairs!), I'll keep informing (ok, sorry but
now IT WORKS!).

RESET Autostar works. After this, and after training drives, and getting
a GOOD & STEADY COMPASS, last night the 90 had an almost perfect

Why not perfect? When aligning with 2 stars, I had to "travel" a bit
with the controller. Fortunately, the "massively-hated-viewfinder"
helped me a lot to find alignment stars very fast.

SOUTH!!! Then "go to" was very fine, my favorite Messier (6, 7 & 8) and
many stars appeared very well centered.

Identify function was also accurate. Yeah baby!

The only "freaky" thing was a sudden and unexplainable dec. motors
driving at high speed in 'below the horizon" movement. Autostar was
stuck with Velcro to one of tripod legs, so I wasn't touching it.

Hope this can be forgotten tonight.

Now, I'm waiting for the 1.25" Meade value pack eyepieces (6 & 4 mm.
Plossl and a 2x Barlow). Hope it can work well on the 90. Will make it?

No more by today.

Mike, your excellent idea for ETX users site was achieved with honors.
Thank you very much one more time!!


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