Last updated: 31 August 2004
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:	Train drive method.
Sent:	Tuesday, August 31, 2004 18:12:43
From:	Tommy Lim KW (
I am staying in a country near equator and my latitude only have 3 deg
N, so, when I want to do a train drive, should I set the wedge back the
this latitude to complete the train drive process? Or I just can simply
adjust to the right angle so that I can point to the terrestrial object?

Second question, can I do the train drive process in AltAzimuth mode
then only I setup my scope in polar mode? If can't, why?

Third question, how do I calculate or estimate on the degress of star in
southern sky that I can shoose for my drift method alignment? since I
set it up in only 3 deg high. sure the OTA will hit the base if the star
is lower than 45 deg. Am i right?

Mike here: You should use the mounting mode for training that you intend to use for observations. Just move the telescope to view some distant terrestrial object but you should be able to leave the telescope mounted. Of course, at low altitudes the object will not move very much (in the circular pattern) with your mount. And yes, the base will get in the way for some portions of the sky.
Subject:	PDA USB cradles and Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, August 31, 2004 15:45:29
From:	me mine (
So I've been scouring the webposts and websites looking for an answer
and am surprised this topic hasn't come up, or maybe I'm just missing it
completely.  I'm looking for a way to control my Autostar ETX-90EC
telescope with a newer IPAQ.  The problem is every new PDA cradle
connects with USB and all the sites I read talk about using a serial
connector.  All the convertors I've run across convert serial to USB,
rather than the other way around.  So my question is, how can you
convert a USB connector to work with an Autostar?

Subject:	advantage of the recent versions of AutoStar
Sent:	Monday, August 30, 2004 22:14:57
From:	Franck BOUQUEREL Planetis (
Thanks for your wonderful website.

I've got one question about all the AutoStar.

I've seen some updates of versions 3.2Ea and now 3.2Eh...

Where can I see the advantage of each version regarding the previous one?

Anyway, I update as soon I see a new one !

I'm stronglt interested in any possibility to improve the Autostar
trackin in long exposure with a webcam.

Mike here: The changes in each version are documented in the README files that accompany the releases. As to improving long duration exposures, you might check out the PEC capability in the latest releases.
Subject:	firmware v32Ei just posted at Meade's site
Sent:	Monday, August 30, 2004 13:23:29
From:	Richard Seymour (
..fixing a Proc Trap error in the Object/Browse function.

Get it here:

Yet Another Patch kit shall be created in a few days...

have fun
--dick (yap, yap)

Subject:	Autostar pinouts
Sent:	Monday, August 30, 2004 07:18:41
From: (
Hi there and best regards from Germany,

Ive found your site by searching the net and I must say ist absolut
great !!!

For a goto Dobson projekt I like to use a Meade Autostar. Sadly I cant
use the org. Meade DS motors so Im looking for the pinouts for the
Motors and hopefully informations about the max. amperes the could run
through an Autostar before he blows up ..... I asked Meade but they
didnt give the infos yet.

Could you help me in any way ?

 Bernhard Ballweg
Mike here: I don't have the pinout info for the motors. Plus I don't have a max safe power level but most of the adapters deliver 1.5-2.5A to the telescope, which then supplies power to the Autostar.


From:	Richard Seymour (
May i invite you to visit and join the RoboScope yahoo group:

It is dedicated to Autostarring almost any telescope mount.

Some members have replaced the DS motors with stronger motors.
It requires replacing the final driving semiconductors if you
are going to be raising the current vary much.
(i have not measured the stall current of the DS motors.
If you do so, that is probably the rated capacity of the drivers.
But if you follow some of the month-old threads with "DS and DH"
in the title, you will see some of the answers.

I am not sure what you mean by "pinout", but start at:

The DS motor units are like all Autostar systems:
a 4-pin cable with power, ground, and the data and clock line
of the I2C-like bus which is the method used by the Autostar
to command and listen to the motor control cards.
The AUX port shown at the above link is wired the same.

The motors themselves are simply a red and black wire soldered
to the motor control card.  (and, since it's bipolar PWM driven,
polarity doesn't really matter.)

have fun

Subject:	autostar 
Sent:	Sunday, August 29, 2004 20:09:16
From:	Derek Bracken (
Hi, my name is Derek and I came across your site but did not find a
answer to my problem. I have the 10" lx200 gps (its only a couple months
old) and got a proc trap 2 code while using it last night. The problem
is that I had to shut the scope off to get out of it now every time I
turn it on it wont go past the lx200 copyright screen I tried pushing
buttons, removing the batteries and letting it sit for hours. Still no
fix. I noticed your site hasnt been updated for a while and I dont know
if you are still involved in astronomy but I thought I'd try to see if
you ever heard of such a thing happening and if I can fix it. I'm just
frustrated because I only used the scope maybe 15 times and Meade's site
has been down for a while so I cant get an answer from them. Sorry if I
inconvienced you in any way.  Any help would be very much appriciated.
Thanks, Derek
Mike here: My Site was last updated on Friday, 27 August 2004. What page exactly were you looking at???? I don't have an Autostar II have forwarded your message to our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour, who does have an Autostar II with the LX200GPS. And yes, Meade's site has been down this weekend.


From:	Richard Seymour (
First, let me invite you to join the LX200gps Yahoo discussion group

Over 3700 members and lots of experience to share.

For your -specific- problem, since you can't get past the Copyright
screen, your only hope is probably a firmware reload.

The how-to-do-that- is at:

with the added hiccough of you'll have to invoke the Safe Load
procedure by tapping 999 on the keypad -immediately- after powering up.

Your autostar (it's in the telescope's base) may have developed 
a bad memory chip, or it may have simply been slightly scrambled.
That can happen (or appear to happen) if your battery drops too low.
If you're running from batteries, replace them -before- proceeding.
(replacing the batteries may cure the entire mess).

good luck

Subject:	Switching from Terr to Sidereal afer alignment
Sent:	Sunday, August 29, 2004 07:51:36
From:	Michael W. Price (
Just purchased my second scope.  I also have a 8" Starfinder.  Found an
ETX 125 at the mall for a very reasonable price.  Anyway, I am not sure
if this board is a message board or not.  Don't see a link so I will
assume that you respond directly to questions.

I was wondering, under the menu settings there is an option for tracking
for terrestrial and astronomical.  Question I have is this.  Does the
Autostar switch to Astronomical from Terrestrial after a star alignment
or do I have to tell it I am viewing Astro in the menus and manually
switch.  Sometimes I want to use it for Terr. Viewing too.  Mike

P.S.  This scope is a blast!!!!  I don't spend all night looking for
Mike here: See the Site Guide for info on using the ETX Site.
After alignment, it uses astronomical.
Subject:	Re: autostar programming
Sent:	Tuesday, August 24, 2004 21:25:13
From:	Richard Seymour (
I forgot to provide URLs:

The v32Ea patch kit is at:

The v32Eh patch kit is at:

I see that i included the skip time/date in the 31Ee kit, too:

have fun

Subject:	Re: autostar programming
Sent:	Tuesday, August 24, 2004 18:41:46
From:	Lorenz Lorenz (
I'd like to be able to bypass the date/time input step of the autostar
bios and update these values from a terminal without needing input at
the autostar keyboard. The need comes from wanting to use the autostar
at a remote observatory
From:	Richard Seymour (
My patch kits for 32Ea and 32Eh (to be released tonight)
provide that feature as an optional patch.

If you read the "patch32a4.txt" file that is the heart of my 32Ea kit,
you will see the following section:

; Skip-date/time/daylight:   v32ea
; **WARNING: This optional patch should not be used with StarGPS 
; New: 4-e66c:  7e 8baa 03 32   jmp 8baa (chksum)
;   removing semicolons totally skips time/date/daylight prompt at startup.
; R 29b4f   bd  7e   ; jmp to after time/date/daylight  32ea: 5-8b4f (29xxx)
; R 29b50   00  8b   ; jmp   ->8baa
; R 29b51   40  aa   ; 
; R 29b53   e8  32   ; checksum (xfd->x1b3)=b6 adjust, e8-b6=32

If you remove the semi-colons (and space) (; ) in front of the R lines,
your Autostar will operate as you wish.
The 32Eh kit will have a similar section.

I call it "Skip Time/Date", and it has also been
available for previous versions.

have fun

Subject:	Solar Viewing
Sent:	Friday, August 20, 2004 18:25:58
From:	Edwin Doe (
Please excuse my neophyte's questions.  When you say, just assume the
same sidereal rate as the stars, how do I do that?  I set up my scope
around noon tomorrow, with auxiliary box facing west and scope facing
North.  Then I turn on the Autostar.  That's as far as I can get by
myself.  Can you complete the procedure for me?  Hopefully, once I get
the hang of these procedures, I won't have to ask you any more silly
questions.  Thanks for your valuable time.

Dr. Doe

Ps  My next step after conquering this is to hook up my SAC 7b and
capture the sun.  These are a real challenge for me.
Mike here: Go through the alignment procedure just like it was night. But use the correct time. Assume the alignment stars are centered. Obviously, the more accurate your HOME position the more accurate that initial pointing will be. Then slew using the Autostar to the Sun (with the proper solar viewing protections).


Thanks, Mike.  I appreciate the help.

Dr. Doe

Subject:	ETX90 Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, August 24, 2004 05:57:49
From:	Jan H Kolst (
Thanks again Mike,for brilliant instructions and P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E with
beginners. Yesterday evening I finally had some luck.I pointed at a
brilliant star and asked Auto S to Identify. The answer was Arcturus ,
and I checked my planetarium map.Right answer. Perhaps this is a
confirmation that the scope is correctly callibrated and trained ?.I had
to help the scope to center the 2 stars when aligning.

I read that the batteries must show 80% or more to work correctly. Is
this correct? I experienced that the batteries work well much lower,40%.
Is it OK to train the scope before any observation or should I leave it
as it is now ?
Have a nice day,
Jan H Kolstoe
Mike here: Properly identifying objects means that the Autostar is correctly aligned to the sky. Low battery levels will result in motor faults, especially when GOTOing or slewing at higher speeds. For tracking, minimal power is required. Of course, you can continue to use batteries until they run out but then you will have to replace them, perhaps at a bad time, when you get the failure. You should TRAIN DRIVES before first use, when replacing batteries (also do the CALIBRATION step before TRAIN DRIVES), after any Autostar update, and whenever the Autostar acts up. In fact, many people do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES before each observing session. I've never found that to be necessary but it doesn't hurt.
Subject:	alignment stars
Sent:	Monday, August 23, 2004 11:55:02
From:	Nigel Freestone (
Just finished reading "Using the Meade ETX".
Excellent - thank you.
I am trying to find online the alignment start charts shown on pages
143-147 to print off.
Where can I find these please.
Mike here: Many thanks! The charts are at Helpful Information: Autostar Info: Alignment/High Precision/Star Charts.
Subject:	RE: Fwd: ETX-90 Easy Align Problem
Sent:	Monday, August 23, 2004 06:11:12
From:	Jim Fisher (
Thanks for the information.  I did the reset, calibrate and retrain last
night and the scope did a successful easy align.  It was still off about
90 degrees when I did a goto the moon but I will do some more
experimenting.  The light pollution is bad here and I may have selected
the wrong stars during the easy align.  Thaniks again.

Mike here: If the alignment stars are far off from what the Autostar expects then the alignment will fail and the Autostar will tell you that. If the Moon is far off, that would suggest a date problem.
Subject:	Autostar Description Text 
Sent:	Sunday, August 22, 2004 19:52:07
From: (
Has anyone been successful in converting the object description text
(scrolls across the Autostar display) into a separate text file?

Regards,  Richard Brunson - - - Albquerque, NM
Mike here: You could edit the build.rom file and then upload that editing version. As long as you don't change the length of the text you are probably OK. I seem to recall an alternative but can't remember it. I'm ccing Dick Seymour, our resident Autostar expert; perhaps he has an alternative.

Oops, as I was sending the previous reply I then realized you wanted to get the info into a standalone TEXT file. Again you could edit the build.rom file.


From:	Richard Seymour (
Other folks -have- extracted all of the text files,
for a variety of reasons ... one of which is to create
Autostar "emulators" (there are at least two on the web,
i believe both are in Mike's page of Links).

If you have access to a Linux box, or the terminal interface
to a Macintosh, you can issue the command  
"strings Build32Ea.rom"  ... 
and the output will be all of the embedded text strings.
(plus a lot of other stuff)

have fun
Mike/Dick - thanks for your help - i'll look for the emulators.


And more info:
Obviously i should have asked:
 what do you intend to -do- with the text?
(since planning an approach to extraction is best done with
 the actual goal in mind... there's the "i want to see ALL of it",
 (easily realizable (the "strings" program), but possibly difficult to 
 backtrack any particular message text to the object they're talking
 about),  versus the "only extract the Constellation descriptors" 
 level of goal.)

There's a suprising amount of message text, but it's difficult
 to sanely extract "all" of it.

The primary files which provide 80% of the 497's scrolling Star
 text are the "Notes" sections of the catalogs at:   (Bright Star Catalog)
and  (SAO catalog)

My own hobby is following the flow of the program, so extraction
of the scrolling text itself has not been a high priority.
I usually take it to the level of seeing the general case of
a data strucure with pointers into a secondary table, and that
secondary table will have the pointers to the text string itself.

There are slight variations to that trail of crumbs, but that's
the general case (some may skip the intermediate pointer table).

Each object type may use a different approach, and its initial
data structure layout varies for each object type, so a simple
generalized extraction system isn't currently possible.
The actual text strings don't affect what i'm trying to derive from
 my work, so i rarely go further.

I think the last time i even tried to make sense of "all" of
the database pointers was when working with v22Ed.  That quickly
showed what a can of worms of worms carrying cans the project
would be.  There are about 30 database structures and chains
in there... some are merely pointers into others, but you can't
tell that from the outset.

 I worked out the structure of the Star database (since that was
 immediately after Meade changed the entire star database),
 and left it at that.  Nowadays i check that the methods of handling
 the data haven't changed, and don't bother to dig deeper.

Much of Meade's scrolling text comes from other free and commercial
catalogs they have access to (see above URLs).  Then they may add
customized bits such as mythology, recent discoveries, or
 "requires an 8" telescope or larger".

For the LX200gps, i did a more in-depth exercise at v1.6b, and did
extract the scrolling text for the star database. (but not the DSO's).

There were roughly 3300 entries of scrolling text, 
totalling over 200,000 characters,  indexed by Hiparcos number.
Here's a snippet from the middle:
 Hiparcos   Text
  117730, Delta Sct, amp. 0.01V, 0.06d. 
  117761, Sep. 0.107". 
  117860, Companion F2V; vsini 43k/s.  Components also classified A = Am(A1/A8V/F0),
B = Am(A1/F1/F0). 
  117863, Possibly wide CPM pair with HR 9052. SRd 4.1 - 6.2v, periods about 110 and
1100d (1946 minimum lasted 320d).  Rapid spectral variation from cF5 to M5p.
Photoelectric observations since June 1986 indicate an amp. of only about 0.8V and
  117887, Lb 5.55 - 5.97V. 
  117931, E 6.06-6.30V, B6, B9, 2.445094d. 
  117957, Wide pair with HR 9045. E:/GS 5.9 - 6.3v, 13.4192d.  Intrinsic variable
which may be eclipsing. 
  118027, Cst? 6.6p. 
  118077, E?, amp. 0.05V. 
Despite already having a lot of experience digging into the Autostar,
that above file took a full week of spare time work  to extract.
  (start 5/14/03, results 5/22/03)  The leading Hiparcos numbers 
were provided by my program, they do not exist in the text area.

Finally, there's the issue of copyright... it's legal for -you- to extract
and examine the text from -your- copy of the firmware.  
It is not legal for me to extract it and ship it to you.
(if it existed as a separate entity).

The tools i developed to extract the above snippet are not easy
to use (since i did not plan for anyone else having to understand them),
and depend upon a literal dozen of other tools having pre-massaged the
data before that extraction could take place.

have fun
From: (

Great feedback.  My plan for the extracted text is to use portions of it
for a talk I'm giving.  I am a Boeing engineer and have been asked to
give an astronomy talk at our annual family offsite.  The talk is to
families within Boeing that are interested in starting a hobby in
astronomy and my emphasis will be the features of "Go-To" telescopes.  I
plan to show my LX90 and demo the Go-To feature showing Powerpoint
pictures of objects along with the associated text from the Autostar as
the LX90 goes from object to object.  So the text will actually be a
free advertisement for Meade.

I was able to extract the entire text from the 3.2Rom.  You're correct,
there quite a few strange characters that are likely links (pointers) to
something - but I don't need them for my use so have edited them out in

Thanks for such a great source of information on the Internet.  BTW -
Mike I plan to give your site a free plug during the talk also!


Dick Brunson

Subject:	ETX 90 with Autostar
Sent:	Sunday, August 22, 2004 06:43:37
From:	Jan H Kolst (

After downloading new software and disconnected:

1.    Power the scope

2.    Reset the scope

3.    Initialize

4.    Enter all data (date-time-site etc)

5.    Setup / Telescope/Altitude percent and Azimuth percent. Choose 15%
for both.

6.    Train the scope

7.    Align

Does this look OK?

Jan H Kolst 

Mike here: Not quite. After the RESET, you need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Don't muck with the percentages unless you know you need to.
Subject:	firmware version 32Eh 
Sent:	Sunday, August 22, 2004 00:06:21
From:	Gianni (
New version 3.2Eh compatible with her Patch Kit 3.2e (07/17/04).
 0 servant only for 3.2Ea
Thank you
From:	Richard Seymour (
> New version 3.2Eh compatible with her Patch Kit 3.2e (07/17/04).


> 0 servant only for 3.2Ea


Each firmware has a unique patch kit.
I will need a few more days to create the kit for 32Eh

have fun (and patience)

Subject:	updating autostar II 
Sent:	Saturday, August 21, 2004 12:33:39
I downloaded an upgrade per Doc Clay and followed his check erase user
banks. Now no tours. Now I'm trying to follow you on uploading tours but
are there any layman type terms I can follow to just get tonights best
back. Thank you. George
From:	Richard Seymour (
Such can be a problem with following instructions which are trying
to achieve "clean slate" status before rebuilding the edifice.
I try to avoid total demolition if it's reasonable to do so.

The "Erase User Banks" instruction totally wipes out all of your
Comets, Asteroids, Satellites, User Objects, Landmarks and Tours.
(and PEC training).

I do NOT recommend using it unless you are having a -problem-.
For simple Updates of the firmware it should NOT be necessary
(i haven't used it for two years)

How to reestablish Tonight's Best:
First, fetch a copy of the Tour file.  It's at:

or you can have the Updater fetch it for you:
(Start Updater. Click "Advanced" to see both "panes".
 Click "Files" on top bar,
 click "Get object data from WWW..."
 click the "+" in front of Tours, a list will drop.
Click on the ones you want,
(you're allowed to pick some Comets,Asteroids and Satellites, too)
  Click [OK]
The Updater will now pull them to your PC.
When it's done, click the "Files" on the top bar, and click "Save"
That will save them on your PC for later.

Now connect to the telescope.  Turn the telescope on.
Click "Files" and "Open", and bring that saved collection back in
(if you never shut down the Updater, it's still here).

Now click the "All >>"  between the two panes.
That will move them all to the right (HBX) pane.
Now click [Send Data].

That will restore everything that you've got in that right pane
to the Autostar.

My click-by-click "how to do it"s are here:

Object Libraries and Tours: 

good luck

Subject:	Re: False "Below the horizon" message in Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Friday, August 20, 2004 22:54:54
From:	Richard Seymour (
Newly posted v32Eh appears to address this problem
(i haven't -tested- it, but they've changed the coding)

have fun

Subject:	re:  Autostar version
Sent:	Friday, August 20, 2004 20:07:23
From:	Richard Seymour (
The "34,3 K Char.Free"  refers to the space available in
the Autostar for additional User Objects (Tours, Comets, Asteroids,
Satellites, etc.)

You can add (or remove) objects, and that number will change.
(each satellite occupies 51 bytes, for example)

The -most- space available you can have in a 497 Autostar is 
about 61K.   The least space is zero.

have fun

Subject:	re: question (Daylight Savings)
Sent:	Friday, August 20, 2004 19:48:30
From:	Richard Seymour (
The British term for "Daylight Savings" is "Summer Time"

You would answer "yes" if your civilian time was an hour
faster than your Standard Time Zone would indicate.

have fun

Subject:	firmware version 32Eh at Meade's Site
Sent:	Friday, August 20, 2004 08:15:46
From:	Richard Seymour (
The big changes are: (quoting the included ReadMe)

Improved pointing for German mounted scopes.

Here's the link:

have fun

Subject:	Autostar version
Sent:	Thursday, August 19, 2004 06:13:40
From:	Jan H Kolst (
Under the submenu Statistics it says: 34,3 K Char.Free Version 31Ee. Is
that OK?

Submenu of Utilities:Cord Wrap- On. (This cannot be changed.)OK?
Jan H Kolst
Mike here: Version 3.2Ee is (or rather was until after I wrote this) the latest but 3.1Ee is OK depending upon what telescope model you have. Same with Cord Wrap.


EtX 90 with autostar.Bought it 2 months ago in Germany(Bremen)
Mike here: That's OK.
Subject:	Alt & Az percentages
Sent:	Thursday, August 19, 2004 00:00:34
From:	Terry Godfrey (
Am I expecting too much from my ETX125AT with Autostar v2.6E regarding
its response time to a reversal in azimuth:  with a slew speed of '3' it
takes about 10 seconds before any movement is detected in the eyepiece?

Altitude percentage is set at Meade's default of 1% and altitude
reversals  respond almost immediately.

I carefully followed Clay Sherrod's item of 5 July 2001 in "Autostar
Information" about setting percentages and calibrating motors but
whatever azimuth percentage I entered (1 - 99%) produced the same
result,  i.e. it did not get any better or worse for that matter!

(I have trained both motors using Polaris and a high powered eyepiece).

Best regards and thanks for your highly valued items on the ETX site,

Terry Godfrey

Oxford, England
Mike here: I suggest updating to the latest version and see what happens.
Subject:	Help!!
Sent:	Tuesday, August 17, 2004 16:27:20
From:	Andy Briggs (
You have been good enough to help me in the past with ETX-90 problems
and I hope I will not be intruding on your valuable time if I ask your
assistance once more.

This one is worrying.

I have upgraded my ETX to the latest version of the firmware (can't
remember which version exactly, but it's the most up-to-date download on
the Meade site). This was fine.

But when I tried a two-star alignment, when the ETX tried to point at
Altair, it pointed the telescope straight up to the vertical position,
and tried to keep going *past* the vertical. When the gears started
grinding I switched it off, of course. I tried again with Arcturus as
the first star, and the same thing happened. Finally I tried with Deneb,
with the same results. In all case the telescope was still rotating when
it reached the vertical.

I hasten to add that the ETX was working perfectly before installing the
new firmware. I cannot conceive of any normal situation where the
AutoStar would try to move the telescope past the vertical. Admittedly
this is the first time I've used it since I moved from Britain to Spain,
but my new longitude and latitude look OK in the AutoStar, so I don't
think that's a factor.

Do you have any ideas? Any help would be, as always, much appreciated.

Thanks for a great site.

Andrew Briggs
Mike here: Your message was originally DELETED UNREAD as SPAM due to the ambiguous subject. To avoid your email being deleted unread in the future, please read and follow the info on the Email Etiquette page on the ETX Site Home Page. Thanks.
After doing the Autostar update it is necessary to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES again. Sometimes it may even be necessary to RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES.


Many thanks Mike....I should have thought of that!!!

All the best

Subject:	#506 cable set for ETX 70 AT
Sent:	Tuesday, August 17, 2004 14:54:49
From:	Bart spreeuwenberg (
I have just bought the #506 cable set for my etx, and I'm very happy
with it. I can control the scope with my pc and even change stuf in the
autostar unit (#494) Before I got it, I read there were no updates
available yet, but didn't really mind that. ( I thank you for all the

But do you know if there will be updates for the #494 controller in the
(hopefully short) future?

I really thank you for your site and the loads of information and help.

Kind regards
Bart Spreeuw
Mike here: We've been waiting years now for updates to be available for the #494 Autostar. Could happen tomorrow, or next week, next month, next year, or never!
Subject:	#505 Connector Cable Set
Sent:	Tuesday, August 17, 2004 08:25:29
From:	Jan H Kolst (
Thank you very much for answering my earlier questions.I'm still, of
course, enjoying my 90ETX and Autostar.
	1.  	Can I enter the 6-pin end of the 6-foot cable directly to
	the PC(it's physically possible on my PC) instead of to the serial
	interface adapter ? My new computer does not have a serial port.
	2.  	the 4-pin end to the RS-232 port at the base ofthe Autostar.
	3.  	Of course use the setup 1 through 6 of Telescope control
Then use ASU to update my Autostar software.
Does this make sense?
Greetings from Norway
Jan H Kolst
Mike here: If you are referring to a modem port that uses a telephone line, NO! You must use a RS-232 serial port, either directly or via a USB-serial adapter.
Subject:	Re: ETX-90 Easy Align Problem
Sent:	Tuesday, August 17, 2004 08:24:57
From:	Jim Fisher (
Hi Mike,
Thanks for getting back to me.  I will recheck the telescope model and
mounting mode when I get home tonight.  I did a Calibrate and train
drives when I first got the scope but it has been packed away for the
past eight months due to a move and finally just got unpacked the other
night.  I moved shortly after buying the scope and never got much of a
chance to use it till now.  This is the first time I have ever tried an
alignment with it having just used it to look at the moon and mars when
I first got it.

I tried again last night in my living room.  I changed the batteries to
fresh ones and then I attached the scope to the tripod per the Meade
instructions, the High Latitude hole on the scope lined up with
attaching bolt on the tripod that is next to the latitude adjustment bar
for raising the tripod tilt plate.  The OTA is pointing in the direction
of the latitude adjustment bar when I am done attaching it to the
tripod.  Then per the instructions in your book, I picked up the tripod
and scope and moved it so the OTA pointed north, the control panel on
the scope facing west.  The latitude adjustment bar is now facing south.
 I then leveled the tripod and the OTA.   Next I rotated the scope
moving from south, to east to north and around till I got to the first
stop.  The OTA was pointed in a general Southwest direction.  I then
rotated the scope from southwest to west to north.  This was approx 120
degrees and had the scope pointing north and the fork overtop the
control panel like the Meade instructions said.  I then turned the
autostar on and set the date and time (Aug 16, 2004 11:38pm EDT).  The
autostar said to put the scope in the alt-az position which it was and
then I hit enter and it was set for easy align.  I pressed enter and it
calculated the first star and moved the scope to the northwest.  Using a
star chart it appeared to be pointed in the general correct direction. 
I pressed enter and it calculated the second star which was in the south
to southwest sky.  My guess is the scope needed to turn about 200
degrees clockwise to the second star but the scope then did a complete
470 degree rotation till it hit the stop and was pointing in a general
southeast direction.  The night before it did the same thing but it
happened on the first star, not the second.  The scope appears to move
fine since it does move past where the alignment star is located but it
is autostar that is calculating something wrong.  Thanks for any
suggestions you may have.

Mike here: When changing batteries it is a good idea to do the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES again. But lets also try a RESET, then CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES.

And this:

From:	BENNY ---.. (
Regarding question posted by Jim Fisher on the "Autostar Feedback
Section". I have seen the same behavior on my Etx-125 before. In my
particular case I have noticed that this happens after the following
events :

1.- Batteries running low on power (autostar display dimming when scope
slewing) 2.- Motor unit fault message is displayed on autostar due to
lack of battery power 3.- Replace batteries with a new set 4.- Turn on
again the scope, set home position , do easy align and then it happens,
the scope slews fine in DEC, but it keeps going in RA more than 360
degrees until it hits a hard stop.

a full RESET, Calibrate and re Train in both axis solve my problem, hope
it also works for Jim.

Subject:	ETX-90 Easy Align Problem
Sent:	Monday, August 16, 2004 08:21:22
From:	Jim Fisher (
Last night I was trying out the Easy Align on my year old ETX-90 for the
first time.  I set the telescope in the Alt Az position twice last
night, once per the instruction manual and once using the instructions
in the 'Using the Meade ETX' book.  Both times when I attempted to use
the Easy Align the OTA tilted up as expected but the telescope base
turned approx 470 degrees as it was slewing to the first star.  It
actually hit the stop so it never did stop on the first star.  Why would
the telescope go completely around in a circle and more, never stopping
on the first star?  I am not sure what I am doing wrong with the
alignment process and there is nothing in the manual for trouble
shooting.  Thanks for any advice that somebody can provide on this

Mike here: Some thoughts: Do you have the proper telescope model and mounting mode selected in the Autostar? Did you do a CALIBRATE? Did you do a TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes)? Did you do the proper Counterclockwise rotation to the first hard stop and then back about 120 degrees to North? Let me know.
Subject:	ETX 90 and autostar
Sent:	Thursday, August 12, 2004 03:14:33
From:	Jan H Kolst (
Hello again from Norway,

I tried 2 star alignment instead of Easy align and this was
successfull.(I chose Deneb and Altair).Next time I chose Easy align ,
but this was very unsuccessfull. I thought that when I had calibrated
the scope with 2 star it was memorized in the computer.

Operating instructions #505 tells me: Do not connect either cable to the
AUX port on the telescope's computer control panel or damage may occur
to the cable connector.

In the manual for 90ETX it says on page 7: B.  Auxiliary (AUX) Ports (2)
- Provide connection for current and future Meade accessories , such as
the Meade" Astro finder Software with #505 Cable connector Kit.

Which is correct ?

I do have problems in connecting the telescope to the computer using the
supplied  Starry night bundle. It does not connect to the telescope.

In spite of beginners' problems with 90 ETX I enjoy it very much!
Looking forward to fall and winter in the mountains!

Best wishes
Jan H Kolst
Mike here: Don't know why you are getting different results with the different alignment methods. If you have the #497 Autostar (the one with number keys on the keypad), the #505 cable MUST be plugged into the Autostar, not the AUX panel. In SN, select LX200.
Subject:	Unwanted Slew After Acquiring Target
Sent:	Tuesday, August 10, 2004 21:31:45
I am fairly new at stargazing after receiving a Meade DS-114AT a couple
of years ago.  I have enjoyed the small amount of viewing time I have
been able to squeeze out of a busy schedule.  There is one thing that
has drained most of the joy out of my short experience though.  When I
use the Autostar GoTo function to acquire an object after successfully
aligning the scope, I get an unwanted slew off target just prior to the
tracking function start.  I have trained the drives multiple times and I
can't seem to correct this problem.  Even after re-centering the object,
it once again slews off target and then begins tracking.  I hope you can

Mike here: Any time the Autostar goes berserk do a CALIBRATE and then TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't clear it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know if either of these fix the "rubberbanding" problem.
Subject:	LX200 Commands and Autostar
Sent:	Monday, August 9, 2004 04:57:19
From:	g 9170307 (
The LX200 serial command set available from the Meade site is dated 9
October 2002. I suspect that this document and some of the others
published on the Web (eg Doc G's list) are now out of date.

I use a 497 Autostar to control an LX90 and have written software to
control the telescope from my laptop using the LX200 commands that the
Autostar supports.

Last week I upgraded the Autostar to version 32Ea. Now, the LX200
command  :RG#  (ie set slew rate to guiding rate)  doesn't work.

Unable to find a solution on the Web, I decided that the command had
been changed and decided to guess what it had been changed to. I tried  
 :R1#  (ie set to speed 1) and that seemed to work OK. Also the commands
  :R2#   :R3#  etc set the slew rate to the other speeds corresponding
to the 1 to 9 keys on the Autostar.

I have no confirmation that these "new" commands are correct, but they
seem to work. This information might help others.

But better still would be an up to date listing of all the serial
commands supported by the latest version of the Autostar. Do you have
the connections to obtain and publish such a list?


Geoff Cornwell
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	Richard Seymour (
Mike Weasner wrote:
> Dick, your thoughts?  --Mike

Oooohhh... you did NOT want to ask that...

I'll try to be brief...

First,  Geoff Cornwell wrote:
Now, the LX200 command  :RG#  (ie set slew rate to guiding rate)
doesn't work.

Unable to find a solution on the Web, I decided that the command had
been changed and decided to guess what it had been changed to. I tried
   :R1#  (ie set to speed 1) and that seemed to work OK. Also the
commands   :R2#   :R3#  etc set the slew rate to the other speeds
corresponding to the 1 to 9 keys on the Autostar.

Thanks for noticing that change... i see that although they "lost" RG,
they still have RC, RM and RS in there.  And, yes indeedy, the 
R1 thru R9 set the slew speeds to the 1 (RG equivalent) to 9 of the
Autostar's keypad.  That's actually a feature that folks have been
requesting for years.  I hope/suspect that the loss of "RG" was an
oversight that will be corrected (i could provide a patch which would
reinstate RG, if you'd find it useful).  I've sent a bug report about it
(and a request for a serial command document update).

For what it's worth, the LX200gps does -not- have the :R1 thru :R9 

But better still would be an up to date listing of all the serial
commands supported by the latest version of the Autostar. Do you have
the connections to obtain and publish such a list?

There are three classes of commands: those they've documented (but
which might not be -quite- correct.  I've kept a copy of Meade's old
HTML version of that document, too).  Those which they -haven't- 
documented (many of the commands which implement the Remote Handbox
under Autostar suite, and all of the download commands). And those
which they -won't- document, since they may disappear with the next
update (many of their debugging commands).
I suppose there's the 4th category: mistakes (of omission or comission).
Oh, yes. The 5th: those they haven't gotten around to yet, despite
 what the document says.

The coding of their commands is extremely baroque (and distributed 
throughout the 100,000 lines of disassembly), so it's pretty much 
impossible for me to trace -all- of the commands with any firmware
release to see "what's changed?".  I can chase individual commands,
but the whole enchilada gets very overwhelming.

have fun
From:	g 9170307 (
Thanks to you and Mike for an immediate response on this LX200 command
set issue.

It's great to be able to make contact on something like this, because
left to manufacturers and their agents I doubt I would have had much

I'm quite pleased with myself for guessing the new commands, and it
certainly was necessary because without the "RG" command my software had
become useless.

Personally, I'm not interested in a patch to restore "RG" because it is
easier for me to program around the more useful "R1" to "R9" commands,
but I can see that others may be interested in a patch for compatibility
with existing software.

I cannot understand Meade's reluctance to provide users with a clear and
up to date definition of this interface, and maybe a statement of which
commands they intend to support in future releases. There are many
reasons to choose a new telescope, but I chose Meade for 2 reasons, good
reports of optics quality, and the availability of this computer
interface. I doubt their marketing department realises the importance of
this technical information.

In my opinion, Mike's ETX site is by far the most useful and accessible
for technical information on the Autostar and Meade scopes. It would
seem the ideal place for an up to date list of these serial commands.
Indeed, it is better than Meade's own site because Meade are unlikely to
give us useful information like "this command is missing from 32Ea" or
"don't use this command because it doesn't work properly". Truth and
marketing don't seem to mix well.


Geoff Cornwell                  Cornwall, England

Subject:	RA & DEC coordinates
Sent:	Monday, August 9, 2004 03:08:11
From:	Terry Godfrey (
Recently I spent some time loading  into my Autostar 'User Objects' some
of my favourites from Dr Sherrod's excellent  'Constellation Guides'
pages on your site as a convenient way of accessing them.

Having carefully aligned my ETX125AT and confirmed that it was
performing "GO TO" accurately with the regular objects in the Autostar
database I went to 'User Objects' and ALL of the selected items I had
loaded were very poorly positioned, sometimes barely in the finder scope
let alone the 26mm eyepiece.

Am I right in thinking that Autostar is calibrated for use with Epoch
2000 coordinates and the Observational Guides use Epoch 1950 coordinates
which need to be converted before loading? (See "Convert 1950 Epoch to
2000 Epoch".) Or have I made some fundamental mistake along the way?

Terry Godfrey
Mike here: Yep, the Guides use 1950.
Subject:	re:   Adding a New Site to Autostar 497
Sent:	Sunday, August 8, 2004 18:35:01
From:	Richard Seymour (
The Autostar maintains a "short list" of 5 or 6 sites.
When -that- list is filled, you get the "Site List Full"

As Mike said, delete one of your -existing- sites to make
room for a different 5th or 6th site.

You can scroll up and down in that list of six.

In older versions of the firmware, so doing would "loop"
you through the list again, making the "6" obvious.

The newer "freiendlier" versions plop you into the add-a-site
(full) list of cities, which confuses the matter.

The EDIT procedure works by creating a -new- site,
even if you don't change anything, then it deletes the
old site data you edited "from".   So if the list-of-6 is
full, there is not an empty slot to put the "new" data 
into.  That's why you get "Site List Full" even when
you're just "inspecting" an existing site's data.

have fun

Subject:	Adding a New Site to Autostar 497
Sent:	Sunday, August 8, 2004 01:20:21
From:	dslloyd (
Further to posted e-mail from Robert Wolpert (see below).
Is there any further news following  Robs e-mail as I am finding the
same problem.  Aprt from encountering the same problem when I tried to
add a new site I received the message 'Error: Site List Full', which now
appears even if I try to access the currently selected sites details. 
Only thing I can think of is to delete this record, which may then give
me access to the full listing again, from where I can either delete out
other sites which I am unlikely to ever use (in order to create free
space) or edit the same such sites to something else.
David Lloyd (
Message from Robert Wolpert ,  Sent: Tuesday, July 9, 2002 19:05:45

	I would have liked the option to simply key in "My Site" or "Home Site"
	rather than choosing a state and city that is closest to me.  I'm still
	not certain how to put in my actual home site since when I ENTER "ADD"
	under "SITE" it brings me to the state and cities again. My thought is
	that I'll have to EDIT the city that is closest to me with my actual
	coordinates, but I'd prefer to add a site titled "A Home Site" so that
	it would be a completely separate site and come up first on the list of
	sites. Is there a way to do this? Any help here would be appreciated.
Mike here: You will need to delete one or more of the existing (user entered) Sites to add more.
Subject:	Re: ETX125 alignment problem
Sent:	Thursday, August 5, 2004 00:43:15
From: (
Thank you for responding so quickly.

I am using the latest version with Dicks patch installed.

But it was doing the same thing with the version that came preinstalled
with autostar (which I assume is the previous version).

I'm not sure how I can improve training, I have reset several times,
calibrated and trained the drives. I use a reticule eyepiece and the
slowest speed when training as per the article by Victor van Wulfen.

I will have another go and then perhaps try going back to an earlier
software version.

Michael Caldwell
Will let you know how I get on.
It may be some time. I thought I would check out the scope on battery
operation only to find that it now does not work on battery, only
external power input. So it is going back to Meade UK again.


Subject:	re:  Problems ETX 90
Sent:	Wednesday, August 4, 2004 22:27:52
From:	Richard Seymour (
What date and time were you doing your testing?
(what state of daylight savings, too)?

Did you use an in-Autostar city, or did you create a "custom" site?

I have heard a number of similar stories from people in the Netherlands
and Norway... i have -tried- to duplicate the situation (by setting
my Site to "Oslo", and then asking it for the RA/DEC of the Moon at
various times).   So far i have -not- seen a discrepancy when compared
to the same time in Seattle  (i believe we are nine hours from Oslo).

The shift of the moon can be a clue
(was it about 15 degrees (three viewfinder widths) off? 
 That would be a one-day error on the calendar.

Jupiter is harder to diagnose.

How were the GoTo's to the **stars**?

The orbiting bodies can add computational errors (but not more than
an eyepiece-width, usually).  Stars are the true tests of GoTo.
Planet and Moon errors are usually Time or Date problems,
which -could- be inside the Autostar.

have fun

Subject:	ETX125 alignment problem
Sent:	Wednesday, August 4, 2004 13:57:59
Please can someone give me some advice.

I bought an ETX125 in Feb 2004, and seemed to be getting the hang of it
until around April the RA movement gave some clicking noise and made
jumps every 4-6 secs instead of tracking smoothly. Went back to Meade UK
via dealer for 7 weeks but on return had same problem. Contacted Meade
UK direct who promptly arranged for it to be returned to them. Had it
back, after a further 3 weeks, and original problem seems to have been
cured. I believe RA gears were changed.

Problem I have now is when moving the telescope up in the Dec axis (any
speed) and removing finger from arrow key the scope moves in reverse
direction about a quarter of the viewing area.

This does not seem to happen in either RA direction or when moving Dec
in downwards direction.

I have calibrated and trained the drives, using just about all the ways
recommended on your site. I am using a reticule eyepiece so know that I
am consistent in centring.

Any ideas as I am getting very disillusioned with the scope and am close
to selling and buying another manufacturers system.
Mike here: What Autostar software version are you using? There have been some reports of RA axis issues with the LXD55 and the recent version. But another possibility could be the DRIVE TRAINING since what you are describing sounds like "rubberbanding" that results from not training the drive axis or not doing it too accurately. You may already know this but when doing the TRAIN DRIVES steps you have to explicitly select each axis. But I would suggest doing a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know how things go.
Subject:	Re: Problems ETX 90
Sent:	Wednesday, August 4, 2004 02:39:29
From:	Jan H Kolst (
When I'd done "Easy setup" and confirmed successfull,I tried the Moon
since it was up.The scope pointed very far to the right and very far
below the moon.The same happened when I tried Jupiter.(I trained the
scope during primary setup).The scope is bought by PIEKE in Bremen
(Vegesack) and when I changed the language from German to English
through the internet by Autostar I got English , but certain submenues
still have German. Does it make sense to reset the scope? (I'm not
thinking of the language)

Jan H Kolst
Mike here: It certainly won't hurt to RESET the Autostar and start over. But how far off is that first alignment star? Having to slew a lot to center that first star means that either the initial HOME position was not correct (or at least not that accurate), the date/time/daylight savings/location/mounting mode are incorrect, or that the drive training was not good, or any combination of these. When you say you changed the language via the Internet, I presume you mean you updated to version 3.2Ee (the current English version available from Meade's USA site). For best results I find it usually necessary to RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN DRIVES following any Autostar update.
Subject:	AutoStar 497
Sent:	Tuesday, August 3, 2004 12:36:47
From:	George C. Stradley (
What is latest version for ETX 125 AutoStar?
Clear skies!!!
Mike here: As noted on Meade's Autostar download page (, 3.2Ee.


Thank you very much.


Subject:	StarGPS Story
Sent:	Monday, August 2, 2004 21:40:17
From:	Kiwi Forkhoists Ltd (
Little story on my updating of the starGPS - and also how not to do it!

I couldn't wait till I got home.  We had a visitor at the time, but I
was on a mission.  I set the scope up next to the PC and hooked it all
up as per instructions.  StarPatch downloaded the newest files from the
net, and I pressed UPDATE AUTOSTAR.  Hmm.. didn't find the scope.  I
swapped over to another port from the PC and it found it this time.  It
wouldn't update the autostar so I navigated my way to "download" on the
hand controller.  Lo and behold it started updating.  Then froze.  A
reboot of the PC was in order ( just in case ) and I started the hand
box up again...  no beep - No nothing...UGHH.  It was botched!

Starpach could find the hand hand cotroller now - and neither could the
ASU update programe.  Now I was letting out a few curses infront of the
wifes friend!  I 'hard booted' the hand controller and ASU picked this
up and flashed it no problems - but still the Star patch would not

Well - long story short - I think I got too carried away with the GPS
setup and plugged the GPS into the telescope and it was powered up while
trying to update the handbox to GPS.  I unplugged the GPS and bingo -
away it went flawlesly.  I restarted the telescope in the lounge and yup
-  lt detected the GPS - date and time was entered and I done a dummy
align in the lounge. ( bad weather outside. )

The next night was great weather and the telescope and GPS performed
perfectly, and even a few odd clicking sounds from the telescope had
dissapeared! - What a bonus!

Moral of the story - DONT plug in ( power to ) the GPS reciever until
the hand box has been flashed with the upgrade.  It gave me problems in
doing so.  Hope this helps others :)

Clear skies!


Subject:	Re: Meade ETX125
Sent:	Monday, August 2, 2004 18:16:21
From: (
.after taking my scope back to the place of purchase I was welcomed by a
teen - aged manager who as far as I am concerned knew nothing about
scopes. He told me that he would send the scope out for
service....because it was under warranty. I informed him that I was not
leaving the store with anything other than a new scope. I hope I made
the right choice by taking  a exchange. I have one question for you
...If you can answer it for me. When you align the scope and put it in
the home position...It said the base must be in a special position.
Before I do a hard stop and position the fork over the computer control
panel...will it matter how I place the tube before that ?           
Sorry if I sound dumb...It is the first GO-TO scope I have...
Mike here: Glad you got the exchange. As to the position, I'm not certain exactly what you are asking. For info on alignment tips, see the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; lots of info in the Alignment Tips section.
Subject:	AUTOSTAR 497 dead 
Sent:	Monday, August 2, 2004 05:12:27
From:	Scott Evans ((Mobile)) (
Have finally found time to do the update on the autostar , however I
bumped the USB lead just after the upload started. Then when powering up
the handset only read out the

©04 Meade 32E

Then beeped.

I was not able to connect to it. I removed and reloaded the cable driver
and software, also removed the USB's from the driver manager and

Now the hand set is just dead.

Tried the enter and down key when turning on and still nothing.

Any sugestions?

Many thanks 

Yours Sincerely 

Scott A Evans
Mike here: If the display does not come on when powering up with the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN keys pressed then the Autostar was damaged. You can try some of the tests listed on the Autostar Info page but I doubt they will work.


I connected and turned on the power with the entre & down etc.

The screen without red showed two rows of rectanular boxes (Black
outline) Top left appered to have a ? mark showing the next two columns
were blacked out the rest just the outline of the rectangles.

I tried the self test and dead.
Mike here: Sounds like it is messed up. Time to contact a dealer or Meade.


Have ordered a new one will be here tomorrow.

Dealer has emailed Meade and I let you know the outcome.

Subject:	ETX Tracking Questions.
Sent:	Monday, August 2, 2004 03:53:48
From:	James Jefferson-Wilson James (
Quick question, I managed pretty sucessfully to use autostar on my new
ETX125, it was abit off but I hadn't Trained the drives and I think I
was out on the time as well  I was using the Alt-Alz alignment and not
polar but The scope still kept the object in the centre of the eyepiece
.. I though this only happened in polar mode ?  I did Try to take a 8sec
pic of vega but I still had a small amount of star trail .

How comes it didn't track ? Is it only in Polar mode that it will track
it properly ? .

BTW: I hope to get a pic of Uranus tonight, with a ETX125 how good can I
see it at mag 5.43 ?


James Jefferson (JJ)  
Mike here: The Autostar will track in Alt/Az but how well depends upon many factors INCLUDING doing proper DRIVE TRAINING and entering the correct parameters. Uranus can be seen pretty nicely (small dot) but photographing it is a challenge.


Will let you know how I get on ... Love a challenge :-)
And an update:
Yup, I did ok for a first time out, I will train the drives during the
day as It saids in the manual, will also get a more accurate time as

Thanks for your help again.


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