Last updated: 1 September 2005
Welcome to the Autostar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar, cables, and the Autostar updater software. See the Autostar Info page for information from Meade and other users on the Autostar, cables, and software. Send your comments and tips to Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranties on your ETX and accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	Using 497 with Meade 4504
Sent:	Wednesday, August 31, 2005 09:03:19
From:	Reg Beene (
I have a 497 handset (34Ec) I would like to use to control my 4504.  I
tried to use your v23b4 patch but it won't install on the 34Ec.  Is
there a patch I can use or is there a way I can use the v23b4?
If it helps I do "speak" DOS.
Thanks for a great Web-Site, Reg Beene
From:	Richard Seymour (
It helps more if you read the web pages involving the patches,
which (hopefully) states that the patches are -specific- for each
firmware version.

Mike's Autostar Info page
has a column for the patches, and
is the page for 34Ec with a 4504 subsection.

The installation procedure has changed a bit since the 23b4 version,
so please read the included ReadMe, and you will have to edit the
patch file to enable the 4504 section.

hvae fun
Thanks Richard,

I'm new to all of this.  I was work off of one of your old messages:
Subject: Patch Kit v23b4 -- adds 4504/114EQ to Autostar  Sent: Sunday,
January 20, 2002 12:14:45.

Thanks for all your help and contributions, to us all.


Subject:	Autostar adaptation to general GEM
Sent:	Monday, August 29, 2005 10:08:39
From:	michele scotti (
first of all compliments for your site. I really appreciate that amazing
attitude for DIY/tuning/sharing!

I would like to use Autostar capabilities as a basis for my self-built
GEM. Since my mounting should withstand medium-weight (in the range of
EQ5-6 mountings) I wonder if more powerful motors can be installed. I
evaluated the possibility to use LXD55 motors but it seems they are
quite impossible to find now a day. According to some guys -like Steve
Bedair and others- Autostar #497 can drive these motors as well. So why
not others?

Thus two questions: 1)I ask you if it would be possible to use different
motors instead of those that come with kit #497. I my mind I would like
to use model-car motors that should be powerful, not too big and

2) Is it possible to install different encoders? I mean using the same
electronics but with different number of slots to increase GoTo
accuracy? Is it possible to 'let Autostar' know that encoders are

Can you give me your expertise feedback/comments? I'm open to your
suggestions as well and I apologize if info I'm asking are already in
your site.

Thanks in advance,
Michele, Italy.
Mike here: Check out "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" link on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. That may get you started on trying to adapt it. And as Dick Seymour keeps reminding me (and I keep forgetting), check the RoboScope group on Yahoo:
Subject:	ETX70AT 
Sent:	Monday, August 29, 2005 01:22:36
From: (
I live in London. I Recently purchased the telescope. I am just getting
to know how it works.

So far I have two questions:

1. What is the function of "daylight saving"? How much difference does
it make whether it is on or off?

2. When setting up the Alt/Az Home Position it says to place the
telescope level with the dec at 0. However, with the telescope level the
dec is about 10. Which is correct? level or 0?
Hugh James
Mike here: The Daylight Saving settings adjusts the time by one hour, hence 15 degrees in the sky. In the UK you use an equivalent "British Standard Time"; which if you search the ETX Site for that you will get more info. For info on adjusting the setting circle see the FAQ page.
Subject:	re: Autostar on LX10 mount
Sent:	Sunday, August 28, 2005 19:41:51
From:	Richard Seymour (
Also check the RoboScope group on Yahoo:

have fun

Subject:	ETX and Period Error Correction
Sent:	Sunday, August 28, 2005 17:48:19
From:	Jim Holland (
In a post from Richard Seymour, he states that he is able to spend about
24 minutes training his ETX-90 for periodic error correction, and then
he "turns it on". Where does this occur? I assume the hand controller
(autostar), But I sure don't see that in any of the menus or submenus.

Is it the high precision in telescope menu?
From:	Richard Seymour (
First, the Autostar/telescope has to be in Polar mount.
And the firmware has to be v31Ea or newer.

If those two conditions are met, then a new menu topic
will appear under Setup > Telescope:  Smart Drive.
That's Meade's name for "PEC".

Under that menu topic are Train, Update,  Erase, PEC On an Off.

>> I assume the hand controller (autostar), But I sure don't see that
>>  in any of the menus or submenus.

>> Is it the high precision in telescope menu?

No.  High Precision is not a factor.

It's the gearing of the ETX90 which forces the 24 minute train cycle.

have fun
And more info:
> Does the controller have documentation that tells you how to train?

To the extent that it says "center star, push enter"
and then counts up to 150, that's it.

Meade put some explanation in the ReadMe which accompanied v31Ea.
Mike has it on his site on the
page, and i've cut/pasted that here for your convenience:
  PEC can be found under Setup - Telescope - Smart Drive. Smart Drive 
will only appear for Polar Mounted scopes. Smart Drive is for the RA 
motor only. Run PEC Train first and if needed then run PEC Update after 
to improve the table. Training for LX90 and LXD55/75 will take about 8 - 
9 mins. Training for ETX 90/105/125 will take about 24 mins. To train 
use the handbox, AutostarSuite with the LPI, or any other autoguider 
using the #909 Accessory Port Module (if the scope will allow the #909). 
After training PEC, go to PEC On/Off to turn on PEC to have the scope 
follow the commands. At the end of your session if you want to keep your 
training, you have to Park your scope. If you do not park your scope the 
Autostar will not be able to remember its position on the worm.

I haven't checked the newer scope manuals on Meade's site to see
if they cover it.

Training is basically:  track a star while it's training.
It will record the corrections you made to keep the star centered.
Later (post-training), it will apply those corrections in an attempt
to correct for worm-thread wandering.

Andrew Johansen has written a PEC Editor which can work with
the 497 Autostar.  IF you have my patch kit installed in your firmware,
the PEC editor can even do live-time graphing of the curves and worm

have fun

Subject:	How to connect Autostar to a Meade LX 10 ?
Sent:	Friday, August 26, 2005 15:07:51
From: (
First, thank you for your very helpful site.

I have a LX 10  for a long time and very happy to use it. But it has
only a handpad to drive the two motors. Is it possible to adapt an
autostar controller to my scope, and how to do it ?

Best regards
(Sorry about my very bad english, I'm French !...)
Mike here: Check out "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts" link on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. That may get you started on trying to adapt it.


Thank you for your help. Bedair's site is great and full of ideas.
Thanks for what you do to help people. At this time it's not frequent.

Subject:	Softwarecommands
Sent:	Thursday, August 25, 2005 01:28:11
From:	Rolf Breyer (
I try to make a programm witch should align the ETX-70 via a

Right at the beginning I have a problem with the slew rate commands
(:RC# ..... :RS#). When I send them to the Scope, there is no change
within the tracking-speed.

Do you have any idea how?

I work with Visual Basic6 and the GPS-Part of the programm is already

Many thanks previously for your Answer.
With greatings from Germany,
Rolf Breyer.
(Sorry about my poor english!!!)
And from our Autostar Expert:
From:	Richard Seymour (
You don't say which Autostar you are using, (494 or 497), but the
answer is the same:  the Autostars do not honor -all- of the documented
commands, and the :R group is one area they have some missing.
In the 494, since i don't know (and probably don't have a listing for)
the version, i cannot say which commands are missing.

In the 497, version 34Ec, the :RC# command -should- be honored.
(there are now also the new :R1#, :R2#, ... :R9# commands which
select the various slew-speeds directly.

have fun

Subject:	alignment and goto tips (Sept 4, 2000)
Sent:	Tuesday, August 23, 2005 12:04:58
From:	joey brand (
I found your tips (posted nearly 5 yeaers ago) concerning alignment ans
goto tips very useful. There remains however one question.

When I perform an alignment, and subsequently a goto, using a 25 mm ep,
the object will not be in dead center. I then use arrow buttons to
center the desired object, but after a few moments my hard-headed etx
seems to have a mind of its own, and returns to the not-quite-in-center

I thought that this may be due to the fact that the setup/targets menu
read "terrestrial" in stead of "astronomical". After changing this in
astronomical, and turning the etx off and back on, I found that the
target read again: "terrestrial". Could this be the default mode? And:
is this of any importance for the problem stated above?

I realize that I do need to perform another train drive, but this doesnt
account for the fact that my etx goes back to the original faulty
position on its very own.

I could not find a previous message concerning similar problems.

Would you have any ideas as to the cause of my problems and a possible

Thanks from the very light-polluted Netherlands. I hope to be visiting
the Morvan in Burgundy, France, for the coming two weeks, which is one
of the few remaining dark areas in Western Europe.

Joey Brand
Mike here: Typically what you describe (known as "rubberbanding" is cured by doing a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Have you done those? If you have, are you running a reasonable current version of the Autostar software? By the way, there are many current pages that discuss this problem, with the same suggestion. If you found the page via a web search, don't forget to go to the ETX Site Home Page and look around (reading the Site Guide may help get you started).
Subject:	USB to Serial  anomolies
Sent:	Monday, August 22, 2005 19:52:49
From:	Jason Fordham (
Hi,I have a problem, I think, has to do with my USB to Serial adapter
cable. I have everything installed and working a treat. I have control
of the telescope through the starmap, remote handbox seems to work with
no problems until i get to the scrolling descriptions of an object. If
speech is enable it seems to get stuck in a reset cycle, continually
rereading the first few words. This I noticed coincides with the
flicking around of some letters in the readable description box on the
remote handbox. The other problem is with Autostar updater, it connects
to the telescope no worries, recognizes the handbox but when I click
retrieve, asteroids begin to download through a couple of 100% cycles
then a message comes up with check cable connection. I close it down and
all is ok again.

Due to the adaption of the USB port to a COM port do I need to change
any connection setting (Baud rate etc)?


Mike here: I never needed to make any com port adjustments when using my Keyspan adapter on my Macintosh. But I have received several reports of problems with Belkin adapters. You didn't say which adapter you have but you might check for an updated driver.
Subject:	re:  Com Port connection not recognised
Sent:	Monday, August 22, 2005 19:52:59
From:	Richard Seymour (
The loopback test only shows that the cable is continuous.
It would -not- reveal if the cable was mis-wired, swapping
the in and out lines.

With Hypterminal running, plug the cable into the rs232
socket in the base of the running Autostar.
Type (at hyperterminal)  :GC#  (no enter key)
The Autostar should reply with the date:  8/22/05

If that works, you -do- have communication with the Autostar.

IF it doesn't work, try turning off the Autostar
(still connected per above), count to 5, turn it back on.

An "X" should appear on the Hypterminal screen.
*only an "X"*

If it does,  then the Autostar-to-PC side is working.

If it does work, then try typing  a control-D
The Autostar should reply "A" or "P"
depending upon its mount style.
If that works, try the :GC#  again.

If the "X" doesn't appear, then slew the telescope a
bit to one side or the other, and then send (with
hyperterminal) a    :hP#
IF the PC-to-scope connection is working, the
telescope should start (and complete) a PARK operation
(and the handbox screen will say "turn telescope off"
at the end).

So there are some tests you can try.

good luck
And: wrote:
> Thank you for your very informative advice.
> When I switched on, an X appeared on the Hyperterminal screen.
> Typing :GC# the Autostar resonded with the date - 08/23/05#.

So Hypterminal has full connection.

> The only thing that didn't work was Ctrl D - the Autostar displayed 
> "Downloading Do not turn off". Nothing displayed on the Hyperterminal 
> screen (not a A or a P).

Oops.. that was my error: i should have said control-F
(your screen did the correct action for a control-D)

> The :hP# also worked, displaying turn telescope off.
> After doing all this Updater still says could not find Com port.
> This is getting stranger and stranger.

No, it's quite common... the Meade Updater has problems dealing
with some Windows systems... either other programs competing for
the serial port, or interaction with the InfraRed channel in a
laptop, thousands of things... it's a whimp.

You could use StarPatch, a free non-Meade downloader available
from (follow the links to StarPatch).
In your situation it will have no problems at all (and operate
twice as fast).
It cannot manipulate the User Objects, its sole mission is to
update (and patch) the main firmware load.

have fun
And more: wrote:
Thanks for your help - I will give Star Patch a try.
 Incidently, are the various control codes listed somewhere?

The acknowledged serial commands are here:

The control-F is the "Ack" command.
The control-D isn't documented

With the current firmwares, those are the only two "control" commands.

have fun

Subject:	RE: Smartdrive (PEC) in Alt-Az?
Sent:	Monday, August 22, 2005 07:12:15
From:	Martyn Iles (
Mike said:
> It is Polar only.

Ah, that's a shame :(  - looks like it's a decision on either a wedge or
an lx90 upgrade then!

Many thanks for the answer, Mike and again congratulations on one of
_the_ most useful sites for astronomy!

Subject:	RE: Aotostar Update
Sent:	Saturday, August 20, 2005 05:54:53
From:	dale smith (
I have an ETX with a 497 autostar and a DS with  494 autostar and have
never updated the firmware. I have all the correct cables for both. Can
both use the updates? I just need some recommendations on what firmware
and/or patches to update them with and some guidance about how this is
Clear Skies
Dale Smith
Mike here: Updating the Autostar #497 is easy; just use the updater from Meade's site. See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for more info. Updating the #494 ROM is not currently possible; Meade has released no user-installable updates. As to patches, see the Autostar Info page; but don't patch unless you need functionality applied by the patch.
Subject:	Re: Com Port connection not recognised
Sent:	Saturday, August 20, 2005 00:24:37
From: (
I am using a real RS232 port (DB9 type) with the supplied cable and
adaptor. I do not have any fax software and am not using the port for
anything else. I used Hyperterminal to test the port using a loopback

The two drivers indicated via Control panel/system/hardware are
serenum.sys and serial.sys.

The port settings are as recommended  by Meade.
Very odd.....
Mike here: It could be a bad cable. You might check its continuity. Also, check for bent pins; on the cable connectors and the jacks.


I have checked the pin connections with a meter and everything seems to
match up with the specs OK. There do not seem to be any bent pins - I
have tried another 9-pin connector in the serial port which I have wired
as a loopback plug, and the port responds to a Hyperterminal character
echo test.
Does the Autostar have to be in any special mode to connect?
Mike here: There is no special "connection" mode for Autostar communication. It could be either a bad cable or a bad Autostar, given what you have ruled out so far.


So providing the Autostar is powered up the Autostar suite should find

It may be the Autostar, but this is the second one I've had, as the
original was faulty. The new one was updated and supplied by the shop
where I bought the ETX.

As I said, I checked the continuity of the cable/adaptor with a
testmeter, and it seemed OK.

The COM port I think is OK, because I used to use it last year for my
dialup connection under Win98, before I went to Broadband/WinXP this
year with USB.

Am I right in assuming that the Scope itself is not involved, it is only
the Autostar handset?

Mike here: Other than getting power the base is not involved. If you think it could be a power issue you can make a 9V external power source. See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for info on that.
Subject:	LX200GPS Autostar II Firmware problems
Sent:	Friday, August 19, 2005 23:06:08
From:	divermar (
I love your site, lots and lots of information.  I was wondering if you
have any ideas about the problem I'm having with my Autostar II.  I was
in the middle of an upgrade and the scope was turned off before it could
complete the download.  I know I know.. this shouldn't have happened but
to make a long story short it just did.  I saw on your site where the
ETX has the ability to start in the SAFE MODE but I couldn't get the LX
to do the same.  Is there a hidden command that I need to allow me to
start the download over or am I hosed and looking at sending the parts
to Meade? Upon power up the display comes up with "LX200 GPS © 2001
MEADE" none of the buttons work or have any effect.  I have tried to
communicate with Autostar Suite as well as HyperTerminal.  I'm pretty
confident that the comms setup is good as it was working before the
power outage.

Thanks in advance for any help

From:	Richard Seymour (
As the Autostar Updater HELP page (indexed as "damaged handbox")
says: to trigger Safe Load for an Autostar II do:

Turn on power
Tap  999   on the keypad immediately thereafter.

It will then say Flash Load and you'll be set.

good luck
Thank you so much for your reply and information.  I was able to finally
download the firmware and the scope is up and running. I'm always amazed
how the simplest things can be so frustrating.

Again thanks again !!!!!!


Subject:	re:  ETX 125PE Autostar/LNT Issues
Sent:	Friday, August 19, 2005 18:49:44
From:	Richard Seymour (
Jake: I switched the cable
Mike: Reversing the Autostar [cable] is NOT supposed to make any difference

I must disagree with Mike's statement.

The pinout of the Autostar handbox cable means that swapping
it end-for-end **will* change all of the signal lines around.
In your case, the fauly AUX lines are being swapped with one
of the motor drive pairs.

So your scope could probably be totally "fixed" by simply
replacing the cable.
If you have one available, you could "crunch" the ends of
the cable with a computer network cabling tool (an RJ45
A standard computer network -cable- (with the ends already on)
will **not** work in place of the HBX cable

have fun
From:	Jake Deschaine (
Thank you both for the response. I had thought that it might be the
cable in fact, it seemed to make sense that a faulty pin or two on one
end could cause the LNT to not be recognized, and then reversing it
would cause an entirely different problem. Unfortunately, I've already
shipped it back to Meade. Hopefully though with the problem being that
simple (if that IS what it is) it would make the return time somewhat

On a working cable and AutoStar I doubt it would make a difference on
the cable's direction. So, that's something to note for others, if
reversing the cable causes different problems or fixes some and creates
others it could very well be the cable itself. So we'll see what happens
when I get my scope back.

Again thanks for the info from you both.

Mike here: I have used my Autostar #497 HBX cables without regard to end and it has always worked OK, with one exception and that being my LXD55/Autostar which has the ferrite core on one end.


Right... they're reversible, but the wires carry different
signals when you do.  For example, the wire from Autostar
pin 1 to telescope pin 8  become the wire from Autostar
pin 8 to telescope pin 1... and that's a different signal.
Meanwhile, the "old" 8->1 becomes the 1->8, so everything
keeps working.

It's only with a sick cable that the difference becomes

have fun
Mike here: Thanks Dick. Given the odds are 50-50 that a user could have the cable "backwards" it is nice to know that only a bad cable will cause problems. Meade makes no distinction on the which ends go to which component.
Subject:	Autostar Failure
Sent:	Friday, August 19, 2005 15:45:58
From:	David H Harris (
Autostar Failure:

During a download the ASU stopped updating the Autostar and when I
looked at the display, it was dead but the keypad was lit, NOT a power
failure.  PANIC.......

I switched off the Autostar and back on several times in the hope that
it would rectify itself, only to find that this made the situation

After some investigation I found that the software had frozen and I had
to do what I would call, a "hard re-boot", by holding down both the
enter key and bottom right hand arrow key and then switching the power
on simultaneously . This reset the Autostar and the display read Flash
Rom version 3.0.

I then activated ASU and downloaded my saved last version, pressed
"Connect" and she started to respond and gave me a handset version 2.0,
then I updated with the saved version and after sometime the Autostar
bleeped and reset.

PANIC over she was up and running again, I thought that this may be
useful to anyone, who like me, uploads different bits of information
into Autostar on a regular basis.

I could not find any reference to this on the Meade site, if it does its
hidden. I contacted a local supplier who told me how to reset the

Many Thanks
David H Harris
Personal Web:
Sutton Dyslexia Web :
Sutton Dyslexia Helpline:
Mike here: Glad you found the solution. It has been covered on the ETX Site many times.
Subject:	Com Port connection not recognised
Sent:	Friday, August 19, 2005 08:45:02
From: (
You were good enough to provide some helpful information on another
topic. I now have a different problem in trying to connect my
ETX/Autostar to a Com port. I keep getting "Could not connect to
Autostar", followed by "Could not find Com Port - Check connection and
try again".

I have tested my Com port with a loopback plug and it seems OK. I am
using the ASU v4.2 dated June 13th 2005.

I also believe that I have followed all the instructions on the "505
Connector Cable Set"

Do you have any suggestions?
Mike here: Check for a port conflict, typically fax software. Also, are you using a real RS-232 port or a USB-serial adapter?
Subject:	Smartdrive (PEC) in Alt-Az?
Sent:	Friday, August 19, 2005 07:39:53
From:	Martyn Iles (
Hi Mike, firstly thanks for a brilliant site (and book) - I've been a
visitor for a year or so now!

I was hoping to make use of PEC but from what I can see its only
available for Polar mounted scopes (just updated to the latest version
and SmartDrive doesn't appear on the Setup->Telescope menu).

I just wondered if it definitely is polar mode only, or if there's a way
to get SmartDrive to appear on the menus when the ETX125 is in Alt-Az

Whilst it is obviously beneficial to run in polar mode, I have the ETX
on a permanent pier and a wedge is going to cost me a fair bit and I
think the 400 UK Pounds will be better spent on a telescope upgrade!

If the ETX PEC works on both DEC/RA then it should be possible to
compensate for the worm drive differences regardless of the mounting
(though I suspect its single axis only).

Once again, many thanks for a brilliant information resource.

Martyn Iles
Mike here: It is Polar only.
Subject:	Autostar II Display
Sent:	Wednesday, August 17, 2005 04:15:37
From:	Astrorandy (
Would you happen to know where I can purchase a replacement display for
my Autostar II controller?
Much appreciated.
Randy McAllister
Mike here: You can try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page); I can also post a Wanted item for you.
Subject:	autostar ETX90
Sent:	Wednesday, August 17, 2005 01:46:52
When I tried to update my #497 Autostar Comp Controller via ASU, I
interrupted the program, (I did not want, but it happened. Maybe a
little unexperience) Now I have the problem that there is not any info
left in the autostar screen. Is recovery still possible? I have got from
somebody in Holland the following text from  you:

	Mike here: You need to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode and reload
	the ROM. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on. Then
	launch the ASU app; it will detect this mode and allow you to load a
	fresh copy of the ROM file...........

I do not know what you mean by "reload the ROM", When I purchased the
ETX90 I did not get a ROM

Thanks a lot in advance when you can give me a hint to recover my #497
Best regards
Leo van Poecke
Alingss Sweden
Mike here: Those are the steps to reload the ROM in the Autostar and get your Autostar working again. That is the "ROM" I meant in that earlier reply.


Thanks a lot!!! I'm back again!!!

Leo van Poecke

Subject:	497 Controller Issue...won't slew left/right
Sent:	Thursday, August 11, 2005 15:27:36
You've helped me out on a couple previous occasions. I searched your
site and couldn't find any problems that sounded like this one.

I have a Meade ETX125 with the 497 controller. The controller arrows
will not allow me to slew left or right (up/down is OK).  Here's what
I've done so far to try to diagnose this:

- The telescope slews OK with the manual controller but not with the 497
controller. So the motor seems to be OK.

- I've updated the software to help

- The left/right buttons work OK when I am in the time setting mode so I
think there is no problem mechanically with the buttons. It just won't
let me slew left/right.

- I called Meade. Their advice was to send the controller to them to
diagnose($75) but I am not sure that is required yet. (I've had bad
advice from them in the past.) Also could the problem be in the Meade
ETX electronics itself (handling the signal from the 497)? That could be
big bucks to repair I assume due to shipping, etc. I don't have the
extended warranty. This unit is 16 months old.

Would I benefit from a complete reboot of the software on the #497?  If
so, could you direct me to the best procedure. I saw a couple references
to this on your site but I wasn't sure how to proceed after starting in
the safe mode.

Thanks for being there and maintaining an awesome site. Most of my
questions have been resolved without having to e-mail you.
Doug Spalding
Mike here: Have tried different slewing speeds, including the fastest (9 key)? Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS? If the problem still exists, try reversing the cable. If that fails to correct it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, TRAIN DRIVES. Does it move left/right? We'll go to the next step if necessary.


You are a genius!!!   I had inspected the plugs but had not tried
reversing the cable. I reversed the cable halfway expecting it to slew
right/left but not up/down. For some reason that solved the problem. Do
you suspect it was just bad contacts?  In any case it seems to be
slewing alright for now. As soon as possible, I'll train the drives and
calibrate the motors too.

It makes me wonder why the Meade technicians don't suggest stuff like

To show my appreciation, I have made a pledge via Thank you so
much. If it weren't for you, I think I would have given up on Meade.

Doug Spalding

Subject:	autostar blank screen
Sent:	Thursday, August 11, 2005 07:44:37
After using ASU autostar suite to connect to ETX 90 Meade the message
screen on the autostar does not display anything. The buttons light up
so I know that it has power.

This is the first time I have connected using the Belkin USB to Serial
on my new computer.

It found the Autostar o.k. I asked autostar update  to retrieve data
from the handbox. I got a message that asked if the autustar was in safe
mode and I answered no but it retrieved the data and it seemed o.k. but
the autostar went blank.

I have tried to get the autostar to turn on without the computer but it
will not.

Jake Noullet
Mike here: Do the buttons actually work or do they just light up?


They just light up.
Mike here: It sounds like connection was lost during the transfer but why on a read that should have corrupted it don't know. When you power on is there a beep from the Autostar? If not you should go ahead and try a SAFE LOAD.


There is no beep on power up.
How do I do a safe load if I have no control on the autostar??
Mike here: Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on the telescope. Launch the ASU application and see if it detects the Autostar. If not, the Autostar has likely failed. If so, let the ASU flash the ROM.


The Flash Load message appears on the autostar. Autoloader sees I have a
#497 and that it is in the flash load mode.
When I tell ASU to update I get
User objects, blacklash (it does say blacklash training) user sites and
motor calibration will be retained. use <setup> - <reset> from the
handbox to reset.
check auto star cable or try a different serial port then power cycle
autostar and try again.
Mike here: Well, now we know the Autostar is probably OK. Given what happaned at first and now this error I suspect bad communication with the USB adapter. This seems to be a more frequently reported problem with the Belkin adapters. I use a Keyspan one with my Macintosh and don't have any problems. Check for port conflicts (like fax software); try reloading the adapter driver; try a different USB port (if you have one); lastly try a different computer.


I hooked up to my old laptop wit the serial port and was able to reload
the autostar. It seems to be working o.k. again.

I have gone back to the new computer and am looking for a different
driver for the adapter.

I will let you know if I can find one that works.
Thanks for the help
Jake Noullet
I checked with the Belkin download site and their newest driver is older
than the driver that can on cd.
I tried it anyway and it still hangs up the autostar.
It looks like Belkin is not the way to go.

Sent:	Thursday, August 11, 2005 05:42:42
From: (
First of all i'd like to congratulate you on your site,

Ok what it is i've just got myself a Hi-Grade C7000 Laptop but the only
problem I have is my laptop dosn't have the 9pin serial port to connect
my Meade telescope guiding system, could you advice me what I can use to
get my  Meade lxd 75 10" telescope guiding system& LPI up and running
fully again? One person has sugested trying a USB to RS232 9 PIN Adaptor, 
could you please help 

Thanks Kev Cheshire UK
Mike here: There are serial to USB adapters; see the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for USB info.
Subject:	Re: Problem After Updating 494 Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, August 10, 2005 19:53:15
From: (
Tonight was the first night in a very long time that the skies were free
of clouds.  I took my ETX-70 out, initialized it, and to my surprise,
when I said Go-To the Moon, off it went and the Moon was nearly centered
in the EP.  I'm not exactly sure why I had the problems I did before,
but everything seems to be working absolutely fine.  Thanks, guys, for
all your help and I really like your website, Mike.  Clear skies.

Subject:	RE: Autostar slew issues after several GOTOs
Sent:	Tuesday, August 9, 2005 05:42:18
From:	Aug, David (
I do a calibrate motors and train drives before I go out each night
(because of your site).  This happens after I have used the arrow keys
on several objects and it works fine.  On about the 6th object, the
object was just slightly off to the left side.  When I used the arrow
key to center it, the motors engaged (loudly like I had picked 8 or 9
slew speed) and moved the scope at a fast rate.  It is not the rubber
banding that happens when just using the arrow keys.  It seems to
correct it self after shutting the unit off, then re aligning it.  I am
wondering if the handbox is running out of memory, memory getting over
written, or something like that as the telescope and motors seem to be
working fine.

Thanks for you help.
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET, then CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES?


Not yet.. Reset scares me, but if it keeps doing it I will.   
Mike here: RESET is nothing to be scared of (normally). It just restores the Autostar to its "factory default" condition.


From:	Niall J. Saunders (
When I first started using my ETX105 a couple of years ago,
rubberbanding was the bane of my life. Because it is so easy to 'cure' I
feel that my experiences are worth reiterating, to help new (and,
perhaps, seasoned) users.

As Mike always says "Reset, Calibrate, and Train Drives"

However, I feel that a little bit of clarification might help:-

I hardly ever use this. Sometimes, after a software upgrade to the
Autostar, or if all else has failed, then I would turn to RESET.

But, be aware that all of your start-up data is going to be lost. You
will need to re-enter a 'home' position, and you need to double-check
that your 'Telescope' information is properly defined (this is
especially the case for the likes of an LX90, where this model does not
even appear on the selection list unless a RESET command is given with
the Autostar connected to the scope itself)

Use it if you need it - but RESET alone will be unlikely to help with
rubberbanding, poor GOTOs etc.

Use this regularly - every viewing session may be too much, but the
choice is yours. I use an external 17Ah 12V battery 'tank' (which I
hardly ever re-charge, 'cos I am lazy) - but which seems to maintain a
reasonably constant output voltage. However, if there is anything that
makes you suspect that the voltage on your system has changed - then
CALIBRATE MOTORS. By the way, feel free to do this in the middle of a
viewing session, you won't affect the Alignment, you may affect the GOTO
accuracy, but this will resolve itself the first time you do an accurate
SYNC to a (non-solar-system) object.

This is where you will have the single greatest effect on the
performance of your scope. And, please note, that was a carefully worded
sentence. If you do not do this stage properly, you will turn your scope
into a monster!

However, and conversely, if you take time to do this right, you will be
amazed at how good the Meade Autostar-controlled scopes can be.

My first recommendation is that you give serious consideration to using
Dick Seymour's 'patches' - or any other system that will let you see the
results that the Autostar is using for its RA and Dec training values. I
took the time (several hours) to train all four Meade scopes that I have
had access to, and recorded the results for each. Of the three scopes
that I still use regularly, I have NEVER had to repeat the training
exercise, and am still using the same values eighteen months later. In
fact, if the training values are close to perfect, then this is the most
useful piece of information that you need to keep your scope under
control. So much so that I have never understood why Meade hasn't
realised this and incorporated Dick's routine into their own code.

If you want to seriously get your scope under control, then you need to
look at where the
subject is discussed in quite some detail.

So, take time to train your drives, and use one of the patched software
releases to record the Training Values for each axis. With this
information you may never need to Train again!!

Hope this helps. 

Niall Saunders 
Clinterty Observatories 
Aberdeen, Scotland

Subject:	Smartdrive on ETX 105??
Sent:	Monday, August 8, 2005 05:00:02
From:	kent jonsson (
Have a question about smartdrive. Updated my autostar some month ago,
and have not seen the funkton "smartdrive" untill yesterday. Wonder how
its work? And specially if its work on the etx 105? Read about it on
meads homepage but did not find out any details.

Thanks Kent
Mike here: Not applicable to the ETX line. If you polar mount the ETX you can do the PEC (Periodic Error Correction) steps but it is timeconsuming and may not add that much to tracking accuracy on the ETX.
Subject:	re: Problem After Updating 494 Autostar
Sent:	Monday, August 8, 2005 20:52:00
From:	Richard Seymour (
Is -only- the Moon messed up, or have the planets gone wonky, too?

When you update the user objects in a 494, the Updater -also- 
rewrites one 32KB chunk of the firmware's primary database.
(this is what those "asp(blather).rom" files are in your Ephemerides
folder... the 32KB chunks for the various versions of 494 firmware).

I think the Updater doesn't have -all- the versions that it needs
(Meade only provides five, and two of those are for non-English 494's).

You might try calling Meade and see if they can provide
(and *post* as part of the 4.2 ASU kit) the version needed 
by your 494.

You can see the full firmware identifier under
Setup > Statistics > [scroll up]

have fun

Subject:	Autostar slew issues after several GOTOs
Sent:	Monday, August 8, 2005 07:54:39
From:	Aug, David (
As always, thanks for your time and website. 

I have an ETX 105PE with the updated Autostar (34Ec).  After a
successful alignment and several (4-8) successful GOTOs I will have a
problem that anytime I try to use the arrow keys on the handbox to
center the object, the telescope will completely move off the target.  I
can hit GOTO again and it will slew over to the object, but I still will
not be able to use the arrow keys to center the object without it moving
off target.  It seems that I can hit one of the arrow keys for a second
or two, it will start to move correctly, then the motors start and it
goes off on it's own.  It stays in the general area of the object.

Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Mike here: As mentioned frequently on the ETX Site (in fact, maybe I should add it to the FAQ), whenever you update the Autostar redoing the TRAIN DRIVES really helps to avoid this "rubberbanding". In fact I always CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES following an update.
Subject:	Problem After Updating 494 Autostar
Sent:	Friday, August 5, 2005 14:22:11
From:	Stephen Nolin (
I have an ETX-70 and I updated the 494 Autostar using Autostar Update
(ASU) Ver. 4.2.  After successfully updating, I went outside and located
Jupiter, Venus, and a number of DSOs without any problems, but when it
came time to go to the Moon,  the telescope slewed to a point about 45 -
50 degrees to the east of where the Moon actually was.  After comparing
the R.A. and Dec. numbers on the Autostar with the R.A. And Dec. numbers
from TheSky Astronomy Software, it was apparent that the Autostar
numbers were wrong.  I wasn't able to find a way to correct the wrong
numbers, and I eventually input the correct numbers into the User part
of the Autostar.  I haven't had a chance to check the numbers because of
bad weather and a new moon, but I was wondering if there is a fix, or
should I just live with it?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Tampa, FL
Mike here: Please clarify what you did. There is no user installable update for the #494 Autostar ROM.


I installed ASU Version 4.2 on my laptop, then connected my #494
Autostar to my laptop via a #506 Connector Cable.  After the screen said
the #494 was connected, I clicked the "File" tab, and from the drop-down
menu, I clicked on the "Get Object Data From WWW" tab.  After picking
items from a menu, the info downloaded to ASU, and it asked me if I
wanted to save to the Autostar.  After the download was completed, I
closed ASU, disconnected from my laptop, and went out to use my
telescope. Thanks for your help.
Mike here: That should be OK. Since it was only the Moon that was off, check the date; it sounds like it might have been off.
Subject:	Easy Align Hits Vertical Stop
Sent:	Tuesday, August 2, 2005 12:22:18
From:	Knapp Hudson (
I have an ETX 90 I have recently dusted off to use on a vacation. I have
put in fresh batteries and uploaded the most recent software for the
AstroStar. I checked my setup parameters for site, date, time and
checked to make sure the controller knows which scope it is attached to.
I set the scope to the home position and then asked it to do a trial run
on an Easy Align. When I did this (for Vega) the scope began slewing
moving the the barrel of the scope vertically until it hit the hard stop
and continued to try to move the barrel upward. I turned it off and then
rechecked my setup to see what mistake I could have made in setup and
could find none. I tried another easy align and it did it again. What
can cause the scope to slew until it hits the vertical stop? I have not
see this problem before.
Thanks for the help,
Knapp Hudson
Mike here: Did you do a CALIBRATE MOTORS after exchanging batteries? Also, it can help to do a TRAIN DRIVES following updates.


Thanks for the reply. I did not do a reset or motor calibrate after
changing the batteries. I will do this as soon as I have a chance
Knapp Hudson 
Mike here: I really must add this tip to the FAQ page!
Subject:	Autostar error
Sent:	Tuesday, August 2, 2005 06:23:51
From: (
As I am in trouble with my ETX90 and especially with the Autostar 497 I
thought of asking you for help.

I was trying to update the 497 when my little niece came in and
unplugged the data-connection between the computer and the Telescope,
From this moment on the Autostar 497 seems to have lost its memory. It
displays -05 Meade (34e) Autostar- and refuses any other operation. In
addition the updater does not find the COM-Port any longer. I tried two
different computers but the effect was the same.

What can be done?
I am living in Germany . Do you know any helpful advice?
Rolf Schellhaas
Mike here: You need to put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD mode and reload the ROM. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on. Then launch the ASU app; it will detect this mode and allow you to load a fresh copy of the ROM file. You will need to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES, set your location, etc.


You are a real professional !!
It worked at first try! 
It also detected the  com-port again.

So again: Thank you very much!

Greetings from Germany
Rolf Schellhaas
Mike here: Thank Meade for adding that capability many versions ago!
Subject:	Autostar and Servomotors
Sent:	Tuesday, August 2, 2005 05:02:53
From:	Coppola Luigi (
I hope you can find a little time for some suggestions for me.

I have bought a Discovery 20"TD, and I will motorize it with an
industrial servo system of ELAU, the company I am working for. It is an
intelligent servo system with high resolution encoder motors. I have
already an ETX90 with Autostar II and I am enthusiast of its electronic
capabilities, and I was wondering if I could connect the Autostar
serially to the ELAU controller and use all Autostar features and
database, instead of making everything between controller and PC. With
this solution I could even avoid to take the PC with me on starry
nights. I got a few infos about the Autostar on the patent page.

Do you think it is a good idea?

Do you know where I can find a data base file (similar to that of
Autostar) in case I am compelled to implement everything in the

Have you any suggestions?
Thanks, regards,
Luigi Coppola 
Mike here: There are several articles on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page that might help you; some on the database and in particular "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts".
Subject:	re: ETX-90 and gps interfacing
Sent:	Sunday, July 31, 2005 22:25:23
From:	Richard Seymour (
I was unaware of a -Meade- GPS option for the 497 Autostar.
Could you cite where you saw that item?
Certainly the current v34Ec (on Meade's website Sunday 31 July)
doesn't  support it.

The only way i know of for attaching your Garmin to the Autostar
is by installing the StarGPS firmware modification, and then building
or buying (from StarGPS) an appropriate serial cable.

StarGPS is at:
and is reviewed on Mike's site.

have fun
Mike here: The StarGPS-LX doesn't require any firmware mod. Was there something special about it? I've forgotten!


No, i'd forgotten that you'd reviewed the -LX model.
"Dragon's" original question involved using his own Garmin.

For adding one's own GPS to the normal Autostar, one needs
the StarGPS (no -LX suffix) firmware patch... as far as i know.

As you say, the StarGPS-LX does not require a firmware
patch, but that depends upon a reprogrammed GPS receiver
that speaks "Meade" instead of NMEA.

have fun

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