AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 August 2006

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


Subject:	How to make (pin-configuration) the ETX PC cable?
Sent:	Thursday, August 31, 2006 04:46:39
From:	Dirk Nijs (Dirk.Nijs@jcacademy.be)
I just red on your webpage how to make the seria cable for my ETX 70 AT.
The only thing I 'm missing is the pin-configuration Is it just a
straight -through?

Where should I connect the cable running from the first position in the
RJ11 to which pin of the DB9?

Where . Second 
.
See also Hardwarebook
Thanks in advance!
Kind Regards,
Dirk Nijs 
Belgium
Mike here: First off, are you talking about the #506 cable for the #494 AutoStar (normally supplied with the ETX-70) or the #505 cable (which only works with the #497 AutoStar)?

And:

Thanks for your reply! In the meantime I found the wright explaination
concerning the ETX PC cable for my ETX-70 AT. So it is indeed an 506
cable. As I red, it is not just a cable. There is more...

So, my resume is... Buy the original... Or am I wrong?
In that case, I do have the wright software as well as the cable. What
is your advice for a store?
Or what is your advice in general?

Kind regards,
Dirk 
Mike here: Yes, the #506 is more complex and not as easily made as the simple #505 cable. You could use a #505 cable but you would have to purchase a #497 Autostar. The costs are almost (but not quite equal, at least for Meade's #506 cable, which comes with planetarium software). But with the #497 you get upgradeability and more objects in the database (many of which won't be visible in the ETX-70). As to a dealer, I recommend you locate one your in country; check Meade's web site for a dealer listing.
Subject:	Help with ETX 90 in Africa
Sent:	Tuesday, August 29, 2006 04:33:23
From:	George Tucker (tuckeg@sage.edu)
I've used your site for quite a while at my home in the USA but I am now
traveling in Africa and have limited access so I am contacting you
directly. Here's a little background:

I have been doing astronomy programs for lodge companies in Southern
Africa since 2003. I spend most of my time at one lodge in Namibia
(great skies!!). Near the lodge is a non-profit environmental education
center called NaDEET (www.nadeet.org). Local communities raise funds to
rent a bus and then students are transported to NaDEET and NaDEET houses
and feeds then for a week while they learn about the Namib Desert and
sustainable living. All food is prepared by solar cooking or by burning
renewables. I and some of the other astronomers visiting the lodge
volunteer to give astronomy programs to the youngsters. A local family
donated a small refractor to NaDEET a few years ago. In May a fire
destroyed the main building at NaDEET and the telescope was destroyed
also. The main building has been rebuilt and a local wildlife group
donated about $700 to purchase a new telescope. NaDEET and I decided the
best fit was an ETX 90 PE with an Autostar. I ordered it and my wife and
I added our donation to the wildlfe group's and were able to cover the
$700 price as well as the $224 shipping. Unfortunately when the
telescope arrived it would not function correctly and I had left Namibia
for South Africa. There are some bright people at NaDEET but they have
no experience with telescopes. Both the retailer (telescopes.com) and
Meade have refused to help NaDEET diagnois/repair the problem and have
insisted the charity return the telescope to the USA for replacement at
NaDEET's cost. This will amount to $450, more money than NaDEET can
afford. They have also stated that there is no assurance that the
replacement telescope will work and if it doesn't, NaDEET will have to
pay shipping costs again.

I am hoping either you could help them with their problem or you could
forward this message to a board where others might be able to guide them
through the troubleshooting. Here is the description of the problem:

"We have set up the telescope and are using the Autostar Handset to
align it. After a few minutes it says: Motor Unit Failure. It then gives
three reasons why this is happening:

1)       Handset is between scopes- Not possible as we are holding the
handset next to the telescope.

2)       Low Batteries- Also not possible as we have plugged into the
electricity in our house.

3)       Obstructed scope- The telescope is outside on our front lawn.

In addition when we use the Autostar to align it ourselves the down
button does not work at all and the motor really struggles to go up.
Right and left are no problem at all."

The Director of NaDEET is Viktoria Keding and her email is
nadeet@iway.na

I sent her a few suggestions (don't over-tighten altitude knobs, press
mode for 2-3 sec. check power) but I may not have internet access to
follow-up.

Thanks for your site and appreciate any help you can offer.

Regards,
George Tucker

George F. Tucker Ph.D.
Physics Department
The Sage Colleges
Mike here: Was a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES done? If not, do that. These will typically fix a MUF error. If that doesn't cure it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't cure the problem then reverser the AutoStar-ETX cable. If still no go then some questions: Does the error occur before, during, or after an alignment? Does the error occur with the AutoAlign or Easy Align or both?
Subject:	wacky auto align- 1 more question
Sent:	Monday, August 28, 2006 22:31:38
From:	Steve Ritter (steve@soundideas-av.com)
Calibrating and training seems to have solved that problem.  Perhaps you
would indulge me 1 more question.  Since my other scope is an LX200GPS
there are a few things I forgot about the ETX 90.  When it's facing the
home position (north) and alt/az aligned, the ETX seems to only be able
to rotate about 120 degrees counter-clockwise before it hits the stop,
but like 520 degrees clockwise before it hits the stop.  Is this right?

Thanks again.

Steve
Mike here: You are correct. BUT the problem is not with the ETX, it is with your memory about the proper HOME position! You forget to do the counterclockwise rotation to the first hard stop and then back about 120 degrees to North.

And:

Ah, but in order for this to be possible the control panel must be on
the east side.  If the cp is on the west side, the stops don't allow
enough rotation.  This tip isn't given in the instructions that I
(re)read.  Thanks again.

Stephen Ritter
Mike here: CP on West, rotate CCW (looking down on the ETX from above) until you hit the first hard stop. Then rotate CW back to North (about 120 degrees). If that isn't what you are seeing AND if the ETX will not rotate nearly twice around hardstop-to-hardstop then there is some obstruction (a wire?) that is interferring. Open up the base and see if you can see a wire that is catching. USE CAUTION: you don't want to do the rotation with so much force that you cut that wire (assuming it is a wire causing the problem).

And:

But is 120 degrees maximum CCW rotation (when the scope is pointing
north in the home position) the way its supposed to be?  It seems odd
because there's about 540 degrees rotation in a CW direction when you
start from the home position.  But according to your response below that
IS the correct starting point.

Steve
Mike here: It is slightly less than 720 degrees, hardstop to hardstop. So, yes, when you move CW 120 degrees from the first hard stop to North, you have about 500 degrees more of rotation.

And:

And is that the right position to start an Easy Align?
Mike here: For Altazimuth, yes. For more on alignment tips, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	re: Az Train - Alt Train value
Sent:	Monday, August 28, 2006 21:27:26
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>  The value turns out AZ TRAIN +62 and ALT TRAIN +24

I would rate those as "very good".

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: strange Autostar 497 rom update problem
Sent:	Monday, August 28, 2006 21:25:39
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Here's what's going on:
First, 497 firmware versions earlier than 1.3 require setting
into Download mode manually.  Either by the Safe Load method,
or simply by menuing to Setup/Download

2nd: you can tell StarPatch to -not- load the GPS-seeker,
just untick it from the list of patch options presented
in its display window.

3rd: Although your problem was the truly ancient version
of firmware in the Autostar, many USB-to-serial adapters
-can- successfully *control* the scope (a la' Voyager),
but still cannot -download- firmware.  The control
commands are all short 7-bit printable ascii, whereas the
download is a series of bursts of longer multi-byte 8-bit
binary transfers.

As it happens, my own ETX90 was bought in 1999, and my
first Autostar version was also 1.1j.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	wacky auto align
Sent:	Sunday, August 27, 2006 21:46:07
From:	Steve Ritter (steve@soundideas-av.com)
I have an ETX90 which has always worked pretty well.  Now, on
auto-align, it wants to point straight up and even beyond where it could
physically move. Tried resetting, no luck.
 
Any ideas?
 
Stephen Ritter
     San Diego, CA
Mike here: Have you replaced the batteries? Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? Does the same thing happen with Easy Align?

And:

Thanks for your quick response.
> Have you replaced the batteries? 
I'm using a 12V power source.
 
> Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? 
No, not since I did it when I first bought it, a few years ago.
 
>Does the same thing happen with Easy Align?
Yes.
Mike here: Anytime the power source is changed (including significant draining and recharging) you should do a CALIBRATE MOTOR. This will likely solve the odd movement. You should also do it and a TRAIN DRIVES following any RESET. This should cure your problem.

And:

Thanks ! I'll give it a try.

Steve

Subject:	Az Train - Alt Train value
Sent:	Saturday, August 26, 2006 12:49:48
From:	PATRIZIO CARATTO (patriziocaratto@virgilio.it)
I have installed the patch 43aa in my Autostar 497 (LX90).

I have executed RESET - CALIBRATE MOTOR - TRAIN DRIVE with percentage of
50% AZ and 50% ALT. The value turns out AZ TRAIN +62 and ALT TRAIN +24.

Thus goes well? How much must be the optimal value?

Excusing me for my ugly English, it compliments for the web site and
THANKS YOU.
 
Patrizio Caratto (GENOA - ITALY)
Mike here: Optimal values depend on the telescope and your personal preferences. I don't have a LX90 so can't comment on that model.
Subject:	lxd75 p.e.c. training
Sent:	Thursday, August 24, 2006 09:24:40
From:	roger schultz (rdschultz4201@sbcglobal.net)
I have a quick question for you. On two occasions now, I have tried to
do a PEC train procedure with my ar6. I think I am doing it wrong. I
thought I was supposed to turn on the pec first, before I do the
training. This is probably wrong isn't it. Every time after activating
the pec, I go to the train p.e.c. and hit enter, the scope stops
tracking completely. Am I supposed to do the training, and updating
first, before turning on the PEC? Please set my brain straight for me.
Thanks very much!
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Well, that's a toughie... Whups! No, it's not (inspiration hit)
what firmware version are you running?
(setup/statistics/[enter][scroll up])

First, as with Train Drives, it doesn't matter if you have PEC
On or Off when you start a PEC Training session... the Autostar
-will- turn it On as a part of the Train procedure.

And that's why it stopped... i'll just bet you did not ERASE
the PEC data before attempting the train.. and the Autostar
stands a moderate chance of having the data are preloaded
with (hexadecimal) xFF's.  Which tell the Pec System to
bring the scope to a dead halt.

What you -should- do for a Train is:
(a) do  PEC / Erase [enter]
(b) do PEC / Train [enter]
(c) follow the prompts.

See if that's any better...

PEC Training is conceptually simple: keep the star
centered as best you can during the procedure.
At the -end- of the procedure, the Autostar will
declare (well, beep) "Done" and PEC will be turned
on and engaged.

Many people see their LXD's  *slow down* when that
happens.. i don't know why (i don't have an LXD),
but they do.  So they ahve to increase their tracking
rate to compensate.  It's possible that you could -not-
increase the tracking rate, and do a PEC Update cycle
or two and perhaps overcome the slower tracking rate.
If not, then use  Setup/Telescope/Tracking Rate/Custom
and enter numbers to speed it up.  If you can measure
the drift in terms of arcseconds per clock minute, that
would be the number to use.  (an example: if you have
an eyepiece with a 10 arcminute field of view, and the
stars are drifting from center to edge in 30 minutes,
that would be (5 arcmin (half the field of view) * 60
(conversion to arcseconds)/(30 clock minutes)= 5*60/30= 10
So you'd enter "10" as the custom tracking rate.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX-125PE Retaining Site Information  
Sent:	Wednesday, August 23, 2006 17:35:05
From:	RLPJP@cs.com (RLPJP@cs.com)
When I enter the site information into my 125PE it works fine for that
session but as soon as I turn the scope off the site information  is
lost and has to be reentered the next time I use it. I always use the
scope from my home location and would like it ro retain this
information. I use an external power pack to power the scope with no
internal batteries, could this be the problem.
Thanks,
Rod Park
Mike here: This sounds like the problem I had with the PE model when I first received one. I had the problem with Zipcodes. So try using City Name if you have been using Zipcode. Also, check to see whether the Site list is full; you may have to delete one.

And:

Thanks Mike. It sure is nice having someplace to go for help.
Happy Star Gazing,
Rod

Subject:	strange Autostar 497 rom update problem
Sent:	Monday, August 21, 2006 08:48:00
From:	Robert and Sigrid (robsis@xs4all.nl)
Here's a little brain teaser for you. I bought my ETX 90EC in the early
days of its release (1999). And a couple of months later also got myself
a #497 ETX Autostar. At the time I was a bit disappointed with its
performance, but didn't have time to thoroughly test it, since we
relocated back to the Netherlands from CA. I only recently got to get my
telescope back to point to the sky once more and wanted to get to the
bottom of things. In the process I found your site, with wonderful tips
that got me going real well. So I decided to update my Autostar's ROM,
and got myself a #505 cable and serial to USB cable. Since I've got a
Macbook Pro, I figured I could try the update from either the Mac or PC
side (running XP under Boot Camp). So here's the problem: In OS 10.4.7
using the right (prolific) driver for the USB to serial cable the
AutostarX program complains that it can't connect to the autostar. Under
XP, using Meade's ASU program it says it can't find the autostar at
first and suggest to search all com ports (I've put the prolific cable
to be at COM2 (COM1 is in use)). It then says it found the autostar at
COM2 (surprise surprise!) but when I try the update it then says there
is a problem with the connection, and suggests to check the connections
(the same happens if I try this from my wife's DELL PC). I do get a
piece of info though: the ROM version is 1.1j. Now here's a real strange
thing. When I leave all cables as they are, start my copy of Voyager 4,
and connect to the telescope ... I CAN OPERATE THE SCOPE FROM MY MAC IN
OS 10 ENVIRONMENT! How's that possible? Here's my setup: ETX 90EC, with
#497 ETX Autostar, powered by a 12V lead-acid battery, #505 cable with
prolific serial to USB cable, MacBook Pro 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo, 1GB RAM
with OS 10.4.7 and Boot Camp 1.1 running XP pro. On the software side: I
use AutostarX 1.4, and Voyager 4.0.1; on the XP side I only used Meade's
ASU to try and upgrade to ROM version 43Ea. Can you shed some light on
this?

Cheers,

Robert
Mike here: You didn't specify whose USB-serial adapter you have but I suspect it could be one that doesn't work with the Autostar update process. See the article "Autostar and USB" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. I have successfully used my Keyspan adapter from VirtualPC (Meade's ASU) and Mac OS 10.4 (with AutostarX).

And:

Well, the adapter wasn't to blame after all. I figured it was worth a
try and spend 45,- ($50.-) on a Keyspan usb to serial adapter, and now
am the proud owner of a Prolific USB to Serial adapter (which came from
Green Witch as a Meade cable), as well as one from KeySpan. However,
with the Keyspan adapter I got the same messages/behaviour from
AutostarX (Check connections with autostar), and ASU under XP (first
can't find the autostar, does a com port sweep, tells me it found an
autostar at COM1 (with keyspan I can use COM1), and then doesn't do
anything.). I knew the connections were OK because when I try to connect
to the telescope with Voyager 4 (my planetarium software package for OS
X), it worked well (slewing, finding targets, syncing [even the autostar
handbox said so!] etc as it did with the Prolific adapter). As I
understood from your site the new ROM versions are much better, for
instance in terms of drive training etc, so I followed your advice and
double checked the "Autostar and USB" article. That's where I found the
mention of StarPatch. So I gave the trial version a go. This was the
first of all packages to tell me after I tried to upload the new ROM
version that I should reconnect to the Autostar in save load mode (!!).
I did, could download the ROM version (with the StarPatch GPS patch,
which I found a bit annoying because my handbox now started looking for
a GPS box and said it would do that as a trail version). Went back to OS
X, and ran AutostarX to reload the ROM version 4.3Ea and it now went
swimmingly! So I guess the old ROM version was to blame and starting the
Autostar in save mode did the trick. It's a shame that AutostarX OR ASU
didn't mention this as an alternative. Do you know anyone interested in
a Prolific USB to serial adapter cable (it's as good as new)?

Cheers,
Robert
Mike here: Sorry that you needlessly purchased an adapter. But glad you got the Autostar upload working. All Autostars (with ROMs from the last few years) have had SAFE LOAD mode, which works with AutostarX or Meade's app. But that is only a last-resort option normally.
Subject:	Autostar-ETX motors overshoot
Sent:	Monday, August 21, 2006 05:30:32
From:	Greg Campbell (g.campbell@lc.com.au)
I am a grateful user of your site, and have read thouroughly all of the
Autostar and ETX info you've provided. However I can't shake motor
overshoot errors I get when controlling my ETX 125EC via Autostar,
particularly at speeds of 4 and lower.

To give you a quick overview, I have done all of the upgrades on my ETX
as per Dr Clay's and RB Ingersoll's tips. My Autostar has been upgraded
to version 43Ea and the drives have been calibrated and very
meticulously trained with a reticle eyepiece. All this, coupled with
very careful setting up routines gives me very close to smack-on GO-TOs.
(I use Alt-Az alignment for various reasons - polar is not sufficient
for what I want to view here in Aust.)

The problem I have is that at low speeds some arrow buttons respond
perfectly. But some of the arrow buttons  will very briefly send the
motors in the opposite direction to what I've asked for, then go the
correct direction way. When I *stop* pushing the button, the motors will
overshoot, then come back the other way a bit before stopping (is this
rubber-banding). The motors do not often come back to where I orginally
wanted them to stop. Motor percentages do not fix this problem (and can
exacerbate it).

Further, the buttons giving problems change depend on what section of
the sky I'm in. E.G. Looking north, the right arrow button gives
overshoot problems, all others are ok. Looking east, the left and right
buttons are perfect, but the down arrow gives problems. Needless to say,
trying to position anything like the LPI is just maddening.

I think I've done everything correctly, but I can't fix this one. Do I
have to live with this? I suspect that this is a problem with the Alt-Az
tracking functions in Autostar. But if you have a solution I've love to
hear it.
 
Thanks,
 
Greg Campbell

And from our resident Autostar expert:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>> Further, the buttons giving problems change depend on what section  of
>> the sky I'm in. E.G. Looking north, the right arrow button gives
>> overshoot problems, all others are ok. Looking east, the left and
>> right buttons are perfect, but the down arrow gives problems.

I was about to write "assuming you're in the northern hemisphere..."
when i noticed your email address... So i'll have to change that
to "assuming you have not set 'Rev L/R' to 'On'...

I -think- all of your example button descriptors work out to:
"If i slew -against- the sidereal motion of the sky"
(since stars are rising in the east, 'down' is against them)
(since stars (for you in Australia) are moving right-to-left
when you're pointed north, then 'right' is against them, too)

So it does bubble down to "reversing the motor causes the symptom".

Have you tried setting the percentages (both RA and DEC) to -zero-?

>> Needless to say, trying to position anything like the LPI is just
>> maddening.

The trick is to always approach the target "from the east" so
that your final slews are -with- (not against) sidereal motion.
This requires a bit of a head-spin to work out which vector
that is.  At Speed 1, the scope "does it for you" (works out
the vector), since Meade has the slew keys become true RA and DEC,
not the usual up/down/right/left which all other speeds do.
Unfortunately, it's at such slow rates that it may not be useful
for -positioning-, but at least it will show you which way is
the direction of lowering RA values (up in the east, down in the
west, with a contribution of "poleward", unless you're at latitude zero).

>> But some of the arrow buttons  will very briefly send  the
>> motors in the opposite direction to what I've asked for,

Hmmm... i wonder if Meade has a sign wrong here?  They are reknowned
for getting some bits backwards in the southern (and eastern) hemispheres.
However: further thought leads me to suspect a worm/final drive or
bearings problem.  See two paragraphs below:


>> then  go the correct direction way.
>> When I *stop* pushing the button, the  motors
>> will overshoot, then come back the other way a bit before  stopping
>> (is this rubber-banding).

Then again, perhaps your percentages are too low...
What's really happening is that you are performing an eastward slew.
When you release the key, the motors reverse to drive the scope
westwards with sidereal motion.  But the gears have backlash/slop.
Until the motor overcomes that slop, the telescope itself is -stationary-.
But the star is still moving westward sidereally.
What you see in the eyepiece is 'drift', but it -appears- as if the
telescope was still slewing eastwards.
The motor eventually overcomes the slop, and starts driving westward.
The overshoot may be caused by a too HIGH percentage (and Training
issue.. although good GoTo's are the measure of good training),
if the following paragraph holds any water:

However, in your case, i think there might -also- be a mechanical issue.
It could be that the worm is walking out of mesh from the driven
gear, or that one of your DEC bearings is loose  (in my ETX90
the dec bearings are plastic sleeves... and one has worn into
an elliptical shape.. thus the motor-side dec axle can lift
and drop over a millimeter when the loads reverse... and -that-
causes erratic lag and overshoot corrections, even with 'perfect'
settings, since the direction of that slop varies with where i
am in the sky).   Another item to look for is worm end play.


good luck
--dick
Thank you for the very informative email - it confirms some of my
suspicions.

Just for some feedback for you:

I doubt the mechanics are a problem for a few reasons. I didn't find any
end play in the worm drives during tune-up, and if there was I would
have expected to see the problems a bit more consistently across the
sky. All of the ojects used in my test were within a few degrees of each
other in altitude, so there shouldn't have been the marked difference in
the altitude overshoot if it was mechanical in the worm drive end play
or the drive gear. My scope is approx. two years old: the dec bearings
are proper ball bearings and the whole setup is in good shape - it seems
Meade has been getting their act together on some of the mechnical
issues as I've noticed a lot of differences between my scope and the
website tune-up tips.

I think the slight kick in the opposite direction is a backlash issue
because I am driving back across the tracking. I didn't check too much
if percentages helped this, because it was honestly so minor compared to
the overshoot/drift that I didn't concentrate on it.

I now think that the "driving the scope against the tracking" is almost
certainly the problem. What I didn't mention last email (because I
thought I had gone crazy) was that the "down" arrow key when facing Vega
to the north was giving overshoot/drift until abruptly it stopped its
nonsense. I've just worked out that right then Vega had probably hit its
highest point for the night - so the altitude tracking for Vega would
have been netural - hence the up and down arrows giving no trouble.

As for the percentages, I experimented between 1% and 90% for some time,
but all with varying degrees of success - probably because what worked
in one part of the sky was not so useful for another. I didn't try 0%,
but I'll have a go tonight.

So it appears that I am up against possibly a limitation of the scope
itself rather than an error or failure. This will make me a lot happier
driving it, and I'll try to approach things from the same direction as
the tracking for fine tuning.

Finally, I'll specify Australia on my future emails! It only just
occurred to me that "Aust" could have meant Austria or Austin, Texas.

Thank you both, this has been a great help to me.

Greg Campbell

Subject:	two autostars
Sent:	Thursday, August 17, 2006 14:28:43
From:	Richard Blaisdell (blaisdell25@charter.net)
I have an LX90 pre-LNT.I have two Autostars and was wondering if I could
do a Calibrate,Train Drives on both so if one fails during observing I
can just switch to the other without too much fuss other than shutting
down and restarting with the second Autostar or must I go through the
whole process again? I use an AC adapter for power.Thanks,Rick Blaisdell
Mike here: That will work fine. It is when switching one Autostar between two telescopes that you need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

Thanks Mike.

Subject:	#497 Autostar not working at all
Sent:	Thursday, August 17, 2006 13:51:44
From:	MichaB S. (michu232@wp.pl)
I have a #497 Autostar controller for my ETX 125, and some day I was
downloading a new data and after 30 sec. by mistake I was disconnected
cable between pc and handbox, and now when I turn on a telescope,
autostar only show me " (c) 03 Meade [31E] AUTOSTAR" on screen and it's
not working at all. Even my computer can't see this telescope. Can I
repair this somehow ? Please help me. Michael
Mike here: See the "Q. The power went off while I was updating my Autostar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it?" on the FAQ page.
Subject:	#497 Autostar Display Lower Line Scrolls way too fast all the time
Sent:	Tuesday, August 15, 2006 09:39:40
From:	Barry Young (barryjyoung@yahoo.com)
This has probably been covered somewhere on your site, but I cannot find
it.

I have a #497 Autostar controller for my ETX90EC and the second line in
the display scrolls at high speed like it is unable to stop when it
should. If I move my eyes rapidly from right to left, I can make out
words.

My question is, should I throw out this #497 controller or is it
possible to repair it?

Thank You

Barry Young
Young Camera Company
Mike here: This frequently asked question comes up a lot (which is why it is a "Frequently Asked Question"). You can find the answer (and many more) on the FAQ page.

And:

Thank you Mike:

I figured it out. Duh! I downloaded a manual and there it was. I just
had to slow down the scan. I did look through the FAQ, I guess I missed
it. Sorry to have bothered you.

Barry Young
Young Camera Company

Subject:	Meade Mount
Sent:	Sunday, August 13, 2006 07:16:14
From:	Frank Puzycki (nsac@verizon.net)
I own an 8" Schimdt Newtonian from Meade - the go to mount is giving me
problems.  The right ascension slewing control, does a counterslew
everytime I execute a go-to or slewing command.  Dave at High Point
Scientific recommended I give you a call.  Do you repair Meade hardware
or have you seen problems like this?  Can you give me any direction
here?  Any help you can offer is appreciated!
  
Frank Puzycki
Mike here: This sounds like what we call "rubberbanding". Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES recently? That typically cures rubberbanding. Have you upgraded to the current version of the Autostar software? You need to do the CALIBRATE and TRAIN steps following the update.

And:

Mike - thanks for prompt reply - thta is the problem - after I upgraded
to latest autostar version (done by high point), I calibrated and
trained and even did procedure to assure mount axis were aligned after
first discovering this problem - it has not gone away.  Frank
Mike here: Is this mount a LXD55 or LXD75? You might try adjusting the percentages (article on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page).

And:

It is an LXD 55 - interestingly, rubber band issue occurred right after
upgrading software to latest version of autostar in June.  Initially was
a nuisance but in trying to do autoguiding, has become a downright
obstacle.  I'll look at the article you reference and thanks again Mike!
Do you consider this LXD 55 mount to be capable of reasonable
astrophotog application?  Frank
Mike here: Be certain you do an accurate TRAIN DRIVES; use a high power eyepiece and/or reticle eyepiece if possible. As to astrophotography, yes, as can be seen by the many examples on my LXD site.

And:

I used a Meade 10mm reticle eyepiece - I am beginning to suspect the
update of the autostar software caused this issue.  I literally used a
white glove approach to this last weekend.  I am going to try your most
recent suggestion this weekend.  Thanks again. Frank
Mike here: It is possible the download or the upload was corrupted. Try redownloading the update directly to your hard disk and do the upload from the file.
Subject:	etx125
Sent:	Saturday, August 12, 2006 18:43:42
From:	Beachboy255@aol.com (Beachboy255@aol.com)
Have you ever heard of any problems with the autostar remote (etx125)
just conking out. It just goes blank and goes out after a few seconds
and comes back on and repeats that process. Does it sound like a short
in the Autostar. The telescope works fine and tracks fine.  Thanks, John
Mike here: Sounds like it could be a bad connection. Check the pins inside the jacks on the ETX base and the Autostar base as well as the cable ends. Check for pins that are depressed or dirty.
Subject:	Display, GOTO to coordinates
Sent:	Saturday, August 12, 2006 18:10:08
From:	Wayne Watson (sierra_mtnview@earthlink.net)
Do you happen to know how I can see the ra,dec and az, el using what is
probably autostar I for the lxd55? Is there a way to set az,el and go to
it?

I finally got the loan of a cheshire collimator and used it on my lxd55.
Mike here: See the entry "How do I enter Right Ascension and Declination and have the Autostar GOTO it?" on the ETX Site FAQ page.

And:

Thanks. Who woulda guessed! Is it different in the latest autostar for
the lxd55? Is there a way to shutdown so the time is saved? I'm getting
ready for a sky show in about 90 minutes and it's been awhile since I've
used this scope.
Mike here: When you power off, the time is always set to the default of 8pm (or 2000) on the next power on. If you don't move the telescope you could put the Autostar to sleep however. But that is really just a power saving mode (but it does retain the alignment).

And:

Thanks. Has there been an improvement in the software along these lines?
I'm still using the original s/w. I had spent many hours repairing and
cleaning up the scope, and pretty much had completed it on Friday before
tonight's sky show. I didn't want to update the s/w until after the
show, since it might have further complicated matters. Unfortunately,
the scope failed tonight. I hypertuned it but maybe didn't use enough
grease. It was balky when I tried it Friday and today. If I could of
poured a pint of oil in, I would have. Well, I've got 6 weeks until the
next sky show. It may require more grease, and some motor adjustment.
Three times tonight it shut down with motor messages.
Mike here: Definitely the software is improved over the original version that shipped with the first LXD55 models. As to your problems, keep in mind that it is possible to make things worse rather than better. Too much grease, especially in the wrong place (like covering the encoder and sensors) can cause problems.

And:

Thanks for the info and tip. Since I've become familiar with the inner
workings, I'll probably be able to ease into greasing what is probably
the troublesome axis to solve the problem. I should be able to work much
more quickly and freely than the first time around.

Subject:	Auto Star will not work in the Manual mode
Sent:	Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:27:41
From:	Shdrbrown@aol.com (Shdrbrown@aol.com)
my ETX-105 and the Auto Star unit work perfectly, except when trying to
slew the telescope in the Manual mode.  The Up, Down, Left, Right
buttons do nothing.  The telescope has been aligned, initialized with
current date/time data entered, but unlike what the operating manual
says on page 4, the manual slew buttons do not work.  Personally, I
think the manual slew buttons should operate anytime power has been
applied to the unit.  Any ideas?  Thank you for your time.
 
Don Brown
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? Did the arrow keys work there? Have you increased the slewing speed (using the number keys; 1 is slowest and 9 fastest)?

And:

thanks for the answer, but I finally figured out what the problem was! 
Problem solved by unplugging the cord from the Auto Star handset and
plugging it in again.  Evidently it "wiped the pins clean" as the manual
mode is now functioning normally.
 
Brownie

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