AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 December 2001
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:	Re: 497 Troubles
Sent:	Monday, December 31, 2001 5:38:00
From:	jhoward@netins.net (Jim Howard)
To:	victorvanwulfen@hotmail.com (Victor van Wulfen)
I read through what you had posted on Weasner's site.  It sounds like
there is one difference between the problem that you had and the problem
that I had.  My autostar forced the scope to slew in 2 directions.  That
is, both alt and az motors ran sporadically.  I am hoping that the
problem is entirely in the Autostar, and I do not have 2 broken wires in
the base.

I will keep everyone posted.

Jim

Subject:	Autostar / ETX Cable
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2001 12:29:26
From:	bdickson@mweb.co.za (Bruce Dickson)
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on your site commenting on the
quality of connectors in the Autostar's cable. While fiddling, I
discovered that the LX 200 controller cable is a form-fit-function swap
for the Autostar's. (... well, it works fine on my ETX :-) )

This are a big improvement over the Autostar variety - the connectors on
the LX200 cable have built in strain relief - mine has survived quite a
few years of regular use. Presumably Meade will sell it as a spare.

All the best for 2002

Bruce

Midrand, SOUTH AFRICA
bdickson@mweb.co.za

PS - sorry I couldn't find the original post.

Subject:	506 cable connector
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2001 7:49:49
From:	walterego@ditol.com (Walt)
I've purchased a scope with a 494 controller that needs a 506 cable.
Even the dealer is having trouble locating the parts. One of the
problems is that Meade sells the kit (Meade part number 04513) only to
dealers, which includes software, and I have software, but no cable. I
have parts, but no pin-outs. Anybody help?

Thanks from Walt
Mike here: See the FAQ for info on the #506 cable.
Subject:	Meade #506 connector cable
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 8:28:53
From:	claud-d@swbell.net (Claud Downing)
I have read several posts regarding the 506 cable.  I want to build my
own and understand that it has active electronics.  I am somewhat versed
in this practice and am looking for the schematic listing components and
pin outs.  Do you know where I can find this?  I have looked everywhere
to no avail.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Claud Downing
Mike here: As noted on the FAQ, the specs for this cable are not public available.
Subject:	help please
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 15:55:08
From:	cueless@exploremaine.com (cueless)
I just got a EXT-60 for x-mas and put in the wrong location during set
up. how do i reset the autostar?

Thank you in advance.
Mike here: If you mean the wrong country, the simplest way is to RESET the Autostar from the Utilities menu. Otherwise, you can go to the Sites menu and edit the site itself.

And:

Hi, me again. I just found the answer to my question. Thank you anyway
and sorry to bother you.

i found it on your site. thanx for all your hard work and informative
site!

Subject:	Possible cause of '497 troubles'
Sent:	Tuesday, December 25, 2001 12:26:06
From:	victorvanwulfen@hotmail.com (Victor van Wulfen)
I just read the report under Autostar Feedback by Jim
(jhoward@netins.net) and it all just sounds too familiar to the trouble
I recently experienced with my ETX . My Autostar fried or otherwise
stopped working with exactly the same symptoms. I mailed you and Clay
about it earlier. My scope slewed, uncontrollably and in small
intervals, in declination. If I didn't turn it off it would hit the hard
stops. Swapping the wiring in the base with the R.A. wiring moved the
problem to that axis. A clear indication that the problem was in either
Autostar, the cable or the power panel circuit board. I've since then
replaced my DEC circuit board, the wiring to the base and my
Autostar. With a new DEC board an wiring the problem was still there,
leaving me with the Autostar to blame. A brand new Autostar worked as
advertised. What I think is the case, as with Jim's scope, is that
somewhere between the power panel and the DEC board there is a short in
the wiring. Since the standard controller doesn't need any info
from the encoders in de drives this doesn't give any trouble. The
Autostar does need this info, but if it is not receiving any or given
false info (because of snapped wiring or a short) it slews
uncontrollably. Like Richard Seymour described in his contributions to
your site, it can fry the Autostar electronics. I'm quite sure that's
what happened to my Autostar and probably also Jim's. Replacing the
wiring in his ETX, or better the entire scope, should solve the problem.
I hope this was of help.

Enjoy the holidays!!

Victor
And from our resident Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	jhoward@netins.net
The symptoms you describe (erratic axis motion when powered up) sound
dreadfully like something hashed out about a year ago.

The "what does your scope do if there is *nothing* plugged into the HBX
socket syndrome.

So try that: don't plug -either- controller in, turn on scope.

What will happen is a case-by-case operation: some sit quietly, others
go into regular or randomized motion patterns. *All* motions (or lack
thereof) are "OK".  (the scope wasn't desgined to work without a
controller).

What's NOT OK is if uncommanded motion happens with a controller
(Autostar/HandController) attached.

Try playing with the HBX cable ends, they might have uncrimped a bit. 
It's also possible that your Autostar has internally fried the data
driver of the motor controller side of things. (the two motors share a
data line, but have separate clock lines. The AUX circuit is a spearate
pair of clock and data drivers). So the -common- item leading to the two
motors is the data line. If you can borrow a telephone RJ45 connector
tool (visit RadioShack and look mournful), simply re-crunch the ends of
the HBX cable and things may improve.

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	jhoward@netins.net (Jim Howard)
Hello Dick, thanks for the info.  Unfortunately, I took some RJ-45 jacks
that I had laying around from wiring my house up, and plugged the ends
of the cable into those.  I then took my continuity tester, and verified
the cable.  It tests out 100% ok.  I also took the autostar apart, and
verified the plug is still solid to the circuit board (bad soldering
could cause issues here).  It is still firmly soldered.  Since the
factory controller still works good with the scope, I think I can safely
rule the scope out.  I can rule the actual cable out due to testing.

Since they tie in to one line, and use clocking signal to seperate the
commands, is there an oscilator that could be burned out?  Is it a
replacable unit, or built into an IC?

It is sounding more and more like another bad autostar :(

Thanks much,

Jim
And:
I agree... too bad.  You've checked out everything that's easily checked
(got an oscilliscope?)... so swapping units (if you're forced to go to
Meade instead of the dealer, their response is good, but their phones
will be *swamped* for the next few weeks...)

good luck
--dick
And an update:
It won't allow me to train.   As soon as I turn the scope on, it starts
doing this.  It runs one of the motors, stops runs it again, stops, runs
it a third time while running the other motor, etc.   There seems to be
some sort of a pattern, although I can't place it.  The ETX and autostar
were working great for the last couple weeks, then last night, while
observing, this started.
Mike here: It sounds like the connection between the Autostar and the electronics in the base has been lost. Time to contact your dealer or Meade.
Subject:	497 troubles
Sent:	Tuesday, December 25, 2001 7:42:51
From:	jhoward@netins.net (Jim Howard)
Hi, great site!

I have a question I am hoping you or one of your readers have
encountered before.  I was out using my scope last night with the 497
controller.  I was tracking saturn just fine when all of a sudden the
scope motors just start moving sporatically.  I turned the scope off as
it was gettin close to the hard stops, and manually moved it back to
polar alignment.  I then turned the scope back on, and before I could
even clear the intros, It once again started running the motors.  It
seems to take each motor through all the steps of its speed repeatedly,
it does this two or three times, then pauses, and starts doing it all
over again.  I cannot seem to get it to stop.  I am going to try to
reprogram the 497 now ("t", the latest was on it, and I am overwriting
it with "t" again).

All other functions of the 497 seem to be working just fine.  I can have
it align, find items, etc.

When I plug the origional hand controller back in, everything functions
perfectly.

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated...  This is my second 497
in 1 month, and if this is the quality of the 497, well, I am quite
disapointed.

Thanks for your time,
Jim
Mike here: How are the batteries? If you are running on AC, is it the standard Meade one or some third party one? Don't forget to TRAIN the drives once you upload the ROM. Let me know what happens.

And:

Hi Mike, thanks for the quick reply.  I have tried both battery and AC
with the same results.  I successfully uploaded the ROM, and reset the
controller.  It continues to do the same thing.  It is as if the stepper
motor controller in the handheld unit is just not connected to the scope
anymore.  I checked the connections, and the continuity in the wiring as
well.  All is as it should be.  It was rather cold out last night, but
then what good is a scope controller if it won't work in the cold?

When I connect the controller that came with the scope, all is well. The
drives do their auto-train, and I have complete control.  I also checked
the solder connections on the board in the 497, and they are still
tight.

Any other thoughts?
Mike here: The only low temperature concern with the Autostar is that the display blanks out. The Autostar is still functional; you just can't see anything on the display. So now I wonder if you ETX could be suffering from the "random slew" problem. You didn't say what model you have; this problem occurred on a few early -125 models. If that is the problem and the scope is still new, exchange it at your dealer.

And more:

The scope is a ETX-90EC.  It is fairly recent.  Also, the scope works as
it should with the factory controller.  It only does this behavior with
the autostar plugged in.  At this point,  it seems that something with
the motor control unit of the autostar must be bad, but I don't know
where to go or what to do beyond just taking it back to where I bought
it and try a 3rd one.
Mike here: The random slew problem on the older ETX-125EC model was a circuit board in the ETX base, not in the Autostar. The slews did not occur with the standard handcontroller, only when the Autostar was used. So, if that is the problem, replacing the Autostar won't help. Also, after you uploaded the ROM you said you did a RESET but you didn't say you also reTRAINed. That is required too. Be certain that model telescope is selected before you TRAIN.
Subject:	#505 connector cable set uk
Sent:	Monday, December 24, 2001 7:55:15
From:	Helen750@msn.com (helen fennah)
I was wandering if you could help me, im looking for the meade #505
connector cable set to set up my telescope to the computer, is there
anywhere on line or a shop where i can purchase this product in the uk I
would be very gratful for your help.

Yours sincerly Helen
Mike here: There are several UK dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page. Or you could make one; see the Autostar Information page for cable info.
Subject:	Got my Autostar working (more or less)
Sent:	Sunday, December 23, 2001 20:00:06
From:	john.hewit1@cableinet.co.uk (John Hewit)
Hi there, I have managed to update my Autostar to 2.2ET from the German
version. I had my first go at GOTO. After setting it up and training the
drives, I took it out to play. After a couple of attempts to set the
home position, (Note to self: Remember to set the daylight saving to
"no!") I had a pretty successful alignment. I was able to slew to
Jupiter and Saturn with relatively small adjustment. This brings me to
my problem: whenever I adjust the position to center it after the "GOTO"
it re-adjusts itself! It only does it in the alt axis. Whenever I move
it, it then moves itself up. It's very annoying. Is this the "Creep
after beep" I've read about? How can I stop this? Tracking at sidereal
rate seems fine. I also seem to have a lot of slack in the RA drive so I
may have to perform  little operation on it as per the Tech Tips page.
Also I don't get the system calibrating the motors when it initialises.
One feature I like is the Identify feature. You look at a star or try to
find a named one then you can check its identity to see what it is. Nice
idea. Sorta GOTO in reverse.

John Hewit
Mike here: ReTRAINing the drives following an update usually cures the problem. If not, do a RESET and then a reTRAIN. Do the TRAIN drives as accurately as you can. That should fix the rubberbanding you are experiencing.

And:

Ok, thanks for that. I'll try retraining and I'll see how I get on. One
other wee quirk I have come across when I am using the GOTO feature. I'm
looking at Jupiter for example and then select Saturn When I press GOTO
it moves very slightly and beeps smugly as if to say how clever it is.
Trouble is, it's nowhere near Saturn! BUT, if I press it again it slews
round to Saturn no problem.
Two presses to GOTO?
Mike here: One press to ENTER to select the choice and one press of GOTO to actually. But I don't recall hearing that two presses of GOTO were required.a
Subject:	ASU 3.0 and win XP
Sent:	Sunday, December 23, 2001 11:18:25
From:	patrick.cramm@belgacom.net (Cramm Patrick)
It just won't work : the ASU soft cannot detect the autostar on my com
port even if I force it ti COM1. Has this something to do with winXP ? I
really need some help I guess...

Greetings, Patrick Cramm
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
The best i can answer is that i've heard from at least three folks
that it worked on WinXP without any problems.
I have -also- heard (was it this Patrick?) from one person who
can control their scope with StarryNight (or whatever), but the
ASU -cannot- find their Autostar.
I run Win95 and Win98se at home.
I haven't tried it myself under WinXP. 

Can Patrick talk to the Autostar via Hyperterminal?
(see pages on Mike's Site under Autostar Info re: communcating
with the Autostar).

Email to engineer@meade.com  with your setup, details and results
of any other tests... perhaps they have a 'how to fix" ready to ship.

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks. Tried the hyperterminal mode but could not communicate. WinXP
says the connection is used by other hardware (my autostar ?) if
dataflow = hardware. If i put dataflow=none, i cannot communicate. The
serial port works fine for my pocket pc so there is no hardware problem.
 Used the cable earlier to upgrade to autostar 2.0. I forwarded my
problem to the meade engineer address.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Cramm Patrick wrote:
 
> Thanks. Tried the hyperterminal mode but could not communicate. 
> WinXP says the connection is used by other hardware (my autostar ?)
Whoa, whoa, whoa... If WinXP thinks the COM port is used by "other
hardware".. then -that's- why ASU cannot reach the Autostar!
ASU (being a "good" Windows-friendly program) ASKS Windows if a 
COM port is in use, before trying to send data to it.  This prevents
ASU from putting unwanted data on a port in use by another device (such
as a modem or a mouse).  Good programming technique.
If WinXP thinks some -other- program is using the port, then check
throughout WinXP to find out who/what... 
If you have two serial ports available, more the Autostar to COM2
and try there.

ASU, when its NOT running, does -not- hold ownership of the port.

> WinXP says the connection is used by other hardware (my autostar ?)
> if dataflow = hardware. If i put dataflow=none, i cannot communicate.

Now that's confusing: when you have
 dataflow=hardware, WinXP/HyperTerm won't talk to the Autostar.
 When you have dataflow=none, you "cannot communicate"

I don't understand. When -can- you communicate?

If you specify data=hardware, it certainly won't work, since the
Autostar does NOT generate the hardware handshake signals needed
by Windows.  (you -could-, with a separate 9v battery, hold "request 
to send" and "clear to send" high, which would satisfy the handshake.

Hyperteminal will refuse to send data to that port.
When you have dataflow=none, then Hyperterminal -should- work.
Things to try: FORGET the Autostar.  Tie COM1's pins 2 and 3 together
(or tie pins 1+2 of the Autostar-end of the 505 cable set together).
You have created a "loop-back" cable.  Type on the Windows keyboard.
What you type should echo on your screen. (dataflow=none).
If it doesn't, then it's not the Autostar's fault.

> The serial port works fine for my pocket pc so there is no hardware
> problem. 
Is it perhaps possible that the pocket PC communication program is 
"owning" the port, so that ASU cannot use it?

> Used the cable earlier to upgrade to autostar 2.0.

Under Windows XP? Or an earlier version of Windows?

> I forwarded my problem to the meade engineer address.
I think it's really a WinXP (and other programs) port-contention
problem. I really doubt it's something the Meade folks have any
chance of diagnosing beyond that statement.

Check out WinXP...perhaps boot in "Safe Mode" and try the ASU -then-.
Prevent startup of the PocketPC program.  Use COM2 ...
Those are the steps i'd try in diagnosing.
If you cannot make a "loopback" cable work with Hyperterm, the ASU
doesn't stand a chance.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Commands between Autostar and the ETX125
Sent:	Sunday, December 23, 2001 1:31:52
From:	alibatur@turk.net (Ali BATUR)
I've Autostar , Pictor autoguider and ETX125. I want to design a board
between Autostar and ETX125 which takes feedback from Autoguider. This
board will modify the Autostar commands that sent to ETX125 by checking
the feedbacks of autoguider and send corrected commands to ETX125. For
example if Autoguider decides ETX slew fast it will mask the movement
commands that autostar sent to ETX125 , or if it decides ETX slew slow ,
it will insert some movement commands. I think there is a serial
communication between Autostar and ETX. Does anybody know anything about
the protocol between Autostar and ETX.

Best Regards
Ali BATUR
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
> I ve Autostar , Pictor autoguider and ETX125. I want to design a board
> between Autostar and ETX125 which takes feedback from Autoguider.

What you -really- want/need are two things:
 (a) the Meade 909 Accessory Peripheral Module (APM) (us$50)
 (b) Meade to program that module on more scopes than just the LX90.

The APM accepts the Pictor Autoguider connector, and the Autostar
 programming fine-adjusts the speeds (at about a 2/3 sidereal rate)
 based upon those signals.  The APM is plugged into the AUX port.

> This board will modify the Autostar commands that sent to ETX125 by
> checking the feedbacks of autoguider and send corrected commands to
> ETX125....
By all means try it!   But it won't be easy.

I -hate- to write answers like this, since it's too easy to think of
 reasons it -won't- work, rather than shouting encouragement.
So let me start by saying the following are opinions. I could be
(and, in this case, would love to be) very wrong.

So i'll just list two of the difficulties the -particular- proposed
approach would face:
(a) the Autostar/ETX is a closed-loop feedback system. The Autostar
 commands a speed, and then watches for feedback to verify things are
 moving as expected.  Your device would disrupt that loop.  The Autostar
would say "faster", your device would (perhaps) block or amend those
commands, the Autostar would ask the ETX: "where are you now?".
The ETX would reply, and the Autostar would think "it is not going as
 fast as i requested" and then would take one of two actions:
   (1) it would request even -faster- (which your device would change)
   (2) it would halt and declare "Motor Unit Fault!" on the display.

(b) no one (that i am aware of) has yet successfully home-built a device
 which can fully control the telescope via the HBX cable.  One person
 -has- successfully sent two commands to the ETX (halt and calibrate).
 Each of those commands is a single-byte on the cable, so they're easy.
Many folks have -tried- replacing the Autostar with their PC driving
 an I2C bus interface, but no one has ever told me they have succeeded.

> I think there is a serial communication between Autostar and ETX.
> Does anybody know anything about the protocol between Autostar and
> ETX.

It's based upon the Phillips' I2C protocol, with some varaitions
(Phillips is 9-bit, Meade is -usually- 8 bit, but apparently with
occasional single bit responses or flags)
I'm planning on writing up the protocol information we've figured out
as a readable article for Mike's site soon.  I'll try to get it
up within a week (i.e. by 2-Jan-2002).  Meanwhile, I'd advise
reading the patent for the ETX/Autostar for their information about it.

The full link address is:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='6304376'.WKU.&OS=PN/6304376&RS=PN/6304376

Or, you can get there by starting at:
patft.uspto.gov/patft/index.html

On that page, in the Granted (left) column, click on 
"Patent Number Search"

On that page, enter:  6304376   in the window.
It'll bring up a results page with a single entry.
Click on the "6304376"

There are also hints with regards to the wiring and protocol
in the Autostar Information section of Mike's site.  But no
page -specifically- dealing with the I2C protocol as Meade does it.
Fully analyzing what they do with it requires time and equipment i don't
have continuous access to.  That's why it's important for folks like
you to investigate and try understanding/using the protocol.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: Using an LX-90 Autostar with an ETX-90EC
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 21:19:57
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	rayz@nyc.rr.com
I suspect you -have- a 497.

You didn't mention what the Autostar was plugged -into- when you
were getting your status displays.

A "true" 495 will refuse to operate ("Use EXT Autostar with this model")
if connected to an LX90/ETX90/ETX125.  
Until -upgraded- to 497-hood by the Meade Updater.

If you're connected to a "lesser" scope, you can check the "model"
(since they're mechanically the same, it's really the programming)
by trying to access an SAO star which is -not- in the 495's database.

To do:  Select/Object/Star [enter][scroll down] SAO Catalog [enter]
and tell it   "22"

If it finds it, it's a 30,000-object 497.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: long rs232 cables
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 21:14:24
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	maestro.vp@verizon.net
rs232 (for the Autostar 495/497) will -easily- go 100 feet (30 mts).
From a "typical" generic PC serial port.  
I use a string of three telephone extension cords (50", 2x25')
 to reach from my PC to my ETX90 and its Autostar.

I have -not- tried the same arrangement to my ETX70's 506 adapter.
I -have- used the 50' cable to it, and have full faith that the
100' lash-up would also work.

The original rs232c standard claims 50' cable length.
For the application we're doing, 100' is easy, 300' is feasible.
(for 300', i'd suggest using at least 22 gauge wire).

The rs232 signal level probably need only remain above 3.5 volts at
 the end of the wire for the 506 cable (with a 494 no-numeric-
 keypad Autostar) or Autostar 495/497 (internal rs232 jack) to 
 happily operate.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	RS232 Cable Connection
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 16:07:29
From:	maestro.vp@verizon.net (Bob Vilums)
OK, I'm a newbie, but an ambitious one.  I just bought the ETX 70AT. One
day when my budget agrees with me, I'll upgrade to the 90 or even the
125.  I bought the ETX model because the computer interface intrigued me
(computer geek that I am).  So here is my question:  It appears that the
length of the RS232 adapter is only 6 ft.  One of the computers I have
in my house is connected to a 60 inch TV.  Computer is capable of
viewing video capture while simultaneously running applications.  With
the meade electronic eyepiece, I was hoping to run operate my ETX from
the comfort of my couch, while watching the video on my 60" TV.  Problem
is, the TV and Computer are approx 50ft from my back patio where the ETX
sits.  I'm not sure if an RS232 cable can even send data that far.  I
have seen RS232 extenders and was wondering if they would work possibly
with even a data repeater if I can find one that uses RS232.  It would
have made more sense if Meade used a CAT5 connection instead.  Has
anybody ever been able to accomplish anything like this?  Or, am I just
completely out of my mind?
 
Bob

P.S. If I can pull this off, I will be able to broadcast live video from
my ETX 70AT on the web.
Mike here: Ask and you shall receive. See the article "Long Autostar Cable" on the Autostar Information page. HOWEVER, keep in mind that you will need a #506 cable with its active electronics for the ETX-70AT.
Subject:	Using an LX-90 Autostar with an ETX-90EC
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 18:02:10
From:	rayz@nyc.rr.com (Doug Drossman)
I have an Autostar and am not sure which version it is. It just says
Autostar at the top, not ETX Autostar, so I guess its not a #497. The
rev it flashes is 22E. Under telescope selection it has ETX-90, ETX-125,
and LX-90. Is this the LX-90's Autostar? The Autostar described in the
LX-90's description on Meade's site sounds much better than the #497. If
its cool to use this with my ETX-90EC please let me know. Also if you
know what I could look for as far as objects or locations in this
Autostar to help identify it. I picked this up at a garage sale, so help
would be most appreciated.  Thanks.
 
Doug D.
Mike here: It could be either a #495 or a #497, either of which will work with the ROM version you have. The ROM has the same data (with 2.2). Go to the Utilities-->Statistics to see the full ROM version (2.2Eg or something like that, 2.2Et is the current version).
Subject:	No com port
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2001 1:22:43
From:	Bluebags@bigpond.com (Brian Tyne)
A couple of weeks ago I bought the 505 cable set & could you imagine my
surprise when I realised my IBM ThinkPad doesn't have a com port. I used
my desk top to load the new firmware but I am still unable to connect to
the computer out in the field. would anyone know if there is an
alternative connection such as USB or network maybe.

 "top site mate"
 clear skies
 Brian :-)
Mike here: There are USB-serial converters for both PCs and Macs. Keyspan makes them for the Mac (reviewed on the "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page); search the Web for a PC one.

And:

Thanks for the help Mike Its much appreciated.
 With thanks (from down under)
 Brian :-)

Subject:	Help me
Sent:	Saturday, December 15, 2001 8:32:34
From:	HMorazan@dga.gob.ni (Hctor Fabio Morazn Rodrguez)
I bougth and Telescope DS-2114ATS in discovery Store Web Page. I and
Nicaraguense. My country is Nicaragua in Central America. The Solar
Eclipse the yesterday 14 od December was wonderfull.

My AutoStart #494 Inicialized ok.

I input date: OK

I input Hours : OK

But the AutoStar freezen in Saving Dayligth Menu.  I select NO in the
Menu an this menu Freezen. I tried many times access to menu. But
nothing work.

I move the directional botton OK for move the telescope.   I think so
the telescope need a RESET, but I no go to the Menu for reset.

Please help me.

Atte

Hecto Fabio Morazan R.

Managua Nicaragua.
Mike here: If I understand your question correctly, every time you turn on the Autostar and make the date and time entries, when you get to the Daylight Savings Time YES/NO menu the Autostar locks up and you can not make the selection or move to other menus. Try this: instead of pressing the ENTER key at the date and time prompts, press MODE. When you get to the Daylight Savings menu item press MODE again. If you get past that point press MODE one more time and you should get to the SETUP menu. From here you can try a RESET. Let me know if that works.

And:

I try your suggest command, but my autostar #494  is lock in Daylight
Saving Time again.
Mike here: So, when you got to the Daylight Savings entry using the MODE key and not the ENTER key, you can't get past that point with the MODE key. Sounds like you need to contact the dealer where you purchased it.

And this from our resident Autostar expert:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
What may be happening is that the Autostar is trying to talk to
the telescope after the Daylight command.. and it is -that- which
is locking up (the "daylight" is only the last thing on the screen).

I have tried different key-presses, tricks, and [mode]-pushes
with my 494 Autostar on my ETX70.  And i can -not- find a way of 
"breaking away" from the Date/Time/Daylight sequence in order
to reach the SETUP menu.

I do not know how the DS2114 connects its pieces.
If you can -disconnect- the motor units, but still have the Autostar
receive power, try that.  (this is easy on an old DS-114, impossible
on a 4504, unless you build a power cable).
If you can disconnect the motor units, and the Autostar does -not-
freeze at "Daylight", then reconnect the motors, one at a time,
to see if one of them is causing the freeze.

That would be my next step in testing.  Please report what you find.

I fear that something (Autostar or motor unit, or perhaps the
"power panel") -will- need to return to Discovery.com, or to Meade.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Meade madness
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 1:01:43
From:	spacia@austarnet.com.au (David Tindall)
Thanks for your emails and help so far. Your General Feedback page is
great.

I have one more question regarding the #497 Autostar : What is the Cord
Wrap function in the Utilities menu? I can't find any reference to it in
the instruction manual or on the Mead website.

Cheers from Downunder,

David.
Mike here: Cord wrap ON/OFF is used with the hard stops of some of the ETX models. If the cable connection goes into the rotating base of the ETX, then there are no hard stops and so the feature is OFF. If the cable goes into the fixed portion of the base then there are hard stops (to keep the internal cord from wrapping around the axle) so it should be ON.
Subject:	re: Lunar rate
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 22:37:36
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Marv.Sumner@ONIZUKA.AF.MIL
On Mike's site  you wrote:
> The Meade literature tells how to change the hour-angle rate, but it
> fails to suggest optimum settings for various non-sidereal objects. 

The Autostar -has- Lunar Rate as a built-in.
Setup/Telescope/Tracking Rate/ [enter]
gets you a three-way choice: Sidereal, Lunar  and Custom.

And the Custom -shows- you whatever's currently running, as
a percentage deviation from sidereal, times ten.

So, if you select LUNAR rate (Lunar, press [enter])
and then scroll to Custom, you'll see it saying:  -35
(-3.5%)
Meanwhile the scope is purring along, slightly slower than the stars.

It's true they don't even suggest a Solar Rate, but that's in
line with them Just Saying No about looking at the sun.

> Better get on it, Meade.
Already got on, rode off...

--dick (fell off)

Subject:	Autostar in German!
Sent:	Wednesday, December 12, 2001 14:27:34
From:	john.hewit1@cableinet.co.uk (John Hewit)
Ok, I have a small problem with my autostar. I bought it in Germany
while on holiday recently. I was under the impression that I could
select the language that the autostar would use. However I now find that
it seems to be stuck in German. When I reset it, it comes up with (c) 01
Meade 22G, Autostar. It then goes straight into the sun warning! I read
elsewhere that version 2.1 EK is English only. I presume this is a
German only version? If so how can I change it? Will I need to download
a new version? How do I do this? What sort of cable do I need and is it
readily available or will I have to pay lots of money for a Meade one?

Thanks for your Help!

John Hewit.

p.s. I absolutely LOVE my new ETX90!
Mike here: You may have a German-only one. But downloading the current version is pretty staightforward; you just need a #505 cable from Meade or elsewhere or you can make one using the info on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Re:#497 Autostar problems
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2001 2:39:39
From:	spacia@austarnet.com.au (David Tindall)
To follow up on the Autostar with corrupted star names : I purchased the
cable set , downloaded Version 22Et to my computer and updated the
Autostar. All is ok now!! I hope you can put my original query and this
follow-up on the website in case any other Autostar owners have the same
troubles, as I found the problem confusing and disapointing to encounter
with a brand new product.

I have one more question : With my ETX90EC I find that whilst adjusting
the focus knob , the centered image tends to move slightly within in the
field of view. This makes focusing on some objects difficult (ie: Orion
Nebula). Is this normal? AND, has anyone had experience using the Mead
electric focuser? Does the focuser eliminate the 'drift'?

Thanks again,

David Tindall.
Mike here: Glad that solved the Autostar problem. There is some image shift with the Cassegrain-Maksutov design but it should not be excessive. The electric focuser doesn't change that since it also turns the shaft and moves the primary mirror. There are comments about the focuser on the ETX Site.
Subject:	Lunar angle rate -
Sent:	Monday, December 10, 2001 7:57:24
From:	Marv.Sumner@ONIZUKA.AF.MIL (Sumner Marv C Contr CWNO)
Re: 9 December "ETX-70 Tracking the Moon".  Nigel Jennings might have
optics in his ETX-70 that reverses the view right vs. left.  He says the
moon moves faster than more distant objects...   Actually it appears to
move more slowly.  With upright and non-reversing optics, it will drift
to the left (as seen from the northern hemisphere) as it lags the motion
of distant stars.

The Meade literature tells how to change the hour-angle rate, but it
fails to suggest optimum settings for various non-sidereal objects. 
Better get on it, Meade.
Marv Sumner
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Actually of course the moon is not moving slower, it is moving to the
east relative to the earth and the more distant sky, as it orbits the
Earth..... the motion is equivalent to about one lunar diameter each
hour, or about 15 degrees per day, thus resulting in moonrise about one
hour later each night.

Regardless of the view in the eyepiece, the moon's rate should be
entered as "slower" than the other sky objects to compensate for this
eastward motion.

Good to hear from you!

P. Clay Sherrod - sherrodc@ipa.net
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org

Subject:	WindowsXP
Sent:	Sunday, December 9, 2001 22:01:02
From:	kburfitt@au.infogrames.com (Kevin Burfitt)
I have downloaded data and updated to 22et on my #497 Autostar using
WinXP with no problems (on a homemade cable).

--
Kevin Burfitt - Infogrames Melbourne House 
switch: +61-3-9867-0700  direct: +61-3-9867-0730
mobile: 0403-466-492
kburfitt@au.infogrames.com http://www.infogrames.com.au
Personal Email: zaph@torps.com http://www.torps.com

Subject:	ETX-70 Tracking the Moon
Sent:	Sunday, December 9, 2001 16:17:25
From:	NigelJennings@phantom43.demon.co.uk (Nigel Jennings)
I am getting excellent results with my new ETX-70 although the weather
hasn't been too kind lately here in southern England, UK.  Many thanks
for your site which has been a great help to a newbie.  My question -
although the scope accurately tracks planets and stars, it seems to have
some difficulty tracking the Moon which quickly drifts out of the field
at high magnification.  Obviously the Moon moves across the sky at a
faster rate than more distant 'fixed' objects.  Does the Autostar not
compensate for the difference?  Is this normal or is there something I
can do to overcome the problem?

Kind regards
Nigel Jennings
51 20N  00 35E
Mike here: As I recall, the Autostar does not automatically use a lunar rate when you GOTO the Moon. But you can set it to use a lunar rate from the menus.

And:

Many thanks.  I have located the lunar tracking rate in the Autostar
menu and will try it out next time.  Sounds like this will do the trick.

Thanks also for such a prompt reply!

Nigel

Subject:	DIY 505 cable
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 22:39:58
From:	plfung2001@hotmail.com (Preston Fung)
I posted this to the meade-ds group on yahoo groups.  Thougth you might
be interested as well.  BTW great site!

Preston

posting follows


Hello all.

I have just purchased a ds114ec ($135USD at Amazon)and a 495 controller
($50USD at Discovery)as a Christmas gift and have read many of the posts
on this informative group.  I thank all the experts for their
information and would like to give back what I can.

Here's the scoop. I have found online a store that has a db9 to rj-11
adapter for the price of $1.

www.cableclub.com/view_product.asp?item_no=00024

I know that most of you already have the 505 cable but for those able
and willing to take on the task of making one this is the ideal part to
start with.

Preston

Subject:	Autostar controller
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 19:07:42
From:	spacia@austarnet.com.au (David Tindall)
I have just recently purchased an ETX90EC and #497 Autostar controller.
Everything works fine , however when I bring up the star catalog in the
Autostar most of the star names are just garbled characters that make no
sense. Scrolling through the list sometimes just shows blank lines on
the LCD. I am in Australia and would like to be able to use the two-star
alignment method using Sirius and Canopus as references. All other menus
are clear and in English. I suspect the star data is corrupted and
perhaps updating the software from the Meade website will fix it? (I
don't have a cable set yet).

I hope you can help,

Many thanks,

David Tindall.
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET? If that doesn't work, reloading should.

And:

Yes I have tried RESET 3 times so far without any change.
I have ordered the cable set so I can download the lastest software.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Subject:	Autostar downloads
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 9:58:09
From:	mgallier@earthlink.net (Mike Gallier)
I recently downloaded ASU, but could not get it to load onto my Autostar
497.  I went through all the same headaches that are listed by other
users on your feedback site, including doubting that I had good cables. 
I saw an October 2001 email to you from Bill Sezenias that described
exactly the same problems I was having.  I sent an email to Bill in
December and asked him if he ever got the problem figured out.  To my
delight, he told me that the Autostar download instructions forgot to
mention that you need to put the Autostar into DOWNLOAD mode (go into
the settings menu to do this).   The Meade instructions only mention
doing this if you are cloning an Autostar from one to another one.  
Thanks to Bill's response,  I now can download the Autostar updates.  
And thanks to your site,  I was able to locate someone to help me.
Keep up the good work with your site.
Best Regards,
Mike Gallier
Mike here: It has been awhile since I've done an update but if memory serves, the current Autostar Client *is* supposed to put the Autostar into download mode automatically.
Subject:	Download using Windows XP
Sent:	Friday, December 7, 2001 19:52:37
From:	matthewgertz@attbi.com (Matthew Gertz)
To:	loking01@earthlink.net
In reply to loking01's mail re: Windows XP -- yes, I've downloaded the
Autostar updates to my Autostar using WinXP, and it works just fine --
no special workarounds needed or anything; it works just like you expect
it to.  So no need put off upgrading your OS just to preserve your
Autostar connectivity :-)

--Matt--*

Subject:	Two ETX-90EC questions
Sent:	Friday, December 7, 2001 17:41:46
From:	zaph@torps.com (Kevin 'Zaph' Burfitt)
I love your site, a fantastic resource for ETX owners!

I've just purchased an ETX-90EC and have a couple of questions that I
cannot find the answers for:

1.  (someone already asked this last month in your feedback, but I
couldn't find your response to them) How can I stop the Autostar from
tracking the sky ?  After I've used the Autostar to GOTO an object I
just want to wander the skies myself, with no auto-tracking - but I
cannot figure out how to stop the autostar from tracking (short of
turning it off, which means resetting it again when I decide to GOTO
something later.

2. I want to sit on my side patio and look at the skies, but can only
see about 1/8th of the sky from that point (trees, and my house, block
my view).  What is the best way to align the scope (RA/AZ) when I can
only see a 'wedge' of the sky ?   Can I do a one-star align on (say)
Canopus and still expect to have the GOTO give me objects within the
field of view of the 26mm eyepiece ? - should I try to use a star near
the south celestial pole, or as far from it as I can ?  (I'm in
Melbourne Australia)

Thanks for the great site, I've already built a cable to update the
autostar based on info I found on these pages,
Zaph

--
Kevin 'Zaph' Burfitt - Cthugha, StarLego, and more
zaph@torps.com  http://www.torps.com
Mike here: In general, there is no reason to not let the Autostar track. You can slew around the sky as much as you like. When you stop slewing, it will start tracking. Nothing wrong with that. But if you really want to disable tracking, put the Autostar into "terrestrial" mode. When I'm in a hurry and have limited viewing area, I still do a 2 star align and just accept the alignment star(s) that I can't see as "centered". Since I'm pretty good setting up in the proper HOME position, I can get pretty good GOTO this way. The only reason you might mount in Polar (besides long duration astrophotography) is if that area of the sky is near the zenith. If you are viewing low on the horizon, then Alt/Az might be a better choice. As to True South pointing, there is a 5.5 star near the South pole (Polaris Australis; 89 degrees).

And:

Thanks for that - it's really just for when I can't seem to align it and
I just want to look at something in the sky. I've had a lot of trouble
trying to align it in the few days I've had the ETX-90EC...  I finally
got it right tonight: Autostar asked for Canopus, went to where it
thought it should be but was a full 8-10 degrees out (horizontal only),
I then went for Formalhaut (sp?) which was again about 8-10 degrees out
in the same direction and a little bit (1degree?) in the vertical... to
me this implies I'm about 8-10 degrees out when picking North, which
suprises me... but I guess it's the logical explanation since it was
consistant.

Update as I'm writing this email: I've just found a link on your site
talking about Magnetic Variation...  and the result from that page tells
me that magnetic north is 11 degrees east of true north where I am,
which explains everything!  Yet again your site lives up to it's
"mighty" name :)

Now if the clouds will stop interrupting me I'll try to see Comet LINEAR
WM1

Zaph

Subject:	re: downloading with Windows XP ... no problem
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 21:20:02
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	loking01@earthlink.net
-i- haven't done it, but i've received reports from folks who have: the
Updater works quite happily with WXP.

--dick

Subject:	ETX 90 EC alignment problem
Sent:	Wednesday, December 5, 2001 16:02:57
From:	Steven.Chavez@dot.state.co.us
Hello, you have a great site. I have a new etx 90 w/Autostar. I have
followed the initialization process and tracking training procedures but
I cannot get my scope to track accurately. I live in metro Denver and
have alot of light pollution, trees, and bldgs. near my yard. Any ideas
would be appreciated. Thanks

Steve
Mike here: Check the obvious things: date/time/Daylight Savings/location settings in the Autostar. If the alignments go well then tracking should occur. Are you using Polar or Alt/Az? Is that setting correct in the Autostar? If everything is correct, then do a RESET and a good TRAINing of the drives. If the Autostar version is less than 2, get it upgraded to the current version 2.2Et (if you can).
Subject:	Making progress.  Thanks for all of the advice (everyone).
Sent:	Monday, December 3, 2001 14:20:10
From:	Scott9482@aol.com
In case you forgot, I was a very frusterated ETX-125 owner several weeks
ago.  (See my post from November 5th).  Using all of the advice you guys
gave me, I was able to fix most of the problems.

First of all, the best thing I did was purchase the #887 Advanced Field
Tripod.  This tripod changes everything - it is like night and day.  I
can't believe how sturdy it is.  There is no movement of the objects in
the field of view, EVEN while I am focusing!    More importantly, it is
easy to carry out through the doorway - because as soon as you pick it
up, the legs fold inward so that they are all vertical.   The #883
Deluxe Field tripod is way to weak to support the ETX-125.  I can't
believe people are using the ETX-125 with the #883 Deluxe Field Tripod.

Secondly, I updated my autostar from version  2.0  to  2.2.  And the
accuracy is much better.  It is still not perfect.  It places objects in
my field of view about %50 of the time...  But it places objects in my
viewfinder about 98% of the time!   Actually, there is one thing I've
noticed about version 2.2:  for some reason, it thinks that my telescope
is an ETX-90, and not and ETX-125.  I keep re-entering the correct data,
but it always reverts back to the ETX-90 option...  I hope that is not
affecting the autostar accuracy...

-Scott
Mike here: Your Autostar "knows" you have selected the ETX-125EC. The ">" just defaults back to the -90 when you bring up that display. So just set it to the -125 and don't go back to that display.
Subject:	Re: Help! Lost my Autostar tours
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 22:31:57
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
All of the Meade tours are located at:

http://www.meade.com/support/autotours.html

which you can either copy and paste from that onto your AUS 3.0 Meade
Autoload program (you have installed that have you.....download from:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Once done you can merely copy that into the "Ephemerides" folder of the
Updater library.

Keep in mind there are some excellent tours available both on this group
in the "Files" section and on Mike Weasner's ETX site at
www.weasner.com/etx under the Autostar information link.  These are
all custom tours that take you over and beyond those that Meade
provides, including specific constellations, double stars, ngc objects,
etc.

Best of luck.........

Dr. Clay
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Ok, I'll admit I'm new at this, and I screwed up. Using the Autostar
  updater program, I tried downloading the "Messier Marathon" tour into
  my Autostar. Now it's the only Guided Tour in the Autostar. "Tonight's
  Best", and what was the other - "A Star's Life"? are gone. Was there
  also a tour called "How Far is Far"? What should I do now?

  Thanks, Ken

Subject:	re: ETX-90EC will not stop rotating in azimuth 
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 21:51:16
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	sakraemer@hotmail.com
Failure to RESET (and/or at least re-select the Mtelescope Model)
 can cause *exactly* that symptom.

Setup > [enter] [scroll up once or twice to RESET] [enter].
Then answer the questions... and the Telescope Model is the
one with the ">" in from of its name (resetting -should- 
 by default select the ETX90, but even so, you should press 
 [enter] to force the full rESET action to happen.
The most likely mal-set value are the RATIOs... and re-selecting
 resset those to the proper values of about 1.36888

--dick
And:
I tried both of your retraining and reseting suggestions.
1.  Tried retraining the ETX again.  No joy...
2.  Tried reseting the telescope model alone.  No Joy...
3.  Tried reseting the telescope and retraining the ETX.  Joy to the
World!!!

Thanks to both of you.  It took both suggestions to get my ETX back to
slewing and viewing.

Jim Kraemer

Subject:	ETX-90EC will not stop rotating in azimuth while performing easy alignment
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 17:36:30
From:	sakraemer@hotmail.com (Sherry Kraemer)
I have had my EXT-90EC since I read on your site they had just been
announced.  I have used it since then and have had good success.  My
last observation session, however, was a total bust.

Before I did my session I downloaded the latest Astrostar 22Et driver
and updated my Astrostar handbox.  I took the telescope out while it was
still light and performed an alignment of both Az/El motors.  Using the
arrows on the Astrostar produced the desired movements of the scope.

When I set up my ETX for the observing session problems began.  I moved
the scope into the Home position and started to perform an easy
alignment.  I took the first star offered and the scope began moving in
both axis.  The elevation reached the desired angle, but the scope
continued to move in azimuth.  I let it continue while I had my finger
on the on/off switch. When it hit the clockwise Az stop, I turned it off
instantly.  Sigh...  I tried again several times with no more success. 
The scope moves as commanded by the arrow keys, but the Astrostar has no
idea which direction it is pointing.

The next evening I tried the same experiment inside.  The results were
the same.  I tried a second experiment using SkyMap Pro.  I connected my
ETX to my computer and brought up SkyMap.  The program connected
properly and I then asked the program to indicate the Az/El of my
telescope.  As I moved it up and down, the indicated elevation moved as
expected.  When I tried moving the ETX in azimuth, the scope moved at
normal speeds but the program indicated that the indicated azimuth was
changing but VERY VERY slowly.

Can you give me some ideas what might have failed and how to correct the
problem?  I am really at a loss on how to proceed.

Jim Kraemer
Mike here: You indicated you updated the Autostar. But you didn't say you reTRAINed the drives. From the symptoms you describe it sounds like you missed that crucial step. But don't feel bad, many of us (including me!) miss it even though it has been mentioned on the Site many times.
Subject:	re: Autostar 497 interchangeable with 495?
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 13:10:30
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	david@brigden.ws, etx@me.com (Mike Weasner)
> I have recently purchased a Meade ds-80,
> which is supposed to use an autostar 495.
>  However, on Ebay, I notice that the autostar 497, with more memory,
> etc., is only slightly more expensive.  
> Is the 497 compatible with the ds-80, or not?

The 495 and 497 are *exactly* the same hardware. *ZERO* difference.  
Only the programming differs.  
Thus you can buy a 495, buy/build ($20) a "505 cable",
 use Meade's free Updater to stuff in the latest 497 firmware,
   and you *have* a 497.
There's -no- reason to spend extra to get a 497.

The 497 will control -all- of Meade's telescopes. except the 4504
and 114EQ-DH4 (both of those have German Equatorial Mounts (GEM).).
But even -that- restriction should disappear when the LXD55 series
finally hits the streets, since it uses the 497 and is a GEM mount.

enjoy the DS-80...
--dick

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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackDec01/autostar.html