AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 December 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 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:	My Autostar just quit working!
Sent:	Saturday, December 31, 2005 12:51:10
From:	Steve Emma (Stemma@comcast.net)
I've owned my ETX-90 for approx 1 month now. I'm getting more acquainted
with the sky here every chance I get. I literally babied this scope and
peripherals since day one (I think my wife is getting jealous!) Last
nite I was out for some time (it has been a little while since the skies
have been clear) getting a guided tour of the nites best by Autostar
when it suddenly shut off! I thought the batteries had died. ( I was
using Ni-MH rechargeables) Though they were on a new charge. Turns out
the cable seems to be the culprit. When I wiggle the cable end near the
jack,  the autostar will suddenly come to life and eventually die again
if not held in just the right position. I've even gotten a motor drive
error( which I'm hoping is due to the poor condition of the autostar
cable) or is there more than one problem going on here?!!  I'm quite
upset by this happening to my new found "love" Is this cable usually so
temperamental? I'm hoping it's covered by the warranty. Anyone else
having similar problems? I'm sure I  haven't overly stressed this cable
to point of causing this damage.

Any insights or recommendations would be appreciated.
Thanks,
SteveE
Mike here: Try reversing the cable. Also, check the conditions on the pins in the jacks and on the cable connectors.
Subject:	Various problems with Autostar...
Sent:	Wednesday, December 28, 2005 16:40:41
From:	Andrew Kilgore (andrew.kilgore@gmail.com)
I've just acquired a previously repaired ETX 125PE and tonight was my
first night playing with it.
Unfortunately, with very little success.
(Repair: Suspected motor fault but none found)

Having read through previous posts it would seem as if some of my
problems are related to not having calibrated the motors and trained the
drives which I will do tomorrow. Here's the problems I'm seeing:

  - Sometimes the auto-alignment takes a long time (in fact, sometimes
  it just does nothing)
  - Sometimes auto-alignment would begin (Finding Level) and immediately
  take the scope straight down and fails to stop whenever the scope can
  go no lower. I turn it off at this point to prevent damaging the
  motor.
  - Sometimes Autostar would reset itself or turn itself off requiring a
  power recycle to come alive again
  - Whenever Autostar attempts to display scrolling text, the text is
  scrambled with other dark (ghost) letters and is unreadable. (This is
  only noticeable in the dark and seems to get worse the colder it
  gets??? Or maybe that's just me ;o))

Tonight I upgraded Autostar to the latest firmware but have had no luck
with any of these problems.

Do you think there's something wrong with my Autostar...?

On a side note, the repaired scope came with a small box containing a
couple of springs/washers etc. The label on the box read, "From captive
bolts - see PS of enclosed letter". However, there was no enclosed
letter. What are these and why do I need them...?

Many thanks,
 Andy.
Mike here: Most of the problems you describe should be cured by a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. If not, do a RESET and then CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. As to the scrolling text, common question: see the FAQ page for the solution. Hard to say what the parts are from by springs are used on the tripod head for attaching the ETX base.

And:

Thanks for the reply and I hope you had a good trip to the observatory!

Still waiting for a clear night to perform the calibrate/train process.
As for the scrolling text, the only problem that I had read previously
was to do with the text scrolling too fast. This is not my issue - the
scroll speed is OK but the text itself is unreadable due to what seems
to be black letters. Perhaps this is only an issue if reading text in
the dark if the scroll speed is set too fast? (If I set the scroll speed
to it's minimum I can just make out the text). Anyway, I will
persevere...!

Thanks for your help,
Andy.
Mike here: You can also adjust the display brightness/contrast. That may help make the letters more readable.
Subject:	Re: Autostar updating
Sent:	Wednesday, December 28, 2005 06:43:19
From:	c_kopra (c_kopra@hotmail.com)
Thank you for replying.  I bought a Dynex adapter (and saved the
receipt) because the Keyspan was not available at the stores and found
that it worked perfectly with both Autostar and the Garmin GPS.  Must
have been a driver issue?  Thank you again!

-Craig Kopra

Subject:	re: etx 105ec not aligning anywhere near chosen stars
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 22:05:30
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Before (or after) trying the firmware reload,
try a RESET:   Setup/Reset [enter][enter]

Sometimes the Autostars just get their heads wedged.

have fun
--dick

And:

From:	terry poppy (t.poppy@ntlworld.com)
Just to mention that I did a re set of the handset yesterday and though
and behold it is now working fine, It takes me within a few meters
distance of the star allocated, I am now however using the two star
method so I can be more akin to knowing what is up there rather than
letting the computer do all the work.

Thanks for all your help and may I wish you and yours a very happy
coming new year.

Regards

Terry Poppy

Subject:	Re: Question about AutoStar update cableset
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 21:19:44
From:	lib pollack (lib777@earthlink.net)
thanks for the reply.  I had indeed read most of the info as you
suggested.

The situation boiled down to two error messages: "AutoStar not found"
and "No Driver" (for the Belkin cable).  The AutoStar error continued
when I found a noitebook with a nine-pin port, and used only the
ScopTronix cable.  My solution after talking to ScopeTronix is to return
the Belkin cable to the local store and the ScopeTronix cable (which I
had in place of the Meade cable) to SscopTronix.  I will then start over
with the actual Meade cable and will also get the KeySpan one, although
there are no local dealers; I'd appreciate a suggestion for a reputable
dealer or it, if you care to do that.

I read the posts regarding the reasons to upgrade and while I haven't
experienced any serious tracking errors on my ETX125EC, I guess it
couldn't hurt to update the unit.  It seems from the discussions that
the improved periodic software might provide the most benefit for the
way I use the scope (i.e., two hours or so of Lunar or planetary
observing, or of messing about the Hyades, Double Cluster, Orion nebula,
etc. basically concentrating on one object for the session.

Thanks again for your time and patience with this beginner.

Sincerely
 Russ Pollack
Mike here: I tend to get most of my computer accessories from MacConnection and MacWarehouse. They have PC stuff too.
Subject:	autoaligning using #497 controller with etx 125 
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 18:21:49
From:	william coghlan (wpcoghlan@yahoo.ie)
When using easyalign (2 star) I'm having some problems. The 'scope
tracks to Pollux (on this occassion), is well within finderscope but is
outside of the eyepiece field (32mm plossl). Any attempt to centre the
star are briefly successful but the autostar immediately tracks back to
the original poorly aligned position. I can even feel the motor fighting
my attempt to correct. The same happens when I try using Synchronize
function to correct later after a poor alignment. Any ideas? ps Great
site you have there. Unfortunately I couldnt find a solution to this
problem
Mike here: This problem is frequently discussed and is known as "rubberbanding". Doing a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES will usually cure it.
Subject:	RE: ETX-90PE Autostar Communication Problem
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 17:58:11
From:	Fenwick, Rod ((Brisbane)) (Rod.Fenwick@koniambo.com.au)
Thanks for the response.

I have resolved the problem by reverting to an old PC ATX PC with a COM1
port. However, I will try one of the older ASU's and see if one works.
It seems unusual to me that Starpatch has no problems but Meade does.

In regard to the version, I was asking about the Meade Astronomical
software - not the ASU.

Thanks again.

Best Regards,


Rod Fenwick
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia
Mike here: Meade software updates are available at: http://www.meade.com/support/downloads.html.
Subject:	Autostar updating
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 11:06:14
From:	c_kopra (c_kopra@hotmail.com)
I have a laptop that has just USB ports and have already purchased a
Belkin RS-232 USB serial adapter a while ago to accommodate updating for
my GPS.  For some reason I am unable to update Autostar nor does it
indicate any signs of communications with the computer.  According to
the Meade website, I have the Autostar program set for needed
comunications (parity, baud rate, ...) I have everything I need to get
this to update and the #505 cable does not appear to be defective.  Do I
need the Meade or the  Keyspan  adapter to get the Autostar to update? 
I figured the Belkin adapter should have worked or did I really overlook
something?  Thank you for your time.
 
All the best,
 
Craig
Mike here: There have been reports that Belkin models don't work with the Autostar Update application. Keyspan and the Meade models do work.
Subject:	Quick Autostar question
Sent:	Tuesday, December 27, 2005 08:36:48
From:	Reale Images (realeimage@comcast.net)
Your site is greatly appreciated, and I'm not sure if this is even
appropriate, but I just bought a used ETX UHC 90, and right off the bat
I cannot read the autostart controller.  It just says WARNING (on the
top line) and the bottom line scrolls so fast that it is impossible to
read.  Any experience with this???  It just looks like repeated letters
scrolling very fast from right to left. Any help or thoughts woudld be
greatly appreciated as I cannot seem to get through to tech support.
 
Reale Images
Christopher Anderson
http://realeimages.home.comcast.net/
Mike here: In that, this is a frequently asked question: "Q. My Autostar scrolls text too fast to read. How do I change it?" See the FAQ page for the answer. As to Tech Support, it is all the Christmas sales...
Subject:	Question about AutoStar update cableset
Sent:	Monday, December 26, 2005 23:07:13
From:	lib pollack (lib777@earthlink.net)
I have read all the posts relating to Updating the AutoStar.

I have a three-year-old ETX125EC w/an AutoStar 497 unit. I have never
before tried to update the AutoStar software.  For Christmas I finally
obtained a cable from ScopeTronix with an RS232 connector-to-9-pin
serial port connnector.  I also obtained a Belkin 9-pin serial
port-to-USB cable and mated the two cables.  The reason is my computer
has no 9-pin connector built-in. only 4 USB 2.0 ports

I downloaded the ASU software and installed it on the PC.  I printed the
upload (i.e., PC to AutoStar 497) instructions.

Questions: 
1) Is the cable set that I assembled OK or should I have got something
else?
2) How far do I go in initializing the AutoStar (Step 6 in the Meade
instructions)?  Set the time/date but don't "align"?

I'd appreciate any help at all.  Please reply to rpollack44@hotmail.com

Thanks
Russ Pollack
North Carolina
Mike here: If the cable is a #505 cable for the Autostar #497 then you have the right cable. As to updating the Autostar, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. The current 4.x version operates essentially the same as the 3.x version. Word of caution: there have been many problem reports from users with the Belkin USB-serial adapter. I have had good luck with a Keyspan one on my Macintosh and others have reported success on their PCs.
Subject:	etx 105ec not aligning anywhere near chosen stars
Sent:	Monday, December 26, 2005 15:03:12
From:	terry poppy (t.poppy@ntlworld.com)
I have searched through your site but am unable to gain any information.
My etx 105 does not align correctly on any star chosen by either the
auto star or me. I have updated my auto star software version, trained
the drives etc but every time I set it up I am stopped by its lack of
ability to align correctly. This is not just a minor failure, the scope
can be way out. I was wondering if you may have come across a problem
like this at all. I am not sure if batteries can cause this so I put a
new set in and it still fails to align.
 
Many thanks
 
Terry Poppy
Mike here: Whenever the Autostar fails to perform properly do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and the TRAIN DRIVES. You didn't say that you had done the CALIBRATE MOTORS step; that should always be done when swapping batteries or changing power sources. As to the alignment problem, can you be more specific about what is happening.

And:

To be specific, I carry out the set up procedure, Turn it to the dead
stop then back round to line the areas up, then pick the whole thing up
and face it north, the auto star then says, searching Vega )for
instance) then it starts to slew, but instead of going anywhere near
Vega it will go somewhere completely different and not even to a star.

I have even used it with starry night and aimed it at a particular place
in the sky and synced it with the programme, when I then say slew to
mars, it will again go somewhere completely different. Im not too sure
how motor calibration is done, I know how to train the drives, so I will
check that out.

Thanks 

Terry
Oh and merry xmas by the way
Mike here: You likely need to do the CALIBRATE MOTORS. It is in the Telescope menu on the Autostar. Just select it and press ENTER. The motors will run briefly. That's all that is needed. Also, be certain you have the right location, mounting mode, and date/time and Daylight Savings settings entered.

And:

I had to wait until tonight for a clear sky, I have once again changed
the batteries, and I did the calibration as you mentioned then turned it
off, re-set the scope to north etc, then when I did a star alignment
once again it went nowhere, well to the wrong place anyway.

I did actually slew the scope to the two locations it mentioned; after I
went to the second star it came up with the message incorrect alignment
so basically a case of starting again.

All the motors work ok etc, so basically I am at a loss to understand.
My only fallback now is maybe a faulty handset, I'm not sure what
computation hardware is within the machine itself if any??

Just a question, after I do the calibration am I meant to switch it off
and re align it? As it never gave me the choice once it had run the
motors.

Thanks

Terry
Mike here: No need to turn it off after the CALIBRATE MOTORS; just move the TRAIN DRIVES or Alignment menu items as appropriate. But since that didn't fix the problem it could be that you got a corrupted download into the Autostar. Try reloading the firmware. All the "smarts" are in the Autostar, nothing but the drives and their electronics in the telescope base.
Subject:	ETX-90PE Autostar Communication Problem
Sent:	Monday, December 26, 2005 02:57:51
From:	Fenwick, Rod ((Brisbane)) (Rod.Fenwick@koniambo.com.au)
I recently purchased an ETX-90PE. I use a Belkin USB Serial interface to
communicate with the Autostar 497 from my laptop Compaq PC. I have used
the USB serial interface to successfully communicate between my laptop
and a Garmin GPS for over 6 months, and have also used it to communicate
between the laptop and the Autostar while running the Meade Astronomical
Software Version 3.17 (i.e I can track the telescope movement and cause
it to go to a desired position).

However, I ran into problems while trying to update the Autostar from
version 30Eb to 40Ef from the ASU and also update the library.

After starting the software update the USB-Serial lights flashed for a
few secs and stopped. I then received "Check Autostar cable or a
different serial port and then power cycle Autostar and try again". The
Autostar screen showed "Downloading - do not turn off". The serial USB
interface indicator lights showed no communication was occurring. I shut
down the ASU and ended up with a non-communicative Autostar and a blank
screen on the Autostar.

After reading the Meade website information, and your website, I reset
the Autostar using the Enter - down arrow on powerup of the Autostar and
received the "Flash Load 3.0 ready" message on the Autostar. However, I
could not re-load the previous software 33Eb or the latest 40Ef using
the ASU - even after updating to the latest rev 4.3.

After reading more information I loaded Starpatch and was able to reload
the Autostar and now have Patch 40FA as it seems better than the Meade
4Ef from what little I have read (I am not using the GPS interface).
This reconfirmed there are no problems with the USB-Serial interface.

For future software updates I can use Starpatch but it seems from what I
have read Starpatch cannot be used for library updates so I am left with
using ASU or something else.

With ASU and communications with the Autostar I can -

1. Connect to the Autostar and get the status information (497, software
rev, memory)
2. Edit User data (read from the Autostar), then update it and Send it
back to the Autostar (USB-Serial lights flash happily until complete for
about 5 secs)
3. Retrieve Autostar library data
4. Reset the Autostar from the ASU
 
However, as per the software update I cannot write any library object
data to the Autostar and get similar messages.  After pressing Send I
receive the message "Replace all objects in Autostar Handbox with
objects in the handbox list Y or N" , After pressing Y The USB-Serial
interface lights flash for few seconds, then stop and I receive the
following message "Check Autostar cable or a different serial port and
then power cycle Autostar and try again". The Autostar shows
"Downloading do not turn off" and basically hangs. The ASU can no longer
communicate with Autostar and I have to stop the ASU, and restart it. If
I startup with the Connect option, I get a message "Is the handbox in
safe mode does the display ready Flash Load Ready?", After answering N
the Autostar is reset. If I startup with no Connect Option I can reset
the Autostar via the ASU.

I have also used HyperTerminal and can transmit data and receive a
response.

I initially used COM2 and then tried COM1 ports and have checked the
configuration of both.

It seems to me then that there is something wrong with the ASU
send/write communication with the Autostar as all other methods work.
Read is OK

Can you assist with resolving this or providing another way of updating
the library of the Autostar without using the ASU e.g. Starpatch, or
HyperTerminal (I have reviewed the ETX commands but don't want to go
there yet if there is a better way).

Merry Christmas and thanks for the informative website (and also to the
other contributors to your website for the useful information).

P.S Is there a later update to the Meade Astronomical software - I
checked out the Meade site but no luck.

Best Regards,
 
Rod Fenwick
Brisbane Australia
Mike here: You are among many that have reported updating problems using a Belkin adapter. Keyspan models seem to be the only reliable ones. No, there is no later version than 4.3 and it is the only available to manipulate libraries. You could try regressing to a previous ASU version (available in the "Autostar Software Archive" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. I don't know if you can use a 4.x build with the older updaters so you might want to stick with the last 3.x build.
Subject:	Re: Autostar Update - ETX-90
Sent:	Saturday, December 24, 2005 18:55:56
From:	Barry Clay (bclay@comcast.net)
Ok. Well we did all this and it still does the same thing. I still got
the star alignment error telling me to check the stars. I did manage to
get past this by physically picking up the whole tripod and moving it to
the first alignment star. After that, the second star aligned with no
problems and no errors, but tracking wasn't the best. This is why I
updated to begin with. Would setting the scope in polar mount help at
all? Totally lost and frustrated.
Mike here: Try reversing the Autostar cable to the ETX. Sometimes that helps. Also, check the condition of the pins on the cable and on the jacks; be certain they are not bent. And there is nothing wrong with physically moving the tripod for the first alignment star; that is a good technique when the direction of True North is unknown.
Subject:	Autostar version question
Sent:	Thursday, December 22, 2005 09:40:07
From:	jayhawk68@cox.net
I have both an LX90 and an LXD55 mount.  I am purely a visual observer,
with no interest at this point in imaging.  Both of my Autostars are
running version 26e.  Is there any pressing reason I should upgrade the
version?  I've never done an upgrade, and don't have the cable.

Thanks,
J.D. 
Mike here: "Pressing reason"? No. But the emphemerides were updated, which may or may not matter to you. And some bugs have been fixed. And some new features have been added. If you don't experience the bugs and you don't need the new features, then no, there is no pressing reason to update. On the other hand, the #505 serial cable is easy to make (see the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page). However, your Mac, PC, or Linux computer will require a RS-232 serial. If you have USB only then you will need a RS-232 USB serial adapter; one from Keyspan works well with Macs and PCs, and Meade has one for PCs.

And:

Thanks, Mike!

Have a great Christmas!

Clear skies,
J.D.

Subject:	ETX 105 - Easy Align Problem - Arrow Keys Disabled/Non-functioning
Sent:	Monday, December 19, 2005 08:17:53
From:	James, William (William.James@addleshawgoddard.com)
Very useful site 

I have just acquired a second hand ETX 105 (from reputable shop!).

Everything seems to work but when in Easy Align the Autostar handset
does its thing and moves the scope to the first Star.  A message comes
up saying "SLEWING" and then I get a beep. The arrow keys then appear to
be disabled (having functioned fine pre-alignment).  Any key press of
the arrows appears to have no effect on the scope - even when held down
for a reasonable period and also trying changing the speed (both as
noted by posts on your site).  The only button that works in the enter
button causing it to start moving to the next start

I am beginning think there is a problem and would appreciate your view
as to whether this is just me - not holding the buttons down for long
enough or something else - or there is an issue which should cause me to
return (not an issue for the shop). I have seen a couple of posts on
similar topics but most peoples problem appears to have resolved.

Will 

William James 
Mike here: Did you do the CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES when you first got the telescope?

And:

Thanks for the quick response!

No and I take it from the question that that is the next step. Kind of
assumed that it had been done. Will do this and let you know if get
better result.

 Will
Mike here: Any time the power source is changed (battery swap, AC to DC, etc), you should do a CALIBRATE MOTORS.

And:

Thanks.

If this does not work and the keys are still disabled should I assume
that it is broken and return to the shop.

Will
Mike here: If CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES did not cure it, do a RESET. If that didn't clear it do a SAFE LOAD. To do this you will need a #505 serial cable, a RS-232 port on your computer (or a good USB-serial adapter), and Meade's Autostar Update application or the AutostarX for Mac OS X (or there is also one for Linux). If you don't have a #505 cable you can buy or make one; details for making one are on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. Once you have the necessary components, check that the Autostar Update application can communicate with the Autostar. If that's OK then hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys (don't do this if you don't have the components or the application can't find the Autostar) and then power on the ETX. You should see something like FLASH LOAD READY on the Autostar display. Launch the Autostar Update application; it should detect this mode and let you reload the Autostar software. NOTE: you will lose any data you have put into the Autostar. Do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, TRAIN DRIVES, set your site, telescope, and mounting mode. If all this fails, one last thing you can try before contacting Meade is to clean the Autostar; see the Autostar Info page for that.
Subject:	Autostar Update - ETX-90
Sent:	Sunday, December 18, 2005 16:30:58
From:	Barry Clay (bclay@comcast.net)
I purchased an ETX-90 back in June of this year. Things were wonderful
until I updated the Autostar. The version that came with the scope was
31Ee. I went to the newest version 40Ef thinking it would be better.
Since the update I keep getting "Alignment Failed  Check Stars " error.
When the scope slews to the first of a two star alignment it is about 5
deg off to the left and about the same above the star. I center that and
slew to the next star and it's off by about the same amount. I center
that and get the same error. I went back to the old version of 31Ee and
now get the same results. The batteries are new and I've calibrated and
trained drives each time. I use an external power supply all the time
for this scope and never use the batteries but have them in the scope
just in case I lose power here at home. I'm lost on this on how to
correct it. I've gotten a new DSI for it and haven't been able to use it
because of all this going on. Your help would be greatly appreciated
before I lose interest in this hobby and sell it all. Thanks.
 
Barry Clay
Mike here: You didn't say so I presume you haven't tried a RESET. Do that and then a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Be certain that the proper telescope model and mounting mode is set.

And:

Sorry to not mention that. Yes, each time I have done what you have
suggested.
Mike here: Try reloading one of the versions. Then do the RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES (remember to do both axes). If that doesn't work, do a SAFE LOAD (which totally resets the Autostar).

And:

I did try other versions as well. How do I do the Safe Load?
Mike here: Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on the ETX. You should see something like FLASH LOAD READY on the Autostar display. Launch the Autostar Update application; it should detect this mode and let you reload the Autostar software. NOTE: you will lose any data you have put into the Autostar. Do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, TRAIN DRIVES, set your site, telescope, and mounting mode.
Subject:	497 Autostar Wireless Comms query
Sent:	Thursday, December 15, 2005 06:51:48
From:	Alkesh Shah (Al@Messaging.co.uk)
First of, what a site - well done! Loads of meaningful and informative
pieces. My local dealer, Green Which is Cambridge, U.K. pointed me to
you and I've been eternallt gratefull since.

I can connect to the Autostar via a com port but my laptop has to have a
docking station attached to get a 9-pinD RS232 port! I did notice in the
software for connecting that the Autostar had an IP address for wireless
connection. (IP 192.168.1.7 on port 5401) but I can't ping it or see it
from my laptop. Is there any help available for connecting wireless?

I have ordered your book and hope that reveals mor esecrets about this
amazing first scope of mine.

Regards

Al
Mike here: If you mean you want to connect to the Autostar wirelessly you will need the Bluetooth adapter (no Wi-Fi adapter available that I'm aware of). OPT sells the "Orion - BlueStar Wireless Adapter for Meade LX90 or ETX Telescopes".

And:

Sent from my work account. I have registered personal account
'al@messaging.co.uk' with your site, please respond to either. Thanks.

I was referring to the network address found on the ACU - pict enclosed.
You see in the bottom right IP 192.168.1.7 and port 5401 ? What is this
for please? I have a LAN at home with a router that hands out addresses
in the range 192.168.1.x and therefore thought my router had given the
Autostar this address, but I just cannot talk to it?

Thanks 

Al 
Mike here: No photo received but are you referring to the Autostar Suite and not the Autostar itself? The Autostar Suite software has a "network" capability. There is more info about that on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; see "Network Server Capability" as well as "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh".
Subject:	ETX-125, AutoStar w/ PC and 'could not connect to COM'
Sent:	Wednesday, December 14, 2005 21:06:10
From:	robert mattingly (sugnagodym@gmail.com)
First, love your site.  Kudos to you and your dedication.

My problem, as stated in my Subject line.  I have ran through everything
that I possibly could know about getting my laptop to recognize my
AutoStar.  I am using a Dell Inspiron 8100.  With a ETX-125 EC, AutoStar
#497 ver. 33E (got this in a previous update), with the #505 connection
cables.  I am connected to my RS232 serial port.  Set up everything as
the Meade site prescribes.  Also, I have set up the COM properties, like
it is described on the same site. Even found a site to troubleshoot my
COM port.  Still, to no avail, can I get anything to recognize/connect.

I have the Starry Night Bundle Edition ver. 2.1, Astronomer Control
Panel ver. 1.3.10 (1.3 SP2) and AutoStar Update ver. 4.3.  When trying
to connect with the updater it says, "Could not connect to AutoStar.
AutoStar Updater will now preform a search of all COM ports.  OK to
proceed?"  I press 'Yes' and then it says,  "Could not find your COM
port.  Check your connections and try again."  I have went over and over
again checking my connections.  The 497 by itself works flawlessly with
the ETX.  And at one time, I had connected this all before and it
connected effortlessly.  I never used it but, was interested in trying
it out, inside, for future use.

So, there is my dilemma.  I would like to check this all out for I have
some nice winter skies outside here in E. KY and would like to have
scope outside and pc inside for warmth.  So, I now turn to you. I have
looked over most of your site and cannot find anything, hence, my email.

Thank you for any response.  And I appreciate your site.  It has helped
me in many other areas, without having to email you.  In that I am
indebted to you.

Sincerely,
Robert Mattingly II
Mike here: Since the configuration worked before there are three possibilies: the RS-232 port on the computer has gone bad, the #505 cable or DB9 adapter has gone bad, or the Autostar serial port has gone bad. Lets start with the easy one; check the pins on the cable connectors and the pins inside the Autostar jack. If they have become depressed or bent they may not be making good contact.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply.  You are great.

Okay, followed your instructions.  Looked over everything real well. All
looked good.  So, I disassembled the DB9.  Looking for bad wiring, etc. 
All looked good there.  So, for giggles, I plugged everything up at this
point.  Turned everything on and poof, it connected immediately.  At
this point, I tried to reassemble the DB9 while things where running. 
Bad idea, I know.  And I paid for it.  AutoStar froze up.  But, once
again, your site saved the day.  I followed the hardware reset,
reinstalled the update.  And all is good again. Except, for the
disassembled DB9.

I am checking everything over with the software and once done, will
power down and then try to piece together the DB9.  Hopefully, all goes
well.

Will give an update later today.

Thanks so much, another reason why you are the man. ;)

Later,
Bobby

Subject:	Re: After Update Tours can't find any Objects that are visable tonight.
Sent:	Wednesday, December 14, 2005 07:54:25
From:	DButler245@aol.com (DButler245@aol.com)
Thanks, I'll try a reset Tonight and set model, train etc. and get back
if it works.

When I ran Tonight's Best last night only Meteor Showers produced a
object to go to. The next Message was a text about Stars with planets,
but it found no visiable ones.  The Quasars text message, but it found
no Quasars.

I ran a tour call Star Groups which uses only RA and DEC thinking that
might work and I could edit most fixed tours object if that worked. But
If failed to ID a singe Star or Double Star or Open Cluster or Golublar
Cluster or Galaxy saying there are no visible bright xxxx tonight.

I tried "How Far is Far" ,"Messier Marathon", "A Stars Life" as well.
Only Tonight's Best show a single object some meteor starting with g...
for Dec 13 and 14. So the Event Lines work.

I think your sugestion will probable work will get bact to you thanks.
 
Dave
You can do the Reset and run a 'fake' setup/alignment indoors in
the daytime... and then try a Tour.
The "Train Drives" is only needed when you truly want -accurate-
GoTo's to happen.  Not needed for indoor testing (and saves
dark hours for real usage).

have fun
--dick

And:

Thanks for all your help. Your suggestions worked like a charm. All
tours now work. In short after a software update to Autostar, if the
tours don't work do a RESET and treat the Autostar control as if it just
came out of a new box.

As everyone has said you have a great web site for Meade users.
 
Dave Butler

Subject:	re: Updating Autostar Handbox From Laptop
Sent:	Tuesday, December 13, 2005 20:17:47
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
There are usually two ways to get the Autostar Updater to talk to the
scope (well, one, plus a work-around).

The "way" is to make sure that no -other- programs are competing for
the use of the COM port.  If you have anything like PalmPilot HotSync,
or MS's Intellisync running: kill them.

If you -don't- have competition, the work-around is to use a non-Meade
updater: StarPatch.  Available as a free download from
http://www.stargps.ca  (follow the links to StarPatch).

StarPAtch is -much- more robust about dealing with Windows and
working with USB ports.

have fun
--dick

And:

From:	Richard Pearce (pearce_r@hotmail.com)
Hi Dick and Mike

Many thanks for your very swift reply to my query.  I haven't yet tried
the StarPatch software as I am now able to update the AutoStar from the
laptop with my original USB-Serial adaptor.  It occurred to me what my
problem could have been.  I had successfully connected to the AutoStar
and was able to control the telescope OK and, here's the mistake I
think, this is when I tried to access the update option from the
AutoStar Suite and had the failure.

I have just started turned on the AutoStar, have not performed an align,
have not connected using comms or network protocol but have gone
straight to the update option.  Hey Presto.  It worked!

Thanks again - I don't know what the world's ETX owners would do without
your help.

Regards

Richard
Shropshire, England

Subject:	Updating Autostar Handbox From Laptop
Sent:	Tuesday, December 13, 2005 12:55:26
From:	Richard Pearce (pearce_r@hotmail.com)
I have recently purchased a laptop to use with my ETX 105EC.  Like many
laptops, it does not have a serial port so I have purchased a USB to
serial adaptor.

The problem I am having is that I am unable to update the Autostar
Handbox from my laptop (the updating software reports that it cannot
find the Autostar) despite the fact that I am able to use the laptop,
via the new adaptor, to control the telescope from the Autostar Suite
Software using either the Comm Port or Network protocols.

I have been able to operate the telescope AND update the Autostar
handbox before now using the serial port on my desktop PC.

I have been running XP Pro on my desktop and XP Home edition from the
laptop.  I am not sure if the operating system will make any difference
though.

Boy it would be great if you could just connect the telescope directly
to the computer.  I know you can't do this (Well you can but it could
turn out to be expensive!!)

Thanks for a great website.

Regards from over the pond.

Richard Pearce
Mike here: You didn't say which vendor the USB-serial adapter is from but based on the problems I've seen reported with some brands, I recommend only Keyspan and Meade's adapters.
Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, December 13, 2005 11:17:48
From:	Hunnewell, Steven (Steven.Hunnewell@maine.gov)
I have a 497 controller on an LXD55 scope. I have serial connector and
phone wire running from my house to the scope. I tried to load the
latest update to the 497 the other day, and the scope ended up moving
during the process, and when I looked at the 497, it was completely
blank and no display would show. I called Meade and they told me to
press the lower right arrow key along with the enter key, power up the
scope, and try again. Nothing works. Help.
Mike here: Unless the Autostar was fried, simultaneously holding down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN (not slew down) keys and powering on the telescope should put the Autostar into SAFE LOAD. You can then run the Autostar Updater application and reload the ROM. Note: this resets everything in the Autostar so you will need to re-enter your site info, and do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Re: Meade ext 125 Tracking problem
Sent:	Monday, December 12, 2005 20:25:10
From:	Neil Morrison (BOTE@xtra.co.nz)
Dear Mike, Thanks for your kind reply ,I have reset the Autostar
Controller and everything is back to normal.

Regards

Neil Morrison

Subject:	After Update Tours can't find any Objects that are visable tonight.
Sent:	Monday, December 12, 2005 11:58:48
From:	DButler245@aol.com (DButler245@aol.com)
I ran into problems updating my Autostar. The download of version 40ef
was aborted before starting. I used the ENTER SCROLL DOWN combination at
startup to allow a download and recover from a blank screen on startup.
The download was successful but the tours no longer work. Tonight's best
can't find a single object and other tours are the same. I tried to
download Tonight's Best from the Meade's site, but it still doesn't
work. I think I was on version 2.0. I also tried updating with version
30eb with the same results. All other functions seem to work.
 
Help!!
 
Dave Butler   NY
Mike here: From our resident Autostar Expert:
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
From the symptoms, i have a couple of questions, but only one
suggestion (if you research the questions -before- applying
the suggestion, we'll learn something).

Question: when you say the Tours "can't find a single object",
what do you mean?
That they don't -offer- any objects (go straight from intro message
to 'thanks for touring')  **or** do you mean that they slew to
wacky places when trying to show you an object the name of which
they're displaying?

I don't know which tours you have, so it's hard to say 'try this
one', (as if i could think of one which doesn't do 'auto select'
which makes it hard to see what they'd do).

If the tours are willing to offer an object (but just go to
strange places), i'd ask that you 'drill down' to any of
the objects: i.e. when it offers something, tap [enter]
instead of [GoTo] to bring up some of the -information-
about the object, then [scroll down] a lot to see the various
data fields.  Are they correct for that object?  Or are they
garbage?

OK... those are the questions.  The -suggestion- is simple:
Try  Setup/Reset[enter][enter]

When you do a leap from v2.0 to v4.0, a lot of the background
variables -move-, and the new firmware doesn't expect to have
the old 'dirty data' from the old firmware rattling around
where it 'shouldn't be'

You'll have to reenter your scope model and site data
after the reset (for that matter, it -could- just be mangled
Site data affecting you, but a Reset cures all...)

good luck
--dick

And:

Whups.. forgot:
after the reset, you'll also have to do a
setup/telescope/calibrate
and a
setup/telescope/Train Drives  (RA and DEC) procedure.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	506 cable drawing
Sent:	Sunday, December 11, 2005 14:10:47
From:	Mr. T.Z. (tpzuke@yahoo.com)
I received a DS 114 ATA telescope for my birthday. It came with software
for laptop computer control. The cables are $45.00 min for cable and
software which I already have. I understand that you have an exploded
view of the cable. I am an electronict tech. and believe that I could
make one if I had the schematic. Could tell me where on your site is the
drawing for the 506 Autostar cable?

 Thanks Very Much,
 Tom Zuke
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; there are three articles on the #506.
Subject:	Autostar Custom Tracking Rate
Sent:	Thursday, December 8, 2005 20:19:02
From:	Ron Masters (rmasters2@cinci.rr.com)
I have an old 494 Autostar that I bought used which works just fine for
my needs.  I have found a custom tracking rate menu item available on
this unit that is not in the instructions that came with it.  What is
the range that is available for tracking rate adjustment?  More
specifically, I find that I can enter values out to 3 digits plus or
minus.  Does this mean that the scale runs from -999 to +999?  Or does
it run only from -99 to +99?  Or from only -9 to +9?  How much change
versus sidereal does each unit represent?  It appears when I experiment
that the 3rd digit does not change anything, so the scale appears to
change the tracking from -99 to +99, but I am not sure.  If it does,
does +99 mean nearly twice sidereal and -99 mean almost no movement? 
Please help me with this if you can.  I am trying to obtain the most
accurate long-term tracking possible.
 
Thanks, Ron
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
The tracking rate display/setting is in units of tenths of percent
relative to sidereal.  Thus the range is -99.9% to +99.9% (roughly
"full stop" to "twice sidereal") given the display of -999 to +999.

You can see this by selecting Lunar Tracking rate, then
menuing to Custom, and you'll see it's now -35, or -3.5%

The tenths of percent also (roughly) equates to
1 arcsecond of drift per clock minute...
so you can -measure- any long term, unidirectional drift you
might see, and choose a good "starting number" from that.

If you see a one arcminute drift in five clock minutes,
that's 60 arcsec / 5 minutes = 12 as a value to enter to
correct the drift.
  + goes faster (more west), - goes slower (less west).

Don't forget that you may be seeing Periodic Error, too,
so when i say "long term drift", i mean across many worm-turns.
Periodic Error is addressed by the "Smart Drive" PEC system
(if you're operating in Polar).

My patch kit for the LX200gps provides the ability to have the
Tracking Rate be set in hundreths of a percent, so the range
becomes 99.99% to -99.99%   That gives more precise control for the
long-term imaging crowd.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	BlueStar Adapter
Sent:	Thursday, December 8, 2005 13:08:38
From:	Kaustav Bhattacharya (kaustav@kaustav.uk.com)
To all readers of the Weasner ETX web site, have any of you used the
BlueStar Adapter on your ETX telescope?  It's a bluetooth device that
connects to your ETX and allows you to control your 'scope remotely
from up to 9-10 meters away. I'm interested to hear from anyone who
might have used one.

Check out my new Astro Blog at http://astrolondon.blogspot.com/
-- 
Kaustav Bhattacharya
http://astrolondon.blogspot.com/

Subject:	Re: Tracking in opposite direction!
Sent:	Monday, December 5, 2005 20:45:12
From:	Sandip Kumar Chakrabarti (chakraba@bose.res.in)
Thankx. But Calcutta WAS in the menu itself. So it knows!

Do we have to change any greabox ratio that I read in some of your
replies to others.?

S. Chakrabarti
Mike here: Not for that purpose. If you want to correct any corrupted or bad entries, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and then TRAIN DRIVES. You will also have to re-enter the site info.

And:

Subject:	re: Tracking in opposite direction!
Sent:	Monday, December 5, 2005 22:03:12
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
If your scope is tracking in the wrong direction,
this may be a fault in the firmware of the 494.
What version is it? (under Setup/Statistics[enter][scroll up])

You can reverse the Tracking direction by changing the
-sign- of the Setup/Telescope/RA Ratio   and Dec Ratio
That reverses all operations of the motors.

It is -possible- that your motor itself is misconnected
inside the telescope... some of them have a plug between
the motor and its small circuit card.

DO NOT REVERSE THE PLUG WHICH -feeds- the motor CARD.
**Only** reverse the wire which leads -directly- to the motor.

It's much -safer- to simply change the sign of the Ratio.
To do that, tap the left Slew key to move the cursor under
the sign, then use the scroll up/down keys to change it.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Tracking in opposite direction!
Sent:	Monday, December 5, 2005 20:25:40
From:	Sandip Kumar Chakrabarti (chakraba@bose.res.in)
Last year I mentioned about our AUTORSTAR 497 going bad. This year
purchased another one brand new from Rotz and Amazon.com and after
connecting we find, to our surprise, that the arrows are functioning in
opposite direction and moreover in tracking mode the telescope is going
in opposite direction. Somehow it thinks that we are in south hemesphere
or what? However, we gave our city/country name properly and it took
them (we are located in Kolkata[erstwhile Calcutta], India).

Please help.
Thanks,

S. Chakrabarti
Mike here: You can reverse the arrows in the SETUP: TELESCOPE menu. As to the wrong hemisphere, try a different (by nearby city) or enter your Site Latitude/Longitude directly (edit another entry in your country for simplicity).
Subject:	Autostar arrow controls
Sent:	Monday, December 5, 2005 07:13:58
From:	DLBVT@aol.com (DLBVT@aol.com)
The first handbox was obviously defective. I returned it to Meade and
have received a new one wh seems to power up &c as advertised. I can't
do an alignment until we have a clear night here. Looks like the end of
the week. Meanwhile, I've noticed that the scope movement arrows do the
opposite of God's plan: right turns the scope counterclockwise &c and so
forth. Any thoughts? I suppose I can just use it upside down if a deeper
problem doesn't obtain as well, such as reversed go-to which I can't
test yet.
 
Dave Bulow
Adamant, VT
Mike here: You can reverse the direction of the keys with the Setup: Telescope menu item in the Autostar.

And:

Thanks. I thought it might be something of the sort.
 
Dave B

Subject:	guided tours.. tonights best???
Sent:	Sunday, December 4, 2005 10:02:11
From:	steve harper (intmid8tr3@yahoo.com)
still no lpi but oh well. anyways, i stayed up last night to see saturn
for the 1st time and WOW !! how cool was this. my etx 125 was great. did
a easy align which was successful and then punched in saturn and there
it was !! right in the center of the eyepiece. so then i decide to do a
guided tour of last nights best. autostar decided to go to mars first.
now this is at about 1:15 1:30am this morning. mars came up and the
scope pointed straight up. mars was not straight up. any ideas why auto
star missed by so much but zeroed right in on saturn 4 min. eariler?
thanks for your time
steve
Mike here: How close did it get to Mars?

And:

i believe mars was almost gone from view i will try again im sure i
pushed way to many buttons on the controller.   meade is sending me
another disk today ...maybe   for the lpi
thanks for your time
steve
Mike here: Mars is visible most of the night right now.
Subject:	Meade ext 125 Tracking problem
Sent:	Saturday, December 3, 2005 12:18:37
From:	Neil Morrison (BOTE@xtra.co.nz)
Dear Sir, Thanks for your great site. Can you help me. I may have
altered the Az and Alt ratios in my Autostar controller. If i reset the
Auto star does it automatically go back to factory settings.???I was
training my telescope on land objects and it would move correctly in the
Az train drive, that is slowly,but when i went to train the te drive in
Alt train the scope moved very fast when the arrow keys where pushed.Can
you assist me.
 
Regards
 
Neil Morrison
Mike here: Do the RESET; factory settings are restored. You can change the slewing speed for drive training just like you can when slewing to objects; use the number keys.
Subject:	still lpi 
Sent:	Saturday, December 3, 2005 11:30:17
From:	Harper, Stephen ((CA33)) (Stephen.Harper@Honeywell.com)
Hate to keep bothering you about this but pretty much opt is done with
me. They said try this web site. Meade said they were shipping a new
disk Tuesday but as of today they" haven't gotten around to it".  How do
you update the autostar? I downloaded the update to my laptop. Do I need
to hook up the cable to the handheld (505) to the port on my lap top?
Thanks
Steve harper
Mike here: The #505 cable goes from a RS-232 serial port on a computer to the Autostar handbox. If your computer doesn't have a serial port you will need a USB-serial adapter. Meade has one as do other vendors; problems have been reported with Belkin models on PCs but I have used a Keyspan with my Mac. As to the software, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. It still applies to the 4.x version.
Subject:	November 2005 Weasner article called, "Is it creep after beep"
Sent:	Friday, December 2, 2005 00:42:54
From:	Tom and Lori (lortom7@earthlink.net)
Some follow up for you:
 
I just got my ETX-125 AT back from Meade today (almost 4 weeks).  I
tested the horizontal slewing back and forth, and it looks like Meade
fixed my "clunking" problem.  My invoice does not list what the problem
was, however I know it was gear related because I saw the broken gear
holder.

Good thing I was under warranty (9 mos old).

I am attaching the following message as it pertains to the same problem
I had and I thought your other viewers would want to know.

Rains are coming to So Cal.  I may have to wait a few extra nights
before I can get back into business.
 
Thanks again for all the help!
 
Tom
Attached message threads:
Subject:    ETX 125 Motor??
Sent:   Saturday, November 19, 2005 19:36:19
From:   Tom Frazin (bass4tomf@hotmail.com)
See Mike's article called, "Creep after Beep."  It's my question to
Mike.  It sounds like I had the same problem as you. My ETX 125 is at
Meade now for repair of the gearing/motor.  Meade listed my problem as,
"Azimuth motor is indexing back and forth with loud clunking sound
coming from the gears."

At Mike's recommendation, I opened the bottom of my scope and saw a
bracket which holds the main gear was broken.  That is why I sent it to
Meade.

When I get it back I will be reporting back to Mike.

Good Luck.

Tom

==========================
 
Subject: ETX 125 Motor??
Sent:   Wednesday, November 16, 2005 12:44:04
From:   Steve Jones (zen28779@zen.co.uk)
Sorry to bother you, I have scanned through your site but cant seem to
find an answer. I have an ETX125 Ec and I have just experienced a
strange problem whilst aligning it. When the scope is slewing to a star
on the vertical axis, is starts to made a loud unpleasant clicking
noise??? At this point I turn the Autostar off. It only happens in the
vertical axis and hasn't happened in the previous 4 months I have had it
( granted I haven't used it because of summer) At fist I thought it was
because I had locked the turn wheel in too tight but still does it when
I slacked it off??  I am now fearing that the motor is damaged?? I am
lostreally because I have followed the enclosed instructions word for
word. Any ideas??

Regards

       Steve 

PS   Top site!!!

Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES recently? 

And:
Not since we got it 4 months ago, and in that time we haven't really
used it that much. Plus, when we used it the other night it was fine??
Should the locking wheel for the vert axis be done up tight?? I tried
slackening it but then thought perhaps it needs to be tight so the
clutch grabs??

Regards

 Steve
Mike here: Overtightening the axis locks can cause damage; they should be
just tight enough to keep the tube from moving on its own but still allow
the drives to move it. 

And:
I think it's a call to the retailer where I bought it then.


And:
I think as soon as it goes dark we'll be out to calibrate the motors 1st
and try it again. Is this just a case of going into the options before
aligning it?
Mike here: It's under the Telescope menu. No user input required; just select it. 

And:
Well Mike, just been outside, calibrated the motors and its still doing
it, if not worse. The noise is unbearable!!! And it now isn't even
getting anywhere near alignment so I presume it's a fault on the
motors?? Typical, its -1deg outside, crystal clear and the scope wont
work!!!!!!!!

STEVE

Mike here: Could be a gear problem. Time to contact Meade. 

Subject:	Re: Autostar II
Sent:	Wednesday, November 30, 2005 19:56:31
From:	Bob Linderholm (lindh@starband.net)
Thanks, Mike.  I had no idea there was a "power savings mode".  I can't
seem to find it in the manual.  Do you know if there is any option to
avoid that mode on the autostars you are familiar with?

Bob
Mike here: No toggle for that.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> Sometimes I can press "mode" and this will restore the handbox
> to life. Other times, I have to reboot the telescope.

You can also reboot -just the handbox- by unplugging and replugging
the HBX cable.  This may also isolate the issue to the handbox or
the Autostar II itself (which is buried in the LX200gps base).

> I attempted to visit with Meade about this because the unit
> is under warrranty. After 40 minutes of hold, I gave up.

Call again. (it's their nickle, assuming you're calling the 800
number).  If they don't get to you in a few minutes, call again
an hour or so later.  Some people get through very quickly, so
it's luck of the draw.

-After- Christmas, the lines will -really- be jammed.

But try the "hot plugging", since if it's really the Autostar
at fault, the repair could make the warranty mean something.

good luck
--dick

And:

Thank you, Richard.  I didn't know that hot plugging the hbx was an
option. Also didn't know that Meade had an 800 number.
Thank you all for your help

Bob

And:

whups... i should'a stated it:  800-626-3233

good luck
--dick

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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackDec05/autostar.html