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 email@example.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, SteveEMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
From: terry poppy (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 PollackMike 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 (email@example.com) 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 problemMike 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 AustraliaMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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, CraigMike 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 (email@example.com) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 email@example.com Thanks Russ Pollack North CarolinaMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 PoppyMike 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.
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 wayMike 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.
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 TerryMike 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 AustraliaMike 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 (email@example.com) 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 JamesMike here: Did you do the CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES when you first got the telescope?
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. WillMike here: Any time the power source is changed (battery swap, AC to DC, etc), you should do a CALIBRATE MOTORS.
Thanks. If this does not work and the keys are still disabled should I assume that it is broken and return to the shop. WillMike 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 (email@example.com) 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 ClayMike 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.
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).
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 AlMike 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".
Sent from my work account. I have registered personal account 'firstname.lastname@example.org' 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 AlMike 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 (email@example.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 IIMike 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.
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
From: Richard Pearce (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 PearceMike 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 NYMike here: From our resident Autostar Expert:
From: richard seymour (email@example.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
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. (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 ZukeMike 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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. ChakrabartiMike 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.
Subject: re: Tracking in opposite direction! Sent: Monday, December 5, 2005 22:03:12 From: richard seymour (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. ChakrabartiMike 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, VTMike here: You can reverse the direction of the keys with the Setup: Telescope menu item in the Autostar.
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 (email@example.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 steveMike here: How close did it get to Mars?
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 steveMike 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 MorrisonMike 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 harperMike 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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! TomAttached message threads:
Subject: ETX 125 Motor?? Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2005 19:36:19 From: Tom Frazin (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.com) 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? BobMike here: No toggle for that.
From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) > 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
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
whups... i should'a stated it: 800-626-3233 good luck --dick
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