AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 December 2006

Welcome to the AutoStar feedback page. This page is intended to provide user comments on using the Meade Autostar #494, #495, #497, 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:	Autostar 497 uncontrolled slewing FIX Caused by Wall Wart Supply
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2006 17:51:08
From:	Paul Tribbey (ptribbey@hotmail.com)
I received a Meade ETX-105 with Autostar 497 for a Christmas present
2006. It was wonderful. For me everything worked as described in the
instructions. In the first few nights we saw the moon first, then Saturn
and a host of stars and deep sky objects. Then I read on the Meade
website, there was a firmware upgrade available. So? what the heck,
upgrade. I brought the scope and laptop computer into my heated shop and
plugged in the wall wart, laptop and performed the upgrade. It all went
well.

That's when the trouble started.

When I went to align the scope, (inside the shop) it would find its
first star location, then slew either up or down uncontrollably. Oh boy,
now what did I do? I downgraded the firmware and still the same problem.
I reset the box and retrained it. Still the same problem. Then I looked
up at the wall wart. It was the one supplied by Meade, it was also the
only difference between when the scope worked on my 12 battery pack in
the back yard, and when I brought it into my shop. I unplugged the wart
and plugged in my battery source and NO MORE PROBLEM! Boy was I happy.

Since I am an Electronics enthusiast, I have equipment to test things
like the wall wart. So that's what I did. I put an 8 ohm load on the
plug, (for a load of about 1500mA) and measured 12.3 volts. There was
only about 5 percent ripple on the dc waveform. Seems ok to me. The only
thing I can figure is the open circuit voltage is about 15.5 volts.
Maybe enough to upset the motor controller in the Autostar?
 
You may post all or part of this if you figure it is relevant.
 
Thanks
 
Paul Tribbey
Superior, WI
Mike here: From what you DIDN'T say I think you have stumbled onto the reason for doing a CALIBRATE MOTOR whenever the power source is changed. Do a CALIBRATE MOTOR on the AutoStar with "problem" power source connected and see if the problem goes away.

And:

In the third paragraph I mentioned that I "retrained the box". I meant
calibrate motors and calculate backlash etc.
Paul Tribbey

Subject:	Update 494 ?
Sent:	Saturday, December 30, 2006 04:25:09
From:	Henrik VAN HOLTHOON (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
I have seen a number of times the remark it is not possible to upgrade a
494 autostar this may be right but at one of my last visit to the Meade
download site, where they announce new ASU update 4.6 and in the update
text is mentioned suitable for autostar 494 and 497 etc.

On the same location you can find a new update 4Ed for autostar 497
however no specific update file for autostar 494.

They mention also a cable 506 for autostar 494 on the dowload site, very
strange ?

Most regards and happy new year.
Henrik
Mike here: Everything you say is correct. There is no user-installable update for the ROM in the AutoStar #494. You can use ASU 4.6 (and earlier versions) to manipulate some library items in the AutoStar #494 memory (just like with the #497). To communicate to a #494 from a computer you do need a #506 cable.
Subject:	Autostar 494 with blank screen; no safe mode.
Sent:	Thursday, December 28, 2006 08:38:54
From:	Chris Howard (chrishoward49@hotmail.com)
couldn't find this exact situation described on your site:

I recieved a 2130AT for Christmas.  When I power up the Autostar it 1)
the red lights come on, 2) beeps once, then 3) nothing, just a blank red
screen.  When I power off, press the 'enter' and 'scroll down' keys
simultaneously, then power on again ... the exact same thing happens. 
It won't go into safe mode (I actually tried enter with every other key
as well).  The screen has never shown even a dot.

As a side note:  once it's powered on, I can press buttons randomly once
or twice, and the direction arrows actually do start moving the scope
around.

I've tried to update the Autostar with the software that came with it. 
I tried connecting both ways - just a serial cable, and with the usb my
wife ordered seperately.  It acts like it sees the autostar, I.E., when
I send a restart command the unit blinks.  But, when I actually try and
do a firmware update, I get an error message that it can't find the
Autostar.

I checked the cable, colors in order are:  purple, blue, yellow, green,
red, black, orange, white.

Any ideas?  My guess is that the unit is defective totally, or maybe the
display is damaged.

Thank You !!!
Chris Howard
Mike here: First off, there is no SAFE LOAD mode for the AutoStar #494 since there is no user-installable ROM update. I've never tried to put a #494 into SAFE LOAD mode so I don't even know what those keys would do, if anything. From your description it sounds like they didn't do anything, which is good. Since the arrow keys work, have you tried changing the screen brightness? It is under the Utility menu.

And:

If the screen wasn't blank maybe I could find the Utility menu :-(

All is well however, I finally got in touch with Meade support after a 2
hour wait (I'm not kidding) and they're sending a new unit.  Must be a
common problem, he didn't ask me to troubleshoot or anything.

Thanks for your help, the website is awsome, especially for a newbie
like me !
Chris Howard

Subject:	Autostar #494 language/flash rom
Sent:	Wednesday, December 27, 2006 02:17:27
From:	Regime (regime@evilgeekz.com)
Sorry to bother you with this question, but the information I have found
on this so far is incomplete and opinions on whether or not this is even
possible, seem to vary.

I have recently bought a Meade ETX-70 with Autostar #494 included.
Sadly, the Autostar is in a language I do not understand and the ROM
does not support multiple languages.

Do you know of a way to load the English software onto the Autostar? I
would suspect that upgrading/updating the software through the Meade ASU
auto update application will not change the language, but that maybe
starting the Autostar in the SAFE LOAD mode like you describe on your
website and then reloading the software, would do the trick?

From your FAQ I have also read that for the #494 Autostar you have to
buy the cable and it is not possible to build one yourself, so if you
would be able to tell me if this will work or not, it would be great.
This way I do not have to buy an expensive cable for nothing and in the
worst case kill the Autostar altogether.

Thank you very much for your time and any help you can give me in this.

Kind regards,
---
Regime
Mike here: There is no user installable update for the #494 AutoStar. This means you can not install a different language version yourself. Your alternatives are to have Meade replace it or get a #497 AutoStar.

And:

Hmm.. Bad news, but still better then finding out the hard way.
Looks like I am going to need a crash course in dutch.
Thank you for the information and your time.

Subject:	Re: Hi, New to telescopes, NEED HELP!  We fixed it!
Sent:	Monday, December 25, 2006 09:10:53
From:	KisbyElectric@aol.com 
Thank you for your help with my Autostar! I finally got it working,
thanks to you. I thought I'd pass along to you the solution so that you
may help others. The key was in the serial/USB adapter. The Belkin
model would not work with the Autostar. I ended up getting a new adapter
from Best Buy made by Dynex. It works well now.

My next question to you would be this: When I bought the LX90 'used',
the man had a great 'Tonight's Best' program in it with many objects.
Now that I have reprogrammed it (Reset), it seems to have very few
objects in the 'Tonight's Best' menu. Could you please fill me in on how
to make to make Tonight's Best all that it can be?
 
Thank you.
 
Fred Kisby
Mike here: When you reloaded the AutoStar from the SAFE LOAD procedure you lost any data that had been added. The tour "Tonight's Best" will always show only currently visible objects (there are many more in the tour however) for the date/time entered into the AutoStar. For more on making your own tours, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page; lots of info, including tours submitted by others, there.
Subject:	LXD55 SN-10 Repair Sources
Sent:	Sunday, December 24, 2006 14:01:38
From:	Frank J Mraz (fjmraz@juno.com)
Do you know anyone here or an organization that can help me ?

I accidently dropped my handbox from a distance of about 1 foot onto a
hardwood floor and now the handbox does not light or anything else.

Frank

"Until you do what you believe, you don't know whether you believe it 
or not" Leo Tolstoy
Mike here: Don't know any AutoStar repair sources (they don't seem as common as iPod repair services). Depending on what is wrong, it could probably cheaper to buy a new one (or a used one if you prefer). Have you opened the case to see what might have occurred?

And:

I opened the case and found nothing out of place...At least, as far as I
can see.

Where do I buy a new handbox ?
Mike here: Any Meade dealer should have them. If you have one locally to you I'd suggest getting it there. If not, then I'd suggest using the dealer that the telescope was purchased from (assuming you are satisfied with their service).

And:

Thank you for this info.

The telescope was purchased 2nd hand and I am upgrading it in any manner
that I can. I didn't expect this to happen, but things happen.

I am going to Astronomics where I bought my 10-inch LX200R and see what
they can do.

Again...Thank you for your help

Frank

And:

Astronomics has them for $199 + S/H.....I should have been more careful.
Mike here: Check Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page on my ETX Site).

And:

A couple other questions...

1) It seems that no power is getting to the handbox. Could that drop to
the floor disconected something in the handbox or the wire connecting to
the handbox ?

2) What I reversed the cord from the telescope to the handbox and
wiggled the cord near the handbox, the RA motor started and did not
stop. I had to shut off the telescope. Will reversing the cord do this ?

Frank
Mike here: Yes, reversing the cord can cause this. As to why the AutoStar is not getting power could be due to a damaged connector at the cord, the jack, the pins, the circuit board, or just about anything.

And:

If "anything" is the answer, what would you do ?

I checked "Telescope Warehouse" and it seems that their website is a
"work-in-process" at this time, but they referred me to their Ebay site.
They have the 497 Autostar there, but require a credit card to
register...I don't have one so that leaves me out of that area.

Any other suggestions ?
Mike here: If it were mine and I couldn't see anything wrong but it still didn't work, I would replace it. You can check other Meade dealers (like OPT and Shutan). OPT takes other forms of payment. (Note that I have a relationship with OPT.)
As much as I don't like to see $200 go, no handbox...no goto telescope.

Thank you,

Frank

Subject:	Hi, New to telescopes, NEED HELP!
Sent:	Saturday, December 23, 2006 09:09:00
From:	KisbyElectric@aol.com (KisbyElectric@aol.com)
I just purchased my first telescope and I need help please.

I bought a Meade LX-90 in 'like new' condition from a guy. I tried to
reset (clear out) the AutoStar and I think I screwed up. I cleared it
out, but now I can't get it to work. I can get it to boot up in SAFE
mode, but I can't get it to accept information. On the screen it says
"FLASH LOAD 3.0 READY", but when I try to get the updater program to
work, my laptop says Check Serial Cable. The AutoStar Suite sees the
AutoStar on Port 4, but won't upload anything.

I'm asking you for help because I'd would hate to wait until Tuesday
after Christmas, (when Meade reopens) to use the scope again. If you
can't help, could you please put me in touch with someone who can?
 
Thanks.
 
Fred Kisby
Mike here: Just curious: why did you put it into SAFE LOAD mode? Anyway, how are you connecting the #505 serial cable to your computer? If you are using a USB-serial adapter, be aware that not all work well with the AutoStar Update application from Meade. For more on USB, see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. Also, you might be able to get the StarGPS software to do the upload; its available from www.stargps.ca (which may be down as I write this). If you are using Mac OS X, try AutoStarX (link on the AutoStar Info page).

And:

Thank you for your fast reply, Mr. Weasner.
 
In answer to your question, I screwed up the Autostar by not having it
connected to the laptop when I went into the download mode. It froze up,
and I had to power off when it thought it was downloading. This
apparently is a no-no, and the only way I can get it to respond now is
by powering up while holing the Enter and Scroll Down keys while
powering up. This is what I believe is the Safe Mode.

I am running WinXP. The cable that I am using came with the scope in the
'used' package deal I bought. I was told it worked fine. I have it
connected via USB to my laptop with a Belkin unit similar to this one:
http://www.bestbuybusiness.com/bbfb/en/US/adirect/bestbuy?cmd=
catProductDetail&showAddButton=true&productID=BB10565683&websrc=
FRBB10565683

I normally use this adapter for a home automation system, so I know that
it works OK.

Will the StarGPS program work for me? My scope is an older LX-90 without
LNT or GPS.

I will try the Serial/USB info page and see what I can do. Any other
ideas?
 
Thanks you!
 
Fred Kisby
Mike here: Ah yes, the computer does need to be connected. So, without it you did the only thing you could do. Belkin in one of the known good ones. And yes, the StarGPS application will download ROM file to the AutoStar #497.

And:

Still no luck. I tried the download for the serial/USB driver, installed
it, rebooted, and still no luck. The StarGPS site is down and I'm out
of ideas. Your thoughts? Know any telescope/computer gurus that might
talk to me on a Saturday?
 
Thanks,
Fred
Mike here: You need some software to install the AutoStar update and right now there are limited options (Meade's, StarGPS, AutostarX, and Lin_Autostar). You also need a serial port (either a real RS-232 onboard the computer or one of the USB-serial adapters). It could be that your Belkin won't work with the Meade app but might with StarGPS (when the site comes back online). Or you could find a computer with a real RS-232 port.
Subject:	autostar 494
Sent:	Thursday, December 21, 2006 01:51:39
From:	Andres Hebberecht (andresalbiplaya@jazzfree.com)
can you tell me please how to slow down the text about looking at the
sun... it is so terrific fast that I can't follow any more, and the
speed button only controls the tube speeds. Thank you for your reply.
Mike here: See "Q. My Autostar scrolls text too fast to read. How do I change it?" on the FAQ page.
Subject:	Re: 497 Easy Align Failure
Sent:	Wednesday, December 20, 2006 06:29:39
From:	Carlos Aviles (aviles.carlos1@gmail.com)
I performed the Calibrate Motor, Train Drives procedures and updated the
software from 30b to the latest 43Ed and I am happy to report that
everything is working well.  The solution to my problem was adjusting
the slewing speed, everything else is a very welcomed bonus.  I know you
should be on an observation trip but I wanted to let you know and thank
you again for you help.

Thanks,

Carlos Aviles

Subject:	497 Easy Align Failure
Sent:	Monday, December 18, 2006 07:43:35
From:	Carlos Aviles (aviles.carlos1@gmail.com)
After spending many hours reviewing you site, I took the plunge and
bought a used ETX-105 W/UHTC.  What a great instrument!  First night I
was able to observe many stars and in the early morning the moon and
Jupiter like I remember when I attended the field trips to the local
observatory  The quality of the scope is more than I expected.

The problem that I experienced was that while trying to perform an easy
align and the telescope selected a star I could not get the arrow keys
to move the telescope in order to center the star. I tried many times
with different stars and re-powering the telescope and 497 with no luck.
I should mention that after powering up the scope and clearing the sun
warning, I did used the arrow keys to move the scope around and they
worked.  I am sorry to not been able to explain it better or to tell you
the ROM version of the 497 ( I dont know how to find that). I looked at
different areas on your site but could not find a reference to my
problem.  Any assistance is appreciated.  Without your site I would not
have even considered purchasing a telescope again.
 
Thank You,
 
Carlos Aviles
Sautee, Georgia
Mike here: You probably need to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES from the AutoStar menus (assuming you didn't do that). That should clear up the problem. Also, you can change the slewing speed to go faster using the number keys (1 is slowest and 9 is fastest); perhaps it was set too slow for you.

And:

Thanks for you prompt answer.  I performed the Train Drives but not a
Calibrate Motor.  Your last suggestion makes a lot of sense to me as I
recall hearing some noise but not really detecting any movement.  I will
try these adjustments and keep you posted.

Thank you,

Carlos Aviles

Subject:	495 or 497
Sent:	Saturday, December 16, 2006 07:08:14
From:	John B. Askenmalm (askenmalm@telia.com)
Have bought a 495 on EBay. I suceeded to update the software. It accepts
telescope type DS2130(which it did not before). How do I know if it is
transfered to a 497? When starting it says " C06 Meade 43E"

Iown a Dobson 12 inch. It would be heaven (sic) to be able to marry that
with a 497 or 494. Has that been done?

Thanks a lot for the tips given on the autostar pages.

John B. Askenmalm
51234 Sweden
Mike here: You now have a #497 AutoStar. All done via the software. As to connecting it to a Dob, check out "Steve Bedair's "Go To" Mounts (Autostar info)" (link on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page) and the Roboscopes Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope).

And:

Thanks for your superprompt answer and your good-will to let us share
your know how.
John B

Subject:	difference 505 and 506 serial cables
Sent:	Friday, December 15, 2006 00:34:59
From:	Henrik VAN HOLTHOON (henrik.van.holthoon@wanadoo.fr)
Question difference between 505 and 506 serial cables?

I own apart from a ETX105-PE also ETX70-AT so I know the difference
between a 505 and 506 cable.

The 505 cable is more or less a standard serial cable which plugs on one
side to the 479 Autostar serial plug and the other side to plug adapter
phone plug to 9 pins serial plug.

The 506 cable is not an normal serial cable it plug on one side to the
AUX plug of the ETX70 and the other side to a plug adapter phone plug to
9 pins serial plug. This cable has an converter build in which converts
de AUX from the ETX70 signals to a serial signal.

But be warned you can not plug a 505 or any other normal serial cable
directly to the ETX70 AUX plug you can harm the ETX70.

The cable 506 you can not make yourself you have to order it somewhere.

Good luck
Henrik
Mike here: There is more information on both cables on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Re: my new autostar problems
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2006 19:20:29
From:	Rodney Clabaugh (wclabaugh@sbcglobal.net)
Yea it does have the numeric keys. Could it be that it needs an update
software before it will work. Im puzzled.  Rod
Mike here: Shouldn't need an update but you could give it a shot. Depending on how old it is you might need to start with updating to an older version (in the 1.x series) and then update to the current version. There are older versions in the AutoStar Software Archive on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. It would be safest to use the corresponding AutoStar Update application with the older ROM files. But you could also just start with the latest of both from Meade's site (assuming you use Windows) and see what happens. You will also need a #505 serial cable and a real RS-232 serial port. If your computer only has USB you will also need a USB to serial adapter. Note all adapters work with well with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page.

And from our resident AutoStar expert:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
As Mike wrote, *if* your Autostar has the number keys,
it is a 495.  Meade used to program the 495 to refuse
to operate the "high priced scopes".  That's what
you're seeing.

You -can- convert your 495 into a 497 (which -will-
run the ETX90) by downloading to it.
So you will need to make/buy a 505-type cable.

Then, with the cable in place, you will need to
perform a "Safe Load" procedure to bypass the
ETX90 test.. press and hold the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN
keys, then turn on the telescope power while holding
them down.  The Autostar should go to "Flash Load"
and then "downloading, do not turn off..."
You can release the keys, and start the download from
the PC.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	my new autostar problems
Sent:	Monday, December 11, 2006 21:19:04
From:	Rodney Clabaugh (wclabaugh@sbcglobal.net)
I just bought an autostar from e-bay and the seller did not know if it
was a 495 or 497. All I know is that when i plug it into my etx 90ec it
just reads, Quote " use etx autostar with this model". I dont know what
that means. I called meade and asked them and he said that he had not
seen that. WHU!!! . He said that maybe its because the controller needs
updated. Well I am not in possesion of a 505 cable so I as yet do not
know. Have you ever heard of anything like this? Also whats the
difference between a 505 and 506 cable.  Please,Please Help. I just want
to start cruising the stars.  Thanks.....Rod
Mike here: Does the AutoStar have number keys on the keypad? If not, then it is the #494 AutoStar, which will NOT work with the ETX-90 and is not user-upgradable via software. If it is the #495 (has number keys) it should have worked. The #505 serial (simple to make) is for the #495/#497; the difficult to make #506 serial cable is for the #494. For more on cables, see the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.
Subject:	Re: Autostar 497 corrupt
Sent:	Wednesday, December 6, 2006 03:04:59
From:	John Fulcher (jfulcher@freenetname.co.uk)
For all your good advice, the 497 resolutely refuses to behave and I
fear that the advice given to me, that the handbox was corrupted when
the download was interrupted must be correct. Much as I hate to to face
up to this expensive fact!

Failing any further advice, and the replacement  of the 497 was all that
was offered at this end, I will do this after Christmas (which can be
expensive here as anywhere else), thanks for previous help, much
appreciated,

A Happy Christmas to you and yours,
John Fulcher
Mike here: All may not be lost. See the item "Q. The power went off while I was updating my Autostar and now it doesn't work. Did I kill it" on the FAQ page. This will allow you to restore the AutoStar to its "factory condition" with a current version of the AutoStar software. You will need a #505 serial cable. See the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page for info on making this simple cable. Also, you will need a RS-232 serial port on your computer; if you have only USB you will need a USB-serial adapter. Note that not all adapters work reliably with the AutoStar; see the "AutoStar and USB" article on the AutoStar Info page. If you have Windows you can use the Meade software from their AutoStar Update page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html); if you have Mac OS X you can use AutostarX (from the AutoStar Info page; a Linux version is also available there).

And:

Went to Meade site, opened FAQ from the Home page,  opened FAQ on
'telescopes'; no such question as "Q. The power went off whilst updating
my AutoStar...", only mundane basic Q.'s of a less technical nature.
Tried your site just in case, very interesting and technical (some
clever people about) but no such information could I find there either. 
Hoping that your patience runs a bit further, I  have a serial port
proper and a #505 cable so am part way there,
Mike here: Sorry. I meant the FAQ page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	ETX90 PE random slew - bad RJ45 connector is another possible cause
Sent:	Tuesday, December 5, 2006 14:06:43
From:	chriswemail2000-etx@yahoo.co.uk
A couple of months after getting my ETX90PE I began to experience what
is referred to by a number of contributors to your site as random
slewing. The telescope would suddenly slew at maximum rate for a second
or so,  but Autostar would be unaware that it had moved (ie the alt/az
or ra/dec would now be wrong) or would ultimately give a motor failure
error message.

The problem was gradually becoming worse and I searched your site for
possible causes. However, then a pattern started to emerge and I
suspected that the slew could be made to happen by moving the Autostar
coiled cable about.

I tried reversing the Autostar cable (swapped the ends over) having read
that this cured a similar problem for one person. When I turned the
Autostar back on it could not get the date/time from the LNT unit -
however the random slewing did not occur even if I moved the cable
about.

I then discovered what had caused the problem - the RJ45 connector on
one end of the Autostar cable had not been crimped on to the outer
sleeve of the cable, so allowing too much strain on the connections and
obviously an intermittent connection on one pin. With the cable one way
round this affected the drive, but the other way round it affected
communication of the date/time (because of the "crossover" mapping of
the conductors).

I found that it is surprisingly difficult to get at the pins on an RJ45
to test the lead, but I replaced the offending RJ45 connector (had to
buy a crimp tool to fit it....) and this has completely fixed the
problem.


Thanks again for your excellent site

Regards

Chris Wade

UK

Subject:	Wireless Autostar
Sent:	Friday, December 1, 2006 07:10:18
From:	Jan H Kolst (jan.kolsto@online.no)
I tried to use Starlink to make my Autostar wireless , but I didn't
succeed. I wrote back to the firm Star GPS http://www.stargps.ca/ to get
support.Chris Carson was a very helpful and nice man who tried helping
me , but no success.He suggested to try Aircable (same setup as
Starlink)  www.aircable.net) and I returned Starlink and he sent me
Aircable. This ,Aircable, worked very well with Autostar suit,Hello
Northern Star and Carte du Ciel.I didn't manage to make it work with
Astroplanner so far.I have a Dell Inspiron 8600 , Windows XP and Usb
bluetooth Billionton.
 
I'd like to add that I use Autostar 497 and ETX 125 AT

Regards
Jan H Kolstoe
Norway

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