AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 February 2003
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:	autostar
Sent:	Friday, February 28, 2003 18:23:20
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
autostar & etx125

I am a very new user and am not to technical oriented.   I have
tried and read several times to get autostar ligned up.

First, how do I get the arrows to work in autostar to fine tune my
alignment.

Am I missing something with the home position:

Loosen vert and horiz.  move telescope counter clock wise till it stops
than move it clockwise till the numbers are over the control panel.
tighten both vert and align horz numbers to ) and tighten.  Point whole
telescope move tripod to north position and I should be ready to go. I
know jupiter and I goto and it is not near it. I'm about ready to send
it back and get a non goto telescope.
Mike here: Sorry you are having some problems. Setting up for alignment is pretty straightforward; see the Alignment Tips articles on the Autostar Information page. From your description it sounds like you have the right idea but you might be missing a step or two. Also, remember to use True North, not Magnetic North for the HOME position. Also, check the Daylight Savings setting. Lastly, be certain the correct telescope model and mounting mode are set in the Autostar. Let me know if any of this helps.
Subject:	Convert Autostar #495 to #497
Sent:	Friday, February 28, 2003 15:07:30
From:	jshell@stargate.net (Jim Shellenbarger)
Am I correct in thinking that I can purchase a #495 autostar, build a
cable, and convert it to a 497 autostar following the conversion
procedures on your website and then use it on my ETX-70? The reason that
I ask this is that it seems as thought his would be as cheap or cheaper
and get me better equipment than purchasing the 506 kit to download
upgrades to the 494 that came with my scope. Am I overlooking something
obvious here that shoots a big hole in my theory? Please advise to any
possible traps that I might be overlooking. I appreciate you time in
answering my questions, I think I found most of the info, but I was
looking for reassurance before I bought anything.

Thanks in advance,

Jim
Mike here: You are exactly correct. All you need is the #505 cable, Windows operating system, and the software from Meade's site. A #495 Autostar can then be upgraded to a #497.
Subject:	GPS question
Sent:	Friday, February 28, 2003 4:14:26
From:	pth@dmi.dk (Peter Thejll)
thanks again for your help. Dick Seymour was most helpful.

The 8" GPS telescope was mentioned as a telescope that can take care of
itself after power-up. Can I ask, via your site, whether anyone out
there, with a GPS-fitted Meade telescope, can confirm this? Just how
much manual interaction is required with one of these telescopes, after
power-on, before the Autostar can start receiving commands via the
serial (505) cable?

Best wishes,

Peter Thejl
Denmark

Subject:	re: Autoguiding with Autostar?...
Sent:	Thursday, February 27, 2003 18:20:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	SGOODMAN2@nc.rr.com
You said:
===quote=====
I plan to dismantle the ETX, use the drive components on a new, more
sturdy equitorial mount, and use the OTA as the autoguider's scope.

My question is this... Where do I input the guider commands?  There are
only 4-pin ports on the ETX and Autostar, but Marty's schematic call for
a 6-pin connector.  Four of those pins are switched to ground by the
camera interface to make corrections, one is ground, and I believe the
last is unused.  Am I missing something or is it going to be harder than
I thought?  I believe the interface was designed for a Meade LX-200.

Oh, Marty just emailed me this:

"Guider.exe will guide an LX-200 via serial potocol commands.  I believe
this should work with an ETX, but I'm not sure.  If you have a null
modem cable, it would be easy to test. "

Well, I dont see a serial output on the schematic, but are the AUX ports
serial input capable?  Maybe I need to use the Autostar with the camera
interface plugged into the Autostar?..... Trying to get this all sorted
out in my head.
===end quote====

The 6-pin connector is for a "CCD Autoguider" input.
The LX-90 and LXD-55 can use the $50  MEade 909 APM to attach
such a socket to the AUX port, and the Autostar will use those
inputs to adjust the telescope's tracking.

That feature is -not- implemented in the ETX or DS lines of telescopes.
(they could, they don't... if you want to Autoguide, Meade requests
that you buy an LX-90 (best) or an LXD-55 (not working too well with
autoguiding).  
That's the 6-pin hardware answer.

For the LX200 serial command answer, you would (As Mike said) use
a 505 cable (or build your own, pinout atthe bottom of:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html 

That cable plugs into the second hole on the Autostaritself,
and then the Autostar interprets the commands and controls the motors.

You cannot use the AUX port for this purpose on an ETX with a 497 Autostar.

Then many programs can command slewing of/by the Autostar
StarryNight, DeepSky, Cartes du Ciel (free!) and others.

-Guiding- that way is a bit of a problem... the commands will 
go at the last speed commanded (or keypadded)... and the slowest
of those (for an ETX) is 1x sidereal.  Not less.
(hmmm... another spot for a patch: halve all ETX speeds)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: Re: ETX-Autostar #497
Sent:	Thursday, February 27, 2003 17:54:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	dave_daems@hotmail.com
Ya know?  That sure sounds like either a bad cable (two pins shorted
together can do this), or the data driver in the Autostar is bad.

First try: reverse  the ends of the cable.
That shuffles what wire carries what, and may allow -some- motion.
IF it does, it's the cable.

If you can test the cable (ohmmeter, test light, whatever)
It's a pin 1 on one connector goes to pin 8 of the other.
The full list is:
1->8
2->7
3->6
4->5
5->4
6->3
7->2
8->1

Check that each wire goes where it should,
and check the -adjacent- pins to make sure no pin is
cross-talking to another.

When in use, the outer two wires (1 and 8) carry the power.
The rest of the pins are described in various postings on
Mike's Autostar Info page.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: Meade and ZIP
Sent:	Thursday, February 27, 2003 17:48:51
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	etxjim@yahoo.com
Yes, Meade has "always" used ZIP,
but they -also- have always also supplied the file fully unpacked,
in its ROM format.

If you visit:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto/

you will see the various download files in their raw form at MEade's site.
If you ahve your browser/Explorer properly set to show filetypes and size
("Detail" view, and withOUT hiding the file types), then you'll 
see the "Build.rom" file in all its already-unZipped glory. And size.

Folks like me (56 kbaud modem) **DO** appreciate being able to fetch 
the file at less than half its unpacked size.

Their Support page used to have links to both Zipped and ROM flavors.
MAybe they should reinstate that.

Some browsers will not transfer a ROM file properly... they don't 
know what it is, so they deal with it as text (hence adding a LineFeed
after every CarriageReturn, which really trashes a binary file...)
Zip is a known-by-all-broswers format, so they don't trash it.
(they won't -unpack- it, but at least they won't trash it)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re:  Quick questions after first light.
Sent:	Thursday, February 27, 2003 17:37:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	allerob@adelphia.net
> Motor Unit Faults...

Setup > Telescope > Calibrate   

directly addresses one of the causes of Motor Unit Faults.

You will need to realign after doing it,
or you can simly power up indoors, get past Date/Time/Daylight
(three [enter]s are just fine), and then scroll to that Setup item.

The two axes will each move a small amount, and the calibration
is accomplished.

Read:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html
for background info.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	How clever is Autostar???
Sent:	Thursday, February 27, 2003 8:14:34
From:	pat.odonnell@french-thornton.co.uk (Pat O Donnell)
My usual observing location is 0. 43'. 18" west of the Greenwich
Meridian.

This means that, for example, sunrise occurs about 3 (clock) minutes
there after it occurs at Greenwich.  If I set an accurate location
(longitude) in Autostar, will it be clever enough to "change the clock"
from the initial time I give it, or would I get greater longitudinal
accuracy by setting both the accurate location as well as GMT - 3
minutes (to account for the westerly offset from lat. 0)?

Thanks in advance.

Best regards,

Pat O'Donnell
Mike here: I'm a little confused by your question. You want to set the time accurately when you start up. You should already have the location set as accurately as possible. But what's accurate enough for your GOTOs? That depends somewhat on the accuracy of your HOME position (for the initial alignments), the accuracy of your drive TRAINing, the accuracy of your alignment star centering, and more.

And:

Sorry for the confusion.  I'll try to explain by way of example.

Assume that I have already entered my position accurately to within 1'
longitude.  I wish to go out and do some observing.  I have very
accurately set up my HOME position.  I now wish to enter time.  My clock
is very accurate as it runs on a radio time-setting system.  My clock
says it is exactly 21:15:00 GMT.  I know that sunrise occurs at my
longitude 3 minutes after it rises over the Greenwich meridian.  Since I
have already entered my location very accurately, Autostar could
calculate this without my having to adjust the time I enter.  If it
does, fine.  If it does not, then I should enter the time as 21:12
rather than 21.15 to get a more accurate position and tracking.  My
question is "What is the most accurate time to enter in to Autostar?"

Now, I would have thought there are three possible responses to the
question:
1.  Autostar already calculates the difference in "local time" from GMT
based on the data you input for location.
2.  How very clever you are.  Entering an offset time for your latitude
will make a difference (however slight).
3.  You silly buggar.  The times for sunrise and sunset have nothing
whatsoever to do with the apparent position of stars in the night sky.

It may well be that the real answer is "Who cares?  The initial settings 
before ALIGN are nowhere near sensitive enough for it to make a 
difference!"

Hope that's clearer.
Mike here: The Autostar uses the date and time entered to calculate rise/set times for the objects that move in the sky. It also uses your location for the calculations. Obviously it uses date/time/location to determine where the fixed and moving objects are located so that it can slew to those. So, to answer your question: accurate time AT your location. A simple way to answer this would be to consider if your location was 30 minutes away instead of 3 minutes; would you have entered 20:45 instead of 21:15? Nope.
Subject:	Quick questions after first light.
Sent:	Wednesday, February 26, 2003 17:04:47
From:	allerob@adelphia.net (robert cosgrove)
This site is a godsend to a newbie user!! 

First, I realized after training the drive that i hadn't tightened the
RA lock enough(when i went to put the dewcap on, the scope tipped down
big time....---but I went ahead and used the scope several hours later
anyway without retraining-i didn't intend on using the goto function
anyway just yet.....(hey i was excited-first light!)......however, when
i was slewing later in the evening...i received the "motor unit error"
message....could this have been caused by the faulty training earlier in
the day?

Secondly,  my autostar is version 2.3E......is this very out of date or
do you recommend i update the autostar?

I'll be sure to train the scope correctly next time.....it was a bad
night for seeing, but i simply couldn't wait to try the scope.......

Thanks a bunch. Rob C.
Mike here: Yes I would suggest upgrading to the current version. You will need to make or buy a #505 serial cable. As to that error, it can occur from several reasons: hitting a hardstop, poor cable connection, low battery power, AC power surge (if using an AC adapter), dirty encoders, etc. Anything that interrupts the Autostar communicating with the ETX can create that error.

And:

So i guess it will be process of elimination if the problem
continues..... i'll be sure to train correctly next time and i'll order
the cable for updating.

i'll be pledging some cash to the websight-having visited a million
websights prior to settling on the ETX-i can safely say your websight
takes the cake as far as support goes!

Thanks again.  Oh, I just noticed the search function in the
archives....i'll be sure to use it next time before emailing  you.

Subject:	Autoguiding with Autostar?...
Sent:	Wednesday, February 26, 2003 15:57:14
From:	SGOODMAN2@nc.rr.com (Scott Goodman)
Great web site!  After a long hiatus and a weekend on Kitt Peak, I've
decided to pull the ETX90EC out of the attic and have a go at guided
film photos...  I've done some Quickcam planetary shots in the past, but
I'm now interested in using the QC as an autoguider with Marty Niemi's
software and interface box. 
www.ameritech.net/users/mniemi000/auto.html

I plan to dismantle the ETX, use the drive components on a new, more
sturdy equitorial mount, and use the OTA as the autoguider's scope.

My question is this... Where do I input the guider commands?  There are
only 4-pin ports on the ETX and Autostar, but Marty's schematic call for
a 6-pin connector.  Four of those pins are switched to ground by the
camera interface to make corrections, one is ground, and I believe the
last is unused.  Am I missing something or is it going to be harder than
I thought?  I believe the interface was designed for a Meade LX-200.

Oh, Marty just emailed me this:

"Guider.exe will guide an LX-200 via serial potocol commands.  I believe
this should work with an ETX, but I'm not sure.  If you have a null
modem cable, it would be easy to test. "

Well, I dont see a serial output on the schematic, but are the AUX ports
serial input capable?  Maybe I need to use the Autostar with the camera
interface plugged into the Autostar?..... Trying to get this all sorted
out in my head.

Thanks for any help you can give : )
-Scott G
Mike here: Well, first off, it will be hard and not too effective if you plan to use the ETX drives. The LX200 can correct for "periodic error" but the ETX/Autostar does not have this capability. The accuracy of the autoguiding will likely not give you the results you desire. But if you want to attempt it you would need to use a #505 serial cable connected to the Autostar to send slewing commands to the Autostar.
Subject:	Meade Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, February 26, 2003 3:13:15
From:	dave_daems@hotmail.com (Dave Daems)
I just wanted to share my personal opinion on the manual of the
autostar. The manual is fine and clear... When it works ok. If you have
a problem, like me (with the motors), then you're stranded. Luckily for
this site, I have someone I can go to.

I think the manual is inconclusive considering the possible problems.

Thanks
Dave
Mike here: Many manuals, whether for your car, your software, or your telescope, never include enough troubleshooting information. Hence, tech support lines are busy. And websites get a lot of hits!
Subject:	Thanks - and LX200 command set questions
Sent:	Tuesday, February 25, 2003 3:36:28
From:	pth@dmi.dk (Peter Thejll)
Thanks for the help I received when, some time ago, I complained
mightily about the problems I was having with my Meade ETX90EC. I have
solved the problems now, and am a happy and contented ETX owner. Sorry I
raised my voice! The problems I had were related to bad setup of the
telescope at the outset  - the right home position is important and
so is the accurate alignment on those stars. This is obvious now, but
wasn't at the time - so, thanks for the help!

Now, along with being way to pessimistic at times I am also very
ambitious for the little ETX 'scope - I want to learn about using the
LX200 command set to control the telescope in a robotic or remote
observatory type of situation.

I see the LX200 command set on the 'net and I see the example program -
I have a really simple question at the outset: Is it only possible to
use the command set after setting the telescope up with align and all
that? Autostar cannot be started without requiring a complete setup -
but I need to send the LX200 commands via that serial cable and the
Autostar, right? After the setup the telescope is tracking - is it OK to
start sending commands via the PC's serial port then? Can the tracking
be stopped - or am I missing the point somehow?

Best wishes

Peter Thejll
Denmark
Mike here: Glad you got things working. As to sending commands to the Autostar, if you want to GOTO objects then the Autostar has to be aligned first. And yes, you need the #505 serial cable to talk between the computer and the Autostar.

And:

Thanks Mike,
I knew that the GOTO requires aligning, but I can't really see how to
send any commands to the Autostar unless it has been worked with
manually - is there any way to have commands arrive and be dealt with
after a power on OTHER than following alignment?

I mean, after power on the Autostar is there asking me to press ENTER
and give the date and so on - can these steps be skipped somehow? Can
these steps be done via the 505 cable?

If I can park the telescope in home position and by other means turn
power off, then after power on I'd like to be able to start moving the
telescope purely by remote commands. Can this be done?
And from our resident Autostar expert:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
At this time, the answer (for the ETX/DS/LX90) is "No".
You (or a robot acting for you) must push the keypad 3 times.
(Time/Date/Daylight). 
After that, you can remotely control the telescope.

Full-remote features were only recently added to the LX200gps programming.

I will take a look and see if it can be added to the ETX programming
as a patch (i am feeling lucky these days).
(added later:) I can see a way to bypass the Date/Time/Daylight,
but it would require that you send an extra character in the gap
between when the Autostar emits an "X during startup, and the 
prompt for "date" appears.  I am trying to find a way to do it
without a narrow time-window, but there is not much room to play
in that particular part of the program.

I would also recommend sending a note to engineer@meade.com
with "autostar 497 request" in the Subject.  
Customer input can and does cause these improvements to happen.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	etx-125
Sent:	Monday, February 24, 2003 18:30:38
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
I just recieved my etx-125 with autostar.  I'm having some problems
maybe you have heard of.  I downloaded the newest version 26e and when I
go through the setup everything is fine till I get to the alignment when
the screen goes blank.  Everything before is bright and clear but as
soon as alignment easy comes up it goes black.  If I hit enter it starts
slewing so it is still working I just cant see anything.  I have tried
reloading the software but the same thing.  It worked before I
downloaded the new version.

Also,  Do you have any experience with the sky by bisque software.  I
cant get the LST to match.  What is LST and what would I need to do to
get them to match!!!

Dore
Mike here: You need to adjust the display brightness and/or contrast. They are under the Utilities menu. I haven't used The Sky; LST may stand for two different times: Local Solar Time and Local Sidereal Time. They are different; so the values won't match. I don't know what The Sky uses.
Subject:	re:  Autostar problems (ZIP problems, really)
Sent:	Monday, February 24, 2003 11:26:12
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	etxjim@yahoo.com
The ASU does -not- know what to do with ZIP files.

What you need/want to do is apply WinZip to the ZIP file,
-or- have the Updater itself fetch the current BUILD file from Meade.

You can have the ASU do the from-Meade transfer with the telescope
disconnected, and then later transfer it to the telescope (handy 
if the telephone is far from the telescope).

If you want to continue with the file you manually downloaded
from MEade, and if you have WinZip installed, then that file
should have gained a little C-clamp icon.
Double click that.
WinZip should start.   (I use the Classic view, not the Wizard).
In WinZip's window you should see two entries: Build26Ed.rom
and a ReadMe file.  
In a Windows Explorer window, open the folder:
C:\Program Files\Meade\ASU\Ephemerides\

Drag-and-drop the Build26Ed.rom file from the WinZip window
 into the Windows Explorer window, placing it in that Ephemerides folder.

Close WinZip.
Start ASU.
Attach Telescope, power up, answer time/date/daylight.
Click [upgrade now] in ASU 
In the "where shall i get it?" window which appears, click (*) Local.
Now: To the right of that "Local" is a drop-box.
If "26Ed" is not showing in -that- window, click the [v] to the right.
That opens the box to show what ROM versions the Updater can find.
Click on 26Ed, so it highlights, and the box collapes to only showing
that "26Ed"

Now click [ok] to the ensuing windows, and the update should happen.
It will take 35 minutes.

good luck
--dick
And an update:
From:	etxjim@yahoo.com (jim abbey)
I just got off the phone with Meade and spoke with Andrew and Chris and
they are having the same problem , Im having. They are going to fix the
problem and with in the next few day will fix the problem.You might want
to tell group member about it.

Thank you, Jim
Mike here: It unzipped fine on my Mac but I didn't bring the resulting file into Windows to try out.

And a further update:

I just got it to load thanks to Richard and it was a user oversight on mine and Meade's part. Thanks for your help and for putting up with me
throgh this!

Thank you, Jim
And:
Has Meade always used Zip format? Im thinking it is something new they
are doing because I up loaded26ec fine and at that time I had no Zip in
my system.I checked back in to my ASU files and the previous 26ec was
not in Zip format.I think the Two Techs at Meade were stumped by
it,also.This file ,26ed is a smaller file then 26ec,So why did they feel
the need to compress it? Up until lately, I had no need for Zip on my
computer.Oh,well "live and learn." Thanks again.
Mike here: Yep, they've been using Zip for a long time. Back in the ROM 1.x days I believe.

And:

Hmm.That"s odd . Well, I can do it now, more a curiosity than anything, 

Subject:	Re: Re: ETX-Autostar #497
Sent:	Monday, February 24, 2003 2:57:51
From:	dave_daems@hotmail.com (Dave Daems)
I have tried the reset and the recall. but the callibration just won't
start because the autostar has no control over the motors. The small
standard EC woks fine, always. Just the autostar controls won't work.
I'll try untightening the locks.

I'm also going to a meade seller here and ask if I may try my autostar
on one of their ETX'. In order to find out if the problem is with the
autostar or my ETX.

Thank you
Dave
Mike here: Do you get an error when you run the CALIBRATE?

And:

Nope, nothing... The screen just goes back to the menu. I'm home now and
untightend the locks, for now it seems to work... But that has happened
more often. I wonder how long it'll last now. So, for the moment it
seems fixed.
Mike here: Keep me posted.

And an update:

I tried again, motors are out. I have no idea about the problem. Maybe I
should contact Meade? Oh by the way, I just ordered your book :)
Mike here: Yeah, contact Meade.
Subject:	ETX-Autostar #497
Sent:	Saturday, February 22, 2003 13:00:57
From:	dave_daems@hotmail.com (Dave Daems)
I have just bought an ETX-105 UHTC, with tripod and autostar.

All works fine, the EC is very handy and usefull. But now, at night, I
wanted to use the autostar to view the
invisible-to-the-naked-eye-objects. Only one glitch... The autostar
arrow-controls don't work. The menus work allright. Everything okay...
except for the scope control. The most important to me. I installed
evertything correctly (date, time, location...) I haven't even started
alignign... I tried but when the autostar wanted to slew, the display
said "slewing..." but the scope just doesn't move. But it had worked, I
accidently pushed the arrow keys to move around the menus and the scope
started moving of course. So it DID work.

Any ideas on this? If you ask me... Autostar broke down on me.

Thank you
Dave
Mike here: Can you slew the telescope with the standard handcontroller? If so, I suspect you changed the slewing speed on the Autostar keypad. Pressing the number keys (1-9) changes the slewing speed from really slow (1) to really fast (9). When I want to slew to objects I usually press 5 or 7 to get there quickly and then usually press 2 or 3 for fine adjustments.

And:

Yes, the EC works, but the control arrows of the autostar don't. I tried
all the speeds but it just doesn't move. I have tried it again just now.
And the autostar did work correctly, so I putted in home position to
allign. But when it started slewing to Sirius, it stopped after moving
half an inch to the right and up. The screen said "slewing" but it
didn't. I tried moving it again with the arrow buttosn, but they did not
work. I think the autostar's motor command is broken. Sometimes it
works, sometimes it doesn't (more 'not', actually).
Mike here: Could you be overtightening the axis locks? Have you tried a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN the drives? Perhaps that is all that is needed.
Subject:	ETX-70 Plymouth UK allignment problem & how solved.
Sent:	Saturday, February 22, 2003 2:01:26
From:	g.qualter@talk21.com (Gary Qualter)
In January I purchased an ETX-70 with an accessory kit. I am thrilled
with the scope (my first), but until last night (after about half a
dozen observing sessions) I was unable to allign it, despite re-reading
the instructions and the advice on this site many times. Each time I
selected easy allign the first star would be in a totally different part
of the sky to where the scope pointed, so would the second and the
allignment would fail (yes - I had definately enterd the correct
date,time,location etc.). I was becoming suspicious that the data in the
Autostar for my location, nearest city Plymouth UK, may be incorrect.
Last night after another failed attempt I brought the scope indoors and
connected it up to my PC for the first time. I went straight to edit
user information and checked the co-ordinates for Plmouth. While the
westerly coordinate was only about one degree out, the northerly
coordinate was a massive forty six degrees out. I edited the data with
the correct data for my home town, went outside, alligned the scope,
selected Jupiter and hey-presto there was Jupiter bang in the middle of
my field of view. I am delighted that I can now enjoy the full
capabilities of my scope.

This raises questions in my mind. Does every ETX-70 with Autostar have
bad info for Plymouth, or was it just me? There could be many other
owners in my area who are unable to allign. I am posting this info in
the hope that it may help others who are currently frustrated.

Thanks for a fantastic site.

Gary Qualter (Exmouth, Devon, UK)  

Mike here: It is possible there was an error made when the lat/long for some locations was put into the software. So it would seem to be a good tip to check the location coordinates when selecting a City. Thanks.
Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Friday, February 21, 2003 11:13:44
From:	divenuts@gte.net (divenuts)
I hit a hard stop in my first try in polar aligning. Will I lose all the
info and tours Dr. Clay loaded in the Autostar(Supercharge) if I
reset>retrain> or would I be OK just to retrain and recalibrate(should I
recalibrate before or after retraining?)

Also, I have v2.3, would you recommend updating to v3.61, and once again
do I lose all my tour data? I believe I have a older #495,does that make
a difference? Sorry for all the questions , but I didn't see the answers
in reading Dr. Clay's "How to" section on your website.

Thanks,
Chuck Callaghan
Dunedin, Fl
Mike here: Hitting a hard stop is not a problem and usually a result of not doing to the counterclockwise rotation when first setting up in the HOME position. I doubt that the calibration and training (which I'm sure Dr. Clay did) is the problem. If you have been doing the proper rotation, let me know. You can save the tours on disk using ASU 3.61; unfortunately I can't tell you how to do that since I have removed ASU from the hard disk on my current Mac while waiting for my new PowerBook 17" to arrive. Then you won't have to worry about it if something goes wrong during the download of a new version. As to #495 or #497, not a problem since it was upgraded via software to a #497 sometime since it has 2.3.

And:

Thanks alot Mike, I thought that hitting the hard stop would throw off
the training and calibration. I always had done the correct rotation,
but the first time I tried to polar align I think I screwed up when the
eyepiece is facing down and I skipped or repeated a step. I downloaded
ASU today so I might be able to save the tours if I decide to update. I
bought a new Autostar from William Vorces' "Telescope Warehouse" and he
has it loaded with v2.6, so I can leave my old Autostar in Alt/az w/v2.3
and use it for those quickie night sessions. Have fun with your new
Mighty PowerBook 17!

Subject:	Tour Files
Sent:	Friday, February 21, 2003 10:39:34
From:	M.Hommel@invensyspritchett.com (Mark Hommel)
Where are the tour files for the ETX on your great site?

Mark
Mike here: On the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Autostar problems
Sent:	Friday, February 21, 2003 0:23:48
From:	etxjim@yahoo.com (jim abbey)
Perhaps you can shed some light on this. My auto star is saying that
Jupiter  is below the horizon even though it is still up  high in the
sky. Also After I uploaded  satilite data  its saying the elements have
expired,This is a new auto star , I had to exchange my other one due to
a  glitch and the thing would not safe load after a power interruption
,Oh yeah, The moon is not in the right place according to the autostar,I
entered the time, date ,and location correctly,Im stumped! Could you
suggest a solution? If the data is corrupted,how would  I correct that?
Thanks for any help or suggestions ,you can give.

Thank you, Jim
Mike here: The Autostar may be new but what version is it running? If not a recent 2.6 version I would suggest upgrading (the current version is 2.6Ed). Check the year (easy to miss), Daylight Savings, and AM/PM/24hr time setting (I use 24 hour myself; avoids missing that AM or PM is set wrong).

And an update:

It seems I fixed the pointing, and  planet position problems but I have
still the issue  of ,The auto star will not up load the latest update
26ed .The program seems like it is loading but when it is all sead  and
done , The auto star still has version 26ec  Andrew at Meade sead to
load the program to the asu folder ,I did that and it still ,did not
work. Went back and tried it directly through the Internet and that did
not work so Im up for ANY suggestions! I know  you are busy so  get back
to me when you can. Im sure you get dozens of this type of  e-mails all
day. Maybe Im missing something,Its beyond me though?

Thank you, Jim
Mike here: If the build.rom file is located in the Emphemerides folder and the Autostar automatically goes into download mode, it should be downloading. Does the Autostar automatically go into download mode when initiating the download from the ASU software?

And more:

Mike ,having problems unziping  the zip file that opens the progam ,I
down loaded Winzip but how do I get the ASU to recognize the program.
Other wise I cant up load the programe ,any sugestions?
And:
Mike, The year was one of  the solutions ,and yes it is easy to miss!
OOPS! Im still trying to get the ASU to recognize the zip file if not, I
am stuck, all other issues are solved. I just need to know how do I get
this piece of junk computer to unzip this 26ed version. Like I told you
I downloaded Winzip but how do I apply it to ASU?
Mike here: WinZip should unzip it (personally I use OpenUp for Mac OS X but StuffIt Expander for Macs and Windows also unzips). You need to open (or drag) the downloaded file to your unzipper program. Do the same with both the 2.6Ed file and the ASU program. Place the resulting build.rom file into the Emphemerides folder. Glad checking the year helped.

And even more:

Mike For what ever reason the meade file is a zip file and my computer
does not have a way to unzip this file.  My other auto star did  down
load 26ec but  my new autostar will not take to 26ed very well.
Mike here: The zip file is common for binary files on the web. Just the nature of the web. Don't know why your PC won't handle it; my Mac does... Don't know why your Autostar would handle 2.6Ec and not 2.6Ed. You might want to send a bug report to engineer@meade.com.
Subject:	ETX General EC question
Sent:	Thursday, February 20, 2003 19:35:48
From:	edelmann@hcst.net (John Edelmann)
When using the Polar HOME position setup, for example, where you rotate
the OTA along the RA axis, as mentioned (to the hard stop, and back off
120 degrees or so), does it matter whether or not you always RETURN the
OTA to the same home position after an evening of observation or can you
simply return it to the HOME position manually by disengaging the RA
lock when it comes time to reposition it?

In other words (and, I suspect, other words are required here),  do the
drives "remember" where the OTA was when it was last turned off, vs
where  it might be when you re-align it manually?

What happens if you use the motor to rotate it as far as it goes
clockwise, say, but then, MANUALLY move it back to the home position? 
Would the gears ever get screwed up (so to speak)?

Just wondering...

I received my #887 tripod this evening;  it assembled easily... and
though it was clear out, I didn't feel well enough to go trapsing out in
25 degree weather ... hopefully it will be 45 or so before long...!

thanks,

john.
Mike here: No, the drives do not remember where the telescope is when turned off unless you Park the Autostar. Parking slews back to the HOME position and then you turn off the ETX. When you turn it on you are prompted to enter the date/time and you've off and running again. But the telescope has to be put physically back into the same location as when you turned it off if you moved it.

And this:

From:	drclay@arksky.org (Clay Sherrod)
Nothing remembered at all John....just return it manually as you
describe and store carefully!

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H41/ Petit Jean Mt.
And:
With the Autostar, yes, I see what you mean.

Actually, I forgot to mention 1 point:  what if you're only using the
hand controller ... not Autostar?  Is it then still necessary to return
it (specifically using the controls) to the home position BEFORE turning
it off, so that the EC is returned to the original position, or, can you
simply undo the RA clamp, for instance, and return it to that position? 
My concern is the health and well-being of the drive system...., not
accuracy in terms of GOTO (at this point).  Once it's warm enough to
train the drives, etc., (who knows when that will be?) I'll proceed with
the usual Autostar initialization.
Mike here: Just power down, unlock the axes, and manually reposition the telescope. I leave the altitude axis unlocked when not in use.
Subject:	Re: Aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh! My Alignment Hurts.......
Sent:	Thursday, February 20, 2003 15:40:59
From:	vampirelestatsoulreaver@msn.com (Vampire Le Stat)
Thanks for the help Mike, the 505 cable is on order.

My Autostar is a 495 and I note that 26Ed is for 497's.

Will I be able to pump 26Ed straight into my Autostar ok or will I have
to upgrade it to a 497. Or, does 26Ed actually upgrade the 495 to a 497?

I have ASU loaded with 26Ed ready and waiting........

Vamp.
Mike here: The #495 will be upgraded to a #497 when you do the update. You will have to put the Autostar into download mode to do the update. But once you've updated to the current version you won't have to set download mode before doing future updates; it will happen automatically.
Subject:	Re:Alignment without Polaris
Sent:	Thursday, February 20, 2003 9:39:49
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com (Raymond Barbour (ZA))
Surely this whole need to accurately put the telescope into its Home
Position be avoided by:

a) The Autostar making the assumption that any centring done on the
first star is to counteract the discrepancies actual start position and
the Home Position, or

b) if the Home Position is used as the "Zeroth" star in the two star
alignment, would a three star alignment equivalent not do the trick?
Perhaps Dick with his in-depth knowledge of the Autostar can throw some
light on this.

Raymond
Joburg
South Africa

p.s. You people in the Northern Hemisphere are blessed to have a Pole
star (to align north and for Autostar training). Sigma Octants is so
faint I don't know of any Southern Hemisphere amateur who could point it
out and we have to use the Southern Cross and its pointers to find the
pole approximately. We do however have a lot of great things that aren't
visible or are low in the south for you guys like Omega Centauri, 47
Tucanae and the Magellenic Clouds so it's not all bad :)

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, February 19, 2003 16:05:20
From:	divenuts@gte.net (divenuts)
I recently purchased the #887 tripod and wedge. I'm struggling to become
adept at polar alignment, it's easy to get spoiled with the quick set-up
of alt/az. I polar aligned using Dr.Clay's method and had a long set-up
but finally got things right. The next time out, I just wanted a
'quicky' observing session in alt/az on my 'old #883 tripod. I changed
the Autostar from alt/az to polar in the telescope>mount section of
set-up, needless to say the alignment now is a mess. Alignment has
failed and the tracking is way off. I assume I need to reset,retrain and
recalibrate. I'm thinking of buying an additional Autostar..one to use
in Polar and one to use in alt/az mode. Is that the logical way to go
about using my Supercharged ETX-125 in both modes?
Thanks,
Chuck Callaghan
Dunedin, Fl
Mike here: Switching mounting modes back and forth should not be a problem. I suspect the mounting mode didn't stick (check for the ">" by it). Also check that the telescope model is still correct.

And:

I understand now after rereading Dr. Clays comments under "Performance
Enhancements-Creating the Perfect "GoTo" ETX:

7) Alternately, if you are using, say Polar mode and want to just do a
"quickie" outside in Alt-Azimuth configuration, you SHOULD NOT retrain
the motors; however, for proper tracking you would still have to default
AutoStar into the "Alt-AZ" mount function.

However, it would not be be a bad idea, if I wanted/needed a backup
AutoStar(I have to push the buttons quite hard to enter commands).
Chuck
Mike here: Nothing wrong with having two Autostars.
Subject:	Alignment without polaris
Sent:	Wednesday, February 19, 2003 13:54:39
From:	idarlington@madasafish.com (Ian Darlington)
Having just moved house, my backyard (where I plan to use my telescope)
has a great view south, but the house blocks views to the north,
including polaris. Is there any way to align the scope without using
polaris to get the home position exactly north? I was thinking I could
use a compass to get an approximate north home postion, and then rotate
the scope and tripod head to centre the first alignment star after
slewing from the home position, would this work? I am using an ETX125
(older model) with autostar, currently runing 2.1ek - would you recomend
upgrading to the lastest firmware?
Thanks in advance

Ian
Mike here: There are many ways to get your telescope pointed to True North (not Magnetic North). One is using a compass (correcting for any local Magnetic Variation, which can be up to about 20 degrees in some locations). The second is to look at a street map; it probably has True North at the top and then figure out the relation of your yard to the streets. Third, and one that I use when I can't see Polaris, is to use the compass or guess where True North might be. Then do the first alignment star but instead of slewing the telescope, pick up the telescope and tripod and rotate it horizontally until you get the telescope pointed as close as possible to the proper star and then slew to center it, first in the finderscope and then in an eyepiece. You have now corrected for the initial HOME position. The second alignment star should be close and you should center it normally.
Subject:	new firmare for LX 90 and ETX scopes
Sent:	Wednesday, February 19, 2003 12:11:43
From:	drclay@arksky.org (Clay Sherrod)
02/19/03
"Autostar model #497 version 26Ed (445 KB) is available. Rev. 26Ed
improves satellite pointing in polar mode. To get this new version, use
either the 26Ed link to download and unzip the file to the Ephemerides
directory of the Autostar Update (ASU) installation directory; or use
ASU and press "Upgrade Autostar Software Now" and ASU will download and
upgrade the handbox. If you don't already have ASU use the link on this
page to download and install it on your PC."


Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
www.arksky.org
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H41/ Petit Jean Mt.
And:
Among many other welcome fixes, note that the new firmware now available
from Meade will fix the pointing problems for comets that has plagued
the Autostar for some time now....this will allow you to upload directly
all the observable comets (about 144 at this time) from the Harvard
website and get them directly via the new Autostar computations.....what
a pleasant relief!

Dr. Clay

Subject:	Aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh! My Alignment Hurts.......
Sent:	Wednesday, February 19, 2003 10:24:35
From:	vampirelestatsoulreaver@msn.com (Vampire Le Stat)
I'm currently getting some nice clear skies and tried the other night to
get some alignment work done for the first time. I followed the Home set
up to the letter, making sure everything was level. On the easy 2 star
setup it was finding a higher magnitude star in the eyepiece each time.
However when i sent it to find the moon it tracked about 35-40 degrees
past. I manually slewed the scope back to the moon and it tracked it
pretty efficiently. The same applied when I slewed to Jupiter. As it got
to 2am, I decided to pack up the scope and check your site out for
problems. I have done a full reset on the Autostar, reset all the Home
and scope details and trained the drives on a terrestrial object 1/2
mile away.

Given that it's pretty chilly at night at the moment I've been trying to
do some 'false' alignments  by setting up the scope indoors on a large
sheet of paper, plotting North and South. I've set the date/time for
London as 19th Feb 2003 / 02:09AM which should give me the moon pretty
much at due south. I'm doing the 2 star alignment on 4 stars by "?" on
Arcturus, Capella, Procyon and Vega and plotting their Az position on
the paper. I have then used the Object-star selection to slew between
these 4 stars repeatedly and they pretty much realign bang on, allowing
for a 15 degrees clockwise drift per hour. I'm working this out in
conjunction with Starry Nights as well as with a manual Planisphere. So
I guess that kinds of eliminates any Az clutch slippage. Then when I
goto the Moon, guess what? It's 35-40 degrees out AGAIN. Then I goto
Jupiter and the scope slews approximately 45 degrees clockwise (roughly
the correct Az seperation between the Moon and Jupiter) but is again
35-40 degrees past where Jupiter is predicted to be.

Then comes the Clincher: GOTO Capella - Bang on. GOTO POLARIS - BANG ON!

"Aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh! My Alignment Hurts......."

Why is the starfield being accurately tracked and found BUT the position
of the Moon & Jupiter so far out of whack? The Autostar I now have is
running quite an old chunk of software, Version 1.2C. Could that be the
problem? Is there a small discrepency in the 4 year old software that
has lead to this 40 degree precession of Solar System, but not of the
stars?

I know you're probably going to say "Get out their ya wimp, a little
cold never hurt anyone!" but any help with my lunaphobic scope would be
much appreciated!

Cheers,

The Vamp
Mike here: The clue is that the problem occurs with moving objects. I strongly suggest upgrading to the current version (now 2.6Ed). These objects need to be occasionally updated and using current ROMs do that.
Subject:	re:  telescope computer control AND   Autostar info
Sent:	Friday, February 14, 2003 21:01:15
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	Cecil.Higginbotham@abbott.com, allany@optusnet.com.au
(two posters, same answer...)

Mike referred you to his Autostar Info page...
what's not blatanly obvious there (but it is there) is that the
unquestioned leader in such modifications is Steve Bedair
(who first sprang to fame on Mike's Site by adapting a Ford Taurus
automobile electric window actuator to DS-motorized scope control).

His home site is:

http://bedair.org/ScopeStuff.html

another practicioner of the art is Chris Erickson, visible at:

http://www.data-plumber.com

There is a Yahoo discussion group dedicated to motorizing
telescopes: RoboScope  at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope/messages

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Re: telescope computer control
Sent:	Friday, February 14, 2003 3:51:56
From:	Cecil.Higginbotham@abbott.com
Do the DS type motors and the ETX type motors use the same autostar
control unit or do they differ?
Mike here: See the Meade Autostar Update page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) for which Autostar can be used with which telescopes.
Subject:	re: ETX125 Alignment
Sent:	Thursday, February 13, 2003 22:07:10
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	mkooistr@ci.grand-rapids.mi.us
> everything about 10 degrees too far west.

That sure sounds like
(a) you have Daylight Savings ON (it should be off in GrandRapids now)
(b) you have the wrong location set for your site (latitude)
(c) you have the wrong date (10 degrees is about 10 days)
(d) one of the AZ encoder vanes has dirt in it 

You can fix (d) by opening the base's inspection port and looking.
-careful- application of a Q-tip can clean the enxcoder disk.
(photos at Mike's site under "tune up" show the disk at the end
of the motor)

If you don't want to -clean- the disk, you can try correcting for
it by changing the Az/RA Ratio by 1/36th.  Make it smaller (i think).

To test the encoder without opening it, point at a landmark.
Press [mode] for 4 seconds, release.  Scroll down to the Alt/Az
display.
Now slew the scope a full turn in Az, until it's pointing at the
landmark again.  Did the AZ display advance 360 degrees?
If so, the encoder is -not- dirty.
If it only advances 350 degrees, one encoder vane is dirty.
IF it advances 340 degrees, two are.

I'd say "Calibrate", but you said you've done that.

good luck
--dick
And:
> Thanks a lot. I have checked a,b,and c. I will try d after I update.

You could cheat and simply set your telescope's clock ahead 40 minutes.
That would cause a 10 degree eastward shift in its calculations.

..at least it would be a data point.

But i certainly do recommend bringing it to the current version,
a Setup > Reset  afterwards is advised (but you were going to 
do that anyway.. i can tell)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Autostar info
Sent:	Wednesday, February 12, 2003 3:30:49
From:	allany@optusnet.com.au (Allan)
I'm constructing a telescope mount, (Eq) and I was going to use Mel
Bartels system to control it. I was wondering however, if I could adapt
the "autostar" controller to my mount. I would need to know what sort of
communication it is sending/receiving to the mount, and was wondering if
this was available, legal or possible? Are you able to help me with
these questions?
 
Kind Regards
Allan Young
Mike here: For what is known, see the Autostar Information page. Lots of links to various types of data.
Subject:	re: Meade Autostar Manual
Sent:	Tuesday, February 11, 2003 23:03:09
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	imw@imwilliams.plus.com
Although the Autostar manual is online at:
http://www.meade.com/manuals/autostar/index.html

The LXD55 manual (with specific Autostar info re: LXD55's)
is at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/files/manual%20in%205%20zips/
and (if you can handle .ABM files):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/files/manual.abm

have fun
--dick

Subject:	ETX125 Alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, February 11, 2003 12:00:38
From:	mkooistr@ci.grand-rapids.mi.us (Kooistra, Mike)
I recently bought an ETX125EC used. When I do the alignment procedure
the scope overshoots the chosen alignment star by approx 10 degrees to
the west. I slew back to each star, center and I can hear the motors
tracking. If, then, for instance, I goto Jupiter the scope will "miss"
again by about 10 degrees (always to the west). When I slew back to
Jupiter the scope will track perfectly until I goto the next object
which again will be off by about 10 degrees. The Autostar is Ver. 2.0  I
intend to update it via Meade's web site. I've been thinking about Clay
Sherrod's "supercharge" but would like to do the least costly option
first. Any other suggestions. 

Mike K
Mike W. here: What type of alignment are you doing, easy two star or what? Do you use Magnetic North or True North for the Home Position? Have you CALIBRATED and TRAINED the drives? If not you should. You will need to do that anyway after upgrading to the current Autostar software.

And:

It happens in easy, one star, or two star alignment. I use Polaris for
the home position and have calibrated and trained the drives. On a side
note, this scope is an upgrade from an ETX70AT which has always worked
perfectly (but doesn't have enough aperture to see anything).
Mike K
Mike W. here: OK, go ahead and do the upgrade to 2.6Ec and let me know what happens.
Subject:	Etx upgrade
Sent:	Tuesday, February 11, 2003 1:23:59
From:	LynnRB@cybertrails.com (Lynn blackburn)
I've lost the "tours" when I downloaded the 26ec to my 497. I was
upgrading from the 1.3 ver from the Meade site. The download continues
until 86% then stops and says download successful. When I go to Tours
and press enter I get NOT FOUND. Stats say 9.9 kbs available. I've tried
to download from the safe download mode but get the same results. Any
help you can offer will appreciated.
Thanks Lynn
Mike here: The format of the ROM changed from 1.x to 2.x so losing the tours is not surprising. And the percentage display is not that accurate. If the download completes according to the message and the Autostar automatically restarts then the download was successful. You should have the current 2.6Ec tours.
Subject:	updating autostar
Sent:	Monday, February 10, 2003 5:03:04
From:	mark.jones61@ntlworld.com (mark.jones61)
Fantastic site and a great resource.

I'm sure the information I need is on your site somewhere and I've just
missed it. I have a 497 with the 2.6Ec version installed and have just
purchased another 497 handset that is loaded with version 2.2? , can I
upgrade this version directly with the 2.6Ec I have in the ASU on my
computer, or do I need to upgrade in stages?

Sorry to take your time, you must get hundreds of emails !!!!

Regards,
Mark Jones
(England)

ps. I am using these controllers with my SP mount with Dick's patch and
the motor brackets from Stefan and Walter in Germany.
Mike here: Glad you like the Site. What you want to do is "clone" the one Autostar onto the other. See the article "Homemade Cloning Kit" on the Autostar Information page. The pinout info is the "Autostar Cable Info" article. Once you have the cable (either homemade or from Meade as part of the #505 cable kit), you put the Autostars into Clone mode. I've only down it once and it worked well.

And:

I'll give it a try.
Regards,
Mark.

Subject:	Autostar firmware download problems
Sent:	Sunday, February 9, 2003 15:06:22
From:	justin@rockout.com (Justin E. Kagan)
First off, great site.  It's been an invaluable resource.

I was reading through the Autostar feedback page and noticed Owen had a
problem downloading the latest firmware to his handbox.  I, too, had
this exact same problem.  I tried about half a dozen times and the
computer kept going off into la-la land somewhere in the middle of the
download from my Win2K laptop.  I tried running the telescope and laptop
off AC power but it made no difference.

As soon as I tried to do the download from my WinXP desktop machine, it
worked without a hiccup on the first try.  I'm not sure WHY it made a
difference, but the fact is that it DID.  Perhaps the voltage levels on
the laptop's serial port are lower.  Who knows.  The strange thing is
that I have no problem using the laptop to control the Autostar using
Cartes du Ciel, but then again, that only sends tiny intermittent blobs
of data to the scope.

Anyway, I'd recommend that anybody else who is experiencing this problem
try the download from multiple PCs before giving up.  It's probably not
the scope, and if you can even start the transfer, then it's probably
not the cable, either.

Thanks again for a great site.

- Justin

Subject:	source code for the autostar
Sent:	Saturday, February 8, 2003 17:14:48
From:	demaje@comcast.net (demaje)
Great web site Mike,

My question, is there a source code for the autostar?

I have been messing around with it and I was wondering if there was
something to make this easier.
Mike here: It is not publicly available.
Subject:	Autostar 497 firmware crashed
Sent:	Friday, February 7, 2003 20:16:32
From:	owenspiv@cox.net (Owen Spivey)
First I think your website is a great source of info on the ETX series
of 'scopes.

Second, help!!!!!  I tried to download the latest Autostar firmware
using the latest AU2.EXE program downloaded from Meade.  After about an
hour of download time, I called the Meade tech support people.  They
recommended I shut down my ETX-105, wait about a minute, then restart
it.  When I did that, however, the Autostar came up with a blank screen.
 The Meade tech support folks had me make a safe startup (scroll
down+Enter during power-up) and the following Autostar screen came up: 
"Flash Load 3.0 Ready".  When I tried to reload the ROM update, however,
the download from my PC concluded after less than 5 seconds while I
still had a "Initializing Handbox" status on the Autostar Update program
status screen.

Meade threw in the towel at that point, and is working an Autostar swap
with me.  In the meantime, I've reviewed your site and confirmed both my
COM port and my connector is okay by using HyperTerminal.  I also
downloaded my user data from the Autostar handbox, but I can't seem to
upload anything (user data/comets/tours/etc.).

I suppose my question is:  Have you ever heard of the safe
start-up/reloading update process failing before?  Do you have any other
idea I can try?

I thank the Meade folks for working with me, but I'm very stubborn and
tend not to give up until I absolutely have to.  I'd appreciate any help
or insight you could provide.

Thanks!

Owen
Mike here: Do you know what version ROM your Autostar had before you tried the upgrade? That is just a curiosity question. With the Autostar in SAFE LOAD mode did the Autostar Updater Application recognize that fact and display SAFE LOAD (or something like that)? Anyway, two thoughts: you might try downloading the 2.6Ec ROM file separately from Meade's site and then put it in the Emphemerides folder. Then try the SAFE LOAD again. If that doesn't work, you might try using an older ASU and ROM version from the Autostar Archive (on the Autostar Information page). You will still have to go into the SAFE LOAD mode.

And:

I didn't note the earlier ROM version (shame, shame on me).

Here's where I admit ignorance.  Was I supposed to put the Autostar in
download mode prior to starting the ASU software?  I got the impression
from the Meade website I could upload the update directly from ASU, but
I could have misunderstood that portion.

Prior to starting this ordeal, I did download the 2.6Ec ROM as you
recommended and put it in the Ephemeredes folder.  Since the problem
started, I've tried uploading the 2.6Ec from the folder using Safe Start
with no luck.

I'll go ahead and try the older ASU and ROM per your suggestion.

Thanks!
Mike here: If your Autostar ROM was 2.something then you should not have had to put the Autostar into Download mode first; it would happen automatically. But if it was a really old version then yes, it would have needed to be in Download mode first.

And:

Still working the problem.  I uninstalled the latest ASU 3.6 software
and installed the ASU 3.0 and associated ROM.  I can retrieve data from
the Autostar (at least ASU indicates I can), but I stall have problems
uploading the 22Er ROM file.  After going through the usual "erase data"
warnings, I get an error message telling me to check the Autostar cable
and power cycle the Autostar.

No joy.  Also, I earlier tried to run ASU 2.0 under my WinXP machine but
the program wouldn't load.

I'm running out of ides...
Mike here: I'm beginning to suspect a comm problem on your PC. It sounds like something is using the serial port, perhaps some fax software?

And:

No, no fax.  (There's a pun in there somewhere...)

I'm using my laptop to run ASU.  Although it doesn't have a RS232
socket, I'm using a USB/RS232 port adapter.

You raise a good question though.  I may try installing ASU on my
desktop PC with integral RS232 ports then see what happens.
Mike here: Ah ha. You may need a newer driver for your USB/serial converter. I know I did.

And the final word:

Well spank my fanny and call me Charlie (a nod to South Park), that did
it! After switching the patch cable to my desktop PC and connecting to
the RS-232 port, I was able to upgrade the firmware plus add objects to
the Autostar handbox database.  Thanks!

Now I need to call Meade tech support and stop them from sending me a
replacement handbox.  Believe me, I'll let them know about your
assistance!

Thanks, Mike!

Owen

Subject:	autostar 497
Sent:	Wednesday, February 5, 2003 22:30:47
From:	malonedg@mchsi.com (Darwin G. Malone)
I really love this site and have it for my home page! As a newbie with a
new etx-90ec scope. Which due to below freezing temps I have used like 3
hours, But I have been doing simulation inside at night. Anyway My
question is this. I purchase a autostar 497 from ebay that is version
1.2 I also have the 505 cable but what do I have to download to get this
autostar up to date? I have seen so many patches ect and versions on
your site that Iam like scared of messing my autostar up.

Thank you, and this site has been so exciting to this 38 year old
newbie!
Mike here: Go to Meade's Autostar Download page and grab the Autostar Updater application. If you have a dedicated Internet connection just install and run the application. If you don't have a good connection, also download the 2.6Ec ROM file and place in the Emphemerides folder (appears in the Autostar software folder once you install the app). Then launch the application and just upgrade the Autostar. With v1.2 you will likely need to put the Autostar into Download mode first; this step is no longer required once you get updated. As to patches, don't worry about them unless you want them.

And:

Thank you so much! Once again you have been a major help. Iam sure you
are sick of dealing with stupid questions, But you are like a guru to us
ETX newbies.
God Bless and once again! Thank you!!!!

Subject:	#494 Autostar - Memory Full Warning
Sent:	Thursday, February 6, 2003 3:30:46
From:	DC1000000@aol.com
I have an ETX-70AT with a full memory can you help?

My problem: On Saturday, I was editing my coordinates for ISS and
received a memory full message (which erased ISS). So I started to erase
all the satellites except for HST and still received the message. I then
erased 100 user objects, and I receive the same message. Then, I go
ahead and reset the Autostar, same message. So I must conclude, I'm not
actually erasing the info, that Autostar is still holding the memory of
these objects, all I am doing is erasing my ability to access them.

Meade's Solution: I called Customer Service at Meade, he said I would
need to get the #506 cable to upgrade and clear the memory or send in my
Autostar for a $50 upgrade. I told him I did purchase the cable and it
would not work on my Windows 95, so I sold it. From Your website, I
believe I have the latest version: 11Ec, of the Autostar, so it can't be
upgraded. But I don't think I should have to pay for this error. I had
over 250 User Objects, 15+ Satellites on my Autostar. Now I have only
150 User Objects and HST(which I can never edit).

Can you help me? Joe.
Mike here: Meade was wrong; there is no upgrade available to users for the #494.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
The 506 (and ASUpdater) should have worked with Windows 95.  I used mine many
times on a Windows 95 system.  The cable could care less what's inside the PC.

Your partiular problem is one i've posted about on Mike's system in the
past... it's a consequence of having a busy User-object list in the 494.
(i think you're only the second or third person to hit it)

The background is that the Autostars use "FlashRam" memory to hold
the program and data... and that type of memory cannot be erased piecemeal.
It has to be erased in 64 KByte "pages".

Like a CD-R, when you "delete" an object, you're not really erasing it,
you're just adjusting the index links to skip it when running down the list.
Each new (or edited) item makes the in-memory list get longer.

In the 495/497 Autostar (with twice the memory of the 494), Meade reserves
a spare 64 KB at the top of the memory.  When that Autostar fills its 
User Object area, it pops a message on the screen:
 "File Area Full/Reorganizing"
It then erases that upper 64 KB, copies only the "still active" objects
from the normal area (in the low middle of memory) up to there,
erases the -full- 64 KB of User Object area, then copies the upper area's
(now pruned) list back to the lower 64 KB region.

If you -really- filled a 495/497's 64 KB user area, (so that simply
"Garbage Collecting" removal of deadwood didn't help), then that too
would require the ASUpdater's help to pull all of the 64 KB to the PC,
erase the USer Area, and put some (since it didn't all fit) back to the
Autostar.

Further complicating matters is that the 494 only has a 32 KB user object
area... when the ASU updates the User objects, it actually wipes out 32 KB
of program, too.  But part of the ASU "kit" are four 32 KB code pages
for writing back to the 494 during the object update.  So they're restored.
(hmmm... i wonder if i could write patches for/in those?... )

My only recommendation is to buy (eBay) a 495 or 497 Autostar (priced
from $40 and upwards...) and buy or build a 505 cable (yes, 505 for 
with-numeric-keypad Autostars).  Then you will have twice the User Object
memory for about th e price of a 506 cable set.
And a numeric keypad.  And updates.

Sorry 'bout that..

have fun
--dick
And:
You -might- try another go-round with Customer Support.

Be very nice, but suggest it's a design/materials choice-caused fault.

(of course, their answer is "busy users need a 506")
drat.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: Updating Autostar # 494 (c) 00 V 1.0 to a working version
Sent:	Wednesday, February 5, 2003 14:05:59
From:	abakr@hotmail.com (Abu-Bakr Magued)
Thank you for your help, I phoned Meade, First there phone was broke,
then after two days, they think it's a faulty #506 cable, I am still
waiting for phone, with regard to sending it back to Meade

It is good to Know someone like you, thanks again

Abu-Bakr Maged

Subject:	Focus and WebCam Control for ETX and Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, February 4, 2003 17:49:40
From:	jeremyjackson@comcast.net (Jeremy Jackson)
I recently added focuser and webcam control to a program I've been
fiddling with.  The VB code can be found at:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/jeremyjackson/Blank%20Page%201.htm

The link on this page will give you the VB code and the exe.

The program will control the scope (NWES) at 3 different speeds and the
focuser at two different speeds as well as a webcam.  You can capture an
AVI and save it to your hard drive.  Here is a screen shot:


The Select Solar Sys Objects, Goto, Sync and Park button do not yet
work.

To operate the software, first select a comm port then click on the
Connect menu item.  If connection is successful then the box below the
get info button should display some text.

The few times I've had the opportunity to test, it was really cold out
and the Autostar would freak out and slew the scope.  When I brought the
scope closer to my house so I could have the Autostar inside and the
scope outside, it appeared to function normally.  However, the focuser
would still not function properly.

I welcome any feedback.

Jeremy Jackson
focuser

Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, February 4, 2003 11:00:29
From:	gmcmurdo@attbi.com (Greg McMurdo)
I have an ETX125EC with Autostar.  When I attempt a GOTO with Saturn or
Jupiter, I get a message that says "Spiral Search".  What does "Spiral
Search" mean?
Mike here: You are pressing the GOTO button an extra time. Once the Autostar slews to an object, pressing GOTO again initiates the "spiral search". The Autostar slews the telescope in a spiral box pattern outward from the initial position. This is to help locate objects if they are not in the FOV.

And:

Thanks, Mike.  What I did was go to Jupiter and then to another object.
Then I attempted to go back to Jupiter using the Autostar and GOTO.  At
that point the "Spiral Search" came up.  Is there anyway I can go back
to objects?
Mike here: Press MODE.

And:

Works like a charm.  Thanks.

Subject:	old autostar, new etx105ec
Sent:	Tuesday, February 4, 2003 5:35:17
From:	trc199@soton.ac.uk (Timothy CLARK)
Hello again, this is tim clark from Southampton England.

I was wondering if you could give me some advice about useing my old
autostar with my new etx105ec.

I have just upgraded to a UHTC etx105 and am enjoying excellent images.
However my old autostar is still very inaccurate. I took the advice from
your web site and have chose the 125 choice from the autostar to make
the scope work, Unfortunatly even though the new scope is now excepting
the autostar commands it is still out by about 10 to 15 degrees on every
object it locates. Even after retraining the drives a number of times.

Could you tell me if I need to buy a new autostar to make the telescope
locate objects properly. Or if a buy a computer cable for the old
autostar, the meade web site (for down loading new autostar
information), will automaticly upgrade my autostar so I can spare the
expense of buying a new one.

With Thanks

Tim Clark
Mike here: Besides setting the current telescope model (and ETX-125EC should work), you may just need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN when you switch telescopes. You can update the Autostar which will give you the current version and the ETX-105EC selection. But you will still need to CALIBRATE/TRAIN when switching telescopes.

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