Last updated: 14 October 2010
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade Autostar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, is covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)

Subject: PC requirements for LPI
Date: 2/26/04, 21:41
I am looking for an inexpensive used laptop to run the Autostar Suite
and the LPI.  What is the minimum PC processor speed required to have
the software function well.
Mike here: All that the Meade site says is "Recommended Minimum System For Installing Autostar Suite: PC running Windows 98SE with 64 MB and 100 MB free disk space." I recall one report that said some low-end computer wouldn't run it. I forget the MHz but it could have been 100MHz or perhaps 300MHz. I've successfully run it on a 1Ghz G4 PowerBook under VirtualPC; so that's like a 2GHz PC. But there was one report that a lower-end G4 wouldn't run it. So, get as much horsepower as you can.

Subject: about the LPI suite
Date: 2/25/04, 06:13
I was thinking about getting it and using it on my meade 2130, called
meade and cannot get to talk to anyone or get a call back, so maybe
someone would know the answers to my questions.  Does it move the scope
directly from the computer or does it have to connect to the auto star
and direct it to move the scope. The instruction and infor is not clear.
 Second, can you use the camera and slew the scope with the autostar

Love to get an answer,from anyone . So irritated with meade just about
ready to give up trying and quit. If someone could answer direct I would
appreciate it.

Emmit Wilson
Mike here: If you read my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page you'll see that you can use the LPI on any telescope. You'll need a computer (running Windows) and an Autostar #497 to control the telescope. The computer controls the Autostar and the Autostar controls the telescope.


I finally after some time on the phone got to speak to someone, and they
said that the suite could from the computer controll the telescope after
Alignment.  So where they wrong? Now I am confused.
Thanks ,
Mike here: Did you read the article I mentioned in my previous reply? As I stated in that reply, the computer (running the Autostar Suite) controls the Autostar, which in turn controls the telescope.

Subject: LPI
Date: 2/24/04, 19:17
From: Michael DiOrio (
I've given up on the Autostar Suite and the LPI on my G4 ibook and VPC
6.1. It will not recognize the camera.I got VPC w XP. The actual Suite
works fine,but not the camera..XP sees the camera ( it shows up as a USB
camera) but the Suite doesn't recognize it.I have the iBook on the
highest power setting for energy as you suggested. I get no ref light on
the camera when it's plugged into the iBook. so away she goes.Thanks for
all your help. Luckily I got it for free with my 10"LX200 GPS
Michael DiOrio
Living well is the best revenge
Mike here: I guess the iBook just doesn't have enough horsepower to handle VPC and the camera. But it worked fine with my higher-end PowerBook G4 1HGz.

Subject: Re: Autostar Suite set up problems
Date: 2/24/04, 01:44
From: Barry Morton (
I understand what you mean Mike, but how would I find out the assigned
IP address for my computer? I have tried searching for one but couldn't
establish it.

Barry Morton.
Mike here: I don't know where that would be in XP (since I'm a Mac guy) but in Windows2K it is under the Internet Options (or Network) preferences.

Subject: Failure to communicate between PC and Telescope
Date: 2/23/04, 20:30
From: Paul Zadach (
Paul here again, I think I might be known as the pest from the west.
Anyway, no problem getting the LPI imager to work, but having real
problems with getting my notebook to communicate with the scope.  I have
the Autostar suite, and am using a notebook with Windows XP pro and
plenty of memory.  I would think there would be a simple way just to
connect the notebook to control the scope, but I seem to be running in
circles as it asks me for a protocol, and when I try to provide that it
says there is no port available, then I go to the port config and it
says there is no protocol.  The instructions that come from Meade are
not that great, even when I printed out all the PDF instructions.  They
don't really tell you how to hook the cables up directly from a PC.  I'm
sure you know this.  There are lot's of references to networks and
remote controls, but all I want is a simple way to control the scope
from my notebook!  I don't know about ip adresses and network ids.  Just
want to look at the heavens, and make some photos.

Any help or direction you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Mike here: I suggest reading through my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page; there are references there to documentation updates and connecting (which apply to a PC).

Subject: Time for a New Scope
Date: 2/23/04, 18:26
From: Lena Ammiano (
My name is Lena Ammiano and I really appreciate your website. It's
awesome. I hope it's ok to ask you the questions below.

How well does the Meade Lunar Planetary Imager (LPI) work with the ETX
125EC? Also what are your thoughts on the Autostar Suite software? I am
thinking of buying all 3, the ETX 125EC w/  UHTC optics and Autostar
Controller, Autostar Sutie Software and the Meade LPI.

One last question, is it possible to attach a wireless TCPIP network
adapter to the Autostar Controller?

Thanks for your input.

Mike here: See my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page; most of your answers are in that article. You can use a wireless connection, not from the Autostar itself, but from a laptop.


Thanks. I actually saw that after I hit the send button. Sorry bout

Thanks again,


Subject: Autostar Suite set up problems
Date: 2/23/04, 05:11
From: Barry Morton (
Just taken delivery of the Meade Autostar suite. Everything works fine
when set up through the single serial comm port but when I try to set it
up as a 'single machine/networks sharing' configuration, i.e.. as a
network through the single comm port - it won't connect. I constantly
get error messages such as 'can't find network connection' or 'network
error'. I know I have the right port so that's not the problem, but I
can't help thinking its the way my computer is configured?!

I'm running windows XP - I think I've set it up ok for networking
through a single port.

I've read your 'Autostar suite on a Mac' feature, but it won't let me
set up a password ( I enter one but it never requests a password from me
at a later time).

Any help Mike would be appreciated as reading the manual is not helping
me at all!

In anticipation......Thanks.
Barry Morton. (United Kingdom)
Mike here: Do you have an assigned IP address for your computer, either manually entered or via DHCP? If not, you need to assign one. I mention something about that in my article.

Subject: lpi and VPC
Date: 2/18/04, 07:53
From: Michael DiOrio (
I bought VPC and it installed fine on my ibook G4 14".

I had a little trouble with the autostar suite instillation had to do it
2 or 3 times. I cannot get a picture on the LPI. I have not connected it
to a scope but I figured if nothing else I'll get a white frame or a
very fuzzy image out the window.I did get it to wotk for about 5 secs
and that was it.I have no idea what I did any differently,So after 2
days of trying to get an image and spending $200 on VPC/XP I'm sorry I
did it.I'm wondering if an SACIVb or better would have been a better
choice.I do have a ToUcam pro 840k that does work native on the Mac with
IOXperts and BTVpro.I'm not sure what I thought would be difefrent on
the LPI except I had hoped by being a totally integrated package it
might work better. I have all your comments on your experiences with VPC
and LPI and I'll read them again

Michael DiOrio
Mike here: Check the OSX Energy Saving setting; I found that I need highest performance to get the LPI to work.


I did try that after reading your review a hundred times. Also Windows
XP doesn't have that USB control but it does have a control panel with a
Scanner and digital camera part. Ithe LPI was listed  in the control
panel and windows said it was there and working. I also checked "about
this Mac" and there was a device connected to a USB port.Plus I bought a
new Belkin cable. Maybe I'l try ANOTHER install on the Autostar suite or
give up and use the ToUcam
I HATE Windows

One other quick note.
I had a motor burn out on my 3 month old ETX 125 and sent it to Meade
and they received it last Tuesday. I just got a call saying it was
shipped back to me today.I was told 3 weeks originally ,but I think 1
week is pretty good.
clear skies,
Michael DiOrio

Subject: VPC and the Mac
Date: 2/17/04, 07:53
I received my Suite and installed it successfully on my Mac(?).It seems
to run ok with VPC & XP Pro.

Yesterday was the first day of the WSP so I registered and roamed the
field looking at all the scopes and meeting new friends.I will have more
time to play with the Suite when the  Party is over.

I also have to figure out how to install my Internet provider on my
laptop so I can download the updates to the Mac.

Thanks once again for your interest and help.
Mike here: You can use Virtual Switch (which shares the Mac's IP address) or get an IP for your laptop. Since I get my IPs from my Airport (for wireless purposes), I just use a separate (local) IP address for Windows.


After an initial success I can't get the Suite to open. I'm ready to
give up,take my loss on the Mac and get a real computer. Nothing I do
seems to work on the Mac. I'm too old to be playing with stuff that
disappoints me that much. The latest defeat was when I tried to import
some pics on my digicam from the WSP,Winter Star Party, and that didn't
work.Good thing I still have my desktop PC. Just drag & drop said the

Thanks again for your help.

Subject: Autostar Suite - Comet Database
Date: 2/15/04, 14:58
From: Stephen Bird (
Not sure if I am making a fundamental error here. I was just checking
for any comets worth viewing over the next few nights, so enabled just
the comet database in Autostar Suite. Time is now 22.25, and big in the
sky now is Orion. Right in there was a comet labelled Halley 1986.01,
which caught my attention for obvious reasons. The object description to
my surprise showed a magnitude of 6.98! Not far away in Capricornus is
Halley 2061.01 at a magnitude of -1.04. But close by is Swift Tuttle
1992.00 at -3.97. The list goes on, bright comet after bright comet?

So am I making a mistake in reading the information here, or is the
comet database in error? All my software settings are by the book and
the stars and deep sky objects appear OK.

HNSky, the other planetarium software that I use, doesn't show any comet
brighter than 15 or 16 at present, so something is wrong somewhere.


Stephen Bird
Mike here: Don't know what database they used for the Autostar Suite but you can put current info into the Autostar itself; this link is at the bottom of the Meade Autostar Update page:
For more on adding comets to the Autostar, see the article "Adding Comets" on the Autostar Info page.

Subject: autostar suite
Date: 2/10/04, 09:30
Well, I finally got everything up and running with autostar suite. It
controls the scope and the LPI camera works great. I have a question
though. What good is being able to control the scope over a network. I
set mine up and tried it and it works, but I don't see any real purose
for this if there is nobody there to look through the eyepiece. The
imaging software doesn't work over the network (is it suppose to?).

Mike here: The "network" capability is most useful to let all the apps use the single serial port. This avoids the port contention that would otherwise occur.


ahhh that makes sense... thanks 
Mike here: You might want to read my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Information page; lots of general info there.

Subject: Re: LPI Error message...
Date: 2/9/04, 22:06
We talked to Meade and it seems like they have experienced a rash of
faulty CDs. They said they would replace it free of charge. We will
inform you of the outcome...


Subject: re: Meade LPI and Autostar Suite Computer Compatability Question
Date: 2/8/04, 12:02
From: Richard Seymour (
I run the AutostarSuite on a 400 MHz celeron with Win98se and 128MB.
It seems perfectly happy.

If you updated your Tecra with WinXP, you do NOT have to reformat the harddrive. 
WinXP can use the FAT32 disk structure you currently (probably) have.

I'm not sure about which piece of the software puzzle might
balk at plain-ol' Win98... AutostarSuite also requires the
installation of Internet Explorer 5.01 or newer, and the
latest (or next-to-latest) DirectX.
During the install of AutostarSuite, it installs Microsoft's
.Net client package (which is what requires IE 5.01+).

Visit Meade's troubleshooting page:
**and follow the links to Microsoft**
and from there follow links to other vendors.
Somewhere down that trail you may find the real answer.

At worst, you could try it and -then- upgrade, if forced to.

Subject: re: Autostar Suite Version Numbers and Manuals
Date: 2/8/04, 11:52
From: Richard Seymour (
(a) yes, the Program does not have Map on/off buttons.
The Manual was apparently cast in stone before the program.

(b) 3.08 is what the Update at Meade's site installs.
  (the original CD kit was 3.05)

(c) real USB cables are shielded, so cross-talk should
be minimized.  Personally i find coiled cords get into
-more- trouble than simply longer normal ones.

have fun
From: Stephen Bird (
Dick / Mike,

Thanks as always for your help.

Mike, I must have missed your report, it would have saved me a couple of
hours last night, oh well!

Dick, thanks for the heads up on the update on Meade's site. I guess if
updates to Autostar Suite are going to happen on a regular basis that
they will begin to show the version numbers on the site. I wasn't sure
whether the update contained the Map ON/OFF and the half dozen other
differences between the CD Manual and software help manual.

I must say that first impressions for general working are that I prefer
the operation of HNSky to Autostar Suite Starmap. The big plus with
HNSky is that it allows me to show the area of the sky visible to me
(tree line, house, etc, can be drawn in). It also allows very quick
forward prediction by minute, hour and days, so I can plan my viewing
sessions in advance. Projection is much more friendly in as much as it
is easy to see what is about to appear over the horizon. Still maybe
some of that is possible with Autostar Suite and I haven't found the
right button yet!

An electric focuser is a must, as is a parfocal'ed eyepiece to stand any
chance of getting faint objects on screen, let alone focussed.

Dick, I find that curly cords work well from the OTA and down the DEC
fork, they work well with DEC movement. This is where my heater
controller is. For RA movement smooth cords work better. I have replaced
the eyepiece / handeset holder with a smooth round tray, and have flaked
sufficient length of smooth cable in the tray to allow uninhibited RA
movement. The power cable, handset cable (and now the LPI cable) exit
through a hole below the on/off / handset socket panel.  The only
problem tonight has been the long USB cable I bought is two stiff and
catches and snags if not watched carefully. The set up needs a bit more
work, maybe I can find a softer grade of cable.

Anyway back to studying as the seeing has deteriorated.


Stephen Bird

Subject: Autostar Suite Version Numbers and Manuals
Date: 2/8/04, 04:33
From: Stephen Bird (
Well Autostar Suite finally landed in the UK, and I managed to be at the
front of the queue for what BC&F (UK exclusive distributor for Meade)
said were the first 50 in the UK!

It all works great after loading the software on my Windows 2000 laptop,
a couple of files it wanted to load were older than the versions already
on the laptop but I chose to keep the newer versions, and it did not
make any difference to operation, so a sigh of relief there.

Just a few minor issues though, wonder if anyone else had seen the same

The Acrobat manuals on the CD are dated Version 3.01 25 Aug 2003, but
the software version is 3.08. There are a few differences between the
help files within the software and the CD manual. For the most part
these seem to relate to Image Processing, and the "missing" menu options
detailed in the CD manual are found in the Image menu by selecting Image
Processing and using the Autostar IP window that then opens. Some of the
quick start advice is a little misleading I think.

The one menu option that is referred to throughout the CD manual and the
software help files is the Starmap ON/OFF or Map ON/OFF function. This
is just not present as a function as far as I can see. Neither is the
"dash" icon in the upper left corner of the window, which is also
supposed to turn the map on and off. Does anyone else see this?

I have not found it to be a problem as my PC seems fast enough (1GHz CPU
and 1GB RAM) to not see any appreciable delay when redrawing the map
following an option update.

Only other problem so far is routing the USB cable from the LPI so that
it does not get wrapped around the scope when moving between GO TO
objects. Anyone solved that yet?

I am thinking of making up a "curly cord" USB lead and routing it with
the dew heater cords down the DEC axis fork, but I am concerned that the
power for the dew controller which adjusts the temperature of the heater
tapes by switching it on and off rapidly may cause interference. any one
had that problem yet?

[Oh yes, to make curly cords; Wind the straight cord around a small
diameter dowel or rod, 1/4" or 3/8" will do, tape the ends securely; put
the dowel/rod on a hot radiator / towel rail in the bathroom for a week;
carefully remove the curly lead which will have set in place; now put it
in a pan of boiling water for 30 minutes, keeping the ends out of the
water; then remove it from the boiling water and quickly quench it in
very cold water, this sets it in to a semi-permanent curly cord.]

Finally, the Autostar Suite update file on the Meade website, how do I
know what version this update is and whether or not it will overwrite my
current version with something older?

Just need some clear sky to start getting some real results.
Stephen Bird
P.S. - Mike - Any progress in plans for the 2004 Star Party?
Mike here: Thanks for the report. I commented on the manual problems and software installation "glitches" in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Information page. I also mention using an extension cable for the USB LPI connection to avoid problems. As to the Star Party, current information is always available on the Mighty ETX Star Party page.

Subject: LPI Error message...
Date: 2/7/04, 17:22
We set up the installer for the MEADE AUTOSTAR LPI CAMERA PROGRAM by
following the instuctions very closely. When we start up the program ->
click image-> LPI imaging an an error message saying "Application failed
to initialize properly (0xc0000135) Click OK to terminate program". We
were hoping you could supply us with your input to our situation.
Thank you
Mike here: Meade has a FAQ page ( which describes one error which can occur (different than yours). They also have a troubleshooting page ( which has an update to the Autostar Suite. Try downloading that and applying it.

Subject: Autostar Updating With LPI Supplied Cables
Date: 2/7/04, 09:59
From: Stephen Halliday (
Great Site!

I have an ETX125 & #497 Autostar unit.  I am due to get my new LPI next
week but I have never updated my Autostar before.

Do I need to buy the #505 cable set or do the cables supplied with the
LPI unit allow for this?

Cheers, Stephen Halliday (England UK)
Mike here: It includes all the cables. See my review "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page.

Subject: Thanks
Date: 2/6/04, 18:05
From: Michael DiOrio (
Mike you've done it again.

I have ordered the LPI and Virtual PC to use on my Mac G4 iBook (ETX
125/10" LX 200 GPS) and was hoping it would work. I should have known
better and checked your site first. I found your assessment very helpful
and encouraging.

Thanks as usual for all your work.Every one thanks you for your site (as
do I) but I know how much work you do to make it great.

thanks again
Michael DiOrio
Mike here: Let me know how it works on the iBook. I found it acceptable on my 1GHz G4 PowerBook.

Subject: Meade LPI and Autostar Suite Computer Compatability Question
Date: 2/6/04, 13:39
From: Douglas Spalding (
I recently bought a Meade ETX-125. I intend to buy the Autostar for it
soon. I am also real interested in the Meade LPI imager and Autostar
program. It says it recommends Window 98SE or newer. I have a Toshiba
Tecra laptop with Pentium II (366mhz, 196meg ram, 10gig hard drive &
1usb port) and Windows 98. Is anyone using Windows 98? Does it work OK?

I actually have the Windows XP for another computer so I could upgrade
my laptop but I didn't want to go to the trouble of reformatting my hard
drive. Is there any advantage to using Windows XP with the LPI and

ps: Love this web site. It is helping me immensely.
Mike here: 366MHz may be too slow. I've only used it under Windows 2000 on my Macintosh. But we'll see what the community says.


Thanks. I was a little worried about the speed but hoped I was alright.
I could hook up to a desktop computer which is 1GHz and runs Windows XP
but I would have to run 20 to 30 foot cables.  We'll see if others have
run at 366MHz.
Thanks again,
Doug Spalding

Subject: LPI using VirtualPC
Date: 2/4/04, 21:17
Hi Mike,I read with great interest your article of using VirtualPC to
run the Meade LPI on a Mac.I have the same Laptop and cable but a LX90.
You don't mention anything about the process being slow.From everything
I've read about VPC it slows the Mac down to a crawl even with a gig of

I bought the mac just before Meade anounced the LPI and was dumbstruck
at them not including the mac.Any info you can give me is appreciated.
Mike here: I didn't detect any real "slowness". It worked just like other apps in VPC.


I am new to the Mac and have never used any other programs so I don't
know how other apps run in VPC. The LPI software would be the only PC
software I would probably run.I think I made a bad choice in buying the
Mac and being able to use Meade's LPI system would be a plus.I am trying
to decide if buying the VCP would be a wise choice or if I should just
sell the Mac and take my loss.Any thoughts you have on the subject would
be appreciated.

Mike here: VPC does run apps slower than a comparable PC. But whether it will be acceptable or not depends upon the processor and speed. I find it OK on my PowerBook 17" (G4, 1GHz). But if you intend to play high-end games in VPC then you need a G5 Macintosh (but then you have to wait for Microsoft to release a G5 compatible version of VirtualPC something in the first half of 2004).


I have a PB 17" (G4,  1GHz) and only want to be able to run LPI on it
and I do run other astronomy related programs.I tried SN Pro on a PC and
wasn't able to run it thus the purchase of the Mac.I'll try LPI with VPC
before I give up altogether on the PB.

Thanks again,
Mike here: Obviously, I found it acceptable on my PB17 1Ghz.


The most obvious thing to me is you have a better knowledge of
computers,scopes and software.LOL,LOL.I am going to try the VPC program.
Better investing another $200 than wasting a Mac.

Subject: re: Autostar capability
Date: 1/31/04, 20:51
From: Richard Seymour (
(Actually: Autostarring a CG-5 mount)

If you'd like a Project (capital P) visit the Roboscope
yahoo group:

Their meat-and-potatoes is putting Autostar motor units
on non-Meade mounts.. the CG-5 is a frequent target.

have fun


From: Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIO (
Thanks again guys.  Appreciate the help.  Also, one quick question.  On
the LP1, I'm assuming you can cable it to a laptop and display the
results on the laptop screen and use the C6-RGT tracking capabilities to
take long exposures.  I also noticed by the add that it has the
planetarium program. In what way will this work with the C6-RGT? 
According to the add, it works with the Autostar by slewing towrd the
object that is chosen from the planetarium display.  Thanks.
Mike here: While I don't discuss non-Meade systems, you might want to read my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Information page. I think it will answer all your connectivity and software questions.


>  Also, one quick question.

Ha!  Quick Question... but with the potential of invoking very long answers..

> On the LP1, I'm assuming you can cable it to a laptop
>  and display the results on the laptop screen

Yes, that's its only form of display.

> and use the C6-RGT tracking capabilities to take long exposures.

Yes, if your C6-RGT tracks well

>  I also noticed by the add that it has the planetarium program.
> In what way will this work with the C6-RGT?  According to the add, it works
> with the Autostar by slewing towrd the object that is chosen from the
> planetarium display.  Thanks.

As Mike's pages describe, the planetarium program can happily work
without talking to a telescope.  Your C6-RGT will not understand
the command language that Autostar Suite speaks. 
So you can use the planetarium portion to see stars on your screen,
but AutostarSuite cannot command your current mount.

I recommend that you join the AutostarSuite Yahoo group:
for more information by many users.

The AutostarSuite is not the *best* planetarium program,
nor the *best* imaging program, nor the *best* camera.
But for $149, it's a fairly decent combination package.
By not having an Autostar-controlled mount, you cannot make
use of -some- of its features, but 80% of the package is still

have fun
From: Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIO (
Great article.  Thanks a lot.

Subject: re: autostar problems
Date: 1/31/04, 20:47
From: Richard Seymour (
If you are able to slew, then what indication of
failure-to-communicate are you seeing?

If you are trying to use the Remote HAndbox,
you cannot have any -other- protocol active.

If you are trying to use the Autoguider,
then the -rest- of Autostar Suite cannot be
trying to talk to the Autostar.

Finally: your Autostar firmware has to be at least
3.0b (or newer) in a 497, or 1.7e (or newer) in an LX200gps.
Otherwise the Remote Handbox will say "Initializing"

have fun
No, it doesn't see it, that's one of the things I wanted to try to do
was update the firmware. The only way it communicates with the scope is
through the hadbox protocol

BTW thanks for the quick response...


P.S. BTW I tried upgrading the firmware using the stargps upgrader as
one of your contributors suggested and it couldn't find the autostar
either... very frustrating...
Mike here: Since the handbox function works we'll assume the cable is OK. But check for something else tying up the port (like fax software or even the Autostar Suite software).


Hmmmm nothing appears to be using the port... is there a quick way to

What I get is a 'Read Timeout... Communication ended' dialog box
Mike here: Well, since I don't use Windows when I don't have to, got me. Sorry. But I still suspect something has the port.


You are probably right... I dug out an old lap top (from under the bed)
and connected the cables then loaded the autostar software and IT
WORKED!... Thanks for all the help...

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