Last updated: 28 February 2005
Subject: training etx-125 Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 09:21:41 From: Byron Seamus ((MIS)) (Seamus.Byron@lyit.ie) Sorry to bother you but I have a question, I have an ETX-125 that I purchased second hand, When I try and align with one or two stars (E.g. Castor , procyon ) the scope is pointing at a totally different part of the sky than they are in (I have put in the GPS location for the site that I am using)? Is this normal and it takes ages for it to slew to the star that is indicated on the hand-controller. I have seen nothing in the manual (which is not the best in the world). Thanks in advance Seamus Byron Ps. I am new to the meade and astronomy in general.Mike here: Do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES from the Autostar's menus. Also, check the current Daylight Savings setting.
Subject: Autostar alignment error Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2005 09:10:12 From: Gary Hayden (email@example.com) Great site! I've just bought an ETX90-EC. When I do the Easy Align procedure, and get to the bit where it searches for a star to slew to, the hand controller just gives the message 'Searching' - and that's it. The word 'Searching' just stays there, and the telescope doesn't slew anywhere. I've checked and double checked that I've set everything up OK, and followed all the appropriate setup procedures. Do you think this is some kind of a software problem? Do you have any suggestions to fix it? Cheers, Gary HaydenMike here: Since it is new, go ahead and do a RESET. You will have to go through all the initial steps; don't forget to CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Let me know if the RESET helps.
Reset didn't work. Rang Meade Customer Services. They told me to redownload the Autostar's Firmware. Worked like a treat. Thanks for getting back in touch. Clear skies... GaryMike here: That was going to be my next suggestion if the RESET didn't work.
Subject: updating autostar did not complete computer will not find controller Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2005 08:19:21 From: JEFF & Kris HARPER (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have looked through your site , and if I over looked the info I apologize. I was updating my 497 w/ etx125 and lost power in the middle of the down load. After rebooting, I turned the ETX on again and the hand controller is blank. I do get power to the controller, but no info on the led screen. Upon trying to update again my computer will not find the controller through the comport. Autostar updater looks for the connection but says the hand box is not connected. Could this be as simple as a bad cable or have I damaged and or locked up my autostar? I have also purchased the USB to serial port cable and driver, but still cannot get the computer to recognize the hand controller. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you Jeff HarperMike here: When the power source goes away during the update you end up with a corrupted Autostar software load. But that is normally easy to fix. Just put the Autostar info SAFE MODE and do a FLASH LOAD. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on the telescope. You should see FLASH LOAD READY (or words to that effect). Then run the Autostar Updater application; it should detect that mode and you can then do the update. You will have to re-enter your settings, CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES.
THANK YOU....... all is well now. If only the sky would clear. You provide a great deal of knowledge for folks like me. Thanks again. Best Regards Jeff A Harper
Subject: Is an Autostar 497 for ETX still compatible with a DS 80 AT Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 11:53:39 From: Jack Stevens (email@example.com) I have a DS 80 AT that had the Autostar 497 removed and replaced with a simple hand controller. I am looking at an Autostar 497 for ETX. Is it different from the 497 my scope should have had? I also have an Autostar 494 that came with my DS 114 AT. Will the 494 work with both scopes? Thank you, Jack StevensMike here: The #497 should be OK. The #494 only works with the ETX-60/70 models as well as the DS models.
Subject: Meade 497 Controller Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 14:12:31 From: Bradley Tamplin (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a Meade ETX 125 telescope with a 497 Controller. Is it possible to operate the controller on a seperate power source (9v battery) to become familiar with its program without using the telescope? If so, which are the power input pins? Brad Tamplin Piqua, OHMike here: There are several articles about this on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Autostar 494 problem Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 11:36:00 From: Freddy Daz (email@example.com) First let me congratulate you for the web site, for me, that have been arround internet for about 10 years it's one of the best (among top 5) Recently I purchased an ETX70 AT and found that after I apply the power the autostar shows the initial message and after a while the screen goes black and a Download message appears in negative (black background clear letters). It does not respond to any commands. I have a 497 but before connecting it, would like to hear your comments. Thanks in advance Freddy Diaz - > TWMike here: Is this a new ETX-70AT or a used one? It almost sounds like the software is corrupted and unfortunately there is no user-installable update available. Perhaps our resident Autostar expert, Dick Seymour, has some thoughts on the problem.
From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) I haven't a clue... the only thing i can think of is: "check the power supply". And make sure you don't have something strange plugged into the AUX sockets. The 494 can be told to go to "Download" mode in either of two ways: (a) by using the menu to get to Setup > Download and tapping [enter] (b) by receiving a control-D (ascii x04) over the serial port (a 506 cable converter for the 494). I -suppose- someone might have tried to load the 497's firmware into the 494, but i have -no- idea what that would produce (nothing functional, i can certainly guarantee that). If you can arrange a 494 swap with the vendor, do so. Likewise, a 497 would probably work perfectly well. (hmmm... peer into the HBX socket on the telescope base to make sure that some of the pins haven't "hopped" to adjacent slots) good luck --dickAnd an update:
Thanks for your fast answers, Last night, before I got your emails, put new alcaline batteries, tested with the 497 and got a motor drive error, I decided to go further and disassembled the equipment. For my surprise a small connector was flying arround and found that electronics inside the base have been repaired, it looks evident that the small electrolitic capacitor blown out, was replaced and some of the copper tracks were repaired. Of course they were not successful. So for me, this is a case of fried electronics (hope I have not fried the 497 controller serial ports too). If the electrolitic capacitor blow up it's most probably due to reversed polarity or way too much voltage. Do you know if meade can send the electronics, or I must send the complete unit (among with at least the 494 controller) to their repair center? Your thoughts? Thanks again for your fast answers FreddyMike here: You will have to send the whole scope back for repair.
For the amount of damage your telescope has suffered, sending the entire unit to Meade is probably the best choice. Whether or not Meade will send electronics depends upon your country's distributor. Here in the USA, the answer is "No. No parts." In Europe and Australia, the distributors are willing to exchange parts with the customers. I do not know the policy of the Venezuelan distributor. From the symptoms, i do not think the 497 would have been damaged by your testing. The 494 may be less happy. good luck --dick
Thanks again for your answer. As there are no official Meade distributors in Venezuela, contacted Meade in US and will ship the equipment among with the 494 for repair. If everything goes well, I shall have it back in a month. If you whish, will keep you posted. Rgdss, Freddy
Subject: etx125 autostar Sent: Monday, February 21, 2005 06:08:22 From: colin martin (email@example.com) I have picked up a spare 497 autostar for use with my LX90 The wording on the front of the controller say ETX AUTOSTAR, my original says AUTOSTAR only. Trying to connect to my LX90 I find there isn't a model LX90, even when powered up. The software loaded is 1.2 I am finding it difficult to connect it to the PC, doesn't seem to be able to find the Autostar although it says com port found. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Thanks ColinMike here: The software in the Autostar does need to be upgraded. You could "clone" your existing one (you will need the clone cable). Otherwise you will have to upgrade from a computer. I suspect a port conflict is preventing the Autostar from being found by the computer.
Thanks Mike for the info. The hand set needed to be put manually in the download mode, then "enter" to begin transfer, I forgot to press "enter" in the first instance. However the LX90 now appears on the menu. Thanks Colin
Subject: etx 90 help Sent: Monday, February 21, 2005 02:15:28 From: Bryan (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have searched through out your site for any info on the fault I have ,But no joy So I'm sorry if this E-mail (or cry for help) is an inconvenience ,But being very new to this I'm "grasping at straws"..I hope you could help or point me in the right direction . .As mentioned I have a 90etx with a 497 auto tracker .the scope has been > working great .But all of a sudden it has developed a strange fault .When I > put in its home position and use the EASY align .it searches for a star then > slews ..but both alt and dec motors wok for 5 seconds then both shut down at > the same time ,after a 2 second pause they both fire up again ,and continue > to do this until the alt and dec motors reach the hard stops .Not only does > the scope does this fault in the align mode ,but in typical slew mode > ,either one will run for 5 seconds then pause for 2 sec the continue (as > long as I'm holding down the button ).Please help me as I'm stumped ...please > Many thanks for any input Cheers BryanMike here: Two initial thoughts to try: First, do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and then a TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't cure it, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS and then the TRAIN DRIVES. Don't forget to train in both axes. Let me know if either of these cure the problem.
Subject: AutoStar #506 cable extension Sent: Saturday, February 19, 2005 14:41:46 From: Michael Engelhart (email@example.com) I recently bought the Meade #506 cable for my ETX-70AT. It works great with ScopeDriver on my Mac OS X machine. My question is if there is any information on how to extend the cable from either end. It's only 6 feet long which isn't that far if you want to operate the scope from a computer inside your house. Anyway, I read all the posts on the Long cable posts under the AutoStar section but they all seem to be discussing the other AutoStar cables for the #495 and #497 which doesn't seem to be as complicated (or screwy if you ask me) of a design as the #506. Thanks for any pointers. Mike EngelhartMike here: You can extend the #506 by use a female-male type of cable. Just connect the extension inline with the #506. I don't know how the increased length will affect the active electronics in the #506 however. If you do make one, let me know how it works out.
Well I went down to the local RadioShack and picked up 2 pieces of phone extenders for a total of around $15.00 I bought: 25-ft 6 Conductor Line Cord (#279-422) 6-Wire In-Line Coupler (#279-434) - basically just a female-female box By plugging the 6 conductor end of the #506 (the one that "doesn't" plug into the Aux port on the ETX-70AT) into the in-line coupler and then plugging the 25 foot extension cord into the other side and then into the DB-9 adaptor, it works perfectly. I haven't tested it out in the field yet but ScopeDriver quickly connected and I could slew the scope just fine! Thanks again Mike
Subject: Alt/Dec & Az/Ra Percentage Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 08:55:07 From: Charles Washington (firstname.lastname@example.org) In trying to learn the Autostar menu tree off by heart (or nailing it to my forehead) when I came across the above command ...... Setup..........telescope........mount.... .......Alt/Dec Percentage.....Az/Ra Percentage......... followed by......... train drive etc. It is not mentioned in the instruction manual and I have been searching all morning to find out what it refers to. The value for it is set at 50% on both. I am currently running Autostar ver (33E). Kind regards Charles Washington (UK)Mike here: See the article "Calibration, Training, Percentages" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: re: Alt/Az Ratio Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 23:04:33 From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) The Alt/Az Ratios are always reset to the factory values whenever you select the telescope model. So scroll to: Setup > Telescope > Model > LX90 and press [enter] The ratios are Alt=2.75074 Az= -2.75074 have fun --dickAnd:
From: Kris Lunde (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks Mike for your help and Dick for the information. Regards, Kris LundeAnd:
From: Niall Saunders (email@example.com) I have just been out to my observatory (through the snowdrifts!!) and have taken the following information from my AutoStar (connected to my LX90) Azimuth/RA Ratio : -02.75075 Altitude/DEC Ratio : +02.75075 Az/RA Percentage : 10% Alt/DEC Percentage : 10% Az/RA Training : +40 Alt/DEC Training +26 Note that, although the size of the gearbox ratios are the same for Az/RA and Alt/DEC, their 'sign' is different (this is because the Az/RA base operates slightly differently on the LX90 (compared with the remainder of the ETX range) in that the motor assembly is fixed to the 'moving' part of the base (as opposed to the 'fixed', or lower, part). Because of this the Az/RA motion is opposite for a given drive signal, and this is corrected by having a 'negative' gearbox ratio. Further, the 'Training' figures are unique to my specific telescope, and are only available if you have upgraded your Autostar software using one of Dick Seymour's software patches. If you haven't done this, and are confident in doing so then, by following the detailed instructions (available elsewhere on Mike's site) you will end up with a scope with very little 'backlash' effect whatsoever. That has certainly been my experience: no 'rubber banding', no 'creep after beep', and trouble-free alignment. I literally used to chuck the scope out into the front garden, enter date and time (to the nearest five minutes !!), and chose an easy two-star alignment. I then centred both the stars, and off I went for the evening. Now, with the luxury of an observatory, all I do is 'Park Scope' at the end of each session, and roll the roof closed. Next time, I switch on, identify any bright star overhead, select it on the Autostar, Goto and Sync, and I am ready for an evening's viewing. Hope this helps, Cheers Niall Aberdeen, SCOTLAND
Subject: Alt/Az Ratio Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 15:58:26 From: Kris Lunde (firstname.lastname@example.org) Could you tell me what the Alt/Az Ratio for a LX90 (equipped with an AutoStar 497), is set to from the factory? I think I inadvertantly changed it when adjusting Alt/Az percentages. It was late and I was tired when setting up the Alt/Az percentages and just went to the wrong menu items. Would appreciate your input. Thanks, Kris Lunde
Subject: AutoStar Safe Load trick Sent: Tuesday, February 8, 2005 11:17:14 From: Laurence L Plate Jr (email@example.com) Tried to find where instructions for ETX Auatostar "Safe Load" could be found in your website and was unlucky as my Autostar would not speak to AutostarX after a bad flash load on my Macintosh. No go on VPC with XP. Can you help out to steer to the instructions on this? PlatoMike here: The simplest way to find information can be to use the search feature; entering "safe load" would have gotten you what you wanted sooner. But it is "hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and power on".
Subject: Re: etx70-at, #494 Autostar Sent: Monday, February 7, 2005 11:07:11 From: Nicolas Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org) I guys thanks again, everything is working fine now. I wonder if I could control the telescope whitout the remote control. I noticed that the remote control execute an initialisation sequence, is it possible to get every command sent to the telescope? Sometimes, when I turn on the telescope, I cant control it. I got to press the "?Speed" button then I am able to send it command and stuff. Any council about that? Thanks Nicolas L.And:
From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) > I guys thanks again, everything is working fine now. That's good... > I wonder if I could control the telescope whitout the remote control. I don't understand your question. What is "the remote control"? If you mean the 494, "no" (for all practical purposes). In the six years of Autostar telescope existence, no one has managed to do without the Autostar (to my knowledge). > I noticed that the remote control execute an initialisation sequence, > is it possible to get every command sent to the telescope? Every command from -what-? From the 494? Or do mean from your PC to the Autostar via the COM port. If that is what you mean, programs like PortMon can capture and display both directions of messages, yes. If you are asking "can i see all commands from the 494 to the telescope?" the engineering answer is "yes, of course". But it requires having a three-channel i2c bus monitor, capable of handling the modified i2c protocol which the Autostar uses to talk to the peripheral processors (i don't have one). > Sometimes, when I turn on the telescope, I cant control it. I got to > press the "?Speed" button then I am able to send it command and stuff. > Any council about that? Nope. It could simply be a "slow" component in the Autostar requiring just a few milliseconds more to "warm up" before it's ready to play. Why tapping a key would wake it up is one of those mysteries of complex operation. I spend my time analyzing the 497 Autostar and the LX200gps's Autostar II... the 494, since it can't be changed, doesn't yield to my techniques. But i'd certainly check your cables and connectors for good seating and connections. have fun --dick
Subject: Autostar homade cable Sent: Saturday, February 5, 2005 18:18:43 From: Jerry Morton (firstname.lastname@example.org) I was referencing your page on the homemade 505 cable for the Autostar 497. Your page suggests RJ11 phone cord; this is the standard wall to phone cord. These connectors are too wide to fit. What your really want is the RJ10 cord, also known as a handset cord. At least for my Autostar 497 this is what is required. Anyway, your page was a big help, now I only have to adapt my DB9 RS232 / RJ45 connector to a RJ11 connector. Almost there!! Thanks again jm Jerry Morton email@example.comMike here: It depends upon WHICH cable you are referring to. The Autostar controller cable or a #505 serial cable. There are articles covering both.
Exactly, the 505 serial cable requires a RJ10 (telephone handset connector), the controller cable is a RJ45 (ethernet connector). The 505 plugs into the aux connector on the autostar which is the RJ10. A RJ11 is the standard telephone wall connector which is a 4 pin, but about 20% wider than the RJ10. jm Jerry A. GNAL
Subject: Your Autostar Sent: Saturday, February 5, 2005 11:52:48 From: Rodolphe Pineau (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: Donald Davenport I just read your posts on Mike's website. Did you had time to try with ASU and if yes did it fixed the problem (which would mean I still have some problems in the way I'm flashing the autostar) ? Rodolphe
Subject: Extended 505 cable Sent: Saturday, February 5, 2005 10:12:55 From: Michael Leslie Cook (email@example.com) I am using a 497 Autostar and want to extend the 505 cable, I am unable to find a connector that fits the handset all the letters in the tech tips etc say that the connector is a RJ11 however on my handset this is incorrect mine is smaller,any help would be appreciated. Regards MikeMike here: See the cable info section on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Comet Machholz Sent: Saturday, February 5, 2005 08:39:17 From: Petz2@aol.com (Petz2@aol.com) I have updated my Autostar to version 3.3, but I cannot find Comet Machholz 2004 as a go to object. It seems that it should be in there by now. Any ideas about where it is in the menu? Steve PetzoldMike here: It doesn't surprise me that it is not included as a standard object. But you can add it.
How can it be added? Is there a tutorial on your site?Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Autostar hang Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2005 16:15:13 From: Donald Davenport (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just when I thought I was out of the woods... I received my Autostar back from its little test bench run at Rodolphe's, loaded with the ROM ver. 3.3. Now, when I power it up, it takes me through the various warnings and date/time prompts, but freezes at the daylight saving prompt. No combination of buttons seems to help. Nor can I get it to the menu where I can do a reset. Anyone else experienced this? Donald DavenportMike here: Can you use the MODE key at each of the initial prompts to get out of that cycle? If so, check the telescope model. If it is still stuck, you'll have to do the SAFE LOAD trick.
I re-flashed with AutostarX (yes, it does work) just to make sure I had a clean update. Same result. The MODE key will merely advance to the next prompt, even with I hold it down. It still hangs at the Daylight Saving prompt and everything is locked out at that point. By "SAFE LOAD" trick, do you mean re-flash the box in safe load mode? (I'm feeling very nostalgic for those ver 2.6 days of about two weeks ago...) DonaldMike here: Yep. And some of us would like to go back to the Word 5.1 days...
And an update:
Same result. Hangs and locks at the Daylight Saving prompt. I think my Autostar may well be fried. I tried uploading from your archives the last know version that it worked on. Even with 2.6 loaded, it wouldn't initiate--it just kept slewing the drives until it would hit a hard stop. I think maybe the repeated flashing and assorted attempts at various things might have just burned in some bad data that I can't flush out. Don't know how else to account for it. Anyway, that's the latest. Will keep you posted. DonaldMike here: I don't know how repeated flashing would cause this. But anything is possible. By the way, how is the power supply? Batteries low?
Working on AC, so that's no factor. I'm going to try to resurrect the Autostar with ASU on my friend's PC and see if that makes a difference. AutostarX loads the unit fine. It just doesn't work afterwards.
Now, this is interesting. I've been trying various versions from the ETX website archive. When I loaded 3.0, the Autostar still hung (albeit it at a different spot) and then flashed "Proc. Trap 2". At least that's something different. The fact that different versions have different results (all unsatisfactory) suggests to me that there is still some glitch in the way the data is being written to the handbox. Hopefully, I can successfully get it working from my friend's PC. If so, I may never update again. DonaldMike here: Odd. But I wonder if it is a memory location that is toast on the Autostar. Different versions could be putting different code at that location.
Yes, certainly possible. Or Dick had said something about Meade's ASU being more forgiving on chip speed because it would go into a loop until a given page was written (or some such), implying that there might be some speed buffering necessary. I think the PC update attempt will really be the proof of the pudding. We'll know tomorrow.
Subject: how to tell difference-494/497? Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2005 08:24:15 From: bob s (email@example.com) during x-mas, i walked into a sams club store and there was a meade ds-90ata scope for sell and i did the impulse thing and bought it. i wanted an autostar so that its easier to show objects and not have to realign as i do with my dobs. get on something; and let the whole group of kids view and etc....it been cloudy in the great maritime northwest since; however, i am not sure how to tell whether i have 494 or 497 or ?????, also, how would i tell the version #.? any info would be great. for a non techy, dobs sure are easy...now i'm teched and confused a bit. thanks so much---bob ps:it does have 2 motors if that helps anyMike here: The Autostar is likely a #494 model (no number keys on the keypad). You can see the software version number on startup (short version, probably 1.0) and a longer version from the Statistics menu.
Subject: Big Mac Attack! Sent: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 16:12:14 From: Bruce (firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike, Have you seen this program for the Mac? http://www.rti-zone.org/macosx_autostarx.php I don't have a Mac but I saw this on a Yahoo users group. Saludos de Bruce N7XGRMike here: Thanks. There is an extensive report on it on my ETX Site:
Subject: Synch the Autostar Sent: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 13:30:37 From: Mick Hoffman (email@example.com) Thought I'd take a little time to let you know about my ETX-125 performance. I assist the Astronomy Professor at the University where I work (Computer Dept) in holding viewings for students and local citizens. He wanted to have a viewing on Friday night. I wasn't too excited since the weather here has been really cloudy for like 2 months. Friday came and the sky was clear. I got over to the University just about dark and got setup. I did a quick 2 star alignment and sent the scope to look at the Double Cluster. Bang! Right in the eyepiece. Then to Orion. Bang! There it is again. The accuracy of the movement was phenomenal. I did notice a little tendency to not center the later views. I think I heard or read of something that you can synch your autostar so that it further refines your views. I've looked through your site, and my manual, but I cant find any reference. Is there such a command, and if so, how do I do it? Thanks for your time. Great Site! MickMike here: Yes, you can SYNC to improve GOTOs in that immediate area of the sky. If you search the ETX Site for "SYNC" you will get lots of hits. But basically you center a star or other obvious fixed object (not a planet or Moon) and then press the ENTER key for 2 seconds; a message will appear on the display. Follow the prompt.
Subject: Re: etx70-at, #494 Autostar Sent: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 07:11:02 From: Nicolas Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org) Everything is working, i found everything that I needed in the pdf. Now I would like to know something else. Is it possible to choose the direction of rotation of the telescope when i use the command :Sz 180*00# to set the direction and :MA# to start the movement. Thank you very much!!And:
From: Richard Seymour (email@example.com) Not directly... it will always take the "shortest" route. (the Cord Wrap setting will affect this) However you can do a short period of :Mw# , then a :Qw# and -then- do the :MA# to convince it to go "west" (in this example). The :Mw# will operate at the currently selected Slew Speed. The :MA# will operate at either full speed, or at "speed 8" if you have invoked "Quiet Slew" (which the 494 doesn't have). have fun --dick
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