AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 February 2005
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, and Deep Sky Imager, DSI, are covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject:	Autostar Suite Question - length of USB cable
Sent:	Sunday, February 27, 2005 17:47:05
From:	Tom and Lori (lortom7@earthlink.net)
I recently purchased the ETX-125 EC UHTC (upgraded from the Celestron
Nexstar 114GT) and it came with the Autostar Suite LPI.  I have not used
it yet, however when I do, I would like to hook it up to my desktop
computer.  Only problem is that my desktop computer is about 25 feet
away from where my telescope will be.  I have searched all over for a 25
foot USB cable and have been unsuccessful.  What do you recommend, and
for that matter, what are your peers doing in cases like this?
  
Thanks.
 
Tom
 
P.S. I just ordered your book to go along with the scope, and am looking
forward to many enjoyable nights!
Mike here: I don't use a long extension cable on the LPI but do use a short run to reach the Apple PowerBook. Some users have added a powered USB hub to extend the distance.
Subject:	Autostar Suite
Sent:	Thursday, February 24, 2005 19:14:37
From:	greslerr (greslerr@aaahawk.com)
I'm looking for Autostar Suite program - any ideas??
Please let me know.
Derek
Mike here: It comes bundled with the Meade LPI and Meade DSI.

And:

I just purchased etx-60 and need only software for it.
Could I purchase this separatelly from you ??
Derek
Mike here: The Autostar Suite requires the #497 Autostar; you probably have the #494 (no number keys on the Autostar). There are other alternatives for computer control IF you have the #506 serial cable (which can not be homemade). See the Accessory Reviews: Software and Helpful Information: Autostar Info pages for more info. There are currently Autostar Suite updaters (old versions) available on my ETX Site (Autostar Info page) but not the full version. Currently, the full version is only available from Meade.
Subject:	Autostar Suite - Network Server Capability
Sent:	Wednesday, February 16, 2005 17:46:09
From:	Zero Effect
I've been investigating the NETSCOPE.EXE program and have found what I
think is a concern of which users should be aware.

NETSCOPE.EXE allows the user to specify a network Port number.  When the
user selects the LISTEN checkbox, the port number entered AND THE NEXT
FOUR PORT NUMBERS are opened and set to listening mode.

If the user unchecks the LISTEN checkbox, ONLY the first port is closed
- the other four ports remain open and listening.  The status window
says 'Idle', however, if a remote computer attempts to connect to these
ports, they can actually control the telescope when the user may think
they had disabled NETSCOPE.  If a remote user connects, the first port
is actually re-opened in listening mode and the status window can show
the details of the connection while the LISTEN checkbox remains
UNCHECKED.

Therefore - user beware that unchecking the LISTEN checkbox does NOT
take the telescope off the 'Net.

Closing NETSCOPE is the sure way of going off the 'Net.

Best Wishes - Zero Effect

Subject:	Re: Autostar suite
Sent:	Tuesday, February 15, 2005 19:59:01
From:	Aaron Craig (a.craig@shaw.ca)
Sorry for all the questions, one more, is it possible to update the
alignment of the scope through autoatar suite? Say I select the moon to
veiw, but my alignment is off a bit so I manualy slew it to the center
of my FOV, can I click the moon on suite and update the alignment of the
scope?
Mike here: no
Subject:	LX200 Error 491 Object below horizon?
Sent:	Monday, February 14, 2005 04:19:34
From:	Komazu (adslauj2@tpg.com.au)
Here I have a problem I can't fix it by myself , please give me a help.
I have setup my ETX125 with Polar mode and it run very well, I can use
hand controller to found (GoTo) any object successfully.

And then I setup my autostar suite "location as Brisbane (27,153)" and
it run very well with my laptop and show the sky object as same as sky I
saw in Brisbane, but when I connect to ETX125 with laptop Com port(
Telescope setup as Polar Mode), I find I only can slew telescope use
Autostar Suite in the half side of Northern  sky(about 90 degree north
of local sky), if I try to slew telescope down south with autostar suite
"slew telescope"funtion it will give massage"LX200 Error 491 Object
below horizon" (But in autostar suite the object is not below horizon),
If I try slew to north side even the object really under the horizon,
telescope will keep going until it touch the dead end of scope.

PS. My ASS version is 3.18 and there is no such a problem in ALT,AZ mode.
 
Thank !
 
Best Regard,
Frank Yeh
Brisbane , Australia.
Mike here: Have you applied "Update 2" from Meade's site?

And:

Thank you for reply so quickly!

My ASS is the latest version( I just bought it few week ago), but
however I have try to install "update 2" , but still got the same
problem, by the way, I search your site last night and found some people
in Southern Hemisphere have same problem,  on the AUTOSTAR SUITE USER
FEEDBACK ,August 2004 page, I found an article:
 
 And a fix:
 Well, here's the patch... 
 if you append the following two lines to the end of my usual patch kit,
 or simply apply them (as a text file) as a standalone patch, or use a
 hex editor to change bytes x41fa2  and x41fa5 in Build32ea.rom, they
 will simply skip the "below lower limit" test at the :MS command.

 The tests done at the GoTo section itself -should- prevent
 beyond-limits damage to the scope, but they won't tell AutostarSuite
 the "1" it should hear to tell you that it couldn't make it.

 I see that the "below horizon" doesn't care about east/west ("not risen
 yet","already set" concerns.  It depends upon the
 StarryNight/AutostarSuite/whatever to not ask for such silly things)

 R 41fa2   2f  20
 R 41fa5   31  40

 have fun
 --dick
 
It seen like a "Firmware bug" , But I am not a programmer and not really
know how to fallow the step to fix this file.
 
Best Regards,
 
Frank Yeh
Mike here: OK. If it is a problem with the Autostar software, do the update to 3.3Ef from Meade's site.

And:

Thank you for reply, I'll try update Autostar software, and I'll inform
local dealer about this problem.

Best Regards,

Frank

Subject:	autostar suite connection problems
Sent:	Saturday, February 12, 2005 08:21:33
From:	Varge Craig (vcraig@telusplanet.net)
im using a toshiba laptop that meet all the requirements of Autostar,
except i dont have a serial port. So instead of using the adaptor which
i cant use, i just plugged my #497 version 33E autostar into my modem
using the #505 cord. I have an LXD 75 Schmit-Newtonian 8inch with
autostar and autostar suite/LPI. Ok, so i connect my modem to my #497
hand controller, then the #497 to the telescope hbx port. I now go into
Autostar suite and click telescope>communications>commport setup. I set
my commport to 3 as that is what my modem is set at, baud rate to 9600,
flow control to none, stop bits 1, data bits 8, parity to none and both
parity check and carrier detect are unchecked. Then Telescope>set
telescope feilds amd put my finder in the finder box and telescope in
the telescope box (LDX 55 8" because i figure its the closes to the LDX
75 SN 8") and my eye peice in the accessories box.  Then i goto
telescope>protocol and select autostar via commport and get a
""Communication Error" "Invalid ACK response from LX200!"".  So i know
its connecting, but i dont have an LX200 and my #497
setup>telescope>model is set to my telescope. After getting the message
i click ok and now everything in the telescope menu is accessable, but
when i click a star it doesnt say slew telescope, and the Handbox feture
in telescope>protocol just says initialising when i set my commport to 3
and click connect.

AND in my Autostar updater 3.61, I set my commport to 3, click upgrade
autostar software now and i get a message saying ""Error" "Could not
connect to autostar. Autostar Update will now perform a search of all
com ports. OK to Proceed?"" I click yes and it brings up this error
""Error" Could not find COM Port. Check your connection and try again.""
I have checked my connection an its fine so it should have worked. Then
i tried Options>Set Com Port and auto detect and it says ""Error" "Could
not find Autostar. Check Connections.""

My autostar is on and initialized and set up when i do all of this.

Please help me out here, id like to get this working. The only thing i
can thind of maybe i need the serial port and cant use my modem as a
commport, but then i think why does it connect and say "Invalid ACK
response from LX200!" when i dont even have an LX200!!
 
Thank you
Aaron Craig
Mike here: Simple answer: the modem port is NOT a RS-232 serial port. You have two choices: add a serial port via a PC Card (assuming your laptop has a PC Card slot) or use a USB to serial converter. See the article "PCs and USB" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. As noted there, I use one with my Macintosh, which doesn't have a serial port but does have USB.

And:

Thanks, i got a serial to usb converter and it works great! Thanks alot!

One last question, do i need filters to take pics with the lunar
plantetary imager? I tried to take pics of the moon last night and it
was to brightand could only get a portion of it. Auto adjust was on and
everything.

Thanks again for your help.

Aaron Craig
Mike here: Filters can help but are not required. You may have to manually tweak the exposure though to get the best results.
Subject:	re: ETX 125 PE Laptop Autostar Suite to Autostar Interface
Sent:	Friday, February 11, 2005 22:37:34
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Gary wrote:
> There is a design flaw in the supplied PC to Autostar interface cable. 
> The 9 pin adapter has only 3 wire connectors.

That isn't a flaw, it's indeed only a 3-wire connection
(transmitted data, received data, common ground)
Pins 2,3 and 5 on the DB9

When you were trying to connect with Remote Handbox, had you
disconnected  the -other- portions of Autostar Suite?
(StarMap following the scope, the little "hand control")

Unless you engage their Network Server application, the various
pieces of Autostar Suite will get in each other's way.
(and that -is- a design flaw... the combining of signals should be
invisible to the user)

The error message you're getting has nothing to do with the physical
cable, it's Meade and Windows fighting over who has access to the COM 1
socket.

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	Mike Hogan (mhogansr@comcast.net)
A response to Gary's message of Feb. 9.

The 9-pin to RJ11 adapter supplied by Meade only needs three pins, TX
data, RX data, and Ground. The interface cable is non-standard, as it
uses a 6-pin (4 used) connector on one end and a 4-pin (all used)
connector on the other.  The cable itself is standard 4-conductor
telephone wire.  You can easily make a longer cable, but that's a
another topic.

There are options other than the Meade serial to USB adapter for laptop
connection.  I use a Belkin USB to PDA adapter, Part # F5U109, which is
available for about $20.  It comes with the necessary drivers and
creates a virtual serial port.  I use it with my Garmin GPS receivers as
well as with AutoStar Suite.

When connecting to AutoStar from the PC, you have to make sure the Com
Port you select is the same as the one assigned to the USB adapter. You
can check Windows Device Manager to verify which port is the USB-Serial
one. Also, you should be aware that Com1 and Com3 share certain computer
resources as do Com2 and Com4. Sometimes this can create a problem if
you're trying to use both shared ports simultaneously.

Once you're sure what ports you will use, try restarting AutoStar Suite
and configuring it. I've noticed that sometimes when you try to open the
wrong port, then select the correct port, the program will still not
connect. Restarting helps. Also checkout the "Single Computer Network"
option described in the manual. This configuration can be very useful.

Good Luck

Subject:	Another ETX AutoStar suite question
Sent:	Friday, February 11, 2005 06:38:59
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
I've searched the Autostar Suite Manual's and got no hits. Could have
been using bad search criteria (or didn't read enough on the Web site).

I'm wondering: Since autostar suite is connected to the 497 controller.
Is it possible to update the controller with the latest version without
buying/making the download cable and/or using the update program from
Meade?

Seems like if there is a connection to the controller from a PC that you
would be able to update the controller. Surely Meade thought of that!

Regards

Jim Holland
Mike here: The Autostar Suite package includes the serial connection cable. So, yes, you can use the same cable to update the Autostar.

And:

Never mind - my bad!

Subject:	ETX 125 PE Laptop Autostar Suite to Autostar Interface
Sent:	Wednesday, February 9, 2005 17:23:44
From:	Gszientara@aol.com (Gszientara@aol.com)
There is a design flaw in the supplied PC to Autostar interface cable. 
The 9 pin adapter has only 3 wire connectors.  The cable (looks like a
phone cable with phone jacks at each end) has four contacts.  Also, if
you own a laptop that has USB ports, you probably don't have a 9 pin COM
port.  You will have to buy the #505 USB to Serial kit from Meade
($51.00).  Meanwhile, I am waiting for Meade to send me a 9 pin adapter
with the required four wire connector.  Hopefully, this will fix the
problem and allow me to use the advanced features of the Autostar such
as a user defined tour and auto update from the Meade web site.

Below is the description I sent to Meade engineering:
 
Problem:
Autostar Suite will not interface with my telescope.  Error message is
"Can't open Com 1."  When I select other Com ports in the
"Communications" window, the same error message occurs except it says it
can't open any of the selected Com ports.

When I try the "Remote Hand Box Protocol," I get a "port already in use
or not present" message.

I have the adapter connected to the USB port that was recognized during
the USB to Serial cable driver (version 2.0) installation.  I carefully
followed the installation wizard and rebooted the computer after
installation by turning it completely OFF then ON.  The adapter is
connected to the supplied cable that came with my telescope.  The cable
is connected to my Autostar controller and the telescope power switch is
ON with the Autostar coil connected to the HBX port on the computer
control panel.
 
Telescope:
Meade ETX 125 PE
purchased February 1, 2005
Autostar controller and telescope operate normally
 
Meade USB to RS232 adapter kit:
purchased February 3, 2005
installed USB TO SERIAL DRIVER DISK VERSION 2.0
 
Meade Autostar Suite:
Astronomer Edition
included with ETX 125 PE
installed successfully on PC
 
 
My Computer:
Gateway Tablet PC
purchased January 2004
Intel Pentium Microprocessor 1400MHz
585 MHz, 248 MB of RAM
2 USB Ports
-no other systems (other than Meade adapter cable) are connected to
either USB port
-computer recognizes hardware connection when used on either USB port
-no matter which USB port is used, the problem is the same
 
Operating System:
Windows XP
Tablet PC Edition 2005
Version 2002
Service Pack 2
All updates checked and current as of February 5, 2005
Mike here: I use a DB9 adapter (connected to a Keyspan USB-serial converter) on my Macintosh. The adapter was included with a digital camera I bought years ago.

And:

Wow!  You must live next to your computer.  Thanks for such a quick
reply.  If the new adapter from Meade doesn't work, I'll try the DB9. 
Keep up the wonderful work you are doing on your ETX site.  We ALL
appreciate your efforts!
 
Gary Zientara

Subject:	I got your book and a autostar suite question
Sent:	Tuesday, February 1, 2005 15:10:31
From:	Jim Holland (jholland12@comcast.net)
I got you book and it supplements the web site nicely.
 
It's been cloudy in the southeast, so I've been playing some more with
the autostar suite and I'm wonder about something. I've reviewed the web
site under software but didn't get any hits and I've looked thru much of
the software page.

I've got my laptop communicating with my trusty ETX. (at least I think,
as it slews up and down, focuses slow/fast etc. and I put the
mouse/pointer over an object and the scope started slewing)

My question is:

When I launch the autostar suite program and
 Telescope>Protocal>Remote handbox
 
Should I be able to do handbox "stuff" using that portion of the
software?

It's all all blank (everything is powered up) at my
laptop/telescope/hand box, but nothing displays on the laptop and none
of the buttons work on the laptop
 
Thanks
 
Jim
Mike here: Yes, you can control the Autostar with the remote handbox function. But if the serial port is tied up talking to the Autostar then the remote handbox application can't talk to it. Hence, the "networking" mode that the Autostar Suite has. See my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for more on networking. It is the "Autostar Use" section of the article.

And:

Never mind, I got it figured out.
 
This documentation is as bad as some of the other computer  (oracle
etc)) documentation I've worked with.

Thanks
 
Jim

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