AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 February 2006

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:	Re: ETX 125AT went dead
Sent:	Tuesday, February 28, 2006 13:04:04
From:	zmoyano@onenet.com.ar
this is or sounds like a rebirth!! we follow your instructions and
opened the plate (handled the scope like a baby..)everrything looked
intact..perfect..no wires loose or cut..we move with un finger the ra
gear,the disc with spikes (that far can I get with my technichal
english)..it move and move as I keep pushing with my finger..no
resistance..we proceed to connect with the autostar..etc,etc..and the
motor drive or the ra slewed!!!..while moving the scope WE FOUND A SCREW
FOLLING AROUND,LOOSE,DIDN'T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM..END OF STORY WITH
ALL YOU GUYS SUPPORT,,we are brathing again of joy and happines,thanks
many thanks,and do not forget the srew..(prince)we belong to asciaicion
cordobesa de astronomia,cordoba,argentina..if you around someday you are
most welcome-
From:	P. Clay Sherrod (drclay@arksky.org)
What a terrific ending; I am very glad the telescope is operating
properly.
 
Dr. Clay
--------------------
Arkansas Sky Observatories
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H45 (Petit Jean Mountain South)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	GPS for Autostar 497
Sent:	Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:07:55
From:	PATRIZIO CARATTO (patriziocaratto@virgilio.it)
I have modernized my Autostar 497 in the version 41Ec.
 
I have tried to transfer data GPS to Autostar 497 wiyh my Magellan
Meridian Platinum  being used cable 505, but nothing does not appear.
 
What mistake?
 
Thanks you and compliment for the site web.
 
Patrizio Caratto (Genoa / Italy)

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:58:13
From:	CYSMARCUS@aol.com (CYSMARCUS@aol.com)
Is this normal? When putting in a dummy time ( to test the autostar)
about an hour after uranus neptune or pluto"s rising the auto star will
beep and tell me the "rising time" as if it's still to early. I've
checked that the am an pm were correct. It also constantly says "check
mount to make sure that the scope doesn't bang into it"
Thanx
Mike here: Do you have a current version of the Autostar software installed?

And:

It's version 40e downloaded by Dr. Sherrod when the scope was
supercharged.
Thanx 
Mike here: Do you have your correct location and Daylight Savings?

And:

Yes I do.
Mike here: Does this happen with only emphemeral objects like the planets or does it also happen with stars and DSOs?

And:

So far only planets.
Mike here: Let me know what happens on the other objects.
Subject:	ETX70,Commands for Slew Rate not working 
Sent:	Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:01:03
From:	emv@emvconsulting.at (emv@emvconsulting.at)
Great site! What a goldmine of information !
I use ETX70 as an antenna mount
Config: ETX70, Autostar #494, Cable 506, USB to Com Converter
I can communicate with the ETX70.
There is much info about LX200 and autostar commands
Many of them work with my ETX70
Slew rate commands do not
:RM#
:RS#
:RC#
:RG#
neither :RM0#, :RM1# .. :RS0#  and so on

Cartes du ciel with telescope control selection "meade autostar " does
work

Could you help ?

Thank you Willy Ottinger / Austria ,OE5OOL
And from our Autostar expert:
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Well, what is the -question-?  (other than 'can we help?')

The primary document is Meade's Telescope Serial Command Protocol.
From: http://www.meade.com/support/LX200CommandSet.pdf

Many of those commands have a "p" (for "Partial") in the Autostar
 column.  The "R" group
The 494 has a more limited command set than the 497 Autostar.
(and the 494 cannot be upgraded, so it does not have some of
the newer commands introduced to support AutostarSuite, and
which do not appear in the above .pdf file).

For example, the :RM/S/C/G comands -do- now work in the 497 (v41Ec)
The 497 also supports :R1#  :R2#  to :R9#  (not in .pdf file)
(equivalent to pressing the speed keys on the 497 keypad.)

So our question to you is: what are you trying to do?
What commands/functions do you need?

Some of the Rate commands can be accomplished by other means.
You can set the maximum slew rate with  :SwN#
"N" being degrees per second.
Then issue :Me#/:Mw#/:Ms#/:Mn# commands and the system
 will slew at that speed.  GoTo's should also honor it.
This command has been in the 497 Autostar since 1999,
so i expect it is in the 494 as well.
Which version of firmware do you have in your 494?
(Setup/Statistics/[enter][scroll up])

The -best- answer may be "buy a 497 Autostar".
That will give you a controller with more commands,
and the ability for it to be patched for "extra" features.

have fun
--dick

And:

"SwN" helped much !
Thank you for quick reply!

I have wirtten a small program in Testpoint!
I you care I could post it

thanks willy

Subject:	ETX/Autostar slop reduction / 
Sent:	Saturday, February 25, 2006 18:09:20
From:	Dave Day (DaveD@daysystems.com)
Thanks for your really helpful EXT Website, 
Mike--I appreciate your good work.

Some questions and thoughts..

I've seen several articles on 'training' and 'calibrating' ETX drives
using Autostar-- with the goal of reducing backlash and improving
pointing accuracy. One approach used successive-approximation via a
spreadsheet protocol. Most of these articles are old, and based on an
out-of-date Autostar version. Do you know which of these is still
relevant?

It would be a real bonus if somebody were to edit these half-dozen
techniques into a single article. It seems that for the ETX--with its
fairly crummy gearset--this is a critical issue.

There was also an entry about Andrew Johansen's 'PEC Editor'. But the
links to 'MyScopeShort.zip' and 'MyScope.zip' are both dead. And I can't
find any information about him or his programs. (I assume the 'PEC
Editor' could have provided a way to   automate and improve training.)

I've discovered a broken link in the 'Software' section to 'The Sky'--a
major supplier. The broken link is: 

   http://www.bisque.com/thesky/products/thesky.htm 
   
A good link is: 
   http://www.bisque.com/Products/TheSky6/
   
Finally, there's an 'Alerts' page for astronomical events. I'm curious
why the long-past events are still there. For example, does a solar
eclipse or meteor shower in 2002 have current interest?

Best, Dave Day
Mike here: Good idea about combining the articles. You want to volunteer? Thanks for the dead links. I'll fix the links for TheSky and will remove the PEC Editor article. As to the alerts page, I just have been lazy and never cleaned it up. Guess I should do that in my spare time!

And:

Thanks for your quick reply, Mike.

I'm a published author, and I see the need for better documents
everywhere. This is a sticky one. First, I'm a novice with the ETX and
as a stargazer. Second, if I were to combine other works, nothing would
be original. I'd have to spend an enormous amount of time getting the
credits right, and would probably irritate somebody just by using their
stuff.

I may just have to do a step-by-step guide for my own use.

Do you have any comments on that spreadsheet with
successive-approximation setups?

I wonder what happened to PEC? The guy seems to have evaporated; I can't
even Google a good link to him or his program.

Finally, do you have any clues about this ETX issue I've found? When I
GoTo a satellite that's not yet in view, the scope starts 'tracking'--
(actually fast slewing) somewhere.

Worse, the scope slews to this arbitrary point, then immediately changes
to another point far from the first one. Later, when the bird finally
appears, the scope has to slew to this new position to start tracking. 
Weird!      Dave
Mike here: Yes, rewriting articles is a pain, which is why I usually just post what I get (if I post at all). As to how you should proceed, read the existing articles, which will help you. Regarding the satellite tracking, don't have an answer myself.
Subject:	ETX calibratin question
Sent:	Saturday, February 25, 2006 08:21:47
From:	Mick Hoffman (mick6709@hotmail.com)
when you first set up and get into the home position, you mention that
you should do a calibration every time power is changed (switched off,
switched on, new power source, etc.).  If, after the calibration you
have to move the scope back to the home position, does this invalidate
the calibration you just did?  You are moving the scope back to where it
was (home) correct?  I don't usually have any problems aligning or
viewing the alignment stars, but it's a question I've had for a while.
 
Thanks,
Mick
Mike here: To clarify: you do NOT have to CALIBRATE MOTOR every time you power on/off. It is only needed when the power level of whatever is powering the telescope has changed significantly. This usually means when the batteries are replaced, a switch is made from internal batteries to external AC or DC power, or back. Or just as the battery power decreases after long periods of usage. All it does is calibrate for the power getting to the encoders. So, when I need to CALIBRATE MOTOR I will do that and then go back to the alignment menu or even just turn the telescope off and back on.
Subject:	re: ETX 125 Custom Fork Mount and Autostar
Sent:	Friday, February 24, 2006 21:17:22
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
..also join the "Roboscope" Yahoo group... dedicated to Autostarring
everything... (my cat would be worried, if i had a cat)

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

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Autostar #497 "High Precision" operation
Sent:	Tuesday, February 21, 2006 22:24:02
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
...another factor in HP GoTo's is that it doesn't invoke it
for stars with a magnitude brighter than 2.0

So most of the stars in the Named Star list will -not-
invoke High Precision.

However all of the Named Deep Sky objects will invoke HP.

Which version of firmware are you running?
(the full identifier is under Setup/Statistics [enter][scroll up] )

Which targets are you -not- seeing HP being invoked for?
(specific, please, so i can try to duplicate your experience)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Alignment procedure ala Beevo
Sent:	Tuesday, February 21, 2006 19:24:37
From:	Bill VanOrden (beevo@cox.net)
here's how I do it.....
 
Level the tripod and set scope in home position.

Aim as close to north as possible..

Unlock RA & DEC (or turn on and slew), move scope until Polaris is
centered.  (At this point if you had to move the scope much from the
home position I would suggest moving the whole tripod/scope to get it
close.)

LOCK the RA.

Move in DEC until tube is level.

Turn on scope (or turn off and turn back on if you used motors to move
in previous steps).

Proceed to align as usual.

This is for the ALT/AZ mode

Invariably the first alignment star is near the center of the FOV.

Subject:	Re: ETX 125AT went dead
Sent:	Tuesday, February 21, 2006 18:57:48
From:	zmoyano@onenet.com.ar
sorry,somehow I mentioned that we are powering the telescope NOT WITH
THE 8 BATTERIES-WE REMOVED THEM FROM THE telescope and instead we are
plugging an adaptor into wall-an AC/DC STABILIZER,220 volt-50Hz-mA800-
imput voltage 12 volts DC- I am wondering how if any consecuences may it
have the scope wiithout the batteries inside? thanks again..
Mike here: Oops. Yes, you did mention that. You don't need to have batteries installed. But lets rule in or out the power source as being the source of the problem. Insert batteries; remember to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR. In fact, any time the power source is switched (or even gets very low), a CALIBRATE MOTOR should be done.

And:

we try inserting the batteries and did not make any difference..
meanwhile one guy from the group coments on the possibility that one of
the RA motor wire plug has come detached,that frequently comes
loose..and should try to remove the plate from the bottom of the
telescope..how does it sounds to you..how do you go about removing the
plate?.thanks thousand times again.prince (from argentina)
Mike here: Certainly a possibility. A wire could have come loose or some other mechanical problem is preventing the motors from working. It is also possible (but rare) that a wire could have been cut by the gears if it shifted. You can remove the plate by removing the screws, which may be hidden under the rubber feet.
Subject:	ETX 125AT went dead
Sent:	Monday, February 20, 2006 13:54:54
From:	zmoyano@onenet.com.ar
I owned my etx125 at for a few months and have used a half a dozen times
or so-i am using 220 v converted to 12vDC(living in argentina)last night
while observing, suddenly it went dead(only the RA axis) while the dec
axis operated apparently fine...a sort of warning on the autostar mesage
to the effect:like overloaded-stalled...etc I heard and reed thing like
that it is due to burnt MOSFET IC(Q2) in the main PCRA driver board etc
etc...sorry very sorry I am 6.000 Km away from meinland usa...no
warranty, desolated -I can use any help anybody may send thanks
...Prince
Mike here: What happens when you power it on now?

And:

went to the scope turned on (always hoping..)and lcd displayed:
welcome!!then,press 0 to align or mode for menu..we selected mode,enter
date,time,site,etc..so far so good,then,we selected easy align,scope
slewed to a.centaurus,star!!great I thought- the dec coordinate went
fine..but,stop and displayed thje folowing,more less:motor unit fail or
moving the hand box obstructed or overloadedthe area was ok,clear!!)if
the scope was stalled remove the obstruction,release or so..the scopr
will need toalign to view .. so,so sorry..THANKS A LOT FOR LISENING,any
coments?- prince from argentina
Mike here: MUFs can occur from several causes but typically from either low battery power AND/OR a need to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR. Try changing batteries. Then do a CALIBRATE MOTOR.
Subject:	ETX 125AT- No GOTO
Sent:	Sunday, February 19, 2006 19:05:29
From:	Bruce rust (57strat@optonline.net)
I just purchased an ETX 125 and am working my way through the setup and
such. I can perform the easy alignment sucessfully, but when I try to
use the GOTO function the handcontroller says "spiral search" or doesn't
move at all.

I aligned to Sirus and Castor and then tried to GOTO saturn which was
only about 10 degrees away and the scope wouldn't go. What does the
message mean and and do yu have any other suggestions?

Thanks 
Bruce
Mike here: When you see the object you want to GOTO on the display you have to press ENTER to select it. Then press GOTO. Pressing GOTO by itself will initiate the "spiral search" on the last object selected, as you've seen.

And:

Indeed. I just tried it set up inside and it worked.  You have to press
ENTER one more time when the coordinates come up.  Got it.  Thanks for
the quick reply to what I'm glad was a simple problem.  I read much info
on yur site BEFORE I bought this scope and remember comments about the
lack of specifics in the user manual. How true.  A great site, I'll be
visiting often.
All the best. 
Bruce

Subject:	Autostar #497 "High Precision" operation
Sent:	Sunday, February 19, 2006 10:16:51
From:	M.Camargo (mcamargo@satx.rr.com)
When attempting to use the "High Precision" feature in the 497 Autostar,
the Autostar never slews to a nearby bright star and doesn't display the
"Enter to Sync" as described in the manual. Is there only certain deep
sky objects that this feature only works on??

Matt
Mike here: Are you sure it is selected and not just displayed? Remember, the ">" has to be pointed at the selection (High Precision) for it to be selected when you press ENTER.

And:

Yes, it is selected. When I leave that option and return to it the
Autostar shows High Precision - Yes

Matt
Mike here: It could be confused. Try a RESET, which restores the Autostar to its factory default condition so you'll need to re-enter site, etc, info. If the problem persists, try reloading (or updating) the Autostar ROM.
Subject:	Re: EtX70_AT
Sent:	Saturday, February 18, 2006 01:24:45
From:	Deco3stop@aol.com (Deco3stop@aol.com)
Hi,again, via the modem, not all of the icons worked in starry night
edition but the astronomers control panel looked ok.Mike
Mike here: I didn't think any PCs had smart modem ports that would work as a telescope line port as well as a RS-232 port. These are two very difficult communication protocols.

And:

Your the Expert I just follow the instructions, tried sending fax to
Meade but will have to wait as I dont think they work saturday in U.S,
anyway thanks for your time if ,thats a big if I get it working I will
reply with a smile ...Mike

Subject:	Re: David Schillings thread
Sent:	Friday, February 17, 2006 19:42:48
From:	Evan (evfain@comcast.net)
Hi, I have an LX90-10" lnt that seems to have the same issues that David
has.  I have not tried retraining, resetting, or calibrating yet and
next chance I get I will try it.  I have found that I am about 20
degrees to the north for the first star (on auto) and about the same on
the 2nd star.  Once I do align the scope thought it seems to be within 1
degree of where it is supposed to be on a goto.  I have also noticed
that when it is finding north it points about 12 degrees east of  the
north star. Finally I have tried the two star alignment and every time I
do I get a failure to align message... and I am pretty sure that I am
doing it correctly.
Evan
Mike here: Can't speak specifically about the LX90 LNT but the ETX LMT manual specifically states that during the North finding the telescope may not end up actually end up pointing North. Also, I presume that with the LX90, like with the LXD and ETX models, you should do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES.
Subject:	Janus Tour Tester
Sent:	Friday, February 17, 2006 08:42:34
From:	Esmith@dalton.k12.ga.us (Esmith@dalton.k12.ga.us)
What happend to the Janus Tour Tester site? 

http://www.janusuk.com/astro/etx/tourtest.html 

I hope he hasn't decided to not make that available. 

Eric Smith 
Dalton, GA
Mike here: Don't know; no one contacted me to let it know it was changing. I'm not surprised by that or by the fact that it may be permanently gone. A lot of what is (was) on the Internet can go away overnight. Not every site stays online for 10 years like the ETX Site!
Subject:	EtX70_AT
Sent:	Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:30:18
From:	Deco3stop@aol.com (Deco3stop@aol.com)
Hi, my problem is after installing broadband on pc my 506 astrofinder
cable does not work anymore ,has anyone any sugestions how to rectify
this problem.. Mike G
Mike here: Did you disable the com port?

And:

The cable I cable I have has two pc phone type connections one either
end and some sort of flat box half way along cable,when i looked com
port 1 was enabled for autostar, any help please   Mike
Mike here: Be certain you are connecting the cable to a RS-232 serial port and NOT the modem port on your computer. Typically this means you use the phone jack to DB-9 adapter that was included with the cable.

And:

Thanks for that,I understand you are not a parts source,but anyone know
were I can obtain a DB-9 adaptor not included with my cable.  MIKE P.S
apart from that my ETX works very well in my part of the world, southern
england.
Mike here: You said it worked BEFORE you installed broadband. How did you have it connected before that installation? If you didn't get the adapter, contact Meade as they will likely send you one.
Subject:	meade etx125pe pointing problem
Sent:	Wednesday, February 15, 2006 15:08:09
From:	Beachboy255@aol.com
Hi I'm John. I recently purchased a Meade etx125pe and it worked fine up
until I decided to train the drive. After that it was off about 5 inches
to the right with every object it tried to align using automatic align. 
I followed the manual of how to train the drive and have done it several
times with the same result of it not pointing accurately.  Is there
something I'm doing wrong or something else I need to do?  Thanks.
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR? Also, you could do a CALIBRATE SENSOR just to rule that out. Lastly, if you want to start things from scratch, do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, TRAIN DRIVES. When doing the TRAIN DRIVES remember you have to select each axis individually. When you do get the alignment done, are GOTOs still off by a large amount?

And:

I wrote the other night about the alignment problem with my etx.  The
first star it slews too in automatic align is about 6 inches off to the
right in the red dot finder. It is approx. 6 inches off to the right but
parallel to the star.  So the angle (vertical)  seems to be fine. but
the horizontal is 6 inches too far right. After I center the first star,
the second star it aligns is very close and usually in the eyepiece and
the go to is almost in the eyepiece also. I did a reset and calibrated
motors and trained drives making sure I did az seperatley from alt. but
still had the same exact problem of 6 inches to the right.  Any
suggestions of what the problem could be?  Thanks, John
Mike here: What happens when you do an Easy Align instead of an Auto Align? Remember that the HOME position is different.

And:

I haven't tried an easy align yet but I'll give it a try the next clear
night.Thanks.

And:

I managed to get back outside tonight and try an easy align.  This time
the scope was off to the left about 12 inches from the first alignment
star.  With automatic align it is off about 6 inches to the right.  The
vertical is still fine for both the auto and easy align so its just the
horizontal that's off. Could it still be something with the training the
drive of the horizontal?  Any suggestions?Thanks.
Mike here: It is better to use degrees when describing a pointing error but I'll asssume by 12" you mean 45 degrees. What HOME position did you use for the Easy Alignment? If incorrect that will obviously affect the horizontal position of the first pointing. And yes, drive training can affect it so be certain that is good. Location can also cause problems. Did you use ZIPCODE or a City Name? There have been problems when using ZIPCODE.

And:

I'm not sure how many degrees its off.  When I look through the finder
scope it was to the left of the first star but parallel to it.  For easy
align I turned mount(scope) counter clockwise and positioned fork over
control panel and pointed tripod and scope to north.   When training the
drive does the terestrial object have to be over a certain distnace away
in yards?  and does it have to be any certain angle such as 45 degrees? 
I don't see anything in the manual about it.  This all happened after I
tried to train the drive so I'm still assuming something is wrong with
the triaining I did but I can't figure out what it is.  Thanks.
Mike here: For TRAIN DRIVES it is best to use a distant, ie, several miles away, object. Lacking that you can use Polaris. Elevation normally isn't a factor. As to estimating degrees, remember that from North to East (or West) is 90 degrees. So a third of that "distance" would be 30 degrees. Half that would be 15 degrees. For some people, the fist at arm's length is about 10 degrees.

And:

If I use Polaris (assuming its visible some night)  to drive the train
do I set the target as terestrial or astronomical?  and could I use
another star if I can't see Polaris?
Mike here: You can leave it Astro (as it doesn't matter for this step). Polaris can be used because it is near enough to the pole that it doesn't move much in the (hopefully) short period that it takes to TRAIN DRIVES. Other stars will move too much or be too faint to use reliably.
Subject:	ETX 125PE
Sent:	Wednesday, February 15, 2006 13:38:01
From:	David Schilling (dschilling@juniper.net)
I own  a ETX 125 which I have had for about a year.  Works great for
land based observation but the GO TO function has always been about 20
degrees off.  The LNT has the correct time, I have done the Cal Sensors,
motor cal and train drives many times with no luck.  Just for fun I
tried using the Autostar Suite just to watch what it points at and see
how close it comes.  Last night I had it go to the moon and on my laptop
it showed it to be dead on but the optics were pointing off target both
alt and Az by a mile.  I have my city set correctly as well.  Seems the
scope and laptop just cannot agree.  Have you heard of this happening? 
Do you have any further advice beyond the normal training?  Any help
would be greatly appreciated.
 
David Schilling
Fitchburg,  MA 01420
Mike here: What version of the Autostar software does your Autostar have? If not the current version, you may want to update it. As to pointing errors, you mean you get a successful alignment but then all GOTOs are about 20 degrees off? Or are the alignment stars 20 degrees off?

And:

I have Autostar version 41Ec and yes the scope says successful alignment
but have to move the scope a good 20 degrees to hit each alignment star.
After doing this if I try to go back to Polaris it too is way off.  I
figured that this same error should show when using the Autostar Suite
but it seems to say the scope is pointing correctly.  I keep going over
the setup but have never been able to get this to work correctly.  I
traded in an ETX 105 for this scope and the 105 never gave me this much
trouble.  My warrantee is nearly up but have been reluctant to take
scope back as nothing seems to add up to something broken.  I was hoping
you might have heard of a problem like this and be able to tell me what
I am doing wrong.

Thank you for your help and your great site.  

David Schilling
Mike here: What happens if you do an Easy Two Star alignment instead of the Auto Align?

And:

I haven't tried that, I will this weekend and see if it helps.  The
other thing I am wondering about is the LNT finds magnetic north but
here in Massachusetts there is a 15 degree deviation could it be that
this is where the error is?  Does Autostar know to compensate for this?
I guess this weekend I will also try to accurately measure in degrees
how far off the scope is to see if the error really is this deviation. I
am grasping for straws at this point.

David Schilling
Fitchburg, MA
Mike here: Yes, the LNT/Autostar can compensate for that. Do a CALIBRATE SENSOR if you think it is in error. Not doing the Auto Align can help determine whether the LNT is causing the error. Keep in mind that the proper HOME position is different for Auto Align vs Easy Align.

And:

Thank you, I will try the ez align and make sure I understand the home
position before doing it.

David Schilling

Subject:	Re: Autostar Updater problem
Sent:	Wednesday, February 15, 2006 08:09:08
From:	Flundberg77@wmconnect.com (Flundberg77@wmconnect.com)
I have been able to successfully edit and reorganize the new data file
and send it to my other Autostar using the Autostar Updater.  The reason
that I was trying to edit the old file was that there were items in User
Objects that I did not remember ever entering.  It appears that the file
had somehow been corrupted and caused a malfunction.

Thanks again for reassuring me that Autostar Updater should work as I
expected.
Forrest Lundberg
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Great!

The USer Objects are a linked list, so if there's a bad bit/byte
at the wrong spot, garbage happens....

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar Updater problem
Sent:	Monday, February 13, 2006 15:39:13
From:	Flundberg77@wmconnect.com (Flundberg77@wmconnect.com)
Autostar Updater version: 3.61 
Autostar version: 3.2Eh 
conputer: Dell Insperion 1200 using Keyspan serial adapter. 

Using a file on my computer that I had previously retrieved from the
Autostar, I sucessfully Deleted several comets and asteroids from my
Autostar using the Autostar Updater.  I then edited and arranged the
order of of my User Objects in the library side of the Autostar Updater,
moved them over to the hand box side, and then sent them to the
Autostar. When I looked in the Autostar at my User Objects they were not
in the order that I had them in the Autostar Updater and several of the
objects did not appear at all.  After several attempts I gave up,
deleted all of the User Objects in the Autostar using the Autostar
Updater, and then re-entered my User Objects manually into the Autostar.
I was wondering if you might know why I was not able to edit my User
Objects using the Autostar Updater.

Forrest Lundberg
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Did you perchance -save- the HBX side of the operation?
(or even the Library side).

Without a copy of the .usr file, i haven't a clue to work with.
Object shuffling and updating have always worked properly
for me.

next time, save copies to the PC
(if you -have- copies, eMail them to me, and i'll analyze
the files (And/or push them to -my- Autostar)

have fun
--dick

And:

Dick & mike, 
After Manually entering the User Objects into my Autostar I deleted my
computer file, then retrieved the data from the Autostar with the
Autostar Updater and created a new file in my computer.  I therefore am
not able to send a copy of the problem file.  It sounds like you think
that changing User Objects with the Autostar Updater should work.  I'll
try experimenting more with another of my Autostars.

Thanks for your quick response. 
Forrest Lundberg

Subject:	Autostar II Locked up Belkin Adaptor
Sent:	Monday, February 13, 2006 00:37:51
From:	Frank Chalifourjr. (aksurf58@ak.net)
I fell victim to the Belkin serial to usb laptop adaptor bad download
glitch. The softload fix method of powering up with Enter and Right
Scroll down does nothing.

All I get on the controller is the LX200 GPS (c)2001 Meade screen with
no initialization message. I indeed had com port communications for a
few seconds while trying the update and then wam. The Autostar won't
operate or display its normal start message.

This is brand new and under warranty. LX-200 GPS 14" UHTC.  Any other
way to reset Eprom to read the default ROM? Meade is hopeless to reach
on the phone and their website is devoid of a fix. Thank you.

Frank
Anchorage, Alaska
Mike here: I get a LOT of problem reports with the Belkin adapters and the Autostar. Alternatives might be worth considering. See the article "Autostar and USB" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. As to bringing the Autostar II back to life, I'll let Dick Seymour address that since he has one and I don't.
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
If you look in the ASU's HELP pages (top menu bar) under
"damaged handbox", they provide the magic keypresses.

For the Autostar II, it's "999" immediately -after- powering up.

That'll put you back into "Downloading..." mode.

I cannot recommend a Belkin.   Keyspan or Targus work.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Re: ETX-125 - comm errors and motor unit faults
Sent:	Tuesday, February 7, 2006 01:19:45
From:	mark washer (markwasher@hotmail.com)
yes i am using the rs 232 9 pin socket - i must admit the cable is most
likely to be the culprit.

will advise

thank you again for youe assistance

Mark Washer

And an update:

all new cables have arrived and i have made considerable progress -

firstly - i am able to connect to the autostar handbox via the autostar
suite - i can remotely align the telescope and then use the goto feature
from the autostar suite - much rejoycing!

i can connect the dsi and see live images on-screen -

however i cannot control the scope from the telescope tab in the imaging
software - i understand from the manual that running net scope will
allow all facilities to access the scope at the same time - its just
how????????

setup as follows

autostar handbox connected via serial port on pc - comm 1

autostar handbox to hbx port on scope

dsi via usb2 port

pc running win2k

further help appreciated.....

regards
Mike here: Glad the connection problem is solved. As to using the "network" capability of the Autostar Suite, which is required for multiple applications to use the same COM port, see the articles "Network Server Capability" and "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.

And:

cancel my last - found in your site the reply to rseymour nov 4 2003,
followed this and have corrected the problems - all now working and
communicating correctly - just waiting for some clear skies!

regards

Mark Washer

Subject:	ETX-125 - comm errors and motor unit faults
Sent:	Sunday, February 5, 2006 07:01:07
From:	mark washer (markwasher@hotmail.com)
Following my recent purchase of an ETX125 and DSI , i have been
encountering several errors which despite numerous resets seem to keep
occuring - the first problem is the easy - align, i am constantly
getting 'motor unit faults' when slewing on easy alignment - the second
problem is connecting the autostar suite to the telescope - all settings
and connections are made as instructed - however i always receive 'read
timeout' when selecting the comm protocol - i am trying to set up
everything at home during daylight hours prior to going out to my
favourite dark sky site - but at present i cannot seem to get the
telescope to operate normally. At present the scope is being operated
using brand new duracel m3 batteries (the highest powered available
aparently) so i may have better luck with a 12v supply???? - one other
very frustrating problem is loss of power to the 497 autostar handbox -
it would appear to be a slightly bad connection in the curly cord - if
connected one way seems to work ok if upward pressure is applied to the
cable at the hbx port- if the pressure (using finger0 is removed the
handbox display dissapears - leaving a full reset required - if i
reverse the curly cord connections - the display stays on - but i
receive motor fault errors - any help or advice would be appreciated.

Mark Washer
Mike here: You didn't explicitly state so I'll assume you didn't. Do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES from the Autostar's Setup>Telescope menu. That may cure the Autostar problems. As to the Autostar Suite, you didn't explicitly state it so I'll assume you are not using the "network" option. You need to do that in order to use all the Autostar Suite apps and control the Autostar through the single comm port.

And:

Thank you for such a swift response - i will clarify my situation a little further -

ETX-125ec

autostar 497 (34E)

autostar suite 3.18

autostar connected via 4pin-4pin round cable to rs232 connector to
serial port on sony laptop (p3-800mhz) (despite the fact that the
instructions ask for a 4pin to 6 pin round cable)

follow meade instructions for autostar connections from dsi box to the
letter - but still no comms to telescope - have tried this on two
different computers and the same problem

all comm port settings as they should be etc etc

on opening telescope protocol i choose via comm port - read timeout
error - with or without the autostar netscope running -

i have to admit this is sapping my enthusiasm rapidly - although the dsi
works fine and can take fabulous pictures of clock tower over a mile
away! its still not ready to go out at night.

as for my motor faults - all still present  - will return to dealer

i must be missing the obvious...........?

regards
Mike here: Lets do this one step at a time. I'm concerned about the serial connection to the laptop. When you run the Meade Autostar Update application, does it connect to your Autostar? You don't have to actually do an update; just see if it finds the Autostar. Let me know.

And:

when choosing update autostar option it cannot find com port and then
asks to use all ports and returns 'cannot find comm port' - check
connection and try again.......

the comm port is working ok according to the system info and hardware
settings in control panel?????

regards
Mike here: There are two likely culprits: bad cable or a port conflict from software (typically fax software). Less likely but certainly possible are bent pins on the connectors or jacks. Lastly and just to confirm: you are using a RS-232 serial port on your computer and not a USB-serial adapter, correct?
Subject:	Autostar 41Ec upgrade
Sent:	Saturday, February 4, 2006 15:35:31
From:	Lee R (divine-assassin-kai@hotmail.co.uk)
it's been a while i know it's early days to ask about the new Autostar
upgrade, But here goes anyway.    What has meade done to improve the
autostar this time?? Please can you pick the brains from the jedi master
of autostar mr Dick Seymour please    fortunately your site has made my
life with the ETX 125 a real trouble free one thanks ever so much from
Lee Ricketts in Kent, United Kindom. Wishing you all the clear skies
possible........
Mike here: See the articles "Autostar READMEs" and "Brief Report on Version 4.0Ef" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject:	ETX 125PE - two star alignment
Sent:	Wednesday, February 1, 2006 02:56:17
From:	IBRAHIMOVA, Victoria ((WG)) (Victoria.Ibrahimova@woodgroup.com)
Last night decided to test the two star alignment procedure on my ETX
125. The scope was positioned indoors in front of a bay window on the
first floor (level 2) which are fairly typical in Scotland. I just
didn't have the time to go outdoors plus it was freezing cold. It's the
scope's normal storage position in the house as it allows me to quickly
set it up if I want to have a quick view of the Orion Nebula, Saturn,
Sirius etc. Granted, through the window the view is not the best but I
am still quite happy with what I see.

Here I had a great opportunity as the scope was getting a decent view
from NE to SW and it was horribly cold and the sky was bright. So I
turned it on, went down to Align>Two Star, hit the button and was
surpised that the scope came up with some instructions. I was impressed.
It gave me the exact instructions as to how to set up the home position,
which is great for someone who didn't bother reading the Manual for this
exercise (I have read the Manual for most other things before though!).
I was just messing about, you see. So having performed the tasks, i.e.
moved the scope anticlockwise until the STOP and then back over the
control panel, turned the instrument facing north (roughly), checked
using the compass, hit ENTER and it came up with the list of stars. I
looked out of the window and immediately spotted Castor and Pollux and
mighty Sirius. So I scrolled to Castor and the scope wizzed up and over
- I noted it was moving in the right direction and to the right
declination. It stopped roughly pointing at the right area of the sky,
which filled my heart with hope. When I used the red dot, it was
literally just off target. So I aligned it slightly, and pressed ENTER.
Then I made a mistake. Looking at the Autostar, it was still displaying
Castor in the second line so I thought that my first pressing was not
registered - I pressed ENTER again and then the scope started slewing
to.... Castor again but weird, the tube carried on moving upwards and
off completely away from Castor this time. (I realised at that point
that my first press was registered by the scope but for the second
alignment star the menu does not go back to the beginning of the list,
i.e. first star starting with A (in alphabetic order), but stays on the
initially selected object for me to scroll to the next one.) I thought
it was strange. One would think that if it found Castor correctly the
first time, it should just stay on target if you make a silly mistake by
pointing at the second alignment star the same way as the first
(Comment, Mike?). Trying not to panic, I manually slewed the scope back
to Castor and pressed ENTER - of course the alignment process was a
failure and the scope mercilessly announced that. So, I went back in the
menu and started the alignment again. Select Castor, wizz wizz, bang on
target > ENTER. Scrolled to Sirius > ENTER, the scope slewed to Sirius
and again was virtually just off target. I adjusted the pointing and hit
ENTER. The scope to my relief said "Alignment successful". Quite
impressed with myself, and more so with the scope, I turned it off as my
other half was shouting me from downstairs - it was time to go out. Now
tonight (weather permitting) I am going to test its pointing accuracy in
post-alignment stage. Hopefully my wonderful ETX125 won't let me down.
Any comments will be much appreciated.

Will report later.

Clear skies

Victoria, Aberdeen
Mike here: Let me see if I understand what you did: you did a manual two star alignment, selected Castor and pressed ENTER, the scope slewed close to it, you centered, you then expected that the Autostar would auto pick another star so you pressed ENTER again (but of course, it was still on Castor). Your second attempt was correct and you manually selected the second star Sirius. So if I have this all correct, you have learned that when NOT doing the Easy (or Auto alignment with LNT) you have to manually select the alignment stars. Word of caution: be certain the alignment stars are about 90 degrees apart for best alignment.

And:

Sort of. I learned that one had to be careful when pressing buttons. I
expected the Autorstar go back to the list of stars in Alphabetic order
beginning with A, and the mistake was that I decided for some reason
that because it still displays Castor it has not registered my pressing
of ENTER. Then that peculiar thing with the scope slewing somewhere to
the top of the sky whilst trying to slew to Castor again (coz I selected
the same star again!). Why did it slew in the opposite direction? Not a
big thing. I just wanted to share my experience. As for the pointing
accuracy, I thought you can select any stars in the sky for alignment.
Thanks
Victoria
Mike here: You can select the alignment stars that are in the alignment star category. See the article "#497 Alignment Stars" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for more info.
Subject:	re: ETX setup
Sent:	Tuesday, January 31, 2006 23:17:24
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
re: Max Elevation

Which version of firmware are you running, and which flavor
of ETX?

The full firmware identifier is under:
 Setup/Statistics [enter][scroll up]

Usually the Max Elev causes the scope to say something like:
"Check Mount" and it won't continue into the 'danger zone'
until you tap another [goto].
However it's always possible (probable?) they dropped the
ball during alignment.. i'll check it with my ETX90
and the current v41Ec within a few hours.

>2.  I've been looking at polar alignment, and it doesn't make sense
> in the manual.  I'm still confused over the instructions I down
> loaded from your sight (by eaa@peakpeak.com) and in the Meade manual.
>  Once you point the scope to celestial north (home position, I guess),
> do you have to do an autoalignment, or do you just point to an object
> and turn on the "astronomical" target switch to start tracking
>(I'm more or less thinking about astrophotography for this case).

You can take any one of many approaches.
If you -know- your wedge is accurately aligned, then you have at
least three options:
The first would be as you said: turn on the drive have at it.
The -disadvantage- of that would be that GoTo's may be off by quite
a bit (unless you had accurately achieved the Polar Home position.
Any rotation of the base from dead-on "eyepiece upright" would show
up as an RA error in GoTo's.. which brings us to Method Two:
The GoTo-and-SYNC method.  With the scope at Polar home, tell it
to GoTo a known star (Aldebaran, Betelgeuse or Sirius are easy
this time of year).  After it beeps (assuming it didn't dead-center it),
press the [enter] key for 3 seconds. Release.  This should start the
SYNC operation, and it'll ask you to center that star.  Do so, and then
tap [enter].  You have just told the Autostar -where- the star it went
to really is.  This is, in effect, a One Star alignment, but under
-your- control.
The Third option actually requires that you do something the -previous-
session: at the end of the session, choose Utilities/Park Scope[enter].
The scope will slew to Polar Home, and ask you to turn it off.
The -next- time you turn it on, it'll think it's still aligned!
The motor drive will start, and it'll be all set to Go for you.
(see caveats re: first method).

If you're -willing- to go through an alignment procedure, you've
got One Star, Two Star and Easy Align under the Polar list.

>  Also, in the Meade manual, it shows two examples of polar alignment,
> 1) fig. 48 where the face of the tilt-plate points to celestial North,
> and 2) fig. 49 where the front points to celestial North.  I'm more
> confused.  Appreciate your help.

The whole idea of "Polar" is that the RA (Az) axis points at the
celestial pole.  So the tilted plate of the wedge faces the pole.
The hinge of the tilt plate is to the pole-side of the assembly.
The base then attaches to that, and the RA axis (being perpendicular
to the base) should now be point at the pole.  When you elevate the
DEC to 90 degrees (rear camera port pointed at RA/Az clamp) the scope
should now be bore-sighted on that pole.  (Polaris is 3/4 degree to one
side)

(i keep saying "pole side" instead of "north", since i don't know where
-you- are... )

have fun
--dick
Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIS wrote:
> ...I'm running the most recent firmware as I recall 

That's close enough (although my testing is with Meade's -newest-, 41Ec,
which was just posted last Friday)

 >  As I said in the email below,
> when you set the elevation, it doesn't keep you from moving beyond that
> threshold point when you start a autoalignment or when manually slewing.

The "limit" has -never- blocked manual slewing... Meade's take on that
is: you're watching it move, -you- take responsibility for not hitting
things.

The Max Elevation setting -only- affects automated GoTo's.
My own quick test with 41Ec (just now) with a Max Elev of 30 deg,
got an -immediate- "Check Mount... slewing there may hurt something"
message (which is what i've seen in all previous versions).
This was at the start of the alignment procedure.
If i tap GoTo (authorizing entering 'The Zone') the scope goes to
that first star.  After i tap [enter] when centered, it selected
Pollux, and -again- issued the Check Mount warning.

That was in Alt/Az... in Polar, the thirty degree limit is nowhere
near as restrictive, since Rigel and Pollux are both below it (Pollux is
Dec=28).  By lowering the Max Elev to 25, it still selects Pollux,
but issues the Check Mount warning.  If i tap [mode] (instead of GoTo),
it rejects Pollux and tries for another...

So: i don't see what you're reporting
(and you didn't answer "what flavor of telescope?")

 > Don't know why they added that feature if it doesn't work.

It works for me (aside from the manual slewing bit..., but it would
be a real pain if you had to toggle the Max Elev in order to swing
your scope to a maintennce position)

Please describe what you -do- see, and what you press, from the
beginning...

have fun
--dick
Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIS wrote:
>   I have an ETX -125 PE. 

My testing was with an ETX90  -non- PE.

There's always the chance that the PE code is messing it up
(especially during the tip/tilt/find-north bits).

But if it's Polar mounted, those bits shouldn't be in play.

Mike? You've got a PE... could you set your Telescope/Max Elevation
to something like 25 degrees and try a kitchen-tabletop alignment?
(set the limit, power cycle, proceed as normal... note if it
says "Check Mount" during the procedure).  Thanks.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: I did get a Check Mount at the completion of the North, Level, and Tilt checks. I had to press GOTO to proceed with the first alignment star slewing.

And:

From:	Jesse (kc2iyh@sbcglobal.net)
Mr. Allen, the limit setting does work after alignment only. It will not
limit while aligning. my scopes manual gives me that specific warning.
Mike here: I got a Check Mount at the completion of the North, Level, and Tilt checks. I had to press GOTO to proceed with the first alignment star slewing.

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