Last updated: 31 January 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: ETX setup Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 09:01:21 From: Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIS (email@example.com) 1. On the Max Elevation option, the instructions from the manual states that you can enter a value (such as 50 degrees), and that sets the limit as to how far the optical tube swings upward in a programmed slew to prevent an attached peripheral striking the base of the computer. I tested this out to see if it works, and when I did an auto alignment, it didn't stop at 50 degrees, but continued beyond that point. Does something else need to be configured for this option to work (during the auto alignment, all it did is give a warning that a periperal could be damaged or the scope, and gave me the option of whether I wanted to continue. Any insight would help. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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). 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. I also bought your book, and it's very informative. If you don't have time to answer these questions, you can post it on your sight for discussion. Thanks. Dr. Thomas G. L. Allen, DR-IIIMike here: I haven't tried the Max Elevation setting but it might only take affect after the alignment is done. As to Polar mounting, yes, you can just let the RA track but without doing the alignment steps you won't get a GOTO capability since the Autostar doesn't know the current geometry without the alignment.
Subject: Autostar model #497 version 41Ec Sent: Monday, January 30, 2006 15:37:18 From: Paul Kavanagh (email@example.com) Just discovered the new version above on the Meade download website http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html. Have updated my hand box - I can't see any obvious changes from the previous version but time will tell J. Regards, Paul.Mike here: And I just loaded 4.0Ef (finally!).
Subject: Meade has posted v41Ec for the 497 Autostar Sent: Monday, January 30, 2006 17:02:59 From: Richard Seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) Many fixes for the LX90 LNT models. Not much else for the rest of us. Quoth the ReadMe: --------------------------- Upgrades to 41Ec Added GPS for new LX90 GPS scopes. Fixed #909 Accessory Port Module to work with LX90's 10 and 12 inch. Fixed problem on DS2000's mounts with LNT module. Couple of data base corrections. ------------------------- http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html have fun --dick
Subject: Re: StarGPS-LX problem Sent: Monday, January 30, 2006 10:44:50 From: Chris Carson (email@example.com) I think Dick cc'd you on this but as a final note for the archive: There is indeed a bug in Meade version 40Ef. Freddy determined that the #:SC "set date" command is at fault and Dick Seymour was able to find the bug in the code and provide a simple patch to fix it. I've included this fix in my Patch40FB.spf at www.stargps.ca/downloads.htm. Hopefully Meade will correct the problem in their next release. Regards, Chris Carson www.stargps.ca
Subject: Autostar satellite tracking --- questions for Dick Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 16:27:08 From: Jim Kraeme (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have programmed a FreeBasic program to print out the time, azimuth, and elevation for my etx-90 while the Autostar is tracking a satellite. I only enquire every 5 seconds to keep the CPU load down. I am having some luck with it and plan to share the source code to the etx community when I finish version 1.0. I have two long questions for Dick: 1. I can connect to the Autostar after I use ASU to connect and update my satellite TLEs. If I try to connect my program to the Autostar without using the ASU program, I can not open the connection. Dick, a) is there some special string of commands ASU sends the Autostar to open the connect, and b) do you know what the string of letters / commands are? 2. I am testing setting up all the satellites for one session as a Tour. It would really cut down on the error prone last minute key pushing on the Autostar. The satellites would be in the proper order, and I make sure there is enough time between satellites to stop one track, move to the next AOS, and wait for the arrival of the next satellite. Is there a way to a) querry the Autostar for the object (satellite) name currently being tracked and b) is it possible to have a program set a "satellite alarm" like you can using the Autostar handbox? Jim Kraemer
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) >> I have programmed a FreeBasic program to print out the time, azimuth, >> and elevation for my etx-90 while the Autostar is tracking a >> satellite. I only enquire every 5 seconds to keep the CPU load down. >> I am having some luck with it and plan to share the source code to the >> etx community when I finish version 1.0. >> >> I have two long questions for Dick: >> 1. I can connect to the Autostar after I use ASU to connect and >> update my satellite TLEs. If I try to connect my program to the >> Autostar without using the ASU program, I can not open the >> connection. Dick, a) is there some special string of commands ASU >> sends the Autostar to open the connect, and b) do you know what the >> string of letters / commands are? (a) nope. They may -start- with an ACK (x06, or control-F), but it's not necessary... i frequently use Hyperterminal to talk to the Autostar, and i've never had a problem ... what diagnostics do you get when you "cannot open the connection"? You -are- remembering to precede your connection with a MODE command to remove the need of a hardware handshake aren't you? (the Autostar is a data-only connection... so all flow control must be disabled. The Windows/DOS standard is to require/expect RTS/CTS on the serial socket. One reason i used to use BASIC to do my tests was because MS/GWBasic provided extended MODE commands to allow overriding that. The DOS-level MODE command canNOT override flow control. You can verify that they do nothing "magic" by using PortMon to watch the communication traffic. There are many user-written programs which speak to the Autostars (such as Andrew Johansen's PEC editor), and they don't do magic, either. >> 2. I am testing setting up all the satellites for one session as a >> Tour. It would really cut down on the error prone last minute key >> pushing on the Autostar. The satellites would be in the proper >> order, and I make sure there is enough time between satellites to stop >> one track, move to the next AOS, and wait for the arrival of the next >> satellite. Is there a way to a) querry the Autostar for the object >> (satellite) name currently being tracked and b) is it possible to have >> a program set a "satellite alarm" like you can using the Autostar >> handbox? Ohhh... that's a toughie... -before- you track it, you can have the satellite name on the display, and can access that by sending a :ED# command. (ignore the first byte of the response). Once the tracking is started, it would be very difficult to access the name without aborting tracking, or having version-specific knowledge of where the data are stored. A Headache to track. I have no idea if they keep the name in anyplace useful once you're tracking... the track is done with a pre-calculated 200-entry list of -relative- motions between the points... the name is not kept as a part of that list (why bother? they never show it again). There's an index pointer to the cardinal position in the list of available satellites, but even that would then require walking the User Data area to convert to a name .. and that index location changes version to version, too. An alternate method is to use Brent Boshart's SatTracker program, from http://www.heavenscape.com ..but that's not as fun as writing your own... have fun --dick
Subject: Alignment problem solved - 105-PE Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 20:05:09 From: Eric Rosenzweig (firstname.lastname@example.org) I had a similar problem with aligning my 105-PE and figured out that although the time was correct, I had Daylight Savings time off. This made everything off and made it impossible to align. What was confusing was that I figured that the time was the key, regardless of daylight savings time or not. This seems to not be the case. The time doesn't change when you set DST or not, which is what confused me. Not sure if this is the problem described or not, but thought I'd throw this out there. Eric
Subject: GPS for LX90 Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 12:00:29 From: PATRIZIO CARATTO (email@example.com) It compliments for your web! I can connect the Magellan Meridian GPS to my LX90? The version of my software: 34Ec. It works also without the StarPatch (StarGPS)? As I must connect cables? Where I can find the outline electrical worker? I can take apart receiver GPS of the LX200GPS and place it outside of the window? Thanks you Patrizio Caratto (Genoa-Italy)Mike here: You may or may not be able to connect it. I'm not familiar with it. You will need a cable to connect to the Autostar #497. I suspect that removing the LX200GPS will not work out too well and it will certainly invalidate any warranty. As to the StarGPS software, can't hurt to try it once you have made the connections.
Subject: Help with the Meade #505 cable Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 07:42:33 From: lib pollack (firstname.lastname@example.org) I received a #505 cable kit as a gift. The kit consists of two black "telephone-wire" cables and a 9-pin adapter, plus a software CD. The package states that it's for use with the #497 AutoStar and is intended to provide control of the scope from a laptop computer.. I don't want to "guide" my ETX 125 with my notebook computer (I'm quite happy to use the Sky Atlas I also received for Christmas, in combination with the "normal" AutoStar GoTo capabilities). All I want to do is update the #497 AutoStar software using a download from Meade's site. Is this the right cable for doing this? The reason I ask is that the pictures of the Meade cable for updating look like that unit has a 15-pin connector, and some sort of internal piece in the middle of the cable, and it's sort of a buff color. I haven't opened this kit yet because if I have to return it I want it to be in "original" condition. Any thoughts, comments, etc? Incidentally, as I wrote to you before, my Quosmio laptop has no 15-pin connector, but it does have a 9-pin so there's no need for me to get an additional USB adapter cable if this is indeed the right cable. If you get the chance to reply, you can just use the email address above, or send an email to email@example.com. I'd sure appreciate anything you could suggest. Thanks Russ PollackMike here: The #505 cable is a simple serial cable with RJ connectors on both ends. The DB adapter allows one end to connect and then you connect the adapter to a RS-232 port. The #506 cable does have some electronics in the cable, so I suspect that is the photo you've seen.
As always, right you are. thanks Russ Pollack
Subject: re: ETX125PE Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 00:29:35 From: Tom and Lori (firstname.lastname@example.org) See the attached article I wrote to Mike Weasner on his "Mighty ETX Site," and Dick Seymour regarding Meade's new "Auto-Align." You may already have it . . . Clear Skies, Tom Subject: Meade Auto Align Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 19:56:22 From: Tom Frazin (email@example.com)
From: User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com) Cannot find the article...???? Thanks for the forward.. DanMike here: It's in the Feedback Archives, Autostar, November 2005. http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackNov05/autostar.html
Subject: re: polar training a LX90 Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 19:45:01 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) > I thought your article said you could not use Polaris > at night in Polar mode? So it is ok? I believe you are assuming (or missing) some of the background behind that statement. IF you are mounted in Polar, on a fixed pier, then Polaris is not a useful training target. If you were mounted on a tripod, (with or withour a wedge) then you could pick the entire mess up, rotate it 90 degrees so that the RA axis pointed above the eastern or western horizon, and -then- Polaris -would- be a useful Training target. If you can see the east or west horizon from your fixed pier installation, then either horizon -itself- is a fine Training Target... aim at a landmark out there, and train. You don't have to change the angle of the wedge. The problem with using Polaris from a fixed pier is that it is -very- difficult to properly 'center' it when the RA axis moves the telescope such a small amount. And DEC training (for a fork-mount) would be difficult, since you'd probably hit the upper travel limit during the operation. have fun --dick
From: Nowicki, Bill (Bill.Nowicki@qg.com) Dick, I noticed the minimal RA movement of Polaris when training in Polar mode last night so I trained on a small part of my house from 300'. This seemed to work because I had awesome goto's. Everything was centered perfect. I like your idea about the horizon if the position of the RA does not matter when training. I just thought it had to be facing south. If I placed my scope without the wedge on a table outside with the scope in Polaris mount, could I train it that way? All of these questions are when I'm using my fixed pier. Thanks for the help guys.
> I noticed the minimal RA movement of Polaris when training in Polar mode > last night so I trained on a small part of my house from 300'. This > seemed to work because I had awesome goto's. Everything was centered > perfect. I like your idea about the horizon if the position of the RA > does not matter when training. I just thought it had to be facing > south. The goal of where-to-point when Training is to maximize the apparent motion of the training target during the procedure. This 'maximum motion' means you have more 'leverage' to detect centered/off-center. Thus, for the Az/RA axis, that happens at DEC/Alt near zero. (apparent Az/RA target motion is proportional to cosine of Dec/Alt) > If I placed my scope without the wedge on a table outside with the scope > in Polaris mount, could I train it that way? All of these questions are > when I'm using my fixed pier. The idea of using Polaris arose from many background factors: (a) Training on a star is nice, since it's a distinct 'point'. (b) the training target should not -move- during the process... Polaris comes close to that (unless you take -hours- at it). (c) many people have surrounding obstructions, and they can't -see- landmarks... Polaris is frequently 'above all that'. (d) many people train at night... it's dark, and they can't see landmarks (such as a tree on a distant hill) (e) Polaris, being a double star, is recognizable during the process. in the semi-mythical region, is: (f) by using a target at your latitude's elevation, you're 'loading' the bearings to a similar extent to using the telescope for observing, hence the Training is 'more real'. (this assumes Alt/Az mounting) Mitigating against (f) is the cosine argument... if you have your scope sitting on a table/tripod in typical Alt/Az mode. If you had a wedge on a tripod, but spun 90 degree so that Polaris was 'beside' the RA axis instead of "in front" of it, then you've got your DEC/Alt back at zero. Training measures the internal gear train backlash (and a bit of bearing slop). Hence the Az/RA 'loading' doesn't matter much (assuming you don't "cross the meridian" and get "flop" whilst Training). Some additional background info is at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_info.html Myself? Nowadays i almost exclusively use a landmark (a 3-mile distant radome... it has distinct lights, and the 'ball' (dome) nearly fills my 13mm eyepiece's field of view, so it's easy to see 'centered' by the symmetric annulus of 'dark' around the ball. One of the driving reasons behind writing my first patch kit was to extract from the Autostar what my Training results -were-. Was i getting consistent results? Did they vary between the Radome and Polaris? The ability to see (and edit) the results showed a 10 percent variation (+/- 5%) and the effects of initially arriving at the training target moving in the same direction that the first training slew would use (that's surprisingly important). The LX200gps tries to Polar Train on a moving star (they leave the sidereal drive running for Polar Training). Having the 'result readout' showed that, prior to v4 of the firmware, that resulted in -severely- undertraining. Using a fixed landmark produced -far- better GoTo's. (you have to tell the LX200gps it's 'Alt/Az' mounted to surpress the sidereal-during-training, but you can leave it on the wedge). Luckily Meade hasn't dropped -that- 'blessing' upon 497 Autostar users. have fun --dick
Subject: re: Meade AutoStar 494 Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 19:37:49 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) > I was wondering if anyone ever tried to take a memory module > out of one and place into another, > essentially doubling the capacity of objects? I think it's safe to say that no one has tried that. Even if you doubled the memory, how would you fill it? If you managed to load it with the 497 Autostar's memory load, it then wouldn't work since the 497 Autostar expects to have a numeric keypad (and other hardware differences) present. It is far, far easier to buy a 495 or 497 Autostar (which does have twice the memory) and be able to use all of the other parts it includes (such as a built-in rs232 port). have fun --dick
Subject: re: ETX125 aligns fine, then stops moving Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 19:32:42 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) (SOMEday Mike will remember this....) > Slewing... (but doesn't move) You need to press [enter] -before- pressing [GoTo]. Objects are not truly selected (in most cases) until you press [enter], so that its name moves to the top line of the display. have fun --dickMike here: But he said the Autostar said it was slewing. That means GOTO had been pressed.
Correct... but because he didn't press [enter], the -previous- target (the 2nd alignment star in this case) was still the selected Target. Hence it slewed... to where it already was. i.e. no appreciable motion. Definite symptom of failing to press [enter] before [goto]. So it's not: Object/Star/Sirius[goto] (you'll see "Slewing..." but no motion) it's: Object/Star/Sirius[enter][goto] NOW you'll see motion. Man, it's even (finally) a Meade FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) topic: http://www.meade.com/support/etxautofaq.html#a7 have fun --dickMike here: Now I see what you both meant.
From: Ken Jeffrey (email@example.com) A little idea that might solve Daniels problem. A common error made by new users of the Autostar is to find an object and then press 'GOTO'. The problem here is the Autostar is not set to that location until the 'ENTER' key is pressed. I know this caught me out a number of times when I first started using it and even now sometimes I forget to enter a location before pressing GOTO. This process gives the error Daniel describes with 'SLEWING' displayed then a bleep but no movement. I assume Autostar is just resetting itself onto its existing location before confirming it. What do you think? Regards, Ken Jeffrey London, England
From: Daniel Hackstedt (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for your help, my ETX is working fine now. Thanks, Daniel
Subject: ETX125 aligns fine, then stops moving Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 20:49:14 From: Daniel Hackstedt (email@example.com) I've visited your great website since 2 years now. This Christmas I finally got a ETX125. I really like it, except for the fact that it stopped working today. I've got the following problem: I align the scope in ALT/Az, everything works out fine "Alignment Sucessfull". But then when I try to GO TO some object, the display of my Autostar controller just sais "Slewing........" but doesnt do anything. After a while it completes slewing and thinks its on that Object. This is the third night I've taken the scope out, the first and second night worked fine. Ambient temperature was 30, I hope that doesnt have to do anything with it. Do you know what I could do? Maybe update the Autostar Controller? Thanks DanielMike here: Updating the Autostar is not necessary (although it may or may not help). Put the Autostar back in its default condition by doing a RESET. Then go through the same out-of-the-box steps you did originally. Be certain to CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes). See if the problem is still there.
Subject: ETX125PE Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 15:53:25 From: User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com) I have some time on my hands today and I was looking at Meade's web site and they are advertising a new "auto-align". Any idea what this is. I had trouble finding more information on their site (other then the video). It says all new LNT scopes come with it...Not sure if mine has it...Just curious if you know what it is? Thanks DanMike here: I'll be reporting on the 4.0Ef version soon as I was also curious about that "feature". From what I've seen so far, it is a name given to the existing feature for LNT capable telescopes, probably in response to a competitor's "1-2-3" alignment method.
Thanks for the quick response... Dan
Subject: Meade AutoStar 494 Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 14:05:13 From: Jesse (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have two meade Autostar 494's, one from a scope I got used and it broke and one from a scope I got new. I was wondering if anyone ever tried to take a memory module out of one and place into another, essentially doubling the capacity of objects? I would like to if it is possible but am afraid to do it blind.Mike here: Interesting idea. I'll post your inquiry on the next ETX Site update.
I would certainly appreciate that. By the way, Congratulations on your site and a heartfelt thanks. I never have been able to find a comparable site for the ETX series or scopes. You beat even Meade. I have learned many tips and ideas I could not find elsewhere. thanks again Jesse
Subject: StarGPS-LX problem Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 08:28:53 From: Chris Carson (email@example.com) Freddy contacted me about his problem and we have determined it to be a bug in the Meade version 40Ef firmware for the Autostar (since it worked fine when he switched to 34Ec). StarGPS-LX sends valid LX200 commands to the Autostar to set the timezone, date, time, latitude and longitude. Meade has managed to mess up at least one of these commands in the past (in 27Go and 30Ee, the "set latitude" command does not work). In this new case the problem seems to be the "set date" command in conjunction with a GEM (no problems with an ETX in Alt/Az or Polar mode). Dick Seymour has informed Meade of the problem. Regards, Chris Carson www.stargps.ca
Subject: autostar Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 22:02:58 From: Ron Nagel (firstname.lastname@example.org) you have always been helpful in the past so i have another question. my autostar 497 for the meade ets 125ec i purchased in 2003 is showing alot of keyboard sensitivity. i need to constantly use alcohol and it is getting frustating. will the autostar 495 work with my scope or only with the new digitial series. thanksMike here: The #495 can be used AFTER you update it to become a #497 using Meade's Autostar Update application. There has been a report of difficulty doing this with the most recent version so you mean need to use one of the older versions (available in the Autostar Archive on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page) initially.
Subject: polar training a LX90 Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 06:40:05 From: Nowicki, Bill (Bill.Nowicki@qg.com) When training in Polaris during the day I have nothing but the horizon to train on. What else would you suggest? I'm trying to keep from removing my pier head and getting the field tripod setup. Can I change my latitude on the wedge to get a better access to some trees? Does it have to be due south or can it be to the west or east? I thought there was a fix to correct the use of Polaris at night.? Bill NowickiMike here: You can TRAIN DRIVES on any stationary object as long as it is some distance away. So, yes you can point in any direction. I like using Polaris at night since it is relatively stationary; at least over the time it takes me to TRAIN DRIVES.
I thought your article said you could not use Polaris at night in Polar mode? So it is ok?Mike here: Not certain which of the thousands of articles on the web site you are referring to but Polaris CAN be used to TRAIN DRIVES. You just can't use it at as an alignment star (except when doing a One Star alignment and aligning the telescope axis on Polaris).
Subject: Re: Still Possible to update Autostar 495? Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:17:32 From: Gary Huntress (email@example.com) I am in the process of upgrading my 495 to a 497 as I had emailed a few weeks ago (below). I built a 505 equivalent cable exactly as described in http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html (I ohmed it out when I was done). I downloaded the latest autostar updater and installed it. I connected the pc to the autostar and the autostar to the ETX-90 hbx port, I powered up the scope and the pc and ran the updater. I also verified that COMM1 was set to N81 as required. When I press "update autostar software now" button it apparently cannot talk to the Autostar. The autostar only displays "Use ETX Autostar with this model". I'm wondering what could be going wrong here. I have high confidence in my cable since I ohmed it out but I'm not sure what else it could be. My OS is XP but I don't think that should matter. Why else would the pc be unable to communicate with the Autostar? TIA for any suggestions! GaryMike here: Do you have a real serial port on your computer or are you using a USB-serial converter? If so, which one?
Using an actual 9 pin serial port.Mike here: Well, it could be that the current Autostar Update application won't talk to the #495. Try using one of the early 3.x versions and a corresponding older ROM; they are available on the Autostar Archive page on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: ETX 125 PE in park position Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2006 05:59:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Jeanine here, first my best wishes for 2006, then ma question: HOW LONG is my ETX125PE supposed to keep its PARK Position?? I bought it last August. After about 4, 5 days of leaving it set up without any movement of its position, its previous alignment is no longer taken in consideration on account of its crazy GOTOs. That's all, thanks for your comments Jeanine GOODWYN,3822'28", 028'55" WMike here: I haven't heard of long duration park attempts before but I would think it would retain it longer than that. Perhaps some others can comment on long duration parks.
Subject: Autostar - Satellite Tracking - How do I halt tracking and go to another object Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 21:35:10 From: Jim Kraeme (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am beginning to use my ETX-90 and Autostar for satellite tracking. I would like to start tracking a satellite, track for a while, halt tracking, and select a new object. I can not find out how to stop tracking before the entire pass is complete. Many times I want to track for the high overhead track and stop before the satellite reaches LOS. How can I "force stop" my Autostar from continuing the current satellite track? I have updated my Autostar to version 40Ef about 2 weeks ago before I started my new sub-hobby satellite tracking. Jim KraemerMike here: Satellite tracking is one thing I have never done so can't say for certain. But have you tried the MODE key?
I have tried Enter, Mode, GOTO, and up/dow arrows on the bottom of the handbox. Enter cause the telescope to pause. That is quite helpful if I want to start tracking above the horizon 10-15 degrees. I start it and then stop it when it gets high above the horizon to clear all of the trees and houses. The Mode key does not have any effect, as far as I can see. When there are several cool objects coming up one after another, I often want to stop tracking one object and go to the next. I need to get the Autostar to stop, let me select a new satellite, and begin tracking again on satellite two. Jim Kraemer
SFrom: richard seymour (email@example.com) It's simple (once you believe it)... While it's tracking (not while it's paused) press the [mode] key for a --long-- time... (more than 5 seconds). Tracking will cease. have fun --dick
Subject: Under construction message Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 05:02:54 From: C.A.Warburton@lboro.ac.uk (C.A.Warburton@lboro.ac.uk) I've encountered a very frustrating problem with my Etx-90 ec and wondered if you can help me with it. I have searched your feedback sections for a possible solution but could not find what I needed. Last night I switched on the Autostar and after getting 'Initalising' as the first message on the display, it then changed to 'Under construction' with the message about not pointing at the Sun scrolling under it. I pressed 5 twice as usual but all that happened is the display changed to 'Teasting motors' and the 'scope slewed, in azimuth, for about 4 seconds in a clockwise direction. The desplay then went back to 'Under construction' with the Sun warning scrolling under it. I found that presing any key had the same effect, exept that the right and left arrows would move the 'scope in either direction but only for a few seconds at a time and at max speed. The Altidude arrows, when pressed had no effect. The last time I used the telescope was only a couple of weeks ago and everything worked fine then. In anticipation , thanks Mike for your help, Kind regards, Chris Warburton. Derbyshire U.K.Mike here: It sounds like something in the code got corrupted. You can try a RESET to see if that fixes the problem. If not, then try updating to the current (or use a previous version) of the Autostar ROM and see if that fixes the problem.
Subject: Problems with ETX125 tracking Sent: Friday, January 20, 2006 10:04:26 From: Mark Roots (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have an ETX125 with the autostar controller but have a particular problem that may be due to software or may be due to me not operating the system properly. I took my first one back but the new telescope does exactly the same. I align the telescope as per the book, have also trained the drives. The alignment seems to go correctly and the telescope finds objects as you would expect. Now I select the "guided tour" and work my way through those object of interest. At the conclusion of the tour if I then go back to select particular objects such as a messier object, moon or planet the telescope does not seem to be able to find anything. It just points to places that are miles from the actual object. I have then powered the scope down and tried to realign and done so, but it can no longer find any objects. It requires the scope to be turned off and left for some time before it can find any objects again. I am using a fully charged external power supply so dont think that is the issue. I can repeat this problem every time I use the scope and it is frustrating to say the least. Have you heard of this and have any idea if it is a software or hardware problem? Regards, Mark RootsMike here: Don't recall this being described before and since the "problem" survives a power off, it doesn't appear to be related to the Guided Tour. Since you didn't specifically say you did, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR?
Subject: re: AutoStar 497 in series? Sent: Monday, January 16, 2006 19:18:21 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) One word: NO!!! The Autostar uses a clocked data bus to speak to the telescope. The Autostar (*one Autostar*) is the bus master, and continuosly sends clock and data signals, plus clocking signals for the data coming back from the telescope (such as encoder readings). The two Autostars, in series (how do you "series" 8 wires?) or parallel would produced garbled messages at the scope. An easy way to acomplish your goal is to use a PC running Autostar Suite, whose Remote Handbox section provides full Autostar function via your PC's screen, mouse and keyboard. have fun --dick
From: Vainio Arno (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks guys, Autostar Suite seems to be the solution.
Subject: AutoStar 497 in series? Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 04:26:38 From: Vainio Arno (email@example.com) I just wonder if it is possible to connect two 497s in series, one close to scope and another wired away, some 30 to 60 feet away? This is due to my plans to control ETX90 inside the house, it's a bit difficult to use only one controller due to initial adjustments. Any ideas if there are any PC-programs available, which can FULLY control the ETX90, I mean slewing, focusing, gotos and so on. -Arno-Mike here: Check out Astroplanner and Scopedriver (see the Accessory Reviews: Software page). As to connecting two in series, haven't heard of anyone trying that.
Subject: Re: AutoStar Slewing Error of 180 deg in Azimuth Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 16:14:45 From: Amy Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Well, things were more interesting tonight. I went through the alignment process and then tried to GoTo to the Moon. Much to my surprise the AutoStar claimed that the Moon was below the horizon, despite the fact that I was looking right at it fairly high in the sky. Doesn't seem to me that this can be an alignment problem. I've noticed that I've only had these problems in 2006. Any possibility that there is an error in the AutoStar s/w? Any other reason that it could incorrectly think the Moon was below the horizon? I did it three times, carefully checking that I entered the correct date and time and kept getting the same result. Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this problem. Paul JacksonMike here: While it is certainly possible that there could be a software bug, yours has been the only report of this and if there was a bug I think I would have be swamped with comments about it. So for now, lets assume operator error at some stage of the setup and alignment. If you get the "Alignment Successful" then the Autostar knows where things are in the sky. If you go to a fixed object (not the Moon or planets) how are the GOTOs? If you only see the problem (especially the below the horizon problem) with moving objects (like the Moon and planets), that usually indicates a date or time error. Recheck the year and the AM/PM/24hr values.
Subject: link Computer/Autostar Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 07:40:32 From: malvache (email@example.com) I am working on a project of ordering of a remote telescope, and I would need to know the electronic characteristics of the connection between Meade Autostar 497 and the Computer (current, tensions, flow, a number of wire, etc). Thanks Arnaud MalvacheMike here: See the #505 serial cable and pin-out information on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: Re: Autoster 497 Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 07:04:21 From: d molenaar (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ignore my previous message. I whas thinkin in decimals and not in mimutes. (as you and I know there are only 60 min. in a hour) Never mind it is a plesure to know that someone over the ocean knows all about the ETX. Thanks a lot. (asking a question is the same as answering the question, we say) Dirk A.Molenaar
Thank you for your message. I follow the steps mentioned in the manual, but I think I am doing something wrong. When I change for instance Rotterdam latitude (51.55 North) to 41.55 North it's accepted, but when the correct input of te lat. 51.90 North is entered there is a "windows" beep and nothing changed. I wonder what the problem is regards Dirk A. MolenaarMike here: The decimal is a separator, not a decimal point. So the "90" you tried to enter isn't accepted since it is greater than 59.
Subject: Autostar 494 and thanks Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 21:06:03 From: Rick Yent (email@example.com) I first want to thank you; and tell you that you have a great site. I have both an ETX 60 and ETX 80 scope. They each have the 494 hand controller. With each of these units the "Guided Tour" for " Tonights Best" works fine. However, when I pull up a star, nebula, or planet (or the moon) the units just hum a little and don't go anywhere. I assume that I have or have not done something correctly. In tour mode the units goto near flawlessly. But they just won't point in direct mode! Do you have any suggestions. (A side question, how do you manage to handle all these email's from around the globe?) Thank for everything Rick Yent Annapolis MarylanMike here: Have you selected the object by pressing ENTER and then pressed GOTO?
YOU MAY BE CORRECT!!! sometimes I feel very stupid. I'm in the computer biz and see it all the time. when I selected the object I would hear a little wirrr, I thought that was it. I'll try it tonight. Thanks for the prompt return best wishes.
Subject: autostar problem Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 18:05:31 From: Nicolas Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org) I accidently turned off the power off my telescope when I was updating the firmware. It does'nt want to communicate anymore, even to complete the update. Do you have any idea what I can do? Thanks NicolasMike here: You need to do a SAFE LOAD. Power off the telescope. Hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys (opposite corners of the Autostar) and then power on the telescope. You will see something like FLASH LOAD READY. Launch the Autostar Update application; it should detect this mode and let you reload the Autostar. NOTE: this puts the Autostar back in a "factory condition". You will have to re-enter your location, telescope type, mounting mode, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES. If you had any user objects in the Autostar you will have to re-enter them as well.
Thank you very much for your time!
Subject: Autoster 497 Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:09:12 From: d molenaar (email@example.com) I have a question about editing Sites in Autostar. When i try to Edit the name (in this case Rotterdam/Netherlands) into my city it's accepted. However when i try to edit the long/latitude I hear after ENTER a beep - just like the windows beep when makig a mistake- and notheng can be changed. Can you please tell me what i am doing wrong? Or is there no problem when the long- and latitudes are only a few minutes different from te city Rotterdam and the city wher I live? Kind regards, D.A.Molenaar (Miller) Capelle aan den IJssel, The NetherlandsMike here: What steps are you doing when entering the data? But, a few minutes difference won't make more than a few minutes difference in the GOTOs. Your drive training could be less accurate, although hopefully it is not.
Subject: Fw: StarGPS_LX problem Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 04:03:18 From: Freddy Diaz (firstname.lastname@example.org) I received my StarGPS-LX and yesterday was the first light. I found a problem: When I use the equipment for setting the date, time and location, at the time of begining alignment, the dec motor slews for a minute and the telescope stands there with the message slewing.... If I try another star, I get a beep and the autostar slews very slowly until it finally find the fisrt star. If I remove the StarGPS-LX, I can do all routines prefectly. In the mean time I did a Reset, calibrate and training of motors twice with the same behavior. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance, Freddy DiazMike here: This didn't happen to me when I tried the StarGPS-LX.
Subject: AutoStar Slewing Error of 180 deg in Azimuth Sent: Monday, January 9, 2006 17:09:04 From: Paul Jackson I've yet to become proficient using AutoStar with my ETX-70AT as I'm not very good at finding the alignment stars when running the Easy Two-Star Alignment. Nevertheless, after aligning I GOTO the moon and the scope slews and elevates to somewhere close to the moon. The other night, I went through the same process, and it slewed what appeared to be nearly 180 deg opposite of where the moon was (elevation looked pretty reasonable). This happened repeatedly after powering off and going through the whole initialization/alignment process again and again. Any idea what might be happening? I haven't trained the drives, but I can't believe that all of the sudden everything is so out of whack that it's 180 deg off. The only other thing I noticed was that one of the alignment stars was as at a very high elevation (not sure exactly what angle). If that star wasn't perfectly centered, could that cause such a big problem in azimuth alignment? Thanks for the wonderful resource of your web site. Thanks, Paul JacksonMike here: If the star was near the zenith there could be a such an error if you "centered" on the wrong side of the zenith. Try using a star further from the zenith and see if the problem reoccurs.
Subject: etx alignment Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2006 19:44:03 From: CYSMARCUS@aol.com (CYSMARCUS@aol.com) I aligned my scope (etx 105) in alt az, the led read alignment succesfull. I pressed the left arrow key and the scope automatically started to move in that direction at about mid speed. It did not stop when released, nor respond to any button other than mode. When mode was pressed it stopped and alignment wass NOT lost at all. Goto was perfect and dead on. When pressing the other directional keys every thing was ok. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong ? Thanx P.S. I have calibrated the scopeMike here: If the arrow key is sticking you can get that. If you think that is the problem perhaps you need to clean the keypad. See the article "Keypad Cleaning" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
It isn't sticking because it only happens until I press the mode button. Once that is done allthe buttons work fine. By the way while setting up the scope last night it happened again only this time with the right directional arrownd again only until I pressed mode.Everything then worked fine and goto was dead on. thanxMike here: I suggest doing a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES.
I did what you suggested and it still happens. As I said alignment isn't lost and tracking is fine. Once I press mode all the buttons work as they should. It's just that after alignment and before mode is pressed the scope just moves in the direction of the arrow pressed until mode is pressed. Ican't figure out why. I hope you can . Thanx alot Your web site is the absolute bestMike here: If the scope is running on when you press a slewing key, no matter which direction, until you press the MODE key, then something odd is occurring. If this is a #497 Autostar, try reversing the cable. If that doesn't cure it and if the Autostar is a #497 and if you have the serial cable #505 (or you can make/buy one) I suggest you reload/update the Autostar. If you don't have a #497 then you will have to contact Meade.
It's a 497 and I will try your suggestions as soon as possible. Thanx
Subject: Still Possible to update Autostar 495? Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2006 19:27:25 From: Gary Huntress (email@example.com) I bought an Autostar 495 on Ebay for my son to use on his ETX-90. I got the message "Use ETX Autostar with this model" exactly as described in your archives here: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_models.html. That page says that the 495 can be updated to a 497 after updating to "21eK or 22eH, with Updater A2.4". I see that this page is several years old and the current version of ASU from Meade is Ver 4.3, and the ROM is 40Ef. Would you expect that this procedure will still work to update my 495 to a 497? Or has Meade caught on to this by now? Regards, Gary H. PS thanks for the fantastic site!Mike here: I presume you can still update it. If you have problems you can always use the older versions of the updater and ROMs available on the Archive page on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page.
Subject: not rising tonight Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2006 16:52:19 From: Nightha6@aol.com (Nightha6@aol.com) You have been very helpful...I've been watching to see if anybody else has the same trouble I have.I trained the drive and everything, Then I went outside and did the whole alignment thing. Then I try something easy..i'm looking at the moon big and bright but when I do object solersystem moon enter and then goto it always reads moon not rising tonight...I'm looking right at it. I try Mars..Jupiter...I really want to see Saturn..that's what I really got the scope for to see the planets but I must be doing something wrong. I have a LX90 and I have it hooked up to my laptop..and I've done the downloads but it doesn't seem to be in the sky area. Any ideasMike here: First off, disconnect the laptop. Then power up the telescope (you didn't say if you have the LNT model so I'll assume you don't). When you enter the date, check the year. When you enter the time check the AM/PM setting or if using 24 hour display that you have entered the correct time. Check that you have entered the correct Daylight Savings setting. I presume (since you didn't say there was any alignment star initial pointing problem) that the alignments are right on. That being the case, since the moving objects (moon, planets) are not where they should be, it really sounds like a time/date error.
I checked all the settings and everything seems to be right. No LPI I do know that when I align the system there is a large amount of slewing i have to do to find the brightest stars.I live in western massachusetts. I like the new GPS idea for the LX90. I put in my computer my lad and long but only zip code on the scope could that be the problem. Thanks for your help.I'll keep tryingMike here: There have been some ZIPCODE errors so try using City Name.
the closes city thay list is 25 mikes away will that effect the viewing and doesn't the fact that on my computer for location i can put in my exect lad and lon would the computer use those instead of my zipe codeMike here: 25 miles won't affect the alignments materially. And as I indicated earlier, disconnect the laptop until you have things working without it. As to the computer's location, that will depend on what software you are using to communicate to the Autostar; I don't believe that all of them set the Autostar's location.
okay i'll try it tonight thanks again....do you think that i bought the right scope LX90 8" to do what I want which is see saturn's rings and jupiter ect.Mike here: An 8" will let you see LOTS of stuff. But then so does smaller telescopes, just not as well as a larger telescope.
Subject: re: I have problem with #497 Autostar but in LXD-75 mount Sent: Saturday, January 7, 2006 14:02:45 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) May i suggest: 1. Reset 2. calibration motors 3. Train drive 4. Right hour and + 2 for my site 5. Daylight saves NO for Winter 6. Lat and Log rightly for the place that I am Between 3 and 4, turn off the power. Count to 5, then turn it on. The Calibration sometimes prefers having a power cycle to properly "embed" its result into the system. Also, verify that the LXD75 is the selected model, and that you do not have the optical tube mounted backwards in the holding rings (this is a frequent error). good luck --dick
Subject: first scope for 14 yr old Sent: Friday, January 6, 2006 18:19:51 From: Andrew (email@example.com) Hello, my name is Andrew. I've been trying to decide on which telescope to buy for my 14 yr old son. I came across your reviews and wanted to thank you for your input. I have zero idea about telescopes and don't want to end up with a P.O.S.!!! I think the Autostar is incredible, but on my limited budget I'm not sure if it's worth it or if it will last over time. Any ideas???? At any rate, Thanks from us out here that value your postings! Happy new year!Mike here: The Autostar will last and the model #497 is user upgradeable so as Meade adds new capabilities to the software you can update. Certainly there will be newer models at some point (such as the Autostar II and wireless Autostar for the higher end telescopes) but that won't obsolete the current models any time soon.
Subject: Autostar Cable Problems Sent: Friday, January 6, 2006 09:41:25 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) There seems to have been a lot of cable-related problems recently on the Site. Apparently, Meade still has a way to go in their Quality Control area. I did some testing last year and sent you my findings, which you saved in Autostar Info>Cable and Power Information>Autostar Cable Problems. Referring people there might help them understand the cause of their problems, and maybe put a little pressure on Meade to improve the product. Best Regards, Mike
Subject: Autostar + LXD75 Question Sent: Friday, January 6, 2006 09:14:39 From: K_Downing (firstname.lastname@example.org) Happy New Year! Hope all is well with you and yours. I own an LXD75 mount PLUS AR-6, AR-5 and EC-6 Newtonian ota's. When switching from one ota to the another, do I have to reset/recalibrate/retrain the autostar each time? I'm hoping not but I wondered if the different weights of the ota's would make a difference. Also, if I do have to reset/racalibrate/retrain, can I use a seperate autostar that has been trained to one of the other ota's and use it exclusively when I switch to that ota without having to reset/etc.? I'm sorry if this is a repeat question but I couldn't locate anything specific on your autostar page. Thanks in advance for your help and clear ckies! Best regards, Kevin DowningMike here: I doubt there will be any noticeable difference with the different OTAs and one Autostar. The only thing you lose is the eyepiece calculations that the Autostar can do.
Subject: I have problem with #497 Autostar but in LXD-75 mount Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2006 06:08:53 From: V V (email@example.com) Has it ever occur to you when you make Calibration and Train motors and afterwards when you go for Align it goes in stars elsewhere and elsewhere!!! The steps that I followed are below: 1. Reset 2. calibration motors 3. Train drive 4. Right hour and + 2 for my site 5. Daylight saves NO for Winter 6. Lat and Log rightly for the place that I am The Train drive has been made with 12mm eyepiece at 2km nevertheless not only it does not go there that the star is supposed roughly to be but the motor of Dec axis collides with the body of RA motor. Today I tried again to put the last version in my Auto Star, I had used the same version when I had the old head, then he sent me the new head without however to change the remote control and it presented the same problems. I have telescope but I does not have driving. If any of you has mount with Autostar #497 and has faced similar problem I would be grateful if he could help me!!! My Telescope is LXD-75 8" SC, and version of software autostar is 40Ef Friendly George TarsoudisMike here: When you say it misses the alignment stars, how far off are they? Once you center the alignment stars do you get the Alignment Successful message? If so, how are the GOTOs?
I do not get the Alignment Successful message beause when I begin aling the autostar it gives stars in sky but in points that if him I leave the Dec motor crash in to RA motor, so that him I close the ON OFF switch!!! Thanks for response Mr Mike Weasner Friendly George TarsoudisMike here: I suggest reloading the Autostar ROM using the Autostar Update application. One problem could be that it became corrupted, either on the download from Meade's site or that it was corrupted on the load to the Autostar.
Subject: RE: ETX 105 - Easy Align Problem - Arrow Keys Disabled/Non-functioning Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2006 04:38:46 From: James, William (William.James@addleshawgoddard.com) Happy New Year! Now working. The calibrate and train did the job. Many thanks for your prompt and full explanations. Regards William
Subject: #494 Autostar star database corrupt after using Meade Autostar Update software Sent: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 14:52:57 From: M. Dwyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) After playing around with the Autostar Update software from Meade, I was shocked to find that my star database is completely corrupted. This happened a while back using an older version of the software: I'm now using version 4.3 but it doesn't seem to have improved much. The symptoms are as follows: as you browse through the stars, only about 20% of the names appear on the Autostar display - the rest are blank. My Autostar is the #494 type running version 1.0j - I've tried the "Reset" command in the "Setup" menu of the Autostar, but this has not fixed the problem. I must now say that I'm VERY upset with Meade and their crappy software. This has seriously impeded my viewing pleasure and I would consider such a SERIOUS SOFTWARE FAILURE a major reason for not sticking with Meade in the future (As it is I'm currently saving for a new and larger telescope). I can only hope that Meade provides a satisfactory solution, replacing the handbox if needs be (who cares whether the warranty has expired - I certainly don't coz it wasn't my fault the damned thing broke in the first place). I noticed the file Asp7A1.0j.rom in the C:\Program Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\Updater\Ephemerides folder, which I suspect contains a version of the Autostar ROM, but I have no idea how to upload this to the handbox (this option is supposedly not available for the #494 Autostar) - any idea's? Another interesting bug is that when you choose to "Edit User Data..." from the "Tools" menu of the Autostar Update software, you get to see totally garbled User Data in the window which is shown - is this perhaps a symptom of the same problem (looks like the data offset is calculated incorrectly) - very, very ugly indeed. I'm not impressed :( All assistance from Meade, Benel the importer into the Netherlands and Mike Weasner would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, M. Dwyer Amersfoort, NL
From: richard seymour (email@example.com) The 494 Autostar has only 32 KBytes of "user space" allocated. When the Autostar Update program modifies the User Data area, it must (due to the hardware design) erase 64KBytes of the Autostar's memory. When it writes out the new User Objects, it first writes the 32KB User Area, and -then- writes out the Asp7A1.0j.rom file to restore the other 32KBytes (of fixed object data) which was destroyed by the 64KB erase. Muhammad wrote: >>... my star database is completely corrupted. This happened >> a while back using an older version of the software: >> I'm now using version 4.3 but it doesn't seem to have improved much. Since it happened in an earlier update attempt (and you do not describe what error messages (if any) you received at that time) it is certainly possible that some -other- areas of memory were damaged by the process. However, if only the -names- of the stars were lost, i think that is related to only the Asp7A1.0j.rom file itself. >> My Autostar is the #494 type running version 1.0j - I've tried the >> "Reset" command in the "Setup" menu of the Autostar, but this has >> not fixed the problem. Those commands will not fix the problem, since it is corrupted FlashRam at fault. I am actually surprised that sending out another update of the User Area (which would also rewrite the Asp7A1.0j.rom area) did not fix the problem... but you did not state if you did that particular action. >> I must now say that I'm VERY upset with Meade and their crappy software. >> This has seriously impeded my viewing pleasure and I would consider >> such a SERIOUS SOFTWARE FAILURE a major reason for not sticking with >> Meade in the future (As it is I'm currently saving for >> a new and larger telescope). Juding an entire product line from one download failure (which may not have been the Updater's fault) is a bit drastic. >> I can only hope that Meade provides a satisfactory solution, >> replacing the handbox if needs be (who cares whether >> the warranty has expired - I certainly don't >> coz it wasn't my fault the damned thing broke in the first place). That's not clear, since you haven't described the original failure. >> I noticed the file Asp7A1.0j.rom in the C:\Program >> Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\Updater\Ephemerides folder, which I suspect >> contains a version of the Autostar ROM, but I have no idea how to upload >> this to the handbox (this option is supposedly not available for the #494 >> Autostar) - any idea's? Whenever you update the User Objects in a 494, that file is written out. So change a Comet or add a Tour, and it's written. >> Another interesting bug is that when you choose to "Edit User Data..." >> from >> the "Tools" menu of the Autostar Update software, you get to see totally >> garbled User Data in the window which is shown - is this perhaps a >> symptom >> of the same problem (looks like the data offset is calculated >> incorrectly) - >> very, very ugly indeed. I'm not impressed :( I believe the Edit User Data does not directly apply to the 494 (the memory area it modifies does exist, but the data structures may differ between the 494 and 497). >> All assistance from Meade, Benel the importer into the >> Netherlands and Mike Weasner would be greatly appreciated. I would start with your dealer, and then perhaps escalate to www.meade.de , the address of "Meade Europe". From a practical standpoint, a 494 can occasionally be purchased for $20 (plus shipping) at http://www.telescope-warehouse.com I would agree that Meade US would probably replace the 494 if you called them, but not out-of-country. From all reports that i have seen, Meade Europe provides very good after-sales service, even out of warranty. Please report your experience as a guide to others. good luck --dick
Subject: ALIGNMENT Sent: Sunday, January 1, 2006 15:51:01 From: Nightha6@aol.com (Nightha6@aol.com) I have a LX 90 and every time I try to align the telescope when it gets to the part..find the brightest star push enter there never is a star there I have to move it around a lot to find one..same on second star is this normalMike here: You didn't say what you do before the alignment steps so I'll reiterate them for you. Do a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. You don't need to do this every time you set up though. Be certain you have the proper site location and telescope model and mounting mode set. Be certain you enter the date, time, and daylight savings correctly. Be certain you set up the telescope in the proper Home position. Do NOT use Magnetic North unless you correct for your local Magnetic Variation; using True North is best. When you do all this, how far off is the first alignment star?
Subject: Autostar II problem Sent: Sunday, January 1, 2006 10:04:45 From: Larry Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hope you don't mind my contacting you directly about an Autostar problem. I am new in this field but have made a substantial commitment to learning astroimaging. My equipment is an RCX400 10 inch with an SBIG ST2000XCM CCD camera. Unfortunately the steep learning curve has been compounded by multiple problems with the telescope, some of which were my own doing. I sent it back twice and they have finally replaced it with a new one. My problem is that the Autostar II controller intermittently enters into a completely unresponsive mode where it shows the message "Downloading, Do not turn off". At this point it does not respond to any controller command. This occurs sometimes prior to the alignment alignment or even after the alignment when it is just sitting undisturbed, having slewed to an object. The only solution is then to turn off the scope power and turn it back on and redo the alignment. I observed this problem with the original scope and original Autostar and this was one reason I initially returned it for repair. As I mentioned, the current scope is new and so is the current Autostar controller. I have observed this with both the wired and wireless Autostar controllers. I cannot figure out what initiates this "Downloading" mode. I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could provide. Larry Simpson
Subject: re: RE: ETX-90PE Autostar Communication Problem Sent: Saturday, December 31, 2005 17:53:57 From: richard seymour (email@example.com) Fenwick, Rod said: > I have resolved the problem by reverting to an old PC ATX PC with > a COM1 port. However, I will try one of the older ASU's and see > if one works. My guess is that it won't be much more successful.. > It seems unusual to me that Starpatch has no problems but Meade does. Why? Meade has chosen certain operational techniques (such as not grabbing and -holding- the communication channel), and StarPatch was written (in part) specifically to overcome many of the ASU's shortcomings. StarPatch "tries harder", as aftermarket solutions often do. What i can't figure out is why Meade hasn't -fixed- those shortcomings. (it could simply be their choice of a development package). have fun --dick
From: Fenwick, Rod ((Brisbane)) (Rod.Fenwick@koniambo.com.au) Good to hear from you. You are obviously a major contributor to Mike's site and for the useful StarPatch. Pity StarPatch can't also be used to update the library. I only wanted to update the library only, but the comms problem not only caused me to re-load the Autostar program, but to also replace the libraries. A trap for the novice is that even with your latest update, any attempt at updating the library using a non-Meade friendly USB comms port results in clearing the Autostar library completely. Luckily I was able to revert to the old PC. I hope Meade reads Mike's website emails. Best Regards and Happy New Year, Rod Fenwick
Mike here said: > Meade software updates are available at: > http://www.meade.com/support/downloads.html. I had already checked out that location and had downloaded the AutostarSuite update but it failed on installation saying I had no other AutostarSuite installed. I thought the downloaded update was only for the DSI/LPI etc or for a higher level paid-for version of the software (mine came with the telescope on CD). I checked the Program Files directory and noticed that the initial software that came with the telescope on CD was installed in Program Files/Meade/AstroWare directory (by default). Rather than relocate the software from Astroware to AutostarSuite (I was concerned about any remaining Astroware links), I unloaded the Astronomical software ver 3.17 from the PC, reloaded it from the CD to the Program Files/Meade/AutostarSuite directory rather than Astroware, then again downloaded the AutostarSuite update from Meade. I now have Meade Astronomical software version 3.18. However, it still called ASU ver 3.62. I then downloaded the latest ASU to Program Files/Meade/AutostarSuite so now the Astronomical software ver 3.18 links to the latest ASU version 4.63. I now notice on your site that others have come across this similar problem i.e. initial Meade software defaulting to Astroware while updates default to AutostarSuite. Thanks again and Happy New Year ! Best Regards, Rod Fenwick
Subject: re: Various problems with Autostar... Sent: Saturday, December 31, 2005 17:44:17 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) You don't need to wait for a clear night to Calibrate the drives ( Setup/Telescope/Calibrate Motors ) It's a short (5 second ) process, and just runs the motors for a couple of seconds each. Then turn the power off for a few seconds. Then you can try a "fake" alignment on your kitchen table... it'll either make reasonable slews, or it won't. good luck --dick
From: Andrew Kilgore (email@example.com) Thanks for all your help suggestions. I calibrated the motors and trained the drives last night and I'm hoping to do a proper test tonight. However, I still feel that something is not quite right with my Autostar on some occasions: - On some occasions when I power on (I always use a 12V DC adaptor) and press MODE, Autostar asks me for Date/Time/DST information. Surely this information is stored in the LNT and should be read from there? Am I correct in thinking that the only time I should be asked for this info is after I've performed a Reset? Or is it something to do with removing and reapplying the DC power ( e.g. to take the scope outside)? - I'm assuming that once the system has the correct Date/Time/DST and Long/Lat info that there's nothing else I need to worry about. e.g. LST is calculated accordingly? - Is the Autostar cable "straight-through"? I've read on Mike's site the suggestion of swapping the cable ends for people having connectivity problems with Autostar (resulting in Autostar powering off or resetting). Out of curiosity I tried swapping the cable ends around but this made this worse. For example, as soon as I powered on the scope immediately began to slew upwards only stopping whenever Autostar displayed the "Press MODE or 0 to align" message. Attempting to perform alignment after this was practically impossible as the whole thing would appear to "hang" on the "Finding Level" stage. (On one occasion it did pass this stage after 3 or 4 minutes but then seemed to "hang" on the "Finding North" stage). However, re-swapping the ends of the Autostar cable cured these problems. Your suggestions/comments are greatly appreciated! Many thanks, Andy.Mike here: If the LNT and Autostar are not communicating the date and time won't come from the LNT. And yes, once those parameters are entered (assuming telescope and mounting mode are already entered) there is nothing else to enter when you power up. Swapping the cable ends only helps if it was incorrect to begin with.
> - On some occasions when I power on (I always use a 12V DC adaptor) and > press MODE, Autostar asks me for Date/Time/DST information. Surely this > information is stored in the LNT and should be read from there? Don't press mode (what was it doing/saying -before- you pressed mode?) [mode] disrupts whatever it was doing... so if it was trying to get the time from the LNT, you may have interrupted it. (i would think that it could get the time in an instant, but i don't have an LNT, so i haven't "gut" experience with one). > Am I correct in thinking that the only time I should be asked for this info > is after I've performed a Reset? Or is it something to do with removing > and reapplying the DC power ( e.g. to take the scope outside)? If the LNT clock is working properly, i don't even think you'd be asked after a Reset (but again, i don't know.. Mike can answer that one better). > - I'm assuming that once the system has the correct Date/Time/DST and > Long/Lat info that there's nothing else I need to worry about. e.g. LST > is calculated accordingly? Correct. LST is derived from site and local time. This -does- require that it knows your Time Zone correctly, of course.\ (that's set when you select a "nearest city") > - Is the Autostar cable "straight-through"? I've read on Mike's site > the suggestion of swapping the cable ends for people having connectivity > problems with Autostar (resulting in Autostar powering off or > resetting). Out of curiosity I tried swapping the cable ends around but > this made this worse. For example, as soon as I powered on the scope > immediately began to slew upwards only stopping whenever Autostar > displayed the "Press MODE or 0 to align" message. Attempting to perform > alignment after this was practically impossible as the whole thing would > appear to "hang" on the "Finding Level" stage. (On one occasion it did > pass this stage after 3 or 4 minutes but then seemed to "hang" on the > "Finding North" stage). However, re-swapping the ends of the Autostar > cable cured these problems. The cable is pin 1->8, 2->7, 3->6, 4->5 and so forth.. so "straight through" in some folk's use of the term, and "crossover" in others. Let's just say that it -can- be swapped end-for-end... but that shuffles which wires carry what signals, which is why you're seeing different symptoms. Definitely a bad cable. You can have the ends "crimped" by anyone with a computer network (or office telephone)-compatible RJ45 tool. good luck --dick
Again, thank you so much for the quick replies! Don't press mode (what was it doing/saying -before- you pressed mode?) I only press MODE after it displays the message "Press MODE or 0 to Align" Definitely a bad cable. You can have the ends "crimped" by anyone with a computer network (or office telephone)-compatible RJ45 tool. OK, I'll test the connections and then try crimping my own cable ;o) Many thanks, Andy.
Just tested the connectivity of the cable and one of the wires (3->6) is not making a connection! Hopefully re-crimping the cable will solve all this! Thanks, Andy.
And an update:
Some good news (at last!)... I made a new cable and Autostar is behaving much better! I had the scope outside for about 2 hours last night and it didn't misbehave/crash/hang once...!?! The final hurdle now is finding out why it is so far out with the alignment stars. Last night it was choosing Rigel and Capella and had I not know where they actually were there's no way that I could have got it aligned correctly. When slewing to both stars Autostar left the scope down and to the right of the star by quite an amount (I had to use max slew speed and SmartFinder to bring them into the eyepiece). After aligning the scope correctly, Autostar's GOTO feature seemed to work reasonable well. So, my question is: What could be causing this behaviour? My thoughts are that as long as I have the correct Date/Time/DST and Long/Lat then the rest relies on the LNT sensors? Is it possible I need to recalibrate these? Is this a tough job...? Many thanks, Andy.Mike here: CALIBRATE SENSORS is easy; just follow the prompts. But do you have the same alignment "error" when doing Easy Align Two Star as when doing the Automatic Alignment?
> So, my question is: What could be causing this behaviour? > My thoughts are that as long as I have the correct Date/Time/DST and > Long/Lat then the rest relies on the LNT sensors? Is it possible I need > to recalibrate these? Is this a tough job...? No... it's under Setup/Telescope/Calibrate Sensors Basically it does an auto-align, except it asks you to center Polaris. From that it derives your local magnetic deviation, and the initial alignment slews should become more accurate. I also heartily recommend buying a planisphere sky chart (one of those spinning-disks things) to assist in figuring out which star is which. have fun --dick P.S. You could also try an "Easy Align", (which should skip the LNT bit).. and start with the OTA level and pointed due true north... it should attempt the same alignment stars, (probably with more accuracy), and -then- you'll be able to find them during the LNT operations.... (but try the Cal Sensors, too).
Once again, thanks for taking the time to reply... I've never tried any other type of alignment as I thought that this required me to use a different "Home" position. Will try the Two Star Easy Alignment tonight. I think I read on your site some users disagreeing with Meade's description of the home position required for Two Star Alignment. Should I just follow what it says in the manual or is there some better "Home" position? Also, having just read the manual regarding "Calibrate Sensors" it seems that all I have to do it point the scope to Polaris and it does the rest. If that's the case I might have a bash at that as well. (I've never actually checked to see where Autostar thinks North is as the house is always in the way of Polaris. And, to make matters worse, I have a street light right outside my house!) Many thanks, Andy.
> I've never tried any other type of alignment as I thought that this > required me to use a different "Home" position. > Will try the Two Star Easy Alignment tonight. In "Two Star", -you- are expected to choose the stars. In "Easy" it chooses them (it's like Auto, it just doesn't LNT) To learn full and flexible (fits all situations!) operation of your scope, you should explore all of the setup (and other) choices. > I think I read on your site some users disagreeing with Meade's > description of the home position required for Two Star Alignment. > Should I just follow what it says in the manual or is there some better > "Home" position? Alt/Az Home is: power panel to the west, spin Az counter-clockwise until it hits the hard stop (it'll be pointed a bit south of west). Spin Az clockwise to point telescope due true north. Clamp Az clamp. Level telescope (i put a "torpedo level" along the top of the barrel). That's it. (some models (ETX60/70) don't -have- the hardware 'hard stop', which may be the source of confusion/argument you cite). > Also, having just read the manual regarding "Calibrate Sensors" it seems > that all I have to do it point the scope to Polaris and it does the rest. Actually, -it- (tries to) point at Polaris, and you slew to center it. So don't -start- by pointing at Polaris. > If that's the case I might have a bash at that as well. (I've never > actually checked to see where Autostar thinks North is as the house is > always in the way of Polaris. And, to make matters worse, I have a > street light right outside my house!) Isn't it nice it's a portable scope? At least for the Polaris bit, you don't need any -other- stars. have fun --dick
Subject: re: My Autostar just quit working! Sent: Saturday, December 31, 2005 17:39:11 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) A flakey cable can cause any number of problems, so until it's fixed/replaced, all bets are off. (a) call Meade ( 800-626-3233 ) and they'll send a new one (and be "officially" told that they're shipping bad ones) (b) go to any computer shop which does networking, and have them "crimp" the connector ends to (hopefully) re-establish a good connection. Since the Autostar completely shut off in one of your incidents, that says it's the power/ground leads, and they're the outer two wires ... so simply reversing the cable will -not- move them to innocent positions. By the way: don't be tempted to try and replace the Autostar cable with a standard computer network (Cat5) cable.. the wires do NOT go to the same/correct places. good luck --dick
Thank you, both, very much!! SteveE
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