AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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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 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:	ETX setup
Sent:	Tuesday, January 31, 2006 09:01:21
From:	Allen Thomas GL Civ AFRL/VSIS (thomas.allen@kirtland.af.mil)
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 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).  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-III
Mike 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 (jr004i4385@blueyonder.co.uk)
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!).

And:

Subject:	Meade has posted v41Ec for the 497 Autostar
Sent:	Monday, January 30, 2006 17:02:59
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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 (ccarson@pixsoft.ca)
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 (jkraeme@yahoo.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?

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (zweige@cox.net)
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 (patriziocaratto@virgilio.it)
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 (lib777@earthlink.net)
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 rpollack44@hotmail.com.  I'd sure appreciate
anything you could suggest.

Thanks
Russ Pollack
Mike 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.

And:

As always, right you are.  
 thanks
 Russ Pollack

Subject:	re: ETX125PE
Sent:	Friday, January 27, 2006 00:29:35
From:	Tom and Lori (lortom7@earthlink.net)
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 (lortom7@earthlink.net)

And:

From:	User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com)
Cannot find the article...????
 
Thanks for the forward..
 
Dan
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
> 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

And:

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.

And:

> 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
(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
--dick
Mike here: But he said the Autostar said it was slewing. That means GOTO had been pressed.

And:

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
--dick
Mike here: Now I see what you both meant.

And this:

From:	Ken Jeffrey (ken@fluffs.freeserve.co.uk)
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

And:

From:	Daniel Hackstedt (webmaster@daniel-hackstedt.de)
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 (webmaster@daniel-hackstedt.de)
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
Daniel
Mike 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
 
Dan
Mike 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.

And:

Thanks for the quick response...
 
Dan

Subject:	Meade AutoStar 494
Sent:	Wednesday, January 25, 2006 14:05:13
From:	Jesse (kc2iyh@sbcglobal.net)
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.

And:

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 (ccarson@pixsoft.ca)
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 (pedendo18@comcast.net)
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. thanks
Mike 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 Nowicki
Mike 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.

And:

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).

And:

Thank you!

Subject:	Re: Still Possible to update Autostar 495?
Sent:	Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:17:32
From:	Gary Huntress (ghuntress@comcast.net)
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!

Gary
Mike here: Do you have a real serial port on your computer or are you using a USB-serial converter? If so, which one?

And:

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:	jbg13@alu.ua.es (jbg13@alu.ua.es)
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" W
Mike 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 (jkraeme@yahoo.com)
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 Kraemer

Mike here: Satellite tracking is one thing I have never done so can't say for certain. But have you tried the MODE key?

And:

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

And:

SFrom:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (mark@rootsy.fsnet.co.uk)
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 Roots
Mike 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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 (arno.vainio@luukku.com)
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 (arno.vainio@luukku.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 (apsjackson@juno.com)
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 Jackson 
Mike 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 (arnaud.malvache@polytechnique.fr)
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 Malvache
Mike 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 (d-a-molenaar@hotmail.com)
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

And:

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. Molenaar
Mike 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 (gdy3@yahoo.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 Marylan
Mike here: Have you selected the object by pressing ENTER and then pressed GOTO?

And:

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 (luna.id@gmail.com)
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
 
Nicolas
Mike 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.

And:

Thank you very much for your time!

Subject:	Autoster 497
Sent:	Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:09:12
From:	d molenaar (d-a-molenaar@hotmail.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 Netherlands
Mike 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 (fdiaz@telcel.net.ve)
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 Diaz
Mike 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 Jackson
Mike 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 scope
Mike 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.

And:

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.
thanx
Mike here: I suggest doing a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTORS, and TRAIN DRIVES.

And:

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 best  
Mike 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.

And:

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 (ghuntress@comcast.net)
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 ideas
Mike 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.

And:

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 trying
Mike here: There have been some ZIPCODE errors so try using City Name.

And:

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 code
Mike 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.

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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 (andrewskurka@msn.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:	mhogansr@comcast.net (mhogansr@comcast.net)
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 (k_downing@comcast.net)
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 Downing
Mike 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 (g.tarsoudis@freemail.gr)
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 Tarsoudis
Mike 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?

And:

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 Tarsoudis
Mike 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 (muhammad.dwyer@gmail.com)
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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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 normal
Mike 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 (simpson@kdna.ucla.edu)
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 (rseymour@wolfenet.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

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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

And:

From:	Andrew Kilgore (andrew.kilgore@gmail.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.

And:

>  - 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

And:

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.

And:

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?

And:

> 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).

And:

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 (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
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

And:

Thank you, both, very much!! 
SteveE

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