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AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
Last updated: 31 July 2001

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:	ETX70 AT/EC  W Autostar 495
Sent:	Tuesday, July 31, 2001 14:32:04
From:	fartbark@mediaone.net (Richard Walter)
I have tried everthing i can think of to get my pc to download the
autostar updates and my pc will not recognize the etx. i added a serial
port and did what the meade directions say but still no luck. i cannot
contact my pc vendor because i had trouble with the pc in the past and a
differant windows is now loaded. i have windows 98 se . can anyone tell
me how to make sure the port is not shared or how i can isolate it. i am
new to astrology and am trying to get my kids interested. i would also
like any suggestions on what eye pieces and other accessories you would
recommend. Is this a good telescope or should i be looking for something
stronger.

thanks
rich walter 
Mike here: I'll leave the Windows guestion to the Windows people (I'm a Mac person). As to eyepieces and accessories, see the Buyer/New User Tips page as well as the various Accessories pages. (By the way, I hope you meant "astronomy" and not "astrology". There is quite a bit of difference.)

Subject:	Bug in 2.2Er when using High Precision
Sent:	Monday, July 30, 2001 0:57:15
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com (Raymond Barbour@i-Commerce)
I recently upgraded my AutoStar #495 with the 2.2Er ROMs and everything
is working well except for a minor bug in the high precision. I've used
the high precision with great success (I'm now starting to learn the
proper names of stars) but when I tried to goto 47 Tucane it seemed to
have difficulty finding a star to guide from. It probably would have
eventually found a star but I impatiently clicked on "Mode" to stop
searching. The display then showed "Proc 2" and the unit froze. I had to
power down to get it working again.
Regards,
Raymond Barbour
South Africa
Mike here: Thanks for the report. You should send it to engineer@meade.com so that they can correct the bug.

Subject:	blank autostar
Sent:	Sunday, July 29, 2001 23:10:24
From:	kgrumpy@prodigy.net (KARL J SCHULZE)
I was updating the autostar using A2.4 and the autostar lost power
during the download, now I have a blank autostar and the A2.4 updater
will not recognize the autostar. Please help.
Thanks in advance Karl
Mike here: See "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	older "black" ETX70 with 495 autostar:
stay with 2.0i or upgrade to 2.1Ek????
Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2001 20:23:16 From: bald1@usa.net (Bob Allman) I've been searching the site but haven't seen experiences (probably missed them) of any folks with the old "black tube" 70 and #495 controller going from ROM v2.0i to v2.1Ek. With some of the problems owners of bigger scopes and the 497 box have reported I'm inclined to stand fast.... Am I misinformed and overly cautious? Or should I upgrade???? Thanks, Bob Allman Rapid City, SD
Mike here: The last version specifically for the #495 seems to be 2.0i. But I seem to recall reports of some users being about to upgrade to 2.2Er. Probably depends upon the actual amount of memory in the #495. But lets ask our Autostar expert, Dick Seymour.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
You may have to use the Emergency Flash load procedure to do so,
(don't panic.. it just avoids some checks)... but you should
be able to bring the "495" to 22eR (the current 497 release) 
as a one-step operation.  Use the current A2.4 Updater.
After that, it will -be- a 497.  

22eR is getting "rave reviews" (i.e. no one has posted any significant
new-found bug)... and it is -much- more accurate in many areas.
Plus, as a 495 owner, it'll increase your object count from 1,400 
to 30,000.

There's little reason to go to 21eK.  The current Updater package 
has 21eK included, but after you've installed the Updater on your PC,
unack the 22eR rom files and place them into the 
ProgramFiles>Meade>Autostar>AutostarUpdate>Ephemerides  folder,
replacing the autostar.rom and dbase.rom files that are there.
(of course, i recommend MOVING the existing files to some safer
place, and then copying the 22eR files into their place.)

The problems you've seen with the bigger scopes stem from two
primary sources: MUCH higher magnification, so a slight motion 
becomes highly visible, and pre-22eR firmwares.

enjoy
--dick

Subject:	re: home position question ETX250ec
Sent:	Sunday, July 29, 2001 17:07:15
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	FREILE@EV1.NET
(mike, i suspect that's a typo from "125")(but i could be very wrong)

Scott,

As Mike says, Alt/Az "home" is, as you figured out, with the telescope
barrel level (i use a 6-inch "torpedo level") to the ground, 
pointed due north.

In all of the folowing, when i refer to the "barrel pointing",
or "barrel",  i mean the glass-covered "Front" end.

I set up the CCW stuff by standing behind (south of) the telescope,
with the power panel pointing/facing west.
I grab the barrel and spin it counter clockwise until it hits 
the stops (gently), which it should do with the barrel a little
 south of the westward facing power panel.
Now rotate the barrel clockwise (it'll be about 100 degrees) until
the glass points due, true (not magnetic) north.

That's home.

From your description, your Dec scale (the one on the side of the
fork) is mis-set.  That won't affect -viewing- with the scope (you
can eyeball "level" for setup, after that it's unneeded).  But the
black knob can be loosened to release that scale, and you can then
spin it to make "zero" agree with your bubble level.

> 30 degrees latitude
You may certainly Train on Polaris at its 30-degree angle.
The idea of "45" is merely to both load the bearings approximately
similar to useage in the sky, and to choose a non-moving target for
alignment.  I spent my first year using ground-based training targets,
and they worked pretty well, too. (i still use them... this is Seattle,
it's cloudy)

Many/most/all of the tips you'll read here (my babblings), on Mike's
site, and elsewhere are guidelines and methods which have worked
(or seemed to) for some (or many) folks.  They're not cast in concrete,
and you may/will develop techniques which work well for you which 
vary from our suggestions... that's GREAT!  It's a part of the hobby.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Yeah, but we can hope!

And:

Sorry guys, it is a etx125EC. I wrote the first email at about 430am
(maybe later) so I was a little cloudy t say the least!
THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT INPUT!!!
SCOTT

Subject:	re: Sun Warning woes
Sent:	Sunday, July 29, 2001 16:46:38
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	hevbound@netzero.net
Which key -should- dismiss the warning varied a bit between firmware
versions.... have you ever read the entire message through? It lists the
key.

It should either be the "5" key or the "?" key.  All other keys are
ignored during the message.

--dick
Mike here: Gee, I have never read that warning all the way through!

And:

From:	hevbound@netzero.net (hevbound)
Hey...

That was it....I remember at one time I hit the enter key and it went
away but that has been a while boy do I feel pretty silly. I never have
read that message all the way through I guess.......Just common sense I
have always thought (not looking at sun). Thanks so much

Brad

Subject:	autostar
Sent:	Saturday, July 28, 2001 8:52:28
From:	hevbound@netzero.net (hevbound)
Has anybody had any problems with their autostar such as when you first
turn it on the sun warning pops up and I can't get rid of it no matter
what I do. It just won't go away until I keep mashing all kinds of
buttons then I can somehow get rid of it. Once I get it to work than I
go and take off the sun warning screen and then it seems to work fine.
Is that a software or autostar problem....thanks....Brad
Mike here: Possibly a dirty contact inside the Autostar keypad. I have one key (#2) that takes some extra pushing to make contact. There is a cleaning tip on the Autostar Information page if you want to take the Autostar apart (and voiding any warranty and possibly breaking something).

Subject:	Negative Autostar gear ratio
Sent:	Saturday, July 28, 2001 8:20:18
From:	EdHiker@mediaone.net (Ed Johnson)
To:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour), stevebedair@yahoo.com
Dick,

I want to thank you again for testing the NEGATIVE GEAR RATIO in your
late version Autostar firmware. My older(v2.0)firmware goes berserk on
the negative entry. I think I will upgrade to v22eh because of Steve
Bedair's cord wrap comment below. I will leave my newly constructed
mount as it is. (Gear ratios are 82 and 89)

"Az backward problem.......... Yes I have ran into this. The easiest fix
is to select another telescope model from the Autostar's menu. The LX 90
model will slew one direction and the ETX models slew the opposite
direction. The Alt is the same on both models. Changing the telescope
model should correct this problem. It is possible to change the + or -
in front of the ratio in the Autostar but changing models is easier. I
am using v22eh firmware at this time. The newer firmware will not let me
use the LX 90 settings with the DS motors. I still can use the ETX
settings but the new firmware detects which motors are being used. The
reason I like the LX 90 setting is that it allows a feature called "Cord
Wrap" , with this the scope takes the shortest route to an object. The
etx setting will not allow this to be accessed and will sometimes take
the long way around to an object. This is because the ETX hard
stops...Steve"

richard seymour wrote:
> 
> and now I've done the test...
> 
> With 22eR, on an ETX70at, i reversed the sign of the Az ratio.
> And the scope dutifully moved backwards... similar to me having
> "reverse L/R" on the slew keys.
> 
> When i made the sign positive (Again), it again reversed direction,
> back to my normal usage.
> 
> If i power cycled, the negative setting was remembered, so it
> was still going "backwards" after powering back up.
> 
> I did -not- change my "telescope model", that was still ETX70.
> 
> So: build an rs232 cable.  Upgrade to 22eR. Life will improve.
> 
> --dick

Dick, It seems that you have looked into star databases extensively!

Ed  Johnson
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
If you tell the Autostar you have an ETX70, it allows both 
cord-wrap *and* manual setting of negative retios.

But, as Steve said, there are differences between 22eH and 22eR...
i don't have a DS- motor set... i have the 4504's motors, an
ETX70at and an ETX90ec... if you load 22eR and cannot find a
mix of model, wrap and ratios which will work (but can in 22eH),
i can probably come up with a patch for 22eR to allow its use.

Older versions of the firmware are archived at Mike Weasner's site.

good luck
--dick
And this:
From:	stevebedair@yahoo.com (Steve Bedair)
Dick,

Thanks for the reverse testing of 22er , I haven't I haven't had a
chance to play with 22er very much and haven't tried the reverse. I have
noticed that on the earlier versions that you can reverse the + or - and
as you stated it works well and remains in the Autostar.

One problem I have ran into is that when you change the + or - this
affects the arrow direction buttons for manual slewing. You can reverse
the direction buttons easy enough to properly slew left or right but
once the Autostar is powered down and back up it does not retain the
proper direction. It's no problem to correct but the direction has to be
changed each time.

This is just FYI and might have changed on the newer versions. I'll let
ya know when I have had a chance to check it out.

Thanks as always for your expertise,
Steve Bedair
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Steve,

> One problem I have ran into is that when you change
> the + or - this affects the arrow direction buttons
> for manual slewing.
Oh, really?   I saw that i had to reverse my slew keying,
but i figured it was -because- i'd reversed the motors.
(rhetorical question follows, i'm asking myself: )
 how come the LX90 doesn't suffer that?

Maybe it's repaired in 22eR ? I changed the sign of my ratio,
and after doing so, my L/R button -was- running backwards
(as i expected).

> You can reverse the direction buttons easy enough to properly
> slew left or right but once the Autostar is powered down
> and back up it does not retain the proper direction.

I'll look into that, too... (pause) ... yep... it's stored
in a not-retained across-power-cycle location.  Odd. I'd think
that would be a uesr-preference one would like to live forever.

either one of those symptoms i'd call a bug.

(cracking of knuckles, opening of message: Deeeear engineer@meade...)

thanks for the report...
--dick

Subject:	home position question ETX250ec
Sent:	Saturday, July 28, 2001 4:01:26
From:	FREILE@EV1.NET (SCOTT H. FREILE, Ed.D.)
First, congratulationson the great websight and the well deserved award.

I have 3 simple questions.

1) When we put the scope in the Home Position, using 0, the scope is
pointing downward (about 20 degree angle). We are trying to follow the
directions but when we use the Easy Allignment (alt/az) with the GOTO
all the objects it picks are at or below the horizon. My question is
when the scope is in the 0 (home position) should it be level with the
earth (i.e. using a bubble level) or should it be alligned with the base
(at the exact same angle as the base ) ?  I read a comment about
adjusting the scale ?

2) We are at 30 degrees latitute. I have read comments about setting it
at 45 ?

3) When you turn the motor counter clockwise and then clockwise should
you be in front of the scope (looking down at the motor from the end of
the scope) or should you be behind or at the back (bottom) of the motor
when you are making the turns? This might be self evident to everyone
else but not to me.

I know you get tons of email but I hope you can answer these questions.
I have read virtually the entire site and still find myself confused.
Please send me your catalogue if you have one and I will absolutely
through you all my business.

Thanks in advance for all your help.
Scott

Scott H. Freile, Ed.D.,FACFE, FAAIM
Forensic Behavioral Science Group
PO Box 1719
Splendora, TX 77372
(281) 399 9938
FREILE@EV1.NET
Mike here: Cool! Where did you get an ETX-250EC? I wasn't aware that Meade had released such a model!
But to answer your questions, first off, it sounds like your Declination (also known as the Altitude scale is off). See the item in the FAQ to correct it. You didn't indicate whether you were using Polar or Alt/Az mounting. In Alt/Az, the Home position has the tube AND base level. In Polar, the Home position has the base tilted for your latitude and the tube pointing at Polaris (in the Northern Hemisphere). The 45 degree reference you've read about refers to the tip when TRAINING the drives. It seems to work better when TRAINING with the tube at this angle above the ground. The CCW and CW rotations mentioned in the manual are done when standing at the back of the ETX, just like you do when looking through the eyepiece.
I'm not a dealer for anything so don't have a catalog.

And:

Thank you very much for the help . I think we can conquer it now! I hope
we can meet some day, maybe at a star party? My son, Cody,  is a physics
major and I am catching the bug.
Thanks again.
Scott & Cody

Subject:	autostar 2.2er
Sent:	Friday, July 27, 2001 9:48:10
From:	hevbound@netzero.net (hevbound)
Has anybody had any problems or bugs with the new autostar version 2.2er
over the eh or ek. I didn't want to chance it if it doesn't work as
well. I have not heard anything bad or good yet about that
version....Thanks Brad
Mike here: I've not had any problems with 2.2Er on the ETX-125EC. I don't recall seeing any significant problem reports that were not corrected by RESET and RETRAIN following the upgrade.

Subject:	re: LX90 and Autostar
Sent:	Friday, July 27, 2001 8:53:45
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	jpfirmo@free.fr
Jean-Pierre,

You asked:
> Is there a particular version for LX90 ?
no... 22eR is for all of the telescopes (except the 4504).

> But the version I took from MEADE Web server seems to be for ETX
> telescope. When I try to choose LX90 in telescope model on autostar,
> there a little sign like this >
That little sign means that *that* telescope is the selected model.
So that is the good thing to see next to LX90.

> When I restart the telescope, I can see ETX 22E.
The "ETX" means that it is the full 497 Autostar software package,
not the smaller 495 or 494 software package.

> When I use the MEADE UPDATE SOFTWARE to update my autostar it scans
>  the autostar and says Meade ETX software 22E found

The "E" means: English language.

Before 21eK, the Autostar contained 6 languages.  You could change
language before viewing.
With 21eK, Meade went to English-only (in their first releases) to
make room for increasing the database from 14,000 objects to 30,000.
I am surprised that you did not receive a French Autostar (21Fk ?)
when you purchased the telescope... 

To see the full version number, use the Enter/Mode/Scroll keys to
 get to:
  Setup > Statistics [enter] XX.X Char Free [scroll up]  Version

And you should see "22Er"

A bientt
--dick

Subject:	Autostar update issue with 2.2ER
Sent:	Thursday, July 26, 2001 14:07:22
From:	dwilliamson@sugar-land.oilfield.slb.com (Don Williamson)
First off, I really enjoy and have learned a lot from your site.  Just
thought I would pass on a recent experience related to upgrading my
autostar to version 2.2ER recently posted on Meade's site.

I downloaded the 2.2ER zip file, unzipped it and installed.  The install
went fine but when I checked  "statistics/version" on the Autostar, it
said version 2.2EH, not ER.  I rechecked my files and process but
everything seemed in order.  I called Meade yesterday morning... after
being put on hold for a while, the tech can back on the line and advised
me to download the individual update files rather than the zip file and
that would fix the problem...... I responded by saying "so you posted
the wrong files in the zip"...... I won't go into the response but let's
just say they would not own up to any error... I found that sort of
amusing.... in any case, I did as they suggested, downloaded the
individual update files and installed.... it worked fine and I now have
version 2.2ER on my Autostar.... I'm sure this will happened to others
until Meade corrects the problem.

Regards,
Don

_______________________________________________________________________

Don Williamson
Schlumberger
Reservoir Evaluation & Development
Houston
Mike here: I haven't heard of anyone downloading the wrong files when grabbing the ZIP file version. I grabbed the ZIP file the a few days after it was posted and it was OK for me. However, sometimes the ROM files don't get placed into the proper folder or recognized as being there. But thanks for the tip. It always worth re-downloading individual ROM files when there is any problem with the ZIP file.

Subject:	A little question from France
Sent:	Thursday, July 26, 2001 9:15:34
From:	jpfirmo@formes.fr (Jean-Pierre FIRMO)
I am a french in France.

I was told you are the great boss for MEADE ETX. With what I saw on your
site, I think it is true !!

I have a little question.

I have bought a LX90. (Software version was 21Ek).

In order to take into account my illuminated reticle eyepiece (selection
of intensity), I have had to download  22Er software from MEADE Web
server. Now I can use my reticle eyepiece from autostar and APM.

But the version I took from MEADE Web server seems to be for ETX
telescope. When I try to choose LX90 in telescope model on autostar,
there a little sign like this >
When I restart the telescope, I can see ETX 22E.
When I use the MEADE UPDATE SOFTWARE to update my autostar it scans the
autostar and says Meade ETX software 22E found

Is there a particular version for LX90 ?

Thanks.

If you reply, could you do it at this email identification : jpfirmo@free.fr

Thanks.
Thanks.
Thanks.
Thanks.
Thanks.

I know, I know, my english is not very good.
Mike here: Do a RESET and then set the telescope model to LX90 (it should show in the menu). If you come back to the telescope selection menu and scroll through the selections, it should have the ">" by LX90. The 2.2Er should work with the LX90.

Subject:	Questions about observing.
Sent:	Wednesday, July 25, 2001 23:01:53
From:	EricB@cascadewholesale.net (Eric Berglund)
It's been awhile since I've had questions. Mainly because I havn't got
that much observing in lately. But Wednesday night I gave the Autostar
another try. I must say the improvment from the ETX-90EC was very
pleasing. It wasn't perfect though, and being a complete amateur I've
got another few questions. The first question is:

When I align the scope with the autostar it goes to the two stars and
they are usually placed inside the finderscope FOV, then I center them
in the eyepiece. No problems in that department. But when I did a go-to
on the moon it was several degrees off, but still visible in the
finderscope. Is this normal? I must say it is a complete improvment over
what results I was getting with the 90.

I did a go-to to the Lagoon Nebula and I'm pretty sure I found it. I've
read that it is a large nebula and would appear a whitish color in a
small telescope. It was a spectacular view as far as I'm concerned, but
I didn't see much nebulosity. Just a group of fairly condensed stars. I
did see some though.

Since I had to get up the next morning for work I didn't get much
observing time in, but already I'm pleased with the perfomence of the
125. Thanks again for bearing with my questions.

Once again, awesome site.

Eric
Mike here: Some older Autostar ROM versions had some problems with the Moon position calcs (if my memory is correct). Of course, moving targets (like the Moon and planets) require very accurate date/time/location and alignments. So you might want to check those.

Subject:	Re: Constellation menu
Sent:	Wednesday, July 25, 2001 17:31:55
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net
> I always thought the constellation menu was a bit silly, because how
> am I going to get all of a constellation in my EP?  But now I
> understand--it is a TOUR of the constellation's stars.  That's probably
> in the manual somewhere.

Like so many other things, it is NOT in the manual anywhere.  Like Dick
Seymour has expressed, PRESS BUTTONS and learn the vast amount that some
unidentified programmer has done an excellent job of cramming into that
little Autostar of ours.  It really is amazing what all is in this
thing, but you must find out for yourself, it seems!  (or keep tuning in
here to Mike Weasner's wonderful web site!)

Dr. Clay (almost back at the office.....)

Subject:	motorize a dob
Sent:	Wednesday, July 25, 2001 15:15:02
From:	t_giltinan@hotmail.com (Tim Giltinan)
I've lurked on your site for awhile and finally got the nerve to write
you.  I really enjoy and appreciate all the info. you provide, its
awesome.  Anyway, my question is that I have an 8" Meade DOB, have you
heard on anyone connecting an Autostar and the DS motors to the scope to
make it a GOTO unit?  I already have a crude DC motor system set up that
drives the different axis but I want that goto function.  I've put in
ball bearing units on both base and scope bearings, so friction and
drive are minimal.  I'm just curious if the computer could handle a
scope situation like mine.  Any information would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Timothy T. Giltinan
Mike here: I don't recall any DOB use but if you can adapt the DS motors, I would think it would work as long as you keep any gear ratios correct so that the scope moves the appropriate amounts.

Subject:	RE: Info on Converting a AutoStar 495 to a 497 (ETX) AutoStar
Sent:	Tuesday, July 24, 2001 6:02:03
From:	Raymond.Barbour@za.didata.com (Raymond Barbour@i-Commerce)
I have a DS114EC that came bundled with a 495 AutoStar. I successfully
installed the 22Er (ETX) ROMs on my AutoStar.
Regards,
Raymond Barbour

Subject:	More Autostar follies
Sent:	Monday, July 23, 2001 21:37:15
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
After all of the good advice from you and Clay, I've got another
irritating problem.  I'd noticed that my Autostar was "blanking" and
re-booting when I moved the cord in certain ways.  I figured that it
must be a defective cord or connector. So I asked Meade to send me a new
one.  Sadly the new one is no better. Tonight after a night of double
stars [an almost milky overcast kept me from seeing any deep sky
objects] the thing blanked about 4 times and I finally gave up.  It
seems that the connection between the cord and the Autostar itself is
loose, if you wiggle the cord in and out at all [easy to do
inadvertently] the thing will disconnect.  Have you ever heard of this
before? Seeing that I am about a year out of warranty, is this curtains
for my Autostar, or is a fix of some sort possible?  No point in
upgrading the software if I have a hardware problem.

Thanks for the help.

Tom Brown
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Your problem is unfortunately common, but usually there is a good quick
fix in this case.  Indeed, I have done this with my ETX 125 to much
success.

1)Where the Autostar cable plugs into the telescope control panel, take
a small "wire tie" (the nylon self-threaded grips that you cinch tight
to grip wires, etc. from Home Depot or Lowe's)and wrap and secure
against the control panel end of the Autostar cord;

2) cut off the excess plastic tab from the now-tightened wire tie and
"taper" the end to a rounded point with a pair of scissors;

3) insert this tapered end GENTLY each time after plugging in the
Autostar just ABOVE the plastic connector plug into the female plug on
the control panel, so that some gentle pressure "pushes" the plug
tightly onto the small pins within the control panel jack.

4) do not push too far, nor too hard, but just enough to firmly allow
the plug to grip within the open receptacle and make better contact;

5) when finished and needing to disconnect, always unplug the Autostar
cable clip first and pull out your plastic shim at the same time as the
plug.

That should do the trick...if you find that the looseness is on the
OTHER end, merely do the same thing on that end as well, but may leave
that permanently inserted.

Good luck!
Clay Sherrod
Mike here: I was going to suggest just a small piece of plastic tape be stuck to the side of the connector plug.

And:

Thanks for the advice.  Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest, but
that's why you guys are the experts.  Actually the loose connection
seems to be where the cord enters the Autostar, but I'm sure the same
idea will work.

Next time we have a clear night I'll try it out.

Tom

Subject:	505 cable
Sent:	Monday, July 23, 2001 14:09:41
From:	d.birmingham@worldnet.att.net (David Birmingham)
I've looked, I think, all over the Mighty ETX Site but haven't found
what I am looking for. I had thought once I ran across someone's post on
how to make a 505 serial cable that would allow a computer to control
either a 90EC or 125EC. Was I mistaken?

Dave
Mike here: Have you checked the "Cable and Power Information" section on the Autostar Information page? I suspect you have missed those items.

Subject:	90EC problems solved
Sent:	Sunday, July 22, 2001 22:50:16
From:	lrl@ou.edu (Luke Loeffler)
For everyone's information:  After weeks of frustration I switched to
Polar alignment tonight.  All my problems went away.

Before in AltAz I had random slewing in alt all the time and frequent
Motor Unit Faults.  Some suggested it was power, others a wiring problem
in the base, software, resistors inside, all kinds of things.  I think
it had to do with bad altaz tracking code combined with inconsistant
power.

I tried aligning in Polar and it would pick the right stars but it would
say align failed.  After a reset and retrain in polar the align was
successful and I was able to goto many objects all over the sky with
great consistancy, although not necessarily accuracy.  It consistantly
aimed 2 degrees high which is a good sign--I just need to train and
align more carefully next time.  Even when I just roughly put the scope
in polar position and turned on Astronomical tracking in
Settings-->targets, it tracked Mars flawlessly at 256x for probably 15
minutes--as long as I observed it.  All in all, the manual slewing
seemed more solid and smooth, and there was no rubberbanding from what I
could tell.  In AltAz it was always jerky at best.

It was like a whole new telescope!  It finally worked as advertised.  I
just want to let everyone know that they are really missing out if they
are still in AltAz. Telescopes are made for Polar alignment.  Don't be
intimidated by Polar alignment as I was--it is much easier than you
might think to get set up!

Happy gazing,
Luke

Subject:	Fwd: Autostar 0 key bug
Sent:	Sunday, July 22, 2001 9:23:26
From:	pedrorey@convex.pt (Pedro Rey)
This is a copy of the case i opened with engineer@meade.com. CCopied
also Dick Seymour and Michael Lang, who saw the problem in the focuser
drive, wich is somewhat more frightening.

All my best

Pedro

>Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 17:13:29 +0100
>To: engineer@meade.com
>From: Pedro Rey (pedrorey@convex.pt)
>Subject: Fwd: Autostar 0 key bug
>
>>Hi
>I'm a happy user of an ETX-90EC, with Autostar loaded with 2.2Er.
>
>
>>By accident, I stumbled with a curious side effect of the double funtion 
>>of the 0 (zero) key,
>>that both turns the convenient red LED on and off, and also the fast 
>>entry in focuser mode.
>>
>>I'm using 2.2Er, but the problem may be lurking since the zero key gained 
>>that extra functionality.
>>
>>If we are slewing, using the joystick keys, in either RA or DEC, and we 
>>press the zero key
>>to toggle the LED simultaneously, it goes into focuser mode and the slew 
>>CONTINUES NON-STOP,
>>eventually hitting  the hard stops.
>>To stop the slew, we must revert out of focuser mode by pressing zero 
>>again, then press a slew
>>key of the appropriate drive in any direction (or turn power off if we 
>>panic , wich i did the first
>>time i saw it happen).
>
>A reflection of the same problem was found by another user, but this time 
>while focusing
>and inadvertently going out of focuser mode by pressing  the zero key.
>The result was a run-away focuser motor, with equally potentially damaging 
>effects.
>He was using 2.2Eh.
>
>Would it be possible, on future releases:
>
>-either to stop all drives, ALT/AZ and focuser, before going into a 
>routine that
>   changes the funtion of the slew keys
>
>- to change the focuser keys to be the arrow keys, because they are not 
>likely to be used while
>   slewing using the keypad?
>
>- or to revert to the "old" LED ONLY functionality of the zero key?
>
>>All my best regards
>>
>>Pedro Rey
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Pedro,

My one problem with your suggestion to use the Scroll keys is that they
-are- already used...
If you enter Focus Mode by holding the MODE key for 3 seconds, and then
release.
The Scroll up/down keys are used to -escape- from Focus to the other
items in the Status readout screens.

STATUS	Ra/Dec	(can GoTo)	
	Alt/Az	(can GoTo)	
	Site/Date		
	Lat/Long		
	Time/LocalSiderealTime
	Alarm/Timer
	Focus control
	Reticle Control  <-- (LX90 with APM only)

I like the "Flashlight if slewing" idea.
--dick
And this:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Another way to achieve your goal (FlashLED during slewing)
is to tap the zero key to turn it on, then the [mode] key
to exit Focus-mode.

That will leave the light on, and the scope controllable.

But i still agree that what it does now is a bug
--dick

Subject:	Success Story - Home made #505 connector cable and Au
Sent:	Saturday, July 21, 2001 18:58:51
From:	krishna00@msn.com (krishna murthy)
#505 homemade connector cable:

I successfully made the home made #505 cable as described by
rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour) on your web site. The image of
the wiring diagram was very helpful and maybe you should put it up in a
more prominent place for others to get it easily. All parts purchased
from local radio shack. No soldering required. Just a pair of Long Nose
pliers and a small utility knife.

Total cost ~ US$10.50

Here are the part numbers in case anyone needs it.

1. 9-position Female D-subminiature Crimp-Type Connector (Cat. No.
276-1428A) US$1.49
2. Shielded Metalized hood (for 9-position standard and 15 position high
density D-subminiature connectors) (cat. No. 276-1513) US$1.49
3. 25ft (7.6m) coiled Modular handset cord (Cat. No. 279-316 ivory)
US$5.99

Autostar Update:

Also update the Autostar #497 to version 22Er successfully after
following instructions on your web site. (Initially had problems
launching the software on win2k but saw an helpful hint by
rseymour@wolfenet.com about changing the default installation path to a
-higher- installation directory and that too went well.

.......................................

Regards
K M
Email: krishna_murthy@hotmail.com 

Subject:	Re: Good/bad night at the ETX 125
Sent:	Saturday, July 21, 2001 12:37:50
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Thanks for your comment Mike. No the Autostar was still on the ETX 125.
Sounds like I'll have to upgrade the software, just wonder why this
problem didn't happen before.

Tom
And this:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net
No, Altair is a very good alignment target; you might forgo the "EASY"
align and start doing the "Two Star" where you select your own;  in that
scenario I would have selected maybe these two combinations for best
trigonometric accuracy:

1)  Arcturus and Antares (or Nunki)
2)  Altair and Spica (if in Alt Azimuth....it will not present Spica in Polar.

Later in the evening, choose Arcturus and Deneb...that is an ideal target.

Attempt to make your two star alignment as quickly as possible without
sacrificing accuracy....I have found that the more you delay, the more
rubberbanding you will experience.

Good luck!

Clay Sherrod

Thomas Brown (teb1013@hotmail.com) wrote:
> Interesting, right now the "Easy Align" is selecting Arcturis, and Altair as 
> the alignment stars.  Altair is actually quite high in the sky, wonder if 
> this could be causing part of the problem?  Thanks for the advise about the 
> crosshair eyepiece.

Tom

>From: sherrodc@ipa.net
>Hi again Tom - I have found that extremely precise alignment using a 
>crosshair is not only tedious but actually results in less critical 
>alignment as you fight to attempt to keep the star centered;  a high power 
>eyepiece or one with the 2x barlow seems to work best and ALWAYS use the 
>2-star (select stars if you can) and be sure to use stars that are NOT 
>higher than 40 degrees DEC and about at least 45 degrees apart from 
>one-another East to WEst.
>
>Good luck!
>
>Clay Sherrod
>Thomas wrote:
>I have been
>training on Polaris using my 15mm Orion Sirius plus the #126 barlow, but
>found that the star would shoot through the field too fast for good
>centering, so I moved to the 26 mm with the barlow.  Perhaps I need an
>eyepiece with crosshairs, this would help with the basic alignment as well
>seeing that I have trouble estimating when the star is in the exact center
>of the field.  I know that Celestron sells one without illumination [the
>illuminated ones tend to be pretty expensive.  Not that viewing has been 
>all bad, I've had a couple of clear nights and managed to see my "summer
>favorites" inlcuding M-8; M-22; M-16; M-17, M-13; 57; 27; Albiero, eps
>lyrae; along with a few fall favorites like the double cluster and even
>M-31.  As long as I used High precison, the image seemed to hold still.  
>But messing around with hp when I'm used to a simple "goto" obviously isn't
>ideal.  Just wonder why, after all these years, the rubber banding etc 
>would have started.
>
>Thanks for your continued help.
>
>Tom

Subject:	Newly purchased instrument
Sent:	Saturday, July 21, 2001 3:49:36
From:	jy@lesbeninger.com (Jean-Yves Beninger)
I hope I am not being too troublesome, but the site and yourself are
really too attractive for my quest of informations :

I am now checking the autostar software, and mine is version 1.2c ...
very far from the 2.xx everybody is talking about! It is a new
instrument, but being bought in Bangkok, I suppose that this version
supports more exotic languages...

I have downloaded the latest Auto.exe from Meade and would like to make
sure that it is not too much of a step to jump from 1.2c. What do you
think ?

I also realise that I do not have the cable to connect the PC to
autostar but have read in the (excellent) tutorial posted on your site
that it is possible to make one myself. Being far from a specialised
shop, could you please give me the details of the wiring or refer me to
someone would could.

Thanks once again and have a good weekend

Jean-Yves
Mike here: There are several articles on Autostar cables (#505 for the #497 Autostar) on the Autostar Information page on the ETX Site. For updating from OLD versions, see the "Important Download Information". You can find all the previously released Autostar files on the "Autostar Software Archive" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Good/bad night at the ETX 125
Sent:	Friday, July 20, 2001 23:15:05
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Sometimes you should leave well enough alone!  I'd been having pretty
good go to and tracking for several months although objects were often
very slightly outside of the 26mm eyepiece field to the upper right. 
Anyhow, about a week ago I decided to reset the Autostar and retrain the
drives. Then the problems began! Although I did this about 5 times in
the past few good nights, the result was that NOTHING was in the field
and the objects were no longer consistently nearby.

When I aligned with Mars manually [the goto with my antique Autostar
software has never been good with planets] the damn thing would keep
slewing back to where it "thought" Mars should be requiring me to set
the Autostar at 3 and keep the left arrow pressed while observing [as an
aside to this message, I haven't had any meaningful detail on Mars in
the last couple of weeks,  it's pretty much just a featureless circle,
while a few weeks ago I identified a number of details including Syrtis
major and both polar cap/hoods; maybe too low in the sky]. After endless
frustration,  I began to use precision pointing so that, at least for
deep sky objects I got reasonable accuracy [although my old software
simply says 'center STAR' leaving one to ask "which one" sometimes
(usually the nearest fairly bright star, but it isn't always that
obvious). Anyhow, using this procedure, I took a look at my summer
favorites again although no time to go through any of Clay's observation
guides in any detail because of messing around with the Autostar.  Of
course double stars are still well out of the field, but these are
usueally visible in the finder.

Anyhow, I guess I'd better take Clay up on his offer to upgrade my
software [I don't have the cables nor the necessry connectors to upgrade
from my G-3 USB only Mac] from 2.0 to whatever's the latest.  Still
wonder why the Autostar is such a mess when it was really pretty good
until I tried the reset/retrain! Guess it shows that even if it wasn't
perfect I should have just left it alone!

Tom Brown
Mike here: Sorry to hear that you've had some problems lately. There are a couple of culprits to check on. When you RESET, did the Autostar deselect the ETX-125EC as the telescope being used? I always recheck this when doing a RESET. Next, did you TRAIN with the OTA at about a 45 degree elevation? Since I started doing this I've had really excellent GOTO with no rubberbanding (of course, upgrading to the last couple of 2.2E versions also helped). SYNCing on planets seems to be a bad idea although I have done it occasionally (but not recently). By the way, there has been a large dust storm occurring on Mars, which is obscuring some details.

Subject:	Updater no longer sees autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, July 18, 2001 17:33:41
From:	rnlacour@adelphia.net (Richard La Cour)
Once again I turn to you and your site where meade fails to help me.

For some reason my computer software stopped "seeing" my autostar 495. I
noticed then when I loaded Deepsky 2000 on a new computer and it would
not see my autostar. I originally thought it was the com port. When I
placed it back on my old computer it wouldnt read it either. I tried to
see if the autostar updater 2.4 would work, but it would see something
on the com port then give me a windows read error and keep checking the
other com ports. I checked it with 2 cables (505 - - one factory meade
and one home made) and I"m sure the cables and com port is ok. The last
update I did was a 2.4 update which I placed the 495 data into the
e-folder (i didnt know the standard download would upgrade mine to a 497
back then). I also just got an autofocuser and got it working. I
disconnected that from the telescope to make sure that wasnt the
problem. I also tried to do a flash load AND reset the autostar. No
luck. The Autostar works great by itself though. I did the test on your
site (shorting pin 2-3 and it passes all the button pushing, but then
gives me a pic failure v12 c001 and then i have to turn off power.

Am I loosing it or what? Thanks again for any and all help.
-Richard
And:
I just finished working on it. I think there was a problem with the jack
going into the serial connector. After doing alot of "playing" with it
and testing from stuff I found on your sight, it finally kicked in. Only
problem is I dont know why. I set the thing to flash load and uploaded
the newest 2.4 software and it says its a 21ek. It seems to be working.
It registers the commands from other "control" software from your sight,
but the deepsky software still isnt registering it. I'll play with it
tomorrow and hope for the best. Thanks for your quick reply. I'm glad to
know someone out there cares!
Mike here: Glad you got it working. The ROM files that come with the Autostar Updater 2.4 Windows application are version 2.1ek. If you want 2.2Er, download them from Meade's site and then put them in the Ephemerides folder.

Subject:	AHHH !!!  Run-Away Focuser !!!!!!
Sent:	Wednesday, July 18, 2001 13:56:16
From:	Lang.Michael@Orbital.COM (Michael Lang)
I recently experienced a problem with run-away-focusing, quite similar
to Pedro Rey's non-stop continuous slewing (my setup consists of an
ETX125, #1247 Electric Focuser, and an Autostar 497 with version 22eh
software).

I don't know the exact combination of Autostar key input's, as I was
rapidly toggling between focus and slew, but I believe I hit multiple
key's and this caused the focuser to runaway. I could not stop the
focuser without powering the telescope off.

Now I am very careful & deliberate in my keyboard entries when focusing
and slewing, and have not seen a repeat of the problem.

By the way - GREAT SITE, oh Mighty Weasner, and my SuperCharged 125
performed just spectacularly on my recent vacation trip down the
Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada. Mars from 6,783 feet above sea level
(Lat N38 deg 52.174' Lon E117 deg 36.230') and PITCH BLACK skies was
beautiful !!!!!!

Michael Lang

Subject:	re: slewing while focusing
Sent:	Tuesday, July 17, 2001 23:13:43
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	pedrorey@convex.pt
I saw your note on Mike's site...
a question: what would you WANT to happen when you push zero to Focus?
Motion to stop?
Zero to be ignored if slew is in progress?

I agree it's a less-than-amusing symptom..
but it can also be a -feature-!!!
I have -long- wished for a way of slowly crusing the sky with
my ETX90... aim at the Milky Way and let it pan at a slow rate.
Your discovery -provides- that feature!!!!

Just a burble of focusing, and away we go!

In the meantime, as a work-around... don't press zero while slewing
(quickly).

thanks
--dick

Subject:	Autostar  497
Sent:	Monday, July 16, 2001 17:26:47
From:	n9lfu@home.com (Tom)
I am a new owner of a ETX-125 with a 497 autostar. I was trying to
update my Autostar from  2.0  to 21ek. when i try to do that I get a
eror message and it tells me it is loging an error file. It never gets
to address the 497 at all. I followed the warning for us people who run
Windows  2000. did what It said to do. set the com ports to 9600 baud
and all that. I would really like to update this controller. does anyone
know a way around this problem? Like I said I an very new at this so
Please don't hammer me.

Thank You!
Mike here: When you installed the Autostar Updater from Meade's site did you get version 2.4? That's the version that is required for 2.1Ek. If you have 2.4 you should probably get the latest ROM files (version 2.2Er) and drop the two ROM files into the Emphemerides folder, then run the updater application. If you still have the problem, it could be a Windows registry problem but being a Mac OS person I don't deal in registry problems.

And:

the version in the autostar is 2.0  I am running Windows 2000. they say
there is a problem with Win  2000 and the software. I am going to check
and see what version I was trying to load.

thank You for replying!
 
I really enjoy your site.  has anyone ever mentioned about a video for
beginners? I think that would be a great thing for the Novices like my
self.

Thanks!

Tom
Mike here: Check out the Tutorials. Only a couple up but I hope we'll get more over time.

Subject:	Autostar 0 key bug
Sent:	Monday, July 16, 2001 11:33:55
From:	pedrorey@convex.pt (Pedro Rey)
By accident, I stumbled with a curious side effect of the double funtion
of the 0 (zero) key, that both turns the convenient red LED on and off,
and also the fast entry in focuser mode.

I'm using 2.2Er, but the problem may be lurking since the zero key
gained that extra functionality.

If we are slewing, using the joystick keys, in either RA or DEC, and we
press the zero key to toggle the LED simultaneously, it goes into
focuser mode and the slew CONTINUES NON-STOP, eventually hitting  the
hard stops. To stop the slew, we must revert out of focuser mode by
pressing zero again, then press a slew key of the appropriate drive in
any direction (or turn power off if we panic , lol, wich i did the first
time i saw it happen).

All my best regards and wishes of clear skies

Pedro

Subject:	re; autostar
Sent:	Sunday, July 15, 2001 21:34:36
From:	gonzosc1@netzero.net (gonzosc1)
Hey mike. I was looking in the autostar feedback area and saw a message
from dankan@uclink4. date July 15.he was having autostar problems. I
think your general assessment about the clutches was right. but as I
read his post one thing stood out. he said he tweaked the (ratio).

I hope this was a type o on his part because he should be tweaking the
"percentage" not the ratio. I might suggest a totally new down load and
reset in hopes that it will reset the ratio's. just a thought. thanks
for the great site

                            Robert

Subject:	Re:  autostar 497 fault
Sent:	Sunday, July 15, 2001 20:29:34
From:	auga@crayonmail.com (Dan Auga)
Well not so good news.  I started to tried the 497 again.  But had the
same problem.  It would get a motor fault.  I would power cycle the unit
and attempt to do a reset, but the reset would freeze, only way out is a
power cycle.  Several times on reset it thinks I have a etx-70 with no
option to change it to a etx-90.  After several resets it thinks will
discover it a ext-90 but will give the motor fault.

I use the normal controller to move the scope around it works fine.

Any other ideas?

Thanks

Dan
Mike here: Well, if you can, download the current version using the SAFE LOAD procedure. If you don't have the cable and your dealer is local, take the Autostar back. If your dealer can't exchange it, you'll have to contact Meade.

Subject:	Autostar Training Problem in Alt. Mode
Sent:	Sunday, July 15, 2001 0:19:43
From:	dankan@uclink4.berkeley.edu (Daniel Kan)
I just recently bought an Autostar for my etx-125ec. I am having trouble
training the scope in Alt. mode. In Az mode, the object does get
centered when I press left and right arrows. However, in Alt. mode,
after I centered the object for training. The scope slew slight in Az
direction. As a result, after I press the up and down arrows, the object
is no longer centered anymore. I tried different tweaks like adjusting
the ratio and so, but to no avail. I think this has to do with the
alignment problems I am having for real observations. The object is
always 1 degree or two off. I even upgraded the software to 2.2eh. It
still has the same problem. I am wondering if this is because of my
autostar or its because of my scope. I really appreciate it for any
insight. Thanks.
 
Dan Kan
Mike here: When you upgraded did you remember to RETRAIN? Everytime I've forgotten to do that I've had essentially the same problems you've experienced. That was always my clue that I'd forgotten to RETRAIN. So I'd get the scope pointed at Polaris and RETRAIN both drives. Then I'd power off and start over with the scope in the HOME position.

And:

I guess I wasn't very clear. What I meant to say was that while training
the drives, the scope is not centering correctly. During training, the
scope asks you to press down until the object is centered. In Az
training, this is fine. However, in Alt. training, no matter how I
actually I centered the object, after press down or up, the object will
not be in the center. It always slew to half of a degree in RA. Even
after I upgrade, during retrain, the same phenomenon occurs. I am
wondering this is a scope problem or auotstar problem. Thank you so
much.
Mike here: If I'm understanding correctly, when the scope slews off the target in Altitude and then you slew it back to the center, it has shifted in azimuth. That's odd. Only one drives when training so it sounds like the azimuth lock might not be sufficiently engaged (could be more evident if the base is not level, but I'd think it would have to way NOT level for this to occur).

Subject:	autostar 497 fault
Sent:	Saturday, July 14, 2001 23:37:42
From:	auga@crayonmail.com (Dan Auga)
I have a new etx-90EC with 497 controllor which I receive about a week
ago. Since we have had flash floods the last week I been testing and
getting use to the menus in the house.  So I went out tonight finally to
test this out only to discover I get a motor fault during the align. 
During this faults the alt seem not to work.

I used the default controller and was able to to multi times get it to
work with no problems.  I changed the batteries with no change.

I plug the 497 back in and 50% time it would align star one, but fail on
the 2nd star.

I read in the archives that back about year ago that if you turn off the
sun message it could fail.  It was sugguested as a work around to
perform a reset via the 497. So after multi tries of perfoming a reset
succefully via the controller it seems to be working again, I hope.  It
been tracking mars for about 1 hr. During this reset it thought it was a
EXT-70 by default, so resets would lock the controller.  But chaning it
to etc-90 then do the reset, seem to do the trick.

Doesn't it seem that the firmware should do this with a new controller.
Have you heard of this issue with newer 497s?

TIA

Dan Auga
Mike here: One can never assume that the Autostar contains the current software version or that it hasn't been fiddled with at the dealer. So, I think it is always good advice to RESET and TRAIN the Autostar when first received. Then try it out and if all goes OK don't worry about upgrading it quite yet.

Subject:	A Great Solution to ALL your Autostar issues
Sent:	Saturday, July 14, 2001 16:56:59
From:	pkurman00@yahoo.com (Pat Kurman)
Thanks for the great site, I'll be sending a check to help suppport your
effort. I've found the autostar info very useful over the past year, and
am a frequent visitor. Running a 90 and the latest downloads.

In general, the autostar, when everything is 100% right is a great
thing- if you have a good set-up tonight and it's running well tracking
and hitting targets, stay out all night!

Unfortunately, my experience has been that that goal is somewhat
elusive, and I've often found myself spending far more time fiddling and
tweaking than enjoying myself. A couple nights ago, I was seriously
debating whether I really felt like hassling with the set-up, fighting
the rubberband etc. --  even though it was a beautiful night. Hmm Mmm.
Binoculars tonight maybe?

So, I decided to try the basic handbox controller (never used it) for a
quick session. Amazing! I plunked down the scope in the driveway,
pointing to what I know to be about true north, zipped over to Mars and
viola -- dead on perfect tracking, no rubberband nonsense, no missing
targets and fighting with the scope,  just good stable viewing, perfect
fast pointing. What I bought the thing for in the first place!

Total set-up time? under 5 minutes (including ransacking my office to
find, and taking the original controller out of the plastic wrap). I've
been using this for weeks now and have pretty much ditched the autostar.

Point is - autostar and ETX are a totally flaky and poorly engineered
combination (plus the download software is just plain sad) that works OK
some of the time, if you're willing to take the time to fool with it. It
is definitely cool when it works, has some pretty good features to help
educate yourself about "where things are" (especially when it misses)
and to look up basic info.

But is it really worth the hassle ?? Not sure but I may never go back to
the autostar as worrying about the set-up, and alignment, fighting the
aggravating rubberband thing, etc. just plain takes away too much scarce
observing time.

Bottom line - The ETX's are great scopes - enjoy the sky tonight instead
of fiddling and obsessing with the state of the tools - with a good
chart, you can find anything you're looking for!
Mike here: Good point about not really needing the Autostar. But I've not experienced the rubberbanded for the last couple of ROM versions. Following the update, once I remember to RETRAIN, all is well for me.

Subject:	Autostar #494 Update
Sent:	Saturday, July 14, 2001 9:42:19
From:	taylor-lance@home.com (Lance Taylor)
I recently got the #506 cable for the Meade ETX-60 AT and was wondering
if I might be able to use it to update my (basic) #494 Austostar Version
1.0 handcontroller.

I see on your web page mention about the the 2.1ek rom having update
support for this so I'm assuming so. (MORE THAN MEADE MENTIONS ON THEIR
PAGE) However, I also wonder if I can also update it with the very
latest rom 2.2eh?

Are all the roms cross-compatible amongst all the Autostar units?

TIA,

Lance Taylor
http://www.members.home.net/lancetay
Edmonton, AB
Canada

P.S. - I'm still not having any luck interfacing the ETX-60 A/T to the
Planetarium PalmOS program. However, it works great with Starry Night
Pro though!
Mike here: You can use the Autostar Updater 2.4 to add objects but the current version of the #494 ROM is 1.0E. The info on the "Autostar Software Archive (unofficial)" page (linked from the Autostar Information page) tells what goes with what.

And:

Thanks Mike. Hmm.. that's odd cause my #494 ROM is 1.0J which I would
think is more recent than 1.0E is it not?

Lately, all I have been having problems with it writing Tours to the
unit, getting a "Error on Write to Autostar. (Read reports 0x3f)." I can
get satellite and comet data downloaded no problem. Could be that I'm
simply overflowing the handhelds memory.

Anyways, I will try and get a hold of Meade engineers on this one later
in the week. Or, have you by chance heard of this problem before?
Mike here: Don't recall any problem reports like this on the #494. I guess it is possible that the J version is newer than the E version although that could stand for Japanese versus English...

Subject:	Autostar 2.2er
Sent:	Saturday, July 14, 2001 8:23:03
From:	rlestesm@bellsouth.net (Bob Estes)
I loaded this update (2.2er) and used it with my ETX-125 Wednesday and
Friday nights - and it performed quite nicely. I hope that others have
comparably favorable experiences. 

Bob Estes (Nashville)

Subject:	"GO TO"  TELESCOPES USING MEADE PARTS
Sent:	Friday, July 13, 2001 4:24:27
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hpwallner)
there`s an interesting discussion about it at yahoo groups. It`s mel
bartel`s "scope drive -group". Some of them are thinking about
electrical modifications on there Autostar (using it as a handpad for
there scopes).

Peter

Subject:	random slewing on ETX90
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 22:24:24
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	lrl@ou.edu
Another source of it is if the internal connectors are loose...
pulled part-way off by motions of the gearing and shafts.

Remove your batteries.
Remove the rubber feet on the base, and unscrew the 3 screws 
hidden beneath them.
-carefully- remove the base plate (the battery wires are fragile).

You will see the main connectors on the "power panel"... mine
had the Dec cable (which goes up the central shaft) almost totally
pulled off...
In fact, a few months later the rough edge of the RA clamp nut cut
-through- the wires and did a lot of electrical damage.  While 
you are in there, wrap the wires with tape where they rub that
central chunk of metal.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Autostars on home-made mounts
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 22:19:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com, dwyman@new.rr.com
Peter Wallner wrote:
>I haven`t tried equatorial setup yet. I think there are limitations (if
>you want to have acess to the whole sky). Changing from east to west
>past the meridian would put the dec. motor upside down- and change the
>direction of the gears! 

The Meade 4504 (and 114EQ-DH4) are Starfinder-driven German Equatorial
Mounts...(GEM) so they -can- handle the dynamics of reverse-direction 
Dec motion when the RA axis turns.  As far as i can tell the normal
Autostar (even 22eR, but i haven't finished analyzing it yet) does
-not- (fully) know how to drive a GEM.  But it has glimmerings of
learning how...

The Starfinder is the hardware of the 494 Autostar (no numeric keypad)
with custom patching for German Mounts (and -only- admits to the 4504,
it does not offer "Telescope Model" as a Setup option).

have fun
--dick
And:
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hpwallner)
Thanks Dick,
i think i`ll give 494 Autostar a try someday. Or Meade comes out with an
Autostar firmware for there big GEM mounts (you`ll never know).

Peter
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
People -use- regular (495/497) Autostars with the 4504's GEM,
you've just got to be watchful during some of the moves.
(the same can be said using the Starfinder, but it frequently
warns you that a move may crunch something along the way...
usually it's motor-to-motor or protruding-bolt-to-motor interference.
I'm going to have to look for their obstruction table... it may
be interestingly complex)

--dick
And this:
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hpwallner)
Thanks for your help. I think you like complex tasks -good for the rest
of us. At the moment I`m putting together my homepage about DS-powered
telescopes. I hope that many others will post there efforts/results in
this field. I can`t await the pics of Steve`s DS-powered 10" Dob. Could
start a "revolution". My next project is an Altaz mount with 2" steel
shafts and ball bearings. Should work like the Giro-mounts.

Peter

Subject:	to upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question...
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 22:05:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	jps@jswann.fsnet.co.uk
Yes.

(oh? you want -reasons-?)
Well, let's see...  
UK? Comet calculations have been greatly improved
(compare where the Autostar thinks Comet Linear A2 is and the 
finder charts at www.heavens-above.com )

There has actually been quite a bit of work in the tracking 
section of the code... whole paragraphs of apparently duplicated
code have been dropped (i get the feeling i was seeing a very tall
stack of sticking plasters finally ripped off and the underlying
condition actually -fixed-)

There are other reasons, those are the first two biggies since 22eH
that i've noticed. (and F had some non-LX90 bugs, too).

You *do* have to train carefully to minimize rubberbanding ...
but, once done, the GoTo's and short-slews can be very accurate.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Focus versus alignment
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 21:59:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	frank.james@homeqonline.com
> Why can't I use the electric focus on my ETX 90, with the autostar
> attached? The buttons don't respond when I am trying an easy align.

Older versions of the firmware blocked access to focusing in a 
variety of places... alignment was one (so was SYNC)

I suspect your firmware predates 21eK (and i don't remember if 21eK
allowed focus then, either, but i think it did).

Upgrade to 22eR for focus during alignment.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	For the Autostar cable info section
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 20:05:15
From:	jktubb1@home.com (Janet Tubb)
Syncable solutions http://www.syncablesolutions.com/ will make a custom
coiled cable to connect the Autostar to a Palm PDA allowing Planetarium
or other programs to control the telescope. The pinouts they need are in
the "Homemade 505 cable" information
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_cable505.html which connects to a
Palm modem cable (or via a null modem to a Hotsync cable/cradle). The
light coiled cable handles very nicely, doesn't pull the connector out
of the Palm or flop around hitting things the way the bulky coupled
together one does.

My cable was $25 plus shipping and handling.

..Janet

Subject:	New Autostar Version
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 11:15:29
From:	jps@jswann.fsnet.co.uk (John Swann)
Perhaps one of your resident experts can help. I am presently using 22Ef
on my 125. No problems except that I have to slow down the tracking
rate. I upgraded to 22Eh when that came out and had many problems and
went back to 22Ef.

Looking at the changes in the newer versions, it seems that they are
almost exclusive to the LX90. Is there anything to be gained by ETX
owners upgrading if they are happy with their current software version?

Regards

John Swann, Chichester, UK
Mike here: Couple of questions. When you upgraded (or downgraded) did you RESET and RETRAIN? These are really required for best performance and to avoid any oddities in GOTO and tracking. If you did these, have you confirmed the location is correct in the Autostar? There are bug fixes in the newer releases that apply to all scopes affected. Most reports of 2.2Eh were positive. I'm hoping to install 2.2Er tonight or tomorrow night on my ETX-125EC.

Subject:	Re: Alignment accuracy
Sent:	Thursday, July 12, 2001 8:48:05
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	hbeng@smartchat.net.au (HB CIVIL)
G'day, Nick,

> I also noticed that the tube seems to slip down vertically a little
> after the motor stops.
On both East -and- west targets?
  You might see if there is a difference based upon direction.
If there is, it's an Autostar issue... if there is not a difference
(i.e. both east and west sees "droop"), then it's mechanical.

> Polaris is not visible from Australia (wish it was) so we must rely
> on a 1 star or 2 star alignment.
Theoretically, you have Sigma Octans, but that's a pretty dim target.
Many other Oz correspondents (with 8" scopes) have never seen it.

I use two-star almost exclusively (unless i Park, and don't align
at all the next time, using Landmarks to get the north dead-on)

In fact, that's another thing to try: assuming you have your location
entered with reasonable accuracy (10 arc minutes off is OK), then
you could just try "faking" an alignment.  Press [enter] as soon as
it says "Center [whomever]".  Then, when it's happy, [goto] something
big and bright that you *know* (preferably near the equator, vs. 
a high-declination)... Antares? (just west of Mars these days).

Now, after the GoTo...
(1) if it's within (Say) 5 degrees, simply slew to it, lean on [enter]
   for 3 seconds, release, it'll beep and say "center target", tap 
   [enter].  You've just syncronized the scope to -that- star.
   Try [goto] other objects in that area (Mars?)
   Try [goto] something further away (Crux?)(Rigel Kentarus?)
   Sync again if need be.  See if that sync-hopping helps.
(2) if that original GoTo was -way- off,  i'd suspect (this is the usual
   litany... you may have already performed many of them, but i've got
  to list them all in order...):  batteries/power, levelness of base,
   accuracy of RA axis pointing at pole (if polar), levelness of barrel
   before starting (if alt/az), accuracy of barrel pointing at pole
    (if polar), bad cables, grease interfereing with optical encoders
    on motor shaft, grease in clutch so barrel slips, gears slipping
    on shaft (rare), motor loose in housing (this happened with a 4504,
    after ten minutes of tracking, it started making a single "pop"
     sound every 13 seconds... disassembly didn't -show- anything,
    but firmly clamping the assembly between fingers made it go away,
    releasing clamping pressure slightly made it happen. Solution:
     new motor units (we had some)... if we had -not- had some, a whip-
   together involving scraps of wood and plastic would have ensued...)

There is/are an infinite number of other things to check... the 
"Barrel droops after goto" is certainly one item to chase...
perhaps a counterweight to lower the load on that axis?

good luck
--dick

Subject:	focus
Sent:	Wednesday, July 11, 2001 16:54:34
From:	frank.james@homeqonline.com
Why can't I use the electric focus on my ETX 90, with the autostar
attached? The buttons don't respond when I am trying an easy align.

Frank
Mike here: One possible reason is that you haven't plugged the focuser into the AUX port on the ETX base.

Subject:	AutoStar Update 2.4 bug ?
Sent:	Tuesday, July 10, 2001 20:37:09
From:	monopertuz@yahoo.com (Fernando Pertuz)
Now with comet LINEAR A2 lurking in the skies I got the orbital data,
succesfully put it into SkyMap and then tried to put it into the
AutoStar using Meade's Autostar Update 2.4. This proved to be very
frustrating. Although I was able to enter all the orbit data, it seems
that Vers. 2.4 has it's own mind when it come to the epoch date. No
matter what date I set and presumably save, Vers 2.4 sets it's own epoch
and stores this value. What's more, if I select another comet and view
its data, skip to the next (using the down key) and come back to it
Vers. 2.4 will have have changed the epoch to its own liking (in my case
this was july 10 2000) and no matter what I did I was not able to set
the correct date. Needless to say downloading this garbage to the
handbox and slewing to the comet sent the scope to oblivion.

Anyway, I could still use Skymap to point the scope. However, Vers 2.4,
not to be thwarted in its intent to preclude my observation, invoked the
gods of thunder and has succesfully managed to fill the skies with a
thick mantle of clouds that even the red god of war with its magnitude
of -2.0 has not been able to penetrate.

Could someone please provide a guiding light as to what is going on with
the Meade AutoStar Update software vers 2.4. I would be willing to
overlook the cloud gathering capabilities (unless somebody has any
ideas), but I would very much apreciate help in solving the date setting
problem.

Fernando Pertuz
Mike here: Not having SkyMap I don't know what it could be doing. Have you updated to the Autostar 2.2Er ROMs that were released last week?

And:

Thanks for your quick reply. The problem is not in the autostar. This
happens when I try to enter comet data in the PC using Meade's Autostar
Update program (the current version 2.4) that later downloads the data
to the AutoStar handbox.

I mentioned SkyMap because the data fed into it was right on target (as
per a map published by NASA).

Anyway, I am going to try the "Drag and drop" approach by creating a
small .CMT file with LINEAR A2 data to see if this works and let you in
on the results, but nonetheless the bug is annoying as it precludes
manual, single comet updates.

As for 2.2Er, I am a firm believer in "they say" and the best source of
"they say" that there is is Weasner's Mighty ETX site and his gang! Once
they say it is up to par, then and only then will I load in the new one,
and indulge into the cumbersome task of re-entering all the data lost to
a required RESET (owner data, site data for my 4 locations, landmarks &
user objects etc.). By the way isn't there a better way ? Can't this
information be saved somewhere?

Thanks again,
Fernando Pertuz

Subject:	RE: RE: Autostar & website
Sent:	Tuesday, July 10, 2001 9:05:22
From:	lrl@ou.edu (Luke Loeffler)
I talked with a Meade technician today and he said that the problem
(assuming a reset has been performed, and the latest software is
installed, and you're not running on batteries) could be power surges
from an unclean AC power source.  He claimed that the internal
capacitors can get overloaded and subsequently perform odd random slews.

He said I would need to send it in to have it repaired.  He said, it is
a known issue, and they have a fix--aparantly they "beef up the internal
power system" as he said.  Unfortunately, I don't want to send it away
for several weeks after having it for only a few.  He said that I could
try running it off battery power--but that is an expensive option and
will cause more trouble than it is worth after they start running low. 
I wonder if putting some sort of power conditioner like a UPS inline
would help... At any rate, I'll have to experiment and possibly send it
away if it becomes too much of a nuiscance.

But he admitted that it was a known problem which means shoddy
engineering, kind of like poking dimples in the clutch for added grip. 
Ha.  Just though I'd pass the info along to others.

Luke
And this:
From:	ricardo-carvalho@clix.pt (Ricardo Carvalho)
I had a problem similar to the one you describe. For no reason, the
scope went vertical when aligned. The culprit?? A wall transformer that
says it gives 12V, 1Amp. The solution? A Car Battery. plug it and
everything went ok.

I measured the corrent (Amperes) when both motors were in operation and
it didn't pass 500 mA. I measured the voltage and it dropped to 10V when
both motors were in motion.

Ricardo Carvalho

Subject:	Reverse Engineered Autostar (Don Wyman)
Sent:	Tuesday, July 10, 2001 4:37:15
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hpwallner)
To:	dwyman@new.rr.com
Hello Don,

I've built a Vixen-Autostar system myself. I would be very interested in
exchanging experiences.

Could we get into contact?

Peter Wallner
And:
From: dwyman (dwyman@new.rr.com)
Absolutely. In fact I'm using the info I found on your conversion for my
project. Have you tried your system in equatorial mode? I see you have
it set up for Alt/Az.

Don
And:
From:	hp_wallner@hotmail.com (hpwallner)
I haven`t tried equatorial setup yet. I think there are limitations (if
you want to have acess to the whole sky). Changing from east to west
past the meridian would put the dec. motor upside down- and change the
direction of the gears! This is not the case with a fork -and the
Autostar thinks that our mount is a fork -which doesn`t matter when you
use it in Alt/Az. And from a static point of view: there`s no bending
-force to the Az shaft. BUT (just a thought): If you can find
appropriate alignment stars it should be possible to have a GOTO -at
least for a limited part of the sky. Or  you can slew to the targets
manually. Doesn`t sound very good to me. As I don`t do extensive imaging
(just a few minutes with my b&w webcam) I see no big advantage in an
equatorial setup.

Good luck with your project:  Peter Wallner

Subject:	re: Alignment accuracy
Sent:	Monday, July 9, 2001 22:37:04
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	hbeng@smartchat.net.au
What i've found to be the most vital thing is not the relationship
of the fork to the power panel ("somewhere near" or "vaguely over"
is good enough) but that the barrel be pointing -true- (not magnetic)
North.  And Level.

As Mike says, the alignment procedure will compensate for quite a bit
of error... but if you have the base level, the barrel level, pointed
true north (drop down from Polaris?) and the time accurate,
then the initial "guess GoTo's" to the alignment stars will be 
 very very accurate.  And if you start clean, further operations 
will stand a good chance of continuing cleanly... 

I use the side of a chimney on a house two blocks away as my "North"
reference... if i point there, then the first two stars (Easy Alt/Az)
 are within the 26mm eyepiece almost every time.

But don't waste -too- much time on it.  Plop-and-go frequently 
works well, too.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar & website
Sent:	Sunday, July 8, 2001 21:20:11
From:	lrl@ou.edu (Luke Loeffler)
Autostar has been acting up lately.  What could be causing sudden,
random speed 9 slews in alt?  I aligned on Deneb and then Arcturus
tonight, and then did a GOTO back to Deneb in ordery to sync on it and
use it as a "springboard" to some nearby stuff.  Then suddenly my 90EC
started slewing upwards in alt at the highest speed and would not
respond to my autostar commands to stop it... I finally had to kill the
power.  I have had many experiences like this with various conditions,
but can't think of any common thread among the problems.  All of these
troubles have been with 2.1ek, and I just put on 2.1er tonight... I'll
have to try it out tomorrow.  What have you or others done about this
problem?

As for the website--great resource, but I'm curious as to why you
haven't moved to a message board or moderated message board type system
yet.  I would think some sort of automation would really cut down on
administrative duties for yourself and allow people to converse openly
with the current format as a place to store the jems and highlight
messages.  No criticism, just curious of the reasoning.

Thanks,
Luke
Mike here: Low batteries could be the culprit. But have you tried a RESET and RETRAIN? Any time things act up, I've found that many times RETRAINING will correct it. As to a message board, I'd still want to moderate that so time would be required. And since I use a Macintosh, I have several Applescripts to help automate the process of maintaining the site. And of course, there are the existing message boards, mailing lists, and (currently, non-ETX-specific) newsgroups as alternatives or additional sources of Q&A.

And:

I'm running on DC from my home, so not batteries.  Every time I set up,
I do a reset and retrain.  Which brings up something else--  It is my
belief that retraining (and therefore a reset) should occurr every time
that the clutches are touched.  Since training is based on the ratio of
the movement of the gears to what the user sees--different clutch
pressures, even by just packing up and then pulling it out and
tightening to about the same spot as last time, will cause different
movement ratios.  It seems rather obvious, but it's not something I've
seen mentioned certainly by Meade, but on the site (which, honestly,
I've yet to read extensively).

Lucky you--I wish Windows had a good scripting language :(   Your site
certainly keeps the creme on top and easy to find--that's why it's the
best.
Mike here: Odd. But I don't think RETRAINING every session is required. Probably doesn't hurt but I doubt there is much to be gained by it.

Subject:	Control Panel orientation
Sent:	Sunday, July 8, 2001 12:05:38
From:	jean-luc.singer@wanadoo.fr (jean-luc.singer)
For beginners guidance, I think the main problem concerning aligment
process is only to understand that the control pannel has to be faced
west then everything becomes clear. This is only due to defiency of the
Meade manual's instructions which does not mentionned clearly this
point. That was also my problem and after my scope worked perfectly in
all conditions.

Then you can use your ETX in alt/az or polar mode with equal success.

Jean-Luc Singer.

Subject:	Serious problem with my AutoStar
Sent:	Sunday, July 8, 2001 01:46:06
From:	planeta@cosmos.mcc.rcanaria.es (Oswaldo Gonzalez S.)
I have a serious problem with my Autostar.  I was updating the new
software in my Autostar (the Roms22Er version)y my computer both blocked
myself to minutes to begin.  I renicialize my computer and tried to do
it again but my autostar he is empty and the program (Autostar Update
tool, A2.4 version), does not recognize any version in my autostar and
it does not allow me to continue.

My Autostar does not work, are data no recorded in him, he is empty, and
it does not present/display any information in screen, when I ignite it.
But I cannot either record the no new software to him. What I do?. 
Help me.
Mike here: I suggest entering the Autostar SAFE LOAD mode and trying the download again. Hold the ENTER and SCROLL DOWN keys down, then power on the ETX. Launch the Autostar Updater and download. Let it proceed for about 31 minutes. For more info, see the "Bad Download Recovery (SAFE LOAD)" on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	Autostar Instructions
Sent:	Saturday, July 7, 2001 19:04:24
From:	GUY119988@cs.com
I purchased a used 125EC from the Astromart website. I have the Autostar
but no instructions. The guy I bought it from told me about your site. I
will be joining soon. Aside from buying one from Meade, is there any
other way to get one?

Mark
guy119988@cs.com
Mike here: See the FAQ for info on manuals.

Subject:	Reverse Engineered Autostar
Sent:	Saturday, July 7, 2001 10:02:22
From:	dwyman@new.rr.com (dwyman)
Here's a very industrious fellow that has been doing a lot of 'reverse
engineering' with Autostar.

Don Wyman

P.S. I'm building a a GP-ETX myself (that's a Vixen Great Polaris with
Autostar Goto system) <G>.

Subject:	while you were out...
Sent:	Friday, July 6, 2001 14:45:30
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
v22eR released on Meade's site today (6-Jul)

--dick 
(who finally noticed the "short notes only, please" note)

Subject:	New Autostar software version on Meade site
Sent:	Friday, July 6, 2001 12:30:16
From:	Pierre.Henrotay@skynet.be (Pierre Henrotay)
Named 22Er, dated 7/6/01
Did you notice they always publish an update on Friday ? Supposedly to
keep us busy for the week end.

Pierre

Subject:	New Autostar Version from Meade:  V2.2eR
Sent:	Friday, July 6, 2001 11:34:41
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
There is a new version of Autostar now available for downloading via the
Meade upload site:
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

Version 2.2eR:

"). 
            07/06/01 
             ETX Autostar model #497 Roms22Er.zip (file size 426,434
             bytes) This file contains both Autostar.rom, Dbase.rom, and
             update.txt. Update.txt is a text file containing the major
             changes from version 21Ek. Please note that this version is
             ENGLISH only.

PER READ ME FILE:
Improvements to the 497 AutoStar from 21Ek

1) Added controls for #909 Accessory Port Module to use with LX90.
2) Made corrections to Guided Tours.
3) Improvements to LX200 command set.
4) For ETX-90 and ETX-125, park position is always home position.
5) Arrow to show tracking speed.
6) Minor corrections to the data base.
7) Smoother landings on GOTO's for LX90's
8) Fixed tracking problem with #909 w/LX90's. (from version 22Ef)
9) Fixed polar sidereal tracking rate.

Improvements to the 497 Autostar from 22Eh

1) Reticle blink rate fixed with #909.
2) Tours fixed to use all objects in handbox.
3) Better pointing with long period comets.
4) Minor corrections to the data base.

Note:  Remember to re-train your telescope after loading new program.
            
Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Scope Training
Sent:	Thursday, July 5, 2001 06:40:13
From:	berg@ans.net (Kevin Berg)
Mike, This has been said many times before by yourself, Dick Seymour, and
especially Clay Sherrod, but because it seems to be SO IMPORTANT, I
think it needs to be said once again.

Barring any mechanical or software problem with your scope, and assuming
it was properly placed in the home position before your observing
session, the single most important issue for securing the best GoTos and
tracking of objects is proper scope training, especially with version
2.2eH. It has been said on Mike's site that over 95% of the GoTo and
tracking problems can be resolved with ACCURATE TRAINING. I'm truly
convinced that this is the case.

I have been training my scope on Polaris with the highest power possible
(being sure to be able to barely see the field of view for centering
purposes), and this has resulted in pretty much complete elimination of
rubber-banding problems I was experiencing before. Also, it has resulted
in, with one observing session, objects being almost dead center using a
15mm eyepiece - that's pretty darn good. And when I do center that
object, it STAYS THERE!

So, for all of you folks out there still having those GoTo and tracking
accuracy problems, PLEASE do yourself a favor and take the few extra
minutes to ACCURATELY train that scope - remember, you shouldn't need to
do this again until you perform a software upgrade, or for whatever
reason, downgrade - unless you want to take another crack at training
your scope even more accurately than you did before, which might well be
worth it.

Good luck,

Kevin

Subject:	Satellites and 494 Autostars
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2001 11:37:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	neil@westerncanada.com
You don't mention which kind of telescope you have, so i'll
guess that it's a DS- something (altho it could be an ETX60 or 70).

Satellite orbital parameters need to be updated very frequently.
For something as big and low as the ISS, that means that data over 
6 days old is usually "too old".  Whenever i go sat-chasing, i try
to get that -day's- data from heavens-above.

On any detailed pass chart at that site, click on the "orbit"
link in the upper right corner.
On -that- page are the "two line elements" (TLEs) for that 
satellite.  

To avoid typing a lot, the detailed "how to read them"
is the second message on this:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_iss.html
page of Mike's site.  The -first- message of that page describes
how to enter them into the 494 Autostar.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: NGC in Tours
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2001 11:26:57
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	pst@ksu.edu
You're not alone... 
This is a bug which was first reported here (Mike's site) 
 *just* after 22eH came out ... i got a copy of a tour showing it,
and sent it along to engineer@meade.com
Obviously a pointer is being chewed up somewhere...
(and, apparently, people are beginning to write NGC tours!)

So, hopefully, it'll be fixed in the next release.

have fun... even if we have to type USER a lot...
--dick
Mike here: Thanks Dick! I'm glad I have you around to remember these tidbits!

And:

From:	pst@ksu.edu (pst)
Thanks!! I missed that report! I hope they fix it soon. It's not so bad
to enter things  in the USER format, it just makes the files larger
which leaves less room in the autostar. Also, I think large tours just
don't load as well, even if the autostar memory is not full. It is as if
there is some maximum file size limit. Also, I am fairly certain that
this NGC bug happened with version 2.1 too, but I may wrong about that.
Paul
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
Yes... it's about 13k bytes (another bug found during extensive
  testing of 21eK... by the author of "Tonight's Jewels", which 
 exceeded it...).  Also has been reported to meade.

Whenever you find repeatable, testable bugs like this (and even
 "was -that- a bug?") please let both "us" (the user community) 
 -and- engineer@meade.com hear about it... they can't fix what they
don't know is broken.

--dick

Subject:	Re: Autostar on homemade scope
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2001 11:22:34
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	EdHiker@mediaone.net
Probably the best example of what's been done so far is Steve Bedair's

people.txucom.net/bedair/ScopeStuff.html

people have been, and still are, trying to reverse-engineer the
motor circuits, etc, but i haven't heard of any that have succeeded.

I think Steve's approach is the fastest/easiest way to success
(so far)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Alignment accuracy
Sent:	Wednesday, July 4, 2001 4:30:29
From:	hbeng@smartchat.net.au (HB CIVIL)
When you put the scope into the home
position, you release the horizontal lever and rotate anticlockwise to a
stop the rotate clockwise until your forkarm is over the control panel
etc. How accurately do you need to set the fork arm over the control
panel, as this can affect the final home position and star alignment. Do
you use the horizontal setting circle to accurately guage this position?
Also lately I've had a lot of problems getting good alignment and
'go-to's', can this have something to do with it. I have trained motors,
checked all settings and use alt/az position. Also when you do a 2 star
alignment and it goes to the 1st one and is not centred, can you pick up
the scope and physically turn it to get it aligned, then go to the 2nd
star, or does this make it worse?
thanks again Nick B
Mike here: Personally, I just eyeball everything. Base leveling, OTA horizontal (in Alt/Az mode), and fork arm over the control panel (I try to get the center of the bulge on the fork arm where the altitude axis is to be right above the red LED). I rarely physically pick up the scope to reposition on the first alignment star although you can do this. As long as the base is reasonably level (and I've been surprised by how much I can be off), once you have aligned to two stars, the geometry is pretty well fixed and GOTOs should be pretty accurate. At least, that's been my experience.

Subject:	Autostar on homemade scope
Sent:	Tuesday, July 3, 2001 16:42:49
From:	EdHiker@mediaone.net (Ed Johnson)
I had a thought, use a Meade hand held controller to drive a more sturdy
motor/mount. These are selling for cheap, see:

Meade Autostar 497 for ETX Telescopes NEW:
cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1162364922

All I can find on the web is yours:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_schematic.html
and http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html

Do you know anybody that has "reverse engineered" the Meade telescope
head or otherwise made use of the Autostar to make a computer controlled
motorized mount?

I have a number of homemade telescopes and it would be fun to add
automatic capability to at least one.

Any information would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Ed Johnson      http://people.we.mediaone.net/edhiker/index.html
Mike here: There is an article on the Telescope Tech Tips page about put an ETX on a DS mount. Don't know if that will help you.

Subject:	Autostar tour problems
Sent:	Tuesday, July 3, 2001 12:16:14
From:	pst@ksu.edu (pst)
When I load a tour into my autostar, it will work fine if all of the
listed objects are of the type "USER" with the proper RA, Dec, title,
and description on the same line. But those tours which are simply a
list of NGC items (NGC ####) don't function properly. Some of the items
can be selected and will slew to the proper coordinates. Others, once
selected will slew to improper coordinates. Those that don't go to the
correct coordinates are often below the horizon and should not have been
displayed for selection. Normally, when scrolling through a list of tour
items, you see "Searching..." displayed on the second line and then it
is replaced with the next found item. Those item that don't work usually
do not replace the the "Searching..." text, but get appended to the end
of the line, like this "Searching... NGC" so that you can't see the
number. Once selected you can see the "NGC ####" text on line two, but
it will then not go to the correct coordinates.

This has been happening to me with both 2.1 and 2.2 versions of the
autostar software and using two different autostar units. I have tried
re-loading the files many times with no change. I have looked at the
"How to write a tour" PDF on the Meade web site and I am certain that I
am following the proper tour file format.

Is it just me? Any ideas?

Paul St. Amand

Subject:	Satellites
Sent:	Monday, July 2, 2001 23:33:02
From:	neil@westerncanada.com (neil)
Could you tell me why the data for satellites on the "heavens-above" web
site is way different than the data on my Autostar #494? The
heavens-above is accurate but I still have yet to track a satellite with
the autostar. The difference in time is correct on the day but the time
is usually off 1 to 3 hours. I have set my location correctly from the
database of cities and my time zone is correct.

Also could you tell me how many times the data on the Meade web site
gets updated? How many times does the firmware get updated? I'm sure
that the satellite data like the ISS has to change from time to time.

Is there other data on this site that describes what others have
experienced with the #494?

Thanks
Mike here: See the info on the "Tracking ISS" and "Satellite Tracking" on the Autostar Information page. Those should answer most of your satellite orbital elements questions. I don't control the Meade site so can't comment on their updating schedule. Certainly the TLE info at the bottom of their Autostar page is way out of date. You can search my ETX site for #494 and you'll get lots of hits.

Subject:	More on LX200 Commands vs. the ETX
Sent:	Monday, July 2, 2001 20:54:17
From:	marv.sumner@juno.com (Marvin C. Sumner)
When I first received my ETX-125/EC I did much experimenting with
do-it-yerself commanding.  Many of the commands worked OK, but few of
the Queries gave the expected response - hummm.  The programming was all
using the INTERPRETIVE mode of Basic (actually GWBasic).   I have
deduced that the culprit is probably the slow working of the interpreter
- when you send a Querie, the 'scope responds so quickly that the Basic
program only catches the last byte or so and fills the rest your
variable with garbage.  The answer, of course, is to compile the code
before running. Then maybe a Pentium can keep up with the other end of
the wire.

There are so many facets to this hobby that programming has been on a
back burner.  Now that my blue-tube is on it's way back from Dr. C's
SuperCharge hospital, I'll place the CookBook CCD on a side-burner & try
programming again.  Clay says my AutoStar has more recent firmware now -
that might help matters.  No wise-cracks please about old languages -
I'm too old to go back to college & learn another language.

Marv Sumner

Subject:	AutoStar constellation library features
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2001 21:51:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	woodjc@netcom.ca
I must respectfully slightly disagree...

Clay said: 
> Unfortunately, no, there is not a cross reference list that will allow
> a "one-time-shop" to find out what Epsilon Lyrae's flamsteed number,
> or ADS number, etc. is.  You must rely either on some good computer
> software (deepsky2000 is great) or good books for cross-reference.

I fully agree with the latter (although i love to hear of One Book
 which merges all lists)

There -is-, however, if not a -complete- "one stop shop"... 
a  mega super market carrying many items...

Your browser will accept the following:

ftp://adc.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/adc/archives/catalogs/

(i'm bringing you in this way, so you can explore at leisure...
   (and you'd better have a LOT of leisure...))

For our purposes, click on [5] ... the "derived data"
Which all catalogs are.  Derived from somebody's list of "favorites".

In -that- window (i can't really call it a "page", it's really a
 directory or "folder", click on "key" (probably near the bottom.)
That's an index to this pile of indicies.

I used some of the catalogs here to generate the files found at
 http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_db.html
and www.wolfe.net/~workshop/astro/hr.html
..both links from Mike's Autostar Info page.

The files from "folder five" can be dumped into programs like Excel,
and chewed and sorted to your heart's content  (or eyeballs' oblivion).

If you read the "wolfenet" page-citation above, you'll see that i used
catalog 5050 to generate a Flamsteed/SAO/Harvard cross-listing.
( www.wolfe.net/~workshop/astro/const-hr-sao.txt )

My wolfenet pages were written -before- Meade raised the ante' by
going from 14,000 objects to 30,000.  But it's still pretty valid.

I don't know if the ADS list is in "folder five", looking for the
word "double" in the "key" page didn't hit it.  Nor "ADS".

NASA and other space-related folks in many countries have a number
of on-line databases we can access... many are single-star-lookup based,
and many allow you to download their entire set of catalogs.
Since the SAO catalog alone is a quarter-million entries (and still
misses a surprising number of "obvious" stars), the search often yeilds
far-too-many rather than too few.

among the links i've found are:
http://www.skymap.com/struve.htm     (struve catalog)
ad.usno.navy.mil/dsl       (double star catalog)
http://www.chara.gsu.edu/CHARA/     (many)

(hint: when you find a lead like any of the above, 
 try trimming off the final portions of the address to see what -else-
  is there... so  http://www.skymap.com/struve.htm  can be trimmed
   to http://www.skymap.com/
(the CHARA link is one such... it -used- to be the "double star"
 reference (with /double.html as the end), but today said that that
 list had been moed to the US Naval observatory, which is the link I
 provided above... but trimming off the "double.html" finds more gold.)

have fun..
--dick

extra credit: remember the first link way above (to the folders)?
Try trimming off -its- trailing segments...

So maybe there *is* a one-stop-shop... the World Wide Web!
And:
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Dick - you are right, that is going to take some time to get into it
adequately but it looks fantastic as a resource...your digging always
pays off.  Thanks.  I am going to download all the links that you have
noted and attempt to look through them; I was not aware of the on you
had done on Weasner's site....but like everybody else I am still finding
stuff there that I did not know existed.  Like going through Gramma's
attic!

Clay
And:
From:	woodjc@netcom.ca (John Wood)
Dick:

That's great. Thanks.
After a first glance it is clear that these files can be loaded into
Quattro then listed and sorted by any field.  Very comprehensive and
better than "one stop shopping".   As you say it will give me something
to do during these cloudy evenings.

Regards,..............John

Subject:	re: Autostar question ... Proc Trap 2
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2001 20:11:33
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	jsventur@artsci.wustl.edu
I'd certainly try replacing the batteries first.

The Proc Trap 2 means that the computer picked up a bad instruction,
and the most common cause of that is: low power.

The -other- source of it can be a mangled download.
If, prior to this problem, you did a download of User Obejcts or
 Firmware, and things went wonky, then that -can- cause a PT2.

(sometimes it doesn't show up until you access the bad data, and
then a period of "bit rot" ensues... each time you access the
(it was satellites for me) bad data, the corruption causes -other-
parts of the database to become corrupted.  Eventually the "permanent
ProcTrap" symptom appears.  *Then* the only recourse is an
"Emergency Flash Load" procedure, as detailed in the README which
comes with the Updater program on Meade's support site, 
( http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html ).

The -other- recourse (once you've tried new batteries)
is to call Meade's Technical Support number... they're more than
happy to mail you a new Autostar.

good luck,
i hope it's batteries
--dick
And: I appreciate your help. Tonight I'm going to try the new battereies, we'll see how it goes. Thanks again for taking the time to respond! John

Subject:	re: ETX-125
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2001 20:11:29
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	GoRon325@aol.com
> Is using the autostar to focus really worth it? It seems scrolling
> through the menu would be cumbersome. The JMI attaches to the handset
> making it convenient to reach.

I have the Meade on my ETX90, i have not tried the JMI.
The Meade does -not- require scrolling thru menus... simply press
the zero (0) key, and you are in focus mode.  Press again, you're out.
If you buy a Meade focuser, it comes with a separate hand controller,
too.  Simply put a 9v rectangular battery in it, and you are totally
freed from the Autostar (for focusing).  The only -warning- about that
is that the dattery will drain if left connected for long periods
(when you are not using it).  So, when you put your telescope to bed,
unplug the focuser's special controller, if you are using it.
That warning does -not- apply to the Autostar.

> One last question, should I leave "high precision" on in the handset?
Sure... it depends upon what you are trying to do that session.
There are nights i remain in HP the entire evening, and other nights
i simply use SYNC on the rare moments GoTo isn't working well enough.

> I was told that Meade was working on debugging some problems with that
> and the "enter to sync" function.

What problems? I would appreciate hearing more details so that i can
chase them down... (an odd hobby, i know...).  I *do* use both SYNC
and HP quite a bit, and find them quite useful.

Ahh... if you -do- turn on HP, it will *not* be on the next time 
you power up your telescope.  You must turn it on again.
SYNC, of course, is always there (even when you are using HP).

> I was told that Meade was working on debugging some problems with... 
If we all waited for -every- bug to be fixed before observing,
 we'd never go out at night.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Astrofinder
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2001 14:05:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
To:	Keenangroup@home.com
If by "Astrofinder", you mean the CD that comes with the ETX70, it's
really just a combination of StarryNight (by www.dc3.com) and the
Astronomer's Control Panel (ACP).

In my not-too-broad-experience opinion: the bundled version is "OK".
It's certainly a lot of fun, it provides impressive displays, but it's
-not- an every-star-in-the-sky version.

The large-catalog versions require spending about $180. (StarryNight
Pro).  For example, the "bundled" version doesn't allow adding/editing
Asteroids.  The Pro version does.

Any of the commercial packages which work with LX200's can mostly work
with the Autostar... most of the authors of those programs are making
the minor changes (sometimes only in the manual) which cleans up that
operation quite a bit.  StarryNight, TheSky, Voyager (on a Mac, from
reports on Mike's site) all can drive an ETX around the sky.  And
they'll get better as their customers pester them for better control,
and as/if/when the bugs get fed back to Meade for improvement, too..

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Autostar: Telescope Site
Sent:	Sunday, July 1, 2001 13:27:37
From:	norm@heritagehunt.org (Norm)
When I go to Setup/Site, I do not get a list of sites to choose from.
Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Norm

--
______________________
Norm Happ
Gainesville, VA 20155
Mike here: Have you tried a RESET? If they are there, a RESET should prompt you to enter your location. If they are not there, can you ADD a site? If not, you might have to reload (or update your Autostar, assuming you have the necessary items).

And:

Thanks for the quick reply.  I haven't tried a Reset.  However, I have
been reading further on your site (great resource!) and found a message
about using Setup/Site/ADD and getting a list of sites.  I thought that
this was only for adding a new site and I wasn't sure how this would
work if the site coordinates weren't in the Autostar database.

If I do a RESET, I assume I have to re-enter everything.  I have not
been able to get a "Successful" alignment yet.

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