AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 14 October 2010
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:	polar alignment
Sent:	Wednesday, July 31, 2002 11:02:42
From:	tewinkel@home.nl (will te winkel)
I have been in Detroit (Michigan) the last three weeks on holiday. I
purchased a Meade # 887 tripod with #889 adapter for my ETX125 with
Autostar #497. I read the information on your website for polar
alignment, but I have a problem. With the autostar menu I go to the
select items 1. setup telescope; 2. Mount. Than I make the choice for
polar and set for enter. But I does not work. The display still shows
alt/az. What am I doing wrong? Please can you help me.

Will te Winkel
The Netherlands
Mike here: The ">" pointer doesn't always "stick" for some Autostar selections but the selection has been made. When in Polar mode only the Right Ascension drive is run for tracking so if you don't hear (or see) any movement in Declination while tracking then you'll know you have Polar selected. Also, since the Autostar knows nothing about the physical setup, if your alignment stars are properly pointed at then, unless you at the poles, then the Polar mounting mode is selected.
Subject:	Autostar does not have my LXD 55 model
Sent:	Wednesday, July 31, 2002 7:21:15
From:	gemmalady@msn.com (Lynn Laux)
I got my new 5" LXD 55 refractor last Thursday (at last)...and when I
was initializing the Autostar, I noticed that when the prompt for my
telescope model came up the Autostar menu only showed three: LX90,
ETX90, and ETX125.  Help!  Of course I live in the Midwest and have to
wait for Meade to open up this morning but I was wondering if there was
a quick fix in order to get this to work, or what.  Do you think I
should order the #505 cable connector kit?  Thanks!  By the way, views
through this scope are spectacular after my 3 inch Vixen!!
Lynn
Mike here: Since I don't have a LXD I can't answer from experience. Perhaps you need to go to Meade's Autostar Update page (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html) and download an Autostar update. To install it into the Autostar you'll need the proper cable. Or perhaps, just a RESET will do it.
Subject:	New Autostar Comet Directory
Sent:	Tuesday, July 30, 2002 23:21:32
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
A quick note to let you know that about midnight the Harvard Ephemerides
were updated for the Autostar to include 135 comets, already configured
for instant loading into the Autostar ASU 3.51 program....this will work
by merely copying the file and then importing directly into the ASU
while selecting the "Delete Existing Files First" box.

This list DOES include the elements and orbital path for the new comet
Hoenig 2002 O4.

You can find the new listing for Autostar at:
http://www.minorplanetcenter.org/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/Soft16Cmt.txt for
Starry Night Pro, the direct URL is:
http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/Soft07Cmt.txt but note
that this requires some file manipulation prior to installing into the
Ephemeris folder for that program.

Dr. Clay

Subject:	Updating old Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, July 30, 2002 12:59:49
From:	m_fromm@umwestern.edu
Meade gove me your website to assist me in updating my autostar
controller for me meade etx90ec telescope.  My 497 autostar is version
1.0 thus meade's autostar update 3.51 cannot communicate with it.  Can
you assist me in upgrading my crontroller to a version that can work
with the new one at meade's website?

Thanks,

Marc
______________________________
Marc Fromm
Computer Systems Person
University of Montana--Western
Mike here: All the older updater and ROM files are archived on my ETX Site at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/downloads.html. Try using the Autostar Updater 2.4 to bring the Autostar to 2.1ek and then the latest version from Meade's site.
Subject:	Re: Re: Post for Autostar feedback page
Sent:	Saturday, July 27, 2002 20:25:05
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
Thanks for all your help and patience Mike.

It appears we were simply having difficulty getting the autostar into
flash mode. It's one of the first units and the original manual was
pretty slim, lots of vital but missing information.We managed to update
and the units working flawlessly now.

Thanks again,

John

Subject:	Autostar(searching the sky)
Sent:	Saturday, July 27, 2002 10:24:19
From:	marceloamoretti@hotmail.com (Marcelo Amoretti)
Hi, Ive been with this question for days, and I was wondering if you can
help me!! Ill buy a Meade newtonian-telescope with a 400mm aperture!! I
can choose two of this kind!! I dont no if I buy a equatorial with 2
motors, or buy a dobsonian mount with the Autostar Eletronic System!! If
I buy the equatorial how can I put the Autostar Eletronic System???

Thank you!!
Mike here: Steve Bedair has some Autostar info for non DS/ETX telescopes. Unfortunately, his ISP went under and he is still looking for a new host for his info. So the link on the Astronomy Links page is current dead. I'll update it as soon as I hear back from Steve. If you buy one of the new LXD models you'll get an Autostar with it.
Subject:	re: autostar alignment problems
Sent:	Thursday, July 25, 2002 21:05:04
From:	photodob@interl.net (Kenneth Blackburn)
Say you have been trying to help me with troubles on my new autostar on
the LXD55 8" Schmidt - Newt I tried a one star align and it kept telling
me that polaris was below the horizon, does that give you any tips as to
what may be going on? I am calling Meade tomorrow, anything I find out I
will relay to you for other users. I just kind of think that maybe they
are slapping these new LXD series together too fast. You have an
excellent page! I am going to search it thoroughly for any other things
I might be experiencing. Thanks
Ken Blackburn
Mike here: I don't think Polaris is an alignment star.
Subject:	Post for Autostar feedback page
Sent:	Wednesday, July 24, 2002 19:31:01
From:	scopinusa@cox.net (John Welch)
ETX Autostar 497 problem with winxp

I've tried everything I can think of to get the autostar software to
recognize the device with no luck.

Tried different com ports, settings, removing other devices etc. There
are no irq, dma or memory conflicts. The software says it can't find the
device on the com ports, however after searching it then finds it. Tried
it in safe mode and still nothing. That's as far as it will go.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks!!
John
Mike here: What version of the Autostar Updater application are you using? 3.51 is the latest on Meade's site.

And:

I'm using 3.5.1.0, we downloaded it earlier
in the day.
Mike here: If you search the Site for "Windows XP" (using an exact match) you'll find some comments about Windows XP and the Autostar. Maybe something there will help.
Subject:	re: Meade LXD55 8 SCHMIDT NEWTONIAN
Sent:	Monday, July 22, 2002 21:37:03
From:	photodob@interl.net (Kenneth Blackburn)
Say, I recently recieved a new Meade LXD55  8" schmidt newtonian with
autostar. Have you heard of much troubles with this scope and autostar?
I have not been able to geta sucessful alignment. When I try to an easy
align I undersatnd the manual to say autostar will choose 2 alignment
stars ans slew to them but it does nothing. I have also had cases where
the autostar just seemed to shut itself off in the middle of something,
or to just freeze up with a blank red display. Am I wrong that the
autostar picks to stars on easy align? when I go through the steps and
it scrolls the message to set polar home for german mount relock axis
and hit enter it just displays a d and an n and  a negative sign and
does nothing. Thanks for any help I am so ready to begin finding some
deep sky objects but know I never will until I have a successful
alignment.
Thanks Ken Blackburn
Mike here: I'm not certain what the problem might be unless a connection is bad or the Autostar is bad. Can you RESET it from the Autostar menu?

And:

I have reset it from the autostar menu but it didnt seem to have an
effect, to me the conectors at the bottom of the controller maybe move
around more than they should. I will call Meade, it is a pain that they
dont have tech support via email, I work hours that makes it difficult
to call them. The way the unit freezes, blacks out in the middle of
things and other problems I suspect a bad connection or something. Am I
correct on the easy align though? That the unit should choose two stars
and prompt me when to center them? Thanks again

Ken Blackburn
Mike here: Does sound like a potential cable or connector problem. And yes, with the Easy Align, the Autostar picks and slews the telescope to one or two alignment stars, which you are then prompted to center in the eyepiece. Let me know what you learn from Meade.
Subject:	Scope parking problem
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 17:06:11
From:	loupwood@optushome.com.au (Loupwood)
I have just seen Hank B's post under Autostar Info, I have the same
problem with my new 125 , Could it be that when the scope is first
aligned to the home position, it remembers the time of that alignment so
after say, 2 hours or so of viewing you go to park it, does it maybe go
back to that exact time of the first alignment and in doing so it will
be a little further to the west because of the earth's rotation.

Regards Peter
Mike here: It puts the telescope into a known position, which in my case as always been the HOME position. I'm running version 2.3Ea.

And:

thanks for your reply, I am running 25ea with the latest Autostar ( I
assume there is no difference).

Subject:	Laptop and ETX125
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 14:36:38
From:	Jt_Smithuk@btopenworld.com (John T Smith)
Firstly, GREAT SITE MIKE!!!!!!  Glad to have found it.
Next, what software runs the 125 from a pc or laptop???
I found out tooooooooo late that the software given with my ETX-70 wont
run the 125!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
John
Mike here: There are several applications for Mac OS and Windows that can drive an Autostar-equipped ETX telescopes. I've not compiled an exhaustive list of them but some are discussed in the articles "ETX/Autostar Compatible Software" and "Autostar Control - Starry Night Backyard" on the Autostar Information page as well as some reviews on the Accessory Reviews - Software page.
Subject:	Precise location in longitude and latitude
Sent:	Sunday, July 21, 2002 12:47:37
From:	lewis.pj@nf.sympatico.ca (PHILIP LEWIS)
I have anvETX90EC for almost two years. I just got your book, USING THE
MEADE ETX the other day. I read in it that I can set my Autostar memory
for the precise locationformy viewing.I did not know this before and
have ben using a location of the nearest city to my, about 50 kms
distant. How do I set the precise location. I have tried with the
Autostar but don't seem to be able to bring up the program on the
Autostar to do this. Thanks. Phil
Mike here: Select Setup --> Site --> Add. Or you can Edit an existing entry.
Subject:	re: Scope parking problems
Sent:	Friday, July 19, 2002 21:49:50
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	hobjr@vol.com
Two things come to mind:
(a) what version is your firmware?
  ( Setup > Statistics > [enter][scroll up]
  Some older versions (2.2 early) had definite problems in the PARK
code.

(b) low batteries?  That can do it, too.
  However the "perfect" slews vote against that.

have fun (just never stop!)
--dick

Subject:	Scope parking problems
Sent:	Thursday, July 18, 2002 14:11:02
From:	hobjr@vol.com (Hank)
I continue to find your site helpful.  After a Supercharge and a
vacation to really dark skies (Land Between the Lakes, Golden Pond
Kentucky), I am truly impressed with the ETX125.  After returning home
and setting the scope back up in the living room (I love to show off its
deep blue color),  I decided to take it out on the deck and catch Venus
and M13 for a brief night of viewing.  Never having used the park
function I decided to give it a try after a half hour of viewing.  I
selected Park Scope and pressed the enter key and it quickly slewed
level and started rotating back towards north (Alt/Az setup). However it
stopped a full quarter-turn to the east of north.

Perplexed, I set it up again, aligned with two stars and hit a few
Messier Objects.  I "park"ed scope again and basically got the same
results.  What gives?  Any clues?  The slews were nearly all perfect.

Hank B.
Mike here: Did the telescope hit a hard stop during the parking? If so, then the telescope was not in the proper HOME position when you first aligned it. If it wasn't a hard stop, that's a strange one. What happened went you took it out of park? Did it work correctly?

And:

It did not hit a hard stop.  It also does not come out of park
correctly.  After a short viewing session last night (too many clouds),
I may have a lead.  The slewing is getting worse.  If you realign it
works fine maybe - the next time not at all.  If it works after a
realignment it goes back to the home position properly.  I think I may
have an encoder issue.

I am going to pop open the bottom tonight and see.  When it was
Supercharged, some cat hair was removed from the gear train.  I have
three cats and no one is quite sure how the hair made it inside!!

More info after some exploratory surgery.

Hank
Mike here: OK, lets try the obvious fixes: RECALIBRATE, RESET, RETRAIN. Let me know.
Subject:	re: Autostar query
Sent:	Tuesday, July 16, 2002 7:41:47
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	spirito@ihug.co.nz
The display has two other controls, under the Utilities section
of the menus (scroll UP from Select/Setup, or down from Glossary).
There you will find Brightness Adjust  and  Contrast Adjust.

Set the brightness to your taste, and then play with Contrast
to improve readability.

Temperature (low=less readable) has a direct effect.
That usually becomes a major factor below 5 C.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	re: ETX-125 _Autostar problems
Sent:	Tuesday, July 16, 2002 7:39:34
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	sdk@worldpath.net
The description you gave matches the Autostar having a problem 
receiving feedback from the Alt encoder.
A "quick fix" is (sometimes) to simply reverse the HBX cable,
end-for-end.  Also, take it to a RadioShack or computer
netwroking shop somewhere and have them "crunch" the end 
connectors in their crunch tool.  (they're "RJ45" connectors).
That may fix it.

good luck
--dick
And:
Just to keep you up to date,  I took the external cable from my LX-200
and swapped it with the 125's autostar cable and it works perfectly. 
Thanks, and now I can look into the updates.

Scott- NH

Subject:	ETX-125 _Autostar problems
Sent:	Monday, July 15, 2002 12:04:09
From:	sdk@worldpath.net (sdk)
I recently inherited an ETX-125 w/ standard and autostar  controllers.
The standard controller works great. The autostar controller, upon
initialization, gives either a motor failure error (altitude) OR, just
begins to step up the altitude ...up, up, up, up, up until I have to
shut down the power. I've reset several times and can't train motors or
calibrate as I can't get that far along.  Anyone have similar a
experience?

Scott - NH
Mike here: Try changing the batteries. Low batteries can cause similar symptoms.

And:

Thanks Mike but that's not the problem.  I think I have it narrowed down
to the cable between the autostar and the scope....I hope.
Mike here: A bad connection could cause strange problems. Also, a corrupted ROM. Can you update the Autostar?
Subject:	Autostar query
Sent:	Monday, July 15, 2002 4:22:23
From:	spirito@ihug.co.nz (Excalibur)
Eell the weather here in Auckland has been atrocious for the last 3
months so the ETX90 has had little use.  Fortunately though, the last
two nights have come right and I have had crystal clear skies, but it
has been very cold manning the scope into the early hours.  The ETX
continues to perform very well and I am still getting over 90% accuracy
in my (easy) alignments.  One issue has started to appear with the
Autostar.  During the last three or four viewing nights  the second line
of the Autostar is becoming unreadable when scrolling text.  At low
scroll speed the text is fine (but I never use slow speed as it is just
too slow).  This is a marked change from its usual bright display.  Iím
running on power so its not a battery issue.  I also noticed the problem
start when the weather was warmer so I donít think its a temp issue. 
Any suggestions?

Thanx again.

David Hrstich
Mike here: If the text is only garbled on a higher scrolling speeds then I suspect something is garbled. Try a RESET. If that doesn't work you may have to reload the Autostar ROM. If that doesn't fix it then your Autostar hardware may have a problem.
Subject:	re:  Meade Starfinder
Sent:	Friday, July 12, 2002 6:54:48
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	josh_blake87@hotmail.com
IF you look at the "patches" area of Mike's Site,
( http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/v25Ea.html )
you'll see patch kits which -add- the 4504 to the 495 and 497
Autostar's firmware.
Which would let you use a 497 to control the 4504.

If you wish to use the Starfinder, you need to buy a
Meade 506 cable/converter unit.  It is not a simple
plugs-and-wires like the 497's 505 cable.

With a 497 and 505, or a Starfinder and 506, you can use
the command set defined at:
http://www.meade.com/support/CommandSet.html
with commentary at:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_lx200.html

to control the STarfinder (or 497) from your PC.

The "internal" command protocol from the Starfinder 
to the motor kit is a modified version of the Phillips I2C bus,
and (even though i can provide some of the commands) has never
been fully successfuly driven (that i've heard of) by a hobbiest.
(we have managed to send one or two commands, but never full
two-way clean control).

The yahoo egroup http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade4504Telescopes/
is a forum dedicated to the 4504, the 114eq, and their usage.

In the US, a 495 can frequently be purchased for a price equivalent
to the 506 cable/converter, and offers more capabilities (and a 
numeric keypad!)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Meade Starfinder
Sent:	Thursday, July 11, 2002 11:01:30
From:	josh_blake87@hotmail.com (Josh Blake)
I have a meade 4504 4.5" reflecting telescope. When I purchased it, it
came with a motor drive system and a Starfinder control unit. As the
Autostar had to be incompatible with my telescope, I was hoping to
design an interface that would allow me to connect it to my computer and
to my Palm m105. I found an article that had to do with the 4504 and its
Starfinder, but I found it to be irrelevant to what I was looking for.
To clarify things, I was wondering if you have a pin layout for
this specific handheld controller, and possibly the command structure
(If not similar to the Autostars). The Starfinder looks almost identical
to the Autostar except it is missing the numerical keypad (Buttons:
Enter, Mode, Go To, Four arrow keys, an second up and down arrow key [to
scroll] and a Speed/Help button). I would appreciate any help that you
could offer to me.

Sincerely,
Josh Blake

Subject:	Autostar and Autoguiding with a Webcam
Sent:	Wednesday, July 10, 2002 4:26:24
From:	rlanzet@tin.it (rlanzet)
I have an SC 8" on a GEM with Autostar and DS-Motor as Steve Bedair
Project. To take deep-sky photos, i connect a Webcam to telescope and i
want to hand guide or autoguide with AstroArt software.

But i note that, after polar alignement,  when i try of hand-guide, for
declination, i set the velocity 1X on the Autostar, there is no problem
and the correction is linear after the pressure on the keypad of
Autostar; wheareas in AR the correction of the guide, with the pressure
on the keypad of the Autostar is not linear and to shift the star in the
cross it needs to keep press the keypad a long time, naturally having a
loss of guide. Naturally the same things come with Autoguiding, yet more
worse.

I hope to be clear to explain my problem, and i send you king regards.

Roberto
Mike here: This may be due to backlash in the gearing. You can try adjusting the percentages; see the article "Setting Percentages For Better Tracking" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Re: Only slew speed (Autostar pages)
Sent:	Tuesday, July 9, 2002 10:16:26
From:	judge.family@btinternet.com (Uckfield Judges)
I was just browsing around the site and I found this in Clay Sherrod's
warning about hot summer weather and Autostars.

3) speed settings on AutoStar (the number keys "9" fastest, "1" slowest
become totally inoperative and everything runs at the fastest speed when
AutoStar becomes overheated; NOTE: letting the AutoStar cool down as
above DOES NOT always result in your speed function returning; and so,

4) a total RESET (obviously requiring all new user data entry, owner
info., site specifications, telescope type AND "Train Motors" will be
necessary) must be done to put the AutoStar back into normal operational
mode once it has become overheated by exposure to the sun.

and I wondered if it was relevent.

Best regards

Richard Judge
Mike here: Could have been relevant but he didn't indicate that he had overheated it. But the RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN sequence solved the problem.
Subject:	only slew speed
Sent:	Monday, July 8, 2002 19:36:06
From:	ednaneil@attbi.com (neil minihane)
I have got a brand new out of the box ETX 125. I have downloaded the
most recent software into the autostar. The problem I am having is that
there seems to be only one slewing speed available to me. I change the
slew speed on the autostar 497 and its the same speed all the time. I
cant figure out if its a problem with the scope,autostar or me. I dont
think its the scope because the are different speeds available when
using the standard hand controller. Maybe I messed up the autostar when
I downloaded the 25e program...Thanks a lot if you are able to help with
this and thanks for your time...Neil
Mike here: Does the display show the speed when you attempt to change it? It should. If it doesn't, then perhaps the keypress is not being recognized.

And:

The display changes and shows the different speeds but the speed is the
same in each choice...thanks Neil
Mike here: Is it fast or slow?

And:

Fast only...only one speed
Mike here: Try a RESET, CALIBRATE, and reTRAIN. When installing an update into the Autostar, it is always necessary to at least reTRAIN. I don't recall a slew speed problem from an update but perhaps the three steps will help. Let me know.

And finally:

Thanks very much...That did the trick. It was kind of a strange problem
and I never saw it referenced in the archives. Thanks again....A big
fan...Neil

Subject:	Autostar and softwrae control
Sent:	Friday, July 5, 2002 05:05:39
From:	Pieter Kotze
This might be a stupid question but do you need the Autostar controller to
control an ETX telescope from a computer?  

Thanks
Pieter
Mike here: Yes, you do need the Autostar. The computer sends commands to the Autostar, which controls the telescope.

And:

Is this also true of the larger Meade telescopes like the LX200s etc?
Mike here: Don't know exactly how the communication works with those but they include the GOTO computer handcontroller.

Subject:	re:  Does not want to align
Sent:	Wednesday, July 3, 2002 21:25:36
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	michael.allen@baesystems.com
many of us would be happy to help, but it'd help us if
you describe your alignment procedure... and please don't
leave stuff out by saying "...per the manual"...
It's fairly frequent that folks misinterpret the (ahem)
fine manual, and we who have done the same things will
recognize it if you state in your own words what you're
doing....

so read many of the alignment tips on Mike's site, but
feel free to reply with a list of how -you- are doing
it.  (there's also the chance the scope has a problem)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Does not want to align
Sent:	Monday, July 1, 2002 13:52:26
From:	michael.allen@baesystems.com (Allen, Michael)
I have been frustrated with my 125 since it does not want to align with
my astrostar.  The scope works well in manual mode nad I have had much
success with observing.  I would like to have the option of using my
'tour' option on the astrostar.  Can you give me any hints on aligning ?

Thanks,
Mike Allen
Mike here: See the Autostar Information page. There are several alignment tips articles.

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