AUTOSTAR FEEDBACK
[Home!]
Last updated: 31 July 2003
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:	Autostar cable info update
Sent:	Thursday, July 31, 2003 08:37:38
From:	stuart.douglas@agt.com (Douglas, Stuart)
First off...INCREDIBLE site you have there, thanks for putting it all
together and making it available to us! We just bought an ETX-90EC and
#497 Autostar for my wife for her birthday...now if the additional
eyepieces would arrive (and we'd get more than 1 clear night per week)
we'd be all set!

Just have the following to pass along in support of the other posts
about Autostar cabling. The "handset" connectors everyone refers to are
actually designated as RJ22. Our local RadioShack doesn't stock them;
however, there are many other online electronics retailers that carry
them, just do a search on "RJ22 connectors".

Regards,

Stuart Douglas

Subject:	ETX-125EC Motor Unit Fail
Sent:	Wednesday, July 30, 2003 21:47:22
From:	jason@gomegatech.com (jason)
Since I knew this site from my friend, I almost come up here everyday.
And YES, I do find out some good stuff here. All thanks to you !! Mike

I got my ETX125 in May, 2003. I am located in Taipei/Taiwan. When ever I
turn my ETX to M31, always MUF. I have updated AutoStar with all kind of
different version, and patch from this site. Reset, Re-Calibrate,
Re-Train... many many times. Also Use the Acid-Lead 12V battery to give
ETX  a stable power supply.

At beginning, it seems that this MUF would happen randomly. Well, I am a
software engineer, I just can not help to "DEBUG".

I started from setting ETX to different combination of AZ and ALT,
recording the value once every couple minutes.

1.	slewing ETX to AZ = 80 deg (North = 0, East = 80), 
	try all kind of ALT (70, 60, 50, 40...), hum..it seems ok
	then

2.	try AZ = 70, with different ALT, hum...it crashed once

3.	try AZ = 60, ALT = 60, it runs for hours without MUF.

4.	AZ = 60, ALT = 50, .....crashed after couple minutes.

frome the records, it seems that when I aim the scope to something in
the North-East direction, I got MUF. If I aim the scope to Southern
direction, it just keeps tracking all night long.

Examing the records in more detail, I find out that if this object is
rising, making circle about the Polaris, in the North-East direction,
the scope's reading is like this :

stage 1.	ALT increasing, OTA is going up, AZ is increasing, ie, the
base is rotating
	clockwise, OTA is turning East
	NO problem


stage 2.	ALT increasing, OTA is going up, AZ is changing slowly, it
is going to change
	direction

stage 3. ALT increasing, OTA is going up, AZ is decreasing, ie, the base
is rotating
	counterclockwise, OTA is begin to turn to North
	MUF always happens somewhere in stage 3, not long after the stage 3
	begins.

I set the AutoStar's date/time as : 2003/07/27 01:40:00, tracking M31,
it runs ok through 02:30.

Then, I set it to 2003/07/27 00:16:40, tracking M31, MUF at 00:56

ok, let me try it again, set it to 2003/07/26, 23:30:00, tracking M31, I
wait and wait.
HA !! MUF at 00:56

So, I write a small program to monitoring ETX's reading, instead of
recording the reading by hand. I am sorry that it seems the reading is
quite strange. I always got reading from AutoStar like 52?1:40, instead
of 52*01:40, as it is described in Meade's protocol document. But any
way, you still can see the value changing.

I want to do more test, but, well, I still have to work........ I will
do more test again.

If any one is interested in giving ETX.'s MUF a test, you are welcome to
get this small program on :

ftp://ftp.gomegatech.com

and find the program named EtxStatus.EXE, that is the only file you
need.

Download the file, 
run it, 
set the comm port, with cable 505 connecting to autostar.
click the button on the lower-right corner to start/stop

Jason

Subject:	ETX 90 Alignment question
Sent:	Wednesday, July 30, 2003 13:39:50
From:	Antonio.Gabriele@solocup.com (Antonio Gabriele)
I have an ETX with Autostar and have never been able to successfully
align this scope in the Alt/AZ method. When I attempt an Easy Align
(Autostar picks the 2 stars), it never centers the first one & seems to
miss it by some distance, forcing me to move the scope manually. Though
it tells me that the align is successful after the 2nd star, it never
seems to work.

I've followed all the rules in terms of scope positioning, level etc.

Am I missing something or should I try to polar align (which seems more
complicated for a novice like me!)

Thanks
Tony Gabriele
Mike here: I suspect you are missing something. Look at the alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. But first, be certain you have selected the right telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar and have done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Also, be certain to use TRUE NORTH, not MAGNETIC NORTH for the home position.

And:

Thank you for the info. Can you direct me to the place on your website
which could show me how to find "true" north & what kind of compass to
use?
Mike here: There are many ways to find True North. If you can see the star Polaris, use it to indicate where on your northern horizon True North would be located. Just "drop" straight down from Polaris to your horizon. Lacking that, many streets (at least in the USA) are aligned North-South so True North might be parallel to the street you live on. You can look at maps too. You can use a magnetic compass but you should correct for "Magnetic Variation", which is the difference in Magnetic North and True North. There could be up to 20 degrees difference. To determine the Magnetic Variation for your location there are several websites that can provide this; see the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	RE; ETX 90EC ALIGNMENT.
Sent:	Wednesday, July 30, 2003 06:42:08
From:	cbrischetto@argenhonda.com.ar (Cesar Brischetto)
After having very cloudy days here in Buenos Aires, yesterday was my
night. I've supposed it but...first, manual says home alt/az position is
poiting north, but also says that for southern hemisphere users should
be pointing south, is that ok?

Next, my compass got crazy, so aligment was a disaster...I've lost
minutes to get the chosen stars (for 2 star alignment). I gave up.

Next, I restarted it again, and went to "calibrate motor" for alt/az.
During this procedure, I experienced a sudden incredible motor
engagement in another direction, and I didn't touch any other key (???).

Resarted it again, calibration was ok this time, align was slow, but I
could see finely 4 clusters from guided tour. Then, I wanted to see
again the butterfly cluster, but Autostar seemed to lose its alignment.

Even more, when try identify the known Rigel Kentaurus, it confused it
with Hadar.

Result, I'm going to reset the Autostar and begin again with all the
stuff. In your opinion, did I make something wrong? I was very
dissapointed last night. With the ETX 60, all things were a piece of
cake...Any help?

Thanks in advance for yout time and good will.


CESAR from Argentina.
Mike here: There is essentially no change in actually aligning the Autostar from the ETX-60 to the ETX-90. The only difference is that you don't have to do the rotation to the hard stop with the ETX-60 (since there is no hard stop). So, just follow the same procedures you used with the ETX-60 on the ETX-90 after you do the rotation to the hard stop. Low battery power can cause some odd affects (slewing or motor faults) Don't forget to TRAIN DRIVES after doing the CALIBRATE. Be certain the right telescope model is selected.

And:

Yesterday I did the ritual from zero : reset the Autostar, put the new
location, targets, etc. plus training drives again. I took care of
rotational stops, it is a real must.

Align pointing south (for southern hemisphere observers) was mistaken
from the Autostar # 497 user manual; north was the only way. I tried it
and fail. Then, stars came up but with a right side offset; it was
repeated for all the objects searched with "go to".

No idea about it.

Anyway, I can see much better after reset. Same thing happened with my
ETX 60 AT, when new.

Talking about batteries, I've used it with an old homemade battery
charger of 12 volts 2 Amps (more than enough). I've added a big
condenser, plus an IC voltage regulator (7812) which allows a stable 12
volts and max. current of 1 Amp.. Gee, the motors were very happy for
the feeding!

And also, I want to comment to everybody that Bob Pasken's power point
doc about the # 505 cable works very fine. No need to put a
disclaimer!!! It costed me just 1 dollar (cable + connectors), just
peanuts even for our devaluated country.

So, I'll continue testing behavior of the ETX 90 for that offset I
mentioned (motor mechanical linkage slippage?).

Hope this can be helpful to anybody instead of getting mad, before
performing a nice reset to Autostar.

Mike, a thousand thanks for the feedback and congratulations again for
your great & marvelous site!!!

Hasta la vista amigo!

CESAR 

Subject:	Autostar version
Sent:	Wednesday, July 30, 2003 00:09:38
From:	allanyo@optusnet.com.au (Allan Young)
Great Site.
 
I recently bought a 2nd hand ETX 125EC (the old model 1999). When the
Autostar is starting up, it says version 1.2g. Does this need upgrading,
as I notice people talking about ver 2.4 etc? Can you explain the
versions please?
 
Thanks
Allan
Mike here: Yes, you should upgrade it. The software is free from Meade's site; you will need to buy or make a #505 cable. You'll need Windows and a serial port. There are many bug fixes since the original 1999 release of the Autostar along with many new features. Also, more current astronomical data. Upgrade it.
Subject:	Help me
Sent:	Tuesday, July 29, 2003 19:20:38
From:	Lavo98@aol.com
I'm fairly new with this.  What does calibrate your drives mean, because
I already trained my drives?  Also I haven't successfully aligned the
telescope yet could you give me some quick tips with the setup.
             	       	       	       	       	Thanks, Chris
             	       	       	       	Your website is a life saver
Mike here: First off, please read the EMAIL SUBJECTS notice on the ETX Site home page; your email was almost deleted unread as SPAM. CALIBRATE ensures that the Autostar can talk to the ETX. Then you do TRAIN DRIVES. As to alignment tips, there are several on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	How to use the Autostar tours
Sent:	Tuesday, July 29, 2003 15:01:34
From:	rosenjoe@mounet.com (Schlatter)
This question maybe should go to Clay Sherrod.  My ETX-90 came back from
tune-up with several guided tours installed in the Autostar.

How do I use the guided tours?  I find them on the menu but can't seem
to figure out what to do.  Thanks.

----
Joe Schlatter
Mike here: Select one from the menu and press ENTER. The Autostar will slew to the first object and present info about it. Use the scroll down/up arrows to go to the next/previous object.
Subject:	ETX + GPS
Sent:	Tuesday, July 29, 2003 09:46:20
From:	kevin.attree@virgin.net (kevin attree)
Firstly, just to say how much I enjoyed trawling through your site; it
is a mine of information on ETX-related subjects.

I have a question re the new dedicated GPS that plugs into the
ETX/Autostar set-up, and wondered if you are able to answer it: Is there
any advantage to using this combination, or is it just as effective to
check your location with a conventional GPS, and then manually enter the
data into Autostar?

Thanks in anticipation of your reply, and congratulations on a great
web-site,

regards, Kevin Attree
Mike here: I don't have any direct experience with this product but there are a couple of reviews on it on the GPS article on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	stargps and etx-90
Sent:	Monday, July 28, 2003 06:41:11
From:	morts@iowatelecom.net (TKM)
I have really been enjoying your website and all the information that I
have obtained!  The other nigh I came across the 'STARGPS'  for the ETX
on scopetronix website.  Have you tested this yet and is it worth it
just to obtain a location of the scope?

Keep up the great work!

Tammy
Mike here: I haven't personally used but see "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Information page for a couple of reviews.
Subject:	Re: Automatic slewing with ETX 125
Sent:	Sunday, July 27, 2003 11:13:08
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	ronensnd@netvision.net.il
> if I align the telescope in eq. mode, and then sometime
> in the middle of viewing, i use the move keys to slew the telescope to a
> different star, does the scope still track objects?

Yes.  Tracking is always working ... unless...

> if so, and for instance i want to wacth a terretrial object, how do I
> turn autotracking off/on?

Tracking is turned OFF by 
Setup > Targets > Terrestrial [enter]
..and/or by GoTo'ing a Landmark
 (Objects > Landmarks > Select >...>[enter][goto] )

Tracking is turned ON by
Setup > Targets > Astronomical [enter]

and/or by GoTo'ing -any- astronomical object.

Therefore:   Objects > STar > Named > Antares [enter][goto]
will turn ON tracking, automatically.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	runaway autostar
Sent:	Sunday, July 27, 2003 10:53:46
From:	Carolandmike00@aol.com
Well after checking all that I could, and trying to reset, and reload
the Autostar, nothing worked. I did take the scope and Autostar to our
local dealer (Analytical Scientific) in San Antonio we have determined
that there was noting wrong with the scope or the cord. I have since
then purchased a new Autostar (Ver.24e). Now everything works fine. I,
however will wait before trying to update the firmware, for now 24e. is
sufficient for my needs.

Thanks again for your assistance and thanks again to Richard Seymour for
his knowledgeable input. And a much appreciated thank you to the staff
at Analytical Scientific for their "hands-on" assistance
(www.analyticalsci.com)

Clear skies and Thank You
Mike in Texas

Subject:	Thank You!
Sent:	Saturday, July 26, 2003 13:26:43
From:	david-farris@nc.rr.com (David L. Farris)
I want to thank you for the Article you wrote on the Astrofinder
connector cable.  You definitely saved me a day and a half I guess.  I
agree that getting through all the defenses is difficult.  I can't
believe the Meade does not have a feedback form or customer support form
to get questions like this answered.  I find too often (I'm in the
technology field) that technology companies hide behind their web sites
to avoid speaking or corresponding with the customer.  I assume you had
to call them directly on their 800 number to get the physical converter?

I tried searching other providers like Radio Shack and couldn't find a
thing.  Meade needs to warn customers of this impending disaster before
they try to sell their products.  Windows XP has become the standard now
and they need to get with the program and provide an alternate USB
cable.  This isn't rocket science to do this if they already have a
physical converter.

Anyway, thanks again for the information and I guess I'll give their
office a call and give them a little piece of my mind while I'm at it. 
This is not a good customer relationship management practice.

Thanks again,

David Farris
Mike here: Meade does have a USB adapter for Windows (only).

And:

I'm trying to figure out which firmware you mentioned in your article. 
I went to the site and I'm not sure which directory/filename to download
for the physical converter you mentioned you received from Meade.  Do
you know which directory/filename I need to download?  Thanks.

Subject:	Updating the patch25a4.zip patch
Sent:	Friday, July 25, 2003 11:35:36
From:	skybound@rochester.rr.com (skybound)
I don't have a program files- Meade - ASU-ephermedes directory, should
I? Would you walk me through how to put this patch on my autostar? This
is my first time. Take care,

John Davis
Mike here: You need to download and install the Autostar Update Application from Meade's Site (http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html). Run the app once to verify you can connect to your Autostar. Then you can do the patches.
Subject:	Re: Automatic slewing with ETX 125
Sent:	Thursday, July 24, 2003 08:12:29
From:	ronensnd@netvision.net.il (Shai Ronen)
First of all, thanx for the tip, and i hope it works.

second of all. if I align the telescope in eq. mode, and then sometime
in the middle of viewing, i use the move keys to slew the telescope to a
different star, does the scope still track objects?

if so, and for instance i want to wacth a terretrial object, how do I
turn autotracking off/on?

thanx again
GUY
Mike here: Yes, it does. To turn off tracking you have to switch the Autostar to terrestrial mode.
Subject:	RE: AUTOSTAR # 494 SCROLLS EXTREMELY LOW SPEED.
Sent:	Thursday, July 24, 2003 05:07:00
From:	cbrischetto@argenhonda.com.ar (Cesar Brischetto)
At first, let me please congratulate for the great site you've built!
It's plenty of cool stuff about ETX's.

My question is simple, after 2 months of usage of an ETX 60 AT, Autostar
scrollings were very fast, two second of lost attention and you missed
words...

Suddenly, the scrollings became very low, approx. one letter by second
(???). To help, I can confirm after checks, that it had no moisture on
Autostar, nor was beaten or fall in any way. Batteries are brand new,
slewing speeds are the normal, but the scrollings still are very slow to
show...

Do you have some idea about what I can do for this? Is it "normal" (I
don't think so)?

Thank you for all the help you could give me.

Sincerely,

CESAR
Mike here: You can change the speed of the text scrolling by using the UP/DOWN keys at the bottom of the Autostar. You probably pressed one inadvertantly and so slowed up the scrolling speed.

And:

Your answer was really impressive ; fast, precise, and denoting great
acknowledge of the products. Meade distributors in Argentina didn't have
an idea about it.

	"Best Meade ETX Telescope Web Site"  
	  -- according to ETX users worldwide

Yeah, 100 % agreed!!
Thanks a lot!!!
Sincerely, 

CESAR
And an update:
By the way, I've got rid of the ETX 60, and today I've bought a brand
new ETX 90 EC with UHTC coatings, # 884 tripod and # 497 Autostar. I
just can't wait to test it tonight!!!

Greetings from Argentina!!

CESAR 

Subject:	Palm Pilot ETX-105
Sent:	Wednesday, July 23, 2003 15:54:12
From:	"G King" (rb_gking@rbnet.com)
Steve Pope has published has published an article in Circuit Cellar for
August on the use of the Palm Pilot with Autostar on the ETX-105.

The reference to the software download is

ftp.circuitcellar.com/pub/Circuit_Cellar/2003/157

Thought you would be interested if you don't already know it

Subject:	ETX-70 Hardstop
Sent:	Wednesday, July 23, 2003 08:34:59
From:	walter.schoenly@oit.state.nj.us (Walter Schoenly)
I've seen you mention rotating the ETX 'hardstop to hardstop' but I'm
not sure what you mean.  I released the lock toggle on the base, moving
it to fully to the right, which allows the scope to be rotated to the
right or left 360 degrees.  I then turned the scope, probably 6-7 times
in one direction, expecting to reach a 'hardstop' but never got there. I
was afriad to overdue it, so I stopped.  Am I on the right track, or did
I misunderstand what you were saying?  Let me know.  Thanks for this and
help in the past.

- Walt Schoenly
Mike here: The ETX-60 and ETX-70 do not have azimuth hard stops. Sorry for the confusion.
Subject:	Polar Mode Training
Sent:	Wednesday, July 23, 2003 02:34:25
From:	fishonkevin@sbcglobal.net (kevin keyes)
I was wondering if there is any difference in training the ETX for
Alt/Az mount and for Polar mount. Mostly I viewed in Alt/Az until now,
but would like to try a Polar mounting for shooting photos of Mars.

Is it all right to leave my 884 tripod set for my home latitude, using
the hand paddle to center my scope on a terrestrial object for training?

Thanks Kevin
Mike here: You can TRAIN in either mode.
Subject:	Automatic slewing with ETX 125
Sent:	Tuesday, July 22, 2003 06:13:27
From:	ronensnd@netvision.net.il (Shai Ronen)
My name is Guy and I am from Israel.

I recently bought a new ETX 125 EC model with autostar and everything
and i discovered a problem. After I use Autostar to line up a star for
me, and then using the move keys i correct it (even though it comes
usually within the Viewfinder FOV) and it somehow automatically slews
the telescope a bit to the right. It's very strange. I asked someone
here in Israel if he could help me but, he had no idea what to do. I
wonder if you encountered this problem before and if so, can it be
solved?

Another question I have is about the Autostar.

If i use it to locate a star, and then correct it with the move keys (I
was equatorial mount) does it still follow the star in the night sky
automatically or mus i do it manually.

Thanx a whole lot.
LOVE YOUR SITE

GYROS
Mike here: The symptom you describe is known as "rubberbanding" and is typically caused by not doing a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES the first time an Autostar was connected to the telescope. So, be certain you have selected the proper telescope model and mounting mode, then do a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. And once you have done an alignment, the Autostar will track objects in either Polar or Alt/Az mode.
Subject:	Motor Drives Failures
Sent:	Monday, July 21, 2003 21:33:20
From:	cmf@san.rr.com (cmf)
My intention, if possible, is to help others avoid the same mistakes
that I made when I first purchased a telescope, hopefully leading to
less frustration and discouragment in what I believe is a rewarding
hobby.   I have notice that there has been alot of drive motor failures
on New ETX's.  Until lately I thought most, if not all were mechanical
flaws in the scope.   I know that with any product there is an
occational lemon.  It was until this weekend at the astronomy site when
asked by several new owners to help them with their setup, that I
noticed that they were tightening the declination and right accension
locks so tight that it took considerable force to loosen them.  Again on
the internet one was under the impression that the right accension lock
should be turned all the way across its path of throw.   I don't know if
this is the cause of the vast majority of motor failures experiences,
but it might be worth wild to reiterate to only tighten the RA and Dec
locks just enough to engage the drive gears.  I know this sounds pretty
basic, but if it helps someone to avoid premature repair and frustration
it's worth it.

Many thanks for your time and energy for maintaining this site!

Clear Skies!
Chuck Falcone

Subject:	125 etx and polar aligning
Sent:	Monday, July 21, 2003 10:50:33
From:	mike@e-axis.com (Mike Luis)
I have a Meade 125 ETX with AutoStar control. So far I have been using
an ALTZ alignment and it's worked great. But I've been reading up on
polar aligning on your site. It's sounds interesting, especially when
considering photography. But I don't know how to do it. So far this is
what I think polar aligning a scope entails (step by step).

1. Face tripod north or point it to Polaris (my TP has an "N" on it so I
assume that's what I face north) and level it horiz.

2. Place the scope on to the tripod with the optical tube facing up (DEC
knob should read 90 deg) the scope should be leveled horiz, if not make
adjustments.

3. Turn the scope counter clockwise until you hit the hard stop. Then
turn the scope Clockwise towards the "N". The DEC fork should be facing
west and directly above the control panel.

4. Now tilt the scope using the tripod head to your latitude. I live in
Toronto, Canada so it should be set to 43 or 44 deg (I think).

5. Turn the scope on and select Polar Align when the AutoStar asks you
which alignment method.

So that's what I'm assuming. So my question is, am I missing something?

Any advice is appreciated.

Mike
Mike here: First off, I suggest doing things in a slightly different order. Adjust the tripod head for your latitude first. Then place the telescope in the Polar Home position (OTA 90 degrees Declination and pointed towards to Polaris). Next do the hard stop rotations. Power-on and select Polar mounting on the Autostar and then do the alignment.

And:

Thanks Mike much appreciated. You have a great site.

mike	

Subject:	How do I use the ETX-70 with a PDA?
Sent:	Sunday, July 20, 2003 19:55:23
From:	dgasch@insightbb.com (David Gasch)
First of all I'm a novice at astronomy, and the ETX-70 is my first scope
of any quality.

I own a Palm m515, and want to control my telescope with the PDA. Can
you tell me what I need to hook up the PDA to the telescope?

I have download the Planetarium program for the PDA and it looks like a
very good program, I just need the type of cable hook ups I need to
control the telescope.  I have installed the software to the PDA, and
the telescope icon shows in the PDA's window.

I also have on order the Meade #506 Astro Software/Cable Kit.  I want to
be able to control either through PDA, or my laptop.

Thanks are in order for a great website.  A wealth of information for a
beginner like me!

David Gasch 
Mike here: You will need a serial cable to connect between the #506 cable and the Palm. I did a search for "PDA and Autostar" and found several hits.
Subject:	Firmware/software on AutoStar 497 and etx-125
Sent:	Sunday, July 20, 2003 18:36:18
From:	netmail@wideopenwest.com (Confidential)
Are there two types of software on the Autostar 497?  Ive read most of
the posts but its not clear to me if the autostar has Firmware and
software or are they one in the same? I have been able to upgrade my
autostar to meades latest version on there web page as of yesterday
which was 26eD on an ETX-125..is that all I need to do or is there
another download that I need to perform?  The download did not help with
the slew speed for 1 and 2 on the keypad, so I still cant use them. The
scope is a few weeks old. I did not take apart the forks and clean the
grease out. The only issues I have at this point is alt sloppiness and
the lack of response on the slower speeds when slewing with autostar.
thanks in advance !
Mike here: They mean the same thing in this case. Be certain you TRAIN DRIVES (both axes) following any Autostar update. That may resolve your issues with speed and "sloppiness".

And:

Thanks Mike, I will train the drives per your instructions and see what
happens. Jim

Subject:	Gps for ETX125EC
Sent:	Sunday, July 20, 2003 02:47:43
From:	JSmith1776@cfl.rr.com (Buz Johnson)
Just wanted to know if youve seen this product or heard about it?
I am very interested in adding gps to my scope.
Any recommendations?
Its available on ebay for $200
Thanks
buz
Mike here: It was announced on the Autostar Information and there is a review there as well (in Japanese). I personally haven't used one but Dr. Clay Sherrod, a respected source, liked it.
Subject:	Ref GPS for Autostar review
Sent:	Saturday, July 19, 2003 18:09:50
From:	pga1961@tiscali.co.uk (Paul Atkins)
I already have a Garmin Streetpilot and have therefore only needed to
purchased the Starpatch software, however to be able to connect the
scope (Autostar) and the GPS I needed a DB9 male to male Null Modem
adapter.

These items appear to be extremely elusive here in the UK, in fact I
have spent the best of today sourcing one, eventually I located a
supplier here in the UK, http://www.memory-map.co.uk/, part number
CAB006-1. The item retails at 8.47 + Postage.

This maybe useful for those ETX users here in the UK who also own GPS
units

regards

Paul G Atkins

Subject:	re: runaway autostar
Sent:	Saturday, July 19, 2003 11:37:57
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	Carolandmike00@aol.com
The symptoms are those of bad connections.

Things i would try:
(a) swap the ends of the HBX cable... this shuffles which pin does what.

(b) -carefully- inspect the socket in the Autostar... are the gold wires
 all equally visible?

(c) you can open the autostar, and inspect for the socket itself being
loose on the card, or the traces from it being damaged.  The tiny 
grey rectangular parts near the sockets are "feed through inductors",
and should have zero ohms resistance between their ends.  They can
act like a fuse and "open", although that usually means that some
other component died, and took the inductor with it.

eBay, astromart and telescope warehouse
http://www.telescope-warehouse.com/
are sources of inexpensive Autostars.

good luck
--dick


Subject:	runaway autostar
Sent:	Friday, July 18, 2003 12:43:56
From:	Carolandmike00@aol.com
My ETX-125 has not been used for a couple of months so I decided to take
it out last night and my Autostar has gone crazy. Lately I have been
using the hand controller in polar mode with no problems but when I plug
in the Autostar I get a runaway scope as soon as power is turned on.
While the scope is moving a few degrees up and back and forth the
Autostar is on the initializing stage, then "testing motors" appears
with a follow message of motor fault. When I plug the hand controller
back in, its fine. The Autostar was working fine the last time it was
used. Any ideas?

Help in Texas
M. Schuster
Mike here: Obvious question: are you sure you are plugged into the right port on the ETX base? Beyond that, try new batteries or use AC. You could also RESET the Autostar if you can get to the menu item before it faults. Check the Autostar cable and connector; be certain they are in good shape (no cats chew marks and no bent pins).

And:

Yes, the Autostar was plugged in correctly, AC adapter was in use, no
marks or defects found on cord. I cannot get to reset menu, Autostar
allows no "key functions" except mode key which brings up "motor unit
fault" message.

I did talk to tech support at Meade and was basically told my Autostar
seems to be "fried" but to try to plug it into another ETX to make sure
that the problem is the Autostar and that more than likely I would need
to replace the Autostar since they do not work on them and I have no
warranty because the scope is second hand. Unfortunately, I do not know
of anyone personally that owns an ETX-125 that will allow me to do this,
nor do I believe the local dealer in my area will allow me to plug me
"screwed-up" Autostar into there brand new scope. I can see the look on
there face -- you want to do what?

It is just puzzling to me that it worked fine the last time I used the
scope and Autostar. In fact, I never had a problem with it before. Any
other suggestion will be much appreciated.

Mike in Texas
Clear Skies
Mike here: OK. I would still check with a local dealer. One other thing you could try would be to update the software. You'll need a #505 cable (which you can make or buy). You will probably have to put the Autostar into SAFE MODE but that's not a problem if it is a software problem. As to a replacement, you can likely find a used one on eBay, either a #495 which can be upgraded via software to a #497, or a #497 itself.

And:

I will give it a try, I do have the cable and the Autostar has been
updated to the latest version. I will let you know how it comes out.
Have checked Ebay and there is a couple of new units.
Thanks and Clear Skies
Mike in Texas

Subject:	Training: Target Distance 
Sent:	Friday, July 18, 2003 12:42:59
From:	Lang.Michael@orbital.com (Michael Lang)
After 3 years of using my ETX 125 with Autostar version 2.0h, I finally
worked up the courage to upgrade the Autostar software to 2.6Ed.

Dr Clay SuperCharged my telescope immediately after I purchased it in
2000, and it has always functioned very well in GoTo (polar and Az/El)
and also tracked very well. My only complaint/concern has been that at
the very low slew speeds (1,2,3), it seemed to be taking longer to begin
moving than it did immediately after the SuperCharge.

So I uploaded 2.6Ed, reset, calibrated, and retrained. I used a marble
as my training target: about 200 feet distance, and at the same height
above ground as the telescope, and a 10mm crosshair eyepiece.

The results aren't "horrible" as I was able to get close to the Ring
Nebula (at the zenith). But locating the Ring did require spiral search.
I tried polar and Az/El, easy-align (2 star), and I very precisely polar
aligned, and set time to WWV, set date, and set my location using GPS.

The real problem is that I am (apparently) experiencing the dreaded
"rubberbanding" that I've read so much about.

I did not perform any special steps in retraining, such as moving in
certain directions to acquire the alignment target. I just followed the
instructions displayed on the Autostar and retrained in both axes.

I also did not adjust any of the percentages.

Do you believe retraining on a smaller object and using a 10mm eyepiece
+ 2X Barlow would yield better results ?

I'm considering using a back-illuminated pin hole at 200 feet on the top
of my chimney, so the telescope is pointing "up" at 30 degrees.

If the consensus is that a tiny target/high power as I described is
acceptable, then I intend to follow all of the interesting retraining
techniques on your website.

I was hoping you could give me a quick sanity check that poor training
is contributing to my "rubberbanding".

Of course, I'm sure poor training is the cause of my poor GoTo accuracy.

thanks !

Michael Lang
LANG.MICHAEL@ORBITAL.COM
Aldie, Virginia
Mike here: I would suggest reTRAINing anyway. And be certain to do both the Alt and Az axis (easy to miss). High power (and/or crosshair/reticle eyepiece), small object, and objects at least a few miles away are best.
Subject:	Autostar!
Sent:	Tuesday, July 15, 2003 13:36:45
From:	tigera75@hotmail.com (walid feghali)
i know i ask alot of questions, but im confused, and need help, im only
13 years old, and live in sweden...

ok, anyway! heres the questions!

Can you give me the ABSOLUTE COMPLETE Autostar menu, with every nebulae,
comet, EVERYTHING, ot at least som of them...? :D

Have you check every object in the Autostar menu?

Mike's ETX-Site RULES!!
Mike here: Rather than email you the entire list of 30,000 objects (assuming you have a #497) I'll refer you to the "Database Information" section on the Autostar Information page. And no, I've not seen all 30,000 objects.
Subject:	ETX90EC Extra Movement
Sent:	Tuesday, July 15, 2003 04:48:34
From:	A.Schmitz.ZFMK@uni-bonn.de (Andreas Schmitz)
I have solved many initial problems of my ETX after having read the many
specialized articles on your great ETX page.

But there is one more problem, the solution of which has eluded me so
far: I have my new ETX 90 EC (with UHTC) now for about a month and have
spend many an evening admiring its fantastic optics when observing. The
optical quality is really fantastic.

Also, after calibrating and training the drives they generally work O.K.
(I work in Alt-Az. mode), and the objects chosen with the Autostar (or
with my MegaStar software) are normally within the field of view of the
26 mm SuperPloessl, though mostly at the upper edge of the field (not a
problem though).

But when I change to a greater magnification I very often observe a
strange behavior of the drives: when I center an object in the middle of
the field of view of a 15 mm Ploessl ocular with the directional
controls of my Autostar (newest version 2.6G) and the drives start
again, every few times the telescope moves the object again away from
the middle to the position it was in, before (!) I centered it. Then it
normally tracks the object nicely. Re-centering it with the controls
mostly leads to the same effect: the object is again moved to the
position at the edge of the field of view.

While this behavior does not matter at low magnification (the effect is
hardly noticable then), it is more than annoying at middle magnification
(about 83x; 15 mm Ploessl) and it often makes observing at high
magnification (> 90x) impossible since the extra movement is enough to
move the object completely out of the field of view.

I even exchanged the Autostar unit at my local dealer, but this movement
effect still remains the same. Also I should note that the effect does
not always crop up, though more often it does than not. And only when
manually moving the telescope with the directional controls. Also no
change after recalibrating and re-training the drives.

Any idea what could be the cause? Any simple solution possible? After
having waited for nearly three month to finally get the telescope and
another two weeks before getting the Autostar unit (Meade forgot to
include it in the package at first) I would not like to have to send the
telescope to them for repair as I guess this would again take ages
before I get it back.

Keep up the excellent work!!!
Andreas Schmitz
Bonn, Germany
Mike here: The effect you describe is known as "rubberbanding" and is usually caused by not doing a TRAIN DRIVES with a new telescope/Autostar or following an Autostar upgrade. You said you did TRAIN DRIVES; did you do both the Alt and Az axes? I ask because it is easy to miss doing both since you have to select each axis separately when doing the TRAIN DRIVES. Another culprit could be inadequate training. Use a higher magnification on a distant (terrestrial) object. Finally, you could update the Autostar; you didn't say what version it has but if not the current 2.6Ed (English only) version you might want to upgrade it. You'll need Windows, a serial port, and a #505 cable.
Subject:	note
Sent:	Sunday, July 13, 2003 01:50:24
From:	gary@iomastronomy.org (Gary kewin)
I live in  the Isle Of Man  which is in the middle of the Irish sea  the
place that  famous for the Tourist Trophy ( tt races) however last year
i bought a Meade etx 125 ec , plus the correct cable for i want to
control from the house   at the moment i have Windows Xp installed on my
Pc  when ever i try  to connect the both of them , xp says i have com
port error , how can i get around this please.I am in the Isle Of man
Astronomical society , www.iomastronomy.org  is our web site
                                     Best Wishes
                                        From Gary
Mike here: Check to see if some other application is using the com port, typically fax software. Also, does your computer have a real serial port or are you using a USB-serial adapter?
Subject:	Question (HELP!)
Sent:	Saturday, July 12, 2003 06:02:09
From:	ed.jarmolowicz@modicon.com
I know you are a busy person

I have a 125ETX with A/S v2.4E firmware.

I downloaded and installed Meade's ASU361.exe, so I can connect to the
handheld.

I also have ACP from the Meade 505 bundle.

I could not connect with the Meade 505 cable, so I investigated building
a cable.

I used this schmeme .

Autostar pins           DB9 PC pins

1                       3       TRANSMIT
2                       2       RECV
3                       N/C
4                       5       GROUND

I unintsalled and reinstalled COM1.

I rebooted my Compaq Evo N610c Windows2000 and connected with the Meade
supplied cable (I only rebuild the DB side of the cable) and upon
starting the 125etx, the initialization screen starts up then beeps a
second time. The word Enter comes up and the handheld has depress each
key of the handheld through the Scroll Down key.  Then the handheld
display what apears to be an error code "PIC Failure V13 C001", and the
handheld does not respond.


Any thoughts or experiences?   Does Meade have a list of error code
on-line, I have searched your site and other places with no success.

I hope to call Meade Monday and talk with them.  I also hope to attach a
different Autostar and try to contact.


I have purchased a Compaq 3900 series Ipaq and the Sky software, so I
hope to overcome this difficulty of connecting.  The Ipaq is due this
week.

Otherwise, the Autostar responds fine.  I have reset the Autostar and
retried.  I rebooted the Ready Firmware 3.0 in an attempt to correct the
problem, but no luck.

Thanks
Mike here: Since the Autostar works normally I suspect some problems either with the cable (have you looked through the cable articles on the Autostar Information page?) or the computer. However, computer side problems usually result in a COM port not found error from the Autostar Updater Application.
(By the way, see the Email subject warning on the ETX Home page. Your email was almost deleted unread as SPAM.)

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Very simple: your homemade cable is short-circuting the 
two rs232 signal lines.  That invokes the Autostar self-test.
Freature, not bug (just bad cable)

Look on Mike's site at the:

http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_testing.html

page  

good luck
--dick
And:
I work for an automation company, Modicon, and I had one of the
engineers build me a cable.  I hope to try it out tonight.

I will report back on my results.

Thanks

Subject:	Fried Autostar or fried motors?
Sent:	Saturday, July 12, 2003 01:41:33
From:	mrtt@peoplepc.com (michael tan)
I've been searching the autostar information page in Mike's Migthy ETX
site.  Here's my problem:

I have 2 LXD55 motors attached to an Autostar 497 controller (26Ed). The
Autostar has stopped slewing the Lxd55 motors (it does not seem to
communicate with them anymore) though the display says "slewing".  The
autostar does not come out of the "slewing" display until I hit the mode
button once more.

This happened after I tried to align the scope to a star which I could
not center with the arrow keys.  I may have over driven it somehow along
one axis. Have you heard of this happening before?  Do I need to replace
my motors or my Autostar? Is this something I can repair on my own?

By the way, what are the signal levels (coming out of the HBX port)
being sent to the LXD55 from the Autostar? Are they all digital only
levels coming from the Autostar?

Thanking you in advance for your kind help.

Clear skies,

Michael
Mike here: Have you checked the LXD55 for slipped gears? See the article "Fixing a Slipped RA Gear" on my LXD55 site for more info.

And:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
> I have 2 LXD55 motors attached to an Autostar 497
> controller (26Ed). The Autostar has stopped slewing the
> Lxd55 motors (it does not seem to communicate with them
> anymore) though the display says "slewing".  The
> autostar does not come out of the "slewing" display
> until I hit the mode button once more.

Have you tried a Reset? (i have to ask)
Do the motors move if you just press a slew key?
What happens when you try a Setup > Telescope > Calibrate ?
(the above is a VITAL test)

> This happened after I tried to align the scope to a
> star which I could not center with the arrow keys.

Do you mean you ran into something?

> I may have over driven it somehow along one axis. Have
> you heard of this happening before? 

Not by that cause.  My scope has ground away against its hard stops many times.

> Do I need to replace my motors or my Autostar? Is this something I
> can repair on my own?

I would -start- by wiggling the HBX cable, or swapping it end-for-end.
Carefully inspect the HBX socket in the Autostar itself... there were
a bnch of them shipped with LXD55's which had contact wires which were
not extending enough to fully make contact with the cable's pins.

If you have (or could borrow) another Autostar, or the small handcontroller
used by the Autostar-not-included scopes (original ETX90ec, newer LXD's),
you could do a comparison (any friendly local dealer?)

And there's always the call to Meade...
If you are beyond warranty, eBay is a good source for replacement Autostars.

> By the way, what are the signal levels (coming out of
> the HBX port) being sent to the LXD55 from the Autostar?
> Are they all digital only levels coming from the Autostar?

They are similar to Phillips' I2C bus signals: 
digital TTL levels (so zero to 3.5 volts, nominal), clock and data.
Three pairs of signal lines (AUX, Alt and Az), but the Alt/Az share 
a common data line.
The data lines are bidirectional: they both talk and listen.
The clock lines are separately driven to serve as a "multiplexer"...
although data will appear at both the Alt and Az motors,
only the desired motor sees clock pulses to tell it to "listen"
to the command.  
Commands are sent as addressed message packets, varying from one to 5 bytes.
I think the pulse rate was 400 KHz, but occasionally slows down for the 
AUX port. (it's been three years since i looked into it)

good luck
--dick
And:
Yes I did check the LXD55 gears and they are fine.

Thanks
And:
Hi Dick,

Thanks for your reply:

> Have you tried a Reset? (i have to ask)
> Do the motors move if you just press a slew key?
> What happens when you try a Setup > Telescope > Calibrate ?
> (the above is a VITAL test)

1) Yes  I have tried a reset. The motors do not respond to any of the
slew keys.  I did try to calibrate but the motors do not respond when
asked to center the object.  When I substituted my autostar with the
electronic hand controller, I was able to slew the LXD55 motors so I
think the motors are ok.  Now, when I use the Autostar with the DS
motors ( with the HBX box), the motors just keep slewing and don't stop
once I've plugged them in.

> > This happened after I tried to align the scope to a
> > star which I could not center with the arrow keys.
>
> Do you mean you ran into something?

2) I did not run into something, but I did keep pressing the slew key to
move the scope to the point that it stopped responding.  I did not run
into the mount though.

> I would -start- by wiggling the HBX cable, or swapping it end-for-end.
> Carefully inspect the HBX socket in the Autostar itself... there were
> a bnch of them shipped with LXD55's which had contact wires which were
> not extending enough to fully make contact with the cable's pins.

3) Yes I did check continuity on the HBX cable and it is fine. I will
try inspecting the contact wires.

> > By the way, what are the signal levels (coming out of
> > the HBX port) being sent to the LXD55 from the Autostar?
> > Are they all digital only levels coming from the Autostar?
>
> They are similar to Phillips' I2C bus signals:
> digital TTL levels (so zero to 3.5 volts, nominal), clock and data.  Three
pairs of signal lines (AUX, Alt > and Az), but the Alt/Az share  a common
data line.
> The data lines are bidirectional: they both talk and listen.
> The clock lines are separately driven to serve as a "multiplexer"...
> although data will appear at both the Alt and Az motors,
> only the desired motor sees clock pulses to tell it to "listen"
> to the command.
> Commands are sent as addressed message packets, varying from one to 5
bytes.
> I think the pulse rate was 400 KHz, but occasionally slows down for the
> AUX port. (it's been three years since i looked into it)

4) Which pins should I be measuring the digital levels? Would it be
between pin 5&8?  I have access to a digital voltmeter and an
oscilloscope. Are these signal levels being generated in the PIC 16c57
microcontroller?

I will check the HBX socket on my Autostar.  My suspect is that the PIC
16c57 microcontroller is kaput. If this is so, should I attempt to
replace it?

All the other  parts of the Autostar seem to be ok, I've even uploaded
your patch26d4.zip sucessfully.

Thanks again,

Michael
Mike here: Perhaps a dumb question but just to be certain, have you set the telescope model to the correct telescope when switching between the DS and LXD55? Also, you will need to CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES when switching.
Subject:	re: tracking
Sent:	Friday, July 11, 2003 21:07:28
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
Do the targets -eventually- move?

After aligning, If you manually slew to an object, and make
your telescope's final motion be in an east-to-west direction ,
do they track?
If they do, it could simply be excessive looseness (backlash) of the gearing.
IF that's the case, then (after Training) increasing the RA Percentage
setting may help.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	RE: Setting a GPS verified position
Sent:	Friday, July 11, 2003 20:59:21
From:	javao@singnet.com.sg (christopher shaw)
Wow! Thanks for your quick response!!! You the man!!

Someone said :

In your Autostar Menu
Goto
Setup-->Site-->Add--> (scroll to find "Custom")
You can the directional button to make alpha-numeric entries on Name,
Latitude, Longtitude and Time Zone.

What do you think? Is using the 'custom' key the right procedure in
order to add a new Latitude and Longtitude

Chris
Mike here: Yes, you could use Custom but I suggest following Dick's (below) and my advice of editing an existing one.

And from our Autostar expert:

From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
If you EDIT the data for Singapore to "Chris Backyard",
 you are actually creating a new site in not-very-permanent memory.
The original Singapore will still be available under the Site/Add list.
If you do a RESET, your Backyard site will disappear.

So, once you have selected Singapore as your current site,
you can do:  Setup > Site > Edit [enter]
scroll to Singapore, and then tap enter.
The cursor will start blinking under the S, and you can change
(via the scroll or slew keys) the letters to Chris Backyard 
[enter] sets it, and you'll move on to the Lat and Long screens.

have fun, it's safe...
--dick

Subject:	Setting a GPS verified position
Sent:	Friday, July 11, 2003 02:56:46
From:	javao@singnet.com.sg (christopher shaw)
I live in Singapore and currently I have the default 'Singapore'
location punched into the autostar of my ETX 105. There are no towns in
Singapore (being a small country the size of Chicago) so both country
and city is still under 'Singapore' in the autostar database. Now, I
have currently obtained a GPS accurate reading of my observing location
in Singapore (my backyard). How to I enter this reading into the
autostar? I want to enter this reading as a brand NEW location - let's
call it 'Chris' Backyard'.

I don't want to accidentally wipe out or in anyway EDIT permanantly the
default 'Singapore' location in the autostar database though.

Can you show me how I can add a brand NEW location in the autostar
without over-riding any of the default locations?

Best regards
Chris
Mike here: The recommended way is to EDIT an existing entry in the same time-zone as you are. That ensures the possibility of errors are reduced. There is no harm in changing one of the entries, especially one you are likely to not use.
Subject:	Re: tracking
Sent:	Monday, July 7, 2003 04:24:51
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
Two Star alignment.  It finds the stars with a little adjustment and
finds the moon (Example) pretty much dead center,  but as the moon moves
it doesn't follow it.

Dore
Mike here: Check those other things I mentioned.
Subject:	tracking
Sent:	Sunday, July 6, 2003 17:46:55
From:	RUNDMCNJ@aol.com
I can train my etx-125 using goto meadw autostar to get my planet or
moon right in the middle of the lens but is there something I must do
after it finds the moon as an example to track it as it moves across the
sky.  Right now it just disappears after a couple of minutes.  Also how
do I put in co-ordinates I find on the internet into the autostar
manually?

went to my first star party jersey starquest actually one of the
greatest stargazing experiences ever????

Dore
Mike here: You are doing a one or two star alignment, right? Have you done the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES steps? It sounds like either that hasn't been done (it is required whenever an Autostar is first used with a telescope and occasionally thereafter if problems surface) or you have the wrong date/time/location/telescope/mount set. You can enter RA and DEC into the Autostar by pressing the MODE key. Then scroll until you see RA/DEC and press GOTO. You'll then be able to edit the RA; press ENTER. Then you can edit the DEC; press GOTO when done.

And:

thanks.
Dore

Subject:	Yet another ETX 125-EC Motor Unit fault
Sent:	Saturday, July 5, 2003 15:48:36
From:	gossamer7@cox.net (Abran Salazar)
Seems that you have been getting a few Motor Unit Fault e-mail messages
from users of new ETX 125 ECs.  I too am curious to know if there are
others out there who have been experiencing the same problem.  I
recently (actually about three months ago) purchased an ETX 125 EC with
UHTC.  Brand new out of the box, I began experiencing problems.  In
alt/az: plenty of rubber banding while centering, 10% of objects
attempted in FOV when hitting goto despite correct alignment procedures,
one motor fault error message (corrected when batteries replaced),
hairline cracks emanating from the bolt-wells in the casing used to hold
the optical tube as well as the inside of the fork arms, jerkiness in
the object in the FOV while tracking, and an older (2.4E) version of
autostar software.  The return to Meade is a saga in itself, and one I
might bore you with some day.

To their credit, Meade did eventually get a new scope and a new Autostar
(version 2.6E  -- is there a more recent version?) out to me as
replacements.  Got both about two weeks ago.  Immediate inspection of
the scope revealed the same hairline cracks in the same locations as the
previous scope, probably as a result of over-tightening the hex
bolts/screws. Called Meade about this and was informed this was fairly
common and that the cracks should not affect the performance of the
scope in any way.  I had previously been informed by another Meade rep
that the cracks were rare -- who knows.  When the weather finally
cleared up here in the Northeast, use of the replacement scope, in
alt/az, revealed excellent tracking, ALL objects placed in the field of
view (26 mm eyepiece), very slight rubber banding, and excellent optics.
 Within three minutes of hitting the GOTO key, however, I have
consistently (95% of the time) received the dreaded "MOTOR UNIT FAULT"
message.

It does seem strange that I only have received this message when the
goto button is pressed.  As long as I proceed visually, and "lock" onto
a desired location using Autostar's directional keys, I get no "FAULT"
message. The scope tracks well.  The message has consistently appeared 
when I have hit "tonight's best" selecting M13, M92, or the double
cluster Caldwell 14 (?). Same with selecting "star", "named", "Mizar"
and then goto.

These are the only objects I have experimented with in attempting to
diagnose and resolve the problem, as the autostar/scope should not, in
my money's opinion, be having a problem with ANY object. I have tried a
variety of methods for diagnosing the problem, including retraining,
recalibrating, resetting, loosening the lock knobs, not tightening the
lock knobs at all; I even got PERMISSION from Meade to delve into the
inner workings of the scope to determine whether grease had gotten onto
the optical encoders.  It was either this or wait another 2 months for a
potential new scope (can you say backlog?). Liberal amounts of grease on
all plastic cogs that I was able to see at both motor locations. Light
removal had no effect, as I suspected because the goto accuracy and
tracking is VERY good.

Three battery sets later, I am back where I started. Other than the
Motor Unit Fault messages, I am satisfied with the scope.  I can even
live with the slight rubber-banding -- If only I could get it to track
for longer than three minutes after hitting goto.  Any idea what gives? 
Scope or Autostar problem? Shall I try for scope number three? Any and
all information from you or other users would be appreciated.

Thanks once again for the excellent information on your website.  It is
truly a godsend for ETX users.

Abran Salazar
Mike here: Sorry you've had problems. Since you say you RESET, CALIBRATED, and TRAINED there shouldn't be any problem (I assume you set the Autostar for the ETX-125). Version 2.6Ed is the latest on Meade's site. By any chance have you tried a different Autostar? If Meade only replaced the telescope I wonder if the Autostar is the source of your problem.

And:

Thanks so much for your quick reply.

Yes, I have tried 2 different Autostars set for etx125, each the same
version (2.6E). Same problem with both.  Will try to contact Meade again
on Monday to see what they say about getting it upgraded to 2.6Ed, and
if they have encountered more individuals with the same complaint. 
Won't attempt to upgrade Autostar myself as I have a Mac and Meade has
made it more difficult for us Mac users to update online from what I
gather after reading the info on your site!  That's what we Mac users
get for our 4% market share ;)

Thanks again!
Mike here: Well, you can upgrade the Autostar if you use VirtualPC... Let me know what Meade says.
Subject:	re:  Rubber Banding on DS 114 Reflector
Sent:	Friday, July 4, 2003 09:21:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	diverdown@msn.com
I don't have a DS- scope, but i think i remember other users
having similar problems... frequently caused by the motor units
becoming just a -tiny- bit loose.

Other good resources for DS- experience include:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/meade-ds/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/meade-ds-telescopes/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade4504Telescopes/

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

The first two of those are specific for the DS-
The 4504 group uses the 114mm optical assembly
and the RoboScope group uses the DS- motor sets for their creations.
(they use the Autostar and DS- motors for other non-Meade telescopes)

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Slewing problem?
Sent:	Friday, July 4, 2003 03:03:15
From:	opalekj@bellsouth.net (Jim & Donna Opalek)
I recently purchased a used ETX90 and have had used it a lot.  After
doing a motor calibration and training the drives, I have had excellent
goto results and tracking in both Polar and Alt/Az modes.  While Polar
will track slightly longer and will less battery drain, I enjoy Alt/Az
because the eyepiece remains in a "normal" viewing position and, using
the 883 tripod, I can go to the southern horizon (which I cannot do in
polar mode).

The other night, while using Alt/Az mode, I did several precise goto's
on Messier objects and stars.  But when I selected the moon (which was
setting in the northwest), the proper RA and Dec coordinates came up,
but the scope slewed straight up (like it was trying to flop over) and
hit the hardstop.  I powered the AutoStar off and back on and repeated
my alignment.  Again, great success with deepsky objects and stars, but
when I selected the moon, the same thing happened.  Has anyone else had
a similar experience?  Any remedies available?

Thanks,

Jim
Mike here: Since this was a used telescope, and Autostar I presume, what software version is in the Autostar? If not the current version, I would suggest upgrading (you will either need to make or buy a #505 cable and will need Windows to run the Meade Autostar Update Application). Beyond that I can think of no reason why just the Moon would do that.

And:

Thank you for your reply.  The Autostar version is 26E.  I think what
may have happened is that the Autostar somehow (it did have a lot of dew
settle on it a few nights before) was confused.  Even though I selected
Alt/Az mode (and the Autostar requested the Alt/Az alignment), when I
went back to look at the telescope/mount configuration, the cursor was
on Polar.  I repeated this procedure several times before giving up and
finally opted for Polar alignment.  The next day, I re-did my setup,
actually checking the information for proper date, site, time zone,
etc., and last night, everything seemed to be working correct again.  I
really don't know what caused the temporary malfunction, but all is well
again.
Thank you.

Jim

Subject:	Rubber Banding on DS 114 Reflector
Sent:	Thursday, July 3, 2003 16:51:43
From:	diverdown@msn.com (Diverdown)
I see that your quite knowledgeable about the 494 Autostar With the DS
114 scope.  I have a 492 mount. I set it up and it worked fine for the
first 3 days that I used it.  All of a sudden it started acting up.  If
you put it on a star it moves of after about 5 seconds.  You move it
back and it stays for about 5 seconds then it moves off again.  It seems
to loose track where it is also.  I started in the home position did the
two star align, Vega, Spica, then went to Polaris.  It was off a little.
I then went to Park Scope and it goes over to 130 degrees and parks
instead of 0 degrees.  I've reset, calibrated the motors, Trained the
drives, and realign to no avail.  Any suggestions.

Thanks for all you can do.

Gary
Mike here: Check the model number of the telescope and the mounting mode in the Autostar. If you have to change them, reCALIBRATE and reTRAIN.
Subject:	re: Problems with ETX-90EC polar alignment 
Sent:	Thursday, July 3, 2003 09:31:26
From:	marc_777uk@yahoo.co.uk (Marc Delaney)
To:	phcalama@solstice.uwaterloo.ca
about your polar mounting problems: did you rotate the scope all the wat
anti-clockwise to its stop, then clockwise just so the left fork is
above the control panel? Easy to forget!
Best wishes, clear skies,
Marc

Subject:	GPS for ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, July 2, 2003 00:46:58
From:	javao@singnet.com.sg (christopher shaw)
What do you know of the new GPS device for the ETX?
http://www.stargps.ca/

Does this product eliminate the need for star alignment for position
fixing?
 
Regards,
Chris
Mike here: See the item on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Mac usb to serial with autostar 497
Sent:	Tuesday, July 1, 2003 12:31:37
From:	morris@ntara.com (Jeff Morris)
I wanted to inquire a little about your USB to serial setup with your
Mac TiBook.   I have had my scope for a year and a half and have really
learned alot as this is my first one.  I have a Tibook and a DS2130ATE
scope with 497 Autostar with the latest firmware.  I bought Starrynight
Pro 4.x and a USB to serial adapter from CPtech- it uses very common
"Prolific" chipset (I am wishing I would have bought your recommendation
of Keyspan's prodcut).   I made a cable with some wonderfull infromation
on your site (By the way - reading info on your site is a big reason I
got a Meade Autostar scope.-Thank you- I have really enjoyed it!).

I used an older PC laptop to update the firmware using the cable I made-
all went well.  I also used Starry night Pro  on the PC (using its
serial port) to confirm the scope could be communicated with using the
cable.  Starry night did this well.

My mac runs Starry night Pro 4.0 beautifully, except it cant seem to
connect to my scope using the USB to serial adapter.   I thought mabey
my adapter isnt working or isnt set correctly.  I used a Palm PDA to
test the SErial adapter and the mac talked to the palm wonderfully.
HMMMMMM- So I am not sure why Starry night cant talk to my scope.   Any
suggestions you might have since you are using a Tibook to control your
scopes, would be great!

Best,

Jeff Morris
Meade 2130 ATE
Mike here: Actually I'm now using an "AlBook" (PowerBook 17"). I suspect a driver problem with your USB-serial adapter. I don't have SNP for Mac OS X but have used other software with the Keyspan adapter, both native Mac OS X and the Meade Autostar Updater Application under VirtualPC 6 in Mac OS X. No communications problems with the current Keyspan driver. You didn't mention whether you were using Mac OS 9 or OS X; the driver under OSX seems to be slightly more picky than under Mac OS 9. I had a lot of problems until Keyspan got their driver working.
Subject:	Autostar
Sent:	Tuesday, July 1, 2003 05:07:27
From:	Virtualeb@aol.com
Is there some way I can Polar Align my 125 ETX and have it track,
without doing a two star alignment? In other words, can I use Austostar
as a Dumb hand  	 controller and still track objects? I have a
limited view of the sky from my  	 backyard, but the Big Dipper and
polaris is always in view.

Thanks,
Ed
Mike here: Yes. You need to be polar mounted though since the Autostar will know nothing about the current sky geometry. However, it only takes a couple of minutes to polar align using two stars so why not take advantage of it.
Subject:	re-tracking--error correction
Sent:	Tuesday, July 1, 2003 04:19:10
From:	drwdavis@dialmaine.com (W. S. Davis)
Just purchased an ETX 125. The tar feature would be great..if it worked.
It will get the object "nearly" in the finder..but then the arrow keys
to "fine tune" the scope refuse to function most of the time. The optics
on this little scope seem very good, however, certainly not worthy of
the $1,000 price tag, give the inability of the autostar to function any
better than it has. This may be a "return" unless you have any
suggestions? How exactly do you set up the scope? I am following the
instructions to the letter..but still get "drive error" about 20% of the
time, as well as "slewing to ..." and the scope never moves. Is this a
common issue?

Thanks;
Bill
_______________________
Dr. W. Sumner Davis
H. J. Fowler Space Observatory
Oakland, Maine 04963-5020
USA
www.hjfso.org

"and remember....
Keep Looking Up!"
 ---Jack Horkeimer
Mike here: The obvious question first: have you done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? The Autostar is capable of accurate GOTOs when properly setup.

And:

well.. this is the smallest scope I have ever used..so..did I set it up
right? Hmm. Perhaps not. Can you tell me how YOU do these steps? The
manual (if that is what it is) is not so clear..

Thanks;

Bill

PS: love the mighty ETX site..that is the site that convinced me to give
these maks a try.
Mike here: There are many tips on alignment on the Autostar Information page; look through those for tips. BUT be certain you had done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES per the manual before trying the alignment.

And:

To: drclay@arksky.org
My first "go to "scope and also the smallest. Yet I seem to be lost. I
have tried to follow the set up procedure--but the scope still does not
track. I am certain this is user error somehow. Would you be so kind as
to explain how YOU set up and initialize your scope?  I am too used to
computer driven instruments I guess.

Thanks;
Bill
And:
From:	drclay@arksky.org (P. Clay Sherrod)
Hello Bill....complete instructions on setup, home positions and
alignment, etc., for the ETX can be found in the Performance Enhancement
guidelines that I wrote two years ago for ETX users and posted on the
Mighty ETX site at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips.html For your
needs, I think that you will find most of this very useful, as it
includes many drawings and figures to help you decide how to set up the
scope successfully, knowing all the pitfalls that typically occur when
starting out with these sophisticated little scopes!

Best of luck...

Clay
----------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
drclay@arksky.org
Arkansas Sky Observatory
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean
Harvard/MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard/MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject:	re:   DS-2000 alt/az gear ratio??
Sent:	Monday, June 30, 2003 19:24:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	smurfet83@yahoo.com
Well, there is no "DS-2000" model, per se, but
the ratios for the DS-2130 are: Az= 0.840567, Alt=1.15500
I believe those numbers are used by all of the DS-2xxx family.

good luck
--dick

Feedback Archives

Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Autostar Feedback page.


Return to the top of this page.

Go to the ETX Home Page.


Copyright ©2003 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2003 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackJul03/autostar.html