AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 28 July 2004
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade Autostar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, is covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject:	Autostar Suite
Sent:	Tuesday, July 27, 2004 06:49:18
From:	Jean Perfettini (Jean.Perfettini@leedsth.nhs.uk)
I might be able to answer the 25 July message where the Autostar Suite
would not find the COM Port: I battled with exaactly the same thing at
the same time.

1/ I checked all cable and telephone to RS232 provided by Meade = OK

2/ Submitted the problem to an electronics shop: they told me that it
was very likely that the "modern" Windows XP would not recognise the old
RS232 fitted at the back of the computer; they suggested a common USB
serial converter, allowing to plug serial devices on more modern USB
ports. (cost is approx 20 US $ in England).

3/ Tried it: during installation, Windows indicated that it was
recognised as COM port 4

4/ Re-tried the connection, Autostar Suite and LPI : worked perfectly,
could download the latest Autostar 497 version... Problem solved!

Thanks to the shop, because it is not from Meade that you'll find this
out.

This is a great website anyway.
Jean Perfettini
UK

Subject:	making the network work on one computer
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 2004 20:51:11
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
One article (how did i write such a -short- one?) which 
quickly describes it is:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/autostar_suite/networking.html

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	MICHAEL DOLCEAMORE (EROMAECLOD2004@msn.com)
Mike,
Thank you for sending me to Dick.
Dick has taken a lot of his time to get me operating correctly.
The 127.0.0.1 address did work for me.
I had to assign a password and it worked out great.
I think the main thing was I had to change my system to administrator
due to the fact that I am operating Windows 2000.
Well, thanks again,
the man is good.
Mike
Mike here: As I recall, the password thing tripped me up too. But I had my account set for admin rights.
Subject:	Re: Questions about using Autostar on a Mac
Sent:	Sunday, July 25, 2004 15:32:54
From:	Joey Hazan (zaphod_209@yahoo.com)
I am so sorry abour the mix up.  When I said "Autostar" I meant using
the new Autostar software suite, and more importantly the LPI on the
MAC.  My MAC does not have an RS-232 (I don't think any MACs do, but I
don't know) or USB.  Getting USB wont be a problem because I have not
one, but two PCMCIA cardbus slots.  Do you think the hardware
configuration will still be ok for using the LPI (assuming I get mor RAM
first)?  I am only a teenager of a semi-tight budget, so getting a new
laptop is mostly out of the question.  I think I can upgrade my current
laptop to use the LPI, but I thought that I'd ask an expert before I
spent any money on it.
Mike here: RS-422 ports (which older Macs have) works with RS-232. BUT you need horsepower for the LPI itself. As I noted in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page, with reduced processor speed on my G4 laptop, the LPI did not work. It was only when I went up to full speed on the 1GHz G4 that it worked OK.
Subject:	Autostar Suite
Sent:	Saturday, July 24, 2004 20:00:44
From:	MICHAEL DOLCEAMORE (EROMAECLOD2004@msn.com)
I had hooked up my Autostar Suite software and it seems to run fine
right out of the blocks. However, I cannot get the Autostar to work
while using the remote Hand Controller. If I use the remote hand
controller I cannot see the cross hairs on the screen moving to the new
target. I can use every function on the remote hand controller. I then
have to disconnect the Remote Hand Controller and active Autostar via
com port.
Does this seem odd or is this consistent with the program?
Thank you,
Mike Dolceamore
Mike here: Unless you enable the "network" mode, only one application can use the serial port at a time. See my write-up "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page for more info.

And:

Thank you, I am printing it now.
Take care,
 Mike

And:

I read the article and tried it. I am not sure exactly what you meant by
configuring your network server and assigning it a password. Can you
explain this?? I can operate both functions fine as long as they are not
connected to the COM port at the same time. I then disconnected both
from the COM port setup and tried the network connection. I tried the
default IP address and that did not work, then I tried to find what the
IP address was for my laptop and tried this. this did not work either.
When you enter the Remote Telescope Address screen are these values
correct for the network address and port? I also tried going into the
Start Network Server screen and there is an option to listen, which is
supposed to set the network to listen for IP addresses trying to
connect. No Luck. I tried the Autostar via Network and tried the remote
handbox as well via network with no luck.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
thank you,
Mike
Mike here: All I know about getting it to work is explained in the article. I believe there was a report from another user that he had to actually put his PC on a real network in order to get Windows to use TCP/IP networking.
Subject:	Homemade 505 Connector Cable troubles
Sent:	Saturday, July 24, 2004 19:02:00
From:	Rob&DonnaF (TheFifareks@cox.net)
Any ideas on reasons why the Autostar suite on my computer cannot find
the connection? I know the first response would probably be cable was
not made right or not plugged in right, but I did a continuity test on
the Autostar circuit board with my home made cable plugged in and
everything checks out. I was following Dr. Clays link on your website to
hookup and install a patch, but no success yet. Is there any other setup
on a PC that may have to be done that I am not aware of? Thanks.
Rob Fifarek
Mike here: First off, lets not worry about applying any patches quite yet. Does the Autostar Updater application see the Autostar? You say your homemade cable isn't working; what about the one included with the Autostar Suite package?

And:

Well Mike, Let's start from the basics, 
1. Purchased my Autostar from ebay 497 ver 31Ee
2. Downloaded Autostar Suite from Meade Site
3. Only have one cable (Substitue 505 Cable Home Made)
What's next?
Mike here: Well, first off, I didn't know that Meade had posted the full Suite software on their website. What used to be there was an updater. But anyway, if the Autostar Updater Application isn't seeing the Autostar then there could be several possibilities: port conflicts (check for fax software), bad serial port, bad cable, bad Autostar, etc. There are some tests you can run (see the Autostar Info page for those) but I would suggest trying the Autostar Updater Application first.
Subject:	Re: LPI question
Sent:	Wednesday, July 14, 2004 10:08:40
From:	Peter Thejll (thejll@mail.dk)
thanks for the good news! I got Seymour's 31e4 patch - but its eems to
expect to find build31ee.rom in my Ephemerids directory - I cannot find
that on the Mease site or on your site - any suggestion where I need to
look to get it?

    Cheers,

    Peter Thejll
    Denmark
Mike here: Hopefully Dick will release an update but in the meantime 3.1Ee is on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info: Autostar Software Archive page. [Dick has released an update; it's on the Autostar Info page.]
Subject:	re:  Autostar Suite  3.16a Southern Hemisphere issue
Sent:	Tuesday, July 13, 2004 19:59:18
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: 	  kiwi@earthling.net, etx@me.com
Kiwi wrote:
>Just thought I'd ask if anyone else has reported the issue with Autostar
>3.16a in the Southern hemisphere. For any Southern latitude locations
>the scroll bars don't work, scroll left and the screen updates with a
>scrolled right view, and vice versa, and clicking on N or S gives you
>a very nice view of what's underfoot! I think someone got confused with
>their code.

Actually, quite a number of southern hemi folks use the Suite,
and yours is the first complaint of that style i've heard.

AND... i'm not sure if i can  duplicate your symptoms...
 i set my site to Buenos Aires or Sydney, and the scroll bars
-do- have an effect (although they do appear reversed compared to
northern hemi, but i may have my viewpoint inverted).

The Suite's controls are NOT the highly-intuitive beasties that
the usual planetarium programs (StarryNight, TheSky, etc.) have.
You're not panning the sky across your viewpoint, you're panning
your viewpoint across the fixed display (which doesn't get truly
redrawn to another viewpoint until you tell it to).
That inverted way of looking at things can lead to fascinating
(unwanted) effects such as scrolling off the edge of the sky.

Even so, the views in the southern hemi certainly do operate weirdly.

If i ask Suite to give me a Western Horizon viewpoint, and then
slide the horizontal box left, the display pans off to the right.
Good.  Until i -release- the scroll box.  *bang!*
The scroll box remains where i left it, but the entire -display-
snaps leftward (as if i was dragging the center of the display,
not the surrounding viewframe).  This is, indeed, opposite to
the way a Northern Hemi site's viewing is handled.

Vertical panning is beyond verbal description...

I've sent a note to Meade.. you should too.  Bug reports go to
engineer@meade.com, and put "Autostar Suite Starmap bug" in the
subject (so it gets routed to the correct people).

have fun
--dick
And:
Hi Dick,

The easiest way to see what I'm on about is set a southern latitude,
then select a North or South Horizon view...they don't work. The scroll
bars work smoothly with a northern latitude, and do what you'd expect,
but are very peculiar in their behaviour when a Southern latitude is
set. The issue only affects the 3.16a upgraded Autostar.

I've submitted a bug report. Funny thing is, when the LX200 came out, I
had to help Meade debug their southern hemisphere code then too! Yanks
never were good at understanding the Southern hemisphere....or time
zones other than US ones. The story goes that the F16's inertial
guidance system had a Southern hemisphere bug too, and the first time
one was flown south of the equator it promptly inverted itself under
autopilot control as it crossed 0 latitude.....  :-)

Cheers....

David

Subject:	Autostar Suite: Single machine Networks/Port Sharing
Sent:	Monday, July 12, 2004 13:45:06
From:	Daniel (darnoff@yahoo.com)
In the Autostar Suite Manual we can found a whole paragraph dedicated to
the subject: Single machine Networks/Port Sharing, wich is a way to
share the serial comm port between the several applications in the
suite, avoiding conflict when all of them try to communicate with the
scope using the same comm port.

I try to setup the Single Machine Networks and it doesn't work for me,
I'm using a single home computer with Win XP, Autostar Suite with Update
3.16a and Autostar Handbox last firmware version.

Some of you had test this option? some of you got success here? If this
is the case, pls let me the "How to" method, because Meade Manual is not
too specific.

Thanks and best regards

Daniel
Mike here: See my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; I discuss how I got it to work.

And:

Me again. I have solve one of the obscure facts around the Network
issue: Autostar Suite use TCP/IP for setup the Network protocol, for the
machine wich try to use this feature has to provide an IP add for the
software.

I have read many mails from people like me who the Network feature
doesnt work and the reason now is clear for me: Windows 2000 and Windows
XP dont recongnize the Network card unless the card has connected to
another netowrk device, other computer, a hub or switch, etc. OR...
unless you install in the card RJ45 connector some Loopback device, wich
create some kind of Network into the card. In this condition, Windows
start IP services and also Autostar Suite will be able to setup the
Network feature.

Hope this explanation can help other guys like me, who has one home
computer and no network at home.

Best regards
 
daniel

Subject:	LPI question
Sent:	Sunday, July 11, 2004 13:29:57
From:	Peter Thejll (thejll@mail.dk)
I have an ETX90 with Autostar, and now I have the Meade LPI. I set
things up for terrestrial viewing (i.e. selcted terrestrial targets on
the Autoistar so that tracking at siderial rate stopped) and had a
target of a candle. The Autostar was connected to the PC via the serial
cable that came with the LPI.

Running the Autostar suite and acquiring LPI images I could get the
tracking box set up around the image of the candle and the box tracked
the candle flame nicely when I moved it slowly back and forth. But....I
must have missed something....I though the LPI would control the
telescope.....have I got this wrong? The LPI and its software basically
does what offline software such as Registax will do for me - namely
track an object inside the image field and coadd on the centroid? LPI
will not cause the telescope itself to slew to follow a target that
slowly drifts out of the frame? Or am I jumping the gun?

Cheers,

Peter Thejll
Denmark
Mike here: As Dick Seymour noted in a post in March:
"If you run the normal Meade firmware in your Autostar, Autoguiding will only work in POLAR mode.
"If you apply my patch31e4 patch kit, that restriction is removed, and it will Autoguide in Alt/Az, too. This is telescope-model independent, so you can Autoguide ETX's, DS's, LXD's, 4504's and LX90s.
"The LPI/AutostarSuite accomplish their Autoguiding function by means of new instructions Meade added to the serial command repitoire of the Autostar. Therefore you need to be running firmware version 30Eb or newer."
Subject:	Autostar Suite software LPI connection?
Sent:	Saturday, July 10, 2004 20:54:04
From:	Steve (sosgoo1@ix.netcom.com)
I bought a ETX-105 last year, and your web site has been a great help. 
Thanks for all your work in keeping us all up to date and the sharing
information.

I ordered Autostar Suite software w/LPI when it first came out.  I now
have time to set it up, but from the instructions I can't decide where
the LPI is suppose to be connected to our ETX-105.  I thought I was a
telescope novice - now I feel like a new beginner.

I notice Meade has an update for Suite software and drivers for RS-232
to USB cable.
 
Thanks, Steve
Mike here: Read through my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. That should help with some things. (The LPI mounts on the telescope in place of an eyepiece but connects to a computer's USB port.)

And:

The info file is a great help! I looked in the Autostar Suite directory
only.  I was afraid I would get side track too easy, which for beginners
is easy.  Thanks again, Steve

Subject:	Autostar Suite  3.16a Southern Hemisphere issue
Sent:	Tuesday, July 6, 2004 03:23:14
From:	kiwi@earthling.net (kiwi@earthling.net)
Just thought I'd ask if anyone else has reported the issue with Autostar
3.16a in the Southern hemisphere. For any Southern latitude locations
the scroll bars don't work, scroll left and the screen updates with a
scrolled right view, and vice versa, and clicking on N or S gives you a
very nice view of what's underfoot! I think someone got confused with
their code.

The annoying this is that thais makes it almost unusable in the Southern
hemisphere.

Cheers....
David

Subject:	Autoguide and ETX90 EC question
Sent:	Thursday, July 1, 2004 09:43:20
From:	Daniel (darnoff@yahoo.com)
I have an ETX 90 EC with Autostar, last firmware upgrade, and recently I
have purchased the LPI Autostar Suite.

I have some question I cannot solve reading the Manual: is it capable
the Autostar Suite to provide Autoguiding for the ETX 90EC?

In the image software, wich is in fact a separate program you can run
separately, nothing is mentioned about the capabilities of autotracking
FROM Autostar Suite TO ETX...the only tracking reference in the Manual,
as far I have seen, is about the "track" capabilities of the image
software to follow the portion of the image selected with the centroid,
and that means the computer follow the ETX, because  the ETX is sending
some information to the computer and the computer is acting in
reference.

In other words, what I need to know if the Autostar Suite is capable to
force ETX to "track" an object selected with centroid from the Software,
wich means that the ETX will be guided by the computer and not by the
Autostar handbox  tracking function.

If the aswer is "yes", let me ask: how you connect the whole stuff to
get this tracking capabilites?

And also, is it a must to run the Autostar Suite program AND the Dome
Control module to get the proper communication between the software and
the Autostar handbox?

Again, let me say we all appreciate a lot this great site and pls
receive my best regards for you.
Mike here: Yes, you can. I think this was covered recently in a post by Dick Seymour. See my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page for info on using the "network" capabilities of the Suite to have all its apps communicate.

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