Last updated: 31 July 2005
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 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 upate
Sent:	Saturday, July 30, 2005 18:13:56
From:	Steven Lucchesi (
I recently purchased an ETX90AT.  I really like this telescope.  The
VAST amount of information on your website has helped me learn a great
deal too.  I do have a question about the "reset" after an Autostar
download.  The other day I upgraded to the 34EC version.  I've read over
and over on your sight that after downloading you should reset-calibrate
motors-train drives, etc.  When I finished this particular download a
dialog box came up and said after a reset, the calibrate and train
motors would be left unchanged.  Does this mean that you no longer have
to calibrate and train the drive after a reset?  I understand that the
calibrate, and retraining after a reset were done to clear up some
problems that came up, but based on this message I received after the
download is it still necessary?  I have been getting great GOTO
capabilites from my ETX, and I don't want to make changes  unless I need
to.  Any light you can shed on this would be great.
Steve Lucchesi
Mike here: My experience has been that I've needed to do a TRAIN DRIVES after every update, even though the update was supposed to retain the values. This was evident by the "rubberbanding" until I did the TRAIN DRIVES. CALIBRATE MOTORS is less an issue with the recent updates but does need to be done whenever you change power supplies or as battery power gets lower. HOWEVER, as you note, if you are getting good results, why mess with anything.


Thanks Mike for your quick reply.  I did calibrate and train the drives
(reluctantly) after the download.  That was the second time I've trained
the drives, the first was right out of the box.  Per Dr. Sherrod's
instructions, while training the drives I started with a low power
eyepiece, and incrementally moved up to a high power eyepiece until the
object was dead center in the field of view using #2 for a slew speed. 
It took a while, but it seems worth it.  Every visible object that I
select is within the viewfinder field of view, and better than 90% of
those objects are within the low power eyepiece field of view, often
dead center.  This was why I was reluctant to train the drives over
again if they didn't HAVE to be.  But I did, and I am getting the same
good results.
Thanks Mike,
Steve Lucchesi
Mike here: Accurate training really does help with the GOTO accuracy.
Subject:	Meade and Macs
Sent:	Saturday, July 30, 2005 05:27:21
From:	John W Babiak (
I really enjoy reading your site.

I am a LX200 owner and Mac user.  I find it terrible that Meade does not
offer an OSX client for updating their telescopes.

How about using the power of the web and your web site to start a
write-in campaign to pressure Meade into developing a Mac version?


Blainville, Qc J7B 1L2
Mike here: I and powerful others have tried the direct approach. Meade doesn't see a business case (yet) for doing that. Since a third party has come through with a Mac OS X Autostar #497 updater (AutostarX; read about it on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page). Hopefully there will be a version of AutostarX that supports the Autostar II at some point.


That's a shame. When you spend thousands of dollars on a telescope, it
seems that the least that they can do is provide support to their Mac
customers.  I'm sure that if they bought out and took over the
development of the 497 updater, it wouldn't cost them a fortune.

You don't feel that asking Mac users to write Meade (via a  link on your
site or a message  in a mailing list) would be worth a try?

I can also get some pro-Mac sites involved. Sometimes when the direct
approach doesn't work, shaming them into doing it could make things

Mike here: In this case, no. They know the demand and the need. It is just a matter of resources for Meade. Maybe if Celestron started supporting the Mac, then Meade would...
Subject:	Autostar Logging
Sent:	Friday, July 29, 2005 03:26:37
From:	Mike Hogan (
I'm wondering if there is a simple way to intercept and log the serial
communications between the Autostar and AS Suite during a session.
Besides general curiosity, it might be useful to record and later plot
the path of the scope when tracking an object. My first thought was for
satellite tracking, but then it occurred to me it might be useful for
analysis of drift rates and patterns during tracking of celestial
objects. That info might be useful in evaluating drive performance.

I tried running Hyper Terminal but it reported the COM port was in use
by another program. DUH! I should have realized that would happen.
Anyway, your thoughts would be welcome.

Mike Hogan
From:	Richard Seymour (
The program you want is called "PortMon"

It's free, and is a -very- powerful tool.

tested, recommended...

have fun

Subject:	ETX & Satellite Observing
Sent:	Friday, July 29, 2005 03:00:24
From:	Mike Hogan (
With the Return to Flight of STS-114, I thought I might take a shot at
observing it with the '125PE. I won't have a good visible pass until
near the end of the mission, so I thought I'd do a little testing in
preparation.  Naturally, I had some problems and questions.

Every day there is a series of 3 to 4 passes that are above my horizon,
some almost directly overhead.  Using the latest TLE's, I set up the
scope to follow the predicted trajectory and started tracking when the
countdown reached zero. I had the Autostar Suite configured to follow
the scope position.

The resulting path of the scope was no where near the predicted
trajectory. I am using David Ransom's excellent program, STSPLUS
(freeware), to display realtime position and provide predicts during the

My first question is, What prediction model does Autostar use to process
the TLE's? They are generated by NORAD using the SGP4 model and my
understanding is any processing must use that model for accuracy.

Second, What is the maximum slew rate of the RA/Az axis in the ETX
series? I noticed that during the high elevation passes, the Az axis
could not keep up, resulting in a very large "keyhole". For those not
familiar with the term, a "keyhole" is the area of the sky near zenith
where a Alt/Az or Az/El telescope or antenna loses track of an object
due to the high rate of acceleration required in the Az axis. The best
example is a pass directly overhead where the axis must slew 180 deg.
instantaneously. There is a similar area near the horizon for X-Y
mounted antennas.

One cautionary note for those trying satellite tracking for the first
time. I learned this the hard way. Before loading new TLE's into the
Autostar database using ASU, you must first download all existing
objects, add the new objects and then upload. The ASU program doesn't
have an "Add" function, just Replace All. The first time I tried this I
ended up deleting all existing objects, landmarks, tours, comets etc.
Fortunately, I had previously saved a copy of the database.

I would appreciate advice from anyone who has had success tracking the
Space Station or Shuttle in the past.

Mike Hogan
Mike here: There are several articles on satellites and ISS tracking on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. Have a read through those.

And from our Autostar expert:

From:	Richard Seymour (
Every day there is a series of 3 to 4 passes that are above
my horizon, some almost directly overhead.  Using the latest
TLE's, I set up the scope to follow the predicted trajectory
and started tracking when the countdown reached zero. I had
the Autostar Suite configured to follow the scope position.

I haven't tried using Autostar Suite to monitor the position
during a sat pass with the 497.  It may be confusing things.
Try a simple "just watch the scope" pass *without a computer
connection* and see if it follows the same path.

You can override the ETX125PE's time/date setting from the
Setup menu, and thereby replay the same pass
over and over.  You can also "play" a pass many times
-before- the countdown reaches zero, it'll follow the same path
each time.

The pass is pre-loaded as a list of 200 relative motions (well,
speed/durations) from the AOS point.  Once that list is made
(and that happens before it shows you the AOS data), it's
not recalculated on-the-fly.. that's why you can start a pass
2 hours before the predicted time, and it'll still move the
scope along the same path.  Very handy for testing.

The resulting path of the scope was no where near the
predicted trajectory. I am using David Ransom's excellent
program, STSPLUS (freeware), to display realtime position
and provide predicts during the mission.

I tend to use  predictions,
and their sky charts... but they do have the limit of
only showing the visible portion of passes, and only after

My first question is, What prediction model does Autostar
use to process the TLE's? They are generated by NORAD using
the SG
P4 model and my understanding is any processing must
use that model for accuracy.

I can't tell you (for sure) what they -use-, but if you manually
enter a set of TLE's, you'll see that they -don't- use some of
the E's... such as the drag coefficients.

Second, What is the maximum slew rate of the RA/Az axis in
the ETX series? 

Roughly 8 degrees per second (although "Maximum" can be more).
This is a case where your power supply can make a difference,
since the scope will try to slew as fast at possible at times
(such as a high-elevation track)

I noticed that during the high elevation
passes, the Az axis could not keep up, resulting in a very
large "keyhole". 

What i do is assess the predicted path, and if it's going
to be above 75 degrees elevation, i either accept that
i'll have to jump the keyhole manually, *or* i'll mount
the telescope on my wooden wedgie (two pieces of
plywood, a piano hinge, two turnbuckles as "latitude
adjusters"... c-clamped to my platform.) so it's "Polar",
which turns an "overhead" to an easy side-shot.
(in Polar, don't try to track satellites which approach the pole).

One cautionary note for those trying satellite tracking for
the first time. I learned this the hard way. Before loading
new TLE's into the Autostar database using ASU, you must
first download all existing objects, add the new objects and
then upload. The ASU program doesn't have an "Add" function,
just Replace All. The first time I tried this I ended up
deleting all existing objects, landmarks, tours, comets etc.
Fortunately, I had previously saved a copy of the database.

How to avoid that:   <-- short   <---long

I would appreciate advice from anyone who has had success
tracking the Space Station or Shuttle in the past.

If you look in Mike's -ancient- archives (year 2000), you'll
see my long postings of my first successful (and the 5 or
6 previous unsuccessful) tracks...

Other handy resources: Brent Boshart's excellent SatelliteTracker
program from
There's a Yahoo webgroup devoted to it:
... it -far- more accurately drives your ETX across the sky 
for tracking.

have fun

Subject:	Autostar 494 corrupt EEPROM
Sent:	Tuesday, July 26, 2005 12:48:55
From:	Ian & Marlen (
My 494 has suffered a corruption and won't boot. I can communicate with
it in boot strap mode and can see that at boot up the reset vector
causes a jump to E000 and a few instructions later causes a jump to the
internal EEPROM at B600. However, dis-assembling that area results in
junk instructions so it looks like it got wiped.

Do you have a listing of the boot EEPROM so I can re-programme it? I
read on Gene Chimahusky's page (on your site) that he had done a similar
thing and it fixed the problem.

Thanks for a great web site
Best regards
Mike here: That's all that is there about the #494 code.

And from our resident Autostar expert:

From:	Richard Seymour (
I think you're mixing modes... if you're running it in Motorola's embedded 
bootstrap mode, the memory map is completely different than when it's
running as an Autostar.  I suspect you're seeing the B600/B7FF -data-
(since that's what the Autostar puts there, not code).
If you see your site name in there, at around B6D2, that's a dead giveaway...

All of the 494's i've ever seen (and i have -not- seen recent ones)
have reset vectors which point to address B363, where there's 
runnable code, not a secondary vector.

In a separate mailing, i'll send my EEPROM's contents, but i doubt
it'll help much.   

It would help in diagnosis to learn -how- your 494 became corrupted.

good luck
Wow! Thanks very much to both of you. Looks like I've got an interesting
evening ahead of me.  BTW I believe the corruption occurred during power
on with a poor power connection i.e. low voltage.

Thanks again

Subject:	Re: AutoStar 34Ec Upgrade Questions
Sent:	Monday, July 25, 2005 18:34:49
From: (
Thanks for your fast response!

I will be posting several questions regarding AutoStar updating using
AutoStarX for your consideration.

Mike Boyd
Mike here: Feel free to search the site, view the Helpful Information: Autostar Info pages, read the FAQ, even read the manual, before asking questions. Many times the answers are there.
Subject:	AutoStar 34Ec Upgrade Questions
Sent:	Monday, July 25, 2005 10:04:52
From: (
I have an April 2003 vintage ETX105EC using AutoStar 497 v26Ec.  I have
two questions.

I downloaded a file from Meade support by clicking on a link titled
"34Ec."  That put a file "" on my desktop.  This, in turn,
created a folder "Build" which contains "Build34Ec.ROM" and
"readme34Ec.txt." The readme says:

 "Upgrades to 33Ef
 Added Zip Codes.
 Some serial strings fixed.
 Upgrades to 33El
 Fixed site problem
 Fixed LST display
 Upgrades to 34Ec
 Fixes moon tracking problem
 Improved pointing on second star with LNT module
 New LX90 scopes added"

First, the text refers to 33Ef and 34Ec upgrades.  I thought this was
version 34Ec.  Can you help clarify this?

Second, if I upgrade from 26Ec to 34Ec (or whatever the latest version
is) will I get any significant improvements in functionality,
performance or reliability (as opposed to database-type information) on
the ETX 105EC?

To my knowledge I haven't had any site or moon tracking problems, but I
may have just been lucky of not very observant.   And, other upgrades
before 34Ec may have had significant changes that I should have.

Thanks for you help.

Mike Boyd
Mike here: There are bug fixes and new features in the newer versions. 3.3Ec is the current version. But like any software upgrade, you should only do it if you are having problems with your current version OR you need a new feature. If you are happy with what you have, then doing the upgrade is NOT mandatory. That said, there really isn't any reason NOT to upgrade to 3.4Ec. As to the differing versions in the README, that may be there for historical reasons.
Subject:	re: Meade Autostar manuals
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2005 20:12:48
From:	Richard Seymour (
They can be downloaded from
or a phone call to  800-626-3233  will also get them.

You will want -both- an Autostar manual

and the manual for whatever telescope you are connecting it to.

Also check out the FAQ:

There is a set of web pages which are actually -better- than the manual,
and they start here:

If you have a 494 Autostar (no numeric keypad), then the manual is:

have fun

Subject:	re:  autostar help
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2005 19:58:25
From:	Richard Seymour (
The fact you're getting question marks using Hyperterminal in Flash Load
means that you do have successful communications.

There is only -one- useful command in Flash Load that Hyperterminal -won't-
get "?" as a response:  "V"  should return your current version.

So start up the Autostar Updater, read the Help page on "damaged handbox"
and try again.  
IF it still can't connect and download, try StarPatch from  as an alternate downloader.
It's much more robust in these situations.

good luck
From:	dave (
thanks for the reply

have my laptop next to me that only has usb connectors so i have a usb
to serial connector well to make my letter wrighting easier i hooked the
autostar up to my regular desktop to send you screen shots and it
appears to be loading so i guess i will just thank you for
your time and if anyone out there is using a belkin usb to serial
adaptor be warned it wont flash a autostar controller. thanks mike
oh btw sorry for the caps.
Mike here: There have been reports of problems with Belkin converters. I use a Keyspan one with my Macintosh.
Subject:	autostar help
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2005 11:50:17
From:	dave (
hello your site is great.

I am a beginner and I think I fried my 497 controller "un plugged
during download".

I can get to the flash load 3.0 screen auto suite detects it but when
it goes to send the file I get a no response.

HyperTerminal only gives me question marks when I try to type commands.
and I tested my cables they seem to be fine. oh also my apologies if
this is not the right place to ask a question.

Mike here: Was the first download proceeding OK before you disconnected the Autostar? If so, that means that your computer and the Autostar were communicating. If not, then you have some other problem (i.e., port conflict possibly). In the current situation after the ASU app detects the Autostar and you start the update, what error message do you get?
Subject:	autostar495 to497 conversion for etx90
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2005 09:14:49
From: (
I have acquired a autostar 495 which I wish to use with an etx90.
It contains 2 rom chips (i think) marked U5 and U80.
Is it easy to convert 495 to497.
I can access cables etc.
I hope that you can help
Thanks Andy
Mike here: Just run the Meade Autostar Updater Application; it will update it.
Subject:	autostar newbie
Sent:	Friday, July 22, 2005 05:43:36
From:	Andy Lancour (
I purchased an etx 90 used and was wonderingif I should reset it from
scratch for its new observing site? I'm about 50 miles from the previous
owner. I have your excellent book, but I couldn't find an answer. Also,
if I take it camping, do I need to enter new info as well? Is there a
guide to help me w/ these questions? Thank you.
Mike here: It is always a good idea to RESET when purchasing a used system. That clears out any adjustments and mods that the previous owner may have done. These may or may not cause difficulties. But always better to start from scratch, especially if troubleshooting becomes necessary. As to using a different location when camping, that depends on how far away it is and how much an error you are willing to put up with on the initial alignment. As to a guide, did you get a manual with it? If not, see the FAQ page for links to manuals.


One more thing. What is the procedure for saving a separate viewing
location? Sorry to be a pain
Mike here: Site --> Add
Subject:	information...please...
Sent:	Tuesday, July 19, 2005 05:51:40
From: (
my autostar was bought for my grandson and he is now old enough to learn
...I have the software but cannot locate the meade booklet of
instructions that came with the telescope....please let me know if one
can be sent to my grandson......and many thankyous......mimi
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the subject. Thanks for understanding. For info on Meade manuals, see the FAQ page on the ETX Site.
Subject:	re: New Autostar Motor Fault
Sent:	Monday, July 18, 2005 21:43:27
From:	Richard Seymour (
The fact that reversing the cable seemed to fix it 
leads to two more things you should try:
(a) put the cable -back- into the original orientation.
(b) if the problem returns, then you -still- have a bad cable,
 and really should replace it (a phone call to Meade...)

have fun

Subject:	re: Wireless Autostar
Sent:	Monday, July 18, 2005 21:40:57
From:	Richard Seymour (
Um... why not just call Meade ( 800-626-3233) and get it replaced
under warranty?

If it was already malfunctioning, you can probably talk around
the visit to the ground.  (er, "damaged in shipping"?)

Many people posting to the LX200GPS yahoo group are quite happy
with theirs.  They -would- have preferred that the keypad be
other than the rubber membrane of the original Autostars,
but that's about the only complaint.

good luck

Subject:	Wireless Autostar
Sent:	Monday, July 18, 2005 17:55:49
From:	Roy (
I don't know how this fits into your site, I know you guys talk about
some LX200 stuff here. I am writing to try to get the word out. If
anybody has purchased the wireless autostar controller, don't open the
box - just send it back!

This is the worst engineered piece of crap I have ever seen. It is soooo
fragile it makes one wonder how intelligent people could pass this trash
off on an unsuspecting (and loyal) customer. The idea is great of
course, and I bet they have sold a million of them already. I think we
should get together an sue them for stupidity for what they have pulled
on us.

I bet you can't guess that I am mad as heck. I dropped mine the first
night and it bounced off my shoe. When it hit the asphalt, it literally
exploded. That was after it started flickering because the on/off switch
was faulty. On top of that, the display was loose inside case and I had
to tip the unit towards the ground to read the top line. Even with the
obvious defects, I was trying to evaluate it before I sent it back to
determine if I wanted to replace it or get my money back. I should have
put it back in the box when it was obviously already screwed up. Too
late now, I'm out $249.
Roy McCabe

Subject:	New Autostar Motor Fault
Sent:	Saturday, July 16, 2005 11:21:58
From:	Marc (
My Autostar for my 2 month old ETX-125AT would reset nearly everytime I
handled the controller.  It was returned to Meade and replaced within 3
weeks.  My current problem is a Motor Fault error.  Nothing has changed
since I last used the scope only the new Autostar.  I have reset the
controller and can't train the drives.  When I press the up or down
arrow buttons nothing happens.  I am using new batteries and the
Autostar reports 100 percent batteries.  I have seen the drives work in
all directions.  I enjoyed the scope for it's easy align and setup. 
Could the Autostar be the root of this problem?   Should I purchase a
12v adapter and try it?  I'd hate to send this Autostar back.  Costs
time and money.
Thank you,
Marc Caron
Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS? Is the proper telescope model and mounting mode selected? Have you tried changing to a higher slew speed?


Thanks for the quick reply!  I have reset the controller.  The scope
goes into a quick Calibrate Motors Test then fails.  The proper
telescope and mount are selected.  I have tried a higher slew speed.  I
am assuming that when you change slew speeds both axix change.

Marc Caron
Mike here: Yes, one speed for both axes. Try reversing the cable.

And an update:

When I reverse the cable as suggested the motor test at start up
completed this time, last time it did not.  I re-calibrated the motors
and everyrhing seems fine.  Now to keep this setup permanent.
Thank you for your help and time.


Subject:	Autostar Feedback: USB to RS232 converter
Sent:	Saturday, July 16, 2005 02:07:22
From:	Mike Hogan (
Belkin has two (that I know of) converters. The one I use with my Dell
laptop is F5U109. On their website, Belkin refers to it as a "USB PDA
Adapter", and it lists for $29.95. You can find it for about $20.

The other one is F5U103 and lists for $59.95. I don't know anything
about it so I can't comment on function.

The '109 works fine for connecting Autostar Suite to the Autostar
handbox and controlling the 'scope. I have had problems trying to update
the Autostar software version with it using the Update function, but
only on the laptop. It works on my desktop machine. I also use it on the
laptop with my Garmin eTrex GPS.

One caution on using it with a laptop - if the laptop goes to "sleep" or
suspend, the the connection is lost. You have to physically remove and
reconnect it for the system to establish a link again. At least, that's
what happens on mine using WinXP Home Edition.

Hope this helps.

Mike Hogan

Subject:	USB to RS323 Converter
Sent:	Thursday, July 14, 2005 19:29:09
From:	Robert C. Maples (
Bob Maples here again. I noticed in the Autostar Information page under
Software, PCs and USB ... last updated 9/26/04, you make mention of a
Belkin USB to RS232 Converter. I have searched through the archives
trying to find the particular message that references this hoping to
find a model number for the device as I have a Sony Viao laptop I want
to connect to my 125 PE, but the laptop does not have a serial port ...
thus I need the converter to accomplish my task. Can you perhaps point
me to the message?

I have been out once (weather has not co-operated) since getting the
scope last Friday and was extremely impressed  after I get a couple more
sessions under my belt I will send my comments and thoughts for addition
to the site.

Thanks for the wealth of Info on the site. 


Robert C. Maples 
Mike here: I didn't see mention of another message from that page. But if you check the Belkin web site you should be able to find one. NOTE: it is RS-232, not 323 as you have in the message subject.
Subject:	Telescope Target "sticking" to Terrestrial vs Astronomical setting
Sent:	Thursday, July 14, 2005 09:37:34
From:	Caroline Elliott (
I've become a little more disturbed by reading about glitches and such
since I discovered the community boards around the world discussing
LX90.  Yep, I bought the Autostar 497 package and uploaded the 34Ec(05)
version.  What the heck?  It solved most of the 33Cf (04) set up
problems and I did become adept at guessing what to do for next time
update is required.  Problem still remains though in the Telescope
Target setting menu.  I cannot make the setting stick to the
Astronomical selection.  It reverts to Terrestrial.

Have you any guesses as to what I can do to solve this?

I just received my scope last week and already discovered that the
customer service rep wouldn't have a clue and the manager doesn't return
calls.  If I didn't have some time and a computer and research ability,
I would still be "jiggling the battery in the LNT module" as was
suggested by the customer service rep.  And yes, the sales person at the
store would be selling me another 505 cable that I already had on-hand
in my Autosuite Lunar Planetary Imager kit.

No news from Meade following my online registration regarding updating
of program.

Won't it be fun at the next Star Party when I figure out what the Meade
Presentation speaker actually means when he begins talking?

(a one week novice who is ...already... tired of being publically
embarrassed for Meade.  Alignment Set up at local club's outreach
observation night was a dismal failure due to software glitches.  I did
like pointing it at those lovely shiny points of light and tracking it
for myself.  Too bad the line up of kids were turned away though.)
Mike here: Are you SURE that the setting isn't being kept? Just having the ">" show the target selection sometimes just means that is the one that will be saved when you press ENTER.


Thanks Mike for your response.

I thought about your question.  You see when I go to Astronomical, there
is no > next to it until after I select it and then go back down the
menu to see if it "took".  But then, after I change a site or turn off
the machine this setting does not "stick".  Needless to say, I am not
"resetting".  I am supposedly able to just go to align when I turn on
the machine.  No way! I have to correct the Target to be Astronomical.

I checked the menu and see that Terresterial is below the Astronomical
Target selection. Repeatedly, I have already selected Astronomical and
confirmed the > is present, then entered to firm that choice.  Then, I
press mode button to immediately move back out of the Target menu.

So, I am frantically checking myself each and everytime I do this and am
absolutely sure that this is all I do, so as not to remove my selection.

To double-check the menu logic:  Where else is the > resting against the
menu item when not selected?  If I check the Target selected, shouldn't
I see displayed the  > there to indicate my previous selection ?

I don't understand why the scope points low for Vega when in our summer
sky it is high near the zenith.  I am wondering if it is because the
scope reverts to Terrestrial?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, especially if you can reassure
me that it doesn't matter whether I see a > next to Astronomical or next
to Terrestrial.

Yours truly,
Caroline Elliott
Mike here: There are many places in the menu tree that use the ">" but I forget which ones don't display the current setting. When you do the Autostar alignment steps Astronomical is automatically selected. You can confirm this by noting that the drives are running.


Mike, you are terrific.  I am so happy you wrote back. I have heard the
motor running and now I will be content to let the matter alone in my

We have haze in our evening sky....oh well.

Thank you for your help,
Caroline and Chris Elliott

Subject:	Post Beep refinement
Sent:	Thursday, July 14, 2005 07:46:24
From:	Tom Stock (
Would you happen to know if post beep "refinement" has been killed in
the later version of autostar (34ec)?

I just upgraded and have had some rubberbanding and am hoping it's not
due to this rediculous "feature".  If it is, then I am considering going
all the way back to 26ec!

Mike here: I don't recall noticing it. But have you done a TRAIN DRIVES following the upgrade?


Hi Mike, thanks for the reply.  Turned out I had the Percentages up too
high, and my batteries were falling below 70%. Replaced batteries and
did reset, calib, train. Did some tests and it looks like the creep is
not in 34ec (thankfully).

BTW, thanks for the time and effort you put into your website, I find it
very useful.  I've saved many of your articles as reminders for when the
scope acts. up.

Mike here: Yep, easy to miss doing a CALIBRATE MOTORS after a power source change and a TRAIN DRIVES after a ROM update.
Subject:	autostar speed controls fail in altitude
Sent:	Thursday, July 14, 2005 06:33:45
From:	Royston Spears (
have just bought ETX 125 with autostar. most of my manuals and books
deal with the old controller (so I am having problems!).

to change manual slewing speeds I type in a no. from 1-9 (9 is fastest).
the horizontal control seems to change speed fine (goes very slow on 1
and very fast on 9). but the altitude speed always stays fast. Is this
normal or am I overlooking something?

presumably both the altitude and the azimuth should respond to the speed
enjoy your great site,
Many thanks
Royce (England)
Mike here: Yes, both axes should be essentially the same speed. Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES? If so, do a RESET, check that the proper telescope model and mounting mode is selected, then do the CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. When doing the TRAIN DRIVES be certain to do both axes.
Subject:	AutoStar Controler question
Sent:	Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:43:29
From:	Shanna L. Schultz (
I have used my newly acquired telescope a few times recently and have
noticed that the AutoStar controler screen is not clear. There are lines
that run through the screen. Is this a mistake that should be corrected
by the company? Or is there something that I can do to fix this problem?
Thank you.
Mike here: It sounds like the Brightness and/or Contrast may be turned up too high. You can adjust them from the Utilities menu.
Subject:	Autostar Full ??
Sent:	Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:34:33
Firstly, let me say your site is fantastic and I am sure we all
appreciate the time you put in, to keep it going. It will certainly help
me in the future as I learn to use my Meade telescope.

I am not afraid to say I am a "newbie". I have an ETX125 with a 497
Autostar which I got very recently and am having some problems getting
it up to date. I have managed to upgrade to the latest software release
(version 34E I believe) however, when I tried to update the asteroids,
comets, satellite etc information, I appear to have run out of memory.

I currently now have no asteroid information in the handbox and there is
only space for 1 tour (Tonights Best), although the rest of the
information appears to have updated as best as I can tell. If I try to
bring across the missing information from my PC to the handbox, I get a
negative "Total Memory" figure. Around -117,000 if I remember correctly.

Is there a way I can clear some memory so I can get all the information
in there, or is there a way to get the things that a "new person" is
likely to look at of which I think relatively bright asteroids may be

Best regards,
Neil McGarrity, Scotland, UK
Mike here: Have you added a lot of information yourself into the Autostar? If not, you should not be getting this error.


From:	Richard Seymour (
The 497 Autostar only has 63 KB available for all user objects (including
Tours).  Each satellite is 51 bytes, each Comet is near that, etc.etc.

> > I currently now have no asteroid information in the handbox and there
> > is only space for 1 tour (Tonights Best), although the rest of the
> > information appears to have updated as best as I can tell. If I try to
> > bring across the missing information from my PC to the handbox, I get
> > a negative "Total Memory" figure. Around -117,000 if I remember
> > correctly.

Well, there are about six classes of object, and the bottom of the Library
Pane (and Handbox pane) on the Updater tell you how many you have in each.
So: How many Comets?  Asteroids? User Objects? Landmarks? Tours (and sizes)?
Satellites?  (if you used the Updater to fetch just the brightest, that's
about 150, of 7.6 KB, more than 20% of the total space).

If you asked the Updater to "update" its lists, rather than "erase and replace",
it can sometimes double-enter the objects (so that 150 satellites becomes 15KB).
Check for that...

> > Is there a way I can clear some memory so I can get all the
> > information in there, 

Not really... 63 KB is it, unless Meade redesigns how they do it.
The LX200gps (which has lots more memory) gives over 300 KB for user
objects.  You'd half-fill that.

> > or is there a way to get the things that a "new
> > person" is likely to look at of which I think relatively bright
> > asteroids may be one?

The asteroids were discovered in more-or-less "brightness" order.
So if you just load the first twenty, you're probably covering all the
bases.  NEW, interesting, Asteroids can be added from the keypad (since
that'll happen only about 4 times per year)

It's usually the Comets and Satellites which eat an excessive amount of
memory... look at  to get an idea of
how many are bright enough to chase amongst the satellites.

have fun, don't try to see everything the first night...
Hi Richard/Mike,

Firstly thank you to both of you for responding so quickly.

I had 1029 satellites in the handbox, 0 asteroids, 190 comets, 0
landmarks, 0 user objects and 1 tour (Tonights best). The available
memory was 1788 bytes.

When I "get export data from WWW.." and downloaded to my PC, it
downloaded 1242 asteroids, 1029 satellites, 192 comets, 0 landmarks, 6
tours and 0 user objects. This is the data I was tyring to send to the
handbox. I realised by your email that this was FAR too much data.

I was not aware I could filter what comes down from the Net. Having
changed some of the options (like "download 100 or so brightest
satellites") I have now got the following in the handbox with some
memory to spare.

69 asteroids, 116 satellites, 192 comets, and 5 tours with 11,958 bytes
to spare.

Much better, and I now presume this is much more like what you would
expect to see.

Thank you very much for your time.

Best regards,
Neil McGarrity, Scotland, UK

Subject:	Autostar "Motor Unit Fault" - with or without motors attached
Sent:	Tuesday, July 12, 2005 20:47:20
From:	Jeremy Davis (
Here is my dilemma. I've upgraded my SVP mount to goto with the AutoStar
#497 controller and DS motors. Here is text I've posted on other forums
(Cloudy Nights "Mounts" - Re: SVP goto conversion - in chronological
order), but so far no answers:
Well, here is the story. I installed everything and of course played
around with the controller connected to see if the motors worke and if I
could "slew" around. It worked fine. Then I remembered Dick's patches so
I went in search of them here. Found them and installed the newest patch
34cc (I had already installed the 34Ec patch from Meade). Shortly after
installing that patch ang going into to choose the 144eq scope, it
started reading motor failures, with no motors attached. I've since
tried to re-patch the 34cc, Flash load twice and now I'm flash loading
the 34Ec meade patch to see if that will work.

Before I continue, I must mention the the original power adapter (a 12v
300ma Universal Adapter) gave out after the original re-patch (second
time). I assume the adapter was going out before that and figured that
might have been causing the "motor failures". (also, becuase when I was
trying it out, it was doing the random slewing like crazy and "creep 'n
beep") Well, I have a new 12v 1000ma Universal adapter and am still
having this problem.

I re-installed the 34Ec update from a Flash reset and no dice. Hooked it
back up to the mount to see if I could troubleshoot some more. Well,
here's what I got:

1) I power up the autostar, after warnings it immediately does a "Motor

2) It slews the RA quite a bit and a little on the DEC, then registeres
a "motor unit fault", I hit and the same thing.

3) I can, however, use the DEC slewing button - While the fault still
registers - (ALT plug) and it works with no problem, but I only get
"spurts" out of the other motor - I can't even tell if it's me or just

4) so I switch the plugs on the interface plate, now I can operate the
RA motor (like the DEC motor before), but get spurts out of the DEC
motor now. So, it seems the problem may lay in the ALT plug on the
interface, or maybe on the connectors themselves - I don't know.

So now, I might try to clean the plugs with alcohol and blow out any
debris, it's all I can think of right now. The "motor unit fault" (MUF)
happened even when they weren't connected, so that may point to the
paddle or interface, but why?
Since I've switched the motors cables (as mentioned in my last message)
and got the results I did, wouldn't that point to something else? Please
let me know, I'm sure you understand the amount of frustration I've
experienced. I spent over 12 hours on Saturday cleaning and re-lubing
the mount, and another 2 hours installing the GOTO. To have it all hang
on a power issue, well, that's just too much!
The motors are "spurting" like I described, but all the time - connected
in either Alt or AZ plug.

Both of my motors work fine, but only in the AZ plug. It's the Alt plug
that seems to be the common factor in the "spurting".

That being said, with the controller constantly reading "Motor Unit
Failure",with out being connected to motors or not, seems to be my
biggest issue. I think if that gets solved, maybe the other problems
will go away - or at least I can troubleshoot them after the controller
exhibits normal behavior. I just turn it on, it loads up like normal and
immediately starts drive testing - then immediate "MUF".
Ok, so I've been switching the motor's plugs between ALT and AZ to see
if it's consistent, here's what I've found:

1) It always works in the AZ plug, but never in the ALT (manually works
that is, it runs for 2 seconds and off for 3 sec. by itself) Either

2) With the HBX plugged in and turned on (both motors plugged in) it
will say "testing motors", then run the AZ motor for a second or so the
read a MUF.

3) Doing the same thing, but unplugging the AZ motor (leaving the ALT
in) it flashing quickly "testing motors" but the motor does not run and
it immediately says registers a MUF. (this is the same for either motor.

4) While power is on, both motors plugged in (same as #2) then pressing
"Mode" to re-try the motors, it performs the same as #2 and #3, AZ plug
will try the motor and fail it, but ALT plug will not try the motor and
fail it.

A New Finding:

1) I unplugged the paddle from the interface panel (to check the
connection) and the motors started intermittantly working by themselves
- with no HBX hooked up.

2) Left alone (after power was plugged in) they would start about 5-12
seconds later, each motor running for 3 seconds or so, off for 2 - but
not at the same time, but overlapping slightly.

3) Tried to "reposition" the plugs, thought that made a difference - but
could not get consistent results, but it did alter the cycles somewhat.

So, Does this confirm that it is the interface panel? I will take a
closer look but I'm no electrician. I have a multi meter but am not very
good at using it but I'll give it a try. In the meantime, where can one
of these things be bought? That might be a good investment at this
I think I can rule out the motors, but I will probably order some more
just in case. I did reverse the HBX cable, no results. I checked the
interface board for bad soldering, or anything but could not find
anything out of place or burnt out. (so, I don't think a mulitmeter
check will tell me anything that I can fix, replacement is probably a
better option).

The motors seemed to work prior to the firm ware updates. Both motors
slewed on command (manually and when given a command) I didn't have a
chance to try it in the field, only in my workshop. (It did creep and
beep, and randome slewed quite a bit too before anyway) After the
firmware (Dick's Patch) it worked (without motors) until I started
messing around with the setup options, then it read a MUF and hasn't
stopped. I can't remember exactly what I was on, maybe Telescope
selection. Anyway, no motors were connected only the computer cable and

I would like to reload the firmware, but maybe a different way than
before. How many ways are there to reset it? Only the ENTER/DOWNSCROLL
method? I've heard about a "Hard Reset" but I cannot find out how to do
it with the Updater software.
I can't get away from the MUF.

After I turn it on and press "5" to acknowledge the sun warning, it
registers a MUF. Once the Motor Unit Fault is detected, I can't go on
from there. I only can press MODE to get it to try the motors again or
press 1-4, 6-9 to change motor speed.

I'll go ahead ad update with the 34i you sent and see if that helps. In
the meantime I've ordered some new motors, a new HBX cable, and
interface panel from Telescope Warehouse (wow, their cheap!) So, maybe
then I can really troubleshoot the problem if it isn't corrected by

Let me know your thoughts about the "hard reset"

-Motors or not, the controller will only say MUF after sun warning,
regardless of the updates I load (34i, 34Ec, 34cc, etc, Flashloaded or

-Motors work separately (using slewing buttons) in the AZ plug, but not
in the ALT plug (they did before the original update)

-Highly possible lost power during or shortly after the original update
- (I've done several Flashloads since then successfully, no results)

-Except for the "random slewing" and creep after beep, the system seemed
to work fine before the original update.

- Circuit boards look fine in the interface panel and motors, cables
look ok too. No multi-meter tester done however.

-HBX menus un-accessible, no settings can be changed on the controller
except for motor speed.

-New motors, HBX cable, & Interface Cable ordered and on their way.

-1000ma 12V Universal Power Supply (wall outlet) used to power Autostar

-Updated with 34i, 34Ec, 34cc with ASU v4.2 regular method and
FlashLoaded many times - all successful - No Results

Mike, sorry for this expansive email, but I've run out of options. Any
help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Mike here: Some comments. 1) The 1000mA power supply may be too anemic for your motors, hence the MUF. 2) Without the Autostar connected, MUFs should not be surprising since it can't talk to the motors. Also, it is not uncommon for the motors to go berserk without an Autostar attached. 3) You didn't mention that you had done a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Those are absolutely necessary, especially to avoid random slewing and creep after beep.


Thanks Mike for your comments.

1)About the power supply, what specifications would be ideal?

2) The MUF's first happened (and continue to happen) with the motors
connected. They happen with or without, only when they are connected the
AZ is tested for a few seconds then MUF.

3) I didn't do a Calibratation or Training because I was not under the
stars yet, only testing functionality in the daytime. The MUF's started
happening and now I can't access any HBX menus.

Is there a way to "hard reset" via the updater?

Mike here: You may need 1500-2500mA, depending upon the motors and the load when slewing, especially at higher speeds. No way to reset from updater.


From:	Dick Seymour (
Mike's points are all correct:
(a) 1000 ma is whimpy for any kind of load, but not an issue here.
(b) Since the Autostar can't talk to non-existent motors, MUF for no motors
 seems reasonable. 
(c) you can't Calibrate, since you can't get that far.
(d) from the sounds of it, it's bad connections between the Autostar and
 the Alt motor unit.  Either a fault in the power panel, cold solder joint
 in the Autostar (where the RJ45 connector attaches to the board), or 
 something died in the Autostar in the final driver/receiver circuit for
 the Alt.  

(e) i've got to admit, i'm now confused about which axis is really at fault.
  Day 1, Step 3: the "spurting" socket is the one i'm talking about.
  You're able to send motion commands -to- the motor, but feedback is failing.
  (which indicates it's the receiver circuit in the Autostar. Maybe.)
  Day 1, Step 4: is sounds like the (old) RA motor is working properly in the
   DEC socket???  Which would mean is was the RA socket at fault.  Here's
  where i lost track of which is which, and whether you're descibing a motor
 or a socket when you use "RA", "DEC", Alt and Az.

(f) given (e), let's rephrase it to: one socket seems to give reasonable 
 slewing control.  The other socket doesn't  (either motor in the "good"
 socket works).  So it's the socket or Autostar, not the motors.
 It's still a puzzle as to whether it's a driver or receiver at fault,
 since noise could mimic the existence of a driver (when it's dead), and
 the MUF could be because the receiver is properly reporting weird motions.
 A dead driver would also mean that the Autostar commands for the motor to
 report its position are not being really sent, so the autostar sees the lack
 of a response as a motor problem.

(g) if you have a friend (or store) with any Autostar scope, can you test
 your Autostar on that scope?

(h) as Mike said, motors without a controlling autostar simply run randomly.
 They have "noise" coming in on the un-driven wires (which are now antennae
 listening to your local electronic environment) and respond noisly.

(i) the power panel can be replaced with a bunch of appropriately wired
 telephone connectors/sockets... but you might enlist the help of a more
 electronically-comfortable friend (know any ham radio operators?).
 This page:
 gives the functionally equivalent circuit.
 You could ohmmeter the panel just to verify that each motor socket's 4 leads
 all make it to the HBX socket (do this with NO batteries, NO motors 
 and NO autostar attached.. just the powerpanel alone.).

good luck
> Is there a way to "hard reset" via the updater?

I think the -old- (v2.4) Updater used to have that ability.
The current v3.61/v4.2  version doesn't.

There's a binary command sequence which could be put into a file,
then sent to the Autostar via Hyperterminal which would force a reset,
but i really think your problem is hardware-based.

I'll try to create the "reset" file and attach it to a subsequent message.
(i have to do some homework on it first)

good luck
And more:

Meade has -removed- the downloader firmware command which could be used
to force a full reset (it's there in v22Er, gone in v34Ec).

This is going to take a lot longer, so don't expect an answer today

have fun
Mike here: Dick has now written a file that can be sent to the Autostar using the Windows hyperteminal(or I suspect any serial comm app on any OS). It is available at


> By the way, both motors work perfectly

Yes, that was blatantly clear from your posting. 
**it ain't the motors at fault** (although one could conceivably be
damaging the Autostar's driver circuits, and swapping them could
therefore damage the other channel, but that doesn't seem to be

> - only in the AZ/RA terminal on the interface panel,
> none work in the ALT/DEC terminal - it only "spurts". 

So it's the "ALT" socket driver (or wiring) which is sick.
It could be a hairline crack in the copper traces on
the power panel circuit card.
On the HBX socket, the ALT lines are the middle two.
(see )

 >I think I could get this thing troubleshooted if only the HBX would load up
>and I could deal with the settings.

> If this file doesn't reset the HBX, can I download the proper ASU and have it
> do it?

The current proper ASU can't.  I can't guarantee that the older one can,
but you can ceretainly try... Mike has them archived on his site
(Autostar Info  page, left column, bottom of first group of links)

good luck
Jeremy Davis wrote:
> Dick,
> You are a genius. You've solved my problem. The reset patch worked just fine, 
> now my HBX has restarted and I can access the menus. To recap what I did:
> 1) Downloaded your "Boot.rom" patch to force a HBX Reset.
> 2) Used HyperTerminal to upload the patch.
>    a) Started HyperTerminal
>    b) Created a New connections with 9600baud, No Flow Control, No Parity, 1 Stop Bit,  Com 2, etc.
>    c) With HyperTerminal Running I then started the Autostar w(motors connected) in the Regular mode 
>       (not Flash Load)
>    d) Typed Ctrl "D" to verify Connection (Received ">" for confirmation)
>    e) Went to Transfer, then Send Text File and choose the "Boot.rom"
>    f) Upon successful transfer I received "Y34CA" back
>    g) I then typed "I" to restart the HBX
> 3) Autostar successfully restarted and all menus were accessible again, No MUF (motor unit fault)
> Equipment & Details: Autostar 497 w/DS motors SVP GOTO Upgrade. StarPatch 34CA
> I won't have an opportunity to check the functionality of the system till this 
> weekend. It does appear the ALT/DEC plug isn't working as the Up/Down toggle buttons 
> have no effect on either motors (they work for menu options). I'll be able to 
> confirm/dismiss an interface panel malfunction upon arrival of my new one. The 
> engines appear to still "Random Slew" or Creep after Beep, No sure if this will 
> be corrected later after Calibration and Training - probably so. Thank you again 
> for all your help,
> Sincerely,
> Jeremy Davis
> On Wed, 13 Jul 2005 16:15:06 -0700 (GMT-07:00), Richard Seymour wrote:
> > Hi...
> >
> >> Thank you for the patch and instructions. I did manage to upload
> >> it, but only in "regular mode". Every time I tried to send via
> >> "Flash mode" it would only give me a "?" when I pressed Ctrl D,
> >>
> >
> > That's correct behaviour (since i can't guess what version your
> > Safe Load code is) I think that's one way the ASU can distinguish
> > between "download" mode and "safe mode"
> >
> >> in regular mode (normal boot) it would give me the ">" and the
> >> "Y34EC" after sending the file.
> >>
> > The "Y" means that the patch "took".  (otherwise you'd get a "N")
> >
> >> However, once I did that, nothing happened. The HBX continued to
> >> say
> >> "Downloading, do not turn off", and never rebooted on it's own.
> >>
> > Try typing an uppercase "I" in Hyperterminal, after sending the
> > file.
> > (typing a "V" should get a repeat of the "34EC")
> >
> >> Even after trying a manual reboot, or getting the ASU to "restart
> >> the handbox", there was no change in behavior.
> >>
> >
> > The patched byte may have been overwritten by the regular system
> > continuing
> > to run.
> >
> >> I can only think that maybe it would have worked better in Flash
> >> mode,
> >> but I couldn't get the file uploaded that way.
> >>
> > I'll try to find out if Flash Mode accepts the "P" protocol i was
> > using.
> >
> > good luck
> > --dick

Subject:	AutoStar Reset Questions
Sent:	Tuesday, July 12, 2005 14:50:28
From: (
This is a two question follow-up to KK Blankenheim's 07/08/05 questions
on AutoStar.  First, does reset delete user settings (locations,
telescope info, etc)?  Second, under what conditions is it necessary to
use reset?

Thank you for your excellent site.

Mike Boyd
Mike here: No, it doesn't erase those settings. RESET is really only required when the Autostar goes berserk. Sometimes it may be required following a ROM update.
Subject:	re: Why does one Autostar go brighter than the other?
Sent:	Monday, July 11, 2005 22:20:52
From:	Richard Seymour (
There are (at least) -two- models of 497 Autostar (internally).
That could be the reason for the brightness difference.

Externally, the only way to tell them apart is to bring
up the Status Display (press [mode] 3 seconds, release),
and look in the upper rightmost character position.

"Old" ones will have a graphic character (a vertical bar) 
whose height corresponds to the Slew Speed setting.

"New" ones don't have that character group in their repitoire.

Now tell us if it's the "new" or "old" one which is brighter...

In my internal photos at
i'm picturing my "old" one.  The new ones have the
display module's cable displaced to the side.

have fun
From:	Dennis Rogers (
There is another way to tell the Model Autostar controllers as well.
With StarGPS the older version shows bar graphs and Numerical display
when it shows what satelites it has found, and their strenght also as a
bargraphic display whereas the newer Hand controller only displays the
Numercial values only.

So the less brighter one was the older model.


P.S.  Thanks for the Tip on holding the Mode button for 3 seconds. It
shows other things as well like your battery level. You can scroll
through several screens. With different info. I don't know with the
ordinary Autostar, but with the StarGPS you get to see the UTC plus your
local time as well.
And: And:
Except for the boot-time signal acquisition messages from StarGPS,
all of the rest of the displays are the same for both normal and GPS'd
Autostars.   If you are using a StarGPS-LX, then it does set the Autostar
to UTC instead of local civilian time.  The "LST" display is your Local
Sidereal Time, a measure of the RA value currently crossing the central
meridian, i.e. straight overhead.
If you are using a "normal" StarGPS, then you have the option of having
the Autostar operate displaying any civilian time zone you wish.

have fun

Subject:	Faulty Autostar 497
Sent:	Saturday, July 9, 2005 01:05:46
From:	Dennis Rogers (
My Autostar  497 has developed a sudden fault and lucky I accually have
two of them. One I bought here, and the other I imported.

The one I bought here is 2 months old and was working fine up till now.
What happens is I get the message come up motor fault, maybe caused by
low battery, motor loaded, obstruction etc.

What I did was tried my other Autostar 497 and runs fine, no problems.
Tried the Autostar with the fault on my other Telescope, same message.

So plugged the one I imported into my Telescope and no faulty motor
message at all, even with motor callibration. Also tried the Meade non
Autostar in my telescope and both motors are fine.

My Telescope uses the LXD 75 mount, and my other telescope is a
converted GOTO mount.

I tried swapping cables to see if it was a cable problem but nothing
works with the faulty autostar controller, even a reset and
recallibration fails to correct the problem and still continues with the
faulty motor problem, but know it's not the motors because the imported
one works fine.

The only thing I have done was Update the ROM in Autostar Hand
Controller That I bought from here, and have ROM version 34C this
contains the StarGPS patch, and up till now this worked fine even with
the updated Rom, which would have been updated a week ago.
Mike here: I got a little confused from your message. It sounds like the faulty Autostar has a patch applied. Have you tried it without a patch? I would suggest redownloading the Meade ROM and give that a try alone while connected to the LXD75 before trying with a non-Meade mount.
Subject:	autostar storage
Sent:	Friday, July 8, 2005 20:23:10
From:	Dan and Joan Mattes (
Just purchased the ETX 125-AT and noticed that there is no place on the
tripod or the accessory tray to attach the Autostar hand controller. Is
there any recommendation on using velcro, etc?
Dan Mattes
Shrewsbury, Pa.
Mike here: Many of us use Velcro. Soft part on the back of the Autostar and "prickly" part on the tripod legs. Works great.
Subject:	General Feedback
Sent:	Friday, July 8, 2005 14:17:55
From: (
I've been reading your book.  It's full of great info.  I find it ironic
that you went to UI like my wife did, and went to UW-Madison like I did.
I received my BS in Electrical Engineering in 85, small world.

I've finally updated my Autostar to 34E.  I haven't done anything else,
yet. In reading your book, I came across the backlash percent settings. 
I checked my Autostar and discovered they were both 50%, so I changed
them to 20% and 10% as your book suggests.  I have not executed the
Reset since updating my Autostar.  I know I should do this next.  When I
do it, I assume it losses my location, date, time and any calibration
values.  After performing a Reset, I'll re-enter the zip code, time,
data, telescope model, etc....  I'll check the backlash percent and make
sure they are still 20% and 10%.  Than, I'll Calibrate Motors, next,
Train Drives.  Next, I plan on using Polaris to Calibrate Sensor (LNT). 
After all this I hope the telescope perform all "goto's" perfectly.

If this is not correct, please e-mail me at home
(, because I hope to try this over the
Mike here: When you update you need to reTRAIN DRIVES. As to backlash percentages, I would keep the values set by the Autostar after doing a CALIBRATE MOTORS and TRAIN DRIVES. Only change them if you know they need to be changed.
Yep, small world!
Also, please keep in mind the email address guidance on the EMail Etiquette page; thanks for understanding.
Subject:	Stopping tracking without loosing Autostar alignment.
Sent:	Friday, July 8, 2005 13:44:19
From:	Michael Morris (
There a quite a few occasions on which I have thought it would be useful
to be able to stop an Autostar tracking (in alt/az. or polar mode) for a
few seconds or minutes and then resume without loosing alignment.  For
instance, to find the cardinal points when sketching at the eyepiece
(stars always drift to the west), or when you want an image to stay very
still in the eyepiece and you don't mind if it drifts.

Do you know if this can be done without turning off the power to the
scope or undoing the clutches?

Michael Morris
Mike here: You could put the Autostar to sleep. That would work fine for longer periods. It could also be the simplest, quickest, and safest method as well to do what you want to do.
Subject:	Why does one Autostar go brighter than the other?
Sent:	Thursday, July 7, 2005 02:18:37
From:	Dennis Rogers (
I have two 497 Autostars and want to know when I adjust both using the
brightness and contrast, one goes a lot brighter then the other? Both
are new. One has the normal coil cable, and the other has a coil cable
with one of those things that I think meant to cut down on interferance,
or something, and are common on the likes of the Playstation 2, and Xbox
controllers and cables etc.

Is there an internal manual adjustment for brightness on the circuit
board that governs the brightness of the overall display?

with one of my Autostar controllers up at the brightest setting would be
more like a normal level of brighness, whereas adjusting the other one
can go to bright and need to turn it down in brightness.

Also have an Autostar 494 which is an older version and that can also go
very bright. Are all Autostars set at different preset brightness levels
set on the circuit board, or does it depend on where they are made, as
my two Autostar 497's are different meaning the thing on the coil card
to cut interferance.

Mike here: I guess you will be surprised to learn that there is a brightness and contrast adjustment available. It is under the UTILITIES menu.


I know that and tried that, but the only brightness it seems to go is
just bright and comfortable enough to see the display, while the other
one turning it up full is a lot brighter by far.

It does not affect the Autostar at all. So one goes from no brightness
to normal brightness, while the other goes from no brightness to bring
to bright you have to turn back the brightness, while the other is
normal brightness at full brightness level adjustment.

Mike here: Apparently some difference then in the display and/or display circuit.
Subject:	Help!!!
Sent:	Wednesday, July 6, 2005 20:16:10
From:	Kevin (
I just attempted to update my autostar controller from 33C to 34Ec.  Now
I my telescope is dead.  Before the update, I was experimenting with the
autostar update software, I loaded some objects from the internet into
the Library.

When I started the autostar software to perform the update, it loaded a
bunch of objects into the library.  I connected to the handset
controller, the handset responded with something about do not power
down.  That's when I noticed the objects loaded in the library, I
panicked and didn't want those objects loaded into the controller, so I
clicked the "X" in the upper right hand corner.  When I started the
Autostar update software again, it could not establish communication.  I
felt I had to turn off the telescope and try the update over.  When I
turned the telescope back on, the controller stays blank and the
autostar software tells me no connection.  Did I accidentally erased the
33C program and now my Autostar model #497 is dead????  What should I
do???  Meade does not have 24 hour support and their support times place
me a work????  Does Meade need to reprogram my telescope??  Can the
Autostar software really leave me dead???  I'm a software engineer and
can't believe a company would allow software leave a customer helpless??
Thanks again for any advice,
Mike here: I just noticed that your message was bounced as "undeliverable" due to the non-Email Etiquette compliant subject line. Please review the Email Etiquette item on my ETX.
To answer your question, no, it is not dead, nor did Meade's software developers leave you helpless. The download process was interrupted, resulting in the "confused" Autostar. Just put it into SAFE LOAD mode by holding down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on the telescope. Run the updater application; it will recognize that the Autostar is in FLASH LOAD and you will be able to restore the software using 3.4Ec.


Thanks for your help, yes, it seems to be loading, but very slowly, 1
minute into to dowload and it shows 4% complete, I guess I should be
happy, thanks for the help with getting into SAFE MODE.  I searched the
MEADE web site and didn't find anything about my problem, so I'm glad
you advised me.  Sorry about the ETX etiquette, it is just my
It took about 20 minutes, but version 34C loaded and I'm back to star
watching, I'll try again when the weather cooperates and see if my
telescope work and better???
Thanks again,
PS. I'll perform a RESET, than Calibrate Motors, than Train Drives and
do some alignments.........

Subject:	Autostar 494
Sent:	Tuesday, July 5, 2005 13:34:48
From:	Robert Sheaffer (
Is your website down? I can't connect to it.

It has been brought to my attention that the Goto in my RTGUI program
doesn't work with the Autostar 494. However, it works just fine with the
497. I am not aware of any software differences between them for the
Goto? Are there any?

It occurs to me that perhaps the 494 requires you to do something to it
first, and the 497 does not. Do you know anything about this?


       Robert Sheaffer

Subject:	Re: Solar Astronomy/tracking the sun with an ETX-- part 3
Sent:	Friday, July 1, 2005 14:52:38
From:	Richard Varner (
Thank you, again.

No, I cannot do a proper alignment because there is no sun in the object
list of the Autostar software.

I am pointing the leveled scope at the sun and then synchronizing to it,
using the sync function as explained in the Autostar users manual pp
7&8.  The scope then tracks at the sidereal rate but loses the sun in
about a minute.


Richard Varner
Mike here: SYNCing to a non-fixed object like planets, Moon, and Sun is not a reliable technique. If you know your HOME Position very accurately you would be better off just faking the alignment. That is what I do. Just use the Easy Alignment and assume the stars are centered. The more accurate your HOME position the more precise the alignment will be.


This morning I faked the alignment.  I set the clock to 22hrs , leveled
and pointed north.  The scope swung to Arcturus back to Altaire, and
then I slewed it over to the sun, where it tracked.


Best regards,
Richard Varner
Mike here: Not that it matters much, but I usually use the real time for the alignment faking. That way if I want to observe some planet, say Venus, in the daytime, the GOTO is pretty good.


You took me to the bottom of the problem in a hurry.

Thank you!

Best regards,
Richard Varner

Subject:	re: meade autostar control  35-4700-03 defect
Sent:	Friday, July 1, 2005 07:42:20
From:	Richard Seymour (
Meade has a one-year warranty, so if it was last December, the
replacement should be free (perhaps requiring postage).

If it is out-of-warranty, i believe the from-Meade replacement cost is $75
(requiring that you return the dead one)

If you are in the USA, call 1-800-626-3233

If you are not in the USA, contact your country's Meade distributor.

good luck

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