Last updated: 4 August 2006
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 email@example.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: Backslash % Sent: Wednesday, August 2, 2006 21:27:25 From: Steve Hempell (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just purchased a 125PE and bought your book. Seem to have a lot of backslash. Checked my ALT/AZ and DEC %'s and they are set to 90%. This is much different and whats in the book. Is the PE different - seems odd it was factory set to 90? Should It change it to what you suggest in you book ie 15% Thanks Steve H :]Mike here: Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? If not, do that and check the values again.
Subject: a couple of upgrade question Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 04:14:31 From: Kjk (email@example.com) I just purchased the #505 controller cable and AstroFinder Limited Edition Astronomy Software for my ETX-105. The software comes up as Meade Autostar Suite Astronomers Edition version 3.19, can this software be upgraded to version 4 as found on the Meade 4M web site? Could you point me to some good #497 controller upgrade instructions? Thanks and love your site, Kevin KammermeierMike here: I believe the software on Meade4M is for the full version that comes with the LPI and DSI imagers. As to Autostar upgrade info, see the article "How to use the 3.x Updater" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page; it is pretty much applicable to the 4.x version as well.
Subject: Autostar 497, DS2000mount and USB Sent: Sunday, July 23, 2006 20:45:48 From: William Hepner (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am having problems aligning my DS-2000 mount. I am using a 497 Autostar. The only telescopes in the data base are the ETX60 &70. I have a Orion StarBlast attached to the mount. My 'puter has only a USB port. Would like to update the 497 and control the mount with either SkyMap Pro or the Sky. I have a cable convertor that changes the gender of a USB cable to a male DB-9. The 'puter and the 497 do not communicate. It worked with my old DS70 scope but not now. What do I need to do? Please help! Rregards, Bill HepnerMike here: Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the Autostar. See the article "Autostar and USB" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. If the Meade Autostar Update application won't work for you, try the StarPatch application as it might work to update the Autostar with your USB adapter. It is available at www.stargps.ca.
Subject: Trouble to perform your 33el update Sent: Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:40:24 From: michele scotti (email@example.com) Hello Richard, I bought a #497 plus motors kit as I would like to motorize a little GEM. I've notice that the handpaddle shows 42Ed as software version. For that reason I downloaded your patch 33el4 which should allow me to use it successfully on a GEM. After getting ASU3.61, making and testing #505 cable I unfortubately wasn't able to update the handpaddle. In your instruction in the readme.txt of the patch you state "Use Click_me_build if your original v33el ROM file is named "build.rom" ". My problem i that I can't find "my" build.rom file which -I suppose- should be patched by your kit... Am I that dumb not to be able to perform this simple upgrade? Am I missing anything? Would you please give some advise to an Italian amateur astronomer in trouble? Thanks in advance, Michele, ITALY. BTW: would it better to post that on the dedicated forum?
From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) What type of motors do you have? There are DS- motors and DH- motors. One has an extra gear, so the end turns slower. You're missing a few things: (a) you may not need to change your firmware at all. If the Setup/Telescope/Telescope Model menu offers any of the LXD55/75 family, simply select that (the SC-8 has the least motion limitations). Then change the RA Ratio and DEC Ratio to match your motor units. Refer to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RoboScope/files/GearRatioGospel%20(updated) for information on how to calculate the ratios. (see (e) below) (b) my patch kits are -version specific-. You must start with a Build.rom file with v34El for the v34eI4 patch kit to be compatible. Mike's site has both an archive of all previous Build kits, plus an archive of the patch kits. Firmwares: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/as_archive/downloads.html Patch kits: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar_info.html (c) the current firmware is v43Ea, and there is a patch kit for it. The kit is at Mike's site: http://www.weasner.com/etx/autostar/patches/patch43ea.html and the firmware is at Meade's: http://www.meade.com/support/auto/Build.zip (d) you could download StarPatch (a non-Meade updater) from www.stargps.ca It has "tick-lists" of both the ROM and the Patch kits, and it can fully automate the procedure. It is also twice as fast as Meade's ASU to actually perform the update (that's the free version. If you buy the product, it's nine times faster... full download in two minutes). (e) i recommend that you join the RoboScope Yahoo group. Their mission is putting Autostars on many types of "non-Meade" mounts. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roboscope/ My patch kits are posted to that group's files area, too. > BTW: would it better to post that on the dedicated forum? Since you included Mike Weasner as a recipient, i am sure it will be so posted... have fun --dick
Hi Richard, thanks for your priceless support! I would say I have DS motors (got them from Telescope Warehouse as a kit) Let's come to the missing things: a) Great! nice to hear it. Did notice that, didn't dare :-( b) I was guessing that... c) just download your patch. It will be a futher step! d) Very interesting! e) To be honest I was already signed in, but in the rush of make the motors running....I will exploit it to pick up nice 'hardware' modifications to either make DS motors nicer or more accurate if possible. Again thanks a lot! Michele
Subject: Autostar upgrade from 26e Sent: Monday, July 17, 2006 14:54:55 From: John Davey - 1 (email@example.com) Thanks for a very informative website. I have an ETX125, about 4 years old, equipped with Autostar #497, Version 26e. Can I upgrade directly to the latest version 43Ea or is this not suitable for my scope? Should I upgrade via some intermediate version rather than directly? Will the upgrade help deal with a recent spate of error messages saying "motor unit fault"? I have used "reset / calibrate motors / train drives" (many times!) but this seems only to clear the problem temporarily. I normally run the scope off a mains adaptor so I doubt it's a power problem. The motors seem to be running OK. Any hints will be much appreciated John DaveyMike here: Yes, you can update. If you have any problems, you can always do a SAFE LOAD (hold down the ENTER and SCROLLDOWN keys and then power on; run the Autostar Update application and do the download). Note that SAFE LOAD puts the Autostar in a default condition and you will have to re-enter and re-select the appropriate information. Whether it will stop the Motor Faults will depend on WHY they are occurring but at least you will be able to remove one variable (the Autostar software).
OK and thanks for advice John Davey
Subject: Re: Autostar Two Star Alignment Sent: Monday, July 17, 2006 03:11:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) As far as I can tell, the steps on page 36 are incorrect. Problems whith Meade documentation are not unheard of. I also think the heading "Advanced Alt/Az Alignment" refers to users with advanced knowledge and tools not necessarily required for someone using the Auto Align method. You can't "drop out" of the Automatic Align once it starts. You can, however, have Autostar select different stars from a limited list of suitable stars. To do this: During a normal Auto Align; when you get to the first star, if it's not visible, press the Up or Down scroll key once. Autostar will look for another suitable star and slew to it. Repeat this until you get a star that's visible, if there is one. After you center the star and press Enter, it will slew to the second alignment star. Repeat the steps if necessary. The whole process can take some time. If you -must- do a 2-star alignment, the correct "Home" position is with the Control Panel pointed West and the OTA pointed True North and Level. To prevent driving into the Az stops, you need to first move the OTA to the full CCW stop, orient the Control Panel West, then rotate the OTA North. You can use the northing and leveling capabilities of the LNT to establish some references that might help reduce alignment time if the base of the scope will not be moved between observing sessions. To do this: 1. Make sure the Site, Daylight Saving and Local Time values are correct, then perform an Auto Align, without worrying about actually centering the alignment star, just hit Enter. 2. Use the Autostar keys and Telescope Status Display to slew the scope to "0" deg. in both Alt/Az. 3. Slide the RA setting circle until it indicates "0" and use a piece of tape to keep it from moving. 3. Loosen the -Left- fork knob and move the Dec setting circle until in indicates "0", then tighten the knob. Now, as long as the base is not moved, the RA circle will indicate True North and the Dec circle Level, as determined by the LNT, when both are at "0". You can use these references to quickly set the OTA to "Home" for a 2-star alignment. Hope this helps and is not too much overkill. Mike Hogan
Subject: Re: CABLE Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2006 10:00:43 From: P. Clay Sherrod (firstname.lastname@example.org) Go to Mike Weasner's ETX site and you will find lots of information on constructing your own connection cable....follow those guidelines to the letter; you will find a wealth of information there: http://www.weasner.com/etx/menu.html With those guides you should have no problems at all...but BE CAREFUL. Normally I do not recommend home made cables, but in your location, I think it will be necessary. Dr. Clay ------------- Arkansas Sky Observatories Harvard MPC/ H43 (Conway) Harvard MPC/ H41 (Petit Jean Mountain) Harvard MPC/ H45 (Petit Jean Mtn. South) http://www.arksky.org/ ----- Original Message ----- From: KOSTAS Hello Dr.Clay! I want to ask you if it is safe to manufacture a cable for autostar update.A friend of mine has the original set of items(including USB-DB 9 adaptor).These materials are very easy to find them at the market,and i am very familiar with such structures.So i will find the pin-to-pin connections (have my friends as model)with a multimeter,and i will fix it.The accesories are very expensive here in Europe(Greece),but if you advice me,i will order them to the lousy local dealer(the set costs more than 140$). Thank you very much! (i wonder if the usb-DB 9 adaptor is just cables,or there is something more sophisticated inside?)Mike here: It is easy to make a #505 serial cable for the Autostar #497 (Autostar with number keys on the keypad) using the cable information on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. However, if your computer only has a USB port then you will need a USB-serial adapter in addition (which requires software as well). For more info on USB see the article "Autostar and USB" on the Autostar Info page as not all USB adapters will work with the Autostar.
Subject: Autostar Two Star Alignment Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2006 07:07:52 From: SummerTri2@aol.com (SummerTri2@aol.com) I recently purchased an ETX 125 PE and am having trouble with the alignment procedure. Page 36 of my manual, under 'Two-Star Alt/Az Alignment' tells me to first align in accordance with steps 1 and 2 of Automatic Alignment on page 17. But when I do this, it automatically proceeds to choose my alignment stars for me. Then, the 'Two-Star Alignment' section talks about putting the scope in the Home position (directions in the sidebar in my manual). This seems easy enough to do, but how do I keep the automatic alignment from taking over? How do I break out of the Automatic Alignment routine? I think the intent is to level and locate North with the Automatic Alignment procedure, then drop out of that sequence, go to the 'Home' position, which includes aligning a fork arm over the computer control panel and pointing the whole scope North, then do the 'Two-Star'. But doesn't the Automatic Alignment steps 1 and 2 already have me pointing North? I'm confused and frustrated. Thanks for your help. I appreciate your excellent site and plan to support it. Pat Ohlheiser PS Automatic Alignment is not an option for me when using at home due to trees/house location. I have to do a manual alignment..Mike here: It sounds like you are selecting Automatic Align from the menu if the Autostar is doing the leveling and northing. If you jump straight to Two Star alignment, you manually put the telescope in the proper home position (rotate to the hardstop then back about 120 CW to point towards True North; the tube should be level). Then press ENTER to start the process. You will be prompted to select a star from the list. When you press ENTER that star is slewed to where the Autostar thinks it is; center it and press ENTER. Then you are prompted for the second star; repeat the process. Be certain that the stars you select as at least 90 degrees apart and that they are not within about 30 degrees of Polaris for best results. By the way, when doing the Auto or Easy alignment you can skip the selected star if it is hidden by pressing the UP or DOWN scroll arrow to tell the Autostar to select a different star.
Subject: moon tracking Sent: Sunday, July 9, 2006 16:33:35 From: monte3510 (email@example.com) My name is Monte West, new at this telescope business, but just bought a Mead ETX 125 w/uhtc. My question is HOW do I get it to track the MOON?????? I understand that some one with your experience would probley laff at this question but am hopeing you will take the time to answer. My Sincer thanksMike here: If you have a current version of the Autostar software, then GOTO to the Moon. That sets Lunar Tracking rate. Alternatively you can use the "Target" menu. Of course, this is assuming that you have done a CALIBRATE MOTOR, TRAIN DRIVES, (at least once for those) and gone through the alignment process before you do the GOTO.
Subject: Codeweavers thinking of moving ASU to the Mac??? Sent: Tuesday, July 4, 2006 23:10:05 From: richard seymour (firstname.lastname@example.org) From the LX200gps group (other Autostars can vote, too): --------------- To Mac Users: Can I get a hands-up of how many mac users of LX200s would be interested in a program that would allow the ASU suite to be run from a Mac. Codeweavers - a software development company are developing a program that would allow this. They want to know what interest there is in the mac community for specialized programs, such as ASU. Thanks David ps. I have no interest or connection to the company. wish i did. ------------------ posted by David have fun --dickMike here: Thanks Dick. Using WINE, Intel-based Macs may be able to run ASU. Don't know about the seriai/USB port support though.
Subject: autostar 493 Sent: Thursday, August 3, 2006 11:33:36 From: Richard Jackson (email@example.com) Happy 4th of July And thanks for your website Where do I find the software I can download to hook up my autostar 493 to the PC and instructions how to do it and use it. Thanks for the reply Richard W. Jackson, CIMAMike here: The only software from Meade is for the #497 and Autostar II models. These are the only models that are user-upgradable. The software for the #497 and Autostar II are available on Meade's site: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html. If you mean that you want to control the Autostar, there are many freeware, shareware, and commercial products that will control the Autostar #494 and #497 models but you will need the appropriate RS-232 serial cable for either of those models.
Mike I do have the cable I need the software for the 493 Will the software for the 494 work?Mike here: I would think it would work but I don't have an Autostar #493 capable system to confirm that.
Sorry for all the questions 1. The cable I have has a serial port end and what looks like a phone wire to it. The serial cable is a female and I have no male on my laptop. What do I do. 2. what is the appropriate software for what appears to be a 493 to update the paddle and work off the PC? Sorry again for so many questions. I gave this ETX 90 telescope with the autostar 493 to my wife for mother's day years ago. She never got around to figuring it out. So I took the gift back in hopes to use it and if she is nice I will let her borrow it. Thanks again Richard W. Jackson, CIMAMike here: If your computer doesn't have a real RS-232 port you can use a USB-serial adapter; see the article "Autostar and USB on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page for some that are known to work with the Autostar (not all adapters will work). As I mentioned earlier, there are updates to the #497 on Meade's site but there is no update from Meade for the #493, although if what you have is a #495 Autostar (which has number keys on the keypad) then you can use the software on Meade's site to update it to a #497. Since you said it was an ETX and not a DS telescope you probably have the #495 or #497 Autostar.
Subject: Installing StarGPS Patch Using AutoStarX Sent: Sunday, July 2, 2006 17:31:24 From: thomas robison (firstname.lastname@example.org) was wondering if it's possible to install the StarGPS patch to the hand controller #497 using AutoStarX? i don't have the StarGPS receiver yet, but am interested in getting one. thanks in advance, tom robisonMike here: I doubt it since AutostarX only recognizes ROM files (I think). Perhaps Rodolphe Pineau (author) will add that capability in a future version of the Autostar Mac OS X update utility. There is also a Linux version (Lin_Autostar) that would benefit from such a capability.
From: Rodolphe Pineau (email@example.com) Hello everybody. I confirm that AutoStartX only load ROM (as of now) I already talked about adding gps support with Chris. As this is his income he decided not to release the code (which I totally understand and respect) . So I won't have any StarGPS support in AutoStarX. As for future version of AutoStarX, I'm really busy with my professional life (and have been for the last year and a half as I changed job) so I don't know when I'll go back to AutoStarX, but when I do I will add support for Autostar II and for Dick's patches. Sorry for the long silence, I'll try to go back to AutoStarX asap if there is enough demand for it (it was downloaded less then a 100 times from my server). Rodolphe
thanks for the quick response to my query. i guess the only alternative is to borrow someone's laptop at work, bring my etx, also, and do an install from that. it's lonely being a mac person at times....:) tomMike here: Or use VirtualPC. Yes, it is sometimes lonely at the top.
Subject: Tracking rate problem with etx 125 Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 15:44:31 From: william coghlan (firstname.lastname@example.org) My #497 autostar controller (model 41[E]) recently broke down. I sent it to my dealer for repair and got it back a few days ago. However when I took it out tonight I discovered a significant problem. As it was far too bright to align I wanted to just use speed and direction keys to look at the moon and jupiter. Thats when I realised that the 'scope was tracking at top speed regardless of which speed number I pressed. Perhaps it will track properly using align and goto functions but it clouded over... In any case I'd appreciate any advice you could offer.Mike here: Some thoughts: Do a RESET, CALIBRATE MOTOR, and TRAIN DRIVES. If that doesn't cure it, perhaps the keypad needs cleaning to recognize the key presses (what happens if you press hard?).
THANKS ALOT MIKE. A SIMPLE CALIBRATION SOLVED THE PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY. FORTUNATELY I DIDN'T DO A RESET.
Subject: Re:Which time zone should I enter on the ETX Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 06:06:28 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) "Time Zone" and "Daylight Saving" mean two different things to the AutoStar/ETX. Time Zone is automatically set based on the lat/lon of the Site created during initial Setup. It corresponds to the distance East or West of Greenwich, the Prime Meridian (0 deg. of longitude) and results in an offset from UTC (also known as GMT). It remains fixed for a given location. The local Standard Time is UTC plus or minus the Time Zone offset. Note: If you manually Edit the lat/lon of an existing Site, make sure you know the correct Time Zone for that location. Daylight Saving or British Summer Time is a seasonal offset from local Standard Time which may or may not be used in different parts of the World. It can be enabled in the AutoStar by the user, when applicable . If your GPS unit shows Standard Time and you want to use it to set the Autostar time accurately, and BST is in effect, mentally subtract 1 hour from the GPS time before entering, then enter YES for Daylight Saving. Note: For the ETX PE series, the LNT will be initialized with time entered in this step. No further changes should be necessary until you go off BST, then changing Daylight Saving to NO is all that's needed. The basic idea is that if you enter Standard Time, Daylight Saving is NO; entering current Local Time that includes a BST offset requires YES. Time Zone rarely, if ever, needs to be changed for a given Site. Note: most GPS units provide the capability to automatically or manual ly adjust for Daylight Saving. Hope this makes sense and helps. Mike Hogan
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